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VWN Resource Database: Framework
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Resource Database > Framework
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Building a Civilisation
 
There is no point in having the most technologically advanced, persistent virtual environment, with full sensory immersion?if you have no content to fill it with.

The framework of the world, upon which everything hangs. Rolling valleys, tall mountains, rumbling streams and beautiful forests?thundering volcanoes, savage earthquakes, and a cornucopia of minerals to explain the civilisations that evolved here. The framework of the land, the structure of the world, is perhaps the most important aspect of building it.


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Settlements (8)

A settlement, nomatter it's size, is far more than just a random collection of buildings. Too often, a virtual world's villages consist of five houses, two taverns, and a shop. There's no way that this can be believable. Creating a believable settlement takes a little more thought, and planning.
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Building a Believable Civilisation: From the ground up:
Stage 2: Planting the seed

The second stage in building a race, is to look at what the physical attributes are; building on the limitations discovered in the habitat from part one.

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Building a Believable Civilisation: From the ground up:
Stage 1: Finding the seed

The first stage in any project, is finding out what your parameters are - to look at the existing landscape, and see your possibilites.

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Building a Believable Civilisation: From the ground up:
Stage 3: The seedling sprouts through

The third stage in building a race is to look at the environment, at the physical capabilities of the race itself, and build on these, into the base culture they will have.

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Creating Cities
A city is central to any great civilisation, and as such, cannot be plonked down just anywhere on a map, and expect participants encountering it to feel the city is believable. A good deal of thought and preparatory work has to go into creating a settlement of any real size, that feels fleshed out enough to be real.

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Dark City: World-Building Paradigm
The 1998 film Dark City, actually may have much to teach us about building practices in modern VR. At least, after the warped minds at VWN get through with it.

Linked resource
Medieval price list
A fairly comprehensive list of the prices of various goods and services in medieval times. Useful as a guide.

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Reconstructing Cities in a Day
A computer algorithm developed at the University of Washington uses hundreds of thousands of tourist photos to automatically reconstruct an entire city in about a day.

Linked resource
What can you generally find from a city?
A fair length, but, by no means comprehensive listing of the services that are likely to be available in a city. Worth a look, it shows just how far short of a realistic city we are.



Natural Formations (13)

Much of the beauty of a virtual world, whetyher textual or graphical, coes from the natural structures and formations that abound within. Whether large, small, or near-insignificant, each adds it's own special touch to the world.

With a little research, you can soon find some amazing, believable, and realistic formations from our world.

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Concretions Thunder Eggs and Geodes
A refreshingly, relatively non-technical artical about these wierd, yet wonderful natural crystaline formations. Includes photos.

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Creating a viable virtual ecosystem
A long, lavishly detailed article on creating a full-fledged virtual ecosystem, for social or gaming environments, which players/participants would be hard pressed to throw too far out of whack.

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Creating Raging Winds in AW 4.1
This tutorial is intended to take you through the process of creating fairly realistic, windy weather in ActiveWorlds 4.1.

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Creating Realistic Terrain: Deserts
Creating realistic terrain involves more than simply sculpting out a feature and plonking it on the landscape. To truly create a believable landscape, the process of natural desert formation has to be understood, so that deserts can be created in believable locations.

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Creating Realistic Terrain: Grasslands
Creating realistic terrain involves more than simply sculpting out a feature and plonking it on the landscape. To truly create a believable landscape, the process of natural grassland formation has to be understood, else grasslands may be placed in locations they have no place being.

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Creating Realistic Terrain: Mountains
Creating realistic terrain involves more than simply sculpting out a feature and plonking it on the landscape. To truly create a believable landscape, the process of natural mountain formation has to be understood else Mountain ranges may be formed in places that simply make no sense, or worse, disrupt the sense of locations around them.

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Creating Realistic Terrain: River Systems
Creating realistic terrain involves more than simply sculpting out a feature and plonking it on the landscape. To truly create a believable landscape, the entire process of natural river creation has to be understood, so that rivers can be created that flow naturally and feel right.

Linked resource
Mineralogy Database
Links site to over 5,000 pages of mineral resources. Searchable.

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Nature?s Staircases
Nature is not neat and orderly, it is not planned and precise. Nature is a riot of randomness, of conflicting patterns, of inter-species warfare, of storm damage and regrowth. Nature does create staircases, and not just in rock. Every wood or forest of any size will have plenty of staircases, carved out by the trees. If you are recreating nature's work in the virtual, these features are both essential for authenticity, and functional for navigation.

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Recreating Rolling Terrain
Rolling terrain follows a specific pattern when viewed from the air. Anywhere on Earth, it is easily recognizable by the way it flows as a near never ending series of similar forms. Smooth, rounded ridges interspersed by valleys, leading down to deep valleys at either end.

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The Big Rock Candy Mountain
This interesting tutorial discusses carbonate lava. What's so interesting about that? Not much, except it spews out jet black, and only lukewarm...

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The colour of minerals
Interesting paper on the various causes of a mineral's particular colour.

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The Sharp Side of Emulated Erosion
Typically in VR, when we model erosive forces, we think of the smoothing effect of water. We think of smooth stones, smooth edges, and smooth cavities. We don't typically think of sharp edges and triangles. That may be a mistake.



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The lay of the land (20)

Putting all elements together, to try and form a cohesive whole.
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
GeomorphologyLandform
ntent Generation
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ActiveWorlds: The Cell-Grid
An overview of the ActiveWorlds world grid which comprises the foundation of all ActiveWorlds virtual environments. Intended as both an overview for the uninitiated, and a tutorial for those actively working with such.

