Building is the Pits

Posted May 7th, 2011 by wonko

Trying to scoffold an activity so it fits into a short term means that certain details must be surfaced, processes prepared and scaffolds erected. The “builders academy” is a summary of the tutorial zone on planet Obscura and focusses on skills particular to this building task:buildacad

I made a machinema demonstrating techniques, and talking them through more regular tidy building practises, in the hope that if they do not want to read the worded instructions, they might take notice of a human voice modelling what they have to do. I am getting quite good at “multi-modal” explanations, and this is something that Virtual Worlds are particularly good for.

The idea is that cybernauts model, in 3D the readings they have taken in the field. The modelling then creates a 3D representation of the ore body in situ so they can then decide, based on researched costs and benefits, the most appropriate way to extract the ore.buildingisthepitsWe present them with a “builders pallette” of the objects they need to complete the build – in this instance they are semi-transparent blocks that stack neatly, each representing different mineralisation readings. You can also see in the pit there is a starter grid, centred on the ore body, so they can start building from there without having to worry about aligning, scale and have an idea of extent and scope. Each pit has a “spoils” area to one side, so that later when they are demonstrating the mining technique they have selected, tehr eis somewhere to put their mined waste – again a nice demonstration of the fact that the stuff you dig up and discard has to go somewhere.

Most 3D worlds have limits, Activeworlds more than most in some regards, but I learned some valuable lessons in highly intensive, densely packed object arrays by trying to complete the activity we are asking the cybernauts to do, myself.buildinglimit2

There is this thing called a “cell limit”, it is a PHYSICAL MEMORY limit the world, and I am guessing the rendering engine have whereby the total assets for a grid cell are limited. Each object instance, the NAME of the object, any ACTION scripting applied and any DESCRIPTION add to the storage requirements for that object. In the above screenshot you can see a rather sparse area of the world and a highlighted object alerts us to the fact that we have consumed 52% of the cell limit in that cell (you can see the cell grid in green and the current cell in red). This large cell usage can be explained when you realise there are 135 objects in that cell, most with HUGE names, most with create scripts etc.

This became a critical problem when I was testing the pit construction. Originally I had the blocks with lovely long names, and create scripts and a lovely long description in each – this meant that when I was 2/3 of the way through the building of my model, the WORLD prevented me from building any more in that cell … oops.

The solution was a re-making of ALL blocks (I changed the actual objects to be coloured and transparent in my 3D modelling program rather than do it with scripts in-world), gave them all tiny names (m1 .. m7) and pruned their descriptions down. the upshot of this is that I realise the object catalog that exists currently contains some obscenely wasteful object data – sure the names are descriptive but …

I like it that I am still learning in this project.

Meet, Greet and Orient

Posted April 30th, 2011 by wonko

After the first cybernauts entered the world, it was clear that they did not have basic world skills, so I grafted an orientation zone (modified from Scientia) with things like how to move, fly, placemark, manage config etc.ozone

We will be hosting meetings with experts – hopefully a balanced collection of mineral scientists, environmentalists and mining industry representatives – we needed a venue, so I built a sunken forum – quite like the roofline.expforum

I incorporated a Q&A wall into the structure, so cybernauts could post questions for the visiting experts to answer – this form of Q&A has been successful in the past.qawall

The forum is tiered – do not think I will bother with seats – avatars can stand overlooking a lit stage, view picture and sign displays etc, think it will suit the purpose well.

Mineral Exploration

Posted April 30th, 2011 by wonko

Cybernauts explore a mineral deposit via aerial survey, surface sample, and core samples, collecting data and observations, they need somewhere to research and conextualise these:exprest

Interactives and static displays of rock types, classification, geological processes and explicit references to activities they must perform provide some nifty scaffolding for the task.exprestover

I went for a camp – feel, to give cybernauts an appreciation for the fact that often fieldwork requires this. Included is a camp-fire talk circle where they can meet privately in groups, sample tasks and a video tut on how to perform key actions – think it makes sense – we shall soon see.

Mining Science Centre

Posted March 27th, 2011 by wonko

Cybernauts investigate “What is mining?”, and look at Copper and Zinc mining in particular, we look at ore, appearance along with the commercial application of metalswhymine

Looking at styles of mines (open-cut and underground), we investigate the commercial aspects of each, asking the question “Why Mine?”whatismining

Consultation with various stakeholders is important, the social and ethical implications of Mining are explored, along with the perspectives these different people bring to the discussion.consultation

We then explore the activities cybernauts are required to complete: “Your Mission, Jim…”missionroom

Down in the modelling pits, cybernauts use semi-transparent lego-like blocks to construct a 3d model of their field recordingsmodelbuilding

This mining science centre is now operational, time to move on to other activity centres.


Posted March 13th, 2011 by wonko

Main habitation/industrial zone now done, it is time for detailingplan

The Mining Science Centre will house instructions on how to mine, costs/benefits, social and ethical issues around mining, and is adjacent to the world connect point (ground Zero)minscienceI built a power station, mightily influenced by an iconic English one (Battersea Powerstation) and rather naughtily had a pink plastic pig floating above it whilst I built it (thank you Pink Floyd for the inspiration, and the soundtrack to this build). I have added some “smoke” from a couple of the stacks, will have to check with the client to see if it is “green enough” of whether I am allowed to make it dark and nasty.powerstationThe refinery beat me for a while, until I realised I had NO IDEA what one looked like – thank you interweb, it seems they come in all sorts of shapes, flavours (all dirty) – I decided on steel, colourbond and stacks with louvers in what in the end is an “L” shaped factory.refineryThe ECO HUT lives on a mountain, pristine and overlooking the industrial complexes below – we will look at rehablitation, ecosystem assessment, environmental impact statements and other things mining companies do before during and after the mining.ecohutDetailing can now begin – we have display boards, stuff to play with (using the in-world browser), perhaps some machinema, lighting and sfx. I also have some strategic points for “discussion circles” as I think groups will want somewhere out of the sun to go and have a private chat.

Happy that the majority of the infrastructure is now complete – plenty of room for modelling pits that cybernauts will use to construct scale models of the ore body prior to demoing their solution for mining it. Potential for rich, embedded, connected, collaborative and aligned with the curriculum learnings abound.

No idea what anyone else thinks so far … *tap tap tap* is this thing on? What do you reckon?