domenica 24 settembre 2017

Chronicles from HighFidelity and Sansar: do they achieve the dream of....

..... WORLD BUILDERS....? (Translated with the help of

In the last week I've wore the "builder's" hat or rather builder's hat and tried to see how much Sansar and HighFidelity are actually reaching the promises of the famous video "worlds constructor" (film) that has always inspired the dreams of virtual reality enthusiasts in 2007 at the time when SecondLife was at the height of its popularity.

As you can guess we are still a long way from this goal, but the central thesis and dream of this little jewel is that it is possible to create high-quality virtual content in real time and let them experiment and actively interact with other people to whom we care, in that case probably the builder's partner.

To date 2017, it seems that there are basically two technologies that allow the first approximation of this dream:

Sansar who, in the words of the President of LindenLab, would like to

"We want to lower the barrier of entry for VR experience creation.... Project Sansar will do for virtual experiences what WordPress has done for the Web....".

That is, it would like to make it easy to write a virtual world that can be used as a sort of blog like WordPress, where content producers can spread their creations, at least at this stage there is no interactivity and co-operative construction, but the net division between "creation of content made by professionals" and "passive use by users". The experiences are in fact created on the table and then used as a showcase.

And HighFidelity built by the same visionary (also originally the creator of LindenLab, but now separated into a special project that apparently wants to do the same thing but with a quite different approach, based on the open-source philosophy, on immediate and interactive access and on the cooperation of manufacturers who can interact with each other and with their users in real time.

I have already explained in my previous post the first advantages and faults of the two settings that I can summarize as follows:".

Sansar, better value "realization of realistic and (relatively) convincing environments", worse defect "superhuman slowness in the publication procedure and lack of interactivity".

HighFidelity, best value "complete interactivity in the construction phase", worst defect "graphics engine not totally convincing".

Once we have confirmed these concepts, let's put our hat down as "worlds builders" and let's see my personal little experience of trying to publish 3D content in these two worlds.


The experimental objective is to create a PyramidCafe presence within the so-called Atlas of Sansar

I then left in Blender, creating a pyramid with a square base with walls and various textures (3 for the floor, one for the outer hieroglyphics and one for those of the inner wall). I have had infinite patience, I have produced the normal maps and specular maps thanks to the always fundamental help of this site: and the results are more or less what you've already seen in the video published a few days ago. Excellent result, but......

Censorship: La Censura
Originally published with the title PyramidCafe, I found myself the day after an email in which I was told that the title is composed of only one word violated Sansar's internal rules... Instead, I saw that many other experiences have a title, for example M2D, that violates quietly this rule, but evidently, someone has highborn friendships and me no: (

Textures:  The Textures

Only textures. png (which tend to be larger than JPEGs) and only with standard sizes 512x512 1024x1024 and the like are accepted. The nightmare, however, is that if you make even a small mistake the importer crashes in the most insubstantial way producing discomfort and frustration. I also had occasion to import the textures with an "ERROR" overlay without really understanding what was wrong and how to correct it.

The cost: The following

As Creator of the first hour I have been granted 5 free experiences until October it seems to me, but 3 free experiences are available for anyone. This is an interesting element, apart from the moral and intellectual cost of the endless hours spent trying to import the textures, it is quite simple and easy to insert an "experience".


On HiFi, I wanted to experiment with the original aspects that are not present on Sansar, first and foremost the possibility of hosting an experience on their servers. The experience is not exactly for the "bit weak" bit just as it's never easy to install an OpenSim or Minecraft server, but the results and support of the blog, HighFidelity forum has been very useful, from here you can see that HiFi is socially much more advanced. Similar requests for help on Sansar were mostly unheeded or with inadequate answers.

Server Construction:  Server construction
I managed to build a server on Amazon EC2 (Ubuntu 16.04). The experience runs even only with a 1G RAM, which is remarkable. The following instructions are followed: The following

FROM ubuntu:16.04

RUN apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y
RUN apt-get install software-properties-common python-software-properties -y
RUN add-apt-repository ppa:beineri/opt-qt59-xenial -y
RUN apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys E9A40B0F
RUN add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] xenial o2t-hf" -y
RUN apt-get install apt-transport-https -y
RUN apt-get update -y
RUN apt-get install o2t-hifi-stack-stable -y
RUN apt-get install gcc -y

RUN adduser --system --shell /bin/bash --disabled-password --group --home /home/hifi hifi

EXPOSE 40100 40101 40102 40103

 then everything starts with the commands
domain-server &
assignment-client --max 10 &

Anyone who has some familiarity with Ubuntu realizes that the procedure is quite simple (once all dependencies are known) and that very few ports are used: in particular the 40100, which is the most important.

Remember that Amazon EC2 for a 1G ram instance is offered free of charge for one year and then costs about 10-20 euros per month depending on the number of hours actually used.

I have created a total of TWO servers, one as said on Amazon EC2 and one on our opensim server thanks to the power of Docker. As said before, it's not for the weak of heart, but it's not even a more complicated experience than the one required to run an opensim or minecraft server.

Server configuration

While in Sansar everything is magically managed by Linden, in HIFI you have to become an expert and configure your servers correctly. The operations required are as follows:.

In settings you need to connect the instance with your HiFi user, and get a domain id.

It is a very simple procedure. It is my intention in the future to make special courses to explain how you do it with videos and everything else.

Domain registration 

The easiest way to access your servers is by searching for the name in the GOTO menu. To facilitate access, you need to register your domain name. The cost is 20 Euro per year, it's not essential because it is possible to access also through the id of the domain that behaves like a kind of IP. The address of' pyramidcafe' is e. g. 9ea3011515-7857-4a18-aa7c-207dbf58e14c.
It is therefore not necessary in case of financial difficulties to spend this money, but agreeing to let people enter in a slightly more complicated way.


In the best tradition of SecondLife, it is possible to ensure that only people who are part of a predefined group can enter/price/collectively be entered/build in a given domain. The cost of the group is 5 Euro per year. It is possible, however, to make the construction free for everyone.

Configuring the client as in secondlife

Although in theory there would be no need to do particular things, I found that scripts are available that allow you to use HighFidelity in a human way. In particular, it is essential in my opinion to install the following scripts:.

edit. js that you find documented on this web page, which allows you to edit objects in a creative way n human and fast, humane way
inspect. js that allows you to use your cam exactly as in second life:)

Problems with High Fidelity

Compared to Sansar there are no particular problems to import the textures and the results, even if they are slightly lower, are comparable. Check these two videos to see the differences. )
In general I have seen that HiFi is not very easy to use with the VR viewers, but there are many more' functionality' than those accessible in Sansar.

Conclusions (always partial)

After considerable trials and attempts I find myself much more comfortable with High Fidelity, I perceive that it is much more easily extendable than Sansar and allows a cooperative building. It's definitely a more mature product, perhaps because it's designed a bit early. The hope is, of course, that even Sansar will improve by removing those absurd things such as censorship of domain names, which I think is a bit artificial and arbitrary...
Neither seems too close to the original film, but between the two I think that HiFi is on the right path, while Sansar seems to get lost a little bit about making a glossy product and only suitable for professionals. We remember that SecondLife has been successful and is still a product of economic success because it was the first to allow everyone to show their creative skills.

Soon for further consideration.


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