Austin Tate's picture

DICE I-Room Design and Rationale

The DICE I-Room is lavailable on the VCE region in Second Life and on the OpenVCE regions in the OpenSim-based MOSES grid where a range of simplifications can be made to ease the new user experience.

In Second Life, the DICE I-Room is currently placed at 500m above an unused area of the region (VCE in Second Life) to be clear of all distractions and other objects.

Initial Web-based Arrival, Setup, Resources and Registration

A single web page at a stable URL will provide everything needed in as short a form as possible. This will be more controllable in OpenSim, with custom simple starter avatars (perhaps basic male and female with self selected colored shirts, ethnic skin color and hair).

Virtual Worlds Environment

  1. Fixed sun set at 11am (so no lights are needed and no changing arrival conditions for users are encountered).
  2. Arrival point: will be fixed for the plot so avatar arrive just outside the main meeting area and to the back of the meeting, out of normal visual direction for those already in a meeting.

DICE I-Room Design


  1. I-Room orientated pointing North for obvious orientation on arrival.
  2. Platform simply designed and colored.  Unobtrusive floor texture helps set scale and perspective. Natural textures for tables gives a natural orientation.
  3. Area is walled so avatars cannot walk over edge, but not too high to act as a hard visual barrier, so looks open and airy.
  4. Main space is 24m x 24m essentially square but with open doorway, and no roof.
  5. Text chat range is 20m... so no avatars should be seated more than 20m apart. 
  6. An outside arrival area set behind the normal visual field of seated avatars in a meeting.
  7. Table in front of avatars to give a feeling of being round the table together. Tables are solid to give a realistic environment but wide corridors make navigation simple. natural wood texture used on table to improve contrast.
  8. A separately placed sideways on "chair person" seat is available.
  9. Some observer seats are provided at the back of the room.
  10. Seats simple, all areas can be clicked on for sitting. Seats set to allow single click to sit. One simple color for seats (could be different colors for different I-Rooms to allow instant differentiation). Seating is aligned to face screens with default camera angles. Seating is non-solid (phantom) to allow for ease of navigation for inexperienced users.
  11. Clicker per avatar seat for basic interaction, voting and acknowledgement of some action complete, etc. Chairperson has clicker clearer.
  12. Compass orientation signs are attached to the walls of the I-Room for ease of orientation and reference.
  13. Plot is set to have its own voice channel and media URLs.
  14. Arrival point information board.
  15. Screens provided: See below. Frame added on screens to provide 3D depth and to ensure contrast with wall whatever content is displayed.

I-Room Screens
Four screens are available for the I-Room as exemplars of what can be made available.  Each can easily be removed, resized, repositioned or replicated (R4) for example to put more screens on other walls or provide more functionality such as maps and posters. Howvere, it is envisaged that in productive use it is likely that only two screens chosen from this set may be visible on the main display wall.

  1. Screen to show the main (single) media URL for the room, which can be programmatically controlled by room objects and a menu in the screen, including use of previously created bookmarks. This includes video (prerecorded per user view, synchronous viewing media and live streams), web pages, images, etc. A second mode allows for preloaded images to be shown if required. Using the open source FreeView control script as improved by the OpenVCE project.
  2. OpenVCE project created presentation facility supported by a web upload capability for presentations for individual avatars is available as a possible alternative to (a), or alongside it. This screen also repeats the functionality of (a) if desired. See
  3. A static images presentation screen for reloaded images, with simple controls for selection of images. As provided by the OpenVCE project.
  4. An example "Shared Media" screen for a wide range of applications where shared screens are required.  This can be used for shared whiteboards, etc.  Each user sees the view as logged in by their own credentials. The shared media screen presents a menu bar that can be used to change URLs and to allow users to individually change to and from "flat on" viewing, See

Build I-Room for DICE

An OpenSim Inventory Archive (IAR) is available to load a DICE style I-Room into the inventory area for an OpenSim avatar.  It can be loaded to the top level of your inventory ("/") via this OpenSim console command:



Austin Tate's picture Community Portal Web Site Design

These are notes to guide the design of the web site both in visual and activity support terms.

Site Structure consists of:

  1. a web-based Community Portal (CP) for asynchronous collaboration, communication and for creating and sharing of assets and resources [after some experimentation and discussion (see and, a Drupal-based system augmented by a range of modules, and with the addition of MediaWiki is used for this element]
  2. virtual world 3D Spaces to support a range of types of meetings, events, training sessions, and possibly real missions [Second Life and OpenSim environments are used for the element]

An overall style, colour palette, logo and text font has been adopted and used across the collaboration portal and the 3D Spaces. See

However, more work is needed to integrate the style, and give a clean simple approachable set of facilities, with a clean and conceptual basis for distribute collaboration.

Cognitive Input

Jeff Hansberger, an experimental psychologist, and project manager for the Virtual Collaboration Environment project has provided input from several perspectives:

  • Cognitive Work Analysis (CWA) for Distributed Collaboration and some analysis of the fit of functionality on the community portal to the CWA - see
  • The principles of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing can be seen to underlay the appropriate use of a range of collaboration tools.  See
  • This is closely allied to the work flow of an "OODA Loop" (Observe, Orientate, Decide, Act) which is a basis for technical support being created for the virtual collaboration environment - see
  • A set of standard operating procedures (SOP) and "protocols" for virtual collaboration are under development by related projects, and should guide the development of the collaboration portal elements in the VCE and on  See and
  • The following diagram influenced by the Cogntive Work Analysis shows the relationships between work elements for distributed collaboration, and facilities and tools. They should be reflected in the design and layout of the site.

Visual Style and Layout

Experiments have taken place with a number of layouts, with a generic 3 column Drupal style sheet being used:

  • Top main links (and potentially drop down menus)
  • Left hand navigation
  • Central main contents
  • Right hand "context"

A test area is available for experimentation with styles that is not working on the live site.

Input has been provided by Jeff Hansberger at - he would prefer to see a simpler layout following three areas (Current Activities and Awareness, Coordination, Communication) with greater space for the main content, and with fewer navigation buttons, and to have them placed along the top of the page (Ning Style).  Some attempt has been made in the current front page (especially) to address this.

Mobile Access

It's also critical to make sure the site is designed with mobile access in mind. Eventually, the programme manager would like to see specialised iphone and mobile access apps but until  then, the site itself needs to be easily accessible through mobile browsers.
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