Our Blogs

 The Last Space Shuttle Launch

Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-135 is scheduled to be the final launch of a Space Shuttle from NASA’s fleet. The actual launch is currently scheduled for Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:26 a.m. EST. This event will be mirrored via a virtual launch inside Second Life at the recreated Kennedy Space Center site. This is scheduled for Friday, July 8, 2011 at 8:26 a.m. SLT.

Avatars can now get as close as they can to the final Space Shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center without having to travel to Florida in real life. The recreation in Second Life is a celebration of this historic event. All ticket proceeds will be donated to the Youth Science Center, a non-profit organization established in 1962 dedicated to improving math and science education for students grades K through 8.

You can participate by visiting the space shuttle launch site in SL . No ticket purchase is necessary. The space is freely open to the public. However, ticket holders have an opportunity to win one of the four astronaut positions for the virtual launch of the last Space Shuttle.

For complete details about the event, please visit lastshuttle.avatrian.com

 A Doberman for BioBreeds

“Strong, savvy, style, sweet, and sass”, that’s how some dog lovers and owners have described the Doberman Pinscher.

Said to be the top smartest canine breeds in the world, the Doberman Pinscher is incredibly perceptive, intuitive, and sensitive. Properly trained and socialized, a Doberman won’t just place itself between you and a visible threat, it can and will anticipate that threat, in uncanny and amazing ways. Sculpting this model for Second Life was certainly a challenge in expressing that sense of strength, intelligence, alertness, and stylishness that real life Doberman owners have come to love about this dog breed.

Avatrian has recreated this magnificent breed for the BioBreeds Group, for all the Doberman lovers in the dog breeding community of Second Life.

 Abbottabad in SL

The team put its rapid-development capabilities into action and whipped out a 3D visual replica of the Abbottabad compound in Second Life. It is built to the proper scale and orientation of the RL compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Although it is still an on-going work, the space is pretty convincing for only five days of development.

We have been using it to role-play as navy seal special ops using our avatars. But, we have other plans in mind for the simulation as well. The public is free to join in. We prefer avatars with kevlar vests and camo pants as bullets tend to fly around the area. Visit at your own risk! The space is located at the Abbottabad parcel of Avatrian Central sim in Second Life

You can check out more snapshots via Avatrian’s Abbottabad Flickr set. Email us at info@avatrian.com for any feedback (good or bad).

 Avatrian’s take on Minecraft

I decided to write this in behalf of Avatrian even if the company didn’t really ask me to write this one. I bought Minecraft last January (using my own CC) and never had the chance to tell people about how awesome it was, even in the company. The OpenSim/Second Life community has been talking about Minecraft lately. I barely jump in world to meet people and I barely even read community centric sim blogs because I’m an egoistic bastard. But Minecraft’s popularity was so unexpected to me that it even managed to buzz the opensim/second life community. So I thought it would be appropriate to write this here. Taken from wikipedia:

Minecraft is a sandbox building  indie video game written in Java originally by creator Markus “Notch” Persson and now by his company, Mojang, formed from the proceeds of the game. The game is focused on creativity and building, allowing players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. The game has two variants – free Classic and paid Beta – where Classic is focused entirely on construction with unlimited material supply, while Beta requires players to acquire resources themselves, and contains mobs, player health, and additional features and items. The gameplay is inspired by Dwarf Fortress, Dungeon Keeper, and Infiniminer.

To cut down the blabber, it’s a game where there are no objectives. Think of it as UNLIMITED LEGO with enemies. You pick what you want to be on the fly, either go mining, cave scouting, build flying castles, buildings or houses made of dirt, exploring places, hunt down and farm mobs or go bitch-slap pigs.

That's right, bitch-slap pigs

The amount of stuff you can do in Minecraft is so dense that I can write an entire article for each of it. But of course, I won’t jump into that. I barely played minecraft in a serious way until I decided to and was lucky enough. Because before, I died 15 minutes later from the mobs that will try to kill you at night (yes, the mobs appear at night and at dark places, including caves).

