OpenSim Arriba


Arriba is a code fork off the main OpenSimulator master code. I discovered it via a visit to the Shin Ingen’s iTEC Ingen-Lab grid.

See this article for more information on Arriba and advice on setting up and using it for the first time…

The download links in that post may be out of date… the most recent link can be found via a forum, e.g.,

Arriba Setup

Arriba comes as source code to compile and configure as you wish, as for the normal OpenSim development code, and via forum there are prepared versions for “Arriba on a Stick” (standalone on port 9000) and single host “Arriba Mini-Grid” (using Robust services on port 8002).

I adjusted the language in the “MOWES” control panel “Options” from the default German to English, used the MWI web interface provided to edit the welcome and flash news pages to English, and did a small edit to the Robust.ini and Regions/*.ini files to customise the grid and region names to “Vueport” and all looks good on first run.

Web Interface

The web interface for Arriba is provided by MWI (MyOpengrid Web Interface MWI). It is based on PHP code and provided many options to manage the grid, its users and content and the web interface itself…


First Run


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OpenSim – Visit to Ingen Labs – Vehicles, Phsyics and Varregions

Title corrected… go to
OpenSim – Visit to Ingen Labs – Vehicles, Physics and Varregions

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OpenSim – Visit to Ingen Labs – Vehicles, Physics and Varregions

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Unity Project – OpenVCE and I-Room

In preparation for some testing of the free version of Unity 4.5.5 and the Oculus Rift integration, I have updated some of my earlier tests of Unity3D from 2010-2011. Several of these builds are demonstrated at



The OpenSim-based “OpenVCE” region converted via the Tipodean OpenSim -> Collada -> Unity3D path works fine with a simple single user build. This is ready for further work and linking to the multi-user facilities and enriched UI-Room capabilities in due course.

Unity-4-5-5-OpenVCE-Editor Unity-4-5-5-OpenVCE-Player

I-Room and Multi-User Collaboration

The Unity I-Room demonstration was originally built as a self-paced tutorial for me following the book “Unity Game Development Essentials” by Will Goldstone (ed. 2009) and making use of the SmartFox Server multi-user support libraries and a good on online tutorial.

Unity-4-5-5-I-RoomMMO-Editor Unity-4-5-5-I-RoomMMO-Player

Unity Island Demo


There has been a very useful and rich demonstration of a tropical island in Unity for some years, but it often gets lost, changes its download location or has newly introduced errors after upgrades. The current link for a live demo and the download is currently at (as at October 2014). This version though needs a few script errors correcting before it will run. Download zip of source and models from [Local Copy]

Suggested error corrections were found via other developers blogs…

  • Assets/Scripts/UnderwaterEffects.js(23,46): BCE0022: Cannot convert ‘UnityEngine.GameObject’ to ‘float’. Lets try to modify it from:
    • if(water) waterLevel = water.gameObject;
    • to: (just a guess)
    • if(water) waterLevel = water.gameObject.position.y;
  • New error comes up:
    Assets/Editor/UpdateTreeColors.js(13,17): BCE0031: Language feature not implemented: UnityEditor.
  • That is some editor script, lets disable it for now, by renaming the file to “UpdateTreeColors.js_” (in Windows Explorer, cannot do inside Unity)

And some corrections for the issues with the shaders and missing semantics…

After making some of these changes at 31-Oct-2014 I am down to two shader-related errors and one warning… but interestingly I can run the demo in the previewer and even build the application even with these specific errors… with vivid pink water (and similar vivid pink glass on buildings in other demos)…


The remaining two errors and one warning are:

  • Shader error in ‘FX/Island Water Simple': ‘vert': function return value missing semantics at line 81
  • Shader error in ‘FX/Island Water Simple': ‘frag': input parameter ‘i’ missing semantics at line 123
  • Shader warning in ‘FX/Island Water Simple': Upgrade NOTE: SubShader commented out because of manual shader assembly at line 168

Oculus Rift

Next step is to follow the tutorials to integrate the I-Room and SmartFox Server Multi-User demonstration environment with the Oculus Rift Unity integration package.

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OpenSim Pirate Lands

Several OpenSim artists have created pirate themed regions and made them available in the form of OpenSim Archives (OARs)…

Vue-Port on OSGrid uses the OpenSim Creation “Stonehaven – Port Aurora” OAR previously described in this blog post from July 2014. It contains a range of mesh buildings and their contents, and a variety of pirate ships. A set of pirate themed and related clothing avatars are also available.

And Colin Hetherington from Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Abderdeen, Scotland has done a pirate themed hobby region with some excellent textured objects.

Here the two regions have been loaded onto the Sim-on-a-Stick OpenSim distribution.



Stonehaven – Port Aurora – by “jamiewright” on OpenSim Creations

2014-07-14-Stormhaven_003 2014-07-14-Stormhaven_004
2014-07-14-Stormhaven_007 2014-07-14-Stormhaven_006

Pirate Isle – by Colin Hetherington

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2014-10-28-Pirate-Isle-1_003 2014-10-28-Pirate-Isle-1_004

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RGU Diver Avatar on AiLand

Colin Hetherington, who produced the Robert Gordon’s University (RGU) oil rig training facility, has also created mesh attachments and a diver wet suit for OpenSim and Second Life. 3D mesh parts are imported to the virtual world platform via the Collada DAE mesh file format. As mentioned in other posts, the oil rig build allows for a range of platform and subsea training events hosted in the virtual world.


Colin gave me permission to use his diver avatar meshes and textures on our virtual world regions… some images are shown below.

