Preface: This series of posts is a lot of words along with many website links and some useful info, so if you are looking for help or a step by step walkthru, it would be much better to drop me a line from my website contact page, send a private plurk, or try and reach me in (virtual) world somewhere.. An email address is given in my profile on each grid I’ve checked out, so if you can figure out how to look that up or drop me a notecard, I will reply and am happy to help.. Now onto the story! 🙂
Once upon a time, I was very much engaged with the virtual world or metaverse of linden labs’ grid “SecondLife” as well the vampire role playing game running under their platform, called “Bloodlines” by liquid designs. This blog post isn’t about either of those 😉
That, and my partner (known as RileyGene Parx in world) didn’t want me occupying too much time in SL or bloodlines, for fear I’d be having virtual sex or who knows what (hehe)
Since I love to build things in SL though, after looking at several 3D applications and engines, I decided to install a stand-alone version of OpenSimulator, which both isn’t and is the same basic program as the server Second Life is based on, in fact, you could design and login to an identical instances of SL and OpenSim regions, and both would appear the same. This then would satisfy my need to build, using the tool I so much like to use, I could be offline and build my own little worlds using my own little laptop, without the usual interruptions, and best of all it was completely opensource and free!
Great, so after a bit of trial and error, I had downloaded, unpacked and installed my own Opensim 0.6.6 server, which was running on a laptop under Windows XP, thus again I happily built things. I will go into a step-by-step install guide at some point. Thus far we have a high-level overview but anyway..
Moving stuff from my old Second Life inventory to Open Simulator was as easy as saving/exporting from SL and loading/importing my objects to the OpenSim. For scripts, I was just cutting and pasting them one by one, adding them by hand to objects as needed (though programs such as “Second Inventory” and debugging tool scripts called “copybots” can automate this process for you). (flag that topic for a blog entry later too..gah I have work to do!)
So, next I researched it a bit more, and found that sure enough, it can be done. Soon I had mono and nant installed, compiled opensim and had the Windows based sim ported to Mac, running Opensim 0.6.8 and now run 4 regions simultaneously. My virtual life was good.
Over time, the rudimentary opensim server got patched and updated to more robust functions (no pun intended, hehe) yet, with these updates I also discovered a bug on the Mac, where in mono 2.6 (which allows Linux and unix users to run Microsoft .NET libraries) we have issues with the SQL database which comes with opensim, sqlite. So, people like me have to run Mono 2.4, or point the newer mono to use older version libraries. Ugh. What else to do? I chose to stay on older mono and likely won’t update opensim until they fix it.
That’s all fine and good, yeh, but sooner or later I found it wasn’t the best fun building when there wasn’t anyone to share my builds with, and so, in spite of being able to share my builds like http://tgib.co.uk does, my massive standalone sim became lonely.
So.. I figure I could invite people over and they could sit at my laptop and mess about, run multiple viewers and do simultaneous logins with bots or myself or what not, or email and IM friends about it, but this also became impractical quickly for a few reasons..
One, the sim wasn’t on s static IP address. This was easy to remedy using dyndns.org.
Two, the sim wasn’t always there, that is, it was on only when I ran it, and not available 24 hours a day to anyone.
Three, even when it was on, anyone outside my immediate computer or network could not connect with it. In fact, even people on the same wireless network had problems connecting with me. I see this as an odd network issue, likely caused by something obvious that I forgot to do..
So, my sims were doomed to remain empty unless I could somehow enable folks to connect up with it. On one hand, I didn’t want to expose my whole network, or dedicate my precious laptop as a full-time simulator server, but i did have a few options in mind..
One, I could forgo running my own sims and just pay tier (i.e., rent a sim server from someone else). I poked around and found several grids that will rent you some land for so many US dollars, Euro, or in-world currency equivalent per day, week, month, year..
Two, I could open my network ports to the outside world and let people directly login to a test account on my machine.
Three, I could enable hypergrid services which opens your standalone sims up to some sort of intergrid compatibility (which I haven’t fully explored the details yet; I would need to get option two working before considering this.)
Four, and this is what most people do at this point, I could interconnect all my regions in a more dedicated or permanent way to a particular grid, that is, like Second Life, anyone who had an account on said grid could teleport to my sims. In other words, certain OpenSimulator grids, like New World Grid and OSgrid, allow other people to connect their own servers into it. While other grids, like InWorldz and Second Life, run their own proprietary software and don’t permit others to connect their sims into it. I’m fairly sure that, like option 3, this requires me to make the standalone connectivity work before branching out to a more complicated grid setup.
Well, now I am exploring all of these options, with the possible goal of connecting one or more of my regions to a grid or hypergrid of some sort.
In the next parts in the series, I will go into more detail about my experience with each grid that I have personally visited and tried connecting with.