Hopping from one virtual world to another

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Thirteen months ago I published a series of blog entries about my personal view of future requirements for virtual worlds. The third was about world-to-world scenarios. In it I included the comments:

World to world teleportation
If you are in one world and send me an IM in another world saying “Bob, this is great, come here and see it,” how do you also send me an option to teleport out of my world and over to yours? SL users are familiar with this since it is the primary way of traveling great distance, but it is the world-to-world scenario that’s important here. Some questions:

  • Do I need a membership in the other world or is there a notion of guest?
  • Assuming I have memberships in each world, how are they connected so that “Nigel Paravane” in SL becomes “Tathura” in World of Warcraft after the teleport? That is, how do I deal with cross-world identity and all the implications thereof. This includes working out all avatar-to-avatar correspondences.
  • Can I bring my money with me? Does currency move or is there a common bank?
  • Can I bring my clothes with me or do I arrive naked? Do the clothes as objects transfer over or can I specify that when I enter a particular world, I just become my normal avatar there? Sometimes I might want one options, sometimes the other.
  • Can I bring more general objects between worlds? What if the request had been “Bob, get over here now and bring those slides for the customer meeting”? There are standards for representing objects in tools, in worlds and between worlds, such as Collada and X3D. Are these enough? What else is needed?

Today IBM and Linden Lab are announcing basic avatar teleportability across the Second Life Preview Grid and an OpenSim virtual world server. This work is a proof of concept and the press release explains a bit more:

To facilitate the continued development of this interoperability function, technical details will be made available to the community. The protocol interactions used for the teleport will be documented on the Web site of the Architecture Working Group (AWG), an open forum that is designing and publishing the Open Grid Protocol. IBM plans to offer the extensions developed for OpenSim to the OpenSim community, and Linden Lab plans to make the extensions developed for the Second Life viewer available as open source. To foster testing and further development, a test grid will be made available by Linden Lab.

Teleporting from Second Life to OpenSim

A rather campy Second Life meets Star Trek meets Neil Armstrong movie is available that shows the basic teleportation. Even though this involved a lot work, we’re clearly at the beginning of what we hope and need to be able to do. As the movie illustrates, no inventory is carried across this basic teleportation between virtual worlds yet. That or some appopriate scheme will follow.

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