At the RGU Oil Rig and Seabed Blow Out Preventer

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At Marineville and the Undersea Observatory

2014-10-28-RGU-Diver-with-Undersea-Observatory-2 2014-10-28-RGU-Diver-with-Whale

And on the Oculus Rift DK2


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High Fidelity Alpha Tests – Importing the Tuscany Villa Demo

An alpha test of importing the Oculus Rift Unity3D-based Tuscany Villa Demonstration to the hifi://alpha/TuscanyAlpha location proved very successful.

As Tuscany Villa Appears in Oculus Unity Demo

Oculus-Tuscany-Villa-1 Oculus-Tuscany-Villa-2

As Tuscany Villa Appears in High Fidelity (27-Oct-2014)


HiFi Snapshot including Window Surround and User Interface Elements


HiFi Snapshot as it appears in Oculus Rift DK2


Oculus Rift DK2 Image by HiFi alpha tester Derric_​​Foggarty

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Oculus Rift DK2 – Helix Rollercoaster


Helix in VR image above by The Virtual Dutchmen

RiftDK2For those with the stomach, there is a well modelled VR experience of riding the Helix Rollercoaster situated at Liseberg’s amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden, produced by the Virtual Dutchmen (part of ArchiVision Imaging in the Netherlands). has more details and download links for Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2 versions for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac.


The Helix track is almost 1.4 km (4500 feet) long and the ride lasts for two minutes. Along the track are two launches where the coaster accelerates using Linear Synchronous Motors. The ride includes seven inversions, three airtime hills and plenty of drops, twists and turns. Look round and see how fellow riders are doing!


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Oculus Rift DK2 – Oil Rig on OpenSim in CtrlAltStudio Viewer


Using David Rowe’s CtrlAltStudio Viewer ( Alpha 3), a variant of Firestorm 4.6.5 with added Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2 and Stereoscopic 3D display modes, on the AiLand grid based on OpenSimulator.


Visiting the Robert Gordon’s University (RGU) oil rig training facility. This is a build mostly using 3D meshes imported to OpenSim via the Collada DAE mesh file format. The build allows for a range of oil rig and subsea training events hosted in the virtual world.


Oil Rig Deck

The deck of the oil rig has a number of cranes, storage for pipes, containers for equipment and a control room. These have a range of educational aids and video displays. Non-Player Characters (NPCs) occupy the cranes. Boiler suits and ear defenders are required wear for trainees, instructors and visitors.


Oil Rig Interior

The interior of the oil rig is realistically modelled, along with loud machinery noise. Educational aids help students identify elements of the interior equipment on the rig.


Seabed, BOP and ROV

On the seabed is a Blow Out Preventer (BOP), a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), piping and a range of test and repair equipment. They are surrounded by educational aids.

2014-10-27-CtrlAltStudio-Oil-Rig-BOP-1 2014-10-27-CtrlAltStudio-Oil-Rig-BOP-2

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Oculus Rift DK2 – Supercar at Calton Hill

More testing of the Oculus Rift DK2 in Second Life using the Linden Labs Project Viewer 3.7.18 (295296). Check if a later version has been released. This version uses Oculus SDK 0.4.2 Beta so still works with the Rift DK2 in “Extended Desktop” mode rather than the preferred “Direct to Rift” mode which it is hoped will be supported as soon as some OpenGL issues with the Oculus SDK are sorted out.


The Release Notes provide some helpful advice on getting a good frame rate and improving the visuals. As well as a button to toggle between normal and HMD modes there are a range of keyboard commands relevant to using the Oculus Rift.

Oculus Rift Relevant Key Controls

  • Enter HMD mode – CTRL + SHIFT + D
  • Align to look – Q
  • Centre Mouse Pointer – Z
  • Action key – X
  • Camera Mode – M (Press multiple times to cycle through 3rd Person, HMD Mouse look, and 1st Person modes)
  • Hide UI – CTRL+SHIFT+U

The User Interface elements are now showing at a comfortable viewing distance, and there is a lot of customisation possible if the default does not work well for you. All UI elements can be turned off when in HMD Mode with Ctrl+Shift+U. However, the “Stand” button that shows when you are seated on an object or in a vehicle, still shows even when the UI elements are off. This interferes with the immersive effect. This has been reported at JIRA RIFT-179

2014-10-27-Supercar-in-SL-Ai-Be-1 2014-10-27-Supercar-in-SL-Ai-Be-2

The Space Navigator, a useful 3D controller to allow for avatar and camera control, is not yet properly working in the current version of the experimental RIFT viewer. When using it for the camera (“Flycam”) in the HMD mode, the image is flipped on its side.

Added note: The PlayStation PS3 game controller can be used with the CtrlAltStudio Rift Viewer and Linden Labs Rift Project Viewer with suitable Xbox 360 compatible settings in the joystick setup preferences… see
this blog post for details.

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Oculus Rift DK2 – Project Viewer


On 15th October 2014 Linden Labs released an Oculus Rift compatible version of the Second Life “Project Viewer” which can be installed alongside the main official released viewer. The Rift viewer has version number At present the Rift DK2 has to be used as the second screen in extended desktop mode, rather than in the “Direct to Rift” driver mode. This is because the current OculusVR SDK 0.4.2 Beta does not yet properly support OpenGL as needed for the Second Life viewer. This Linden Labs Second Life Community blog post gives details…


The viewer download and release notes are available off the “Second Life Beta Viewers” link near the bottom of

Recommended Destinations for Rift Experiences

There is a list of destinations in Second Life that are suited to testing your Rift at

One seasonal experience is a Halloween Haunted Mansion at


Most images too gory to blog! And my eyes were shut most of the time anyway!

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Project Spark

Project-Spark-Logo-400x225Microsoft’s Project Spark is a game or world creator for Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Xbox One. An Xbox Live account is needed to download and use Project Spark. This can be obtained free and linked to any Microsoft Account. See Wikipedia article. This blog post brings together links and resources during a quick test.


