Category Archives: Kitely

RezMela: a training and simulation environment offering $500 in prizes

RezMela offers an interactive training and simulation environment in Kitely. Here I'm dealing with an air crash situation involving a power plant

RezMela is an interactive training and simulation environment in Kitely. Here I’m dealing with an air crash situation involving a power plant

Update, July 28th: As per the comment following this artilce, the competition deadline has been extended through until August 31st, 2014.

I recently received an e-mail concerning RezMela, a scenario-building tool intended for training and simulation hosted on Kitely, and which is currently running a competition with prizes totalling $500 USD up for grabs.

RezMela, currently in an alpha / beta mode, essentially allows subject matter experts to create and deliver interactive training within a virtual environment. It comprises a classroom-style theory space, where students can learn about and watch presentations on the subject being taught, and a practice space which is dedicated to learning-by-doing, through the use of immersive simulations.

The RezMela theory area, with the Command and Control board

The RezMela theory space, with the Creation and Control board

Simulations – referred to as scenarios in the RezMela documentation – can be rapidly developed and deployed using the Creation and Control (C&C) board. The C&C board provides the subject matter expert with access to a wide range of simulation “primitives” (not to be confused with the basic building blocks of OpenSim and Second Life). These RezMela “primitives” are trees and plants, buildings and structures, vehicles, terrains and so on, and a selection of different types of non-player characters (NPCs), which can be combined to create a required training scenario.

The C&C board presents simple 2D map on which icons representing the various “primitives” can be positioned, rotated, etc. As this happens, the actual simulation objects are placed out in the practice area of the RezMela environment, thus allowing a simulation to be quickly put together. Once the scenario has been built, additional elements such a weather, fires, smoke, dust, etc., can be added, and the time of day for the scenario set. When everything is ready, the scenario can be saved to the RezMela system, allowing it to be instantly recalled and created within the practice space at the click of a button.

The RezMela practice space. ther rock formation in the background houses the theory space classroom

The RezMela practice space. the rock formation in the background houses the theory space classroom

NPCs and Objects within a scenario are not necessarily static or empty shells. Building and structures can have interiors, lending themselves to many different uses, and student can interact with various objects and vehicles, while NPCs will respond to stimuli around them. As well as enabling easy creation of scenarios, the C&C board can also be used to deliver classroom videos and presentations on the subject matter.

Combining the theory and practice spaces allows subject matter experts to provide information and guidance on a specific learning / training environment within the theory space via the C&C board, and then monitor students’ performance in real-time as they tackle the challenges presented in the scenario in the practice area.

A prepared scenario being rezzed by the Creation & Control board. The pointing hand indicates the currently-selected object

A prepared scenario being rezzed by the Creation & Control board. The pointing hand indicates the currently selected object

Scenarios can be entirely created from scratch to suit a specific training / teaching requirement, or can be based on physical world situations, such as emergency or disaster management situations which have occurred, allowing students gain additional insight into such situations and events. The system can also be used for educational purposes as well, such as for teaching health and welfare or in teaching environmental matters and so on.

To help explain how the system works, DeepSemphore LLC, the company behind RezMela, have provided a range of videos and a slideshow introducing the basics of the beta system. There is also an in-world campus and workshop regions available to RezMela users where further information can be obtained.

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Fallingwater at Seanchai

Fallingwater at night, Seanchai Library, Kitely

Fallingwater at night, Seanchai Library, Kitely

Back in mid-June, I mentioned that Fallingwater (Kitely) was relocating to the Seanchai Library core world there, the result of conversations between Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring and myself. In that report, I covered the physical move itself, relocating the house from a single region to the Seanchai 2×2 core megaregion.

Since then, and as time has allowed, I’ve been gradually re-working the place. Truth be told, I’d never really got it to a “completed” state in two years of having it on a region of its own, and the build really needed some TLC to get materials, etc., properly blended (I’d only just started messing around with them when I stopped working on the place in 2013). There was also much I was less than pleased with in the landscaping – such as the driveway up to the garages and Guest House, the river, and the falls, which I’ve always wanted to re-work.

A part of the revised drive with retaining walls and one of the smaller outdoor venue spots (right). Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

A part of the revised drive with retaining walls and one of the smaller outdoor venue spots (right). Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

As the house is now part of a themed estate (albeit one where each region effectively has a theme of its own), the land around the house needed a degree of blending so that it would fit the lay of the rest of the estate, and this gave me the excuse I needed to shovel through everything that I’d never really made the time to sort-out.

First and foremost. the falls received a complete face-lift. I’ve always been unhappy with how they looked throughout each iteration of the build, either in SL or Kitely; they never seemed to quite capture the spirit of the original. I’m a lot happier with the re-working. They’re still not “Fallingwater’s” falls – the rocks there are far more angular, but I think I’ve captured more of their “feel” at last.

