Current edition: Vol.5, No.1, January 2002

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3.3 Sneak Peek
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Sneak Peek Into Version 3.3!

We know you are all anxiously awaiting the release of the highly anticipated Active Worlds browser version 3.3, so we thought we'd give you a sneak peek of some of the cool features that we are hoping to include in the new browser!

  • Terrain: This is a complex new feature that allows worlds to have continuous ground objects generated on the fly by the browser itself from a grid of elevation points. Using terrain, worlds can have mountains, valleys, and everything in between. This feature uses a "continuous level of detail" algorithm that can render large landscapes in real time by concentrating more polygons up close to the viewer where more detail is needed, and fewer polygons farther away.

  • Privacy improvements: The privacy and contact list mechanisms have been significantly overhauled in 3.3 to greatly increase the amount of control and customization available. In 3.3 it is possible to set a variety of options for each citizen on your contact list, including:

    • Hide or display your online/offline status
    • Hide or display the world you are currently in
    • Accept or block telegrams
    • Accept or block join requests
    • Accept or block file transfers
    • Automatically "mute on sight"

    In addition, default values for all of these settings can be set from the Options/Settings/Privacy dialog. The maximum number of contacts on the contact list has been increased to 500. The maximum length of a telegram has also been increased from 255 to 1000 characters.

  • AFK mode: In 3.3 you can enter AFK or "Away From Keyboard" mode to let the other people on your contact list (those to whom you have exposed your online/offline status) know that you are currently running AW but have stepped away from the computer or are otherwise unable to respond to telegrams at the moment.

  • Direct3D 8 Support: 3.3 includes a new video mode for native Direct3D 8 support. D3D8 brings dramatic performance improvements; frame rates can be as much as twice as high as 3.2 on modern "Transform & Lighting" 3D video cards such as the Geforce or Radeon, and even older video cards show a significant performance boost under D3D8. However, D3D8 mode does not work well on some older video cards (especially ones whose manufactures have not provided D3D8 drivers) and users with those cards will probably have better luck sticking with the old Direct3D 7 mode (which will still be supported in 3.3.)

  • 3-axis object rotation: you've always been able to rotate objects around the Y axis while building (by pressing the PgUp and PgDn buttons.) In 3.3, by popular demand, it's now possible to rotate objects around the X and Z axes as well (also known as "tilt" and "roll") allowing for an object to be placed in any possible orientation. Note that because of registry and encroachment issues, this feature will not be available in all worlds.

  • Coronas: "coronas" are similar in some ways to sprites. A corona is a transparent image that is stamped onto the 3D scene on top of an object whenever that object is visible. They are different from current sprites or "facer" objects in that their size does not vary with distance from the camera, and the entire corona is either visible or not visible depending on whether the corona's source object is currently visible (i.e. not obscured by any other object.) The primary purpose of coronas is for creating a "halo" effects on light sources.

  • Skinned avatars: skinned avatars are a new type of avatar where the avatar's exterior, or "skin", is a single polygonal mesh instead of a hierarchy of rigid clumps. This allows the avatar's skin to bend seamlessly with movement, instead of "cracking" at the joints like they do now. There is a more detailed description of this feature here.

  • Slide Detection: when you run into a wall or other obstacle, instead of just stopping the 3.3 browser attempts to "slide" you along or around it so you can keep going.

  • New options for move and rotate commands: the move and rotate commands in 3.3 support several new options that allow much more flexibility in object behaviors.


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