Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Diary: 30th March 2010

OpenSim preparing Version 0.7
The core developers at OpenSim are busy preparing Release 0.7 of their opensource virtual world framework.

Release 0.7 will be the first one featuring the recent major refactoring and rearchitecting work that replaced the resource services and servers previously known as UGAIM, with one single server shell called ROBUST which can now run any combination of services within it.

The planning for Release 0.7 has been posted on the OpenSim wiki site. Speaking of sites, Opensim have also given us a sneek peek at their new redesigned website, which is a huge improvement, in my opinion.

More SL Creators are Testing the Blue Mars Waters
I see that Mako Magellan that "Purveyor of apparel for princes and paupers, princesses and premises, poseurs and parcels" of Second Life fame, is to open a store in Desmond Shang's Caledonia in Blue Mars, after trialling some of his creations in Beach City. The problem of where to get my tux for some of those more formal Blue Mars occasions is now solved :)

News from Myst Online
Myst Online: Uru Live is a massive multiplayer online game (MMOG) unlike anything else. Instead of repetitive kill/take/buy gameplay of other MMOGs, the very essence of Myst Online is to explore vast, fantastic worlds; savoring and uncovering new areas and new information at every turn. It is an amazing hybrid of MMOG and Virtual World.

MO:ULagain is the currently available reincarnation of everything in MO:UL in a free, donation-supported, server run by Cyan. It is the first step in “opening” MO:UL. Cyan is planning that the client, servers and tools of MO:UL will soon become open source, allowing fans to continue developing the game and its universe.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Ups and Downs of vSide

As far as Virtual Worlds go, I don't think any have had such a roller-coaster ride as vSide. When you think vSide, think Habbo Hotel, IMVU, and Club Penguin, and you are not too far off the mark.

vSide was created by Doppelganger Studios of San Francisco, founded in July 2004 by Andrew Littlefield and James Lee, and with Tim Stevens as its CEO. Interestingly, Littlefield and several others holding high management positions at that time had all come from BAE Systems.

vSide started life back in May 2006 as the PCD Music Lounge (or the Music Lounge, or just the Lounge for short), a hangout for teens, which one blog described as 1 part MySpace and 1 part World of Warcraft. Doppelganger said at that time that the big selling point for the PSD Lounge was the fact that any questionable content or sexual innuendos would be left at the door, as they wanted good clean fun for all teens to enjoy.

Gen Digital questioned this business plan:

How a nightclub can portray good clean teen fun, when most of the time you have to be 21 just to get in one, kinda goes over my head. What kid doesn't thinking about alcohol and meeting the opposite sex when they go clubbing?

That observation became somewhat prophetic, as we shall see.

In August 2007 The Music Lounge evolved into vSide, following a major redesign. Two new districts were added, RaiJuku and LaGenoaAires, to the existing New Venezia (where have I heard that name before?), and several suppliers of virtual goods were strategic partners, including Kitson and Rocawear. There was no user-created content in vSide then. All creating had to be done by Doppelganger.

Built on a modified Torque 1.3 game engine using Java and MySQL for the backend, vSide reportedly raised a further $11m in 2007, bringing the total of its investment to over $25. It described itself then as the New 3D Facebook.

In April 2008, Doppleganger formed another partnership, with Degrassi: The Next Generation, a very popular TV show. The press release said:

A virtual version of The DOT Grill -- so familiar to our show's viewers -- will serve as the hub for all Degrassi-related activity in vSide,"  Chris Jackson, Director of Digital Media and Merchandising, Epitome Pictures, said in a statement. "The notion that our fans will be able to interact with each other (and with our cast!) in vSide, while enjoying Degrassi video and music content makes vSide the perfect complement to Degrassi's existing on-screen and online presence.

Despite a lively community vSide generated insufficient income, and the following year Doppleganger announced that vSide was shutting down on July 16th, 2009. The assets of vSide were put up for sale, and Virtual World News reported the following:

A source has told VirtualWorldsNews that by the time bidding closed on vSide assets -- which included art assets, the code set, animations, characters, and modifications to the Torque Engine (TGE 1.3.4 codebase) on which the teen virtual world was built -- were sold at "fire sale" prices.

