I guess what first attracted me to Wolf Territories was its massive size, 64 4x4s. I remember my first 4x4. I thought I would never be able to terraform it all and make it flow into one well thought out region, yet Lone Wolf has accomplished just that.
Uniting the region by train is genius and lends itself to the western ambiance of this place, I love it here.
MM I have to say when I first visited your regions, I was in awe as to all the terraforming you have accomplished. This place is expansive, and the eye for detail is impeccable. How do you accomplish this?
LW Okay some of it is done by hand, like with the terraforming tool in world. Some is done using a Fractal generator and I have some new terrain on the way built with the amazing e-on VUE software.
MM What is your vision for your Wolf Territories?
LW A lot of things really – it started off as the biggest Wild West roleplay area in Opensim (probably beating anything in Second Life as well) but I have departed slightly in certain areas.
MM I love how the train takes you around the region please share how you did this and how far does it travel?
LW Okay I started by building mesh trains and tracks and then scripted them. It’s based on the SLRR model of railroading where you have trains that can follow tracks. I did start off using an open source script but started again from scratch as the open source one used notecards and when you have over 64 4x4 regions (1024 sims) you can’t be spending all day making notecards. Plus the notecard trains cannot use points. I have a fully working points system.
There are currently 4 train lines although the point set up at Wolf Territories station makes one merge into another, Wolf territories station has 9 platforms just to give you an idea. I am looking to add more lines. The lines go right up into the mountains and I think it’s about ½ hour ¾ hour journey to get round it all on the main lines. That’s without the branch lines of which there are 3 but only 2 are operational at the moment.
MM The application of textures in the Ballroom is the most perfect I have ever seen, even in Second Life. This is the most beautiful ballroom, it is breathtaking. Did you create it?
LW I didn’t actually. The ballroom was created by https://opensimworld.com/user/lunalunaria, I saw it and thought – I’ve got a nice lake that would go nicely with.
MM Do you work in blender or photoshop?
LW I use Blender, Photoshop, Gimp, clara.io 3d software and e-on VUE software
MM I love the big barn featuring Rogue Galaxy too, what dates are the events?
LW We are on hold with events till the end of Jan at the moment as I have a huge amount of major upgrades to do especially with the terraforming. I want to create some of the most stunning beautiful scenery in any virtual world.
MM The tall ships area for boating looks expansive how large is the boating area?
LW I have rivers running through pretty much all the sims so there is hours of boating!
MM Do you create your items or do you find them around the metaverse?
LW A bit of both, honestly I prefer to create my own items, sometimes I get things out of world in 3d models and modify them. Sometimes I create from scratch.
MM I love how your teleports are set up too, please explain how you laid them out.
LW Okay the teleports I developed using an off world server so basically you can drop a teleport, create the description and it updates a remote database of teleports. I’m going to soon have a web page with all the destinations in Wolf Territories, there are a lot.
MM Will you add other venues for entertainment too?
LW I actually have some hidden away including 3 wedding venues. I will be bringing them on stream probably February.
MM What are the themes you will feature here?
LW Mainly Wild West, but I’m not sticking too strictly if I find something I really like, we do have a very modern club with space age buildings that I’ve been working on and a massive exhibition and concert/conference space at the very top left and right of Wolf Territories.
MM What activities can visitors enjoy while visiting?
LW We have quite a few activities.
MM Do you offer rentals?
LW Yes – just contact me and we can discuss what is required, I can offer homes in the mountain, on a reservation, just about anywhere you can think of with a variety of properties available.
MM Will you continue to grow larger or will you stop at a certain size?
LW The plan at the moment is to grow with more servers and just get bigger and bigger! Which will be amazing….we’ll stop when there is nothing left to build.
MM Do you offer any positions to help with the project or do you work solo?
LW I work alone at the moment but I would love to have some more Wolf Territories Peacekeepers on board. Basically these are the Sheriffs/Rangers of Wolf Territories, especially those who are good at landscaping. I’m also looking for performers for our 2 venues.
MM I see too that you are a performer, do you write music and sing too?
LW I’m with a Real Life band called Mandolin Monday www.mandolinmonday.com – I do perform in Wolf Territories and at other clubs occasionally. I do write my own material and perform Folk, Rock, Irish and Country music.
MM What would you like to share that I have not asked?
LW- Nothing much – just come and say hello sometime and ride the trains, there are a lot of views to see.
I suggest you do just that, please take some time out of your busy schedule and visit this magnificent place.
hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Wolf Territories National Park
hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Wolf Territories Ballroom
Lannorra thank you for taking the time to reflect and share with us about your Phantom Rose Grid. When I first met you, Phantom Rose was in InWorldZ and you were just setting up a new region at the Canadian grid. It impressed me how you loved Victorian themed builds and brought Phantom Rose to share with all of us, thank you. The ambiance felt like a Gothic Romance. I love that.
MM- Your grid is a recreation of the first Phantom Rose from 2007-2015 Second Life. Please share with us about the original build. Please elaborate we have plenty of space for your answers.
LS- Hi Marianna and thank you for your interest in Phantom Rose Grid. To put my grid into context, I will give a (hopefully) brief history of Phantom Rose.
I started in Second Life (SL) in 2005. I bought most of a mainland sim and developed Dragons Heart Province, a Medieval role play area. I started renting out Castles and it was very successful. Like many people, over time I became very dissatisfied with Mainland living. So in 2007, I decided to rent a private sim. I did not want to compete with my successful rental business so I decided to change the theme. I had long been a fan of gothic romance novels of the 1970s, also Anne Rice's Vampire stories and then totally fell in love with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. So I decided on the name Phantom Rose and rented a sim. Phantom Rose is where Phantom of the Opera meets Anne Rice's Vampires. Beautiful, enchanting and slightly .
dangerous. I still had castles, but they were mostly more gothic and baroque. Along with a spooky graveyard, I had a large, ornate Opera House. One of the first Opera Houses in SL (and free to use), it helped many aspiring artists give their first performances and grow their audience.
Phantom Rose was also a big hit. So much so, that I had one renter that moved from my Dragons Heart Provence to Phantom Rose and stayed with me the entire 8 years! I originally had 12 castles and they were normally fully rented out. I eventually closed my mainland sim and sold the land and put all my efforts into Phantom Rose.
In 2008, I started branching out to the Open sims, making avatars and trying to help the OS develop. Lannorra has been a resident of the 3RD Rock Grid (3RG) since 08/16/2010! At that same time I found Inworldz grid.
By 2012, Inworldz had rapidly advanced and was technically as good as SL. I made a decision to expand Phantom Rose to a new grid. I did not want to just replicate what I had done in SL, so I came up with a slightly altered theme where Phantom Rose shifted more to Anne Rice and the Bayou!
In 2015, I made the painful decision to close down in SL. The pricing was burdensome compared to what I paid to other grids. So, I did one more magical Christmas at SL Phantom Rose, then after 8 years, closed the doors forever. Phantom Rose was visited by 1000s of visitors over that 8 years and was beloved by many.
I continued to travel the Metaverse and loved it. Inworldz was a closed grid, with no hypergrid available to other OS grids. So, I set down some more roots in Digiworldz and bought some first land at 3RG. In 2017 I found the Great Canadian Grid (GCG) and really loved it. The creative muse was pulling at me again and I decided, not to have all my virtual eggs in one basket, so I got some regions and started on the 3rd iteration of Phantom Rose at GCG. This time, I decided to go Steampunk/Victorian I had so much fun developing new builds and new friendships.
As it turned out, I was fortunate in my foresight. Quite unexpectedly, Inworldz closed its doors. I had downloaded most of my builds, but it was still devastating to lose that world and all I invested there.
In 2018, I started reading about Fred Beckhusen's Dream Grid. Fred, aka Ferd Ferderix of Outworldz, had built a program that did most of the technical work in setting up a real grid. It was amazing. My amazing husband, gifted me at Christmas that year, with a desktop unit to house the new grid. January 13, 2019, Phantom Rose Grid was born. (Again, I was fortunate in my foresight, as GCG also closed it doors dramatically. But by that time, I had my own grid and all my builds set up.)
MM- Your new grid Phantom Rose which opened January 2019, congratulations Lannorra, please share with us what all you have accomplished this last year?
LS- It is very exciting and equally daunting to start a grid! Suddenly, I had all that space to create whatever I wanted. Oh my gosh. I had to really just focus on the first step. I decided I wanted to bring all the dimensions of Phantom Rose that I had already created, but with the new space, enlarge them.
First though, I needed a welcome area. Thinking it over, I decided that my original SL Phantom Rose should be that space. I had downloaded my main builds, and I had my original raw file, thankfully. So, the grid began there. What visitors see now, is a retrospect of my vintage Phantom Rose. With a sim being 8 years old, things changed as the years went by. I removed some castles, added other features, etc. over time. For my welcome sim, I decided to choose the aspects I loved the most. Of course the iconic Opera house is there, along with the Graveyard, Pirate Island, Skate Mountain, several of the Castles I loved and the popular Phantom Rose Cathedral.
Once I had Welcome done, I set up some 2x2 regions and rebuilt my GCG PR and 3rd Rock Grid PR in a much expanded way. PR Steam is an homage to Jules Verne and PR Nile is a wonderful expansion on the Phantom Rose Egyptian Adventure I began at 3RG. I have another 2x2 region, PR Nature that is a collaboration with my friend Tenshi Engel. He has contributed an adjacent 2x2, Sanctuary. I also built PR Ocean, a 4x4 region for all types of water sport.
Another long time SL friend, Dillon Hampton, has a 2x2 region he is working on, called Ad Infinitum.
I never feel done with a Region, so I had to force myself to "officially" open on January 13, 2020.
This past year, I added the original Linda Kellie mall and her Clutterfly mesh mall. I am adding items to some of the empty stores that I know are legal CCA items, from Selea Core, Hylie Bekkers, and Vbinnia Radek. These freebies are valuable starter items for new people to the OS. I wanted to provide this resource for the OS, as my grid has very little downtime and collecting these into one area makes it easy for people to find them.
I have two new regions I have been working on this year, PR Bayou (2x2) and PR Medieval (5x5).
MM-What do you envision for your second year, what are your plans for Phantom Rose? Will you present events and the arts?
LS- Right now, I have a scavenger hunt on PR Nile with a lovely gift of unique chalices for completion.