Xbox Live Avatar - Ai Austin

Project Spark – Resources

Project Spark – Create, Sculpt, Share, Play

Project-Spark-Splash-Screen Project-Spark-Play

Suspension Platform Game Example

Project-Spark-Suspension-1 Project-Spark-Suspension-2

Champions Quest: Void Storm Game Example

Project-Spark-Champions-Quest-Title Project-Spark-Champions-Quest-Characters
Project-Spark-Champions-Quest-1 Project-Spark-Champions-Quest-2

Project Spark – World Creation Tools

Project Spark – AiLand Test World


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High Fidelity Alpha Tests – Metavoxels

High Fidelity supports a general object placement facility called “metavoxels” which allows a brush shape (sphere or cube, etc) to be used to place a voxel of a given size and shape with a given texture on a plane (such as X/Y for a vertical plane or X/Z for a horizontal plane. This allows 3D forms to be built. Holes can then be dug through these shapes to make caves, etc.


This is an example of a simple hedge or arch created on the X/Y place with a 1m diameter sphere brush and using a foliage texture…


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Orion – Flight Test for Future Journey to Mars

I just sent my name to fly on Orion’s flight test, scheduled to launch December 4th to 6th, 2014! Orion is NASA’s new spacecraft that will carry humans into deep space.

A video of the mission and its objectives is at


Get Your Own Boarding Pass On NASA’s #JourneyToMars ! Send your name here:

View Austin’s Boarding Pass:


View Margaret’s Boarding Pass:


Ai Austin is joining us…


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AiLand – New OpenSimulator Grid

OSGrid is used by many as a freely accessible grid run by some of those involved in OpenSimulator development onto which locally hosted regions can be added. While the main Virtual University of Edinburgh facilities are in Second Life (region “Vue” and others nearby) and on the OpenSim-based Openvue grid, I have a number of Virtual University of Edinburgh, hobby topic and experiment related regions added on OSGrid and run on Edinburgh hosts. But OSGrid had a major asset server malfunction in late August 2014 and is taking some time to recover [Update: OSGrid was back up with assets restored on 12th March 2015].

My OSGrid add-on regions are all backed up to OpenSim Archive (OAR) files, and the OSGrid avatars have their inventory backed up as Inventory Archive (IAR) files. To maintain future robustness and offer a recover route after OSGrid is back up if necessary, I have built a new OpenSim grid called “AiLand” (pronounced “island”) hosted on an old Windows server updated to Windows 8.1 and with MySQL 5.6 installed.

AiLand residents are avatars involved in creating and managing the various regions. Temporary connection of experimental regions which may not persist is anticipated. Ailand is open for HyperGrid visitors (suggest heading for the welcome and portal region which is also named “AiLand) and is hosted at Login URI

The OpenSim 0.8.1 development configuration (initially r/25290) is based on the operational Edinburgh hosted “Openvue” grid [see blog post here] with the config-include/GridCommon.ini, Robust.HG.ini and OpenSim.ini files suitably modified. A few minor cosmetic changes to the Wifi web page headers and links were also made.


The administrator avatar is “Ai Austin” and the welcome and Hypergrid visitor fallback region is called “AiLand” located on the grid map at 1000,1000. This is the image on first entry as the default “Ruth” avatar. Then another image after all initialisation avatars (Ruth, Male, Female, Hippo, and Lizard Mesh) had been created and a telehub placed so that all avatars can set their “Home” location on AiLand. Ai Austin is now also in his usual Flight Suit…

AiLand-2 Snapshot_001

AiLand – Welcome Region and Portal

The usual Openvue style simple welcome area and teleport facilities, along with the racks of assets and avatars has been restored on the “AiLand” region…



OpenVCE – Open Virtual Collaboration Environment

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The OpenVCE community has provided openly accessible virtual worlds assets that can be used to provide collaboration spaces and presentation facilities in OpenSim and Second Life. This is the region as used on OpenSim grids such as Openvue and MOSES.



AiLand-Edinburgh-1 2014-10-02-Edinburgh-2
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A simple Edinburgh themed “base” region, which has a diagonal thoroughfare called “High Street” separating the project areas to each side, along with “The Castle” at one end with a large cavern and display spaces called “The vaults” below it, and “The Tower” at the other end of the street. The familiar Edinburgh skyline “Calton Hill” monuments are placed to one side. This base is used to replicate for project spaces that have Edinburgh backgrounds. In The Vaults a replica of the “Trans—~Formation” trans-media artwork and associated musical experience is available.


Gerry Anderson’s Black Rock Laboratory – Supercar

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Gerry Anderson’s Space City – Fireball XL5

AiLand-Space-City-1 AiLand-Space-City-2


Gerry Anderson’s Marineville – Stingray

2014-10-01-AiLand-Marineville-1 2014-10-01-AiLand-Marineville-2


RGU Oil Rig

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A large mesh model of a North Sea oil rig used for training purposes at the Oil and Gas Centre at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, Scotland and originally on their own OpenSim grid. It is off-shore oil rig being used for training and simulations. It is used on Vue regions with RGU’s permission.


Aisle – AI – Avatar Identity

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A digital artifact created during my studies in 2011/2012 for an MSc in e-Learning, studied by online and distance education in our School of Education to update my knowledge of online teaching methods. The “Avatar Identity” themed area explored a number of technologies related to NPC (Non-player characters), some of which were intended to act as immersive training simulation role players, tutors and guides).


AiLand Login Screen, Map and Destinations Panel at 1-Oct-2014


AiLand Avatars


Avatars on AiLand including, from left to right, three Gerry Anderson related avatars (Mike Mercury, Venus and Robert the Robot), Sintel (the open source Blender film character), Ai Austin (and an NPC clone), the open source “Gerrymander” Lizard mesh avatar by Fred Frederix , Be Austin, and the default Male, Female and Neutral avatars.

