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Virtual Real Life

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Everyone's read Snow Crash. If you haven't, stop what you're doing and read it right now. I'll wait.

The Metaverse is not a new concept as such - there are countless 3D systems around that provide one thing or another; some focusing on gaming, some on accurate Virtual Reality. VRL will go one step further and integrate all of these into a slightly different architecture. Like the Metaverse VRL will be one giant world, with different rooms hosted on computers around the planet, so by traversing from one room to another in the virtual world you are actually changing from computer to computer as well. Aside from the more distributed architecture VRL will also provide scope for defining the world you inhabit just like you would the real one, by allowing inhabitants to create and interact with their own objects, sharing them with others, utilising them (think motorbike) or throwing them at someone else. VRL will also enable node owners (people running a room) to define the very physics of the areas they create. Of course there will be defaults probably closesly following Earth characteristics but it will be possible to define the result of any conceivable action in the virtual world.


VRL borrows a bit from both schools of network architecture: conventional client-server and peer-to-peer. From the user's perspective he will connect (using his client program) to a server which will be hosting The Street, or wherever it is he is authorised to start. As he progresses from room to room he is transferred between servers automatically. This eliminates point-of-failure problems since even if The Street goes down or is compromised the player can join at any location he can enter - usually his house (which would be hosted locally) or any public area.

The underlying protocol is called OBEX (OBject EXchange) which deals with the very heart of the system. It takes responsibility for moving objects around the system so that every participant can render whatever it is that the player has created. This leaves the servers (or main nodes, or whatever) free to run the mechanics of the world, the laws of which are contained in the room's "Definition File". Similarly with objects, they can be created to appear and operate exactly as the player wishes.


Well, Snow Crash of course. Actually I got the idea for this before I read the book but I doubt anyone would believe me. The object-definition part came in fact from Quake with the innovative Quake-C system. For VRL this is extended so that definitions are owned by the client and not statically defined on the server.

Well I'm still designing/coding the basics at the moment so this page will get ignored and out of date most of the time. Hopefully also this project won't be competing too much with VRSpace, another 3D world project on SourceForge.

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