VastPark Platform 1.3 Released

Today the Creator, Player and Publisher based off v1.3 of the framework were released to web!

Some of the more notable changes include:

  • New Drawing API
  • New physics engine
  • Support for encrypted file formats
  • Improvements to the Portable IMML format
  • Additions to VastScript related to keyboard/mouse triggers
  • Refined Player UI
  • Many bug fixes and stability improvements

Why the jump from 0.98 to 1.3?

My last post implied that v0.98 would be the final DirectX version of the framework. Instead a decision was made for a few more iterations on DirectX to tie up some loose ends, prior to spending significantly more time working on the OpenGL framework (in actual fact, over the past 6 months we’ve been working on both!).

Since the release of 0.98, the version numbers have been ticking over in line with the growing maturing of the framework, with v1.1 and v1.2 surfacing as developer snapshots. As some fairly major pieces of the framework were being swapped out over this period, the numbering became important – some plugins were needing a minor rewrite to be compatible with the newer modules.

Using the magic of Metaforik and multiple Assets linked to each Item, we were able to publish the same plugin multiple times to maintain backwards compatibility for each framework version.

Portable IMML

The PIMML format has been updated to support some exciting new features:

Combined these features mean that a securely encrypted, portable virtual world can be distributed which is capable of connecting to a live server! Your users will benefit by much faster load times (the content is local) while still maintaining the ability to be in a multi-user space.

As part of the format update, a new wizard interface was introduced in the Creator making it easier to use the new features.

Find the wizard under the Publish to File menu:

Note: The update to the PIMML format is not backwards compatible. If you have some older files which are critical to migrate, please speak up at the forums on

Drawing API

Many customers are looking towards virtual worlds as a solution to collaboratively visualise information.

Whilst this was possible previously in VastPark using Primitive and/or Model elements, the new drawing API allows developers to take this to the next level by making it easier to create graphs, overlay annotations and build more intuitive user experiences.

The drawing API provides the following base types:

Access to these types are exposed via the RenderEngine interface and for convenience within VastScript via plugin (DrawingPlugin). We are considering ways that this can integrate nicely into the IMML spec at a later point.

Here’s a basic sample that uses the DrawingPlugin to demonstrate some of the functionality (right-click, save as): drawing-api-sample.imml

Refined Player UI

We’ve made further improvements to the Player UI to tighten up the look along with a brand new vastpark:home design:

At the same time we’ve changed some of the shortcut keys:

F1 – Help
F4 – Options
F5 – Refresh
F6 – Screenshot
F9 – Chat
F10 – Library
F11 – Fullscreen
F12 – Freelook camera

Also of note is the unified default folder structure for all of the applications:

Documents\VastPark\[application name]\[folder]

New physics engine

BulletPhysics had already been chosen as the solution for future versions of the framework. It was decided that to provide a smoother transition between the v1.3 and v1.5 codebases, we would port it back.

Improvements have been observed in a number of areas such as the stability of avatars and a more realistic, robust simulation.

Alas, the port was not without some minor regressions; GenerateExplosion, SetForce, AddForce, SetImpulse and collision events were temporary casualties. All of these will return again in a future version of the framework.

Final Note

The applications are available for download at the usual place.

If you are upgrading from a version prior to v1.3 I’d strongly advise a quick visit to add/remove to uninstall the older applications prior to upgrading to the newer release. The installers are now using MSI and will only allow overwrite from v1.3 onwards.



One Response to “VastPark Platform 1.3 Released”

  1. Portable IMML – Host a virtual world like a PDF : The Park is Vast on August 11th, 2010 9:46 pm

    […] part of the v1.3 release the Portable IMML (PIMML) format was updated to include some new features (encryption, URI […]