Meet your nemeses

My first serious playthrough went something like this.

  1. Chop trees
  2. Make wooden planks out of wood
  3. Make a crafting bench out of those planks
  4. Make sticks out of those planks
  5. Craft a wooden pickaxe
  6. Mine cobblestone
  7. Craft a cobblestone pickaxe out of mined cobblestone and sticks
  8. Mine coal
  9. Craft torches out of sticks and coal
  10. Find a good cave system
  11. Go mining crazy. Repeat 6 until you find iron/diamond and craft pickaxes out of those materials

But then that was the part where you really had to mine first before you can go explore cave systems and beat the hell out of the mobs. While mining, it is certainly unavoidable to hit more and more cave systems. The more you explore these places, the bigger the area you have to cover and the more unlit rooms (cave systems), the more mobs waiting for you.

One of the cave systems I have fully cleared. Beware of the lava, without water they buuurn.

So after all the mining and the fighting, I have gained enough diamonds and iron ores. So I crafted them into a diamond pickaxe, diamond sword and iron armor. It is worth noting, that the hardest material in the game are diamonds. They break much less frequent than wood/cobblestone/iron. That’s the point of mining, find the hardest stuff before doing something else.

Doesn't look like a safehouse to me

But then I’m bored on going beneath large mounds of earth. So I went out

Ahhh, the refreshing scenery, finally out from the claustrophobic caves.

In minecraft, the world is generated randomly. So the scenery, the caves, the resources are not placed at the same place everytime you start a new game. And oh, the world is pretty huge. So, aside from mining and going outside, I tried to build stuff but I destroyed them. Instead, I made a skyline that reached to the ceiling of the world. And when I realized that my secret base was close to a lake, I made an underwater glass base!

My fun was cut short when I got attacked by a bunch of creepers(the green kamikaze creatures) outside at night time. All of your stuff in the inventory gets dropped including the equipped ones in the numbers. Just hope that when you die, you respawn close to your save point or it’ll be a long unsafe walk to your precious stuff. It gets worse when you drown, because its dark underwater and your stuff are scattered all around.

So I just stopped playing there and recovered one of my earlier saved games.

I definitely wondered what would the community’s reaction be to this indie game. Do they think this is a competitor to SL/OS? definitely not. A different game? definitely yes A competitor to SL/OS’s building mechanics? Big yes.

Minecraft doesn’t have the framework to be social enough like SL. The blocky theme itself is not for most people like in SL, especially with the fact that SL has been suffering a visual gap in comparison to today’s graphics. But the stuff you can build in this place can be huge and interesting compared to SL. If you go do a google image search, you’ll see images of minecraft worlds in metropolitans or some crazy stuff like Atlantis or a floating castle. Someone even made the Enterprise D from Star Trek! It’s a totally dynamic game because if you don’t want to go hand-to-hand combat with the mobs, you can just build stuff and let your character sleep for a day, waiting for the mobs to go away that’ll ruin your precious builds.

I don’t really know how to end this blog post. But I have to say this is one of those games that we can have a vacation on away from SL while retaining the building stuff part. Minecraft is currently on beta at $15(when I got mine) and while its still on beta, its damn worth it.

Oink oink

 A Pitbull in the works

Following the development path of the Pug and Doberman, we are now modeling a virtual Pitbull for a client. The features are not complete yet. But, the image shows the organic sculpt of the Pitbull head as it is being created. Final output will be rendered and textured for Second Life pet lovers.

 Redesigning BLiSS

The newly redesigned BLiSS interface is intended to make it more intuitive and easier for users. Avatrian’s radical change makes it more obvious that the combination of crop selections will determine how many explorers can be supported in a mission. Resources needed for input are directly tied to the production output of oxygen, food and water.

The new BLiSS will be implemented in MoonWorld in the following months. BLiSS is an acronym which stands for Bio-regenerative Life Support System. It is an integral part of the experience for explorers who go through the lunar field simulation in Second Life.

