Kitely adds VR-friendly island template

Kitely's new Evergreen Island starting OAR.

Kitely’s new Evergreen Island starting region.

Kitely released a new starting template for customers renting land, the Kitely Evergreen Island, optimized for virtual reality viewers.

Ilan Tochner

Ilan Tochner

“Virtual reality requires a high frame rate to maintain the feeling of presence without causing the user to start feeling VR sickness,” Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner told Hypergrid Business.

VR sickness, similar to motion sickness, is when your body says you’re not moving, but your eyes say that you are.

“A VR-friendly virtual world is one which is optimized to reduce the number of draw calls that are required to render it and has an environment layout that doesn’t place the user in situations that are known to cause nausea,” said Tochner. “Steps are one example of something that you want to avoid as climbing steps is a known trigger for VR sickness.”

Universal Campus by Oni Kenkon Creations.

Universal Campus by Oni Kenkon Creations.

Previously, customers had a choice of uploading their own starting region OAR file, or choosing between empty land, the OpenVCE OAR, and the Universal Campus OAR.

Former OSgrid president Michael Emory Cerquoni — also known as Nebadon Izumi in-world — built the Universal Campus OAR for the Institute of Genomics and Bioinformatics at the University of California Irvine and released it to the public in 2011. The Open Virtual Collaboration Environment dates back to 2009, and was created by Clever Zebra. And customers uploading their own OARs typically used region files that they created themselves, or a Linda Kellie OAR.

Linda Kellie's Country Cabin region OAR.

Linda Kellie’s Country Cabin region OAR.

These OAR files are not necessarily optimized for virtual reality, said Tochner.

“The freebie OAR files that are widely used in OpenSim grids were generously provided by their creators but they don’t quite suit that purpose,” he said. “They are full of prim-based content that has a much higher triangle count than the equivalent optimized mesh-based content. In addition, those OAR files usually include a large number of textures which increase the number of draw calls required to render each frame.”

Eventually, he said, customers will be able to choose from an entire library of VR-optimized pre-built regions that they can use to get started.

“Today’s update is a first step in that direction,” he said.

Customers will still have the option to choose empty land, the Universal Campus, or to upload their own OAR.

Premium mesh

The Kitely Evergreen Island OAR contains premium content from some of Kitely Market‘s top merchants, Tochner said in today’s announcement.

“Kitely Evergreen Island is an example of how a great looking world can also be highly optimized,” he wrote. “This world starts up in seconds, and requires very little CPU resources to run.”

All the content included in the Kitely Evergreen Island OAR is free, can be copied and modified, and can be reused throughout the Kitely grid. However, it cannot be exported to other OpenSim grids.

Exportable versions of the content can be purchased individually on the Kitely market, he added.

For example, Ozwell Wayfarer designed and built Kitely Evergreen Island. Almost everything included in this world is a contribution from his Kitely Market store Worlds End Landscaping & Roleplay. Zuza Ritt contributed a cabin from her Kitely Market store 21strom.

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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.

11 Responses

  1. It was terrific fun to build and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did putting it together and big thanks to Zuza, Dot and Tocy too!

    One thing that should be emphasized is that I dont think there are any other grids out there (including SL – Linden Homes? Yuck!) that are offering a 100% mesh, VR ready world to their users for free.

  2.' Ilan Tochner says:

    Kitely’s vision has always been about providing people with Virtual Worlds on Demand. This means being able to press a button to get your own copy of an optimized VR-friendly world. We’ve been enabling people to create new worlds at a press of a button since 2011, now those worlds include an option that is optimized for VR headsets.

    •' Kerry Babbage says:

      Hey Ilan, well done, we have built around the Universal Campus OAR and see the clear advantages of transferring to an Evergreen Island base as we have had problems with optimising.. also like the atmoshpere created here… so in a transfer scenario how would you suggest would be the best approach and how do we know what items and structures are suitable to take with us or purchase?

      •' Ilan Tochner says:

        Hi Kerry,

        Optimizing a world for VR requires reusing textures, meshes and scripts in such a way that keeps draw calls low and frame rates high. I wouldn’t recommend taking elements from the Universal Campus world template, which is not optimized for VR, and adding them to a world created using the Kitely Evergreen Island world template.

        There are quite a few content creators who sell optimized mesh items in Kitely Market that you can use in this world with good results. You can start from searching for “mesh” in the Structures category in our marketplace:

        Please note that if the product details don’t specify how well optimized a particular item is then click the merchant’s name in the Kitely Market interface and use the Send Message option to inquire about the item’s triangle count and the size and number of the textures used in it.

        if you want help in acquiring items that are similar in design to the Evergreen Island and optimized to work with the existing elements in it then it may be best you contact the content creators who created the existing elements in this world. The links are provided on the last paragraph of this article.

  3.' lmpierce says:

    Took a tour…The use of mesh for rocky land masses is especially welcome as this adds quite a bit of realism. The trees also look very good. They are all the same species, but vary in their height and branch density along the trunk.

    I set the graphics quality to the highest settings for everything, and the lowest frame rate was 17.5 while using Flycam and moving the camera through dense wild flowers. Most of the time, flying around with the avatar, I experienced consistent frame rates in the 20’s. The overall experience is very smooth, as advertised.

    One particularly interesting component are the flying swallows, and the very clever way they are set in motion – check it out!

    •' Ilan Tochner says:

      Hi Lawrence,

      A few things worth noting:
      1) Good computer-based VR has very high hardware requirements that are much better than the computer and graphics card you used in your test (I get much higher FPS on my own computer with Ultra settings and a graphics card that is a generation older than the baseline Oculus Ready graphics card). With an Oculus Ready setup you should be able to get FPS numbers that are 3 to 4 times higher than what you got in your test.

      2) Most VR games limit graphics quality to what in the SL-viewer would be Low/Medium graphics setting with a limited draw distance. They do so to enable the device to retain the desired frame rate. If you’re using this world on a VR device I’d recommend using Oculus Ready hardware and setting graphics to Medium/High instead of Ultra. If you do this you should be able to achieve the Oculus-recommended target of 90 FPS.

      3) The SL-derived viewers are far from optimized when it comes to minimizing draw calls. This world would have achieved a much higher frame rate on a properly optimized viewer that did things such as atlasing of textures and automatic batching of objects.

      •' lmpierce says:

        I understand. You want it clearly understood that this world is intended as optimized for VR and that Kitely is prepared to be used for VR headset virtual worlds. In the meantime, it is also runs faster (does it not?) for the majority of users not using the hardware that is required for VR. Furthermore, the quality of mesh is visually compelling… In the short run, this is an immediate benefit for everyone.

        •' Ilan Tochner says:

          Yes, exactly. This world will perform better both for people with VR hardware and for those using the existing SL-derived viewers on run-of-time-mill computer hardware.

  4.' Serene Jewell says:

    It’s nice when “optimized”, “easy”, and “beatiful” all come together in one package.