Revisiting Stagecoach Island

by matthiaszander on 24/02/06 at 2:50 am

Stagecoach_island1paulie Femto created a forum thread yesterday discussing Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach Island project that began using a version of the SecondLife viewer, and has since migrated to ActiveWorlds.  As a former ActiveWorlds user myself (I played during the beta period in mid-to-late 1996 and again from 2000 til 2005-ish), the move interested and shocked me quite a bit.  The ActiveWorlds I had known hadn’t had its graphics engine upgraded since its early beta phase in the mid 1990′s.  Its camera control was utterly horrid, and scripting was almost non-existant, as there was no native scripting language built into the client.  According to the forum thread, though, Stagecoach Island was running in an ActiveWorlds universe (AW uses "worlds" instead of sims, that are grouped into "universes," or clusters of servers that can teleport to one another and have unique citizen sets) that was running the ActiveWorlds 4.1 client, while the main universes were all running the ActiveWorlds 3.7 client still.  I decided to go check it out, as ActiveWorlds Incorporated had long been promising a major graphics upgrade in version 4.0.

Instead of an improved graphics engine, I found a visual train- (or, more appropriately in this case, stagecoach-) wreck.  ActiveWorlds had the same jerky movement system as always, with the same movement and camera controls. 

Stagecoach_island2Stagecoach Island itself in ActiveWorlds is very much like it was here in SecondLife.  In fact, much of the content is ripped straight from the build that the Bedazzled team did in SL for Wells Fargo.  For example, in the games area, there is a skydiving pavillion.  I decided to check it out, because I’ve always loved skydiving in SecondLife.  Much to my surprise, the first thing I saw was a skydiving launcher that looked just like Cubey Terra’s.  I then saw the parachutes – also just like Cubey’s (which were featured in the SecondLife version of Stagecoach Island, but I wouldn’t think that he completely licensed them for use in ActiveWorlds, as well).  The functionality was quite different, but the models and texturing were quite similar, which is made even odder by the fact that the prims we in SecondLife know and loved are utterly useless in ActiveWorlds.  Instead, objects made in programs such as 3DS Max must be uploaded to a server that functions as an "object path" to that entire world.

Stagecoach_island3Another example of content being ripped straight from SecondLife is this shopping area.  There are two more stores, one on each side, that are out of the picture here, but this perfectly resembles a shopping area in the SL version that featured designs by retailers such as Mistress and Torrid Midnight and Aimee Weber.  It’s now been replaced with a system that allows you to replace components of your avatar with "clothing" that you "buy."  I should mention now that your avatar at Stagecoach Island is much more customizable than a normal ActiveWorlds avatar.  You can change skin tone, eye color, hair color, as well as your clothing.  In the normal AW universe, this is not possible.  From seeing how the avatar and the server react when you change clothing, I’ve come to the conclusion that to mimic SL’s use of clothing layers, the people who took Stagecoach Island into ActiveWorlds made every single possible combination of clothing and avatar customization and uploaded it to the object path.  I say this because every time you or someone else changes clothing, it has to re-render the entire avatar, including their geometry.  The object path is literally loading a new model and texturing it every single time.  In the picture above, I’m also demonstrating what Stagecoach Island calls "Funkydance," but what many clubbers in SecondLife would recognise as a common freebie.

Stagecoach_island4Stagecoach Island has probably done more to advance ActiveWorlds since moving there than AW has done in the past eight years on its own.  Working vehicles that weren’t just teleportation devices have always been a developmental problem in ActiveWorlds.  Stagecoash Island crossed that barrier, featuring cars, motorcycles, jetskis, snowboards, and "magic carpets."  ActiveWorlds has always had issues with avatar customization.  Though not done in the msot efficient way, Stagecoach Island provided for some level of customization.  Unfortunately, so much more could have been done for Stagecoach Island in general had they not made the move to ActiveWorlds.  instead of helping themselves by staying in SecondLife, where things such as working vehicles are seen as mundane, they moved to ActiveWorlds, where they are far ahead of the norm.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see many normal AW residents move into Stagecoach Island at least part of the time, once they learn of its existance.  They, like many who come to SecondLife straight from ActiveWorlds, will be fascinated with the scripting capabilities, vehicles, customization, and camera control.  Congratulations to Wells Fargo for advancing an obsolete platform to where it’s only a few years behind SecondLife (yet another semi-obsolete platform when it comes to some areas).  Even larger congratulations to ActiveWorlds Incorporated who managed to draw in Wells Fargo and convince them to do what they could not – make ActiveWorlds something worth paying attention to, even if it’s not in the main universe.

