Category Archives: Other Worlds

2015 OpenSimulator Conference registrations open

On Thursday, October 29th, I received an e-mail announcing that registrations for the 2015 OpenSimulator Community Conference are open.

Attendance is free, but for those wishing to donate to the supporting this and future conferences, there are a number of options to do so, ranging from $10.00 USD through to $200.00 USD, all of which offer various benefits to purchasers. For the full range of ticket options and their respective benefits, and to book your place at the conference, please visit the conference ticket page.

The 2015 conference will be a one day affair, taking place on Saturday, December 5th. Nevertheless, it will present a full programme of dynamic short presentations and panels that spotlight the best of the OpenSimulator platform and community that will take place virtually on the conference grid.

The OpenSimulator Community conference 2014 (image: the OpenSimulator Community Conference)

The OpenSimulator Community conference 2014 (image: the OpenSimulator Community Conference)

In addition, the organisers are inviting the OpenSimulator Community to host community and social events, scheduled for dates leading up to the conference in the days leading up to the conference and immediately following its closing on Saturday, December 5th at 17:00 PST, and again on Sunday, December 6th.

Those interested in hosting a social event should register their interest via the Community Event Sing-up page.

If you wish to give a presentation or talk at the conference, please register your interest via the Call for Proposals page, but note that all proposals must be received no later that 11:59 PST on Saturday, October 31st.

Volunteers for the event can also sign-up via the Call for Volunteers page.

The 2013 conference arena

The 2013 conference arena

About the Conference

The OpenSimulator Community Conference is an annual conference that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software. The conference is a joint production by Core Developers of OpenSimulator and AvaCon, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces.  The conference features a day of presentations, panels, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

High Fidelity: September update and things to come

HF-logoThe September newsletter from High Fidelity appeared at the end of that month, with Chris Collins highlighting some of the work that has been going on of late, providing an update on particle effects, procedural textures and – most interestingly – avatar kinematics and in-world object manipulation using an avatar’s hands and via suitable controllers.

Procedural textures allow for complex, algorithm based textures to be created using tools such as ShaderToy and used directly within High Fidelity. Brad Davis has created a video tutorial on procedural entities which Chris references in the newsletter, the write-up also follows a short video released on the High Fidelity  you Tube channel which briefly demonstrates procedural textures in HiFi.

However, it is the object manipulation that’s likely to get the most attention, together with avatar kinematics and attempts to imply a force when moving an object.

In terms of avatar kinematics, Chris notes:

In 2016, when the consumer versions of the HMD’s are released, you are also going to be using a hand controller. It is therefore important that we can make your avatar body simulate correct movement with the hand data that we receive back from the controllers.

The results are shown in the newsletter in the form of  some animated GIFs. In the first, Chris’ avatar is shown responding to a Hydra controller for hand movements and echoing his jaw movements. The second demonstrates object manipulation, with Chris’ avatar using its hand to pick up a block from an in-world game, echoing Chris’ motions using a hand-held controller.

Manipulating in-world objects in High Fidelity via an avatar's hands and a set of controllers (image: High Fidelity)

Manipulating in-world objects in High Fidelity via an avatar’s hands and a set of controllers (image: High Fidelity)

The animation in picking up the block may not be entire accurate at this point in time – the block seems to travel through the avatar’s thumb as the wrist is rotated – but that isn’t what matters. The level of manipulation is impressive, and it’ll be interesting to see if this might be matched with things like feedback through a haptic style device, so that users can really get a sense of manipulating objects.

The object manipulation element, together with attempts to imply a force when moving objects in-world which make up a core part of the video accompanying the newsletter (and which is embedded below). Again, this really is worth watching, as the results are both impressive, and illustrate some of the problems High Fidelity are trying to solve in order to give virtual spaces greater fidelity.

Coupling object manipulation with implied force opens up a range of opportunities for things like in-world games, physical activities, puzzles, and so on. There’s also potential for learning and teaching as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how this aspect of the work develops.

The newsletter also promises that we’ll be seeing some further VR demo videos from High Fidelity in October, so keep an eye out for those as well. a further contender for virtual spaces

The above video has been gaining attention since first appearing on You Tube at the end of August. It’s advance promotion for a new virtual worlds platform called, built using the Unity 3D engine, and which may be opening its doors to initial users in December 2015.

The company behind is Sine Wave Entertainment, a name which may be familiar to many Second Life users, given it is also the company behind the highly successful Sine Wave animations brand in-world.

Spearheading the work is Sine Wave’s CEO, Adam Frisby, a man who has considerable experience with virtual world platforms, having been one of the founders of the OpenSimulator project. In Second Life he is probably better known as Adam Zaius, the man behind such ventures as Azure Islands and the DeepThink virtual worlds development agency, which operated in both Second Life and OpenSim.

