Speaker Christopher & Kelly Yeoh, IBM Australia Development Laboratory
Time 2008-02-01 10:30
Conference LCA2008

What are they?

Simplest, chat room with a graphical 3D client.

Some are 2D, eg. club penguin. 2D environment better for children (or 2.5D?).

Not always role playing. No overall goal, games exist, but are not required.

Many system are proprietary source, proprietary protocol, but some open source code and standards exist.

User generated/modifyable content - major reason for satellite getting press.

Advantages of virtual world

Shared experience and social interaction

Building a community, brings people together with a common interest.

Open source community

We have websites, mailing lists, formums, irc, im, why virtual worlds?

Why did you come to LCA? Interaction in talks. Can talk to the person next to you. Same for virtual worlds. Virtual meetings. Virtual meetings more flexible then conference call, can start talking if you arrive early, etc.

Open source community can shape how virtual worlds will look. Otherwise it could become a proprietary world. Already happening, servers are Linux, but clients are frequently closed source windows only.

Second life has a lot of GPL code - objects for free, scripts and programs. Active community. Hard to enforce the GPL - how do you tell? A lot of free objects that are not modifiable, authors haven’t seen the benefits. Permissions on second life are very course, can’t allow distribution and deny people from restricting access.


Second life:

  • Free software school
  • Linux group
  • Debian
  • open source information centre

VRML and X3D


  • 3D salable vector images
  • animations, sounds, lighting, interactive, scriptable, etc.
  • able to create multi-user environments
  • didn’t take off, requires high end graphics, high bandwidth
  • most sites don’t exist anymore


  • extended CRML with XML, superceded VRML
  • more humaoid animations, geoVRML, etc
  • more popular

Media machines:

  • Flux Studio
  • Flux player, Windows only, proprietary code.
  • Blender
  • Hydra??? start of multi-user virtual world server, Linux source code is available. Not sure if it is still being developed or available.

Need a server to handle inventory, avators talking to each other, etc.

Can replace one client with another, if they support X3D, however talking, etc, requires protocol support outside the scope of the X3D standard.


  • Linux client
  • didn’t work
  • VRML 2.0 VRML97, X3D
  • GPL


  • commercial proprietary
  • windows supported
  • linux is beta, wouldn’t work
  • modellers, workflow, content management; windows only


  • test toolkit in Java for VRML97 and X3D
  • completely written in Java


  • virtual world product
  • Java applet cclients
  • server for sale, per user basis
  • text based chat site with 3d bolted on

Virtual tours, real life replication of real world places.


Top 5 challanges

  1. 3D driver support
  2. 3D driver support
  3. 3D driver support
  4. 3D driver support
  5. Linux clients; native, Java, flash, wine

and audio and video in Second Life.

ATI release specifications, it might get better.


  • very common, stability very good.

Second life

GPL client; client still has optional proprietary bits.

  • JPEG decoding library proprietary; used for textures
  • audio library proprietary

Can use free libraries, but performance may drop a bit.

libsecondlife project

  • reverse engineering efforts not opposed
  • security bugs reported and fixed
  • can’t trust the server
  • MegaPrims
  • CopyBot - misunderstanding about how objects are stored.


  • written by a 15 year old

open source server and standard being discussed, but haven’t happened.

OpenSim project.

  • not as mature as second life servers.

secondlife servers trust each other, protocol has to be changed if untrusted servers are to be used.

Other clients


  • built on squeak - smalltalk
  • BSD license
  • peer-to peer
  • open standards
  • based on windows, look through windows at each other, to go between worlds
  • not enterprise ready yet

Qwaq forums

  • not quite ready yet for enterprise
  • rapidly changing
  • Linux server
  • Windows client
  • cocentrating heavily on usability
  • shipped as a VMWare image; dependancies hard to get right
  • avatars cannot be customized

Project Darkstar & Wonderland

  • Sun
  • Java
  • GPL
  • Toolkit for writing 3D virtual worlds
  • Used for virtual work space, get into contact with each other, informal communication, chat to each other.


standards involvement: Khronos, LL AWG, networking standards.

everybody has there own standards.

like needing a different browser to visit every website.

OpenSim work, will submit patches back to project, have got approval now.

Avatar service; central repository of avatar’s

  • central authentication
  • inventory exchange
  • avatar same everywhere
  • communication between virtual worlds


Accessibility? Need standardisation. Teacher modelled entire school ground in virtual world.