Undersea Observatory for OpenSim
I’m close to finishing an underwater simulation in OpenSim to help teach students about marine biology. I’ve been working on it for a couple weeks now, and it’s been interesting and fun to create. In this sim, students become underwater explorers. They board a submarine and take a trip to an underwater lab, which contains a classroom, observation rooms, and exhibits about marine life.
There’s two missions students will undergo. The first is to explore the ocean. After an orientation, students put on a deep sea diving suit and go out and walk around on the ocean floor, and participate in a scavenger hunt to locate, identify, and photograph different biological specimens using the viewer’s snapshot tool. The second mission involves the students creating their own posters about marine wildlife which are then added to the virtual world for the benefit of future visitors. Adventurous students may even be given the ability to texturize, script, and build their own undersea animals. This way, the sim will continue to build on itself as more students use it, and later visitors will enjoy the effort students have put into it. Since I hope to use this Underwater Observatory as part of a larger virtual world system in our school district at a later date, I believe it’s important to use a constructionist approach when designing our educational sims, where students are the main content creators rather than the teachers. Our teachers don’t have the time to create elaborate regions, so we need to encourage students to “Leave it better than you found it!”
The amazing thing is most of this has been created with freebies. OpenSim has a constantly growing repertoire of good, free content available on the web, which I was able to use. For example, the undersea building itself was created with Tube City. Much of the plant life and some furniture is from Linda Kellie’s collection, and some other components are taken from Universal Campus. There are other pieces from OpenSim Creations, too, and a lot of the details I created myself, such as the lights, the diving suit, the fish swimming around, and the squid. There are some other little easter eggs as well, such as a treasure chest and a shipwreck which the students may come across, and the squid will [harmlessly] follow around anyone who comes within 20 meters.
I’ve been trying to get Ferd Frederix’s blue whale to work in OpenSim, too, but have been having limited success. Apparently sculpties can’t use the llMoveToTarget() function in OpenSim yet. But normally this would be one of the other reasons OpenSim is such a great choice as an educational virtual world: there are thousands of free LSL scripts for Second Life, and most of them work quite well in OpenSim. Since teachers and students may not have the time to become master scripters, there’s often a script for anything they need that they can just “plug in” to what they create. There’s also plenty of tutorials to help those interested learn how to do it.
There’s still a few things I want to add, and I’d like to fill out more of the rooms because some of them feel a little empty. I still haven’t created a decent submarine to take students to the lab. I was originally going to use Garry’s Beaumont’s fantastic Submarine Nebuchadnezzar, but I’m taking a crack at building my own. Vehicle support is limited in OpenSim due to the physics engine, but I think I can come up with something that works decently enough.
As soon as the sim is finished, I’ll post the OAR files for download here.
UPDATE: 2012-02-27 – I’ve thrown up a few more photos of the work, including the vehicles created for the sim. The Deep Sea ATV is quite fun, but needs a more open space to really go wild. To reach the observatory I ended up deciding to give each student their own “personal submarine” that works as an attachable vehicle, rather than a single giant submarine to take everyone there. I did this for a couple reasons. Although I’m packaging this sim as one region, for my own usage I’m going to plan on everyone traveling across a couple underwater regions to get to the observatory. Physical vehicles can’t cross regions, and I don’t want to force megaregions on the OAR, so an attachable vehicle was the best solution. Crossing multiple regions to get to the sim will help make the descent a little longer to build the anticipation, and help mask the fact I had to raise the sim’s water level higher than the rest of the grid. Plus it’ll be cool to see a fleet of mini-submarines swimming around.
I’m extremely close to being finished now, and have just a few things left to accomplish: Making sure my jellyfishes and squid stay within their boundaries, figuring out why my jellyfishes keep falling (even though their buoyancy should be set to keep them afloat), preventing the squid from flopping around wildly whenever it follows an avatar, and adding videos and informational material to the kiosks in the lobby.
This entry was posted by Justin Reeve on February 19, 2012 at 8:24 pm, and is filed under Miscellaneous. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.
Can’t you attach the sculptie to an invisible prim and animate that? Stupid question likely.