Adam Frisby is perhaps more recognisable to many in SL as Adam Zaius

Adam Frisby is perhaps more recognisable to many in SL as Adam Zaius

Nor are Sine Wave Entertainment new to the virtual worlds market. They’ve built and operated a number of virtual world spaces themselves, and they’ve produced virtual world spaces on behalf of clients, with all of their products created using the Unity 3D engine.

Perhaps the largest of their own environments is, a music-focused virtual environment claiming some 400,000 “live audience members”, 120 artists and some 600 music events held to date.

Chief among client-oriented spaces the company have developed is Flybar, a “multiplayer social game and on-line cinema for [the] globally distributed Spanish language soap opera Cuéntame cómo pasó“, and  which claims 1.2 million unique visitors since  2012, together with the Gojiyo virtual world / platform The latter was originally developed for India’s Godrej Industries and boasts 1.7 million registered users. It also appears to have what might be called associated games or spin-offs, such as Jiyopets.

Sine Wave are responsible for the India-based virtual world, GoJiyo, for Godrei Industries, and which boasted 1.7 million registered users

Reading the available information about, it’s interesting to note the similarities in approach between it and Project Sansar. For example, both platforms are intended to be white label environments in which creators can build their own branded spaces, and then promote  / market them directly to their potential audience, complete with sign-up portal, etc., without that audience necessarily being aware that the space they are entering is part of a platform providing many such spaces / experiences.

Further, both companies indicate the spaces within each platform could potentially be of unlimited size (Sine Wave indicate bandwidth, and Linden Lab the physics simulator, as being the only practical limitations to “land size”);  both platforms will offer a mix of “in-built” tools as well as support for a broad range of 3rd party tools for content creation – although Sine Wave would appear to be significantly further down the road in this. Sine Wave and Linden Lab also appear to be steering a similar course in terms of offering central user account management, virtual goods marketing, etc., which can be used across multiple environments running on their platforms.

Among their tool chain - which includes an advanced animation / gesture system - is the "humanoid resizer", intended to allow mesh clothing sized for "poular avatar skeletons" to be automatically resized to fit the primary avatar skeleton

Sine Wave are offering a content creation tool chain which includes an advanced animation / gesture system and, as illustrated above, a “humanoid resizer” tool, designed to allow mesh clothing sized for “popular avatar skeletons” to be automatically resized to fit the primary avatar skeleton

Which should not be taken to mean I think the two are in any way connected – I don’t. Rather, I find it interesting that two companies, each with their own approach to building and running immersive 3D spaces, have arrived at a similar conceptual approach as to how to build a platform aimed at being flexible enough in design and implementation to appeal to a wide cross-section of potential use-cases, without necessarily tying creators / clients / partners – or indeed, users – to a single branded environment.

Obviously, there are differences as well. For example, Sine Wave have indicated that among the worlds running on will be a number of their own spaces – such as the aforementioned, which is due for a re-launch under the banner in the near future – with the Sine Wave portfolio listing a number (all?) of such spaces which might be candidates for inclusion.

Sine Wave also produce Convvirt, a business-oriented space built on Unity 3D. Whether it is to form a part of the overall "federation" of virtual worlds is unclear, but it is listed as a part of the also listed under the portfolio, so one assumes so

Sine Wave also produce Convvirt, a business-oriented space built on Unity 3D. Whether it is to form a part of the overall “federation” of virtual worlds is unclear, but it is listed as a part of the also listed under the Sine Wave portfolio bearing the brand, so one assumes so

Sine Wave also have the advantage of building on an engine – Unity 3D – with which they have many years of experience of both operating and using to build virtual spaces, rather than starting entirely from scratch. Lessons learned from past efforts can be put directly to use. They are also well-versed in the tools an capabilities contained within the engine without having to go through an internal learning curve as a part of the development process, and they have experience in combining the tools within the engine with their own tools – motion capture, animation, etc. – to present creators with an integrated tool chain.

As it is, and as noted earlier, Sine Wave are seeking content creators – region designers, clothing designers, animators and gesture designers, vehicle builders, and more – and in doing so, they’re offering those signing-up a 70/30 (in the creator’s favour) revenue split on all content sold within the platform’s worlds when they are opened to users. Those interested should follow the above link to find out more.

It’ll be interesting to see how develops over the coming months, both independently as with Project Sansar as a possible frame of reference (and even vice-versa), and I hope to be able to provide updates on progress through these pages.

Note; this article was largely drafted prior to show #84 of the Drax Files Radio Hour podcast, in which Drax talks to Adam Frisby about You can hear the conversation starting at the 34:30 mark, with an introduction by Drax.

