ScienceSim demos 1,000 avatars on a sim

The Intel-backed ScienceSim grid, running the open source OpenSim virtual world server software, ran a demo with over 1,000 avatars in a single region. Watch video here.

“We broke 1,000 with plenty of room to grow,” said John Hurliman , OpenSim core developer and Intel software engineer. “Some were real users, most were bots designed to emulate the load of a real user. They were all separate connections.”

Previously, OpenSim regions maxed out at around 80 avatars.

Intel was able to achieve a higher density by adding a new piece of software, a client manager, that sits between the OpenSim server and the users who are logging in, according to  Melanie Thielker, an OpenSim core developer and CEO of OpenSim hosting company 3D Hosting.

The downside of this approach is that not all OpenSim functions are supported in this architecture. Visitors are able to interact with one another, but can’t create new buildings or scripts, she said.

“Sending scene changes to the sim is not supported in client managers, so you can’t build or script while logged into one,” she tells Hypergrid Business. “You can interact with
other avatars, though. Client managers send the updates for the connected avatars to the sim, and multiply the sim’s updates to the clients.”

A possible use for this technology would be a concert or a large virtual conference, she said. Here, most of the visitors would be funneled in through the intermediary client managers. However, hosts and performers would need to log in to the OpenSim server directly, so that they can interact with objects, she added.

That doesn’t mean that companies can now rush out and start scheduling concerts in OpenSim.

“This code is very experimental and couldn’t be used in any non-test contexts,” said OpenSim core developer Justin Clark-Casey. “But in the long term I do believe that it could allow virtual world events with large audiences.”

For a technical overview of how this was accomplished, see this slide presentation by Intel engineer Dan Lake.

The news about 1,000 avatars on a sim was first broken by ReactionGrid CEO Kyle Gomboy last November, who, it turns out, was dead-on in his prediction.

ScienceSim is known for pushing OpenSim boundaries. Earlier this year, the grid was able to run 1,024 regions on a single server. And last year, ScienceSim’s Shenlei Winkler put over 160,000 objects into a single region, Fashion Research Institute’s Shengri La Chamomile. (Though this record was broken last December by Kai Ludwig, director of Talentraspel virtual worlds Ltd. and managers of the Wilder Westen and Open Neuland grids.)

Maria Korolov