For 2021, I really want to take some time to do some live events. I have so many amazing venues now. Tenshi and I loved doing a drum circle at Inworldz and it was quite popular. I have made a new drum area on my "in progress" Phantom Rose Bayou, which I hope to be open to public in early 2021.
Like I did at SL, I would like to make the Opera House available for use free of charge. Anyone interested should contact me.
I want to get PR Bayou and Medieval regions to the "done enough" level and open them to public.
MM-I remember you had a website do you still? If so please share the link with us.
LS-My website is www.phantomrose.com I have owned this domain since 2007 or 2008.
The URL for my grid is http://PhantomRose.Outworldz.net:8002. You can hypergrid from any HG enabled grid in the Metaverse.
The url for my blog is http://www.lannorrasion.wordpress.com. The blog can also be accessed from phantomrose.com.
MM- When you first opened you had 9 regions, how many are there now? Please explain your regions.
LS- At the moment I have 10 regions open to the public. This includes 2 regions that are by my friends (Sanctuary and Ad Infinitum) and not officially Phantom Rose regions. I also have a visitor sandbox with 1 hour build times, and the two Linda Kellie Mall regions.
I have 2 new more regions that are getting close to opening to the public.
The first is PR Bayou, which is an expanded version of Phantom Rose from Inworldz. PR Bayou is the home of Dark Nights Role play area. This is where all the supernaturals come out to play! Within that area I am building a Dark Fantasy Adventure. This is a re-imagining of the Dark Fantasy Role Play Hub I developed for Inworldz as part of a larger project they had for a Role Play starter area. With this new adventure, you accept a quest to travel to each Dark Fantasy supernatural and complete a task that gives you an amulet of safe passage. At the moment it includes Vampire, Demon, Dark Witches, and Voodoo. I have also built a maze with a cool gift at the center for anyone who finds it. PR Bayou additionally has Wiccan alter and a Druid drum circle. So lots of magic and gothic overtones. I am so proud of Desolate Manor, rising from the swamp, Desolate is a decadent, spooky mansion, just waiting for visitors to find it. I also made a cool swamp boat, that is hand poled. The perfect way to slide thru the many swampy waterways on the Region. The landing point is a Ship Depot in the "city". The City resembles 1799 New Orleans. I am not interested in building replicas, but I do love to be inspired by environments. I have had a long enchantment with the French Quarter and the Bayou, so it has inspired this version of the area. I am hoping to open the PR Bayou region in the first quarter of 2021.
The second is a huge 5x5 region with lots of water. PR Medieval, is a medieval/fantasy environment, with Castles (Knights Landing, Dragons Heart Castle and the Citadel), dragons and pirates (Cut Throat Cove), a huge monastery Castle (by Tenshi), working canons, a new huge Mer folk area and much more! I hope to have Medieval open in 2021. It’s coming along nicely. I bought some working battle boats and hope to have some events with those in third quarter of 2021.
MM-What are the themes of your regions? What will be future themes?
LS-Phantom Rose Grid is somewhat science fiction based, in that the regions are basically a snapshot in time. My original PR was Victorian-ish. I have never been a person to force people into RP, so I just asked my visitors to be kind and not deliberately ruin a RP moment for others. When I created the Inworldz PR, I still had a Victorian or Edwardian vibe, but it was very swamp/bayou oriented. Which brought in a more supernatural feel to the space.
PR STEAM is steampunk. So again, more of a sci-fi type environment.
At 3rd Rock Grid, I made a very specific time period for the Phantom Rose Egyptian Adventure, 1898, as this theme was the Duke and Duchess of Phantom Rose visiting the Pyramids. PR Nile is the same set-up, but greatly expanded and just really fascinating with lots of details: Pyramid to explore, Museum, Marketplace, Victorian Inns, Bedouin camp, excavations, farms, and so much more.
My new PR Bayou is set in 1799, just as my alternate universe New Orleans is changing from the French to Americans.
PR Oceans is modern, but includes mer folk... so I cannot seem to get away from sci-fi.
So when I was designing my grid, I was in a quandary of how to set it up. I finally decided, that each of my builds is essentially another "Dimension" of Phantom Rose. And given that I have a sci-fi base, I decided to build an Inter-Dimensional Portal (IDP) system of transportation for my visitors. Each open region is accessed thru the IDP. In addition, each Region has a "regional TP" that has teleports to many of the points of interest (and the IDP) on that Region. The IDP at the PR Welcome region, is right at the landing point for visitors. Along with information, etc.
Future regions planned are:
PR Vegas 60's Vegas, yeah baby! This will be a redesign of a build I did for a friend in SL. And will bring back Drax Lemieux’s original Red Dragon Club and Casino from 2006 SL. There was another Red Dragon club that popped up after his. But Drax's was the first and very unique (huge dragon head entrance).
PR Gatsby Bootleggers, flappers and all that jazz! All done in the PR style :)
MM-What activities do you have at the grid? Is there nature trails? For horseback riding or hiking?
LS-Each region has an extensive set of activities for visitors.
Mer Folk: the Phantom Rose Grid, has a mer folk area on all its regions. When landing at the welcome, there is a sign directing Mer folk to choose the Grotto destination from the local transporter. From there you can travel underwater, via the Mer Portal, to each region. The Grotto also has free Mer weddings at Neptune’s Alter, free male and female fins and you can take the underwater transporter to the Mer Playground, where you will find swings and a carousel made especially for Mer folk, in addition to a wreck to explore and find the treasure chest gift! Each region has its own area, the largest being at PR Ocean where you land at Atlantis. :)
PR Nature: hang gliding, horse riding, kayaks, white water rafting, tubing, donkey rides, swimming, archery, hot air ballooning, meditation, tai chi, oriental fan dancing, photo ops, camping, hiking trails, YouTube media room at the Ranch.
PR Nile: boat rides on the Nile, camel rides, hot air balloons, horse riding, swimming, belly dancing, the Souks marketplace, the Bathhouse, exploration of the pyramids, Scavenger Hunt. There is also an adjacent 2x2 that is all water for more boating space.
PR Steam: steam boat rides, hot air balloon rides, sail boat rides, meditation at Serenity Beach, hidden cavern adventure, Mysterious Island (with Dinosaurs!), Mermaids of the Mists area.
PR Ocean: sail boats, power boats, kayaks, deep see diving, underwater ruins, bar-be cue, Marina, Pool, beach, games room. Coming soon, Surf beach, with real surfable waves!
PR Welcome: Tai chi, free weddings at the Cathedral or ocean front Gazebo, Opera House, find the Phantom's Lair and its free fabulous gift, Pirate Island, boat rides, mer folk playground and Grotto with free Mer weddings venue.
Sanctuary: satyr farm, beautiful natural landscape to explore. Tenshi also has a massive food market, with food and spices, all free! Some are uniquely his and others are customed freebies. Do not forget to visit his Winery, where he has laid out a huge buffet of food and party platters for his guests to take as gifts! If you want food, this is the place to come! They are all copy/no transfer, so bring your friends, cause they will want them too.
Ad Infinitum: A work in progress, there are no specific activities, but it is open to the public to explore.
Linda Kellie Mall: freebies
Cuttlerfly Mall: freebies, including not just clutterfly but Selea Core and Kylie Bekkers
MM-What I love about your builds are the amazing attentions to details, do you create all your props and landscaping too?
Yes, several people have said that to me. I think it is because I "live" in all my builds. When I am building, I am creating a story of the person or family that will inhabit my build. My environments are created from my need for beauty and tranquility. But conversely, I need a little spice, so I like those touches of gothic.
I create many, many things, but not all. I will buy lovely objects from other merchants. I also buy building components (often mesh) from Twice Baked, Lunaria, and others.
I really believe in supporting merchants. I heavily utilize Kitely Marketplace and also buy direct from gloebit merchants.
I COULD most likely build every single item I need. But I LIKE to shop! LOL. And I have too many plans and not enough time, so that limits me from making every single thing.
MM- One time you showed me your great steampunk engine and that you scripted it to work, it was a steam engine remember? Did you create the model and script it too?
LS- I think you are referring to my "steam" elevators and balloons and the steampunk clock?
The elevator I made for PR Steam, I did make it all. It has rotating gears and "steam". The scripts are customed off old Linden scripts and maybe one of Ferd's from Outworldz. Most of my scripts I do from the LSL wiki or one of Ferd's.
The balloon "elevators" are actually customed from Vbinnia Radek's Balloon, a Victorian loveseat by M&M (I have paid for license), and using a script I found from SL and pieces from Ferd's kinda mashed together.
The working clock, I found in OSgrid as a free item. I added all the decorative bracing, steam, piping, the water wheel and the moving gears on the back. Scripts are all started from LSL wiki and then customed to what I needed.
I am not a true coder, but long ago in another lifetime, I did get a degree in Computer Science and I worked as a programmer. My experience was in all old tech, but I do have the logic mind of a coder. So I hack away at scripts trying to make them do what I want. Often times, I am successful. I don't know why I still refuse to simply take some classes to make things easier for myself. lol.
One of my new projects I am working on right now, involves a Wiccan alter and Grimoire, that will allow guests to summon a coven and do some magic! :) I have the coven part working already, so I am feeling confident that I will get some magic going soon. This is all happening on PR Bayou.
I encourage guests to sign up for the Phantom Rose News group, available at all the IDP's. It is a very low activity group that I will use to announce new regions and activities open for the grid.
MM- Do you have a team to help with your grid?
LS- Just my husband and I.
I do all the in world work. And I designed and developed my website. I do all the maintenance and backups.
My husband takes care of the Grid software tech and networking issues. Which turn out to be ports that are messed up by Window updates most of the time. Grid software is by Fred Beckhusen, who has my undying gratitude for providing us with a way to have our own small grids. Fred you are the best!
Also, Tenshi Engel, one of my long time friends from SL, collaborates with me on projects, such as PR Nature. He did most of the landscaping for that region.
MM- Are there regions to rent? If so can you please share about your policy or TOS.
LS- Phantom Rose Grid is totally noncommercial. I do not register avatars or rent land. I do have a TOS that visitors can read immediately at the Landing area. Most regions are rated Moderate, which means public behavior should be general. There are areas where nudity is allowed and those areas have separate TOS.
I also provide proof of my DMCA agent status along with some valuable information on the subject.
I am considering allowing visitors to use free rent boxes to have vacation homes at Phantom Rose. These would be the click box every 30 days kind of thing. I still need to test the box I found and see if it works. Again there would be no charge.
I have 2 long time SL friends who I have dragged (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the OS. LOL. They both have regions at Phantom Rose.
