OpenSim OAR – Epic Castle

[Visit via hop://]

“Epic Castle” is a nice demonstration of a complex mesh model that can be imported into OpenSim, and saved as an OpenSim Archive (OAR) file that others can load and use. In this instance the castle was created and freely released by Epic Games to demonstrate the Unreal Engine. It was imported to OpenSim and provided as an OAR for others to enjoy by Cuteulala Artis. Leora Jacobus scaled the castle up 1.5 times to allow avatars to use doors and rooms realistically and fitted it to single 256x256m region. She also added building interiors and other contents.

Cuteulala’s original Epic Castle OAR file loaded onto a region in Sim-on-a-Stick is shown in the images below…

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Leora Jacobus’s enhancements as on Metropolis grid are shown in the images below…


The Castle on AiLand

Leora Jacobus’s modified Epic Castle OAR, rescaled up 1.5 times and with building interior enhancements, convenient teleport “Magic Stones” and her medieval avatars has been mounted with her support and involvement on AiLand at

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The Castle on AiLand – The Seasons

AiLand-Epic-Castle-Leora-Jacobus-Winter AiLand-Epic-Castle-Leora-Jacobus-Winter-Snow

The Castle on AiLand – Times of Day

Epic Castle in OpenSim – Credits

Epic Castle along with the reflected interior of the cathedral was created and freely released by Epic Games to demonstrate the Unreal Engine. It was imported to OpenSim and provided as an OAR for others to enjoy by Cuteulala Artis. Leora Jacobus rescaled the castle and cathedral by 1.5 time to be more realistic and so that avatars can get through the doors, downsized the mesh terrain to 0.7 times to fit on a single 256m X 256m region, and added various building interiors and other content (see this post). The cathedral organ was made by Arcadia Asylum.

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NoLimits Roller Coasters from the Community

I thought I would start exploring the Nolimits 2 roller coaster simulator and creator with using some coasters which I have actually ridden and which have been modelled with care by members of the community willing to share their creations with others. Some links to community sharing sites with downloadable coasters and member ratings are given in the previous post mentioned above along with some useful tools.

Six Flags Magic Mountain – Viper

The original 1990 Viper has been modelled by “southpuddle”. The drip away and to the left at the top of the lift hill was just as I recall the real coaster. Noce smooth loops, boomerang and corkscrew… seven inversions in total. This was imported from a NoLimits 1 .nlpack using the Nolimits Track Packager to extract the .nltrack for use in NoLimits 2, and the adding the TeraTextures from NoLimits 1 as explained in a previous post. There were a few issues with trees overlapping the track were easily fixed in the NoLimits 2 editor.

NoLimits2-Viper-1 NoLimits2-Viper-2

A second, and I think nicer, Viper re creation by “Virtualspeed” includes nice distant mountain scenery, the Magic Mountain observation tower and a swing boat ride to add atmosphere. On loading ViperMagicMountainCalifornia_20313_1.nl2pkg in NoLimits (64 bit) I had a script error popup, but the coaster ran anyway. The ride was excellent with really nice pace and felt realistic. The foliage was at a good distance to the track and needed no adjustment.

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It turns out that a simple Viper recreation is also included in the standard coaster library released with NoLimits 2. It can be found in the “Two Arrows Park” and then by selecting the Viper coaster from the “Ride List Panel” (via F5 key).

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Island of Adventure – Dueling Dragons/Dragons Challenge

Originally called Dueling Dragons. This was a dual track racing coaster, with the trains originally named as the “ice” (blue) dragon and the “fire” (orange/red) dragon. The ciaster was changed to “Dragons Challenge” without sychronous launch when the Harry Potter/Hogwarts themed area opened alongside the coaster in Universal Studio’s Island of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

This version of Dueling Dragons has been modelled by “duduchianca”. He made the twin coasters by modelling one continuous loop which switches station sides half way through. A few issues with trains being allocated to track sections or “blocks” and hitting one another needs to be fixed. The simple fix is to change the number of trains from 6 on track to 2 in the editor… then you can ride “ice” and “fire” alternately without any stops.

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Disneyworld MGM Studios – Rock ‘n Roller

A dark ride roller coaster with an Aerosmith theme… by… this is an excellent recreation with good lighting and sound effects.

screenshot-2014-11-14-15-35-09 screenshot-2014-11-14-15-32-34

Disneyworld Animal Kingdom – Expedition Everest

This one is epic… so much detail… on my first ride, going up the first lift hill, I glanced over into the station plaza half expecting that my wife would be down there waving…—No-Limits-2-Hub/

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Blackpool Big One

The Pepsi Max Big One as modelled by ATJakee provides a nice track which closely models the actual ride in Blackpool in Lancashire England. I was missing the nearby sea and some scenery items, so I modified the terrain to have some water off to the left of the first drop. Adding in a couple of standard library assets including an “Enterprise” ride which is actually at the Pleasure Beach gave some interest… but it definitely needed Blackpool Tower in the distance. Importing a Google Sketchup version of Blackpool Tower by Damo and converting it to .3DS format did the trick… as well as adding a little sea fret to give atmosphere.

screenshot-2014-11-18-16-38-59 screenshot-2014-11-18-16-39-27

More to Try

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ESA Rosetta flies in OpenSim

After a journey lasting 10 years, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft will send its attached “Philae” lander to land on the surface of Comet 67P on 12th November 2014.

