Variable regions come to OpenSim

Folks disappointed with the standard 16-acre region size can now have variable-sized regions in OpenSim, as long as they are comfortable running experimental code, and are using the latest viewers.

Those using the official release of OpenSim, will have to settle for megaregions for a while longer, however, as well as anyone using older viewers.

Today, there are variable regions up and running on OSgrid and Virtual Worlds Grid, but the implementation isn’t always easy, since this is still experimental code.

Virtual Worlds Grid founder Myron Curtis, for example, is still working at getting them to work right.

“The instructions at seem incomplete,” he said.

He plans to have twelve varregions on his grid, each one 16 times as large as a standard region.

A variable region with mesh terrain by OpenSim developer Michael Emory Cerquoni — also known as Nebadon Izumi in-world.

A variable region with mesh terrain by OpenSim developer Michael Emory Cerquoni — also known as Nebadon Izumi in-world.

How they work

Varregions were originally developed as part of the Aurora-Sim fork of OpenSim, before being adapted to work with mainline OpenSim by Intel developer Robert Adams.

A varregion must be a square multiple of a standard region. So, for example, you could have a varregion that is the same size as two-by-two regular regions, or three-by-three, or four-by-four — all the way up t0 32 by 32. That means that a region can be as big as five miles — or eight kilometers — on each side. Or, to put it in another way, 1,024 regular regions — or 16,000 football fields.

It’s possible to load standard-sized OAR files into larger varregions — the instructions are here.

To create a varregion, you first have to install the experimental “master” version of OpenSim, then create a new standard region and reconfigure it as a varregion. OSgrid users can also download a version of OpenSim preconfigured to attach regions to OSgrid.

OSgrid region owner Scott Taylor has done just that, as he described in his post on the OpenSim Virtual community on Google Plus.

“After creating the region, I then shut down the console, modified the Regions.ini file to match the size I wanted, and started things back up again,” he said.

To visit the varregion, use a late-model viewer. Currently, the Singularity viewer is the one that’s recommended for varregions and other latest features of OpenSim as well as the latest Kokua viewer release. The latest version of Firestorm for OpenSim, 4.5.1, was released in October, and may not yet have full varregion support.

Comparing varregions and megaregions

Both varregions and megaregions allow OpenSim users to create larger regions. Both allow only sizes that are multiples of standard regions. Both allow easy vehicle use with no border crossings.

However, megaregions are a hack designed to work around viewer constraints inherited from Second Life, while varregions are built into the core of OpenSim, which results in a number of advantages.

“Megaregions worked by taking advantage of the fact that parts of the Linden Lab viewer implementation allowed regions larger than 256 by 256,” OpenSim core developer Justin Clark-Casey told Hypergrid Business. “However, many other bits required for proper support were missing, which is partly why OpenSimulator had to do very messy hacks.  It also suffered from various other bugs both because of this and deficiencies in the server side implementation.”

For example, he said, there were problems when users try to teleport to other parts of a megaregion other than its “root” region.

Varregions aren’t limited by viewer constraints — as long as the viewers are new enough that they support them — so any bugs that show up are fixable, he said.

Should you use varregions?

According to Clark-Casey, varregions will be part of the next official release of OpenSim, 0.8, but are not included in the current official release, which is

He recommends that most users avoid them until 0.8 comes out.

“We are still in the process of working out regressions originating from a recent merge of unrelated code,” he said. “And varregions themselves are likely to still have issues.”

Until then, he recommends that only developers and testers use the experimental varregions code.

After OpenSimulator 0.8 is released, Clark-Casey says that users should opt for varregions instead of megaregions whenever possible.

“However, if one needs to provide access to older viewers then you would have to stick with megaregions,” he added.

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

18 Responses

  1.' Sarge Misfit says:

    FireStorm has had var-region capability almost since they were introduced in AuroraSim. Its been my main viewer since I first began using AuroraSim. Angstrom is also var-region capable but it appears that work on it has been discontinued.

  2.' nextreality says:

    But what is not mentioned here is when you change to a Var Region you will not only as mentioned have to use a dedicated viewer but you will have to use the Bullet engine and ODE will not work on Var.

    •' Joe Builder says:

      Regardless whats in place, ODE is still the preferred engine for vehicles and mega regions for larger land mass. People with static objects may use Bullet.

      •' Hannah says:

        I’m beginning to prefer WhiteCore (formerly Aurorasim), though there are -of course- stability problems.

        Varregions is nifty now that I have a feel for it, but BulletSim is just too, too resource intensive.
        Mega-regions I don’t seem to be able to make work for love or money.

        Of course, the scripts I have tend to work the best on opensim/ODE -but running around a 256m is no fun at all.

        This is just my personal experience, of course.

        •' Joe Builder says:

          Lately myself have noticed changes in Mega Regions. I have used them for some number of years now with out a issue. Lately with the Bullet introduction to the mix I have noticed many issues in stability. At this point I do not know what to do, Being I run my regions on my home PC. Sadly I don’t want to think about giving everything up, I can’t and won’t use Bullet and Var regions being like you said its very resource intensive when you add prims.

  3.' Jonny Vayro says:

    Thanks for the post, and thanks to paying attention to the post I made before asking for a little info on this subject.
    Naff respeck!

  4. I’m on Event Plaza at now running var region, BulletSim and async bullet physics. It works impressively well. I hear there are still issues around chat distance and terrain changing, amongst other things, but those aren’t too hard to fix with time.

  5. Also, I’m there with FS 4.4.2, so it appears that FS has supported this for quite some time.

    •' hack13 says:

      Yeah when Skidz Tweak and I were working on the now defunct AuroraScape, we begged them to add support for it. They appeared to had forked the code from Angstrom at the time.

  6.' BSpiritor says:

    My feeling is that Robert Adams has done some great work -on both Bullet and Varregions -both better vehicle physics and useable region areas which aren’t ‘postage stamps’ are what has frustrated me with OpenSimulator since 2009 or so.
    -I know people want a variety of experiences in VWs – those two have been paramount to my desires, all along. I’m heartened that OpenSimulator has become a lot more ‘immersive’ ( for those avatars like moi, at least )…than it was, languishing as a ‘poor sibling’ to SL for so darned long. If I could dance worth a damn -I’d launch into a bloogy ‘n blues – happy music, mind you. 😉

    •' Hannah says:

      Kinda weird to remember that a lot of us once settled for 1024sqm (or even 512sqm!) lots. I think it would be a challenge to settle for that again!

      Robert Adams has done some great and remarkable work -and var-regions have the potential to be a real game-changer; that’s for sure!

  7.' George Walsh says:

    It’s features like this that can make OpenSim more appealing than Second Life.

  8.' Myron Curtis says:

    thanks Maria, you solved my problem by pointing out that we need the Master Git on the developers site, not the Opensim 7.6.1 that is currently on the downloads page. I now have 12 regions named Ultralarge through Ultralarge 11, and they are 2048 x 2048 each.

  9.' Myron Curtis says:

    Now I need a way to automatically divide those VarRegions into 1024 x 1024 parcels without doing each one by hand and not getting all of them exactly the right size.
    We also need a web based viewer developed along the lines that Pixie Viewer was developing, so people with phones, iPad and other tablets can get in and have a decent experience.

  10. There’s a varregion on Craft now — called Sandbox Test — and it’s the size of nine regular regions: