Open Avatar Introductory Video

At the beginning of June we launched Open Avatar, an initiative to create a framework artists could use when building avatars.

By adhering to a convention, avatars, or parts of avatars, could become more portable across many different applications, produced by many different vendors.

Recently a video was uploaded to vimeo that gives a nice introduction to OpenAvatar and it’s purpose:

Since the launch, we’ve had some positive feedback and a lot of interesting discussion.

If you’ve tried it out and have had some success (or failure) please let us know!

v1.5 Video Tutorials

Some instructional videos for v1.5 of the framework were recently created by one of our talented artists (also responsible for the sanctuary design) and uploaded to Vimeo.

The content pipeline is covered, including:

Exporting Maya models to Collada

Exporting 3dsmax models to Collada

Creator Importing and Publishing

The import/export pipeline is something that has been getting a lot of development attention recently and is quite advanced compared to the legacy import functionality of older versions of the framework.

Both the import and export providers are runtime loaded, meaning that others can build custom modules for the Creator.

By default the Creator ships with Collada import and File System export as shown in the video.

VastServer Developer Edition RTW

Today marks the release to web of a new flavour of VastServer, known as VastServer Developer Edition.

As the name implies, this version of the server is targeted at developers and aims to provide more information on the framework’s behaviour, a little closer to the metal than has been possible in the past.

The user interface for the server is written with WPF and looks like this:

Click for larger view

Some of the more interesting features are covered in detail below.

Server Usage History

Many of the factors that contribute to server load such as send/receive rates, send/receive queues and client connections, are visible at a glance, with a rolling 60 second view of activity graphed:

It’s likely additional metrics will be made available in future releases, such as dynamic element counts, owned element counts, mutex holders, etc along with the ability to filter and manipulate the usage history graph.


Each world maintains it’s own log that displays IMML notifications such as those related to scene.ui:writeline, along with any world related notices, errors and warnings that the framework associates with that context.

A system log is also available via the View -> Log menu. It contains log information related to the networking infrastructure.

File Hosting Support

One nice new feature is the ability to host assets along side client IMML, meaning that IMML can be coded with relative URIs.

This supports the use case where a team wants to avoid setting up a web server or using a public storage provider such as Amazon S3 and is a convenient way to consider developing worlds.

For example, the model in this IMML:

<IMML xmlns="">
  <Model Source="models/ground_path1.model" />

Is resolved to the client folder of the hosted context via the HostingRoot:

In the above example, the HostingRoot is at My Documents\VastPark\Server\ and the hosted context is called “sanctuary” (for some live shots of sanctuary in action, see here) .

Client Metrics

The client tab displays the behaviour of all clients connected to a specific world.

Information on user alias, connection time, framework version, ping, message resends, and time since last message provide the ability to troubleshoot scenarios where certain clients are experiencing difficulty with the system.

Both v1.3 and v1.5 clients are supported by this release of the server, the network stack has remained compatible between these versions of the framework.


VastServer Developer Edition is freely available to developers for download with a limitation of 10 concurrent user connections across all hosted worlds. It’s built for windows and requires .NET Framework 4.0

License keys are available to partners and enterprise customers to remove the concurrent user limitation.


Army of Craig

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have an army of clones that I could send out to do my bidding…

VastPark OpenGL “Army of Craig” Demo from VastPark on Vimeo.

Yes. It is a little strange.

Dem bones, dem bones, dem…digital bones

The creative department have been craving bones for a very long time in VastPark and we’ve finally added support for them, both in scripting and via plugin.

Here’s a teaser:

Vastpark Facial Expressions Demo from VastPark on Vimeo.

VastPark Masterclass 2

Some video from the second masterclass I spoke at. Adrian Shepherd also features first up with some info on the content pipeline. Was quite unprepared for this one, so definitely isn’t my best work 🙂

Virtual Worlds Down Under – Part 4 of 4 – Masterclass 2 from VastPark on Vimeo.

The art of making a user click

After allowing a sizable portion of users in to have a taste of VastPark, it was interesting to analyse the first batch of “in the wild” crashlogs that were submitted (thanks again to everyone for hitting the submit button!).

In all, it was pleasing to see that so few crashes were making their way to my inbox, but the ones that did may have revealed the greatest marketing secret of all time, the word monster. The single most consistent error that made up 85% of the logs over 2 days was due to a dodgily published model lurking in the web service, going by that name!

The lesson in this for the team at VastPark is to make sure that enticingly named content in the system will not crash the application when a user clicks on it and for everyone else; if you want someone to click on something, the word monster is a good option 😉