In the past, I was a merchant in both SL and Inworldz. But that was mainly to fund owning land. I am not selling anything in world at this time.
I make some unique gifts for my visitors, and I also custom some legal freebies to give away. I have made a set of Mermaid/Triton fins as a free gift for my visitors and some special gifts in the Opera House at Welcome.
Each region has some gifts. I am working on many more items. Some of the them are in gift shops and some are from others and are set free to copy. I only put free to copy on items I am confident are legal free items.
MM- What has been your biggest hurdle in setting up your own grid?
LS-The technical aspects are hard for me. I want very badly to understand it all, and I read all the comments and things that Fred puts out. But my understanding is only at a very beginner level. My husband understands more than I do. Fred is also beyond generous with his help. He has had phone con with us with remote into the server to help us with issues.
I have been very lucky that my grid has very little down time. When it occurs, its mostly due to scheduled or unexpected Win10 pro updates.
MM- Is the grid on a hosted server or do you run on your home PC?
LS-Phantom Rose Grid is self hosted. We have the fastest Xfinity bandwidth and it is on a top of the line computer processor with solid state drives, etc. I have two 8 TB drives from Western Digital for backups. I do 2 region backups a day. Plus weekly autobackups of the grid. I also do frequent inventory backups for myself and my two residents. In addition to backups to an off line 8 TB external drive.
I travel regularly and I use my laptop to access mine and other grids. I usually have no issues with Phantom Rose, even on some crappy wifi. lol. But I do have very good equipment.
MM- In closing what would you like to convey, that I did not ask here?
LS-Although, I am not merchanting now, I would like visitors to know that I have paid for Extended Licensing on many FP building items, furniture and accessories that allow me to have them in the OS. I put out real life dollars to be in compliance with TOS from many merchants. So when you see some of these items on my grid, please know they are legal.
And due to disappearing grids, I have bought certain items from merchants more than once!
I am a registered agent for DMCA and I take it seriously.
MM- Thank you, I too have a registered DMCA agent; all the items I place on our grid are either free and full perms from various online free resource sites or I purchase them.
As you can see Lannorra has created an amazing grid, and welcomes you to please come visit!!
Sara Diamond is the savvy tech behind the Fire and Ice grid. Her tech knowledge is what keeps her grid running 24/7 with very little downtime.
Sara often posts about improvements and info that is beneficial to others which benefits the opensim community, thank you Sara.
I wanted to get to know her a little better so thought it would be great to feature her and ask about her awesome grid.
Sara, watching your grid develop over time has been fascinating to watch. The information you share on the tech end helps new grid owners set up, the knowledge is much appreciated, thank you. I thought others would be interested too in learning more about Fire and Ice grid to see just how much you have accomplished. Having the grid owner who is also the grid tech is invaluable to your residents, it gives them a sense of calm that you have things under control.
MM - Sara you came to virtual worlds in 2004, please tell us about what it was like during those years. I came three years later much probably had changed. Please share with us the experience then.
SD- As you eluded, to things were very different then. Two considerable constraints spring to mind. There was not a lot of content available to buy. Of course, I landed a year after it all started, but still, the selection was limited.
Back in those days, it was prim only. Sculpt maps didn't arrive until 2007, before then shoes were made of prims, hair was either prim or classic avatar hair, neither was elegant.
When I first landed in a virtual world, I was still using dial-up internet. I didn't get broadband for another six months. It was perfectly normal to teleport then go and make a drink while rezzing. Due to the limited power of PC's compared to today, draw distances were frequently limited to 128m or less. Even with the significantly reduced graphics in viewers at the time, things were still considerably slower than they are today.
Everything felt more magical to me in those early days. I had almost no understanding of how everything worked, it was all mysterious and fascinating. Over time that changed, the more I learnt, the less magical it felt. However, that was replaced love for creating content.
MM – I liken the elemental force of fire with the emotion of desire, and ice with denial of love. What does Fire and Ice represent for you?
SD – Fire and Ice are two of the most potent forces of nature that exist. Seemingly opposites, yet intrinsically connected. They are bound together in a beautiful symphony, shaping each other, and the world around them.
The name came from myself and my partner originally. They are the names we gave to each other. When creating together, we work in entirely different ways. Each of us has very different skill sets. Yet we come together and complement each other.
I see this idea of coming together against the odds throughout virtual worlds. The very basis of love inside a virtual world is laughable to a lot of people. Yet despite this, those of us who have used them for a long time will have seen it happen multiple times.
There are more powerful platforms available than Opensim. In many ways, both Opensimulator and Second Life are old technology. Despite this, they have a very loyal user base. I think it is because of the way it allows people to come together collaboratively.
Like Fire and Ice, we all come together in a beautiful yet volatile symphony which sparks emotions. This is Fire and Ice.
MM – When did you open for business, what was your first store?
SD – My first business started in 2003, offering transport services to a real-world rural community. In virtual worlds, I made my first lindens working the clubs and largely forgotten casinos. By 2007 I had made enough to buy a plot of land. Starting with an area of just 2048m. I rented the ground out. At its peak in Second Life, there were three full. At around the same time, I began selling items which I had created through Covey Stores. Later I moved from Second Life into Opensim.
MM – Please share with us what is your aspirations for your grid? What do you hope to convey with your regions?
SD– I am a believer in social equality. I would like to create an environment where everyone feels welcome. Where everyone can feel at home, creating spaces which mean something to them. Many of us have used virtual worlds to escape something. It can be so much more than an escape. I guess this is what I would like to convey. Hope.
MM –When you planned your grid, what were the main considerations to consider?
SD – First and foremost, it had to be feasible. Both on a financial level and in terms of the time, I needed to invest in making it happen. Looking beyond that, considerations about my technical skills. I expected to be challenged and was, but my firm belief in multi-level backups saved everything.
MM –Please share with us, your experience do you code? Have skills with 3D modeling? What do you offer at your store Covey?
SD – I do code, I started writing LSL scripts around the same time I began Covey in 2007. My coding skills are something I would describe as a work in progress. I have just completed my first year of study doing a Meng (a degree with integrated masters) in Computer Science. Currently, the primary language I code in is C#.
I began modelling in 2010/2011 using Blender. I have created many items of clothing as well as static objects. Although many of them are now dated I have several tutorials on using Blender for Virtual Worlds. Those can be found on Youtube under my old second life name. Covey has gone through several transformations. I brought mesh feet to second life within three days of it being released to their primary grid. Currently, it has a limited selection of clothing and fantasy skins. Covey is now mostly about creating and modifying scripted tools to use in Opensim.
MM –What are the regions of Fire and Ice please explain your regions and what they offer.
SD – There are several regions operated by the grid itself.
The first everyone will see is the welcome region. This is at the very heart of the grid. This is a social gathering area with lots of spots for people to find and enjoy.
An interactive adventure game, walking through nose mythology. Solve puzzles, learn about the power of the Norse Gods while using some of the very latest opensim has to offer.
This is a medieval castle provided to enjoy as is or as part of a role-play.
Is a stunning winter wonderland best experienced around Christmas time.
Help Island – Firestorm:
A handy sim if you're very new to using firestorm or OpenSimulator.
Help Island – Singularity:
A handy sim if you're very new to using Singularity or OpenSimulator.
The LGBT Safehouse is a sim which was initially set up at the start of the Covid19 pandemic. It was provided, so the LGBT forum charity from the UK had a place for its members to meet. This sim is now available as a space for all members of the LGBT+ community to meet share together.
Sandboxes provide space for those without land to build and create. Our public sandbox is open to everyone.
MM –Do you offer land rentals? Please share what you offer.
SD – I do offer land rentals. As a grid, we provide full regions which come with a range of prim allowances. Unlike most other grids we do not charge extra for bigger sims. A standard 256m*256m sim costs the same as a 1024m*1024m var region, so long as the prim allowance is the same. Prices start at just £2 (GBP) per month for 2000 prims rising to £21 per month for 150'000 prims. Beyond this, we have residents who are offering both free and paid house rentals on smaller parcels.
MM –Do you have events on the calendar? What entertainment or classes do you offer residents?
SD – Currently, we do not have a calendar system for events. However, this is something we are hoping to add as residents start adding their own affairs.
Image submitted by Sara Diamond
MM –Do you have a team that helps run your grid?
SD – Leisha and I have made most of the grid's own regions as a team. The grid admin is all currently done by me. This is something which will need to change as the grid grows, and the time demands increase.
MM –What social networks can we find Fire and Ice grid listed, please share those links.
SD – There are several places we can be found, including our own website blog and wiki pages.
Google Hangouts: email@example.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fireandicegrid
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/511890436119320/?ref=pages_group_cta
MM –What policy do you offer the residents that is important to you?
SD – Backup, Backup and Backup. It is something I am a little paranoid about and something my residents benefit from. Everything is backed up daily and kept for a period. In addition to the primary server backups, individual regions have oar's taken every other day. We will not lose the places you work hard to create. All our backups are stored in multiple locations. Short of a continental scale disaster, we can recover your data.
MM –What do you envision for Fire and Ice grid in the future?
SD – There are a lot of long-term plans for the grid. These include load-balanced servers and web interfaces to allow users to administer their own regions and automatic deployment of new servers as they are required. These are all long-term goals, however.
MM –What is your technical experience?
SD – I have been working with the Linux operating system for several years. Before opening the Fire and Ice grid that was mostly using desktop computers rather than cloud-based servers. All our servers start as bare-bones, the operating system and respective tools are configured manually. Since starting the grid, I have written several Bash scripts to aid in the smooth running of the grid.
Everything is set up to be accessed remotely, meaning I do not have to be in the office to work on the grid. Additionally, our automated backup system has been proven to work.
I have also implemented a crash detection and recovery system. This means that in most cases if something goes wrong, the system will recover on its own without my intervention.
MM –If there was one thing you would want residents to know what would that be?
SD – I care, I am not the most experienced opensim operator. Neither am I the largest with the most features enabled. What I am is passionate and dedicated. I will always work hard to make sure you have the best service I can deliver. The Fire and Ice Grid stay be priced as low as possible. It is priced, to be affordable, for as many people as possible.
Thank you, Sara for taking the time to reflect and share with us about your grid Fire and Ice. I know I speak for others when I say, it is very refreshing to have experienced grid owners who care, thank you. We would love to see you flourish.
I am not sure what your first reaction was to seeing the works of Cherry Manga.