 Following the sale of the vSide assets, Doppelganger was acquired by Canadian company Hip Digital Media in August 2008 for a rumored $40 million, with Doppelganger having spent in excess of $26m on the development of vSide, and having successfully attracted brands such as Kitson, Rocawear, Pussy Cat Dolls, Tyra Banks and MTV.

ExitReality is an Australian company headed by Danny Stephanic, with offices in San Fancisco, London and Melbourne, and made a name for itself in creating 3D virtual worlds out of 2D web pages, by using a browser plug-in.

vSide and its forums were only down for a short time, and during that time its Facebook page said:
We know you all can't wait for vSide to come back online. That's why we're working late nights and weekends to make sure it happens asap. We don't have an exact date yet, but the vSide Forums will be up next week. More updates coming soon.
vSide opened its doors again in late September 2009.

So, where to now for vSide?

It still caters for a rather narrow demographic, and it is primarily aimed at the early teenager, who do not have the spending power needed to generate the kinds of income that Virtual Worlds need to survive.

It also severely limits user-created content, which will discourage many others from making vSide their virtual home. At present, user-created content is limited to creating clothing in the built-in editor, accessible via the My Design tab after hitting F5 to get into your wardrobe. Textures for new clothing items are created offworld, in programs such as Paint, Photoshop or Gimp. Once an item has been created, it needs to be submitted to vSide for approval, who will then pay you 100vBux, and your work is then theirs forever.

With a limited demographic, restrictive creation, and with established competitors such as IMVU, Habbo, and newcomers such as Frenzoo (backed by the formidable Anshe Chung), it is difficult to see how vSide can make a real go of this.

Time will tell.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Avatar Reality Raises $4.2 Million in Additional Capital

Trent Ward, Games Industry Veteran, Joins Management Team as VP of Design

HONOLULU and SAN FRANCISCO — March 23, 2010 — Avatar Reality, creator of the massively multiplayer online virtual world platform Blue Mars, announced today that it has raised an additional $4.2 million from investors including Henk Rogers and Kolohala Ventures.  To date, more than $13 million has been invested in Avatar Reality.

 “We are extremely pleased by the progress the Avatar Reality team has made with Blue Mars,” said Henk Rogers, co-founder of Avatar Reality.  “Blue Mars is the inevitable next step in immersive 3D virtual worlds.”

“For the past three years, we’ve been laying the foundation for Blue Mars so developers can create extraordinary 3D experiences and share them in their own personalized virtual world that is scalable and secure. This investment is a strong endorsement of the progress we’ve made towards providing the next generation in virtual world platforms,” said Jim Sink, CEO of Avatar Reality. “With that goal in mind, I’m thrilled to announce that Trent Ward has joined Avatar Reality as our new vice president of Design. Trent has a track record for creating amazing user experiences and he is leading our efforts to make Blue Mars a more intuitive, effective, and fun destination for participants at every level.”

“This is really the culmination of a dream for me. Blue Mars makes it possible for anyone to bring their own high definition 3D worlds to life and occupy them together with thousands of others from everywhere in the globe simultaneously. Using Blue Mars, anyone can create games, meeting places, and social media experiences that reward users, encourage community and really push what’s possible online,” said Trent. Prior to his work with Avatar Reality, Trent served as creative director for Foundation9, Ubisoft, and Electronic Arts.  Last year he was named by Edge Magazine as one of the Hot 100 Game Developers of 2009.

About Blue Mars and Avatar Reality
Developed and launched by Avatar Reality in 2009, Blue Mars is a premium 3D virtual world platform featuring unparalleled fidelity, scalability, security and connectivity.  Blue Mars enables artists, game, and application developers to create and distribute amazing 3D games and applications for a global audience.  Blue Mars launched in Open Beta in October 2009 and began selling virtual land to third party developers in January of 2010.

Avatar Reality was founded in 2006 by interactive entertainment visionaries Henk Rogers - best known for introducing Tetris to the world - and Kazuyuki Hashimoto, former CTO of Squaresoft and Vice President at Electronic Arts. The Avatar Reality team includes world-class experts in casual games, PC games, console games, virtual worlds, and virtual economies with leadership experience at Microsoft, Sony, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Linden Lab, and Foundation9.  Privately held, Avatar Reality is led by CEO Jim Sink, and has more than 30 employees in Honolulu and San Francisco.  For more information, visit http://www.bluemars.com.

Avatar Reality and Blue Mars are trademarks or registered trademarks of Avatar Reality, Inc.

Press Contact:
Glenn Sanders
Tel: 415-729-5775

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Heritage Key VX - A New Historical Virtual World

Heritage Key is a content-orientated online community aimed at those with an interest in history and culture. It features both media resources and an interactive experience. The company behind Heritage Key is Rezzable Productions Ltd, a London-based company, headed up by CEO, Jonathan Himoff, and Director John Griffin, Chairman of Addison Lee,  a large transport company, also based in London.

Available content includes podcasts, streaming videos, news articles, interviews, discussion groups and blogs. The content is often created in conjunction with archaeologists and historians, such as the Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass and John Julius Norwich. Heritage Key combines this content with an online 3D virtual experience, or virtual world, that recreates artefacts and archaeological sites.

The Heritage Key VX provides access to a 3D Virtual World filled with accurate representations of many of the Ancient World's treasures and sites, and the collection is growing.

Built on the OpenSimulator platform, and using an adaptation of the Imprudence 1.2 Viewer, this is one of the best Opensim grids I have ever visited.

Let's start the Tour
Before entering HK you first need to create an account, you do this on the HK website. You then download their Viewer, and you are ready to login.

On arrival you will find yourself in Welcome Alpha, about 50m from the main teleport hub. The reason for this short walk is that I often found staff members on this walkway, only too keen to help out and provide guidance.

Arrival in Heritage Key
The Main Teleport Hub in Welcome Alpha
Even when no-one is on duty the place is filled with helpful notices


The currently available destinations from the teleport hub are:

  • The Skills Centre
  • The Avatar Outfitting Area
  • The Travel Hub 
  • King Tut's Treasures

The teleporters are collision devices, so just walk straight into one or left-click it, and you will be teleported automatically.

The Skills Centre
The Skills Centre

This centre provides all you need to know about using and exploring Heritage Key. It uses a series of tutorials covering

  • How to Use the Information (and hidden details) provided
  • How to Interact, and use your camera and activate media
  • How to Navigave around the HK World
  • How to Communicate with others (explorers and staff members) add friends, and take snapshots
  • How to manage your Inventory
Once you have brushed up on your skills there is a handy teleporter to take you to the The Avatar Outfitting Area.

The Avatar Outfitting Area
Avatar Outfitting Area
Choose your ready-made outfit here

In addition to several ready-made avatars (with shape, skin, hair, and explorer's clothes), you can customise your avatar further by taking (for free) a range of hair styles, pants, shirts, jackets, boots, belts, glasses, and other accessories, with more coming soon. Changing rooms are also provided, the Mens' up at 425m and the Ladies' up at 600m.

The Mens' Changing Room, up at 425m, with pose stand

Once you have got the look that suits you best it is time to do some serious exploring. Fortunately, at the end of the The Avatar Outfitting Area there is another convenient teleporter to take you to the Travel Hub.

 Travel Hub
Travel Hub

As its name implies, this is the main portal to all that Heritage Key has to offer. Intriguingly, it does not ask you where will you go, but rather when will you go.

Currently, the following  are available:

  • Virtual King Tutankhamun
  • The Valley of the Kings
  • Stonehenge
  • Life on the Nile
  • Collectors Gallery
Coming soon are:

  • The Xian (Terracotta) Warriors
  • The British Museum
Travel Hub Teleporters

King Tut's Treasures
This telepoter takes you to the Valley of the Kings, and the digs of the famous Howard Carter.

Valley of the Kings and the Delightful Winged Heron

It was here that I met an explorer from Second Life, named Winged Heron. She told me that Heritage Key was not just about exploring, she also told me about the Quests. This is what she had to say:

Winged Heron, Freelance Reporter, Angelic Explorer and Celestial Poet, reporting for Rock Vacirca and others on HK:

Currently you find me exploring Heritage Key. I met Rock while on tour of the Valley of the Kings. Introduced to Heritage Key, by some friends, I am slowly becoming hooked. As a long time citizen of SL, I am on an exciting quest in the Valley of the Kings located in HK.

Rock caught me searching for the six elusive pages from the diary of Howard Carter, which have been deposited around the Valley of the Kings and in the tomb. He met me as I was looking for the first page, having found the other five. This quest commences at either the first tent to the Valley of the Kings or in Howard Carter's tent. A small hint, once you have located the pages, if you haven't collected these in order, go back and do them in order. The reward is a something wearable and seen in many old movies which were set in Egypt, Morocco and other North African countries. No don't think Lawrence of Arabia, more like the guys in Casablanca but not worn by Humphrey Bogart.