New Splash Screen

On 4th October 2014, the web interface and browser splash screens were replaced with the avatar group image and on 7th October 2014 a new stable LoginURI of was introduced…


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realXtend Tundra and MeshMoon

It is some years since I experimented with realXtend, which originally spun out of the OpenSimulator community code base, but quickly added mesh capabilities, long before this became the norm in OpenSim and Second Life. The quality of the image from one of these early tests of realXtend version 0.1 by me in 2008 is shown below, and its far more detailed than the simplistic prim worlds allowed at the time in OpenSim and Second Life.


Test on locally hosted realXtend 0.1 on 22-Feb-2008

This blog post is to collect resources and web links as part of exploring the most recent version and the associated technology of a browser based viewer, Moonmesh, which may be relevant to future browser-based access to OpenSim. realXtend and Meshmoon are included in a list of enabling technologies which may be used in recent EU technology innovation bids (in September 2014) see for example this news blog post…

Hypergrid Business: EU offers $103 mil in tech funding; OpenSim web viewer might fit
, Maria Kolorov, 23-Sep-2014

Software and Documentation

The latest server side versions are called realXtend, the viewer client is called Tundra and there is a web-based client called WebTundra. Meshmoon is a platform for showcasing realXtend and related applications and technology.

Demonstration Worlds Accessible in a WebGL Browser

Using a WebGL and WebSockets capable browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google chrome you can access a range of ready-to-run demonstrations without installing other software…

Image2 2014-09-30-Meshmoon-Lunar

The avatar does not appear to be customizable and is definitely NOT wearing the correct head gear for the Lunar surface!


Circus World Demonstration of Tundra

A “Circus” demonstration world is available to download at


The example on the web page did not launch for me, even after manually associating the Tundra file that should be used with the preinstalled Tundra .exe file. It simply reported that Tundra had started but no active scene was selected. However, with the realXtend Tundra client installed, I was then able to download and unzip the Circus demonstration example into a suitable location and open the CircusScene.txml (Tundra Scene File) within it which launches Tundra and opens at the entrance to the circus tent. There is no documentation I could find on installing and running the Circus demo within the web page or the zip file… so its difficult to know what you do next. The arrow keys do not move the viewpoint and none of the icons except the information “i” does anything I can see. The camera could be moved about with the mouse and spacebar and “C” did shift the viewpoint up and down. No avatar is visible.


Meshmoon 3D Model and Texture Formats

realXtend and Meshmoon use the OGRE 3D XML-based format for meshes (.scene, .mesh, .skeleton) along with a realXtend overall description (.txml). Converters, for example for Blender are available. See

Meshmoon Unity3D Scene Import and Robot Lab Example

A utility to export some parts of a Unity3D created world into Meshmoon is available here… along with a demonstration of such an export that can be run in a WebGL/WebSockets browser such as Firefox… via The demonstration does allow the usual avatar movement via the arrow keys, spacebar for jump, etc. and the movement of the camera with the mouse.


Meshmoon Rocket and 3D Spaces

The Meshmoon Rocket client allows access to a range of 3D spaces created by various Meshmoon users, including 3D spaces created for your own avatar and optionally opened publicly which gives access to others and is listed in the directory…


A 3D space can be created via the Meshmoon web site (in my example for avatar “Ai Austin” username: aiaustin) using the Meshmoon Education program (MEP) credentials – see below. This space is called “Ai” and can be “launched” via this Rocket URL




Experiments with adding content will follow.

Meshmoon Education Program

Support is offered to educators via the Meshmoon Education Program (MEP) supporting up to 100 accounts via a coordinator. I have signed up as the Coordinator on behalf of the Virtual University of Edinburgh. So I am point of contact for anyone within wanting to explore with a free 3D world at present. Contact me at

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Scottish Independence Referendum

Decision Day… 18th September 2014

Scot-No Scot-Yes


Towards Scottish Independence? Understanding the Referendum – University of Edinburgh MOOC on FutureLearn (September 2014)

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High Fidelity Alpha Tests – Domains and Places

The HiFi Domain Manager/Stack Manager and Interface client, together with central High Fidelity services now supports the creation of hifi://Name domains and places within such domains. They are available via

hifi:// is now registered as hifi://Vue and a number of sample places for “aiai”, “iss” (space station at 1000m) and “openvce” have been created for tests.


By late September 2014 the HiFi Data Directory had thumbnails and clickable hifi://links to launch the Interface…


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Oculus Rift DK2 – Second Life Viewers

The viewers which support the Oculus Rift DK2 for use in the Second Life and OpenSim virtual worlds are making progress. At the time of writing the latest Oculus Rift SDK (version 0.4.2, 4-Sep-2014) does not yet properly support OpenGL in the “Direct to Rift” video driver mode. This will be the preferred and easiest to set up and used method in due course. “Extended Desktop” mode must be used and the method to initiate the display varies between the two viewers currently available.

Remember this post is about early test builds of the Rift viewers and not released software. Nothing here should be considered a criticism, far from it…

Linden Labs Rift Project Viewer

Linden Labs Rift Viewer is being developed and tested for eventual release as a “Project Viewer” alongside the standard main released viewer. The current latest “automated build” is version

The Rift Display Mode is set to “Extended Desktop to the HMD” and the Windows desktop is configured so that the Rift is the second screen and shows as landscape orientation (methods to achieve that differ depending on whether the Windows desktop configuration or your graphics card control panels are used, but if its rotated 90 degrees or flipped, just change the orientation and try again). The viewer is started and then the “HMD Mode” button (or Ctrl+Alt+D) can be used to toggle the Rift Display on or off.

