Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grid Zero: Open Grid Protocol

Earlier today a new page emerged at the Second Life wiki. It's a page many of us have been waiting for: Zero Linden publishes the first draft outline for opening up the Second Life grid in Second Life Grid Open Grid Protocol, SLGOGP for short.

Here's a short extract:

"This protocol is about a three way interaction between viewer, agent and region in order to facilitate a shared experience between people. The viewer is the element that senses and acts on the state of the virtual world. The viewer does so from the vantage point of an agent. An agent is persistent identity and persona that interacts in a virtual world. The agent persists and can be interacted with even when the user controlling it (though a viewer) is off-line.

Regions are persistent locations in the virtual world. Multiple agents may be present in a region at the same time, and when they are they have a shared experience. Groups of regions and agents are managed by domains. A region domain is responsible for a collection of regions. An agent domain manages agent accounts.

This protocol makes few assumptions about how a domain manages its collection of elements. In particular, it does not assume that a region will be entirely managed on a single host, nor that an agent will or won’t be managed by
a single process. It is useful to think of the “stance” that each element takes in the three-way protocol: The viewer is the direct proxy for a human that wants to control an agent. This control can be direct as in the case of an interactive 3D viewer, or indirect as in the case of a web site that the user directs to display their agent’s status.

The agent domain is responsible for the agent itself. The persistent state of the agent is held within the agent
domain, and requests to interact with the agent, even by the viewer, are mediated by the agent domain. The region domain runs the live simulations of regions in the virtual world. The region domain manages the persistent state of these regions."

(Architecture representation by Ugotrade, september 2007)

SL watcher for Massively, Tateru Nino writes:

"While very preliminary and far from complete, the SLGOGP is essentially the beginnings of the technical underpinning that will ultimately allow the cohesive operation of both Linden-operated and non-Linden-operated Second-Life style
simulators and grids."
I can't wait for the grid to open up and I'll be able to hook up my own sim.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Land of the Rising Celts: One to Watch

One of my favorite pasttime (usually late-night) hobby's is tasting whisky. If one thinks whisky, one thinks Scottish and usually ends up with Diageo. Today Diageo is the largest beer, wine and spirits company in the world with dozens of whiskies in it's portfolio, among which the well known "Classic Malt" series. As a lover of this water of life I'm no fan of Diageo though. They have a history. As you can read in Ulf Buxrud's "Lost Distilleries" they have a tradition of mergers and take-overs (under the name of UDV, United Distillers & Vintners and in preceding companies as well), and in the process are responsible for shutting down tons of old and respected distilleries in Scotland over the past 100 years.

Loyal readers of this blog and that of Ambling in Second Life may well be aware of the fact that Diageo has been developing a double sim island in Second Life for some time now. Well, this blog isn't about them. They're still lost in the waters. This blog is about the other whisky sim I've been keeping an eye on since early May (2007): Suntory.

A flashback (summarising previous blog entries):

On may 1 I spotted the Suntory sim at the center of a square of Japanese Sims, but the island wasn't accessible. There was only the logo to show, nothing else. A little later Aleister Kronos doubted it was the right Suntory. For us Europeans all Japanese have similar names and look alike, so there was the option it wasn't the Japanese brewer Suntory. I persisted though as I believed the logo to be of this megasized brewer.

In June the island took shape, but I wasn't really welcome. A few days later the design was torn down and in August I blogged on the new build appearing at the sim. In my opinion it wasn't really corporate anymore, so I started doubting myself.

(see "suntory" label for overview of these posts)

An impression

When returning to the site now, I got prove I was right. This time I took a long stroll through the sim, which in my opinion is aptly themed "Sanctuary"

Upon entering the sim I was placed on a bridge from the busy, crammy Japanese island towards a santuary in the midst of this. Although I've never been able to visit this great culture in Real Life yet, this fits in with my perception of it: Large, stressing techno-savvy cities which open up to sparkling sights of beauty and ancient culture. The feeling I get from this sim is a cross-cultural mix though. It is not what you would perceive as a traditional Japanese sanctuary, but feels like a cross of Japanese and Medieval European tradition and architecture.

On the first platform you'll encounter a sticky wall with shots of the island.

Further on you'll encounter several of the dozens of brands in beverage the company holds or imports, varying from Boss Coffee to Pepsi cola.