8 Responses to “Revisiting Stagecoach Island”

  1. Clickable Culture

    Feb 24th, 2006

    Wells Fargos Island Relocation Irks Second Life Contributors

    An experiment by financial giant Wells Fargo in the virtual world of Second Life has come to an unfortunate end. The companys Stagecoach Island advergame project launched last September, but never moved beyond its testing stage in Sec…

  2. Urizenus

    Feb 24th, 2006

    Hmm, so not only did SL content creators get ripped off, but an SL competitor got about five years of catch-up technology for free. Isn’t that special. It’s one thing for the Lindens to not care about their customers — defending the IP rights of their customers might require cutting short their hourly fattie breaks. But letting a competitor bend them over and drill them like this takes a special kind of Cluetrain derailment.

  3. TrannyPet Barmy

    Feb 25th, 2006

    “scripting was almost non-existant, as there was no native scripting language built into the client” – maybe so, but the API that AW did/do supply allowing for gameworld< ->realworld interaction was/is by far superior to anything than that which SecondLife offers even now !!

    Haha some when earlier this decade, i got banned from AW to ………… for supposedly hacking it, though after explaining what i’d written had been misconstrued by one of the residents as being hacking, heh my ban then came in for getting flamed so much over the issue, posting volumes so large that their servers were struggling to deal with it LOL. God all i did was write some poncy world entrance port scanner.

    Have to admit, the publicity it got was funny as hell though. Mainly becuase of the ‘FIC’ kind of equivalent in there. In this case, all the ‘known’ coders’ not liking to get knocked off their perches of ‘eliteness’ because of some one doing something they hadnt !!

    But yeah, point being, AW’s supplied API is by far more advanced than anything SecondLife currently offers. From the days when i was in ActiveWorlds, what i remember was it wasnt so much objects that you’d sell, people would just build because they enjoyed it, not to make cash. But, if you wrote a good program with the API, you could sell that for loads. I only got to exploring about 1/2 of the API prior to getting banned, but from what i could tell, the whole thing was geared at the programmer being able to extend their world to do almost anything they wanted(something that SecondLife certainly doesnt allow for, they don’t seem capable of writing such an API, due to the fact they are already clearly incapable of even writing a simple scripting shell capable of interacting safely with their own universe with out leaving themselves wide open to attack)

    Downfall for most SecondLife scripters though …… in order to use the AW API they’d have to learn a real language, a compiled language, instead of writing cotton wool bud enforced LSL ;)

    TrannyPet Barmy
    The REAL ONE

  4. Reed

    Mar 13th, 2006

    Does anyone know how the created the AW objects? Did they just recreate them from scratch to look identical, or did they somehow export the SL objects? If so, how?

  5. Alexandre Rafalovitch

    Apr 12th, 2006

    I bet what happened is when SL implementation developed cracks due to other residents being able to cross the grid and/or transfer the money, somebody pulled the plug.

    So, there was a management meeting somewhere and the big boss said: “I don’t care what engine we use, I just want all the same look at behaviour tranferred over. And I want minimum changes.”.

    Hence, the ripped textures, same animations copied over (probably recreated). And when techies are told ‘just do it’, they might mention legal issues of content-copying, but will proceed to do it.

    It would be interesting to hear technical aspects of the transfer if whoever did has changed the job/company since…… Some of the things, I would have thought, were not easily possible without heavy hackers tools or total recreation.

  6. Your

    Apr 15th, 2006

    Just made AW is gonna get fame. Pfff.

  7. Video of Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach Island on Active Worlds

    by: Ilya VedrashkoSwivel Media released a video preview (file hosted at Swivel Media, .wmv, ~9Mb) of the new version of Wells Fargos Stagecoach Island that has recently been moved to ActiveWorlds. image: screenshot of the Swivel Media&…

  8. Video of Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach Island on Active Worlds

    by: Ilya VedrashkoSwivel Media released a video preview (file hosted at Swivel Media, .wmv, ~9Mb) of the new version of Wells Fargos Stagecoach Island that has recently been moved to ActiveWorlds. image: screenshot of the Swivel Media&…

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