Open Metaverse – the OpenSimulator Contribution

Snowcrash Cover from wikimedia.orgOpenSimulator and its “grid of grids” (Hypergrid) approach is perhaps the nearest virtual worlds environment we currently have that approximates the “Metaverse” as envisaged in science fiction (e.g. Snowcrash) and popular culture. It is an approximation of what others seem to hint at when discussing the sorts of social networked virtual spaces that companies like High Fidelity and virtual reality headset companies like Oculus aspire to create.


Ai Austin with RiftOpenSimulator allows for a combination of a 3D virtual world environment, communication and synchronous collaboration capabilities including voice, media sharing, presence awareness, text chat and instant messaging. This becomes a powerful facility when combined with a web-based social platform and asynchronous modes of communication and information or knowledge sharing (e.g., Open Virtual Collaboration Environment, see Tate et al., 2014). Viewers available allow for 2D and VR usage.



OpenSimulator is an open source multi-platform, multi-user 3D application server. It can be used to create a virtual environment (or world) which can be accessed through a variety of clients, on multiple protocols. It also has an optional facility (the Hypergrid) to allow users to visit other OpenSimulator installations across the web from their ‘home’ OpenSimulator installation. In this way, it is the basis of a nascent distributed Metaverse.

Out of the box, OpenSimulator can be used to simulate virtual environments similar to Second Life™, given that it supports the core of SL’s messaging protocol. As such, these virtual worlds can be accessed with the regular SL viewers. However, OpenSimulator does not aim to become a clone of the Second Life server platform. Rather, the project aims to enable innovative feature development for virtual environments and the Metaverse at large.

Contributions to the Metaverse

Metaverse circa 2008-2009 – Almost There

Some experiments to allow for avatar movement (as Ruth) between OpenSim grids and a Second Life experimental Open Grid using a proposed Open Grid Protocol (OGP) took place in 2008 to 2009, but were not continued.

See this blog post from Gwyneth Llewelyn on 2nd March 2009 for some of the story…

And a YouTube video of the experiment in progress…

Wish List for Next Generation Virtual Worlds – Social Web + Virtual Worlds + Content + People

clipart-suitcaseI have written about this before… in a nutshell… I would like to see a grid of grids approach, a single instance world (accepting for duplicated content to allow for scale) where travel is possible with a common identity, a suitable “suitcase” (intelligently filtered and adapted) and interchangeable currency. Also where radically different newer technologies and user interactivity modalities can be introduced alongside legacy facilities and which can gradually build communities and shared content.

The travel suitcase might also be referred to as a travel pack, or a travel backpack. That might be more modern sounding than suitcase. We can envisage the pack containing one initial outfit worn for the trip and perhaps some other outfits for the destination (evening party wear, business meeting attire, space suit or scuba gear anyone?), travel ID/credentials, travel wallet, and other objects (gifts or space for souvenirs). The pack protocol might allow for appropriate export checks from the source location/platform, conversion requirements, and entry checks to the destination. We can even envisage a pre-travel pack checking service to advise on compatibility of the contents.


OpenSimulator as a Beacon

Work needs to be started on protocols for interchange of avatars and suitable portable and sharable content between different grids and technologies. The early work on the Open Grid Protocol and experiments to allow teleport between OpenSim and Second Life were not continued unfortunately. New commercial efforts seems to be more concerned with walled gardens and lock in for commercial data gathering than open standards and facilities to inter work with many other grids and technologies. OpenSimulator could be a beacon to show the way and an experimental environment to test ideas.


  • Tate, A., Hansberger, J.T., Potter, S. and Wickler, G. (2014) Virtual Collaboration Spaces: Bringing Presence to Distributed Collaboration, Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, Assembled Issue 2014, Volume 7, Number 2, May 2014. [PDF Format]
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3 Responses to Open Metaverse – the OpenSimulator Contribution

  1. Graham Mills says:

    Thanks for blogging this. I completely agree with the “beacon” status but how does OpenSim gain sufficient traction to enable its light to be seen more widely?

  2. bat says:

    2022-01-06 – Input to Discord Open Metaverse Interchange – omi-metaverse-traversal

    I like the idea of having a “travel outfit/appearance” and a “travel suitcase” that can work between Metaverse components and possibly intelligent filtering for permissions, capabilities between the source and destination.

    Just like the real world… you don’t take your whole wardrobe and the kitchen sink from home when you travel to the beach, or go mountain climbing or visit the ISS.

    A helmet can cover up your $5,000 NFT mesh head avatar and you might lose your legs when you visit Zuck’s worlds.

    I would like to input to the OMI Metaverse Traversal working group the simple (even obvious) design concept for metaverse traversal of being able to don a “travel appearance/outfit” and attach a “travel suitcase” for an avatar in a home environment and this be intelligently filtered or adapted perhaps via a “metaverse portal” to be able to take some aspects of avatar identity and metaverse content between very different and developing platforms, and indeed to be able to pick up items or make purchases on the destination to bring home (content or tokens) for safe storage.

    The travel outfit and travel kit idea is meant to reflect the potential need to adapt to different environments, and to different (perhaps not yet invented) technologies. Its not meant to be a lowest common denominator. Indeed the travel outfit and items that travel with you might far exceed the capabilities of your chosen home platform. That home platform might not even be a virtual world style thing, it might just be a repository and changing room platform.

  3. bat says:

    2023-10-16: Fred Beckhusen’s ready to run packaged version of OpenSim called DreamGrid has it seems over 5,000 separate grids, which with one tick box in configuration can be set to allow Hypergrid access in and out.

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