For me, seeing an artist push the norms, to go beyond the limits and push it a little to create the element of “strange” thought provoking art captivated me.
Cherry’s art reminds me of Nanomi Cowdroy who creates pen and ink art works that combine her Japanese and European heritage with a modern sensibility. Nanomi is an illustrator but she captures the same “strangeness” which stimulates all those damaged neurons in my brain. https://www.creativityfuse.com/2010/11/striking-ink-illustrations-by-nanami-cowdroy/
I find Cherry Manga’s work fascinating and wanted to ask her a few questions, to highlight her work. Art that lies in the deep recesses of your mind. And when viewed, it seems to all make perfect sense.
MM - Is opensim or virtual reality a source of inspiration, a place for expression, and if both, what are you seeing or feeling that makes you want to express yourself?
CM - Drawing, painting, sculpting clay, were hobbies I used to practice a lot before THE tool arrived in my life. With my first computer, an entire new world appeared, it became immediately the media I felt in love with, I started with the default programs such as Paint and movie maker to experiment new ways to create.
Then, in 2007, I logged in Second Life and wow.....immersion in art, build in 3D, it was a blast, I knew it was the beginning of a long story.
The most inspiring was to learn to use new tools, they gave me opportunities to express ideas I wouldn't be able to visualize without the technique itself, and then creating a little world where one can immerse was a totally new feeling to apprehend art. Opensim was a very important step, I met tech guys, they pushed me to learn further, we had incredible collaborations, it's a perfect place to grow, artistically and also humanely.
Being immersed in art provides strong feelings one can compare to meditation, when I use the oculus headset and I paint in TiltBrush, seeing the drawing reacting to the music I listen, it's like being in a place that only exists in the mind, a dream, a travel, that offers me joy and peace.
MM - How do you select what to share, and what not to share?
CM - If I could, I would just share everything, creations, but also knowledge, I don't, because of the lack of time, and also (and I hate it) to pay fees on SL for example, I have to sell some.
MM - What music do you listen to express your art when you create?
CM - It's wide...When not very focused on the sounds itself, I like to listen to webradios, such as
SomaFM's Fluid, or my own playlists...But some projects were driven by the music for example,
La Collection and Childhood were created with Cocorosie's albums, Strange Garden with Sainkho Namtchylak and Heilung... and of course the collaborations with musicians such as MorlitaM for different projects, Christine Webster for the Fest'Avis and most recently with JadeYu Fhang who made the musical background of State of Mind.
MM - When mesh arrived how did that enhance your creations? Do you prefer working with Mesh vs prims?
CM - Mesh was like any new tool, a joy to discover and explore. I don't make a big difference between prims and mesh, they are both a great way to create, they don't have the same specifications and of course, mesh is useful for organic, round lines, that are
sharper with prims. I'm just waiting for the « mind tool », you think of a shape, it appears !:)
MM - Do you create the clothing seen on the characters? I love the skirts you have created. My favorite is the Swan avatar. Please explain how you create the beautiful skirts.
The legs too, like the swan or bird avatar, how were those created?
CM - Before knowing how to make sculpt and mesh, I used a lot of full perm prefab to include in the creations, the skirt and the Swan's legs were made with this kind of sculpty, the bird was one of the first self-made mesh. Now I do all myself, using opensource resources, such as MB-Lab.
MM - Please tell us about the different events where we have seen your art, what has been your favorite exhibit?
CM - It's impossible to prioritize, each had its emotion, they all are part of a space-time.
Fest'Avi was the biggest adventure, several years of existence, an intense collaboration, it was the most challenging project.
Toxic Geisha, Fest'Avi 2015
AdA, Fest'Avi 2016
MM - When you visualize the idea, how then do you proceed to create the character?
CM - I think of the emotion I want to tell about, searching the good shapes, textures, effects, and I try to be as close as possible, being quite bad with Blender, I find my way avoiding heavy technique by hijacking the tools. Sometimes it's really fast to reach the goal, sometimes it takes many tries and uploads inworld:)
MM - What have been your favorite reactions to your art?
CM - The ones that don't flatter the ego, but push me to move on, and trust myself to continue.
MM - What has been your favorite character to create?
CM - Probably Line of Light avatar, I still wear it, the moving line has something hypnotizing, I use it very often in current works.
MM - Please describe a RL event that inspired you.
CM - Every event is part of the story, life is the inspiration in its whole, every joy, pain, everything.
MM - What themes do you pursue?
CM - Human kind, the human condition and Nature are the base of my work. It's mostly my own stories I am building, sometimes it's hard to find out for the viewer, hidden in surreal or abstract, but sometimes it's very obvious and raw. Creating is an outlet, an antidote to neurosis.
MM - If you could have any super power what would that be and why?
CM - Teleportation ! You all know why :)
MM - Please describe what you would love to see in the art world and why?
CM - The furthest from real constraints. We have the chance to experiment the 3rd dimension, I'd like to see more works freed from gravity, less 2D buildings, the more it's strange, better it is. Some creators are shy to show their depth, and they tend to show only their inner light, but it's the perfect place to push limitations and explore our own complexity.
MM - Favorite or most inspirational place?
CM - There are many, but if I have to choose, any installation by Claudia222 Jewell.
MM - Who is your favorite artist?
CM - I don't have one, the interest in one artist or another varies over time, the works resonate at the right time. The artistic current that never ceases to move me is surrealism .
Please visit the works of Cherry Manga located at Franco Grid https://opensimworld.com/hop/78650
Kayaker, it gives me such pleasure to feature you and share with the opensim community just what a treasure you are.
For myself, upon reflection, I have so many wonderful memories of working with you. Always a gentleman first and foremost and always honest. Every project was not only completed on time but each was enhanced to be much more enjoyable which took you more hours of work. You have always prided yourself on a job well done, I for one can vouch for that.
Looking back at our Pandora project and all you brought to it. Yerik, wood sprites, hunters bow and arrow with targets, that cute little dragonette that flies around the region. The Ikran that I remember helping texture which was a fun learning project that you gave me many tips and advice, thank you.
Please tell us a bit about your background so that we can get to know you a little better, and please feel free to elaborate.
MM-I must first ask where did you obtain your coding skills?
KM- I became fascinated with computers in my first year of college and decided to change my major. I went to University of California at Berkeley and got a BA in Computer Science. Yes, a Bachelor of Arts, not Science, UCB no longer gives a BA in this only a BS. In the early days of computers, the College of Letters and Science (humanities department) thought that since languages are under the umbrella of humanities and computers have languages, they should have a computer track separate from the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science track. So, I am not an engineer I am an artiste and that is why I write beautiful code!
MM- In SL when we learn about LSL for scripting objects, it is based on java but it lacks many of the qualities of high-level languages? Did you have to manually deal with data types declaration/conversion, limit in list length etc.?
KM- I was horrified that LSL did not have structured data types and had to change the way I constructed scripts to match the limited data types available. But every language is different and in a long career in RL I have had to switch languages many times so LSL was just another adaptation for me.
MM-I first met you around 2010 and asked you to come to Virtual Highway to look into creating a surfable wave and surfboard. Had you thought of creating waves and boards for Second Life?
KM- I had already built waves and boards when we met! Although I was making them to work off-sim so people with very little land could surf off the edge. To work out there I had to find a way to make do without the physics engine. This turned out to be good for OpenSim which did not have a good physics engine at the time.
MM-What are the major differences between Second Life and Opensim coding?
KM- I have worked hard to write all my scripts in ways that worked in SL and InWorlds and Opensim. Each different ‘dialect’ of LSL had minor differences that I learned to work around. But I found if you wrote ‘clean’ code it could be made to work everywhere. This involves things like explicitly converting variables from one type to another, putting in ‘extra’ parentheses and curly braces to avoid saying things in ambiguous ways.
MM- What role does physics play? Some utilize Ubit Open Dynamic Engine and some utilize Bullet, please explain the differences and what works best in opensim.
KM- I’m not a big fan of ANY of the physics engines. But I recommend that everyone use ubODE these days. BulletSim occasionally gets into a state where it uses up a lot of CPU time for no known reason. ubODE can run many vehicle scripts from SL without changes that would require changes with BulletSim. ubODE also implements a fast version of the llCastRay function which I use in my weapon scripts.
I gave a talk at the Open Sim Community Conference several years ago arguing that we really don’t need a physics engine at all! Avatar movement is done without physics. I’m not fond of how unnaturally physical vehicles sometimes behave. If there was a better way to handle collisions (a collision engine instead of a physics engine?) I think you could write non-physical vehicle scripts that behave better! Using physics for weapons is considered hard on the servers. Modern video games have switched from physical bullets to a “cast ray” approach. I found that you can get natural looking flight paths with non-physical bullets by coding the “rocket science” into your LSL script. So, I say why pay the huge price in memory and CPU time to have a physics engine running all the time, when you can code physical behavior into your scripts only in the few cases where you really need it?
MM-When we put in the surfing at Virtual Highway, what was the biggest hurdle?
KM- Back then I tried and tried to get physics to work but the physics engines were not up to the task. I was forced to find ways to work without physics. This started me down the non-physical path! Since then BulletSIM was improved and ubODE has come along. I keep expecting one of the surfing coders from SL to move out into the Metaverse and do a physical board. But so far this has not happened.
MM-Please share with us your knowledge with 3d software such as Blender. Do you also model your objects that you script? What is your favorite software for modeling?
KM- Virtual worlds are supposed to be a wonderful environment for collaboration. I thought I would bring my decades of coding experience to SL and find people to collaborate with who had experience at model building, texturing, animation, etc. But this never seemed to work out and I ended up having to learn to make my own textures (using GIMP), animations, sound files, sculpties, mesh (using Blender), etc. My skill level at making mesh gets better every year and there is always something more to learn! I use Blender because I prefer to use open source software whenever possible.
MM-What about the textures? I remember texturing the ikran, and just learning how to. You shared many tips teaching me how to wrap consistently. I still have issues due to vision and marking seams. It is very hard to mark seams on jewelry. Please share any texturing tips you have.
KM- I have found that there is a wonderful synergy at the intersection of mesh modeling, scripting, UV mapping and texturing. I find myself making mesh in a way designed to be textured or scripted in a way. Or writing my scripts in a way that works well with what can be done with mesh. So, I recommend thinking about ways to make the textures easier even as you start making the mesh. I have a joke: “UV mapping is like voting, you should do it early and often”. For example, you could start a jewel out as a cube, UV map the sides of the cube, then sub-divide and bend and distort the cube into the desired shape. But the UV map will still be a bunch of squares that are easy to texture map.
