“The Growth of Content and Community in Opensim –
Building SLurtle World”
by John “Pathfinder” Lester – http://about.me/pathfinder
I’ve been exploring OpenSim since 2010. My home grid “Pathlandia” has been running on a desktop computer in my house since 2012, and I continue to use Pathlandia as my home base from which to explore the Hypergrid and welcome Hypergrid visitors as they stumble upon my little island in the vast Hyperverse. Over the years I’ve met many wonderful people and I’ve also had the opportunity to work on a number of Opensim-focused projects, mostly centered around education and immersive learning.
Recently I had the chance to work with Carina Girvan, a professor at Cardiff University who is interested in developing constructionist learning activities in non-goal oriented virtual worlds. Her original research started in Second Life where she created little turtle robots called SLurtles that kids could program to build things in collaboration with other students. Carina recently decided to migrate her work to OpenSim and approached me for help in creating a dedicated and closed OpenSim grid called “SLurtle World” for her project that would include laboratory, orientation and community spaces.
Naturally, I jumped at the chance. OpenSim continues to delight and amaze me as a platform for multi-user collaborative projects. Sure, there are more turnkey virtual world platforms out there (including some that I’ve built myself using Unity). But none of them offer the flexibility and in-world atomistic content creation capabilities of Opensim. I recommended DreamLand Metaverse as the hosting option since I’ve had nothing but fantastic experiences with them in the past, and then I got to work on designing and building out the laboratory, orientation and community regions.
To use a video game development term, my real expertise is in “level design.” Figuring out how to best lay everything out from a user experience perspective like an urban planner/layout artist/landscaper is what I do best. And while I do a some prim and script wrangling to create highly customized objects, I mostly rely on the work of talented content creators for things like buildings, trees, furniture, clothing, vehicles, odds and ends, and avatars.
As I set out looking for content I could use in this educational project, I started realizing how amazing the world of content and community in OpenSim has evolved over the past few years. Content was pretty scarce across OpenSim back in 2010, but today there are so many talented content creators sharing their creations on various grids as well as selling things across the Hypergrid in places like Kitely Market or freely distributing them in large inworld malls like Lani Global’s Lani Mall. And what’s most amazing to me is to see how a real Community has developed that includes content creators, people working to help distribute content both freely and for sale, and people exploring the Hypergrid where they can now find an amazing range of content available to them.
Combine this with exploratory communities like Thirza Ember’s fantastic Hypergrid Safari which showcases content on different grids each week in OpenSim, and you can see how the network is all coming together, growing every day.
After a couple months work I completed the level design and building of SLurtle World. And I was humbled by the wonderful range of content I was finding to use in the project. So as I worked, I kept a list of the name of every content creator whose objects I used in SLurtle World, both freebies and items I purchased. Big or small, simple or complex, I religiously looked at every object and prim I used in the build and kept track of all creator names. I wanted to make sure I acknowledged them when talking about the project, thanked them publicly, and told them how their creations helped create an educational environment where kids could learn and create and have fun.
In the end, I had the names of 60 people whose content I used in SLurtle World. I’ll be doing my best to reach out to each of them individually to thank them personally. But in the meantime I’d like to publicly thank and acknowledge all of them here in VISIONZ by listing their names.
Thank you for helping make the Hyperverse a place where dreams can become reality, in particular for kids in SLurtle World.
Thank you Adelle Fitzgerald, Aine Caoimhe, Aire Xaris, albertlr Landar, Amiryu Hosoi, Andron Rae, Ange Menges, Arcadia Asylum, Ares Halostar, beverly Zauberflote, Blaksmith Rubble, Brayla Sana, Cherry Manga, Cuteulala Artis, Daniel Hoffman, Decad Monad, Druskus War, Ferd Frederix, Fleep Tuque, Gavin Hird, Hylee Bekkers, ica84 Buildman, Katz Republic, Kayaker Magic, Koshari Mahana, Lani Global, Lara Nguya, Laura Ormstein, Leighton Majoram, Linda Kellie, LisaKathleen Kaligawa, Mara Sonnenkern, Marcus Llewellyn, Matt CMPNetwork, Mircea Kitsune, Nara Nook, Nebadon Izumi, Newfie Pendragon, Nomasha Syaka, oddball otoole, Oopsee Joseppe, Ozwell Wayfarer, PakoJones descosio, Patch Ferber, Sarah Kline, Selea Core, Sergio Rodriguez, Shane Waffle, Shelby Moonlight, Stephanie Zugswang, Super Mario, Techplex Engineer, The Wizard, Tina Bey, Tosha Tyran, Vanish Seriath, Vbinnia Radek, Zed deTremont, Zia Frimon, and Zuza Ritt.
Big thanks to the HG VISIONZ magazine staff for inviting me to write a piece for this issue, especially Sunbeam Magic for being very patient with me.
If you’d like to learn more about the SLurtle World project, Carina and I presented it at the OpenSimulator Community Conference on December 11, 2016, here are our slides: http://bit.ly/OSCC16-Virtual-Robotics