First, the link to the blog post:
Vivaty in Flash (Sneak Preview) « Vivaty Blog.
It isn’t a full version of Vivaty — you can chat with one other user, and the space does not look customizable right now. There’s effectively an “upsell” to the plugin-based client.
The Flash version of Vivaty is a great way to get introduced to the experience, explore parts of the world, and meet new people. Currently, you can hangout with one person at a time, but you’ll soon be able to build up your friends list, and mingle inbetween both the full Vivaty experience and all of the big parties and events and the more intimate scenes that are in the lightweight version of Vivaty.
— from the FAQ
The rendering looks pretty darn good for Flash 10. I wasn’t able to find a way to go look for a specific other person — looks like it does random matchmaking right now. And my avatar (and theirs) went invisible after a while. It is nonetheless an impressive technical achievement. According to Tony Parisi in the comment thread, this is literally a port of their X3D client:
From the outset, we made a conscious decision to use X3D as our delivery format for the 3D. As you can imagine, that made the task of developing our Lite application much easier, essentially a port. And of course since so much of our service is driven by the back end, it was really just a client port plus a slight simplification of the content.
That comes from a discussion in the comments to the blog post, where people are attacking the project on the grounds that X3D is all about open standards, and implementing it in Flash is a betrayal of core principles. These people need to get a grip. An open standard that is used by effectively no one (statistically speaking) is no standard at all regardless of what bodies back it. The sad fact is that technical superiority, openness, and official acronyms have zero to do with whether something really becomes a standard, which is all about getting lots of people to use it.
The way Vivaty are approaching this uses Flash as a gateway to the full experience. If this lines up with the way it has gone for others who have tried this, the Flash version will get dramatically more usage than the plugin version.
(Thanks to len for the heads-up!)