The Space Navigator 3D controller can be used in this viewer (don’t install recent Space Navigator software, just use default Windows drivers and built in viewer support). Menu bars, UI buttons and HUDs are all working in this version with a few display glitches that are gradually being ironed out. The UI is mapped to a curved surface which you can stretch out vertically and horizontally and at a greater of lesser distance from your viewpoint. If you push it too far away the controls can appear behind your avatar or objects and be inaccessible. The UI can be hidden by entering “mouselook” mode (“M” key) or toggling the interface on/off with the Ctrl+Shift+U keys.


More on Second Life Viewer Key Codes, including those for the RIFT Viewer are shown at

CtrlAltStudio Viewer

David Rowe’s CrlAltStudio Viewer has an alpha test version Alpha 3. It is based on Firestorm 4.6.5.

The viewer must be configured to be in windowed mode (opposite to that required for the 3D stereoscopic mode), i.e., make sure Preferences -> Graphics -> General -> Fullscreen mode is not ticked. And the Advanced Lighting Model must be turned on via Preferences -> Graphics -> General -> Advanced Lighting Model.

The viewer is started and then the Windows key + right-arrow (twice) is used to move the viewer window onto the Rift’s display, then Ctrl+Alt+3 makes the window full screen and switches into Rift view. Ctrl-Alt+3 again to turn off 3D and full screen mode and then the Windows key + left arrow moves the display back onto the normal screen.

As well as the Space Navigator, CtrlAltStudio also supports the Xbox 360 controller for keyboard-free avatar navigation and camera movement. Some UI elements can be displayed via their keyboard commands (such as Ctrl+I to show the Inventory) and then interacted with via the mouse.


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High Fidelity Alpha Tests – On the AIAI Domain

Ai Austin is the virtual worlds avatar of Prof. Austin Tate at the University of Edinburgh. He is a researcher in Artificial Intelligence with an emphasis on distributed teamwork and collaboration, especially in emergency response. He is involved in distance education and teaches a MOOC on AI planning. He has been exploring the use of “I-Rooms” – “virtual spaces for intelligent interaction” for some time and this has included experimentation with virtual worlds and multi-user persistent collaborative instrumented meeting spaces. See

He is the Coordinator for the “Virtual University of Edinburgh” – Vue – see – which supports staff and students at the University of Edinburgh in using virtual worlds such as Second Life, OpenSim and others for teaching, research and outreach.


HiFi Alpha Testing

He has been involved as a HiFi alpha tester since May 2014, with early trials on the shared and domains, and as soon as the Windows version of the Domain manager/Stack Manager/Assignment Client was available has been providing an openly accessible domain running on server in Edinburgh at hifi://

He has been creating a blog (currently not available publicly as at 10-Sep-2014 due to HiFi alpha tester promises) of his experience as HiFi has been developing, and to track his experimentation and keep a record of screen snapshots in the early development phases of HiFi. These posts will be made public ( when High Fidelity approve this.

Collaboration and Communication Tests

Ai Austin and Be Austin alpha tester HiFi avatars are used in testing to see how well collaboration, avatar communication and social aspects work. Friendly interaction with other alpha testers, especially @Judas and @Richardus, has continued throughout the alpha test period.

2014-08-04-HiFi-on AIAI-Domain

Test Meshes

Throughout the alpha test period, several large test meshes have been imported to HiFi to test mesh handling for complex 3D objects. These are meshes that been used in the last 20 years for a range of tests of 3D immersive and virtual worlds environments have been used during HiFi alpha testing. Conversions between the original 3D model formats, Collada (.dae) and AutoCAD FBX (.fbx) formats have been done as necessary. These include

  • A scifi vehicle – Gerry Anderson’s Supercar – originally modelled in a professional 3D modelling package – with 575K vertices and 200K faces
  • An oil rig created by RGU imported from the OSGrid Vue-Rig region in OpenSim – with 350K vertices and 275K faces
  • A 3D model of the International Space Station – created by NASA

2014-09-19-HiFi-Interface-Build-1159-Object-EditorMeshes can be selected to edit (using the “`” back quote key) and a dialogue box appears to allow for position, scale, rotation and a range of animation properties to be changed. his allows for precise positing and allows the meshes to be enlarged…e.g. to the 1800m sphere used as a “skydome” visual backdrop on the Vue domain.


In current builds of the Interface (as at mid September) to select a mesh the viewpoint has to be sufficiently far from the camera (as in the image above showing the 1800m across skydome from a distance of 3600m ) so that the object does not occupy more than a proportion of the screen. This can be problematic with large objects and mean the avatar has to move well out (a named “far” away location I the domain has been set for convenience).

I-Room and Open Virtual Collaboration Environment

During HiFi alpha testing, objects related to the research and use of an I-Room and the Open Virtual Collaboration Environment (OpenVCE) are tested as facilities become available. Scripting related to NPCs and software bots is of particular interest to provide inworld assistants and role play simulation participants. But its early days for that.


Experimentation with export of objects from OpenSim via Collada (.dae) through the AutoCAD FBX Converter to allow for import to HiFi have also taken place… e.g. for the OpenVCE and I-Room collaboration space builds.


Some partial transparency on a dome seems to be working. The clear section is the entrance and is intended…


Oculus Rift DK2

Some tests have also taken place with the Oculus Rift DK2, but its early days for that as the more usable Direct Mode for the Rift display is not yet supported by HiFi and the Oculus SDK.


Overall Aim for Experimentation in HiFi


See Tate et al. (2010) figure 1 and the three case studies presented later in that paper to see one of my aims for HiFi… and an example of what I HOPE we will achieve and surpass with a more distributed and scaleable model along with a much larger community using a metaverse of linked open virtual worlds platforms.