To celebrate this occasion, I have placed a 3D model of Rosetta to realistic scale on the Space City area in our OpenSim grid. This uses one of the freely available 3D models available from NASA.


Visit Rosetta, along with Voyager, Deep Space 1 and other spacecraft in OpenSim on the Space City region on AiLand.

hop:// City/88/210/226

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OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014

The OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014 (OSCC14) took place over the weekend of November 8th and 9th on the OpenSim-based OpenSim Community Conference grid ( Over 500 people were registered to attend.

My report on the experience of attending OSCC13 is described in this blog post.

The 2014 event was much larger in scope and doubled the number of attendees who could join in the keynote session simultaneously on the “4 corners” keynote area. Recent OpenSim developments means that the conference grid can support 400 avatars in one area simultaneously, as well as others at the same time in various expo and social regions. This was augmented by other registered participants joining in via the Ustream video streams for all the elements of the conference. These also serve as the basis for archiving the presentations and materials for future use, as in 2013. There were multiple parallel streams for specialised sessions and panels as in 2014. An “OpenMetaQuest” also helped engage participants by encouraging them to visit the extensive expo and social areas.

The conference included keynote talks by Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity (previously creator of Second Life), Steve Lavalle of OculusVR and a Developer Panel with some of the main people who have been involved in creating and maintaining OpenSim.

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Logging into Conference Grid & Welcome from OSCC14 Conference Team


Developer Panel

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Philip Rosedale Q&A Session

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Keynote – Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity


Philip reported that as at November 2014, High Fidelity has raised money from investors and have 15 people in the company. They currently have 40-50 people involved in their alpha test phase or contributing code and resources from the open source community.


Keynote – Steve LaValle of OculusVR

2014-11-09-OSCC14-Steve-Lavalle-Keynote-Audience-1 2014-11-09-OSCC14-Steve-Lavalle-Keynote-Audience-2

Sunday VIP Q&A Session with Keynote Speakers


Community Area and Shopping Resources

The Conference grid has a range of shopping areas to get avatars and clothing to equip your avatar, as well as a range of community and social areas.

Crowdfunders for the event are listed on a “Community Path”…


Issues this Year

  1. We ought to turn on video/audio streams 10 minutes early showing a simple moving screen countdown with voice over for testing and setup next year. Fleep Tuque did a verbal count down while preparing to chair the keynote on Sunday which really helped in set up, testing and assisting audience members.
  2. In some, but not all, sessions there were a few problems with showing the Ustream video./audio stream in world on the media-on-a prim (MOAP) screens. having to use an external web browser to view the screen contents directly on Ustream, while seeing a white display screen in world broke the sense of immersion and shared experience somewhat.

OSCC14 Organizers and Volunteers – Thanks Everyone


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PS3 Controller with Windows

sony-dualshock-3-wireless-controllerThe Xbox 360 wired and wireless controllers for Windows can be used as joysticks or game controllers with a range of Windows games and applications. In particular the controller can be used with Second Life and OpenSim virtual world viewers. When using a virtual reality head mounted display (HMD) and not being able to see the keyboard, the gamepad style interaction for movement of an avatar and camera, and simple sorts of interaction with the virtual environment can be very useful indeed.

However, I have always found the Xbox controller awkward to use, and the Sony PlayStation controllers such as on the PS3 much easier. So it was useful to find that drivers and an Xbox 360 controller emulation is available to connect PlayStation controllers to Windows. A sample online tutorial can be found via this PC Magazine Page and this YouTube video by Wiltshire Tutorials..


Basically the procedure is to install MotioninJoy for its drivers only, not its “DS3 Tool” setup facility, and then replace the set up facility with “Better DS3″.