After some successful tips from Rock on alternate viewers, we parted company and I completed the first quest, ten minutes later, finding that damn elusive last page. Finding the Scarlet Pimpernel would have been easier. Only joking, but if a quest was easy it would be an Easter Egg Hunt. In the tomb of young King Tut you will find there is a further quest. This too, like all good quests, must be completed in correct order. Once completed your reward is well worth it.

Quests can also be found at Stonehenge, the first place I explored. I like to do things in historical order. It is much more tidy that way. Next stop will be the actual Tut exhibit in HK.

So what do I like in HK that I can't find in SL? Well I like the fact that historical accuracy is aimed for, especially since the offending potatoes and tomatoes have been removed from the menu at Stonehenge, another quest or set of tasks to be completed. The visual recreations of the sites and artefacts is amazing. The factsheets are also presented in a novel way. And finally, for people who have no chance to travel for various reasons in real life, they can virtually experience the wonders of archaeology and anthropology.  I suspect even the world-renowned archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's answer to Indian Jones, would be pleased with the exhibits, if he had time away from the real thing.

I look foreward to more contributions from Winged Heron in the future.

I also liked the fact that you could take an aerial tour over the Valley of the Kings by Hot-Air Balloon, complete with audio commentary on what you were passing over.

Hot-Air Balloon Tours of the Valley of the Kings

Again conveniently, as I am now starting to take as given in Heritage Key, so well thought out is their design, is a teleporter to take you to the Collections Gallery. Be prepared to be amazed, I mean, really amazed.

Collections Gallery
Dark, moody, and full of Ancient Egyptian atmosphere, the Collections gallery showcase the great treasures uncovered in the tomb of the boy-king, Tutankhamun.

Every piece in the collection can be made full size by clicking on the Enlarge helper, and full audio commentaries are available for each piece too, explaining what the relic is, and its function, and much more besides.

This Gallery has to be seen to be believed
The Famous Mask of the King

Was there really a curse on this Mask?

At the end of the Collections Gallery is a Quick Teleports board, to take you to various destinations, but one which had me intrigued was the Cosmic Gallery, so I headed there next.

Cosmic Gallery
Cosmic Gallery

Boy was I glad that I checked the Cosmic Gallery out! I will not describe this Gallery any further, you have got to travel this path yourself. I have been to a lot of Virtual Worlds in my time, but never anything remotely like this. Quick tip, do not use the quick teleport helpers to get around the Cosmic Gallery, walk the path instead!

There is so much more to see in Heritage Key. I did not have time to visit Stonehenge, and the Life by the Nile region, and with all the various Quests, and new Ancient World destinations to look forward to, this is not a World I am going to tire of anytime soon.

If you missed the Tutankhamun Exhibition when it toured the world, then head over to Heritage Key right now. It awaits.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The Clouds are Gathering

This past week in the Games Developer Conference (GDC 2010) in San Francisco has seen three major announcements concerning rendering in the cloud services.

First up, on the 10th March, was the GamesBeat keynote speech by OnLive's CEO Steve Perlman, who showcased the company’s game streaming technology, which allows high quality 3D games to be played  without a console, by doing all the graphic-rich rendering in the cloud, then streaming it to a lightweight client.

OnLive also put pressure in their competitors by announcing finally a firm release date, of  June 17, 2010. At launch, the service will be available in all Continental US States, but look out for international announcements later in the year.

The service will cost $14.95 per month for the base service, although this can be reduced by purchasing multiple months at a time, and then additionally users need to purchase games and rentals from a menu of titles.

For early adopters, OnLive will waive the service fee for three months for the first 25,000 users to pre-register here.

Perlman provided a remarkable demo, playing games like Crysis on a large screen TV, then continuing the game on his iPhone. Other features included streaming movies and what looked like Xbox Live community features.

OnLive will be available for the PC and Mac only at launch.

On the same day, AMD, OTOY and Super Micro announced that they plan to bring Fusion Render Cloud Servers to market in the second quarter of 2010.