Tate, A., Chen-Burger, Y-H., Dalton, J., Potter, S., Richardson, D., Stader, J., Wickler, G., Bankier, I., Walton, C. and Williams, P.G. (2010) I-Room: A Virtual Space for Intelligent Interaction, IEEE Intelligent Systems, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp 62-71, July-August 2010, IEEE Computer Society. [PDF Format]

Some of my hopes for a Next Generation Virtual Worlds are in this blog post.

My thoughts on a likely VR Headset in 2015/2016 are in this blog post.

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VR Headset – Circa 2015

Lets consider what ought to be included in a reasonable price consumer virtual reality headset by the end of 2015 or early 2016…


  1. Curved hi-resolution screen.
  2. In-situ eyepieces with +/- eye adjustment.
  3. Stereo audio with over ear cup earpieces (not in-ear buds).
  4. Microphone.
  5. Audio large button controls on outside of earpieces (mute, volume up and down).
  6. Video control buttons on outside of other earpiece (3D, Outside forward view “pass thru”, mix “pass thru” in as ghost).
  7. Inertial head positioning and eye tracking.
  8. Optical eye position outward facing hi-resolution camera, which can feed the outside view onto the headset (projected solid or overlaid) as a “see-thru” option by clicking one of the video buttons on the side of the device.
  9. IR or other sensors suitable for picking up hi-resolution hand movements.
  10. Wireless connectivity to “place anywhere” base station with all necessary wired connections to host computer or mobile device.

As others have observed, many of these technologies are available in bulk at reducing prices as they are also components of Smart Phones.

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Oculus Rift DK2 – Linden Labs Rift Project Viewer

The Linden Labs Rift project viewer is being updated by “VoidPointer Linden” to work with the Oculus Rift DK2 and testing is now taking place. VoidPointer is an enthusiast about the possibilities of the Rift with Second Life and also happens to be a Kickstarter backer for the original Oculus Rift DK1. Here are some first impressions of the currently unreleased recent test build… I think this is looking promising.


Remember this post is about an early test build and not a release, nothing here should be considered a criticism, far from it…

I installed the version from the Linden Labs automated build system just to give it a whirl with my DK2. I did not have a DK1 to use the earlier released project viewer ( Hence this is my first try with the LL Rift Viewer.


I set the DK2 to use extended desktop mode with the DK2 as the second screen. In this setup, the “HMD Mode” button (or Ctrl+Shift+D) nicely switched the screen onto the Rift without any further windows movements being needed by the user. I noticed that I was set to view askew to one side, just because the headset was to my side when I entered HMD Mode I assume… and I could not recall if there was a way to centre or ask for a reset of the view. I switched out of HMD Mode (peeked up out of the Rift to interact with the screen) centred my Rift straight ahead, entered HMD mode again and this time I was pointing the right way. This will be an issue I guess as very often you want to get into Rift view, get settled, dismiss the health warning screen and THEN have the screen centred on your view direction.

Note that these issues are addressed via fixes to later Rift viewer versions. The “Q” key can be used to align the avatar with the current rift view direction.

Viewer User Interface and Menus


My first impression of the way that Linden Labs show the control bar and menu strips is good. But I think they are much too near the central visual field. The bottom menu strip is down only about 10% in my view. Placing it much lower would work better and make it visible when you look distinctly downwards. Ditto for left and right menu and HUD position areas, they are only about 10 deg off the centre. 45 deg might work better.

Note that these issues are addressed via customisation options and presets in Preferences -> Move and View -> HMD Settings. See more information and examples below.

FPS, Shadows, View Distance and Visual Quality

I noticed my fps was initially quite low low (30fps on my rig with 1920×1080, ultra visuals, shadows on and my usual 512m view distance… using Intel i7-2600 3.4GHz, 8GB memory, Nvidia GTX580). So, while in Rift view mode, I used the graphics preferences to turn shadows off. This had the effect of making the Rift screen go black. Even my main screen was black. All sorts of clicking, windows move keys, ESC and so on had no effect. I had to use Windows Task Manager to kill the Rift SL Viewer and restart. So there might be a problem with adjustment of graphics settings while in rift mode at the moment. After restart with ultra settings, but no shadows and 128m view I am getting near 75fps in a quiet area in Second Life.

Note that the black screen issue is addressed via fixes to later Rift viewer versions.

Hiding UI Elements in Rift View

Ctrl+Shift+U turns off the UI elements and controls, but left for me a little grey square with the number of unread IMs/messages in it in the top right of the screen, and my AO icon in the bottom right HUD position. The HUDs could be turned off with Alt+Shift-H (arggg not Ctrl+Shift+H which sent me to my “Home location”) but the little grey IM number stayed on. The lack of uniformity with Alt+ and Ctrl+ for the three needed key combinations for the HMD mode, UI controls and HUDs, and the need to use two hands for these is not good for blind Rift use.

My Abranimatons AO HUD icon is meant to be a little circle with a transparent area round it, but it showed as over a white opaque square in Rift View and that underlying white square box stayed on screen even when the HUD elements was turned off.

AO-Normal AO-Rift-HUD-On

I found that if I toggled the HUD icon on and off, which would have the effect of changing the texture containing the transparency, then it did show correctly. But the incorrect handling of the HUD icon transparency returned after each login to the viewer.


Mouse Issues

It was murder to find the keys with the Rift on, and trying to lift the Rift up with one hand while typing the three keys needed for UI, HUD and HMD control. A simpler single key one finger toggle may be needed for UI on/off, HUD on/off and for HMD Mode on/off.

I understand that mouse look via the “M” key does switch off the UI (though again for some reason it left a white square where my AO HUD icon is meant to be), but I did not really want just first person view.

I also had real problems finding where my mouse pointer was… waggling it all over until it came into view. It also seems to be locked to the Rift second screen, so when I tried to pull it back to the left hand main screen it was not visible.