 Avatrian Turns 4

For its 4 year anniversary, Avatrian makes a return trip to Tabili. Since our last visit, there are now 128 students in this rural elementary school (a significant increase from 59 just 2 years ago). Big credit to the improvement in attendance goes to the Barangay Captain (DanDan Demana), the two full-time school teachers (yes only 2), and the sponsors who provided funds for additional classroom structures in Tabili Elementary School.


Kids of Tabili Elementary School

This year, the school administrators requested slippers since it is what the kids would need most of all. Many of the students live as far as 5 km from school and walking is the primary mode of getting there and back home. However, shortage in basic school supplies and teaching equipment is a challenge as well.

Avatrian’s small contribution was made possible by revenues generated from products and services in Second Life, OpenSim and other virtual worlds.

More pictures of our visit to Tabili can be viewed here.

 Whisper by VComm – A voice solution for OpenSim

I have to admit, no matter how many people enjoy the benefits of OpenSim, its a pain to maintain and improve OpenSim. Coupled with the idea that I work on a Windows setup, the problems complicate especially that most Windows setups rely on binaries rather than source code.

I have worked a lot trying to implement voice on an OpenSim server with FreeSwitch but I just can’t get it running. I have already exhausted all resources and possibilities but I have to say FreeSwitch really failed for me. There came a point that I should just declare it as non-functional, and will not revisit the issue again.

Then there’s VCOMM Solution’s Whisper, which has been first announced last August 2010, and now has been released. The wait may have been really long but it was worth it.

Whisper is a Mumble based voice system for Opensim. For those who aren’t aware what Mumble is, think of Ventrilo or TeamSpeak. Mumble is a widely used VOIP solution especially for other games or MMOs. What makes Mumble stand out of Ventrilo or TeamSpeak is that it works way better, simplified and is opensource. Because Mumble is opensource, the guys at VCOMM managed to reengineer it to integrate it to OS which is a really big deal considering not everyone can get FreeSwitch running.

With VCOMMs integration of Mumble to OpenSim, the results are fascinating if you’re an OpenSim centric community member. By changing your SLVoice.exe in your viewer with the provided executable from VCOMM, you can enjoy voice functionality on a whisper configured OpenSim server. While some of you may find this a roadblock, its not causing that much inconvenience. The quality of audio with Whisper is really great, something that not comparable to TS, Ventrilo and not even SL’s Vivox.

Configuring whisper into your OpenSim server (in my case, on a windows box) requires the installation of Murmur. This is the server application that handles the voice functionality. After parameter changes to OpenSim.ini and configuration, you have voice enabled on your server!

It’s worth noting that even though this is a working voice solution, its not totally similar to the ones we find in SL. The audio you will hear inworld is not 3D, which means no matter how far you are from the avatars that are using voice, you will hear each other in full volume. Other than that, calls don’t work, conferences don’t work and voice can only be enabled on 1 region for now.

It’s not perfect. But it has a lot of room for changes and the great part about it is that, voice works and you can now communicate to people inworld.

You can try out Whisper by visiting their forum at: http://whisper.vcomm.ch/forum/index.php

UPDATE: I managed to get voice for multiple regions but it’s a pretty complicated task and requires a bit of a Mumble crash course. It’s still really buggy though so use at discretion.

 A War Room for Teleplace

It’s still currently in the works. But this is the diagram in 3D of the room we designed and developed for specific use in Teleplace. I’m not really sure why it is called a war room. It’s not for any military type of use. But, the purpose of the space is for regular, intensive collaboration work among a team of 10 to 14 individuals who are based in different locations. The room was designed to provide maximum work surfaces for project members while avoiding elements that can restrict movement.

More update about this design work as soon as material textures are finalized.

 Pugs for BioBreeds

This one is gigantic. But it is only because we fancy sitting on top of its head (a la Clifford, the Big Red Dog). The one developed by Avatrian for BioBreeds is a cute little puppy that stands, runs, sits and assumes many other positions. The Pug is the latest release from the line of virtual animals by BioBreeds. You can find it at BioBreeds island in SL.

Keep an eye out for the next upcoming breeds.