Finally I found the way down to the bar, which breathes the atmosphere of a classic "gentlemen's lounge," a place that cries for a good dram. In the bar you'll encounter the whiskies Suntory imports, like the well known Bowmore, Macallan and Glenfiddich, but also their own Suntory brand is present (if only RL pubs would charge these rates!)...

Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I really like this sim. I think it truly is a sanctuary between all the skyscraperish sims surrounding it, breathing ease and relaxation. A perfect atmosphere for a whisky. In itself the build is of an outstanding quality. It is an intricate design and I haven't discovered a single texture out of sync. To me, this sim is more than a brand. It is about a lifestyle.

There's a few points of criticism though. As happens with a lot of sims in Second Life, this one was empty so I couldn't find a tourguide. Most information was illegible to me as it was Japanese. Only the most basic directions were given in English, such as 'Marina', 'Square' and 'Bar' but i really would have liked to know more about the build, the sim and what is going on here.


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Geekend, Backend & Open-end

Orange Geekend.

Trough Ogoglio Trevor Smith's twitter stream I noticed phone company Orange had organised an interesting meeting on Scalability and called it the ‘Orange Geekend’. It was a rather interesting technical update by PhD John Plevyak on scalability. The obvious thing in the future of Virtual Worlds is in cloudcomputing but Plevyak suggested some of its load will go back to the user in peer 2 peer sharing of CPU power. The meeting was interesting, yet a little out of place. It would have sutied better in a natural habitat, like Intel...

Xeon 5148 upgrade for Linden Lab

... but Intel was celebrating a nice new deal as Linden Lab purchased a nice load of new Xeon 5148 servers. Starting February 1 you can upgrade your sim from class 4 to class 5. Upside is you get better performance, downside is rentals go up from $ 195 to $ 295 monthly (US Dollars).

Residents didn't take that rise very well and reacted heavily on the Linden Blog, and dearly want Linden Lab to open the source of the servercode shortly. This will make islands a lot cheaper and will give users and companies alike better opportunities to experiment with Virtual Worlds.

Linden loves Open Source

Linden Lab did react to the user comments by stating:

‘we’d dearly like to open-source the servers’

Which sounds pretty hopefull, but...

‘The big problem is that in the current architecture, servers are trusted. Identity information, ownership information — all that is stored on the servers, and in a closed-source, behind-the-firewall environment, we can communicate between the servers securely. Trust, identity, connectedness — all of these are huge problems.’

However, I've already seen infrastructure designs that would make this possible. The plan is on the table, so please don't hesitate to make it happen.

(The Grid Now - Tao Takashi)

(The next Grid - Tao Takashi)

... we'll have to be patient though. I remember Linden Lab's Joe Miller stating that Second Life has no future as long as there's only one company controlling the grid. Outsourcing or Opensourcing seems to be question for Linden Lab as it is said that Linden Lab does want to open up its sourcecode --but only to a select group of companies (often mentioned names include Google and IBM).

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Real Estate developer BPF Bouwinvest

Today I visited a sim called BPF Bouwinvest, a doublesim actually. It's the virtual foothold for the Dutch Real Estate corporation BPF Bouwinvest. The BPF holding deals in retirement funds and about 25% of these funds have been invested in real estate through their subsidiary Bouwinvest.

Bouwinvest on their presence in Second Life:

“De visie van BPF Bouwinvest is dat gebiedsontwikkeling steeds kennisintensiever wordt. Niet alleen wat economische - en vastgoed-ontwikkelingen betreft, maar ook wat betreft kennis van klanten en gebruikers. BPF Bouwinvest is daarom
continue bezig haar kennis hierover te vergroten en wil haar aanwezigheid in Second Life vooral gebruiken om meer inzicht op te bouwen in de wensen van haar doelgroepen. De huurder of eindgebruiker vormt het beginpunt van het product-ontwikkelingsproces door ze er al in de beginfase actief bij te betrekken, bijvoorbeeld door prototypes in Second Life te ontwikkelen en te verfijnen. Daarnaast is het doel om ervaring op te doen met nieuwe communicatievormen en feedback te krijgen over innovatieve bouw- en serviceconcepten.”

Basically what it comes down to is that BPF Bouwinvest thinks that area development is more and more becoming a knowledge intensive specialism and it aims to use their Second Life presence to enhance their knowledge about the wishes of their consumers. Second Life is seen as a platform to prototype in collaboration with the end user and to gain experience with new means of communication and receive feedback on their building and service concepts.