Note that the “Z” key can be used to centre the mouse in the Rift field of view.

Space Navigator

The 3DConnection Space Navigator works fine with the Linden Labs Rift Project Viewer test version to allow simpler avatar movement and “Flycam” camera controls with the usual left click on the device switching between those modes.

Oculus Rift DK2 HMD Avatar Attachment

The 3D models of the Oculus Rift were provided for free use by William Burke (MannyLectro) via and imported to Second Life to create the Rift DK2 avatar attachment worn in the images here. A copy can be found in a box on the Vue region in Second Life at

Advice on Customisation and Key Codes

VoidPointer Linden, as the RIFT project viewer developer, noted this on Second Life JIRA RIFT-137 – repeated here for convenience…

Many of the issues you bring up can be dealt with in some ways.

  1. You can “recenter” the rift using the Q key. This will set whatever direction you’re currently looking as “forward”. No need to exit and re-enter rift mode.
  2. Shadows are definitely more of a FPS hog than they should be at the moment – they’re currently being drawn twice and don’t really need to be. There’s a potential optimization for that, but so far, have not had time to work on it. For now, turning off shadows is probably the easiest way to increase your FPS.
  3. Switching graphics settings in Rift may well have issues. It SHOULD be booting you back into normal mode when you do so, but apparently, that’s not working correctly any more. Thanks for noting that one.
  4. HUDs are still something of an issue. I’ve gotten them to at least show up now, but yes, the alpha channel can still be problematic.
  5. Lack of uniformity of key-combos is because many of the commands already existed and have their own key-combos already.
  6. I agree that finding the mouse cursor is something of a problem. The Z key will move the mouse to the center of the UI. it’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing for now.
  7. UI positioning is completely customizable. Preferences -> Move and View -> HMD Settings and you can adjust the surface shape and position of the UI. The default setting is just that – a default. I’ll be adding more presets soon for different preferences of UI surface shapes so you don’t have to muck around with all the sliders if you don’t want to.

More on Second Life Viewer Key Codes, including those for the RIFT Viewer are shown at

Testing the Customisation of the Rift Viewer UI

Preferences -> Move and View -> HMD settings can be used to alter the positioning, scale and distance from eye of the UI elements, menus and pop up UI tools in the Rift Viewer. I experimented with making the elements be further away and further “outwards”. Here is a preset that worked a little better than the current default for me…


The initial default set on the test version is shown here…


One interesting issue is that if you place the UI “plane” too far away it can end up behind your avatar or behind seats, etc and hence obscured for using some menu buttons or the “Stand” button.

More Discussion of Second Life Viewer for Oculus Rift

A Second Life Forum is being used for some discussion on Second Life on the Oculus Rift DK2.

For the adventurous… the latest (mostly untested) bleeding edge highly experimental and potentially risky version may be available, prior to a formal release, via the Second Life Automated Build System for the RIFT project viewer via…

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My other car is…

There is a fine mesh model of the mid 1960s TV version of the Batmobile in Second Life…


A nice complement to the early 1960s Supercar…


And in Real Life…


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High Fidelity Alpha Tests – Experiments with Oculus Rift DK2


The HiFi Interface supports “VR Mode” in which the display can be shown on the Rift full screen when using “Extended Desktop” mode. It is not yet functioning with the “Direct to Rift” mode due to issues with the current Oculus Rift SDK.

The Rift Display Mode is set to “Extended Desktop to the HMD” and the Windows desktop is configured so that the Rift is the second screen and shows as landscape orientation (methods to achieve that differ depending on whether the Windows desktop configuration or your graphics card control panels are used, but if its rotated 90 degrees or flipped, just change the orientation and try again). The viewer is started and the Rift display is enable via “View” -> “Enable VR Mode”. Then the Windows key + right-arrow (twice) is used to move the viewer window onto the Rift’s display. The Windows key + left arrow moves the display back onto the normal screen.

A few test screens on the hifi:// domain and on the domain are shown below…


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Oculus Rift DK2 – Others in VR Space

With the availability of an early alpha version of the CtrlAltStudio Viewer from David Rowe, it is now possible to enter a populated and content-rich virtual world and interact with others via voice in Second Life and OpenSim… no more “Alone in VR Space” …

A typical social space in Second Life is shown here… on the Hubbub region… with people sat about chatting and having fun… join in under the canvas tent to avoid the rainstorm…


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Oculus Rift DK2 – Fallingwater

The Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater building in OpenSim (this one by Inara Pey is on the Kitely Grid – see blog post) is worth exploring in 3D via the Oculus Rift DK2 with the CtrlAltStudio Viewer.


Inside Fallingwater


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Jim Clark Cars on Forth Bridge

On Thursday 21st August 2014, a number of Jim Clark cars were on show at the Forth Road Bridge HQ in South Queensferry and then were driven over the Forth Road Bridge, from South to North.


Jim-Cark-Lotus-43-Getting-Ready-To-Fire-Up Lotus-43-Engine
Jim Clark’s own road going Lotus Cortina was there, and his Lotus 43 with it’s BRM H-16 engine.

Jim-Clark-Lotus-Cortina Jim-Clark-Lotus-Cortina-and-xx

Run over the Forth Road Bridge

It’s not every day that you see a Formula 1 car from the 1960s crossing the Forth Road Bridge…. speed limit does not apply…


Lotus Club Line Up

A number of Lotus owners also brought along their cars from the various decades…

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Oculus Rift DK2 – CtrlAltStudio Viewer Tests

David Rowe (twitter: @CtrlAltDavid) has released an early experimental version of his CtrlAltStudio Viewer for Second Life and OpenSim which can support the Oculus Rift DK2. The viewer already supported 3D stereoscopic displays for the NVidia 3D Vision (with active shutter glasses and a 120Hz+ screen) for example, and gave support for 3D input devices such as the XBox 360 for Windows controller and the Microsoft Kinect.


Due to some problems with the current Oculus Rift 0.4.1.SDK and its support for OpenGL as required for the viewer, this initial version does not implement “Direct to Rift” which will be the preferred way to drive the Rift DK2 display in due course. The DK2 is set up as a second “extended desktop” screen and in “Landscape” orientation by a method which can vary between different version of Windows and depending on whether you use the Windows “screen resolution” method or your GPU’s control panel. See the section later for more details related to the Rift display rotation (“Portrait” versus “Landscape”) and refresh rate (75Hz preferred).

Then the viewer can be launched and set with appropriate settings described in the CtrlAltStudio release notes and blog post at

The viewer must be configured to be in windowed mode (opposite to that required for the 3D stereoscopic mode), i.e., make sure Preferences -> Graphics -> General -> Fullscreen mode is not ticked. And the Advanced Lighting Model must be turned on via Preferences -> Graphics -> General -> Advanced Lighting Model.

The viewer is started and then the Windows key + right-arrow (twice) is used to move the viewer window onto the Rift’s display, then Ctrl+Alt+3 makes the window full screen and switches into Rift view. Ctrl-Alt+3 again to turn off 3D and full screen mode and then the Windows key + left arrow moves the display back onto the normal screen.


So, no need to be “Alone in VR Space” any longer…. see this blog post on early (solo) demo experiences with the Oculus Rift DK2.

Undersea and in Cubic Space



Oculus Rift DK2 Rotation and Refresh Rate

The CtrlAltStudio read me and Rift set up notes say to use “Landscape” mode for the Rift. But the method to achieve the correct orientation can vary. I found that in the Windows “screen resolution” control panel, the Rift display defaulted to “Portrait” labelled mode, even though the thumbnail picture showed it looked like landscape, and that was the correct orientation. The Nvidia Control Panel showed the Rift also as in Portrait mode, but there the thumbnail was 90 degrees rotated and looked like portrait.



If the Rift display looks like its rotated 90 degrees to what you expect. Change things so its in the right orientation by one method or another.

There is a recommendation to drive the Rift DK2 at 75Hz for the smoothest image. The Windows Screen Resolution “advanced settings” area did not give any refresh rate options for the Rift monitor slot – showing it as a generic pnp monitor. But the Nvidia Control Panel did show refresh rates of 75Hz (preselected), 72Hz and 60Hz.


Xbox 360 Controller Settings

The CtrlAltStudio viewer can use the “Xbox 360 Controller for Windows” game pad (Wired or wireless) as an input device, which assists in controller the avatar movement and camera control without having to fumble to find keys on the keyboard. I did find though that the current default settings for the control of avatar and camera movement were a bit sensitive, and drift continued after the sticks were released. The zone of movement of the various axes gave inputs of -1.0 to +1.0 with a central released position should be 0.0. But the controls can stick a little off the zeroed position, and I found that mine could stick at about +/-0.2. The “dead zone” adjustment to allow for this was set at 0.2, so sometimes the movement was continuing. Changing the deadzone to 0.25 fixed this, but 0.3 seems safer.

I also adjusted the sensitivity of the main X,Y and Z controls by adjusting the scale from the CtrlAltStudio provided values of 0.3 to 0.4. This means you have to move the sticks further before your avatar breaks into a run.


Others have made suggestions for suitable settings for the Xbox 360 controller, e.g. at

As noted there, “feathering” is to make your controls feel mushy, or slow. When you start or stop moving the flycam/avatar there is a delay that can either give a nice dramatic slow camera movement (when slider is to the left), or a wobbly flicker of camera (slider towards the right). I left this on the defaults provided by CtrlAltStudio.

Nvidia Program-specific Settings

For Nvidia GPU users, 3D settings can sometimes also be changed via the Nvidia Control Panel “Manage 3D Settings” tab which allows for program-specific overrides of some features.. including refresh rates in some setups… though not for my Nvidia GTX 580 or 690 GPUs.


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High Fidelity Alpha Tests – 1000 Up

I began HiFi testing on 15th May 2014 with Windows Build 587 and using the hifi:// domain. This week the 1,000th build of the HiFi Interface was released. Some screenshots are provided here of build 999 and build 1000 to mark the occasion

Interface – Build 1000 on Windows


hifi-snap-by-Ai_Austin-on-2014-08-19_20-10-39@139-999_999-987_138 hifi-snap-by-Ai_Austin-on-2014-08-19_20-16-29@19-5444_1-79136_13-4611

Interface – Build 999 on Windows


Stack Manager/Assignment Client

We normally run a server (stack manager/assignment client) for the domain hifi://…


We are experimenting with also running a server (stack manager/assignment client) to add supplementary server capacity for the shared hifi:// domain…


Useful URLs

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High Fidelity Alpha Tests – NPC Bots as Assignments

As an example of providing “assignments” to a domain server, the forum provided an example to run a number of NPC “bots” on a domain. Instructions (alpha tester login required) are at:

The idea is that you use the Domain Server/Stack Manager HTTP interface on, e.g., and its “Assignments” -> “New Assignment” menu to create a number of instances of an assignment written in Javascript. An example is given of a procedurally controlled walking avatar which can be moved about in a zone that the script specified. The avatar is animated and sounds are produced. The “bot_propcedural.js” script is available (publicly) at:

This queues the assignments. They can then be started in an instance of an “Assignment Client”.


The Interface viewer can then be used to log in to te area where the bots were spwaned and seen…


hifi-snap-by-Ai_Austin-on-2014-08-19_14-50-44@5-52127_1-79148_2-87313 hifi-snap-by-Ai_Austin-on-2014-08-19_15-08-01@1-37131_1-79156_0-703937

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