MM-I have always loved visiting Panthalassa to pick up the latest gadget you create, please share what inspired this region?
KM-Early in my second life, I thought I would concentrate on making things for water: Waves, kelp, surfboards, boats, fish, etc. So, I would design regions to be mostly water. Panthalassa is the name that paleontologists gave to the one-world-ocean before continental drift split the land into separate continents.
MM-You have a love of creating animated animals, what has been your favorite? What was the most challenging?
KM-You, MM, are to blame for my interest in animals! I had only done fish and birds before you asked me to make a Yerik. A fish or a bird does not have to keep its feet on the ground, which is a little harder. I’m especially proud of my “mountain goat” algorithm that makes critters tilt back when walking up-hill, down when going down-hill but stand up straight when walking across the contour of a hill. My favorite critter so far is my T-Rex, partially because the THUD sound is synchronized with her feet hitting the ground. (Something you CANNOT do with avatars). I had the most trouble making a horse because I wanted to have 4 joints in each leg. It turned out that moving 16 parts all at once is not possible in OpenSim (19 with head and neck and tail). I punted and changed from “puppeteer” style animation to “transparency” animation. I’m not completely happy with the final result.
There is a new option available in OpenSim now called Animesh. With this you can make critters the way the avatar mesh is made: with a skeleton, rigging and animations. I have held back from making any more critters until I learn how to do this. An animesh critter will have fewer prims, lag the servers less, move smoother and look better.
MM-Your wind setter buoy works with your windsurfers. How in the world did you figure that out, I know that opensim has wind, but having a buoy and windsurfer communicate based on the wind is genius to me, and it works. How did you figure this out?
KM-The default wind in OpenSim is useless for sailing: It turns to a random direction every 5 seconds! I remember a conversation on a forum in InWorlds where people were moping about saying “I guess we can’t do sailing here until the developers add a better wind to the system”. I thought this was a defeatist attitude and stated writing my first buoy that broadcast the wind on a “weather” channel. I’m not the first to do this, there were sailing groups in SL that had wind buoys and I assume they work the same way.
MM-Has there ever been anything you could not create? I mean, I have asked for the most incredible items and you always produced it, I wish my brain could think like that, what is your secret?
KM-Some people say there are no limits in a virtual world but this is not true! There are limits imposed by the system, by the capabilities of the servers, by the bandwidth of the Internet that binds it all together. I designed a ‘house’ once in SL that I could not get to work. It was made of a collection of bubbles. Each bubble drifted up like over an updraft, wandered sideways, slowly drifted down, back to the middle and quickly rose back up again. The only way to get from room to room was with teleporters. One room was a landing pad, some were bedrooms, a bar, a living room. Only one bubble-room had a door: It sat on the ground to let people in. It never worked because when you stood in a room and it moved sideways, your avatar stood still and the room moved under you until the wall bumped into you. If the bubble-room moved down, your avatar did a little jump like falling. If the room moved up, the system sometimes saw your feet sticking out the bottom and you would fall through the floor! The only way it worked was if you were always sitting down in each room. I gave up back then but now I wonder if everything I have learned would make it possible now?
MM-I know that you had created in Inworldz (IWZ) too, and had much invested there were you ever able to save any of those files?
KM-When IW gave everyone one-week notice, I was on a 4-week kayaking expedition in Alaska with no Internet. However, as a citizen of the Metaverse I already had most of my items on several grids. (Diversify your investments!) So, I lost only a few recent projects that were in inventory. Much later Jim Tarber was able to make OARs and I was able to recover a few more items from that. Those OARs could not save some things that were inside other things to any depth. So, I never did recover one script that was inside a bullet inside an anti-aircraft gun inside a vending machine.
In sympathy for people who lost everything when IW went down
MM-I remember when we worked on a project you would comment having to go into SL and update scripts because of an SL update. How did you keep on top of this? I mean, you would have to stay one step ahead knowing what the latest updates would be in order to update your items. This had to be a constant headache for you. Is it the same? Is opensim the same with the updates?
KM-I think what you are remembering is me going to SL to test things there that I thought should work better in OpenSim. I have been a frequent bug reporter to the OpenSim developers. The last word on any problem used to be “in SL it works like THIS!” OpenSim has come a long way and I have fewer reasons to compare it to SL any more. Updates to OpenSim continue to be made daily and I keep recent versions of it running on OSGrid. I host almost 200 region-equivalents (13 square kilometers!) of land on two old servers in my barn.
MM-Out of all your projects what has been your favorite? Please list here as many projects as you can remember creating, I lost count after the Pandora project, please list here what you can remember. Any links too where we can purchase.
KM- Making a walking critter like the T-Rex was one of the most rewarding things I recall. It is made from so many different components: Mesh parts, texture maps, animations, sounds, all stitched together with a script. As the parts came together my excitement rose to a crescendo. When it was done and started stomping around it was almost an orgasmic moment! IT’S ALIVE!!!!
I’m not particularly interested in first-person-shooter games. But I became fascinated with how to write the code for weapons. Especially in unusual ways like without physics or in places where rezzing bullets was not allowed.
All my projects? I’ll probably forget a few: Surfing waves, kayaks, surfboards. Swimming, flying walking critters. Kelp and other plants. Sailing ships and parts to build them. Weapons. Posing and color tools. Terraforming tools. PayPal donate, vendor and rental tools.
I give away a bunch of things: a new low-lag AO script, example cast-ray weapons scripts, system test scripts, zero-lag holiday lights.
I have a Kitely store at https://www.kitely.com/market?store=2987977 and places to demo items all over the Metaverse. To find links to those places, and documentation pages for many of my items check out my blog at http://magic.kayaker.net/
You have been such an asset to this opensim community, Kayaker Magic. I for one would love to say, thank you.
All images submitted by Kayaker Magic
I recall having arrived around 2015 in the first true opensim grid I called home, that Canadian grid. I had been in Virtual Highway before that but it was a closed grid. Same with Avination, they ran opensim software but the grids were closed.
At the time the mentors of the grid were helpful in showing where to find great content, Lani mall, Selea Core and Linda Kellie’s creations were the suggestions.
Lani mall was one of the first malls with free content from various creators all located in one convenient location. Another mall comes to mind which is Wright’s Plaza, both in Osgrid. I remember venturing to Lani mall one day spotting items created by Vbinnia Radek. Free and full permissions. Many were scripted and took time to create. Thank you, Vbinnia.
I began collecting and cherishing Vbinnia products, looking forward to anything new she offered. What attracted me to her products was not only the coolness factor but also it was her giving spirit. The desire to help opensim flourish by offering her creations free helped so many. The same spirit as Linda Kellie and Selea Core.
When Vbinnia came in the early days of opensim, creating was a much bigger challenge because of the lack of resources. Now there must be over a hundred websites online that offer free content, it wasn’t like that then. We had to create all that we needed.
In my opinion, these are the true opensim creators. Creators who came and made beautiful items with very limited resources. That is the magic of opensim. Magic that cannot ever be lost, or it will be another Second Life with the creators who have vanished.
Creators and creations are key, it takes a creator to bring life to opensim with their creations. Simply copying and taking items would not be possible if there were not a creator who first created the item. We lost this concept somewhere along the way. Some felt this content was outdated and they desired the flash of SL, I have been accused of that and told to go back to SL.
I didn’t come to opensim wanting to bring flash, I offered my Diamond Burst set that I had created for a Christmas party at the Canadian grid, and the women asked me then to open a store there. For me it is about the creating that is why now I offer free.
Vbinnia, like Linda Kellie were the first opensim creators to defy Linden Lab TOS by bringing creations to opensim. People who did that then were frowned upon by Second Life, but we considered them heroines. They didn’t copybot, they were bringing their own creations or full perm items they purchased. That is the difference.
MM - I think I began collecting your items around 2015 in opensim. When did you arrive?
VR - I arrived in Opensim around 2011 after starting in Second life in 2008 when it was still a bit like a lawless frontier, and I have to say, a much more interesting and lively place to be until it dissolved into a soup of nothingness after all the crass decisions by Linden labs, and very vocal minority shouty loudly groups that held themselves to be morally superior than thou, with "everyone is a thief or child molester" attitude.
I noticed they even tried the same trick in Opensim but it appeared to die the death it deserved after a short time. Most people that survive and stay in Opensim seem to have more sense. Spotting the SL exiles is quite easy, the ones that think it's just another SL, and treat it as such, don't tend to last too long :)
MM - You create many wonderful items to make our opensim life better. I recently found a great steampunk submarine; do you create both the mesh and scripts to make it run?
VR - I only create the mesh or prim builds if they are from my earlier days.
Sadly, I can only tinker with scripts, I lack the knowledge and experience to create them. I really need someone to work with who can write scripts from scratch for tasks and know to configure them, particularly vehicle scripts as they are black hole in Opensim. It's become clear over the years that less than a hand full of people know how they actually work or are prepare to get their hand dirty with them; I mean down at the physics engine level, not what settings to alter to produce a particular effect, I can do that to a limited extent myself with an awful lot (and I mean LOT) of time consuming trial and error. There are no easily accessible guides and lot of SL Wiki information is only marginally useful as they use a different physics engine. On top of that I fall when it comes to weaving in all the other things that vehicles need from sails to cockpits to engine effects to suspension to doors the list goes on. I have other things to get on with that I DO know how to do! I don't want to spend countless hours getting headache when I could be improving what I can do already, so lot of my projects stall at this point and end up as just inanimate objects. It's all frustrating and depressing at the same time.
MM - I notice you have rigged many characters and give freely, thank you. You recently helped me understand rigging, please tell me where did you learn?
VR - That's not straightforward. For anyone that doesn't know I Use Blender for mesh modelling, rigging and animation. I never started out thinking I could do anything animation related, I just wanted to pull a few vertices about and do a few simple things that are not possible with prims. I was also motivated to learn Blender as an act of self-preservation. Blender skills are transferable if I ever decide to move to another virtual world or gaming system. SL is just SL and way behind anything recent, and Opensim follows the same pattern. Too many things are set in stone.
Anyone that has ever opened Blender for the first time knows that jaw clenching wave of fear that sweeps over you followed by a quick shut down and look for something else to do the job. However there 'IS' nothing that can do the job as well as Blender; at no cost other than the time invested in learning to use it. Once I had decided the only way was to get stuck in with an open mind, forget conventional ways of doing things and take lots of baby steps, its preconceived complexity turned out to be thing a beauty. It's a tool these days I can't do without.