Announced by AMD CEO Dirk Meyer at CES 2009, the AMD Fusion Render Cloud (FRC) is AMD's next generation breakthrough CPU/GPU server platform. Built on top of OTOY's cloud streaming technology, FRC is designed to deliver thousands of concurrent HD games, remote desktops, and live HD video streams to any internet enabled device with virtually no latency.

These servers will permit content providers to deliver video games, PC applications and other graphically-intensive applications through the Internet “cloud” to virtually any type of mobile device with a web browser in a manner designed to help maximize battery life and to efficiently process the content. The AMD Fusion Render Cloud will transform movie and gaming experiences through server-side rendering – which involves storing visually rich content in a compute cloud, compressing it, and streaming it in real-time over a wireless or broadband connection to a variety of devices such as smart phones, set-top boxes and ultra-thin notebooks. By delivering remotely rendered content to devices that are unable to store and process HD content due to such constraints as device size, battery capacity, and processing power, HD cloud computing represents the capability to bring HD entertainment to mobile users virtually anywhere.

The AMD Fusion Render Cloud will also allow remote real-time rendering of film and visual effects graphics on an unprecedented scale. Gaming companies can use the AMD Fusion Render Cloud for developing and deploying next-generation game content, to serve up virtual world games with unlimited photo-realistic detail, and to take advantage of new delivery channels as open and diverse as the web itself.

"Supermicro brings its long standing experience in the design and production of high-performance, high-efficiency server solutions, and its strengths in GPU-optimized platforms, to this exciting new breakthrough technology," said Don Clegg, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Supermicro. "With the multi-core CPU and graphics processing power of AMD and next-generation cloud development software OTOY, Supermicro CPU/GPU supercomputer server solutions now empower developers to create HD video and gaming environments delivered over the web in real time, for the first time."

"In 2003 AMD changed the server market with the launch of the AMD Opteron™ processor, ending the sole source enterprise technology barrier. The industry embraced this change as there are now more than 2 million AMD Opteron processors driving Cloud Computing today," said Charlie Boswell, Director of Digital Media and Entertainment, AMD. The AMD Fusion Render Cloud is poised to help ignite the next evolution in cloud computing by enabling server side rendering of fully interactive HD content.

"The launch of the Fusion Render Cloud platform through Supermicro’s product line marks a major milestone for cloud computing, “said Jules Urbach. “Streaming high performance games and graphics remotely is an indisputably disruptive technical achievement. The very idea has invited both excitement and skepticism during the 14 months since AMD and OTOY announced their plans to enter into this space. With the addition of a major OEM supplying servers to datacenters next quarter, this technology will be commoditized by an eco system of partners as diverse as the web itself. The future of graphics in the cloud has never been brighter."

OTOY’s software fully leverages AMD’s CPU core density and graphics leadership to create an open streaming platform for cloud delivery. OTOY software, hosted on the AMD Fusion Render Cloud is designed to achieve a scalable solution, lowering the average power footprint per user. This is first order requirement of economic viability for any Cloud solution. AMD’s Fusion Render Cloud specification, now productized by Supermicro, is designed to scales to thousand of users per rack. Together, this consortium of technology partners is enabling the massive deployment of Cloud rendering technology in 2010.

FRC Hardware Specifications:

  • 125 1U rackmount servers - available pre-racked in Super Rack configuration
  • 500 ATI ‘Cypruss’ based GPUs
  • 250 AMD Opteron™ 6100 series processors
  • <100 Kw, 40 sqft of space per 1 PetaFLOPS of computing power

FRC Technical Specifications:

  • Up to 3,000 concurrent HD streams (720p/1080p or higher @ 60hz) for streaming AAA video games, high end CAD programs and full virtual desktops for all major Operating Systems
  • Up to 12,000 concurrent SD streams @ 120 hz
  • Ultra fast HD encoding < 1ms per megapixel
  • Token based metering system built into driver stack for easy cost analysis and resource provisioning

About Super Micro Computer, Inc. (NASDAQ: SMCI)
Supermicro, the leader in server technology innovation and green computing, provides customers around the world with application-optimized server, workstation, blade, storage and GPU systems. Based on its advanced Server Building Block Solutions, Supermicro offers the most optimized selection for IT, datacenter and HPC deployments. The company's system architecture innovations include the Twin server, double-sided storage and SuperBlade(R) product families. Offering the most comprehensive product lines in the industry, Supermicro provides businesses of all sizes with energy-efficient, earth-friendly solutions that deliver unmatched performance and value. Founded in 1993, Supermicro is headquartered in Silicon Valley with worldwide operations and manufacturing centers in Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.supermicro.com.

