New World Studio: self-hosting a region made easy

Note: New World Studio is no longer functional.

New World Studio, which is currently in beta testing, is designed as a quick-and-easy means of setting-up an OpenSim environment on any Windows, Mac or Linux computer.

The brainchild of Olivier Battini, New World Studio (NWS) is designed to provide home users, educational organisations and businesses a “one stop” means of establishing a self-hosted OpenSim environment, complete with a choice of region designs and with licence options (starting for 30 Euros / $40  – and subject to a 50% discount at the time of writing), which include automated network / firewall / access configurations.

NWS supports all current OpenSim commands, and can be quickly and easily configured to run as a single region or as an estate of multiple regions or megaregion, accessed by either the supplied viewer (Imprudence) or an OpenSim-compatible viewer of your choice. While the free version currently only supports a standalone capability, Olivier is re-working things so that installations can be opened-up for public access when online. Even so, and as a standalone option, NWS already offers home users a quick and easy way of establishing a private sandbox environment which content can be created and / or tested ready for export to other OpenSim environments and – to a degree at least – to Second Life.

To say NWS is exceptionally easy to set-up is an understatement. From download to running in its default mode takes less than five minutes. I had it downloaded, installed and customised to suit my requirements (avatar, my own OAR region file & choice of viewer) in under ten.

Installation

Installation is a matter of downloading the required ZIP archive (obtained directly from Olivier at the time of writing) and extracting it to a nominated location / folder. Linux and Mac users will also need to install Mono, otherwise everything is ready to run NWS in a default configuration.

However – if you want to customise the installation in any way (use your own region OAR or preferred viewer, for example), you will need to do so before you run NWS for the first time.

Custom Configuration

Configuring NWS requires editing the NewWorldStudio.INI (contained in the application folder) file using a suitable plain text editor (such as Notepad). Generally speaking, the [World], [Owner] and [Software] sections of the file will need to be updated.

[World]

Sets your region details and type.

Name: the name of your region (Default “New World Studio”) – can be anything you want

Initial Region: the region loaded on start-up. This can be one of the five supplied regions, or your own OAR file. The supplied regions are:

    • OpenVCE – a conferencing region with open and enclosed meeting spaces
    • Flat 21 – a complete flat grassland region 1 metre above sea level
    • Business District – a built-up region with roads, high-rises, a plaza, etc., supplied by Linda Kellie.com
  • Mountain Retreat – a mountain / snow region with house, chair lift and various activities, again supplied by Linda Kellie.com
  • Undersea Observatory supplied by Justin Reeves.

To use any of the supplied regions, replace the existing region name “OpenVCE” with the name of the region you wish to use exactly as it is listed in the REGIONS folder in your New World Studio installation (e.g. “Business District (LindaKellie.com)”).

If you want to use your own OAR file with NWS:

  • Create a folder in the REGION folder of your NWS installation & give it a suitable name
  • Copy the required OAR file to the folder you just created and rename it “region.oar”
  • Replace “OpenVCE” in Initial Region with the name of the folder containing your OAR file.
The deafult region with New World Studio and the (just visible) default male avatar
The default OpenVCE region supplied with New World Studio under a Creative Commons licence

SizeX and SizeY: define your region size. The default is a single 256m x 256m region. However, you can create multiple regions by entering suitable values here (3 and 3 will create a block with 3 regions on a side, for example).

IsMegaregion: If you create multiple regions, determines whether they should be treated as individual 256mx256m regions (FALSE) or whether they should be treated as a single megaregion (TRUE).

PosX and PosY: Define the global starting co-ordinates for your world. The default is 7000 for each, which is fine if you’re intending to have your world purely as a private environment. However, if you want your world open to the public, you should consider changing the co-ordinates to something more unique – the hypergrid system doesn’t allow moving directly between destinations with the same co-ordinates.

ShowOsWindow: Determines whether the system console is displayed when starting-up NWS. TRUE (default) = console will be displayed; FALSE = console is not displayed. Allowing the console window to open means you have access to OpenSim’s server-side commands, such as saving any region you build as an OAR file, etc.

[Owner]

This section defines your user name, password and default avatar.

  • Change FirstName and LastName  and Password to suit your requirements
  • InitialAppearance: enter the name of your preferred default avatar here (Benjiro, Benjiro2, Cara, Cara2)
The four avatar styles
The four default avatar styles: Benjiro, Benjiro2, Cara and Cara2

[Software]

NWS uses Imprudence as the default viewer. However, it is possible to change this to a different viewer using this section of the INI file. Note that if your viewer is subject to Linden Lab’s Havok sub-licence, you will either have to use the OpenSim version, or opt for a viewer which is not subject to the sub-licence. To set an alternate viewer:

  • Setting UseCustomViewer to TRUE
  • Setting CustomViewerPath to the local path to your preferred viewer’s EXE.

Also note that you can access your NWS environment via any viewer which supports OpenSim simply by using the localhost option on the grid selector / manager (see below).

