At the risk of appearing to jump on the bandwagon – largely because I am jumping on the bandwagon – I thought I’d spend some time exploring the work that Rezzable has been doing with Open Sim. (For those who haven’t seen these excellent pieces, Dio Kuhr writes about her experiences here and Ariane Barnes writes here.)
Dio discusses Heritage Key as a learning envrionment, and has a brief interview with Rezzable's CEO, Jon Himoff. I'm no ed-yoo-cater; I'm more of a happy-go-lucky sort, interested in entertaining myself and others, and if I happen to learn something along the way, great. As a result, my perspective is a somewhat different one.
I'll start with a big thank you to Miss Viv Trafalgar, who made sure I was able to log in without trouble and spent a very pleasant hour or more with me (well, it was pleasant for me) showing me the welcome area, the travel center, and the various Stonehenge exhibits - more on those in Part 2 of this series - and pointing out the AO that, among other things, got rid of the horrid duck walk. Miss Viv, who has done extensive work for Rezzable both in Heritage Key and elsewhere, also discussed the ongoing evolution of the software behind the Heritage Key grid. [*N.B. All errors are those of the author, as the disclaimer in academic work goes. In addition, I haven't quoted Viv, in part because, in my scatter-brained way, it didn't occur to me until it was far too late that, gee, some our conversation might be of wider interest but by then it was too late to ask whether she would like to be quoted. Instead, you get my musings.]
Heritage Key is an OpenSimulator (or OpenSim) grid, existing separately from the Second Life grid, so it requires its own registration and avatar creation. OpenSimulator an open source server software designed to host virtual worlds. OpenSim looks a great deal like Second Life - I assume much of that was reverse-engineered from the SL server side - and uses the same communications protocols for client to server communication. As a result, any of the Second Life clients should work with OpenSim.
If my experience in Heritage Key is representative of OpenSim, the platform has come a long way from my earlier experiments with it. I would have login difficulties, suffer frequent crashes, and, during the infrequent times when I could both log in and not crash immediately, the lag was so intense as to render the platform unusable. This time, I've had no trouble logging in, have crashed only once, and performance has been fairly good. It seems to be rougher around the edges than SL, but the developers are no doubt heading rapidly in the right direction.
Heritage Key has its own client, which is a simplified version of a standard SL client. Start by registering at heritage-key.com (and that little hyphen is important; otherwise, you find yourself looking at the web page for a RL community in Kissimmee, Florida), create an avatar name - and, wonder of wonders, you're not limited to a menu of last names! - and default avatar, all of which come with some degree of a Steampunk outfit. Download and install the software (for Windows or Mac). The software launches with a click of a button on the HK site, as well as the usual way. Alternatively, one can configure a standard SL client with the "Target" line of properties to: -loginuri http://login.heritage-key.com . In theory, at least. When I tried this, I logged in but I stayed a cloud. For the moment, I'm sticking with the HK client.
After logging in for the first time, I found myself in the Welcome area.
This is a Roman-style plaza with a central fountain and statues representing various Heritage Key exhibits (e.g., an ibis and mummy) - and possibly future ones - note the terra cotta warrior. Below, the HK Rhianon:
At one end of the plaza is this globe, with teleporters that are set for destinations that appear to be children-oriented:
At the end is an AO vendor and four brass-and-glass teleporters. No clicking to "sit" in order to teleport - just walk in! The destinations: Skills Center, King Tut's Treasure, Travel Hub, and Avatar Center.
The Skills Center is a short tutorial on basic movement, communications, and inventory management. The Avatar Center has male and female avatars, complete outfits, several hair styles, and some individual pieces of clothing. There are changing rooms as well, for the modest. Below, I model the Steampunk top hat and goggles available in the area while standing next to "my" skin and shape. The family resemblance is unmistakable.
The Travel Hub, with its big brass clock as a centerpiece, has an information desk with signs that describe the various destinations. Around the edge of the room are teleporters for the various destinations: Life on the Nile 1350 BCE; Collections Gallery, Tut's Treasure; Valley of the Kings 1920s; Stonehenge Solstice; Stonehenge Portal; and, listed as "opening soon," The British Museum.
In Part 2, I discover intrigue in ancient Egypt!