About OTOY
OTOY is a leading software and content developer and provider of convergence technologies and special effects for the video game and film industries. OTOY works with a wide range of studios, game developers and visualization companies to create leading-edge visual and entertainment experiences. In 2008, Variety magazine listed OTOY CEO Jules Urbach as one of Hollywood’s top 10 innovators to watch in the next 12 months.

About AMD
Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) is an innovative technology company dedicated to collaborating with customers and partners to ignite the next generation of computing and graphics solutions at work, home and play. For more information, visit http://www.amd.com.

For more information
Marie Sheehy

Finally, David Perry, chief creative officer at Acclaim said he has a new company, Gaikai, that will do the same thing as OnLive but without some of its drawbacks. Gaikai only requires broadband, a browser, and the leatest Adobe Flash Player [note this, folk with iPhones, or those with iPad ambitions, Apple does not support Flash on either of those devices].

“I was going to reveal it at the E3 trade show, but the OnLive news has forced my hand,” said Perry. Gaikai is nowhere near as developed as OnLive or the AMD/OTOY offerings, but it was interesting to see that other companies are also thinking hard about rendering in the cloud.

But what ARE the drawbacks of rendering in the cloud to which Perry referred?

By far the biggest obstacle to overcome is latency. In Role Playing Games and Virtual Worlds, this is not so much of a problem, but in fast-paced high-action games, where life and death is measured in millisecond reaction times, the latency involved in you pressing the trigger, and that information being relayed back to the servers, then the stream being sent back to your (and other's) client, so that action is reflected on-screen is maybe just too long for serious gamers to bear. Most of that latency is also not under the control of the Cloud companies, in it mainly in the hands of the Internet Service Provider between the gamer and the Cloud. One figure I heard mentioned, was that users must be no further away than 1000 miles from the Cloud servers. If that is a partial solution to latency, then that in itself introduces another problem, of geolocation. Will the Cloud companies install large server centres in places such as Alaska, or Iceland, or other remote locations, to serve the gaming communities there?

We'll see.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Tourist's Guide to Blue Mars - Part 1: New Venice

So, you have arrived in Blue Mars, you have checked out the Welcome Area, met some people there, and now you are ready to do some serious exploring, but where to first? My favourite City in Blue Mars is New Venice, or Venezia (they made an announcement a few months ago that the name was changed from New Venice to Venezia, but I have seen no evidence of the name change elsewhere as yet). I would recommend going here first.

Places Browser
To get up the Places Browser you can either login to Blue Mars, and you will arrive there immediately, or if you are already inside Blue Mars just click the House icon on the toolbar.

Places Browser
Select New Venice, and then click the Download text in the top-right of the browser. Once it has finished downloading click Refresh to add it to the browser. To visit, just click its image, and then Go.

Arriving in New Venice
On arrival in New Venice you will be in a lovely garden. Behind you is a small gazebo, but don't go inside, as this is a teleporter to the Condo (more on that later).

Arrival Point in New Venice

From here get onto the path, and move away from the gazebo, at the far end of the garden is an archway, and this is the exit point. As you pass under the arch you will see some information terminals.

Arrival Area Gardens

Information Terminal (News and Maps)
If you click on the activation orb (and you will see these all over New Venice) the map will open for you.


As you click a portion of the map, then hover your mouse over the selected portion of the map, it reveals places of interest to visit.

Circular Garden
For the time being, I just left this area, and continued out and was faced by a huge circular garden. I could hear soft music at this point. These gardens in New Venice are spectacular and lush. You may have also seen small spherical bots flying about. These have no function, as yet.

Inside the Circular Garden (bot and butterfly in foreground)

Teleporting in New Venice
One of the nice functions that the creators of New Venice (VSE) have included, is the ability to teleport anywhere inside the City. This is really useful, as at 4km x 4km, New Venice is one of the larger Cities, and 16sq Km is approximately the size of 256 SL regions, so is more like a mini-continent than a City. Another useful feature, is that it is not actually you that teleports, it is your camera, so you can have a look around a destination before deciding to teleport there in person (by pressing 'Q' on your keyboard).