The animation came much later. I wanted to just create a better sit pose initially. The way most people go is with Avastar in conjunction with Blender, so I did too. Only problem was, like a lot of things it does too much. When all I want to do is something simple, often the developer’s way of doing things does not coincide with my idea of simplicity and ease of use. The various settings to control the rig are scattered all over the interface, which I found odd and troubling, as there are remarkable similarities between that and Blenders built-in rig which works perfectly and is easy to configure. To cut a long story short, after a lot of digging and research and again ignoring the preconceived ideas and conventions of how things are supposed to work in Opensim, and SL for that matter, I came to some conclusions.
1) I had to forget virtual worlds and look at making animations in Blender and learn how game avatars are created and rigged. Relieved of the burden of struggling with Opensim, suddenly things became a lot easier, to the extent that I managed to make a rigged and skinned character after half a day from one tutorial, which I will give a link to later, and created my first animated walk the next day in about the same time.
2) The only difference now was, what makes that different to things we use in Opensim? That was a yet another rabbit hole full of worms. Any respect I had for SL had now sunk to submerged. Opensim's avatar system is a clone of SL's, so there the faults lie. It uses multiple skeletons (I'm simplifying for brevity) to do different tasks, each seems to have been borrowed from different animation systems, which makes it a Gordian knot of what is REALLY needed and what is not. It also restricts what can ultimately be done with it.
3) Conclusion: the man difference is just the bone naming convention and what formats the viewer up-loader will accept. So, any skeleton can be used, only one is needed, if the end result has the required minimum number of bones (delete unwanted ones), and the naming is correct. The way the bones relate to each other is governed by the BVH format, it has nothing to do with Avastar or Opensim. it's one of the original open animation standards it's just a simple XML file. you can open it in any text editor.
Avastar has a script to do this but it doesn't work with non-SL skeleton naming and it can't convert it. It's easier but a bit of chore initially to just do it manually. It's also much easier to make a skeleton from scratch to fit any avatar you happen to want rigging; it takes about 10 to 15 minutes once you get the hang of it.
The only problem now was how to get this through the viewer into Opensim. Turns out it's just the orientation of the skeleton on upload. Uploaded the animation, as is, as a BVH file and it will end in some weird distorted pose. All it takes is to lay the avatar flat on its back in Blender and set that as the default orientation. Select everything and CTRL-A then [set rotation and scale] usually cures that problem.
All the rest was just watching any tutorial on animation, low poly mesh characters, rigging, particularly related to gaming. I also examined a lot of game ripped characters to find out how they worked and were put together, this is the fun part and the best learning experience, seeing how things should be done at an industry standard level and what is possible.
I can't cover everything that's needed, there is not enough space, and I understand it's not for everyone, Avastar is a viable option but I struggled with it (became increasingly annoyed may be better description), what I have described is how I personally got to my present state of knowledge, which is still far from what I would like it to be.
MM - What has been your most challenging character to rig?
VR - Chuckles! None of them really. How to do it was the most challenging thing to learn. I found early on that making my own skeletons and rigging them was simple, they could be fitted into any avatar mesh, then weight the mesh to it. For the most part weighting (a more descriptive phrase often used is skinning) is automated in Blender. Only hard part is usually with a bad mesh and the arms set at a downward angle, I forget which software produces this layout? Then parts of the arms closest to the torso tend to get weighted together like webbed toes :) This can be time consuming to sort out. The root cause is usually the mesh ripped or ported from other software so it's not as tidy as it should be to start with.
My ultimate aim is creating the avatar mesh as well, then half these problems will not exist. Right now, that's a step above my pay grade (Joking! I do this for fun)
MM - Can you please share with us links of tutorials you find helpful?
VR - That could be a long list but here's a few that I think are relevant to Opensim, although somewhat obliquely.
Blender for mesh modelling and animation and whole lot more, will run on almost anything.
Note: The Left v Right mouse button select debate still rages on. I still use right button select but you can choose from the boot up screen or set it to which ever you prefer in preferences.
Don't watch anything that aims at high poly count photorealistic results, it's totally irrelevant to Opensim and a will be bit of a blind alley. That doesn't mean ignore high quality results.
Find you way around Blender:
Blender Support Tutorials
Bit fast to follow but lot of useful stuff
Once you can model something you need to get it into Opensim, Tutorials on this are hard to find and don't cover pitfalls peculiar to Opensim, or how to handle textures. I really need to make one to cover it all, but as usual time is precious, so I can only do so when I have it.
It’s export Blender mesh models as .dae (set user preferences to Opensim static). Viewer import with all defaults except physics which should be set to lowest, unless you have a good reason not to, and set 'include textures' if bitmapped images are used. If your model seems to collapse when you move a short distance away set the importer LOD Medium-Level to 'Use Level Above' and try again.
How I learned the basics of rigs and animation.
Can't stress enough how good this whole tutorial is! even has a downloadable figure to use with the rig you create. Never forgotten the joy of seeing my little figure walk around for the first time.
MM - You explained rigging to me and all the bone names and such, when bento arrived did these bones change?
VR - No, bone names are still the same it just has extra bones. Not had a chance to use them for anything yet. Would have been more useful to have control over mesh deformation, if they could have included it, we could have blinked. I 'am' interested in the fingers and mouth. As they have the potential for adding more expression
MM - Is Osgrid your home grid? Please share with us links to your grid, where we can come see your work. What locations would we be likely to find it?
VR - Yes, Osgrid is my grid of choice for many reasons. Mainly the ethics of it fit my own.
or if you are logged into Osgrid already, just type 'steam' in the map search.
I actually run my region from my own server on a dedicated PC at home in the UK; that soon to insignificant rock (except to the delusional idiots in the madhouse running it) stuck off the coast of Europe. Sorry! rant over.
MM - You are a great lover of Steampunk like I am. All the cool gears, goggles and clothing is the reason why I love it so much. What do you love most about steampunk?
VR - I think it's a part fusion of a love of science fiction, I was reading and watching it growing up in the UK in the 50's before it was even called science fiction. I was born just after the war in 46, during the period when Britain still thought it had an Empire and surrounded with remnants of the industrial revolution. Hell! we still used steam trains and burned coal for everything, killing large swaths of population in the process. So, I suppose it all merged together. Also, I can't help but look at old photographs taken during late 1800's or turn of the century and think people had a sort of style that is a lot more pleasing on the eye than modern fashion, albeit very uncomfortable for women. It's also good for tongue-in-cheek looks at old ideas of Empire. If you want a really good laugh, try reading, The God Emperor of Didcot by Toby Frost,
Each book in the series got even funnier, I still need to catch up on a few more.
Blender has a super default plug-in (just needs actuating in preferences) for making gear wheels. Every Steampunk item as a gear wheel... somewhere! So, no excuses now.
MM - The events we have such as Opensim Fest by Leighton Marjoram enrich our opensim community. When you create for these events can you please explain what goes into the planning of your displays?
VR - Blind panic! Grab random items and throw them into a heap together. LOL
Some I am wary about showing especially my rigged avatars, as I can't vouch for the provenance of the original mesh figures. They are obtained through legitimate sites but some are obviously from well-known games, they may be legitimate mods or copies, or an impression of an original, I have no way of knowing. I originally grabbed them to practice on and learn from and have no intention of selling them. But I know for certain that some of my work has found its way into SL. Now who is stealing? I feel like sticking a finger up.
So inevitably I end up on the horns of a dilemma. When I first came to Opensim, decent interesting (particularly male) avatars were thin on the ground, arguably they still are. Which was another reason I started down this road. Female bodies predominate and even though mesh is pretty good these days, originality is not, with far too many looking like clones of each other. In a world where we can be anything, why does everyone want to have the same body shape and impossible model like features? I've always wanted a female demon body like the ones I saw back in SL and the beautiful Mermaids, all made with before mesh was available. so why don't we see those about in Opensim? One day, when I can model well... One day...
With my own builds I can show anything, but tend to build very slowly, every step is accompanied by much learning and rebuilding in Blender just to get it better. End result is I never have a lot to show and a lot of half stalled projects with the script problems as I mentioned before. So, I just show what I can
MM - Who do you credit as your guide and mentor in opensim?
VR - I never had one, Though I have come across people that I admire. Shin Ingen is one. without Shin's work with flight and bike scripts in Opensim and the fact that he made them available, I could never have got half the things I have to fly or work. It's taken a long time to work out How he did things but I learned a lot, not all I would like to, but better than nothing.
Perhaps the biggest influence of all was not from Opensim but back in SL. Arcadia Asylum and all the other aliases, was one of the very few truly original creators in SL. Liden labs should have paid her to create stuff she was so good. I've taken her builds apart from the early prim days through all the various sculpted prim stuff and I can't believe she wasn't somehow based in the graphics industry. I still can't work out how some of the sculpted
prim models were made or in what? But through it all was a sense of fun and jokes with some very efficient texturing techniques and originality. To top it all she gave everything away for free. That alone enabled me to start building up my own stuff in SL, something I never forgot; that's why I try to do the same in my own small way in Opensim.
Patrol Class Airship
Another was Carrah Rossini and all her gorgeous Steampunk flying machines. I bought the Steampunk Flying Submarine and used it as a skybox home, then went on to acquire a Dream Liner a Cloud Hugger and a Nessie; I notice they are still on sale today.
When I left SL, I was aggrieved that several of things I purchased over the years when I was there the TOS would not allow me to take with me, in fact anything at all! Imagine buying a shiny new TV but getting to the door and the salesman steps in your path to say sorry you can only watch it in the store. Fisticuffs or swift smack with furled brass handled parasol would follow.
But where there is a will there is a way, after a struggle I managed to get at least the shells of some of them out before a loophole was closed, in the hope that one day I may be able able to use them as patterns to recreate something like them.
MM - If there was one thing you could change about the dynamics of opensim, what would that be?
VR - Tough one that. Unfortunately, Opensim is too closely tied to SL in the way it functions. I understand the reasons, but unfortunately that will ultimately cause its slow decline. The Viewer and the server are interdependent, and most if not, all viewer development is aimed at and for SL, anything else said about this are platitudes. So, we have chicken and egg situation. No one will develop a new viewer just for Opensim because they may as well make it for SL, and if they can be bothered, disable a few features to make it work with Opensim.
