What is SAPARi?
SAPARi was a Sony virtual world/3D chatroom that ballooned in popularity when it was preinstalled on Sony VAIO devices in the late 90's and early 2000's. Primarily developed by Tsunetake Noma, who was at that point an employee of Sony's Computer Science Laboratory, it launched on February 6th, 1997 and accumulated hundreds of thousands of users. SAPARi promptly died on September 1st, 2001 when Sony switched the service to a montly paid model via So-net.
SAPARi experienced its first ever explosion in interest on the english-speaking internet in late 2020 when an Osamu Sato fan server stumbled upon SAPARi, a game with somewhat similar aesthetics to the PS1 game LSD Dream Simulator. They started a Discord server, and a second wave of users would arrive in early 2021 when the home of obscure creatures Twitter account retweeted a screenshot of the game as a submission.
SAPARi intruiges me personally for a few reasons. First, its birth in the Sony CSL mirrors another one of my longest-standing interests: Sony's robotics research. The money the company spent at the time cultivating slightly off-the-wall capsules of 90's futurism was unparalleled.
In addition, SAPARi's existence as a VRML tool is an amazing time capsule of what early internet users imagined the web would be. The idea that parallels to physical spaces would embody the internet user's experience is an idea that is antiquated by today's standards, but still retains merit. By imbuing our technology with distinctly human wonder and characteristics, we can make it better overall. This is something we can learn from VRML worlds like SAPARi.
Server IP: ascii.garden:0000
Raspberry Pi 3b, running Community Place Bureau ver 2 BETA 2. This server will disappear if it is abused.
Information of interest
1000 player cap
The version of the Community Bureau server software distributed to the public and with the book Late Night VRML is labelled as a BETA but is probably more akin to a demo. The maximum player connections is 13 for the B1, B2 and B3 versions of the server and a mere 3 for the evaluation version. We are effectively playing a trial version of SAPARi. Finding the production server software would allow us to run SAPARi at a large scale for everyone.
A point of confusion early on was whether or not the "canadian professor" referenced on Koko's page is relevant to the search for further SAPARi content.
Well, here's the good news: I know who the professor is! And here's the bad news: the "file sharing" server isn't some chance encounter with a team member that uploaded an old drive for safekeeping. The man in question is Professor Bernie Roehl of ECE at University of Waterloo. The file upload is the CD-ROM that came with a book he was a contributor for: Late Night VRML 2.0 with Java. The file itself was likely present as an example of what could be done with VRML and Sony's Community Place software and is the identical to the software that was distributed on Sony's official website.
Where is CPB ver 2 BETA 3?
An archive of a Sony page lists a newer version of the Community Place Bureau than we have access to, but the executable was never archived. Does this file exist anywhere online?
Unofficial SAPARi Discord server: The place most of this kicked off in the first place. Join to find the community and to-the-minute information.
dr9nu: A simple install guide for SAPARi.
community-place Neocities: A compilation of installers and downloads for Community Place content maintained by barra.
さぱり: The archived version of the official SAPARi website.