Update, July 28th: As per the comment following this artilce, the competition deadline has been extended through until August 31st, 2014.
I recently received an e-mail concerning RezMela, a scenario-building tool intended for training and simulation hosted on Kitely, and which is currently running a competition with prizes totalling $500 USD up for grabs.
RezMela, currently in an alpha / beta mode, essentially allows subject matter experts to create and deliver interactive training within a virtual environment. It comprises a classroom-style theory space, where students can learn about and watch presentations on the subject being taught, and a practice space which is dedicated to learning-by-doing, through the use of immersive simulations.
Simulations – referred to as scenarios in the RezMela documentation – can be rapidly developed and deployed using the Creation and Control (C&C) board. The C&C board provides the subject matter expert with access to a wide range of simulation “primitives” (not to be confused with the basic building blocks of OpenSim and Second Life). These RezMela “primitives” are trees and plants, buildings and structures, vehicles, terrains and so on, and a selection of different types of non-player characters (NPCs), which can be combined to create a required training scenario.
The C&C board presents simple 2D map on which icons representing the various “primitives” can be positioned, rotated, etc. As this happens, the actual simulation objects are placed out in the practice area of the RezMela environment, thus allowing a simulation to be quickly put together. Once the scenario has been built, additional elements such a weather, fires, smoke, dust, etc., can be added, and the time of day for the scenario set. When everything is ready, the scenario can be saved to the RezMela system, allowing it to be instantly recalled and created within the practice space at the click of a button.
NPCs and Objects within a scenario are not necessarily static or empty shells. Building and structures can have interiors, lending themselves to many different uses, and student can interact with various objects and vehicles, while NPCs will respond to stimuli around them. As well as enabling easy creation of scenarios, the C&C board can also be used to deliver classroom videos and presentations on the subject matter.
Combining the theory and practice spaces allows subject matter experts to provide information and guidance on a specific learning / training environment within the theory space via the C&C board, and then monitor students’ performance in real-time as they tackle the challenges presented in the scenario in the practice area.
Scenarios can be entirely created from scratch to suit a specific training / teaching requirement, or can be based on physical world situations, such as emergency or disaster management situations which have occurred, allowing students gain additional insight into such situations and events. The system can also be used for educational purposes as well, such as for teaching health and welfare or in teaching environmental matters and so on.
To help explain how the system works, DeepSemphore LLC, the company behind RezMela, have provided a range of videos and a slideshow introducing the basics of the beta system. There is also an in-world campus and workshop regions available to RezMela users where further information can be obtained.
The in-world nature of the RezMela system means that it can be used with the Oculus Rift to create a greater degree of immersion for students – there is little need to use a viewer’s UI, as control is via the C&C board. Another key aspect of RezMela on Kitely is the degree to which additional regions can be created / replicated using Kitely’s on-demand world provisioning. This allows RezMela instructors to rapidly create break-out sessions and prove environments in which different groups of students can participate in scenarios on dedicated regions without any user experience being impacted due to simulator resources becoming stretched.
As well as teaching / training, RezMela potential has other uses as well, such is to generate machinima environment or backdrops for photography. And it is with reference to these aspects of use that we come to the aforementioned summer 2014 competition.
This extends an open invitation to people to visit either RezMela Competition or RezMela Competition 2 in Kitely and use the available RezMela resources to create a photograph or a machinima (maximum length 5 minutes). Photographs should include up to 100 words of text to describe the scene, and machinima should be uploaded to YouTube and should have embedding enabled (but can be unlisted).
The closing date for the competition is Thursday July 31st, 2014, and entries must be received no later than 23:00 EDT. On offer are three prizes in each category, comprising $50, $30 and $20 for photographs and $250, $110 and $40 for machinima. Winners will be selected by public vote.
For full details on the competition, including how to submit entries, please refer to the RezMela competition page.
All told, RezMela offers an intriguing approach to simulation-based teaching and training. It’ll be interesting to see what emerges from the competition, and how the system develops going forward. Please refer to the RezMela website for further information.
RezMela is a trademark of DeepSemphore LLC.