Opensim can't change the server dramatically or it will break all the content the viewer supports, and the viewers are developed for SL. so a pointless exercise.
The reality is, to make Opensim truly stand on its own feet, some parts of the server need ripping out and starting again with a viewer to match, both need huge amounts of money to achieve and with it most content would break overnight. That's the price of progress. I fear most users are not willing to make that sacrifice.
I had a similar situation with Blender when it changed from 2.7 series to 2.8, they literally gutted the code and started from a clean base the result is an industry standard viewer with support from some big hitters these days; remarkable for an open source project! It took a year to even get some basic functionality back again with a large team of paid developers. The game engine went for good unfortunately.
Now you know why I keep a weather eye open for any platform that will be similar to Opensim in what it allows but is up to date. If I ever find it, I will probably move.
MM - When you create your scripted models do they work consistently for all grids or do the Opensim version matter?
VR - No, it would be nice if they did. I can only guarantee they will work with the bullet physics engine. if you run your own server it's just a case of enabling the option. Unless things have changed it was the default.
If you rent a region it entirely up to the grid owner what they run. it could be ods, ubode, or bullet or outdated versions of any of them. I don't have the time or energy to make things work with everything. I struggle enough as it is.
MM - When grids update their Opensim version do you have to update all your scripts for those grids or do they continue to work ok? How do you keep items current?
VR - Any server updates do not affect existing scripts only how the server interprets them if there are any changes to physics engine, which is rare. Some scripts may stop, but with Bullet I have never had that happen.. Yet?
MM - What is your favorite physics engine? Bullet or Ubit Open Dynamic Engine?
VR - Personally Bullet, because it's actively maintained and independent of Opensim. ODS is no longer maintained, Ubode as far as I know is just ODE made to work properly and a lot of SL compatibility issues sorted out. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
MM - What is the best advice you can give for anyone venturing to Opensim for the very first time?
VR - Just don't expect it to be like SL, and be prepared to put up with a few annoyances. Try to understand what Opensim is about and why some grids are closed and why some are open.
Get to know how to use Hyper-grid to jump between grids; it's a feature Unique to Opensim.
Get used to looking online for Opensim (meaning all the grids out there) related stuff, nothing is centralized here. Try kitely Market if you need to buy stuff,
Also try MeWe groups if you want to follow social event notices or just chat to folks.
good one to start with
MeWe Virtual Group
If you need anything, look for yourself before asking anyone and everyone, folks are usually very helpful and knowledgeable but might not react well to persistent questions that can be looked up on the grid website or googled for.
As you can see Vbinnia is quite gifted and an asset to opensim, a treasure. Thank you, Vbinnia Radek.
Fred Beckhusen is the President of his company Micro Technology Services, his expertise is in computer design, programming and video systems architecture.
He also supports Open Source and game development in the world of Second Life as the avatar Ferd Frederix with http://www.free-lsl-scripts.com He loves to play with and write about free and cheap tools for making 3-D objects too.
Specialties: microcomputers, software, electronics, electronic management
We are very fortunate to have Fred join the opensim community over ten years ago with his wife Debbie. Together they share a special magic that graces the projects they give to us.
Fred has created and explored extensively while here in the opensim, sharing all the knowledge and content he can through his Outworldz website.
https://www.outworldz.com/ he also has a MeWe community https://mewe.com/group/5bc12bdc322b35103f0965d3 where new DreamGrid (https://outworldz.com/Outworldz_installer/) owners chat at the social site about any technical issues they might have. You will find many of us shooting the breeze on any given day cutting it up and having a good time. Fred encourages chat and communication which creates a healthy community.
He has also contributed to the Ruth and Roth mesh avatar GitHub repository https://github.com/ingen-lab/Ruth, a legally created avatar for the opensim community.
I recently visited his Outworldz grid to really absorb the genius which is Mr. Beckhusen.
Upon arriving you are greeted by whimsical cows that chase you around and bump into you as if asking you for attention.
First thing Fred explained, “I use a lot of materials and normal maps. I hope you have Advanced Lighting model on.
Fred asked if I would like to see his latest project Silent Refueling.
He explained a bit, “Yes, upstairs they are refueling the ship for the last run. It’s in orbit around Saturn. There’s been an accident so its delayed launching the pods to space. The Valley ogre is the host ship. Bruce goes crazy when Earth orders the last remaining plants and animals to be blown up. This is a week or so before that.”
Fred was scurrying about explaining as I tried to pick my jaw up from the floor, completely awestricken by the details in this project. When he would ask did you see this or that, I literally could not speak, there are layers upon layers of many well thought out details. Please allow yourself plenty of time when you explore Fred’s worlds there is so much to absorb.
We then proceeded to Rapunzel’s beautiful little world Tangled Up With Rapunzel. Based on the movie by Disney’s “Tangled”. Fred explained, “The making of Tangled is a good show. Did you see the sequel? There is a short film on Tangled featuring the horse and the lizard. It’s over the top hilarious.”
Here is an intro to Fred’s Tangled Up With Rapunzel, Video
Fred lovingly created all the details seen using Blender. His realistic renderings are what sets his world apart, the use of his textures and materials. See if you can find her crown, hidden about. When you do, please notice the sparkle and shine he has achieved.
A while back I had asked him what he used for creating realistic textures because I was hoping to achieve more realistic metals for my jewelry. Fred explained that he utilizes Substance Painter for creating his brilliant textures.
Substance Painter has a cool physical paint brush that magically applies the material to your model, I love this program too. Even still, metals inworld cannot ever be as realistic as in the real world. We don’t have the same lighting.
Fred explained that we utilize (PBR) and gold is actually black. Physically based rendering (PBR) is an approach in computer graphics that seeks to render graphics in a way that more accurately models the flow of light in the real world.
Even still he manages to create beautiful gold pendulum on Rapunzel’s clock .
Keep venturing on until you find the Nic exhibit if you want your mind totally blown.
I followed the magic effect- riding the NPC horse. Here you will discover a Nicolas Cage inspired project of his image plastered on every item in the room.
If you adore Nic like I do, this room will inspire. It has been described as “Hypnotic, disturbing, glorious", by SLHamlet seen here
Surprisingly, the castle from Tangled wasn't yanked from a game or what have you, but emerged full borne from the head of Fred: "Stared at Disney screen caps, played every Tangled game, watched the movie about ten times. Its scratch built except some chairs and small stuff."
Venturing on I had to visit Fred and Debbie's Gorillas in the Mist installation, you can visit Virunga Mountains, Karsimbi home of the main troupe of mountain gorillas, and herds of wild beast.
Dian Fossey first discovered in the 1970's. Today the Virungas are threatened by war, oil drilling and encroachment by charcoal gatherers and water seekers. Eco-tourism is a blessing and a curse, as eco-tourism drives the economy of both Uganda and Rwanda yet also brings outsiders and pressure to commercialize these very few precious creatures.
Zebras, elephants and other creatures all built using scripts from the Free Script Library at Outworldz. These animals use just two scripts from the library: The All-In-One NPC recorder and the Rider script.
Virunga has many more things to see and do, and there are more herds of wild animals.
Here you will even see Dian Fosseys Home and The Lodge. A plane ride that takes you to their model of the real Virunga Lodge, near the Roz Carr house and her beautiful gardens at Mungongo, Roz Carr's Flower Plantation - next to the plains with the herds of wild zebras. You can go directly to the destination airport, too, at Virunga Airport - take a car to the Virunga Lodge and enjoy the view.
And to your right, across the lake, is Ruhengeri- an African town near the mountain gorillas.
Quite simply, they have given us their “Dream”, it is all here for us to explore, how cool is that to be inside Ferd’s head. These are just a few of his attractions at Outworldz grid. You too must take the time and venture out and explore this phenomenal grid.
I think the community would love to learn the magic behind this incredible man, I wanted to ask our Ferd Frederix a few questions:
Thank you, Fred for taking the time to reflect and share with us your remarkable journey through the metaverse from the early days of Second Life (SL) until now.
MM-Each day I am impressed by the troubleshooting and resolutions I see at the MeWe social site, your immense knowledge astounds me. What was your major and where did you acquire so much technical knowledge?
FF-I got this great job at Mostek when I was just 19, still in electrical engineering school, where we made the first 4k Bit dynamic RAM chips, the HP-35 calculator family, and later, every Fairchild, Motorola, Intel, Zilog and Olivetti microprocessor. It was like a toy shop. I was a group leader with a team that troubleshot hundreds of extremely complex chip-testing machines and PDP-11's. I was able to build microcomputer systems as a hobby before the chips were available commercially, such as an F-8 microcomputer system that played a decent chess game in 1K of RAM. My favorite was a Z80 with a paper tape version of the earliest Star Trek game. I wrote the 16 K Basic interpreter for a test machine at work, and used Star Trek to debug it.
I transferred into the microprocessor design group where we made high performance VME and STD bus systems. The engineer that hired me back then is still working for me on high-end digital thermal and night vision cameras for military and space use. I started a Unix computer company in the early 80's doing hardware designs, and ported three versions of Unix to it. For the last 35 years I've been designing systems and circuits and software in a lot of different computer languages at my company, Micro Technology Services, Inc. (www.mitsi.com). I think of Mitsi as a toy shop, too, and it is a great place to work.
The great thing about my job is I get to work on high-cool-factor things with some very smart people. We were the first company to make a Tempest-rated Trusted Computer for MS-DOS and then Windows. My work on high performance disk controllers led to a design win for SCSI adapters for the first 486 computers. I know Solidworks, a 3D design package, so I get to "play 3D" at work, even though I am slightly cross-eyed and have no depth perception. A lot of our work is protecting people with duress buttons and mass notification systems. We have over a half million 'Don't Panic" buttons in major corporations, hospitals, the VA system, and school systems all across the USA. One of the more unusual things are the first SMT boards for the Space Station. I also led the team on a Saudi Prince’s graduation present - a gold-plated 737 jet with $800-a-yard silk carpet and a real mess of microprocessors. Worked on the CPU for the Casablanca ceiling fans, the first microwaves and IV pumps, a burglar alarm design for Ford, the MarcStar radio receiver and transmitter for T.I. used in tens of millions of cars and keyrings. Their lawyers insisted that we never use their legal name, but agreed that T.I. was not their legal name, so I could mention it. So, I do, often!
At the moment, I am building replacement backup generator controllers for a nuclear power plant. Also am designing mechanical stuff for a new Strobe light controller for school alert systems.
