Feb 28, 2006

A World of Tests...

Sometimes I sit back and wonder why it is we do this type of stuff. I'm not referring to things like running a world, or researching the design phases of future projects.

In general, when we went out to open this world (VR5: City of Nidus) we weren't really opening a world for public consumption. Instead, the world structure (if you would call it that) resembles a random junkyard of ideas and implementations based on various projects we are running at our company. The point of this being to try out and test ideas that we have had over the years for world design and backend stuff.

The difference with this world is that, while many other worlds in the AW system close down or become private for testing, we are trying something new by designing and testing in full view of the public. Some things make absolutely no sense to an outsider who is just entering for the first time, while other things look unfinished. Indeed, both seem true on the surface.

Instead, what we have is a world of possibilities. General design tests and functionality ideas that we've had over the past seven years but never put into working implementation. Working phone booths sponsored by Net2Phone, SWCity Avatars that do not require a special browser to see, Toolbars for the AW Browser that include useful ideas as professed by either our own staff (many of which are veteran users of AW software) or by the community in the AW Wishlist Newsgroups.

But with all good things, there is always an end. The City of Nidus was setup as just a test world to figure out some of our burning questions, but was never thought as an actual portal for users. Hence you do not see an entire world built for the purpose of public consumption (alot of custom objects, textures, terrain, etc)

The city of Nidus is for testing purposes, and is open to the public for inspiration. But there will come a time when this world will indeed close to the public and be removed from AW. Not that is is a failure, it has indeed served each and every purpose it was designed to do.

Possibly, we may keep the world open to the public for public building if possible - the plans are up in the air at the moment as we negotiate with ISPs who are more interested in moving to a seperate uniserver with a custom browser (fully custom multiple parallel metaverse design). So if we stay, no big deal - if we go, it probably means we are working on the new Universe structure... generally speaking we are looking at a user base of around 250,000, though expected is about 1/10th of that number which is fine for a standard Universe (25,000 users).

Everything is up in the air, but these ISPs are definitely looking into what we are offering. There is also the question as to why they would not simply go to AW for these services, and the answer is simple: Our plans directly contradict those of any other established Universe and are the opposite business plan. It's a bit complicated, so I will not go into details.

But rest assured - either way, things are looking up for VR5 Online. And as we move from our first phase and into our secondary phase, all are welcome to continue to add valuable input and ideas into the Metaverse project and it's subsequent releases (we will continue to release new version of metaverse for the public regardless if we have our own world)

What does the future hold for a startup corporation? Nobody knows, but we do everything we can to make it a good future.

Feb 11, 2006

Wells Fargo "Stagecoach Island" Irks Some Residents of Second Life

Originally Written by Tony Walsh of Clickable Culture

An experiment by financial giant Wells Fargo in the virtual world of
Second Life has come to an unfortunate end. The company's "Stagecoach Island" advergame project launched last September, but never moved beyond its testing stage in Second Life. Instead, as discovered this month, Wells Fargo's island was transplanted to a competing virtual environment known as Active Worlds. While the original island was built by contractors and volunteers from Second Life's resident community, the relocation in Active Worlds was a shock to the residents involved. While the core contractors have been paid for their work on the Second Life version of Stagecoach Island, at least one contributor is still awaiting payment and another seems to have had their original work copied over to Active Worlds without permission.

Full Article

Feb 8, 2006

How to Move...

Moving in this environment is accomplished by using your keyboard arrow keys, as shown on the left.

Other modifier keys are + and - for flying.

Using your mouse is encouraged in this environment, as many objects provide information or services if clicked.

The vending Machines are Sexy...

Indeed they are sexy now... Not cartoony like others in all of the other worlds. These are custom textured by VR5 Online to look like the real deal :) Just another small touch for our world updates. currently in progress are photoreal arcade machines.

Mr Fancy-Pants

Well hello there, Mr Fancy Pants...

Today's entry is about our new roads :) And this time I have a couple of pictures to add so you can see the changes and the difference between the old roads and the new ones :) I submit to you, the public, a couple of pictures of our roads.

Of course, you are probably saying to yourself, "So what? The roads are not a big deal..." and I reply to you, "Wrong! The roads are a large majority of the world itself and are visible
most often."

The old roads in our city looked like this...

The new roads are photo textured and look like this...

In any event, the roads in our city are now using Photo Textures, so while these photos are just a lower resolution, the roads in the system look alot better. One of our visitors has said "I can actually see the cracks in the pavement and the detail in the yellow paint!"

Yes... yes you can. One thing this brings to mind is the idea that perfection is actually measured by planned imperfections in your builds. One of the reasons that virtual reality does not look realistic is because it is absolutely perfect in every manner. So you must introduce imperfections in your builds in order to increase it's perfection. Photo textures usually do this for you by being textures created from an imperfect world.

As times goes on, we will be replacing more and more things with phototextured ones and you will see the evolution (so to speak) of a 3D world.

Feb 6, 2006

The World Wide Webaverse...

Depending on how you've reached this page, you could be wondering about it's origins and what it's on about. This web log is serving three purposes in an easy to update format. One, It is the update page for our 3D City, known as Nidus. Visitors to our world in 3D will soon see this page for updates across the entire system. Two, it also serves as the updates and news page for the company responsible for the 3D World, VR5 Online - replacing the original text file format we had before. And lastly, this page can be accessed directly from the internet at http://cityofnidus.blogspot.com

If you are viewing this page from our website (http://www.vr5online.com) you are expecting to see some form of help and updates. The same holds true for visitors of our world. Because these changes and updates effect each other in a very close knit way, everything having to do with the world and VR5 Online as a company will be posted in this web log.