The revised falls under the Great Room of the house. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

The revised falls under the Great Room of the house. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

Reworking the land meant I could get rid of the two roads leading up the house and replace them with gravel paths with brick shoulders. One of these. I decided, should lead to a stone jetty offering plenty of mooring pace for boats (water is a major feature in the estate), and the other I reworked as the main path connecting the house to the rest of the estate, reach via a bridge spanning the mouth of the river, and which I nabbed from Shandon and reworked a little, adding some wood texturing.

As the house is to be a venue for storytelling, providing space for people to gather has been an important consideration. So to help with this, I decided to thin out the trees a little and provide a couple of open-air spaces which might be used for smaller gatherings. One sits in the curve of the completely re-work driveway (I hated the original in the build, and while I’ve not found any sign of the walls I’ve installed along the drive in the drawings I have of the real Fallingwater, I think they fit the place rather well. beyond the drive, and outside of the walled parking area is another area cleared of trees and which faces out over open ocean to the north, as another space for informal gatherings.

The new "north terrace house" with steps leadig down to the jetty and the Guest House visible in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

The new “north terrace house” with steps leading down to the jetty and the Guest House visible in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

Cale also requested that I provide a space which could be used for meetings, workshops, social events and suchlike, again in keeping with the overall design of the house. This left me stumped for a while, but in the end I came up with a combination of a large cantilevered terrace extending out over the ocean on the northeast side of the island, and a building styled after the Guest House and offering two connected rooms. hopefully these will together provide flexible space for hosting indoor and outdoor events. A set of steps leads down to another set of piers below, and a path arcs around the headland and down to a small cove.

This all sits well below the lie of the rest of the land on the north side of the island, and so hopefully also offers a feeling of isolation from the rest of the build – although a path does link it to the pool patio by the Guest House, the patio also having been extended to provide a further venue for small gatherings.

The jetties on the south side of the island and the house through the trees in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

The jetties on the south side of the island and the house through the trees in the background. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely

I’ve add new lighting to much of the outdoors areas – lamps which come on at dusk and turn off again at dawn – which hopefully add some more ambience to the place. There are still some nips and tucks to be taken care of, but overall, I think the major work is done – subject, of course, to Cale and Shandon being in agreement.

I doubt this is the end of my infatuation with Fallingwater; I rather suspect that were the opportunity to arise, I’d happily start fiddling with the SL version once more. However, where Kitely is concerned – given that I have so little time I can spend there – I’m really happy that Fallingwater has a new home and will be put to good use.

You can visit Seanchai Library in Kitely via the Seanchai Library Kitely web page or via a hypergrid teleport from any hypergrid enabled OpenSim grid via:  hop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seanchai/144/129/29 (main arrival point, Fallingwater is to the northeast).

I "borrowed" a copy of one of the bridges connecting the various locations in the estate to provide a physical and thematic link between Fallingwater and the rest of the estate. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely.

I “borrowed” a copy of one of the bridges connecting the various locations in the estate to provide a physical and thematic link between Fallingwater and the rest of the estate. Fallingwater, Seanchai Library, Kitely.

Fallingwater joins Seanchai Library

Fallingwater as it appeared as a standalone region on Kitely

Fallingwater as it appeared as a standalone region on Kitely (click for full size)

Regular readers here will be only too aware of my obsession with Frank Lloyd Wright’s building designs, and in particular that of Fallingwater, which I’ve used as a model for no fewer than three builds over the years: two in Second Life (both now gone, but one safely packed away) and one in Kitely, where it has had a full region to itself for the last two years.

As I’m rarely in Kitely nowadays, the model there hasn’t really seen that much use. So, to rectify this, and as a result of conversations between myself and Caledonia Skytower and Shandon Loring at Seanchai Library, Fallingwater (Kitely) has been relocated to the Seanchai core world, where it will be used as an additional set of venues for Seanchai’s storytelling in voice.

The Great Room at Fallingwater Kitely will soon be a venue for stories in voice!

The Great Room at Fallingwater Kitely will soon be a venue for stories in voice!

The idea of relocating an entire region – buildings, furnishings, plants, tree, flowers and the rest on your own, and without having to pay for it to be done for you, is something liable to fill SL users with a feeling of foreboding. Fortunately, OpenSim users can make use of the OpenSim ARchive (OAR) capability to export and entire region / simulator’s contents to a local hard drive, subject to any permission protections used on their OpenSim grid.

A slight complication with Kitely is that it is not possible to target a single region within a group of regions  – “world” as Kitely call them – without also overwriting the others. As our aim was to make Fallingwater a part of the 4-region core Seanchai “world”, simply exporting it to OAR and then importing it into the Seanchai world would leave the other three regions replaced by default flat terrain.