MM-Please reflect we are fascinated to know more. What brought you to Second Life, then on to Opensim?
FF- In 2006, my sons went off to college together and suggested I would like SL and they could use it to chat with me. They did, one time. And they never call. I met Debbie online a year later. We both became SL Mentors and spent several years in the Help Islands teaching people how to enter by clicking the stupid "Exit" sign. And how to dig shoes out of their butts, and lots of other things. They had 15,000 people joining a day back then, and we got to teleport in and out of the Help Islands to help them. We worked together for several years on a very powerful and easy to use (and free) translator. Together we gave away about 140,000 of them. We eventually got them placed in all the Orientation Islands and all the Help Islands. And convinced Blondin Linden to finally fix the stupid sign. Eventually we convinced Philip to pay to add it to the viewer.
I love Opensim even more, because we are both constantly learning new things every day. DreamGrid is another way where we can help many others. I still learn something new every time I log in or help someone set up a grid.
MM-With the DreamGrid software app you have given persons the opportunity to create their very own grid. You have helped countless persons such as myself set up for the first time. Thank you. Where did you get the idea, it is brilliant.
FF- I was using Sim-on-a-Stick back in 2011 to 2012 to scratch-build a David statue without upload fees. I just found the oar again (Condensation Club) last week. This is the finished statue in 2012. It was done in AC3D.
The Mowes package that SOAS uses had links to a web site which had been hacked, and so it was dangerously virus prone. The first DreamWorld was a replacement for Mowes to make it safer, and it also Autoplayed everything from a read-only DVD. It came with a pre-setup viewer with the Linda Kellie "Western Town" OAR and my Dream horse ready to run on it. It took a year to code, and the horse about 18 months to make, all done while SL had mesh in Beta. Amazingly, Opensim had mesh in a few days.
A donation to a Horse Rescue charity would get you a DVD. I later open-sourced it. Then I figured out how to make a DreamGrid run out of a single folder. It has 2,843 commits now, so it has changed a lot in the few 3 years.
MM-Many of us have seen your hilarious Grid Outworldz, it is so wonderful and whimsical, tell me about those silly cows please, how were those created? The sheep too please share with us about the neat animated animals you create and what the process is.
FF- Debbie and I were out shopping. I lost Debbie in all the shoe aisles, and realized the place had scripts and rez enabled. I put a follower script in a ridable cow and found her in no time at all. I should have patented that idea. It was also funny. The next Christmas we had a sled with 8 merry rein cows. It scattered cows all over the sim. I learned many ways to hide cows so they would jump out at her from unexpected places. A herd would swim out to her when she took a boat ride. Mooing in our castle she traced down to a cow on the roof. One was set carefully as a physical prim, up in the top of a tree that I knew she was going to move, so it rained cows. She became expert at dressing mooFerd up for various holidays. The original had a gas pedal that would increase thrust as a way to push themselves past obstacles. But I failed to code a way to let off the gas. We had upwards of 500 people a day visit us back then and someone would always ride off on a cow. It would usually come trudging back. People would always push it and ride it as far as it would go. MooFerd would come running at high speed after bashing its way through a fireplace or some other obstacle. So, I left that code bit out, as it was hilarious. It was definitively a feature and not a bug.
MM-I have always been curious to know more about your regions. How many do you have, what themes and please share a bit about them.
FF – 135 open source OARS are available now. I have about 25 more or so of our own creations that I gradually give away. A half dozen I paid-for redistribution rights, and so you get them for free.
Our favorite creation is an African simulation in Dian Fossey's time named "Virunga". Debbie always loved Africa. It was our first major multi-year project. Debbie and I worked together on everything, and we both animated the animals. We both love how simple scripts can make them seem alive. I also love Alexandria Egypt which was a massive project for ridable animals. A lot of creativity comes from thinking of what year a sim is actually in. Alexandria is made for the day Cleopatra died, 30 BC, on August 12th. The same day Marc Antony, her guard who failed to stop her, and her handmaidens all died. Sadly, that is the day that democracy died, too. Egypt, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, and all of Africa was enslaved as the personal property of Caesar Augustus. Over the next 4 years, he had 25,000 elephants shipped to Rome to be killed in the arena.
As another example, it was hard to figure out what to do with Cinderella's shoe. Was it on the floor of her bedroom? Or with the guards and Prince discovering it? What year was it? We finally decided that the Cinderella sim is on the anniversary of their wedding. From that one idea we knew what to do. The King and Queen are dancing in the ballroom with the mice and Fairy Godmother, who had made them into horses to pull the carriage and are now back again as mice. There is line of citizens waiting to see the famous slipper on display, and some of the guards are dancing in the kitchen to the music from the ballroom. From that and the extra room we changed to the French Disney World version, where their dragons in the caves below. It was a very nice solution to how to bring attention to a shoe.
The carriage is really nice with 11 different NPC's in it. The Fairy Godmother makes it from the pumpkin. It's free to copy too. Just search for Cinderella and take a copy of the pumpkin or the carriage that appears.
MM- Many of us have read the beautiful love story of you and Debbie, it is simply magic. A fairy tale of love that intertwines virtual and the real world, this is quite rare.
I have seen the mesh items she creates too. Does she help with creating your mesh animals? Please share, we would love to know more about her.
FF- We remote desktop to share screens and talk almost every day. We have literally hundreds of projects in a shared dropbox we work on together. Most of what we have done was originally inspired by her. She often asks if I can make something that is impossible, which can't be done, not in our engine, well, maybe it can, if this happens, and maybe.... hmmm. Such as the first ridable NPC animal, a tiger. I was able to make one for just her avatar in Second Life. Eventually, after a lot of work, a rideable tiger worked in Opensim. So, Virunga finally came alive with ridable elephants and other animals.
We both know Blender, and she has taught me quite a few things, like how to make bed coverings for the drapes for Cleopatra's bed.
MM-Many of us utilize your Outworldz website for various items needed as we build our regions. We can find everything here from .oar files to sculpt maps. How do you keep so organized and focused on so many details, does Debbie help with the website too?
FF- No, I am the data hoarder. I use lot of languages, for web sites, it’s “Modern Perl". This means looking at data modeling first, and separating the look from the code. I use a No-SQL system named DBIX::Class to Microsoft SQL and Mysql databases. It runs web crawlers, the Dynamic DNS systems, and lots more. Adding a new OAR is as simple as saving an OAR, with a JPG photo and a text file to describe it. A sculpt would be a PNG, and the system knows to build a 3d rotated GIF automatically using Java. The entire system fits on the back of my LCD in a 4" square NUC PC.
MM- What impresses me the most is that you came onto the scene quietly and created your magic. Never calling attention to yourself or your projects, yet your membership is growing and loyal. I have seen others come along bringing attention to their projects and goals many times these people fail, I think it is because they forget the caring part that you express in everything you do. Please tell me how do you manage to address so many technical issues and attentions to details being just one man?
FF- Lists. Lots of lists. I renamed my Alexa to "Computer" so I can yell To-Do's at her at work and from every room at home. And so she can argue with Data when Star Trek Voyager is on. She likes that. She was in earshot during "While You Were Sleeping" just last week. At one key point, Sandra Bullock says "Peter has one testicle". Alexa heard "Computer add one testicle", so I have that on my list now. I told this to Debbie, and now I have two testicles to get.
MM- How many DreamGrid owners are there now?
FF- 6,156 unique grid names have been booted up and used, though it's overly precise to say so. It is difficult to say anything accurately as almost everything changes, such as IP addresses. So, these numbers can only be compared to older numbers, over time.
Known DreamGrid installs = 6156
Known other Grids = 696
Total = 6852
MM-What are your current and future goals with DreamGrid.
FF- I have a long list of things I would like to do. The most interesting long-term item is to make it run regions on teleport demand, which takes up only as much RAM as you have people in
different sims. It works somewhat now, but only for me. Opensim is like an operating system by itself, with over a million lines of code in it.
MM- What world do you find yourself in most Second life or Opensim?
FF- Opensim, by a lot. I only go to SL to figure out how my birds flew so well there. They don't work as well in Opensim, and I want to fix that.
MM- You have a love for creating .oar files to share freely. I have the Hobbiton Collection which I adore. Please tell us how your .oars are brought to life after realizing the vision? Do you have a set team of persons that help you create them?
FF- Debbie, Joe Builder of Lost World and I collaborate on many things. I purchased redistribution rights to the original Hobbiton as it was very pretty. Then threw out the houses due to copyright issues and made entirely new ones in Blender. We collect sets of pictures for all to see to get the right layouts. I also had access to an employee’s awesome and complete collection of Hobbit books and DVD's. Joe spent weeks tweaking the waterfalls and adjusting hobbit houses. The road is a good example of a simple but invisible change. It was rebuilt in mesh with part of it phantom and part solid with high physics. This lets you ride the horse or the wagon smoothly, and Gandalf can ride his pony cart down it without banging into the rocks that line the paths. Hobbiton was also ideal for a Satyr Farm, so Debbie looked everywhere for open source models for the NPC farmers. David Monday of the GCG grid updated and contributed to the farm. Debbie spent at least a hundred hours, maybe more, making adjustments to the farm. She grew the peaches and made the ingredients for each pie that is sitting on the table.
The next major project is almost done. It is based on a 1974 movie, "Silent Running". What day is it? Just before the movie was filmed on board the Valley Forge, a real aircraft carrier.
MM - With so much questionable content in opensim on every single grid, what are your thoughts as far as what happens now that it is all here? Do you ever see Linden Lab taking action about the content leaving Second Life illegally?
FF - I highly recommend that all grid owners, even those overseas, sign up at the U.S. DMCA office and pay the $6.00 annual fee to file a Registered Agent. This is a necessary first step for legal protection against stolen content. You also need a public DMCA policy as shown in the sample TOS in DreamGrid. This will protect your grid from any content uploaded by others, provided that you follow the simple rules. It does not let you steal anything. It only works for innocent grid operators to protect them from others.
MM- What is your own dream for Opensim? What would you like to see evolve for the software and then also the community?
FF- I love the community spirit of Opensimulator within the DreamGrid owners. I would love to see that grow. I think it’s because you finally have control of your virtual life. People gather together at Mewe to talk through their difficulties, to share a morning coffee and make jokes. And they love to chat about it, as Sunbeam Magic did, and now you. Thank you for doing that here!
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Fred, it has been quite the honor that you would accept the interview and share with us a little bit about you. I know many share in my sentiment when I say, thank you Fred we adore you.