Kate: That’s what I thought I was doing, and it still wasn’t working. As soon as I swapped the sculpties with ordinary prims, things started moving around (though still not exactly as they were supposed to, but that’s a matter of bug fixing). But now I’m wondering if I was doing something obviously wrong, like placing the script in the wrong prim, because you’d think that SHOULD have worked. I’ll have to take another look at it, because I REALLY want that whale.
fantastic build and wonderful science exploration! =)
[…] the “thing” that pointed out to me that content is no longer such a limiting factor is this great article written by Justin K. Reeve about a marine bilogy build he is nearly done with – Undersea Observatory for OpenSim […]
i did have a question – did you raise the default sea level for this build?
also, sorry about your comment getting caught in spam and thank you for dropping by to leave a note – it’s a really great project you have going on =)
It’s no problem. I probably accidentally didn’t check the “I’m a human!” box or something. And thank you for the kind words.
Yes, I did raise the sea level up to 40.
I haven’t decided yet on how to implement this into the normal sea level of 10 in most regions. I figure I’ll probably just raise the land of the adjacent regions to match it, but that’ll seem kind of funky in the rest of the sim. Another option could be include a few intermediate ocean regions that have gradually increasing sea levels, with sparse islands and water waves to mask the discrepancies between regions so it’s not as noticeable.
Hai Justin, I placed waterfalls for the difference in height.
The kids really enjoy your underworld!!
greetings from Holland
Waterfalls at the edges is a super idea… I was going to try some sort of raised cliff edge on 8 adjacent essentially void sims. but waterfalls WITHIN the single sim sound like a much better plan. Did you create a modified OAR with that included Marita?
looks like a great build and great edu resource.
We have been thrrough a similar dilemma with our build of the sunken Titanic ( even worse actually as it is 100 ms tall ) with 14 associated land regions around it.
After much experimenting including raising surrounding regions by editing mysql tables we decided the best option was to set the seabed at a negative value in our case -80 though this has left us with a problem that if using npc s they rezz at 0ms and so need a clear path to drop down to required position and when you region cross to the adjacent sim at same depth you are forced up to zero.
If you would like a look its in osgrid in the belfast regions at
Superb Justin…. and your web site is working fine now. Thanks for checking things. Blog post that mentions your Undersea Observatory at http://blog.inf.ed.ac.uk/atate/2013/05/14/fish4knowledge-pavilion-and-underwater-observatory-in-second-life-and-opensim/
I did have four “Jellyfish” and @Blue Jellyfish” report as going out of bounds and being made non-physical on first sim startup (on latest OpenSim 0.7.6 dev master r/22735 May 2013). I saw the submersible on the surface landing area “for sale” to give all students their own vehicle for the trip – nice. Will I find the diving suit somewhere when I look around?
I found the diving suit… 🙂
I admit the jellyfish do have some issues, and I haven’t had a chance to fix them all yet. Sometimes they don’t move around at startup either, though if you reset their script they should work.
OpenSim 0.8.1 can cope with negative Z levels… hence water on a marine sim like this can now be made at 20m, the Second Life and OpenSim default, and you can “dive” below 0m into negative territory. The Firestorm viewer supports this reasonably well except for using some tools which impose a 0m Z base.
There is a function to shift all objects on a sim by an x,y,z offset which I successfully used to move my 40m water level regions down to the z”normal” water level of 20m with a 0,0,-20 offset. Then just adjust the region water level.
I was reluctant to use negative Z levels originally, but as you said, it does sound like they’ve improved support for it recently. This would be ideal to make it match other sims.
After the next few months I should have some time to do a lot more sim development, so hopefully I’ll have the time to revise and improve this sim, and work on some other OpenSim projects I’ve had in the pipeline as well. I’ve really been itching to do so lately.
Here are a few images of our underwater region using your OAR shifted down 20m and having a sea level of 20m and sea bed at -20mm
Found you trying to chase down a license for this OAR.
I’ll certainly add the blue whale. It’s finally swimming in Opensim. The one we had in Second Life swam continually for 4 years and made 3.5 scale trips around the “real world”. It needs to be in this.
Thank you so much for making that whale! I love it, and can’t wait to see it working and moving around properly in OpenSim for myself. The way I did it was kind of a simple whale-circles-the-map type thing by attaching it to another object.
Love the observatory OAR. Thanks for making it available. I use it with my university ESL classes, and students enjoy exploring and discussing the sim.
I have a question: Do you by any chance know where to find a current copy of the Tube City building kit? I have a couple of ideas for other builds, and it would make a great basis.
Thanks again for the observatory.
Thank you. I’m glad people are still using it! I don’t know where to find the Tube City, but I’ll email you the one I have!