OpenSim / realXtend: fast evolution



realXtend has remained on a fairly fast-paced development course in recent months, with some interesting announcements in the last few days:

– the current cross-platform viewer has had an upgrade
– a brand new viewer is underway, but not expected to be released until a fair way later in the year
– a new community-driven forum for realXtend is now live
– the realXtend Wiki is set to be expanded in coming weeks


One of OpenSim’s touted strengths is its abilities to run alternate protocols for Client to Server communication at the same time. The Metaverse Exchange Protocol (MXP) is the latest one to come on board. This actually has some big implications for OpenSim and its positioning as a competitor to Second Life. MXP and the related Open Metaverse Structured Data (OMSD) allow for the integration of input devices for real-time recording of gestures.

In clearer terms, that means that any OpenSim user in the future will have the ability to create custom gesturing and “bone driven facial expressions”. That’s an enormous step ahead of the current state of play in Second Life. Of course, it’s all theoretical at this stage but the OpenSim team are stating “they are currently in process of adopting” MXP.

What’s it all mean?

For the non-developer, the above information is a long-winded way of saying that OpenSim is continuing its momentum at a cracking pace. There’s some features on the way in the medium term that will provide some marked differentiation from Second Life – on the brave assumption that Linden Lab aren’t working on something similar themselves.

realXtend – the not so slow burner in virtual worlds

Back in February we profiled Openlife, an alternate Second Life-based grid. The realXtend platform underpins grids like Openlife and since February they’ve achieved some significant milestones. Now up to version 0.3, the 3D modelling in realXtend is something to see now. Here’s a snippet:

Caleb Bookers states “When these guys hit 1.0 the web will quake”. At the very least, the graphical improvement on Second Life will cause some sort of impact.

If you’re super keen, download realXtend for yourself – Windows PC’s only at this stage unfortunately.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. TMCnet – realXtend makes a major virtual world technology platform launch. “After the first release 0.1, the realXtend reached now the release 0.2 in only two weeks. The realXtend server side components are now developed in tight co-operation with the OpenSim project. A separate open source project is started for the realXtend viewer. All the latest source codes are available via the projects’ web pages. The realXtend now includes new essential features, such as the free-form 3D avatar system.”

2. The Canadian Press – Do you know where your children are? Probably playing in a virtual world. “Once upon a time, Tinkerbell was known as the magical fairy who helped children fly. Now Disney is summoning the mischievous little sprite from Peter Pan to get kids to go online. In a new virtual world called Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow, girls and boys can become a fairy, dress up, fly around, befriend other fairies and help paint lady bugs, teach baby birds to fly or go on other nature-related quests. It’s packaged as the world of Tinkerbell and her friends, and their work is to make nature happen.”

3. Redline China – 9You Launches Virtual World GTown. “Chinese game company 9You announced the launch of its first virtual world product GTown. Developed in-house by 9You, GTown offers a 3D interactive online community platform. Unlike many other virtual worlds such as Second Life, GTown users can download additional game software packages to play 9You’s existing casual games through the virtual world. The launch of GTown will allow users to allow 9You’s gamers to interact on a uniform platform and use their existing avatars and game accounts to explore the virtual world.”

4. ABC News (USA) – Next Tickle Me Elmo? Fair Showcases Hot Toy Trends. “With the popularity of Club Penguin and Webkinz, other toy makers are trying to tap into the virtual world craze. Here are two virtual worlds that are planning something different from those already playing in the virtual sandbox.”

5. The Guardian (UK) – Our house in cyberspace. “It’s not often you catch a grown man playing with a doll’s house, let alone doing it while pretending to be a little old lady. But this is not your average Barbie residence, and it’s all in the name of research. The adapted PlayMobil house is in fact part of an experimental platform to explore new ways to bridge the gap between virtual and real worlds. A range of sensors and gadgets inside the house allow it to be monitored and controlled through an exact digital replica inside the virtual world Second Life.”

6. – Osama bin Laden’s “Second Life”. “Lately there has been some rather bizarre hype about the potential threat from terrorists in cyberspace. Security specialists have been expressing increasing concern about the potential for mischief with Web 2.0. In particular, during the past six months a spate of newspaper articles have been citing security experts about the alleged danger that terrorists will use virtual worlds for nefarious purposes. Groups such as the U.S. government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity say they fear that terrorists — using virtual personas called “avatars” — will recruit new members online, transfer funds in ways that cannot be traced, and may engage in training exercises that are useful for real-world terrorist operations. They point to existing “terrorist groups” operating on virtual reality sites as an ominous sign.”

7. The Boston Globe – A stick to carry on your virtual outings. “GestureTek is working on a new controller you can shake at your TV screen. It can also put your mug inside virtual worlds. In December, I told you about GestureTek’s Airpoint System, a camera-based tracking system designed for trade show and boardroom presentations. Now, GestureTek hopes its prototype game stick (it does not yet have a working title), will find its way into living rooms and other electronic play spaces.”

8. Adweek – Second Thoughts on Second Life. “When I first stepped into Second Life, I felt like Dorothy stepping out of her crashed house into Oz. I was blown away. The graphics, the architecture, the wild and sexy avatars, the locations to visit, the flying — it was all cool and amazing, and I looked forward to each future visit. “This could be addicting,” I even thought. Fast-forward just a few short weeks and I’m pleased to report that I’m having no worries about the need for SL Addicts Anonymous. ”

9. Mind, Music and Technology – Transcript: Music in Second Life: Past, Present, and Future – February 28th, 2008. “Jade Lily: the topic of this panel is Music in SL, looking at the past, present, and future trends of how folks perform and consume music in second life.”

10. – Second Life’s Top 10 Most Popular Avatar Names. “Ever wondered who’s the John Doe- or foobar if you prefer – of Second Life? That would be Aaron Allen if we look at the Top 10 for most popular names in Second Life.”

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