  1. Download and install the “MotioninJoy” drivers and configuration utility from I used version 0.7.1001.
  2. BUT… DONT RUN THE MOTONINJOY DS3 TOOL CONFIGURATION UTILITY… as it opens and uses an external internet connection and opens potential Trojan routes to download and run software with administrator privileges on your computer (as noted by the creator of the “better DS3″ tool below via the “about” link in that tool if you are interested in the full details).
  3. Plug in the Sony PlayStation Controller via a USB cable and let Windows install the drivers it finds – which will be MotioninJoy drivers.
  4. Run the MotioninJoy “DS3 Tool” and select the “Driver Manager” tab. There should be one or more “Hardware Locations” listed something like “Port_#….Hub_#…. select ALL of them using the tick boxes and hit the “Load driver” button. Running this once ensure appropriate drivers are installed on your system, whichever USB port you later use.
  5. Download and install the “Better DS3″ tool from to replace the MotioninJoy tool, as its more intuitive to use and the author indicates it does not use the potentially risky methods of connecting “back to base” in the original MotioninJoy control panel.
  6. You can uninstall MotioninJoy at that stage (I think) if you wish as its no longer needed, and can delete any user files folder it used such as C:\Users\…\AppData\Roaming\MotioninJoy
  7. Better-DS3-1Start up Better DS3.exe and set up a new controller profile using “Xinput” mode and setting it to emulate the “Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows” (even if its wired that’s the emulation it provides to Windows). Set the configuration to the pre-provided auto-fill for “Xbox 360″ emulation settings. That should mean that any game or application that allows for Xbox 360 controller use should work.
  8. PS3-in-Windows-Control-Panel-TestGet it working in direct wired USB mode first. Test via, for example, the Windows Control Panel – Devices and Printers – and right click on your game controller and selet “Game controller settings”. Or there is a “Control Panel” button in “Better DS3″ itself once the profile for the controller you created is selected (it takes you to the same Windows control panel and test facility). You can test all the sticks and buttons work there. You can leave it for USB direct wired plug in use, or set up for Bluetooth wireless operation.


Normal Operations

  1. You must have Better DS.exe running when you want to use the PlayStation Controller. So if its not already running, or started automatically when you boot up your system, run it, select the profile you created and click “Apply” to start it up ahead of running your application or game.
  2. Run your application and all should work fine.
  3. If you have another controller, such as a Space Navigator, don’t leave that plugged in at the same time as the Virtual Worlds and Second Life viewers may see that instead as at present they only use the first controller they find (hopefully that will change at some stage as its reported as a Second Life Viewer JIRA issue).

Bluetooth Wireless Use versus Direct USB cable Connection

I am using the PS3 controller directly connected via a USB cable. Bluetooth wireless connection is possible using the drivers and control panels. However, there are a number of limitations and issues if you go that route.

  1. The PS3 controller can only be paired with one device. hence if you use it between your PC and a Sony PlayStation you will need to repeat the pairing each time you switch.
  2. If you pair the Bluetooth adapter on your PC with the PS3 controller setup it can only operate with that single device in a dedicated way. So other Bluetooth devices that you may use with your PC may not work.
  3. You must ensure that the Bluetooth adapter supports a minimum of Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. Most recent ones should do this.

One possibility is to use a separate dedicated Bluetooth adapter and a spare PS3 controller you will not switch back to the PlayStation.

Use with Second Life Viewers

The CtrlAltStudio viewer works immediately with the PS3 cotroller as it specifically provides support and appropriate sensitivity and axis selection and ditection setting for the “Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows” gamepad.

The standard Linden Labs Second Life viewer does not have specific settings at present for any joystick or gamepad other than the “Space Navigator”, but the PS3 acting as the “Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows” is recognised by the viewer and can be used if appropriate settings are made via Me – Preferences – Move & View – Other Devices. Use the CtrlAltStudio provided settings which work fairly well, or use my own adjusted settings which give a bit less sensitivity to small movements of the sticks before avatar movement takes place or the avatar breaks into a run.


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NoLimits Roller Coaster Simulator

NoLimits Web SiteNoLimits is a roller coaster simulation that lets you experience in virtual reality real existing coasters, or build rollercoasters to your own specifications using a comprehensive built in editor. 3D mesh models for parts of the build can be imported using the 3DS format. More details and download of the demonstration and purchase of the full version is via

NoLimits 2 Demo

The free to download demonstration include three roller coasters of various kinds…

No-Limits-2-Wilderness-1 No-Limits-2-Wilderness-2

And with weather effects… brrrrr…


Unicoaster Demo is a separately packaged demonstration by Ole Lange, the creator of NoLimits, for the ride company using the NoLimits coaster base.

NoLimits 2 Editor

NoLimits includes a coaster creator and editor, and the free demonstration version includes a trial limited period, limited complexity version of the editor to try that yourself…


There are a variety of build in coaster types and train models, 37 were shown the image below shown in a Tweet from @NoLimitsSimulation on 15-Nov-2014…NoLimits2-37-Coaster-Train-Types

First Roller Coaster

I followed the tutorials included with NoLimits 2 to create a new roller coaster via the editor… a very simple one…

No-Limits-2-Editor-Example-3 No-Limits-2-Editor-Example-4-Frozen

NoLimits 2 Keyboard Commands (Defaults)

Provided here for convenience… can be accessed and changed via the “SETUP” button.


