Where is everyone?

Attendance at this year’s Second Life Community convention is much less than I expected.  The last time I attended one, in 2009, halls were crowded with SL residents conversing and the Grand Ballroom was packed.  This year there are a lot fewer of us.  It’s disappointing that I’ve only met two people so far who I know in SL, but the two breakout sessions I’ve attended so far, portrait photography and a basic mesh tutorial, have been excellent.

Lighting for portrait photography in SL

At SLCC today, Stefan Buscaylet  gave an informative presentation about portrait photography in Second Life.  The photographic tools available in Viewer 2 are far more versatile than I realized, and should appeal to serious RL photographers.  I’ll write more about this in the future, after I’ve had a chance to work on it myself.

You can have your own virtual world

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your own virtual world?  It might be for your business or university, or maybe just for you and your friends to hang out in without having to deal with griefers.   Or maybe you’ve wished you could experience other virtual worlds without having to create a new account in each one.

Both are becoming possible.  Two emerging software packages, OpenSim and HyperGrid, will soon make them realities and in some cases even easy.  Best of all, Second Life® members  won’t need to learn much that’s new.  The skills you’ve learned In Second Life will mostly carry over to the OpenSim worlds and you can use unofficial Second Life viewers such as Imprudence and Phoenix to visit any OpenSim world.  The Hypergrid will do something even more wonderful: it will connect OpenSim virtual worlds in much the way that the Web connects websites.  The day is coming when you can have a website that will contain a portal to your own virtual world, and when you’ll be able to teleport from your world to other virtual worlds.

I’ve tried  three ways you can have your own virtual world today.  All are new and still under development.  None are really products yet.  They are for pioneers, but they are real and available for you to try.  The ones I’ve tried are:

  • Kitely.  This is an amazing concept.  It’s what will interest most people.  You can have your own single sim virtual world created in just two minutes or less!  I have three Kitely worlds.  It’s the only one of the four that requires no technical ability to se it up.  The limitations are present are that you can’t get on the HyperGrid yet and you can have only one sim.
  • Diva distro.  This is the easiest way to get you to get a world with more than one sim and that’s on the Hypergrid, but you should try it only if you have some technical skills, such as being able to configure port forwarding on your router.  Nonetheless, for someone accustomed to configuring computers and software it’s fairly easy to set up.  I had mine up fairly quickly and friends were logging into it and enjoying it.  The Diva distro will meet the needs of most people.
  • OpenSim.  If you anticipate needing more than one server for your world or if you want full flexibility in building your world, then the regular OpenSim distro is what you need.  It’s not for the faint of heart, however, and requires a fair amount of technical skills.  If you have the skills and the strong pioneering spirit required for plunging into software that’s still being developed, the big problems you’re likely to face are the lack of documentation and the fact that because it’s still evolving as a product, answers you find to your questions are likely to apply to older versions of OpenSIm and not to yours.  I have just gotten my own 8 sim virtual world going, but it still needs work to get it to run right.  I’ll be writing about my progress in future posts.

Here are some links where you can learn more:

Kitely:  http://www.kitely.com/

Download links for Diva and Opensim: http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Download

Diva Canto’s blog (Diva Canto created the Diva distro and in RL is University of California at Irvine professor Cristina Lopes): http://metaverseink.com/blog/