I have been following closely the progress of Aurora sim which is a branch development of Opensim and promises some new and advanced features that will surly break the mould. The list of features is impressive and includes restructuring for greater efficiency, many bug fixes and pretty well all that which is missing from core Opensim. To that they promise to upgrade the physics, add centred gravity and mega regions of a totally new type which promises spaces up to 256 times standard SL regions.
The lead developer, Revolution Smythe felt mega regions were a hack and there had to be a better way. The team has worked out a way to have variable region sizes and even the possibility of none-square border shapes which fits in with the centred gravity possibility to create massive Space-like regions with planets and orbital objects such as asteroids and space craft in a much more realistic environment than the current flat spaces of SL type regions.
The aurora team have their own test grid known as Aurora-sim development grid which I added to my Hippo viewer and visited but there was not much to see at the time. It just amounted to a few standard regions. However, on the Aurora team web site they announced that on the 14th February they tested the first variable region. The test grid is at http://login.aurora-sim.org:8002/ and you need to add that the an Opensim compatible viewer and the web announcement is here Aurora sim variable region sizes
|Gaga in Aurora Virtual World grid wondering around. Nothing exciting - yet!|
Currently, and surprisingly, there are actually two new grids - one of them commerical - running the pre-alpha Aurora sim branch. Ansky and Aurora Virtual World, the later being owned and run by Enrico Ranucci of the New Voice OpenSim hosting company, better known for their $10 hosted sims attached to OSgrid. I visited AVW too and it really did not work well, apearence was borket and I couldn't keep hair in the right place but it was a fun experience. I did notice they are currently giving Free parcels with a generous 18,000 prims to play around with though.
Maria of Hypergrid Business blog has written an in-depth article on Aurora sim and raises some important issues about it regarding software licenses.
Kokua, the projected viewer based on SecondLife 2x from the Imprudence developers announced back in November 2010 they would be supporting Aurora sim and working with the Aurora team but, currently, they have not done anything other than consentrate on getting Imprudence 4 released so they can wrap up their work on SL 1x code and switch their attention to Kokua.
Back in December I asked if Hypergrid would still be a feature of Aurora sim and was told not until it stops being in-compatible with itself. The developers claim they aim to stay compatible with Opensim core but after reading Maria's article I have my doubts. Anyway, in January I was told that Aurora sim is compatible with HG and that person had successfully hyper-gridded to another grid but now, in Maria's article, Ansky grid owner, Andrew Simpson who converted to Aurora sim server on the 17th February said the current version did not support hypergrid and, where Ansky was formally accessible via HG, it was now shut off. He went on to say there were still problems with HG anyway so he wont miss it at the moment.
I think Aurora sim is an exciting development but it remains to be seen if the team can actually deliver on the impressive list of features. That said, I keep wondering what SecondLife would be like today had Linden Lads shown the foresight and taken in some of these amazingly talented people and given them free reign to advance the server. Alas, I don't think any of these ideas could happen in SL and the open source community will forge ahead and break new ground for the benefit of the free metaverse. I think they are true pioneers.
Full list of features on Aurora Sim