The rendering window itself has been improved, with the debug panel now OFF by default, giving it a much cleaner appearance. Avatar movement, via the cursor keys (or the movement buttons on the main Radegast window) is smoother, although still not as refined as the Viewer. Right-clicking on scripted-items in the render window now also calls-up any associated menu, or allows you to take direct actions such as sit, take, etc.
The most eye-catching addition that may be coming, however, is the ability for water reflections to be rendered, as shown in the video below from the Radegast team.
Now, I have to confess, I’ve downloaded the most recent nightly build, and couldn’t get the water reflections to work. This might be simply because the code to do so isn’t as yet in the latest build – I have no idea; but that doesn’t make the video above any less impressive.
There are a few issues around camera movement that could be refined or improved: holding CTRL and moving the mouse to the right – and seeing the camera move to the LEFT relative to its on-screen position, for example, can be a little confusing. But again, this rendering option is still experimental, so there is every chance that if things like this can be refined, they probably will be.
Overall, it’s fascinating to watch these developments within Radegast, and kudos to the team for the progress made so far.
In an article by Maria, Melanie Thielker of Avination (and who also heads-up OpenSim hosting company 3D Hosting) confirms that her company has entered into negotiations with Havok over the potential deployment of the company’s physics engine on the Avination grid.
As those actively engaged in Second Life know, the Havok engine is used to provide physics capabilities on Second Life; if the negotiations between Avination and Havok are successful, then it could see Avination becoming the first OpenSim grid to deploy physics of a standard comparable to Second Life – something that could give the company a strategic edge in gaining user-take up, especially in the areas of combat and role-play, which Aviation is geared towards already.
This is not the first time Avination has taken the path trod by Linden Lab; as Maria points out, in March of this year, Avination became the first OpenSim grid to offer Vivox voice capabilities. Again, given the widespread use of Vivox (Eve Online, EverQuest and others online games use the system as well), Avination opted for a product with a solid track record that is an excellent fit for their product. And they did so without having to pass on costs to their users.
Obviously, there are alternatives to both Voice and physics. In the case of Voice, there is Freeswitch and Whisper/Mumble, for example, although these have disadvantages in terms of reliability and usability. Physics-wise, there are open-source alternatives, as currently used by Avination and others. However, both Vivox and Havok are widely regarded as the “gold standard” in their respective fields.
Given this, Avination have demonstrated a shrewd approach to developing their platform and adding to its overall appeal both with Vivox in March, and now with Havok. It’ll be interesting to see how these latter negotiations pan out.