Customising the INI file: (l) - the original; 9r) updated to reflect my preferences - note the region details and viewer selection
Customizing the INI file: the original (l), and my updates (r) – note the region details and viewer selection

Once you’ve updated the INI file and are satisfied all is as you want it, save it.

Starting-up

The
The New World Studio launcher – one stop floater to starting your own region and accessing it

Once you are ready to launch New World Studio,  double-click the NewWorldStudio.EXE file in the application folder.

This will display a “launcher” with three buttons – START 3D WORLD, LOGIN TO 3D WORLD and ACCESS ADVANCED FEATURES (requires the purchase of a licence). Of these, only START 3D WORLD will initially be active – so click on it!

  • If you are running in default mode, or have left ShowOsWindow set to TRUE, a console window will open, and should not be manually closed
  • If you are running NWS for the very first time, some additional pop-ups will be displayed, requesting authorisation for some EXEs to run.

Once the Apache, OpenSim, etc., software has started, the require region OAR file read and loaded, etc., the LOGIN TO 3D WORLD will be enabled. Clicking on this will start either Imprudence or your chosen viewer, depending on whether or not you have updated the INI file to use your preferred viewer. You will then be logged-into your region.

My Fallingwater OAR file loaded into New World Studio on my PC as a part of a 16-region megaregion. The "islands" in the sea denote the other regions which make up the megaregion
My Fallingwater OAR file loaded into New World Studio on my PC as a part of a 16-region estate The “islands” in the sea denote the other regions which make up the estate

Running NWS on a Non-specified Viewer

If you want to use a viewer you’ve not explicitly specified in the NWS initialisation file, proceed as follows:

  • Launch NWS as described above and click on START 3D WORLD
  • Start your required viewer, set the grid option to localhost and enter your NWS user name and password (defaults: “Newworld Studio” and “123456789”)
  • When the LOGIN TO 3D WORLD button on the launcher is enabled, log-in to your viewer.

What if things Go Wrong?

While editing the NWS initialisation file is relatively straightforward, mistakes do happen (you may incorrectly type the pathname to your preferred viewer, for example, or decide the OAR file you’re using is not what you want). Should problems occur, the easiest way to correct them at the moment is to navigate to your installation directory and then delete the folder containing all the New World Studio files & folders and then re-extract things from the original archive file once more.

If you are experimenting with options in the INI file and with your own OAR files, a quick tip is to keep a copy of the INI file and your OAR file folders outside of the folder containing all the NWS files and folders, and then copy them to their required location after each re-install.

Using NWS

Once NWS has been launched, it can be used like any other grid. You can build, try things out, keep it private or open it for public access. Where OpenSim is concerned, the potential is pretty clear; the console gives access to the full range of commands for creating OAR, IAR and XML archives of anything you create via NWS (which can be ported elsewhere). But how useful is NWS to Second Life users?

While NWS cannot be used to directly connect with SL, it does offer an alternative means of content creation for those who need it, providing them with what amounts to an entirely self-contained sandbox in which creations can be modelled and / or tested prior to uploading them to SL and / or OpenSim. Using Imprudence (or similar) also enables you to archive your prim builds as .XML files suitable for import into SL.

There are some limits to this, however. Textures and scripts used within linksets aren’t archived as a part of the .XML file, for example. However, in the case of textures, the prim faces can be imported with the number of repeats, etc., intact, so uploading and re-applying textures once the build is positioned shouldn’t be a major hardship (or you can use Singularity to export from NWS and import elsewhere).  The lack of script export capabilities also shouldn’t be too difficult to overcome.

Beta Testers

Olivier is currently seeking beta testers – particularly those using Macs. If you’re interested in trying-out NWS and providing feedback, you can e-mail him to request access to the downloads.

Feedback

This is not the first attempt to make self-hosting with OpenSim quick-and-easy, and it probably won’t be the last. However, Olivier has put together something which is entirely non-technical and extremely easy to get started. As I said, under 10 minutes from start-up to running my own 4×4 meagregion with my Fallingwater OAR file loaded in the south-west corner.

There are some things to be aware of. Once the initialisation file has been run, it’s not possible to go and change things within it without shutting the NWS service down and restarting, for example. This is understandable, given that the INI file is read one at start-up. The flip side to this however, is that the INI file makes customizing an NWS environment to suit specific needs very easy, and then changing them to suit later – such as swapping your preferred viewer to another TPV or using a different avatar.  Some of this could do with documentation, and there is a section of the New World Studio website waiting for this to happen. However, given how busy Olivier has been of late, I’m not going to hold any current lack of docs and tutorials against him!

All-in-all, an interesting and easy-to-use take on OpenSim self-hosting. It’ll be interesting to see how this work develops.

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4 thoughts on “New World Studio: self-hosting a region made easy

  1. Only trouble i have is i have registered the program, i have paid for a new registration and it has not been sent and all options to contact the owner has been exhausted so I can no longer enter my sims

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