To teleport ensure that the main Blue Mars window has the focus (not the chat window) by clicking on the top blue title bar. Now press F3 and the teleport menu will apppear.

Teleport Menu (Click blue Title Bar at top of window, then press F3)

The teleport menu gives you a choice of 9 destinations, by pressing any of the numbers 1-9 on your numeric keypad to the right of your keyboard (NOT the numbers 1-9 at the top of your keyboard).

Teleport Destination #1
This is the RC Boat Racing venue. Currently the racing is not activated, but it is still a great area to explore. The croquet greens are nearby.

RC Boat Racing Arena

Corresponding Place on the Map

Teleport Destination #2
This is the Bocce Ball Court destination. Again, not functional at present, but well worth the visit.

Bocce Court

Bocce Ball Court on the Map (the large grey circle on the bottom island)

Teleport Destination #3
This will take you to the Sail Boats. These do work, after a fashion :)

Don't blame me for what happens though. Taking a scuba kit with you might be advisable!

Sailboats (that broken bot needs fixing!)
As is normal in New Venice, use the activation orbs to use them

Teleport Destination #4
This destination just takes you back to the orginal landing point. Useful to get you to the Condo.

Teleport Destination #5
Now I am not sure about this destination. It is actually a little circular garden with an old knarled tree in the middle. However, there is an activation orb, and when clicked the entire garden become an elevator, and delivers you (sometimes) to a lower level, as these two pics show.

Garden Elevator (upper level)

Garden Elevator (lower level)

Be careful on this thing! The script is not perfect, and on one occasion I ended up in orbit over New Venice. Here is the proof!

Unintentional Orbit Mode

Teleport Destination #6
A regular destination this time. At this location are water taxis, a telescope (with a game inside), and stairs leading up to The Floating House.

Telescopes (each has a find objects game inside)

This destination is just above the Boat Taxi 4 location on the Map:

Boat Taxi Stop 4 (that square corner near the top-right of the island)

Clicking on the telescope brings up a menu which allows you to use the telescope in the regular way, or to search for objects for points.

Telescope Menu

Find Objects Game

Teleport Destination #7
This takes you to halfway up the staircase to The Floating House

The Midway Point up to The Floating House
There is a regular elevator ( to take you back down to the lower level only), and a staircase to take you up to The Floating House. Take these stairs!

When you get to the top of the stairs the beautiful Floating House, with its majestic waterfall is before you.

The Floating House

Entrance to The Floating House

Carry on through the archway, and straight ahea to the back of the house. There is a curious activation orb here. Click it, and stand back and wait to be amazed!

The Flying Elevator

The orb calls the amazing Flying Elevator. A gazebo-like device that flies you back down to the lower level near to the water taxi area. An incredible ride (but again, is temperamental, so you could end up anywahere!).

Teleport Destination #8
This is an odd one. Mostly it does not work, but on one occasion I was sent into orbit again, only even higher this time. Sometimes I have arived at the activation orb for the Flying Elevator.

The Chat Speaks for itself!

Teleport Destination #9
Back to earth again (or back to Mariner Firma), and this is Boat Taxi Stop 4, below Teleport Destination #6.

Flying in New Venice
You can fly in New Venice! Or at least the sensation of flying (actually it is your camera that flies). To do this, press F3 again to bring up the teleport menu, but do NOT press any number. Instead, aim your camera upwards by holding down the right mouse button and dragging the mouse to tilt the camera upwards, then press your Up Arrow.

When your camera arrives at a location you like, just press 'Q' on your keyboard and you will teleport to that destination instantly.

The sample Condo in New Venice is gorgeous! To get there you can use the Teleport Travel Gazebos in either the arrival garden (Teleport Destination #4) or the other beside The Floating House.

Condo Interior

There are TV screens inside the Condo, music, and a hidden teleporter that will take you to a bar! Walk to the circular door and it will open magically, leading the way to a patio area with spectacular views.

Condo Exterior

Other Oddities
One other strange thing I found, was if I pressed the number 1 on my numeric keypad, without having the teleport menu up. It spawned a blue sphere, that only I could see. Continued pressing spawned more, and they do not seem to do much except jump up and down at times.

Strange Blue Spheres

I was able to stack some vertically, before they fell and bounced around. These spheres are one of several mysteries in New Venice. I will leave you to find the rest.