Welcome to the fifth Sign of the Kite (SOTK) newsletter of 2016. Remember SOTK is the shortform newsletter that keeps you up to speed with all things Kitely and OpenSim. It is written BY residents FOR residents and is neither sponsored nor endorsed by Kitely.
Got news of your world or group, an event, a recruitment drive, a newsworthy shop, product or promotion? Drop a brief notecard on avatar Graham Mills_2 inworld or PM Graham Mills via the Forum. All that’s needed are 2–5 sentences with a title, URL and/or hypergrid address. All times in PDT, please, and nothing A-rated/NSFW. Copy deadline is 17:00 Wednesday for inclusion in Friday’s news. Note that we’re currently running a fortnightly publication schedule.
This newsletter is also available as a PDF.
Dot has been busy facilitating development of the new Kitely Starter World with building led by Ozwell Wayfarer and additional content by Zuza Ritt. The build incorporates commercial quality copy/mod/no-trans/no-export content by Oz and Zuza that can be found in export-enabled form in Kitely Market. The new world is optimized for immersive virtual reality and is called Evergreen Island. It replaces the education-oriented VCE OAR which is still available elsewhere. The response to the development has been very positive both in Kitely and beyond. Serene Jewell has kindly made available a copy for anyone interested in viewing it.
Sailboat races; sailing lessons
On Sunday, February 28, at 3pm PST, Kayaker Magic will host the first Kitely Sailboat Races at his Panthalassa region. What, you are a terrible sailor? Luckily for you, Kayaker will be giving sailing lessons at 3pm PST on the day before the race. Trained sailors will have the definite advantage!
Beginner classes in scripting
Are you interested in learning to script in LSL, the language that underpins OpenSim inworld? Joshewa Daniels will begin offering beginner scripting classes on March 2 at 5pm PST. The classes will be held on the Eydis region. Joshewa has been an LSL scripter for more than 7 years.
Tea Time chats
On Tuesdays at Noon you can put down your building tools and come over to Eydis region for a Tea Time chat. The chats are in voice, but you can text if you like. This is a chance to talk about the projects you are working on, new developments in Kitely, or whatever is on your mind.
Hypergrid WIP meetup
Finally, this Sunday at 12:00 PST sees the Hypergrid WIP (Work-In-Progress) meetup on Cookie II. It’s a great opportunity to see what others are doing and to pick their brains where possible.
There is a historical flavour to the latest stores to open on the Market. Firstly, Tatiana’s Tea Room brings the first of a range of high quality products from the proprietor, TatianaDokuchic Varriale, who also maintains the fascinating Royal Courts wiki detailing the role-play activities of history-based communities across multiple grids.
Second, Koshari Mahana has brought her store Four Winds to the Market. Koshari has already added 19 houses and shops with a distinctly Victorian period theme.
Tatiana’s Tea Room:
Go see: RezMela Origin
This is the latest iteration of Ramesh Ramloll’s highly sophisticated system for designing training simulations. The world is open for visitors to explore with Ramesh seeking feedback. Note that the briefing and design suite is now above the terrain and open to visitors.
Recognition for Eine Kleine Baker Street
The awesome Zuza Ritt gained in excess of 12,000 YouTube views in one day for her Sherlock-inspired machinima following a tweet by the BBC Worldwide account responsible for the programme. Great for Zuza and hopefully Kitely and OpenSim as well.
Grid Treasure Hunt
Thanks to an initiative by Shandon and participation by many others, Kitely now has the highest number of regions featured in the TangleGrid Treasure Hunt as well as two hunters in the top three at the time of writing.
Briefing pack for SL ex-pats
Shandon Loring seeks feedback on his initiative to develop a briefing pack for those familiar with virtual worlds but new to OpenSim.
I’ve been thinking about putting a ‘Welcome To Kitely’ package for sale on SL Marketplace – for L$0 of course.
At a minimum this package would include an notecard with links and landmarks, plus a brief introduction to Kitely and OpenSim. Maybe the signage from the house in the new Evergreen Island could be included as a rezzable item. Remember that this would be purchasable and rezzable in SL.
What else should be included? Anybody want their specific LMs included? Any concerns about why this shouldn‘t be done?
I would love Community feedback, and if positive I’ll get to work on it right away and list it in our SL store.
I can also make our Library Guest List (presently 4-digits long) aware of it and encourage them to come visit.
Hypergrid Explore tours and G+ groups could be a good thing to include too.
Maybe some Kitely designers would want to include some awesome free gifts too (with links to your store and world of course). Items would need to be uploadable to SL of course. I would be happy to facilitate the transfer and upload to SL for the intro package. It would also be grand to have such items available as .oxp and/or .dae files so as to help new folks be exposed to that concept.
Seanchai has a Freebie Mall in Kitely with free access to all. Mostly we have extended Linda Kellie stuff, but also terrain and OAR files downloadble inworld. We would welcome Kitely merchants to put free items here too, with redirects to your regular store.