The main venue of the Bouwinvest 1 sim is the appartment building De Witte Keizer (White Emperor) which is an exact replica of one of their assets in Rotterdam. The replica has been developed by Interlocuteur M., a Second Life business consultant. If you're interested in renting one of the appartments, you can contact the real estate agent directly from Second Life.

Here's a short vid about the build:

For a Real Estate company and investment fund, this is quite a logical approach to utilising virtual worlds. Yet, I'm not impressed. The Witte Keizer is about the only building on the sim (aside from a few other thingies). I'd rather seen a fully built sim with real estate, a more urban approach.

Their second sim has a focus on user generated content and displays builds from the building contest they've organised in May 2007. The winning design (bottom right) won a free private sim for 6 months.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Advanced 3D system architecture

This is a thing I normally don't do: Embedding someone else's stuff on my blog. However, this is an exception.

The video below shows how IBM uses Second Life in order to create 3D system models. This one was posted at the 8bar blog.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Master Lordfly advances

I just heard that master builder Lordfly Digeridoo has advanced to round 2 of the Meltemi contest I've blogged on early april. I've been hanging around to see the build advance and now I finally get the chance to post some pics.
First series is some rapid prototyping

Though I really liked this side of hovering platforms, it didn't survive the next stage of the build.

The Final version:

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sketchup: Sculpties 2 Go

Well, we've reported on Sculpties coming to Second Life, as part of the 'advanced 3D modelling' things to invade Second Life. One of the questions was if this would set homegrown primbuilders back and give professional modellers an edge in using expensive 3D suites, like Maya or 3D Studio Max.

Well, here's the good news: You can start for free! I found out at the Eightbar blog that you can export Google Sketch-up as well: http://eightbar.co.uk/2006/09/29/google-sketchup-second-life-export/

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sculptie Contest in Second Life

One of the last client releases brought sculpties into Second Life. In short it means you can wrap up all sorts of 3D modelling tricks into one texture and apply it to a single prim making complex objects with less resource usage.

Some sculpties seem to behave a little odd, not everything is known about their behaviour inworld yet but the introduction seems to have two ways to look at it:
  1. With access to advanced 3D modelling a whole new group of interested people will be attracted.
  2. With access to advanced 3D modelling Second Life runs the risc of commercialisation with big 3D corps coming into SL and taking over from the homegrown primbuilders.

Anyway, there's been a first sculptie contest and the winning entries were lined up in the Luna sim. The Things To Do group got a special treat and the winner Nomasha Syaka showed us around. His winning entry was the horse that was even animated.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Luna/84/68/23

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Renault Italia and ING Renault Formula 1

First of my Renault stops is the Renault Italia sim which is still under construction. The sim is largely build by Virtual Italian Parks. This site is still heavily under construction, so I was amazed I got in. Only the parcel was set to limited access.

being a Renault driver myself (yeah, I love Jag better but my wallet doesn't) I was interested to see what they've come up with. The sim is going to be the launch of the new restyled Twingo, which makes Renault the umpteenth Createur d'Automobile who uses SL as new model promo platform.

Aside from the Twingo show there's gonna be a racetrack and some other things that I can't see yet. Why Renault needs another racetrack is unknown to me, as they've got their testdrive lanes laid out at the ING Renault F1 sim as well.


Tonight Zoe Visconti of Virtual Italian Parks contacted me to give some additional info. The sim is going to open next thursday (31 may 2007) at 21.00 CET, there will be an opening party and free twingos to ride on the track (and gadgets as well).

SLURL : http://slurl.com/secondlife/Renault%20Italia/128/128/0

So, logically. the second stop was the ING Renault Formula 1 site. Since it's a F1 day it seemed to be a good day to visit the sim, but it was rather empty. The build looks good though. At the moment I was visiting and snapshotting the sim, Rivers Run Red CEO Justing Bovington contacted me and we had a nice conversation on various RRR builds.

I noticed that the Renault Italia and the F1 sim were quite similar to eachother, but according to Justin that was purely coincedence. Renault Italia and Renault / ING F1 are completely different entities. According to Justin the F1 sim is a softlaunch and "activity is coming up, they have to run the Monaco event too as in the RL one."

