Monday 19 March 2012

Opensim: Building Epic Role Play Environments

After reading Ener Hax's blog article, "building in OpenSim making a rough draft" and looking at one of the pictures I realized I use the same techniques for my own town and city building. Ener wrote, "I need a neighbourhood for Enclave Harbour so that we can talk about environmental science as it applies to homes." As I read on I started to think about my builds in SecondLife when I created several Moroccan style ports to represent the slave ports of the old North African Barbary coast. These were built on Homestead regions so prims were in short supply and I needed to cut corners without spoiling the view. What I did is very similar to what Ener has done in Enclave Harbour. Parts of the build were block houses with no internal structure and just the use of low rez textures which was pretty easy given the sandstone materials used in North Africa. Those buildings that did have internal structure where fairly colourful to reflect the Moroccan style.

Ener's rough street plan

Gaga's rough street plan
When I started building in Opensim primitives were no longer such an issue but what I had learnt in SL about prim would be still applied but it was so good to have more bricks, so to speak, where they were needed. Ener went on in her post, "i only need to worry about making one detailed house. the model home can be different looking and have taller camera-friendly ceilings too. since it’s supposed to feel like suburbia, why not make all the regular houses identical and just change the paint colour on a few? I borrowed Ener's picture which I am sure she wont mind to illustrate the rough plan. Below that is a recent layout of a build I am working on in OSgrid which represents a small part of the American port town of Boston around 1779.

What I am doing with Boston is not exactly to scale or totally authentic but I am building fairly accurate versions of important historical buildings such as the old state house where the Declaration of Independence was read out. Included too is a part of the waterfront seen from and old King street leading from the long wharf of Boston Tea Party fame right up to the old state house. Many of the buildings will be basically shells or even block houses and it is the exterior that is important here especially round the old state house which, in itself, is the most detailed and accurate building including the interior and the spiral staircase.
Seen here a view across the harbour at the rough building layout. The map used stands at the back with many old pictures dotted around for historical reference.

The build is essentially a role play environment meant to offer a base for Continental Revolutionaries from the period. The region, once completed, will be moved as an OAR file to a position in a 25 region mega sim for sailing ( I would love to be able to have done that in Second Life!). Boston will be in the North West and another build I haven't started yet will represent old Plymouth harbour for the British to go in the far North East region of the mega. The objective is to provide a vast seascape representing the North Atlantic where sea battles might take place between the British and Americans.
Still under construction the old state house takes shape and more buildings are starting to rise up around it.

Gaga poses with her handiwork inside the old state house. Here you see her working on the magnificent spiral staircase working from current photos. There remains lots of work on the rest of the Georgian interior too.

View in front of the old state house
about 1779 from which other
buildings can be recreated.

But more is planned since I have already set up one standalone mega on the hypergrid with walk through portals (blamgates) set up on moored ships at the major ports. So, you want to set sail for Gibraltar en route to the Barbary coast then just board a ship and arrive via hypergrid all conveniently arranged. You, in effect, teleport to another grid and can return the same way. This makes vast epic role play enactments possible and could easily be applied to a variety of themes including Sci-fi and fantasy worlds.

Here is the prim built version of the
Paul Revere medieval house typical
of many working class houses down
on the waterfront. Pictured below
you see the original house still standing
and preserved
Boston and Plymouth will remain as part of the Atlantic mega on OSgrid and include pirate islands in the south to represent the old Caribbean sea but, while it offers ample opportunities for role play in bygone times I want to include some fantasy elements in the form of Steampunk so Boston will have a steam pump house in Georgian style and a flying airship that doubles as a portal to yet another mega region representjng Mars in 1779. Yes, sounds strange, and Steampunk generally covers the Victorian period around 1889, but I figured steam and airships were already invented and the science of electricity was starting to be understood - I mean, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster (the novel) was not far off and electricity played a huge part in that so why not 

engage some alternative technology to enhance the role play? Besides, the Mars environment is completely separated on its own mega region so players can do both historical Georgian and Steampunk or simply stick with one or the other.

I will write more about this build and its environment as it progresses' and eventually I expect to open it all up to role players. It's a wonderful opportunity that would never have been possible in Second Life on cost alone but even on the technical level Opensim and hypergrid offer so much more to work with. I may even make some of the buildings available to schools that use Opensim for history projects.

I will join Kitely soon too now they have Twitter logins and it's probable I will bring some oars to that grid - Maybe even build Steampunk Venus or Mercury there once they have linked regions that handle border crossings well and/or mega regions at least. They need hypergrid too in order to seriously interest me of course. Anyway, stay tuned griders and travelers!
Here is a market screen - probably lower King Street - that fascinates me for its atmospheric bleakness.
An old commercial building long since gone but typical of buildings that existed around 1779. The traders usually lived above their premises in cramped conditions raising large families
This map which I used is the part of a British Survey map from 1775