Okay.. done blabbing and brainstorming now.. thoughts my friends?
First thoughts: Alchemy Viewer beta 4.0.0
Cinder Roxley has released a new beta of the Alchemy viewer which brings a range of new features, including an updated chat bar and the first appearance in OpenSim of the Chromium-Enhanced Framework (CEF), an updated media-on-a-prim.
The beta currently sports a few features that will presumably disappear eventually (neither Experiences nor Pathfinding are currently supported in OpenSim) and the Kitely search interface lurks under a tab labelled AltaVista. For the inquisitive there’s also a region tracker so you can quickly get updated avatar numbers for your favourite meeting places. The CEF coped well with both complex text-based applications such as TiddlyWiki as well as YouTube and WebGL-based 3D graphics sites such as Sketchfab and aframe.io.
Alchemy runs within its own folder tree so should run from a USB stick, for example, and now has automated updating. Reports suggest that (increasingly deprecated) Flash support requires that Flash for Chromium be installed.
The general impression is of a streamlined and already surprisingly stable viewer that merits serious consideration.
The programme for this year’s cross-grid Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference has now been published. The conference opens on Wednesday March 9th but the OpenSim component takes place the next day on the Avacon grid.
Kitely resident Selby Evans will be participating in a panel discussion, and the day will conclude with a keynote from cMOOC evangelist Stephen Downes.
The focus the next day changes to SL with the Avatar Repertory Theater presenting an adaptation by Kitely resident Ada Radius of Robert Frost’s North of Boston.
On Saturday, another Kitely resident, Aaron Griffiths, will be presenting his work with virtual world simulations. Aaron is particularly well-known for Hinatore on Kitely.
There’s lots of interest besides these highlights so reserve your place now!
Terrains: creating an OpenSim landscape
Graham decided to learn a little more about OpenSim terrain by compiling this article from existing sources (gratefully acknowledged). It is not a comprehensive guide, more an overview. You are advised to backup any existing terrain before experimenting. Please share any tips or corrections on the Kitely forum or SOTK website.
Creative use of terrain allows you to introduce features such as beaches, rivers and mountains all the while subtly guiding the movement of visitors and progressively revealing viewpoints, caves, waterfalls and plantings. A suitably rendered landscape can form the basis for a story-build which develops as the avatar explores or alternatively divide a world into themed areas for particular activities. Of course, it is usually desirable to restrict the ability to terraform and this option is on the World>Region details>Region tab in Firestorm.
OpenSim terrains can be sourced from Kitely Market or the web (SL terrains work as well), either as RAW textures or as part of OAR files. The former are uploaded via the World>Region details>Terrain dialog in Firestorm and complementary textures (e.g. sand, grass, rock, snow) are automagically mixed in according to height. For those with the necessary skill and patience inworld editing can be used to model the terrain (the range of brushes is extensible when working with Sim-on-a-Stick as described below). However, features with overhangs such as caves cannot be modelled this way (the underying heightmap can only accommodate one elevation value per metre) and are best implemented by importing suitable mesh, e.g. from Kitely Market or Outworldz.com.
Linda Kellie terrains: http://zadaroo.com/?page_id=1592
Minethere’s terrains: http://minethere.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/free-opensim-terrains.html
User Fritgern and others: http://opensimulator.org/wiki/User:Fritigern/SandBox
(Seanchai Mall will have links inworld to terrain files; Seanchai Library group membership normally required)
Another approach to creating terrains is to use an editor to create the RAW file which is a 13 channel texture in which the first three channels (values 0-255) are used to store height (red channel), a multiplier (blue) and the sea level (green; normally 20 m in Kitely and set in the client). The multiplier is applied as channel 1 * multiplier / 128 so the maximum height is 256 m. Note that very high mountains and steep slopes tend to look sub-optimal and imported mesh may be a better option. Again, Kitely Market has suitable products for cliffs and world surrounds.
While you can create, view and edit RAW files in various image editors (including plugins for The Gimp and Blender), the less artistically inclined can use a program such as L3DT or Terragen to generate semi-random terrain for subsequent modification.
L3DT standard: http://www.bundysoft.com/L3DT/downloads/standard.php
L3DT tutorial: http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Using_L3DT
Vanish’s tutorial on using Terragen: https://web.archive.org/web/20130403031215/http://opensim-creations.com/2010/06/05/how-to-create-megaregion-terrain-raw-files-for-second-life-and-opensim
Bailiwick (for editing channels): http://www.spinmass.com/Software/BailiwickInstruct.aspx
Megaregion terrains: http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2012/09/how-to-make-megaregion-terrains/
Plugin for The Gimp: http://dominodesigns.info/project/gimpterrain
Blender (see also SL Primstar-2): http://blog.nalates.net/2011/10/09/opensim-terrain-tutorial-via-blender-part-1/
Note that some of these tutorials are old and software versions may have changed such that the instructions no longer apply. Moreover, many tools do not support varregions which in Kitely can extend the basic 256×256 m world to 512×512, 768×768 or even 1024×1024, i.e. a 4×4 varregion.
