Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jibe 1.3 Released

Jibe 1.3 is now available! This release includes many new features and improvements, and you can see a demo of a simple Jibe 1.3 environment on our website, if you click on the Cityscape link, or you can view it directly here. Changes in 1.3 are pretty extensive, including:
  • Jibe avatars can now fly! this has resulted in significant changes to avatar model files, animation and movement scripts, and scripts that interact with avatars. While you are not chatting, press e to fly up, c to descend

  • Non-Jibe avatars can be used in a single-scene configuration (Jibe customers see the video tutorial for details on - this has resulted in changes to animation and movement scripts, and scripts that interact with avatars.

  • New menu option to simplify Jibe configuration if you head to Window - Jibe - Welcome

  • Chat history can be saved to a web-based database (available to Jibe owners with their own server)

  • Cursor now shows as regular arrow on web player builds (and editor builds), with hover helpers for sit and chat. This should fix the problem of Jibe windows swallowing mouse cursor while browsing different sites in other browser tabs (and where buttons in editor are sometimes hard to click when pointer is hidden). Old style icons are still available and can be re-enabled with a checkbox on the Cursor object in JibeGUI

  • PlayerCamera has been changed - previously this lived in the PlayerCharacter prefab, now it lives in the live scene in the Jibe object. This enables scene-specific camera settings, giving users options to change draw distance, camera effects, on a scene-by-scene basis, rather than per project.

  • PlayerCharacter prefab has been deprecated and is no longer used. Players are now spawned from their respective Character Prefabs (Avatars - Prefabs - Characters) and components like map icon, blob shadow, etc. added automatically.

  • User ID fetched on startup (if hosting web page provides it) and stored in a preference file for use in tracker scripts.

  • Loader scene now only offers avatar choices on startup if the user has never logged in before - the Dressing Room is offered on login, or proceed straight to main scene. These options are configurable in the Loader scene's Init object.

  • Jibe iTween functionality added to easily network an iTween event so all players see an event happen at the same time. To enable this, to the object with iTween scripts attached, add a JibeiTweenClick script and enter the event to synchronize. In the JibeiTweenClick.cs script, you need to uncomment line 43 - only do this after adding iTween scripts to your project or you will have errors that prevent building your application.

  • Jibe Animation code has been loosened significantly to facilitate non-jibe avatars. There is no more JibeAnimation enum defining animations, but you need to ensure that all models in use in a Jibe build share the same animations for animation synchronization to work correctly without errors. All Jibe avatars (or avatars with the same animation states), all dragons, etc.

  • Old animation code (ThirdPersonAnimation.js) has been removed, and replaced with C# code - this has enabled the PlayerMovement.cs script to be moved in with the rest of the Jibe scripts, keeping the project more tidy, and making future code more simple.

  • Jibe avatar skins have been refreshed and updated.
Note that the Cityscape scene is now available for free for all new Jibe customers, and is a simple scene that we hope will help get folks who are new to Unity and Jibe up and running more speedily, though the plain kit is still available for those with their own builds.

Stay tuned for a link to a demo space in the very near future to see dragon avatars in action!

Anyone with questions about the upgrade, please contact us via and we'll be ready to help!

Chris Hart, CTO ReactionGrid Inc.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Moving to OpenSimulator 0.7.1

The recent release of OpenSimulator 0.7.1 has been widely welcomed by the enthusiastic OpenSim fans and many have asked us what our plans are for upgrading. There has been some speculation about why we have not yet upgraded, and I'd like to explain what's involved in upgrading our systems, and why we are usually a little behind the bleeding edge!

I say bleeding edge speaking from experience -when we first started hosting OpenSimulator back in 2008, and our official ReactionGrid opensim grid launched at the end of that year. For the first few months we stuck to the subversion trunk of core code, upgrading every few weeks to the latest and greatest. Mostly, we were fine to follow this track, but occasionally we got bitten and had to roll back to a previous release - such is the bleeding edge! As time passed, it became clear that we could not continue this pattern if we were to grow, so we re-evaluated our strategy.

We now knew the platform well and were starting to host grids for customers, and we had a duty to them to ensure that we were able to offer a known good configuration within acceptable tolerances. Once the project moved on to 0.6 we moved to following official releases with minor tweaks for our own purposes. As we grew, each upgrade would take longer to roll out, since it was no longer just our own grid, but also those of our clients.

Our most recent upgrade was to 0.6.9 last year, and the full rollout to our customers took several months. For the most part this release has proven to be a significant improvement over previous releases, though it does have a few issues that continue to frustrate us to this day. We have been looking forward to 0.7.1 for some time now. 0.7 was tagged very soon after 0.6.9 was released, and I was aware that some of the core developers had planned some major work that was not going to happen after this point, and would likely be included in 0.7.1. As such, I recommended that we hold off 0.7.0 and waited for the next release, including improved HyperGrid security that our customers really have been asking for.