There is a way around this, but it requires a small amount of fiddling, and the use of something like New World Studio (NWS) or  Sim-on-a-Stick (there are also user-offered services for those wishing to do something similar and who don’t have access to either). Using NWS (which ‘ve previously reviewed)  made the work of combining Fallingwater with Seanchai a simple 6-step process.

Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai's core 2x2 world on Kitely 1: my 2x2 region on my self-hosted New World Studio

Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai’s core 2×2 world on Kitely 1: my 2×2 region on my self-hosted New World Studio

  • First, I created a 4-region (2×2) set-up with New World Studio.
  • Second, using the OAR format, I exported Fallingwater from Kitely and Shandon exported the Seanchai 4-region world, which he passed to me as an OAR file
  • Third, I uploaded the Seanchai world to my 2×2 New World Studio set-up
Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai's core 2x2 world on Kitely 2: importing Seanchai's core 2x2 world

Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai’s core 2×2 world on Kitely 2: importing Seanchai’s core 2×2 world in NWS

  • Fourth, I selected the region Fallingwater was to overwritten and imported Fallingwater
  • Fifth, I exported the updated 2×2 set-up to an OAR file and passed it back to Shandon
  • Finally, Shandon uploaded the revised OAR into Kitely.
Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai's core 2x2 world on Kitely 3: replacing one of the Seanchai regions with Fallingwater

Combining Fallingwater with Seanchai’s core 2×2 world on Kitely 3: replacing one of the Seanchai regions with Fallingwater

The entire process of creating the New World Studio environment, exporting the OARs, uploading and merging them and then exporting the updated world literally took around 5 minutes. Granted, Shandon had some additional work to sort-out some items in the Seanchai world which were non-exportable due to permissions, but overall, the longest time in the process was sharing the OAR files via Google docs!

So Fallingwater has a new home on Kitely. However, the work isn’t finished. As well as the house, the plan now is to incorporate additional venues for stories and to blend the Fallingwater region more smoothly in with the existing Seanchai regions. I’ll post images of this as the work progresses!

Kitely’s Metered Worlds become Premium Worlds

kitely-logoOn Wednesday June 11th, Kitely, the on-demand virtual world provider, announced that their “Metered World” offering has been restructured as a “Premium World” offering.

“Metered Worlds” were one of two world types offered by Kitely to customers, the other being Fixed Price Worlds (which remain unaffected by this change). Rather than being paid for through a fixed monthly fee, “Metered Worlds” were paid for through small fees charged for various actions performed on them, as specified in the Kitely Services web page.

Up until the June 11th announcement, both Premium and Regular Account holders had been able to add  new Metered Worlds to their accounts at a cost of 10 KCs per world, per day. However, as of the June 11th announcement, only Premium Account holders remain able to so; hence the product being renamed “Premium World”.

Furthermore, from July 1st onwards, any existing Premium Worlds held by Regular Account holders will only be accessible to Premium Account holders. This means that Regular Account holders must consider what they want to do with their existing Premium Worlds.

For example: to retain access to their own Premium Worlds beyond July 1st, Regular Account holders will need to either upgrade to a Premium Account, or convert their world(s) to one of Kitely’s Fixed Price World plans. Alternatively, they could allow their Premium Worlds to continue “as is”, and simply not be able to access them until such time as they do upgrade their account or convert these worlds to a Fixed Price plan. Because only Premium Account holders will be able to access these worlds, no additional charges will accrue in the interim.

As noted in the Kitely blog post, Regular Account holders can even, up until July 1st, opt to export their Premium Worlds to OAR files for use elsewhere (subject to object permissions and the normal export fee of 150 KCs per world).

Fallingwater, my region-wide build on Kitely utilises was was a Metered World. I now face a decision on what to do about its future ...

Fallingwater, my region-wide build on Kitely utilises what was a Metered World. I now face a decision on what to do about its future …

A single Premium World will continue to be provided to new users signing-up to Kitely’s Regular Account. However, only the account holder and Premium Account holders will be able to visit it during the initial 6-hour trail period supplied to Regular Accounts – the world will be closed to other Regular Accounts and Hypergrid users. At the end of the trial period, if the user wishes to continue using the world, they must either convert it to a Fixed Price world plan or upgrade to a Premium Account.

Again, please note that these changes do not affect Kitely’s Fixed Price worlds, which remain available to both Premium and Regular Account holders.

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with some expressing disappointment at the move, and others appearing to be somewhat confused, at least initially. Some of the disappointment has perhaps been the result of Regular Account holders feeling they are being disenfranchised from land ownership in Kitely.

However, an alternative viewpoint to this is that the move might actually help to further stimulate Kitely’s in-world economy by allowing land rental businesses to develop, particularly where Fixed Price worlds are concerned. If so, this could have a further benefit of allowing themed estates to develop, which in turn may help give in-world locations more of a “community” feel than might currently be the case.