All in all, I totally like this build. More details on the build can be found at KZero's excellent blog.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/ING%20Renault%20F1/128/128/0

Channel 4 update

One last interesting piece of information on the Channel 4 sim, which I -and a few other bloggers didn't particularly like is that the"channel 4 build is interesting, its going to change a lot :)"

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Second Life gets style

Next to Microsoft is a sim that looks terribly underdeveloped running by the name "Style" I took a peek and... yeah I'm positive again. It must be some itch to get rid of the Visa taste in my mouth.
As I said, it still partly under construction -and they're subcontracting, but the basic setup is... stylish. The main building is build around a catwalk. Fashion will be this sims prime style event, but Aimee Weber, partly responsible for the build, also put in a lot of stylish furniture.

The downside is, it appears to be a house of fashion, main event a fashion show... but I couldn't find a schedule or billboard for the next event, and I sure don't have time to browse the classifieds for a fashion show.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

New Architecture for Sun

Here's a short update on the Sun Pavilion I blogged about earlier. They've done some heavy redecorating and I really like the architecture!

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Beta Technologies

Beta Technologies is another of the early Virtual Contractors in Second Life. They've got a wide range of skills to help build your presence in SL, ranging from 3D content design, real architecture, programming, web and logo design, video and audio production, production of textual content, project planning and management, as well as consultancy, marketing and promotion.

Among their builds are Xerox, the Scandinavian Saxo bank, Cleveland Heart Clinic and Sunbelt Software. This list reminds me that I have to visit the Xerox build, as I've already blogged the other ones.

Beta Technologies is one of the many succesfull projects by Eggy Lippmann who joined Second Life in 2003. One of the feats on his palmares is the foundation of the Second Life histori wiki. For more information on the various projects of Eggy, you might wanna look at his wikipage.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Down in the Electric Sheep Company area an island called Elysian attracted me. I didn't recognise it as a corp name, so I figured it must be private. Judging the location, I expected some link with the ESC.

Turns out it's the home of a UK based Architect (Real Life one) who also did gigs for various ESC projects and other contractors. I must say I was impressed by the architecture.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Electric Sheep looking for a step forward

After visiting a number of business sims that had Electric Sheep Company written all over them I thought it was time to gain a little insight. Aside from the usual setups (auditorium, infocorner, etc. ) I haven't seen much innovation from them. They do have some great builders with eye for detail - the builds themselves are good, don't get me wrong here - but they just don't get me going back to actually DO something.

Well, some insight came, here's a snap:
"We are continually looking to improve upon integrated business into Virtual Worlds in ways that you've described below. Although I'd argue we have made great strides past the gimmicks that you've noted, we certainly have a ways to go. Many of our projects for corporate clients looking to SL for business uses are private, not open to the public, and perhaps below the radar still. In the future, expect to see the use of improved software on the client side to help achieve the goals you've described below. "

(the goals I described are left out for convinience sake ;))

Well, at least me and Aleister do have some trips to make and certainly we'll try to get some more hints before they go public. I can't wait to see some business innovation happen on SL!

Go get 'em ESC ;)

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Rapid Architectural Prototyping in Second Life

was the title of an article on the 3PointD blog. The contents of the article were no news to me, but since they say nice things about our Guestwriter Lordfly, here's the full score:

"Second Life architect Lordfly Digeridoo has posted a great video of the process of designing a site plan in Second Life for a real-world site in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Because of “massive procrastination,” LF says, he had only a week to do it. His video compresses that week into less than 10 minutes of high-speed SL work, and it’s pretty compelling to watch. There’s even a great sense of suspense in wondering what the finished product will be like. An excellent look at the methods of a master builder."

Read the article and view the video at: http://www.3pointd.com/20070406/rapid-architectural-prototyping-in-second-life/

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Second Life Design Competition

An international architectural contest has been launched to rebuild Forum des Halles' [Paris]superstructures because they have been prematurely damaged. 10 candidates have been chosen to participate in this contest and the jury will announce the winner June 29th 2007.

The City is hesitating to organise a second competition regarding the garden as well as the building because the design proposed by the architect David Mangin is likely to be kept. However, these designs do not take into account the many expectations of those who will be using des Halles: visitors, residents, merchants, walkers… Nothing has changed in the last two years despite the numerous demands of users and studies that have been conducted...

Read more at: http://www.reperes-secondlife.com/

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