We are now in the process of upgrading our core systems and applications to work with 0.7.1. Our servers use the MSSQL database platform for OpenSim, so I'm adding additional support to those modules to be compatible with 0.7.1 and will contribute this code back to the community once completed, as I have done in the past. We'll also be upgrading our groups server, our core admin applications for user registration and administration, as well as many other systems. Testing different configurations; with & without HyperGrid, FreeSwitch voice, megaregion, single regions (one console), multiple regions per console, multiple region servers per server, with groups, no groups, etc. It's a significant undertaking, and we are committed to doing this to the best of our abilities for the benefit of our customers.

We want this release to be a success, and will be doing all we can to ensure any upgrade we produce for our customers has been tested as much as possible before we offer it to them. We will not accept any release of OpenSim that is less stable than our current builds. The goals are clear - improved stability, more features, increased compatibility with newer clients, and increased security wherever possible. We still believe that the OpenSimulator platform is a great tool for working in 3D and are very grateful to our clients for understanding the work that goes into preparing for each upgrade.

As for a specific timeline (I know you're all jumping up and down asking for a date!) I simply cannot say for certain at this stage, but so far code is going well. I'm hoping very much to have a release ready before July, and as soon before then as possible, but this all depends on how testing goes. I'll be working with the team on all aspects of the upgrade, and we will keep you all updated as soon as a release is imminent!

Chris Hart, CTO ReactionGrid Inc.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summary of ReactionGrid's ISTE SIGVE presentation in Jibe

ISTE SIGVE (International Society for Technology in Education - Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments) is a group of educators, administrators, and educational technologists who are interested in the development of 3D Virtual Environment platforms for connection and collaboration.

They hold online meetings each month, and on May 17th they invited me to speak to their group about Jibe and Virtual Worlds on the Web.

Folks logged in to my Jibe world where I addressed the group using voice while people asked questions in text chat. We sat around for a brief introduction then went on a walking tour to illustrate how Jibe can be used to create immersive and interactive learning experiences. I also spoke about the unique affordances of having a 3d virtual world embedded on a web page.

I had a few slides which I displayed in a frame on the webpage where my Jibe world lives. This made it easy for people to click through the slides while we moved around and explored the 3d space.

We had a peak of 22 simultaneous users during the meeting and over 100 unique visitors over the course of the entire day.

Because of its low bandwidth requirements, Jibe can scale nicely to handle many concurrent users. Data throughput during the meeting of about 20 people was on average about 100-200 kbps for the entire server. Compare that to a virtual world environment like Second Life which requires a connection speed of at least 500 kbps per client.

This presentation was a lot of fun, and I want to personally thank Scott Merrick for inviting me and everyone else who helped organize it. Thank you!

-John Lester, Director of Community Development, ReactionGrid

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jibe demo at GAMBIT Lab at MIT – Friday May 20 @4pm Eastern

GAMBIT is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the government of Singapore, created to explore new directions for the development of games as a medium. The lab focuses on the creation of video game prototypes to demonstrate their research as a complement to traditional academic publishing.

Tomorrow (Friday) at 4pm Eastern, Chris Hart (ReactionGrid CTO) and I will be at the GAMBIT lab at MIT to talk about Jibe!

More details can be found on the GAMBIT blog.

There will be a live video stream of the presentation, so you can also tune in to watch.

UPDATE 5/24/11: Here's a video recording of our presentation.

-John Lester, Director of Community Development, ReactionGrid

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We Must Say Good Bye to a Good Friend

The ReactionGrid Team received some very sad news today that we would like to pass on to others that may have known Chris Surridge.

Chris Surridge passed yesterday of a heart attack on his birthday at age 46.
He was a great influence in the Opensim and SecondLife Education community and his passing will be seen as a great loss.

We will remember him fondly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Security Alert

Last night ReactionGrid was hit once again by a Griefer who dropped a mess of prims about the grid and performed mass object moves on regions that did not have their objects locked down.
As a result we have tracked the IP range of addresses the griefer is using and have contacted the ISP to see if we can bring action against this person.

Gridizens - the call is out to you now to make your grid a safer place!
Please secure your regions and set them to No Building when you are not physically there.
Also please make sure you take the precautions as well to never set object to 'Allow Everyone to Move' as this griefer is moving objects that are not locked down.
So if objects have been moved on your regions the griefer has selected mass objects and moved them all at one shot.

This is a matter that we all must be vigilant on.
Please report any strange activity at by adding a support ticket.