Use Kitely resizer to expand terrain to cover larger worlds
L3DT is relatively straightforward to use. A basic terrain can be created using either the designable map option or a Perlin noise algorithm. This can be edited in a 3D view and exported as a mesh, terragen, png or RAW file although the latter is not in a format suitable for uploading. Historically Bailiwick has been used in Windows to add the missing channel data OpenSim expects of a RAW file but the program is no longer maintained and is constrained to 256×256 m regions. The server-based Sim-on-a-Stick accepts png files but also defaults to a single region unless updated (see below). It will, however, load terragen format files.
If you want a real world terrain (albeit of limited resolution) then you can use the website terrain.party. This allows you to select a region on a world map; zoom in until the inner grid represents an 8 km square as shown by the label on the right. Then click the cloud icon to save, unzip the resulting file and use the MERGED png file in the next step. North-West Wales (Snowdonia and environs) is a useful source of mountainous terrain.
Open the file in the editor at pixlr.com. The 8 km region is represented by the 1081×1081 file so you require a 36 pixel square region for 1:1 correspondence with a single 256 m region. Select the crop tool (default), set Constraint to Aspect ratio and drag to select a 36 pixel square (width and height are shown in the Navigator). The selected area can then be dragged to encompass the appropriate area before the the cropped region is defined by clicking on the image. This can then be resized to a 256×256 using Image>Image size before saving in png format for uploading in Sim-on-a-Stick (see below).
More dramatic effects can often be obtained by using larger areas, indeed the entire 1081 square, compressing this down to a 256. Overly jagged peaks can be smoothed by applying a Gaussian blur value (under Filter; try 20-35). Adjustment>Levels can be used to modify the input and output range of heights.
If you want a sculpt-based preview of your world you can use Cool VL to make and texture terrain sculpts.
Terraforming in Sim-on-a-Stick
Sim-on-a-Stick (also known as SoaS) is a somewhat venerable version of OpenSim (8.0 post-fixes). Once installed it is run offline (indeed, even from a USB stick) and can be a good choice for schools not wishing to use public grids. It can also be upgraded by following the instructions on the website and this will currently be required for full varregion support. To expand the default 256×256 m region, edit RegionConfig.ini in the bin/Regions folder by adding
SizeX = 512
SizeY = 512
to the end of the first region definition (whose lines are not preceded by a semi-colon).
When the update has finished, first run MOWSE in the SoaS root folder and then opensim.exe from the diva-r25084/bin folder. There is a notecard explaining avatar login. Wait for the text-based console to load. Help is available by typing help all or, for our purposes, help terrain. Useful commands include:
terrain fill 21 (levels terrain at 1 m above default sea level)
terrain load fname (where fname is the name of a RAW, png, terragen or other format file in the bin folder; avoid spaces in fname or enclose in double quotes)
terrain save fname (save in RAW format for subsequent import into Kitely via the client; alternatively import as OAR)
terrain elevate 1.0 (raise terrain by 1 m)
terrain multiply 1.5 (multiply all height values by 1.5)
terrain effect ChannelDigger (creates 8×8 grid)
terrain newbrushes true (modifies final three brushes on inworld dialog to support erosion; useful for smoothing jagged contours; set to false to revert)
Note that SoaS also has commands to rotate, scale and translate all the objects in a sim (the scene). See help Objects.
Use in primary schools:
Running SoaS on a Mac (by Dot):
To make a low resolution mesh terrain of a real location together with an associated map texture:
- download and install Maperitive (PC only) from
- locate the place you want to map (make it region-size or thereabouts, i.e. not country-region or country size)
- choose Tools>Export To 3D and save the COLLADA/dae file
- import to Sketchup (formerly Google, now Trimble — I used v8; you will get errors — just ignore them) and export in the same format
- upload the file to OpenSim. The mesh should appear in your inventory when upload is complete; you just need to rez it. The mesh will be large by default and most likely requires some expertise in order to cam and move it into position. The low-res textures are cc-by-sa OpenStreetMap Project.
This is one example of a scripted tool for inworld terraforming. It’s especially useful when you want to flatten a small area at a specific height.
We are looking for help with the Kitely Community website at http://www.signofthekite.com .
Want to be the events editor? All you need to do is take pictures of events and write a little description.
We also need a Market editor. Want to write up little blurbs on cool things in the market?
We could also use a logo, anyone want to tackle it?
Get in touch with Serenejewell@gmail.com if you are interested in any of the above.
Production team: Dot Matrix, Serene Jewell, Graham Mills_2, Shandon Loring
This week’s editor: Graham Mills_2
Thanks to forum and community meetup participants for suggestions
Stay in touch
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