NoLimits Community

Many NoLimits users have created and shared a variety of roller coasters…

Unpacking .nlpack NoLimits 1 Packaged Roller Coasters to Use in NoLimits 2

This information was gleaned from helpful posts by others on several NoLimits forums. The NoLimits Track Packager/Unpacker Tool was really intended for NoLimits 1. But you can use it in a standalone way to unpack roller coasters to get their .nltrack parts out for use in NoLimits 2. When the track packager runs, it is looking for NoLimitsSimulator.exe so it can unpack into several sub-directories below that used by NoLimits1. If that is not found it will report that it cannot locate the “NoLimits Root Folder”. Here is a work around to let it run if you only have NoLimits 2.

  1. Find the “NoLimits Track Packager” install directory… something like “C:\Program Files (x86)\NoLimits Track Packager”.
  2. In that create a new text file. Its contents do not matter, but as a reminder of its purpose, put in something like “Just a dummy file for NoLimits Track Packager”.
  3. Rename this file to “NoLimitsSimulator.exe”. Note there is no “.txt” on the end (make sure you can see file postfix types.
  4. Run the “NoLimits Track Packager” as administrator (important as it will be writing files into the Windows protected program files directory).
  5. Use File – “Open Package” to open an .nlpack file and let it “Install” all the contents found.
  6. Three directories will be created in the “NoLimits Track Packager” tool directory (CarTextures, Environments and Tracks).
  7. I suggest you MOVE these directories and their contents to a separate directory with the name of the Roller Coaster you are extracting… so that on the next extraction the files are separate to those just unpacked.
  8. Now in NoLimits 2 when you create a park you can import the .nltrack from the extracted Tracks directory to add to your NoLimits 2 park.

Handling Missing Textures when using NoLimits 1 .nltrack and .nlpack Coasters

Some roller coasters made by enthusiasts for NoLimits 1 and distributed as .nltrack or .nlpack files refer to environment textures included with NoLimits 1 but they are not in NoLimits 2, or not in the same location. The freely available demo version of NoLimits 1 is available at the NoLimits Coaster development download site via [Local Copy of Teratextures]

Install that NoLimits 1 demo, and in the installation folder copy the teratextures folder to the top level of the NoLimits2 installation folder.

NoLimits 2 in Oculus Rift

An Oculus Rift add on is being prepared… see this Blog Post


A YouTube video preview of NoLimits 2 in the Oculus Rift is here.

The Helix roller coaster at the Liseberg’s amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden has also been modelled in a standalone Oculus Rift experience… see this blog post.

Xbox 360 and PS3 Game and Controllers

The PS3 controller set up for Windows use (and Xbox 360 for Windows controller) can be used to move the cameras and viewpoints in NoLimits. The rumble function works with the controllers when you are in the normal ride view.

Initial Feedback on Using NoLimits 2

I would say that it would be nice if there was an option to add people into the coaster and the station as in the Oculus Rift Helix demonstration… but I appreciate that needs more 3D models and real time rendering.

Including the “teratextures” (environment and terrain textures) from NoLimits 1, or providing them as a separate download, would help people use roller coasters made by the community for NoLimits 1.

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OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014 Final Load Test

The final load test and refinement of the OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014 grid took place on 4th November 2014… with over 400 avatars present.

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Going up over 200 avatars logged in, media playing, voice active…


Some red “gas cloud” avatars show as the test bots come in and rezz. Max number of avatars I observed during the load test was 406…


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OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014 Rehearsal


One week to go, and a full, but speeded up 4 X, rehearsal of the OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014 took place on 1st November 2014. This let speakers, moderators for sessions, greeters and volunteers, and video/audio streaming teams practice their roles, try out the technical in world facilities for presentations, and test the load on the facilities.

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Landing Zone & Keynote Area

2014-11-01-OSCC14-Stage 2014-11-01-OSCC14-Research-and-Education

Main Stage & Research and Education Breakout Area


OSCC14 Rehearsal on Keynote 1


OSCC14 Rehearsal on Keynote 1


OSCC14 Regions Map

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Happy Halloween 2014


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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

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2014-07-14-Stormhaven_007 2014-07-14-Stormhaven_006

Pirate Isle – by Colin Hetherington

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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

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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

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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
2014-10-02-AiLand-Edinburgh-3 2014-10-02-AiLand-Edinburgh-4

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

2014-10-01-AiLand-Black-Rock-1 2014-10-01-AiLand-Black-Rock-2


Gerry Anderson’s Space City – Fireball XL5

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


Gerry Anderson’s Marineville – Stingray

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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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