World Building – A Test of Preview4

April 29, 2010

Today’s Wonderland Wednesday World Building session served three purposes: to help people learn some world building techniques, to start the process of creating of a new Wondertown community space, and to test the build candidate for Open Wonderland v0.5 Preview4.

The group decided at the end of the session that the build was just about ready to release. Two of the major bugs – the web server hanging problem and the terrible flickering on Windows clients – both seemed to be resolved. A third fix, to improve the way turning gravity on and off behaves, wasn’t quite right, so Jonathan is going to take one more stab at fixing that before creating the final Preview4 release in the next day or two.

In terms of the session itself, we began with a Wondertown Planning Board meeting, brainstorming about the layout of the “town” and the types of content we might want to include.

First Wondertown Planning Board Meeting

First Wondertown Planning Board Meeting

We also reviewed some world building tips, including:

  • Look for “blue ribbon” models in the Google 3D Warehouse – these tend to perform well in Wonderland
  • For best performance, only use models that are 1MB or smaller
  • For models that do not include a .kmz download link, download the most recent SketchUp version and then use File –> Export –> 3D model to save as .kmz.
  • Most SketchUp models look best when you uncheck “Lighting Enabled” in the “Model Component” property sheet
  • Use the Top Placement module to quickly arrange models
  • Use the “Details” pane in the Edit tool palette to precisely place models

We then broke up into three groups, each working on a different type of content. The “Higher Ed” team spent most of their time learning and practicing world building techniques, so they didn’t get too far along on the design of their space, but they did find a nice university building to experiment with.

Beginning of Higher Ed team's space

Beginning of Higher Ed team's space

The “Space” team got started on a Solar System simulation, finding models of all the planets and placing them the correct distance apart. They made good use of the Poster module for labeling the planets.

Start of a Solar System simulation

Start of a Solar System simulation

The “War Room” team found an interior space to use as a war room and placed it on an island in an isolated mountain terrain. They used the Poster module to hang a sign above the door.

Entrance to Wondertown War Room

Entrance to Wondertown War Room

They also used the Top Placement view to move around the terrain so that the building was centered in one of the lakes.

Top view of Wondertown War Room

Top view of War Room

This yielded a nice view out of the windows.

War Room interior with view of mountain terrain

War Room interior with view of mountain terrain

In under two hours, the group made a great start on building out Wondertown. We saved a snapshot and will periodically do more group building sessions to continue to develop this new virtual space. Others are more than welcome to join these follow-on sessions. Please visit the events portion of the Open Wonderland Facebook page to find announcements of these and other events. If there are groups of community members in either Europe or Asia who would like to participate in a world building session, let me know and we can arrange some sessions at more convenient times.


Wonderland Wednesday World Building Session

April 27, 2010

This week’s Wonderland Wednesday session will be a bit different from others. Taking an idea originally proposed by community member Morris Ford, we’ll be using the newest version of Wonderland to work together to build “Wondertown.” I’ll start things off by running a short brainstorming session on how best to organize the space and then I’ll providing some tips on finding models from the Google 3D Warehouse that perform well in Wonderland. After that, the group will break up into teams of two or three people and each group will work to create a piece of Wondertown. I don’t expect that we’ll finish the project in one session, but I’m hoping we can get a good start.

We have started using Facebook to organize Open Wonderland community events, so please visit the Wonderland Wednesday event page for the complete announcement. We’d appreciate it if you could RSVP so we have an idea of how many people to expect, but you’re always welcome to join even if you didn’t RSVP.  If you plan to join us, please download and install Google SketchUp if you do not already have your own copy.  Also, we ask that everyone participating also join the #wonderland chat channel on This enables us to communicate with everyone in case we run into any problems or need to make any last minute server changes. For example, if we have too many people interested in this session, we’ll start up another server and break into two groups.

Immersive Education Boston Summit

April 24, 2010

Nicole speaking at the Immersive Education Summit in BostonI gave a rare in-person talk yesterday at the Immersive Education Boston Summit. Robin Heyden wrote up the first day of the conference, including a detailed summary of my talk in her blog article Immersive Education Summit (Day 1). My favorite part of the talk was the Q & A session where members of the audience chimed in to answer many of the questions asked. It’s exciting to have so many members of the Wonderland community gathered here.

Tonight we’ll be having our first face-to-face Open Wonderland Foundation board of directors meeting. And tomorrow I’ll be doing an extended demo and Wonderland World Building workshop as well as participating on a Future of Immersive Education panel.

If you’re interested in hearing what’s going on live at the conference, follow the Twitter hashtag #iED.

Wonderland Bicycle Game

April 22, 2010

An undergraduate student team at the Computing Science Department of the University of Alberta just developed a game in Wonderland to help with the rehabilitation of children with Cerebral Palsy.

Bicycle-controlled game
Screenshot from bicycle-controlled game

They have instrumented a special bicycle with SunSPOTs to control a collection game in Wonderland.

Bicycle instrumented with SunSPOT and Wii Remote

Bicycle instrumented with a SunSPOT and a Wii Remote

Bike controls avatar in the game

Pedalling the bike moves the avatar forward. Turning the handle bars with the Wiimote steers the avatar.

You can see a video of their demo at

This is part of the SmartCondo project, an interdisciplinary project among Computing Science, Rehabilitation Medicine, Industrial Arts and Design and Pharmacy at the University of Alberta and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

For any questions, please contact the team leader, Eleni Stroulia (

Upcoming Springtime Wonderland Events

April 13, 2010

I realized after I gave a talk in the Smarter Technology series, that I should have blogged about it ahead of time so people who were interested could sign up to attend. So in an effort to tell you about things before they happen, here are some upcoming Wonderland-related events:

Wonderland Wednesday – Drag and Drop Applications
April 14, 2010 – developer-focused session
Wonderland Community Server

Immersive Education Boston Summit
April 23-25 at Boston College, Boston, MA USA
Multiple Wonderland talks, including my keynote on the 23rd

MetaMeets 2010
May 7-8 in Dublin, Ireland
I’ll be doing a remote talk – schedule TBD

I would be particularly happy to see as many of you as possible at the Immersive Education Summit in Boston. Not only will I be there in person, but almost the entire Open Wonderland Foundation board of directors will be attending. The program is filled with Wonderland-related content. In addition to my keynote talk, Professor John Belcher from MIT will be talking about his use of Wonderland in physics education, Michael Gardner will be giving a talk on three Wonderland projects that he’s involved with at the University of Essex (MiRTLE, SIMiLLE and +Spaces), and a student from Aizu University in Japan will be describing his work on a new music browser for Wonderland. I’m particularly interested in learning more about the work going on at the IAVANTE Foundation on immersive medical training. Finally, there will be “Wonderland Behind the Firewall” workshop.

If you are able to attend the MetaMeets conference in Dublin, please let me know. I’m looking for someone to help “drive” Wonderland during my talk.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, either in person or in Wonderland, in the coming months.

Wonderland Wednesday – MTGame Walkthrough

April 7, 2010

Join other Wonderland developers in an informal walkthough of the MTGame code. Wonderland Wednesday sessions are intended to help bring developers up-to-speed on the existing Wonderland code base. As preparation for these events, it’s a good idea to download your own copy of the source code.

MTGame Walkthough

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
6:16pm EDT
(translate timezone:
Location: Community Server
RSVP: Facebook Event Page
irc:// #wonderland

Please note that we are now using a Facebook Event page for RSVPs. It’s helpful for planning purposes to know how many people will join.

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