Over the course of the last month, Kitely, the on-demand virtual world service, has continued to refine their megaregion offering introduced at the start of August, improving their OpenSim performance in the process. They’ve also announced an upcoming feature called “Transfer stations”.
Traditionally, working with megaregions is limited in some ways due to the viewer code being geared towards handling regions which are 256×256 metres in size. Editing terrain textures, for example, is something which usually cannot be done when working on a megaregion. While megaregion mode can be disabled to allow work to be carried out on a per-region basis, it can also lead to problems: landmarks can stop working, in-world objects may show at the correct location, etc.
Kitely have solved this problem by introducing an Advanced Megaregion option, which works relatively seamlessly with the viewer. When a world owner / manager using a megaregion attempts to carry out an operation such as changing the terrain settings, a pop-up is displayed advising them that the operation cannot be performed with the world running in Advanced Megaregion mode. A link on the pop-up allows the world owner to switch to their browser and disable the Advanced Megaregion option via their Manage World webpage. This then allows them to work on the world as if it were a series of individual regions. Once terrain work has finished, the Advanced Megaregion mode can be turned on once more.
The Advanced Megaregion also allows parcel media to be heard right across a megaregion (rather than being limited to the south-west corner region).
“Oren, We Need Warp Speed!”
As well as working on megaregions, Kitely has been optimising the OpenSim code running on their cloud-based servers. In the same blog post announcing the Advanced Megaregions, Oren Hurvitz, Kitely’s co-founder and VP of R&D describes the improvements thus:
We have made numerous improvements to OpenSim to make big worlds work faster on Kitely. These changes reduce OpenSim’s CPU usage up to 80%! This makes the user experience smoother and allows for the use of more complex worlds and more avatars than regular OpenSim. The following chart shows how much we reduced CPU usage compared to regular OpenSim. These tests were done on a world running in its own server, with one avatar in the world.
This optimisation allows Advanced Megaregions on Kitely to run up to 5% faster than regular megaregions.
Transfer Stations are an upcoming Kitely feature. They are described as, “Miniature worlds that users wait in while their world is being loaded.” The blog post announcing them goes on:
Kitely is a cloud-based virtual world provider, so when a user tries to enter a world that is currently offline we need to start the world first. This is fairly quick, but not instantaneous. Currently users look at a progress bar on our website while the world is being started, and once the world is ready their viewer is automatically launched. Transfer Stations are going to change this: when a user tries to enter an offline world their viewer will start immediately, but they will enter a Transfer Station instead of the desired world. Once the world is ready the user will be teleported to it automatically.
The Transfer Stations will be located on dedicated worlds specifically set-up for them, and could, in the case where more than one user is logging-in to the same offline world, allow people to meet and chat while awaiting their destination to load (not that the wait should in any way be extensive!).
To encourage the development of Transfer Stations, Kitely are inviting world owners to submit themed Transfer Station designs of their own, which other world owners and managers will then be able to pick from when setting-up a Transfer Station on their world(s).
There are certain requirements which must be met for Transfer Station submissions, and these can be found in the Kitely blog post. Reviews of submissions, which will be performed by the Kitely Mentor’s Group, will commence on October 1st.
On September 21st, Kitely updated their default avatars with a range of seven new avatars, using modified assets based on ones provided by designer Linda Kellie. The avatars are available to new users signing-up to Kitely, and the assets are currently also available at in-world Linda Kellie malls for those who wish to use them as their base model.