This is a historic day for Second Life, and for virtual worlds in general. IBM and Linden Lab have announced that research teams from the two companies successfully teleported avatars from the Second Life Preview Grid into a virtual world running on an OpenSim server, marking the first time an avatar has moved from one virtual world to another. It’s an important first step toward enabling avatars to pass freely between virtual worlds, something we’ve been working toward publicly since the formation of the Architecture Working Group in September 2007. These are still early days, however, so amid all the excitement, we thought it would be helpful to clarify exactly what we’ve done — and what still lies ahead.
Q: What did Linden Lab and IBM accomplish with this experiment?
Researchers from IBM and Linden Lab teleported avatars from the Second Life Preview Grid to an OpenSim virtual world.
Q: Why is that significant?
It marks the first time an avatar has moved from one virtual world to another, an event with implications for the entire virtual world industry. As the name suggests, the Open Grid Protocol used in the project enables interoperability between virtual worlds. With this experiment, we’ve taken a first step toward not just interconnecting Second Life with other virtual worlds, but other virtual worlds with one another. An open standard for interoperability based on the Open Grid Protocol would allow users to cross freely from one world to another, just as they can go from one Web site to another on the Internet today.
Q: Did you make a video of the event?
Yes we did:
You can also download the high-quality version.
Q: Can other virtual worlds move forward with this research on their own?
Yes. In fact, Linden Lab will start an Open Grid Public Beta in July, making the Second Life Preview Grid available with Open Grid Protocol support for login and teleport. This first phase of the Open Grid Public Beta is designed for developers who want to test OpenSim interoperability with Second Life. IBM will contribute back to the community the enhancements it made to the OpenSim source code to support the Open Grid Protocol. In addition, an Open Grid version of the Second Life Viewer will be available for beta participants by Linden Lab. For information on interoperability testing, visit: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Open_Grid_Public_Beta.
Q: What is the Architecture Working Group (AWG)?
The AWG is an open forum whose mission is to enable virtual-world interoperability by defining and developing the Open Grid Protocol. For more information on the Architecture Working Group see: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Architecture_Working_Group.
Q: What is the Second Life Preview Grid?
The Second Life Preview Grid is an experimental grid completely disconnected from the Main Grid, where all Second Life Residents live, work and play. Nothing that happens on the Preview Grid affects the Main Grid.
Q: Can I visit the Preview Grid?
Yes, though it requires a different Second Life client, which you can download here: http://secondlife.com/support/downloads.php. It’s important to note, Residents still won’t be able to teleport to OpenSim from the Preview Grid.
Q: Can regular SL users teleport to an OpenSim server now?
No. This experiment was conducted on a test grid under controlled conditions. Second Life users cannot currently teleport to OpenSim, or vice-versa.
Q: Did the avatar transfer any assets (skins, objects) between Second Life and OpenSim?
No assets were transferred in this experiment – only the avatar itself.
Q: When the avatar teleported between worlds, did it look the same in both places?
No, the clothes and attachments in Second Life were not transferred in this experiment. Thus avatars appeared as default, “ruthed,” avatars.
Q: Is it possible to transfer assets between Second Life and OpenSim?
Not with the Open Grid Protocol. So far only Login and Teleport have been implemented.
Q: When will Second Life Residents be able to teleport to OpenSim servers, or other virtual worlds?
We don’t know exactly. We’re working toward that goal but we’re still very much in the experimental phase.
Q: What is Linden Lab’s ultimate goal with these experiments?
Linden Lab sees interoperability as essential for virtual worlds to reach their full potential. In addition, interoperability will enhance Resident experience and the new architecture will improve scalability and stability.
Q: How will Linden Lab prevent property from being copied into other virtual worlds?
We’re paying extremely close attention to that question. We will be designing this with the Second Life community to ensure their needs are met. We want to stress that when it does become possible to move avatars between worlds, we will take the utmost care to protect the rights of Second Life property owners and creators. Linden Lab will not design a system that lets people openly violate the permissions of SL goods and take them to other worlds. We recognize that intellectual property is the engine that drives Second Life, and we are completely committed to preserving the qualities that make Second Life the unique, innovative and dynamic place that it is today.
For those of you who have more questions, feel free to stop in at Zero Linden’s weekly office hours. And if you’re a developer who wants to get directly involved, we encourage you to stay tuned for more info on the Open Grid Public Beta, which starts later this month.