Some days you may see something about models and textures for the city, while other times you may see posts about updates to the company itself or the 2D website. Other times, we may post an article about our industry that we feel would be of interest to our viewers. It's now all located in a single easy to read and update format.

I would also like to point out the ability to search these posts. Located at the top of this page you will find a blogger navbar that allows you to run a search for a topic in our posts. This may not totally be needed at the moment, as we have a few posts. But later on down the road, when we accumulate hundreds or thousands of posts, this will be a very effective means by which to find the information you are looking for.

This is just one of many updates to our overall look and functionaity for the company. We also welcome direct feedback to our posts (add comments). While we do not moderate these comments on a regular basis, we do filter through once and awhile to make sure our readers are not abusing the system.

Let us know what you think, and by all means enjoy your stay in our fair city of the future.

City of Nidus: Part Two

Updated the format for this section. Now availible from the right side panel are links for VR5 Online, Metaverse Download, Active Worlds Help, Games Folder, and our Radio Station (including the automated request feature).

The banner on the top of the page is new also, though not representative of the actual city in 3D (I can't even imagine the bandwidth a city like that would need).

Working on an updated version of the AIML page where you talk with our bot, Serena. Not really our priority (but users talking to her is a priority so we can gather AIML Datasets). Also in the works is the new website format, codenamed: NeXtin (NeXt Internet OS) which will be the upgrade for our current EVO Desktop format.

For those who love to pick stuff apart... it's not really an operating system. It's a desktop gui for a website, but will have working programs in flash, java and activex.

Been actively talking with professional 3D design companies for content and custom work, getting some prices together, window shopping accordingly. A photorealistic 3D Internet doesn't come cheap, ya know? Found some interesting high-def models with textures, contacted the creators to work out some of the details... for one, high definition usually comes in a large zip file. One of the avatars we have been looking at is about 11Mb in size, so we are looking into ways of getting the filesize down to a respectable 2mb or less for Internet users without turning it into frankenstein...

Rest assured, we are still working the kinks out, but have every intention of introducing more photorealistic objects in world to replace the low res "placeholders". Generally that's the entire plan. We built the first version of the city layout fully expecting to delete and replace the buildings with high resolution versions - so when you see the same tree for the thousandth time, remember it's just a placeholder till we get our hands on the photoreal versions. The same thing goes for the vast majority of the world... it's all just placeholders for optimized and photoreal versions.

And one other thing... there is a good chance that this page will be unavailible for about an hour today between 7pm and 8pm PST -ish... no worries, it's a planned outage.

Feb 4, 2006

Phototextures and AIML?

While normally these two things do not go together, in this aspect they do indeed make a great pairing.

We have started to do some photorealistic stuff for the city (starting with the roads) as well as began the public beta for the AIML bot in AW. While many of you may understand the part about the textures, the AIML may throw most of you for a loop.

Serena, our resident Xelgot Bot, is a conduit for an AIML chatterbot system that can hold a conversation. So instead of a standard bot in the client that can usually just say hello and whatnot, by clicking the sign above her head you get an AIML bot online that we are maintaining by which you will be able to hold a conversation with. As more people talk to her, the more we can teach her system and the smarter she gets.

A leap ahead for the AW community :) Right now she is in complete beta. This means that she is kind of intelligent, but there is always room for improvement. As our visitors talk with her, we will check and update her systems and allow her to learn answers to your questions.

How's that for an automated caretaker?

This is just a basic setup for now, as is our blog format for updates and news for the city - but we felt a few things should be let out of the bag ahead of schedule.

As for the phototextures? We are stockpiling media, objects and textures to update the world with over the next few months. Some things you will see in world immediately, but most are on the servers waiting for the big day :) We can't give everything away, now can we?

Look forward to the changes in the coming months...

Welcome to the City of Nidus!

Welcome, to the new addition for the City of Nidus :)

If you are new to this place, or are accessing this web log from a standard internet browser, you are probably wondering what you have just wandered into.

This is the new format for our 3D City Information page... yes we chose a truly digital format - the blog. When any changes or updates happen for the city or the software running it, this stuff will be posted here as we do it. No more signs at ground zero hogging space and certainly no more common web pages that can easily be outdated.

Whenever something important happens (or even mildly interesting) in our city - this is the place to look :)

Now, for the tourists to our city:

Welcome! Nidus is a self proclaimed city of the future - a fully three dimensional community where you can chat, build, play games and even shop. And not just alone, either! Here you will find a diversity all it's own, as you are presented with literally hundreds of worlds to explore with multitudes of people to interact with.

This isn't a game - though we have plenty of them in here (we call these arcades too), and the environment is as open ended as the wikipedia...

Have a look around, enjoy yourself :) Soon we will be updating this information source to include useful links to online sources (help files), downloads and even our radio station :)

Please keep in mind that the City of Nidus is officially "unrated". There is no censorship in here other than a person's ability to right click and mute offensive persons. By entering this city, just like a real city, you understand that anything goes and we will not be held responsible for content you are exposed to during your journey.

Nidus is a virtual city run by VR5 Online, LLC and is free to the public. Questions, comment and suggestions can be submitted to wburns@vr5-online.com