High Fidelity: into the solar system and STEM grant recipients

HF-logoI’m rather into space and astronomy – that much should be obvious from my Space Sunday reports, and coverage of mission like the Curiosity rover, astronomical events like the transit of Venus and so on.

So when High Fidelity posted news on the 2015 summer intern project, and the words “solar system” featured in it, my attention was grabbed. The post opens:

Hello! I’m Bridget, and I’ve been interning at High Fidelity this summer, working to build some JavaScript content in HF. As a math and computer science major, I had the opportunity to hone my programming skill set, learning from Hifi’s superb team of software engineers and design-minded innovators.

So here’s the culmination of my work this summer: a virtual orbital physics simulation that provides an immersive, interactive look at our solar system.

Bridget's solar system model correctly simulates the movement of planetary bodies around a stellar object , utilsing both Newton's and Kepler's laws, thus producing a dynamic teaching model for orbital mechanics and gravity

Bridget’s solar system model correctly simulates the movement of planetary bodies around a stellar object , utilising both Newton’s and Kepler’s laws, thus producing a dynamic teaching model for orbital mechanics and gravity – with a potential application for teaching aspect of physical cosmology

The goal of Bridget’s project is to demonstrate what can be built using JavaScript (and some C++), with a particular emphasis on building educational content in High Fidelity, and by using the solar system, she has come up with a highly innovative approach to teaching orbital mechanics – and more besides.

Essentially, she has created a model of the solar system which uses “real” gravitational physics to simulate the motion of the planets around the Sun. The planets themselves occupy orbits scaled relative to Earth, and fixed reference values are used for the orbital period, large and small body masses, and gravity. Then, a little Newtonian physics is thrown into the mix, together with a sprinkling of Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion. Thus, the scripting ensures that the planets maintain a stable orbit, while updates correct mimic each planet’s orbital trajectory around the Sun.

This generates a model that is interesting enough in itself, if somewhat simplified in nature, as Bridget notes, whilst also pointing to its potential for further use:

While the simulation exploits a somewhat simplified model, namely neglecting the elliptical nature of the planets’ orbits, it can easily be modified to account for additional factors such as the n-body problem.

In other words, there is the potential here to both refine the model in terms of orbital mechanics and planetary motion as a part of the teaching / learning process, and perhaps even dip a toe into physical cosmology.

the simulation

the simulation includes a UI which allows users to perform a number of tasks, including playing a little game and being able to zoom into the planets.

Bridget also notes:

Another fun aspect of the project was implementing UI to create possibilities for exploration and experimentation within the simulation. A panel with icons lets you:

  • Pause the simulation and show labels above each planet revealing its name and current speed
  • Zoom in on each planet
  • Play a “Satellite Game” (think Lunar Lander, but with a satellite around the earth), where you attempt to fling a satellite into stable orbit
  • Adjust gravity and/or the “reference” period, and see what happens!

Bridget’s work marks the second time a summer intern has reported on working at High Fidelity during the summer hiatus. In 2014, Chris Collins chatted to the (then) 17-year-old Paloma Palmer, a high School student also honing her coding skills. She focused on coding voxels to respond directly to volume inputs over a microphone in real-time. You can see her discussion with Chris on the HiFi YouTube channel.

Staying with education, and following on from my coverage of High Fidelity’s STEM VR challenge, Ryan Kampf announced the first of the grant recipients on Friday, August 14th.

The VR challenge invited educators, be they individuals or groups, to take up the STEM VR Challenge, to submit proposals for educational content in High Fidelity which meets the criteria set-out in the Challenge website, namely that the content is:

  • HMD (e.g. Oculus Rift) featured
  • High school age appropriate
  • STEM focused
  • Social (can be experienced by >3 people together).

On offer were up to three grants of US $5,000 each for recipients to further develop their ideas.

In his  announcement Ryan indicated that two recipients for grants had been selected from submissions: the TCaRs VR Challenge and Planet Drop VR.

Both use game mechanics, with TCaRs (Teaching Coding – a Racing simulation) enabling users get to interact with and customise their racing cars using JavaScript, while Planet Drop places players into an alien planet environment which they must explore through “cooperative asymmetrical gaming”. Each has highly specialised information, based on their chosen STEM field and provided to them via a game HUD, and the aim is for them to work together, sharing the information they receive as quickly and effectively as possible to allow the team to solve challenges and advance through a story arc of increasingly impressive accomplishments.

Conceptual illustration of the "Mech Pods" the players in Planet Drop will use to explore their alien environment

Conceptual illustration of the “Mech Pods” the players in Planet Drop will use to explore their alien environment

Congratulations to Bridget on her summer intern project (the script is available for those wishing to use it), and to the STEM VR challenge recipients.