Talk from and about virtual worlds & immersive spaces. With Mal Burns, Thirza Ember & James Atlloud. Produced by Metaworld Broadcasting. The 26th February 2023 edition had guests Ai Austin and Humbletim. The intended discussion topic was Virtual World Viewers, though the actual topics range more widely about virtual worlds developments and uses.
This blog post provides some notes, resources and links provided by Ai Austin to help in the discussion.
As with many potentially useful educational technologies, I had an initial exploration in Second Life in its early days, around 2004. Second Life’s first public release was a year earlier in 2003. But it became more useful and more widely publicized in 2006 and I have had a presence in Second Life since then and in OpenSim (as both user and grid owner) since July 2007. I frequently make blog posts about experiments and uses of virtual worlds tools and techniques.
Firestorm Viewer and OpenSim Core Developers
- Firestorm Core Devs: Jessica Lyon, Willow Wilder, Whirly Fizzle, Ansariel Hillier and team, and also especially looking after OpenSim users interests: Cinders Roxley and Beq Janus.
- OpenSim Core Devs:
- Early days with Adam Frisby and Justin Clark-Casey
- Melanie Thielker
- Diva (Crista Lopes, University of California, Irvine)
- Robert Adams (MisterBlue)
- Kevin Cozens
- Leal Duarte (Ubit Umarov)
VR developments – 2007 to date
- 2007 3D stereoscopic University of Michigan
- 2011 3D anaglyph (red/cyan glasses) Kirsten’s Viewer
- 2014 David Rowe (CtrlAltStudio) 3D anaglyph, Nvidia 3D active shutter, Oculus Rift.
- 2014 VoidPointer Linden – LL Oculus Rift Project Viewer.
- 2016 Other 3D injection approaches such as VorpX.
- 2019 Peter Kappler VR Mod – minimal approach. GHA build process by @thoys and @humbletime
Linden Lab “almost there” in 2014 but gave up with FPS concerns. I speculate it was some broken final commits around October 2014 after VoidPointer left the project that were shown and not liked in LL at the time.
I am NOT a fan of assuming all user interaction will be via VR HMDs. I prefer mostly 2D UI with occasional entry into VR when relevant.
Good example is the OpenSim RGU Oil Rig for immersive oil rig worker training.
Development Milestones and Disruptive Times
LGPL Viewer Licence was a big spur. Prior to that OpenSim devs were serious about NOT looking at LL viewer code and reusing some simple assets such as default textures before that.
- 0.8.2.1 -> 0.9.0.* transition (serious object rez issues, caused some grids to delay upgrade for a long time).
- Estate Management (caused some users and grids to delay viewer upgrade for some time).
- Mesh (Collada).
- Bakes on Mesh (worked surprisingly well for majority of functionality without change).
- Coming up: PBR, Puppetry.
NPC mechanism is easier to use and more flexible than LL Animesh and was introduced much earlier. Good for educators.
hop:// Protocol- “nearly” working
I am a big fan of hop, and try to encourage its use and development where I can. I think its the simplest, most easily understood mechanism for defining locations and providing web and viewer clickable links to go to locations on any one OpenSim grid and across the Hypergrid.
hop is now well supported via Firestorm, and some other viewers (like Alchemy), with recent improvements by Beq Janus on the Firestorm team. A few remaining issues have JIRA entries and may one day be addressed. The top one is an issue where a hop region name is a partial match for more than one other region on the grid.
Wishlist for the Future (SL and OpenSim)
- Display Names would be handy – already in some spin off branches of OpenSim server.
- Procedurally Generated Flora and Terrain Features (Unity terrain editor like).
- Improved packaging of a travel case with permissions based export for other virtual worlds (metaverse)
- Other mesh format options (glTF, FBX) for 3D models and avatars (needs armature/skeleton conversion).
- A “metaverse” capable viewer across multiple platforms with avatar identity and travelling suitcase support (permissions based).
There have been several attempts to provide continuing access to Second Life even when not on a capable machine on which the full viewer can run. This usually involves at least maintaining avatar to avatar to group orientated communication. But some viewer for mobile devices also allow for more types on interaction.
- Pocket Metaverse on Apple iOS Devices for SL and OpenSim
- Lumiya for Android devices
- Speedlight via a web browser – https://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/speedlight-resources/
OpenSim Only Viewer?
- Too small a community and too many variants to go for just an Opensim Viewer.
- Standards development will mean more sharing of assets. glTF is an example… with Robert Adams/MisterBlue developing a bridge. OARConv and Unity direct view with libremetaverse library in Crystal Frost viewer by Berry Bunny, etc.
Viewer Panel – 26-Feb-2023 – Ai Austin Links & Images
RGU Oil Rig
Immersive Training Experience and Safety Training for Offshore Rig Workers.
Oil Rig and sea-bed equipment, including Blow Out Preventer.
Good example of effective VR.
OpenVCE – Open Virtual Collaboration Environment
Teamwork and collaboration space with meeting spaces, project areas, expo pavilions, amphitheatre, etc.
Shared content in Second Life, OpenSim and other platforms.
Available as Open Educational Resources.
I-Room – Virtual Space for Intelligent Interaction
Instrumented meeting space with connections to intelligent planning and knowledge-based systems.
Used for a variety of research, teaching and collaboration spaces.
Vue/Openvue – Virtual University of Edinburgh
Teaching, research, project and outreach spaces.
Available as Open Educational Resources.
SciFi – Mesh Model Testing – Hobby Content
Complex 3D models used over the years for testing mesh in virtual worlds platforms.
E.g. Gerry Anderson 1960s TV Shows – Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray.
History of VR Viewers for Second Life and OpenSim
Wishlist for Next Generation Viewers
Improved terrain, trees, plats, grasses, surface water, etc.
Travel Outfits and Suitcase/Backpack with intelligent content management and migration.
Connecting Social Web, Virtual Worlds, Content Generation and People.