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An Introduction to World Building
A look at how world design is moving forwards, propelled by gameworlds. The size of the virtual landscapes is rapidly climbing, and the cost of hand-making objects for all that space is unfeasable. We therefore have to look at other methods for content generation.

Linked resource
Building the Land
A developer?s guide to parcelling out areas ? no specific content ? just well, zoning, before the builders move in, so that everyone has an idea immediately how things should look. A critical step that is very frequently skipped these days, with lacklustre results.

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Cyber Planets: Building Virtual Worlds to Explore Signs of Real Life
In 2002, the Virtual Planetary Laboratory began a five year study to simulate as many life-supporting planets as possible, in the hope of unveiling the characteristics in common to support life. This short article summarises the project.

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Filling the Sandbox
A look at the business of Procedual Content Generation to create areas - it often results in blandness, and you still have a lot of work to do. Maybe it is time to leverage more people to make your content - the players.

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Games Innovation Database - Procedual Content Generation
The Games Innovation Database is a repository of all original innovations in computer gaming. This article looks at Rogue, the first adventure game to ever use procedurally generated content, to create its levels, and why this worked so well.

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Makers of Dusk and Dawn
A look at the ultimate future of MMOs and social VR - player generated content. Second Life have worked out they have the equivalent of $400 million dollars of creative input per year - how to leverage that kind of player drive, and grade it in a MMO?

This book is an attempt to cross-reference the techniques of mapping and charting the physical world, with attempts to chart cyberspace. All of cyberspace, from individual virtual environments, through to the world wide web, as a single cohesive whole, a second world of many worlds, for others to explore, possessing the maps to do so.



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Mapping the physical World into the Virtual
Eventually maps became digital, and all manner of computerised versions sprung up. Yet, for all the centralisation, and innovation, one thing never changed: For all their promise, computer based maps look, and function exactly the same as their printed brethren.

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NASA Data 3D Flyovers - Preview of Interactive Mars?
Non-interactive, yet dramatic virtual flyovers of NASA's two Mars rover landing sites have been created, using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's camera, and the principle behind stereoscopic 3D. Might the technology behind them, actually finally be hinting at planetary exploration in VR?

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Reconstructing Whole Worlds from Photos
There has been a lot of work of late on reconstructing 3D environments from photographs. One space agency approach does however, leave all others in the dust. An approach which allows 3D terrain creation from thousands of photographs, in just a matter of minutes.

Linked resource
Spatial Representation of a Virtual World
How do you perceive space and spatial relationships between objects in a virtual environment. Rather easily if you are setting out to replicate the physical world. But that is too easy, it loses so many of the true advantages of VR, where space is irrelevant, and every room can be a TARDIS. This article looks at mapping that kind of a mess, beginning with text worlds, where such spatial irrelevancy is at its highest.

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Stripping Australia to the Bare Heightmap
Landscape maps of large stretches of Earth - or any other planet - that can be used by world builders to create terrain for their worlds can never be too plentiful. Well, oft-times they are not plentiful at all, due to the difficulty of acquiring heightmaps, at least on Earth. Things such as buildings and plant life just get in the way.

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Using LiDAR to create maps of Earthquakes
LiDAR is a mapping tool, using lasers to create a high-precision map of the lay of the land. Researchers using it, have shown how in a huge area, disparate separate faultlines can trigger massive earthquakes.

A bit of an oddity, this book. Right from the start, it derides VR interface hardware as expensive, niche and unnecessary, insisting you can achieve everything VR is good for, with a desktop PC and a mouse.



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When Landscaping Don't Worry About Life Forms
It seems when landscaping a world, the actions of the inhabitants play less of a role than previously thought.

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"I liked that other place. There was a God there."
This is a whimsical tale of a journey into an as yet uncreated virtual sim world, an Earth in its entirety, which has been created to test the hypothesis of an Earth ?spinning with its axis of rotation in the plane of its ecliptic around the sun, its south pole always pointing at the sun.? The article goes into great depth and hilarity, but ends with a poignant note on the nature of VR worlds, which you would do well to remember.



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Plant life (7)

Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
A-Life
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For plants on alien worlds, it isn't easy being green
Industry News

Work done by Nancy Kiang of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences in New York may have a bearing on the environment within realistic virtual worlds.

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Hacked: The Mathematics of Leaf Vein Architecture
The math by which the veins of leaves are formed has been cracked. By extension, the reasons for leaf size and shape have been cracked, and equations for creating the types of leaves that would service a given plant have been laid bare. Ideal material for anyone wishing to model a realistic but not physically real, plant.

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Natural Forests versus VR forests
Whilst VR systems have come a long, long way in replicating the feel of a forest, there are still a great many elements which make up the feel of a natural environment, and which we have not yet really begun to add to a VR recreation, for many different reasons.

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Nature?s Staircases
Nature is not neat and orderly, it is not planned and precise. Nature is a riot of randomness, of conflicting patterns, of inter-species warfare, of storm damage and regrowth. Nature does create staircases, and not just in rock. Every wood or forest of any size will have plenty of staircases, carved out by the trees. If you are recreating nature's work in the virtual, these features are both essential for authenticity, and functional for navigation.

Linked resource
Trees In The Breeze
David Rosen describes his realization that foliage isn't actually completely still most of the time. What other aspects of the environment are frequently misrepresented in any VR?

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Woodland Paths
Woodland paths or walks are something often recreated in the virtual, to allow visitors to stride through the VR version of natural landscape, admire it's beauty, or aid foraging and hunting in its depths.