Roland Vilett was a former software developer for Active Worlds software who began working from 1995-1996. Mr. Vilett later became lead software developer during his tenure following departure of original lead software developer Ron Britvich. Roland won a Lifetime Achievement award in the first Cy Awards ceremony in 1998.
During his tenure, he has overseen the development of several major milestone versions of Active Worlds software, from 1.3 to 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, and finally 3.3. He held popular Tech Talk events with the community. Roland eventually retired in 2002.
Roland passed away on June 9, 2015.ref
Roland's retirement party was held on May 31, 2002, in AWUniv world to a crowd of ~50 users.
Due to the massive length of the retirement chat log, only Roland's chat and relevant questions prompted to him will be cited.
Roland: hey this will be the biggest tech talk ever Roland: I'd better say right from the start that with this many people, there's no way I'll be able to answer everyone's questions! :) Roland: and I assume that it goes without saying that telegrams and whispers are out! digigardener: Roland maybe give us a bit of your history in this [medium]? Roland: won't that be boring though? :) Roland: it's almost 7 years of stuff! digigardener: you started sept 6, 1995 Roland: that is right..the day after labor day Roland: started my new job at a funky little dot com called "Worlds Inc." Roland: they put me on this project called "Worlds Faire" that used this weird 3D software they called "alpha tech" Roland: that some programmer that nobody at the company liked was working on Roland: they told me, "well, the last 3 guys that tried to work with him quit...so now you get to try!" Roland: and so I met Ron Roland: aka Protagonist Roland: needless to say, I was somewhat apprehensive...new job and all...scary programmer to work with.. Roland: by that point Ron had been working on AW for just over six months or so, and [[AlphaWorld]] had just opened a couple months earlier, near the end of June, 1995 Roland: when I "immigrated" as we called it back then, and got my citizenship, I was the 679th person to do so Shorah: I thought it was still called immigration? Roland: I thought we called it "registration" now... Roland: heh, call it whatever you want :) Roland: the AW client was just a small 3D window, no menu, just a title bar and a chat field Roland: and one world, AlphaWorld Roland: so I started timidly to work on the AW code a bit...learn Ron's style...which was interesting Roland: of course I wasn't allowed to call him directly Roland: we had to set up management-mediated conference calls Roland: but after a few weeks of that, I guess Ron decided I wasn't a complete dork so he started talking to me directly Roland: and we wound up hitting it off pretty well Roland: pretty soon I was working on the client and he was working on the server Roland: and we kept going like that for about a year and a half Roland: we put out a bunch of new versions with lots of new features, back in those days we had new versions every week Roland: there was hardly any code yet so it was easy to add new stuff without worrying about breaking anything Roland: (unlike these days) Roland: and AW was all free, btw, so there were lots of people using it Roland: of course, it made the threat of losing your citizenship for being a jerk not a very big threat Roland: so we had a lot of pretty bad behavior back then too as I recall... Roland: but anyway... Roland: in about January '97 Worlds Inc. ran out of money Roland: they decided to cancel the AW project and lay me and Ron off Roland: that's when Danny Viescas (aka Talak of Kanagra) got together with Rick Noll (aka E N Z O) and decided to try and buy AW from Worlds and start a new company Roland: which they did Roland: they hired me and Ron to keep working on it, and by March 1997 we were up and running again as Circle Of Fire or "COF" HenrikG: Danny and his wife did the first objects and avatars I think Roland: yes that is right Danny and his wife Lynn worked for Worlds as artists, they did some of the earliest objects and avatars for AW Roland: so we went on like that for a little while Roland: unfortunately, it turned out that not everyone was getting along Roland: within COF... Roland: so there was a big fight Roland: and Ron and Danny wound up leaving Roland: I don't know the details of the disagreement and probably never will Roland: as I was not involved Roland: I believe JP, aka Cryonics, joined COF then, or a few weeks before that Roland: so now it was, let's see...me, Rick, JP, and Shamus Roland: dang I'm probably forgetting someone it was so long ago Roland: and actually Ron continued to work for us as a consultant for almost another year after that Roland: he didn't leave completely until summer of '98 I think i was, about when we had our first "reunion" in Las Vegas Roland: oh wait, I forgot something Roland: uh oh...crash! Roland: that's the first time AW's crashed on me in weeks... Roland: of course it happens now Roland: uh, anyway Roland: so later in 1997, COF started running out of money too Roland: seems like world servers weren't selling as well as we had hoped Roland: so that is when the $20/year for a citizenship started Roland: which made enough $ to keep AW going Roland: dang! another crash Roland: what the heck is going on Shorah: roland, maybe more beta testing next time? Roland: I dunno Shorah, we've been beta testing 3.3 for weeks with no crashes Roland: if the testers have been crashing they haven't been posting it to the beta ng! Byte Me: I hadn't crashed since that "fix" Roland... don't look at me :P Byte Me: *prepares for crash* Roland: neither have I Byte... Roland: well I turned on debug logging...that usually fixes it :) Roland: man, what a lousy piece of software...who wrote this anyway Roland: i better hurry and finish, no telling how long I can stay in here... Roland: ok so anyway, after that I worked on AW a lot and we put out new versions, the end Roland: seriously though...it was around mid 1998 when Hamfon joined us as a full time programmer Roland: his help was invaluable in getting a lot of the new features in, especially AW 3.0 which was a huge and difficult rewrite of AW to make use of 3D hardware acceleration Roland: it was during this time that, unbeknownst to me, Shamus was quietly teaching himself C and learning the code Roland: so then Shamus started hacking on the browser and adding new features which he would show to management, and then they would call me up and say "why don't we have this? Roland: so then we had AW 3.1, with the move and rotate commands, and the light command Roland: and many other things since then Roland: and it was last year that 9 9 9, also known as MrGrimm, or Will, joined us full time Brock: Roland is it true that you own the patent to ActiveWorlds? Roland: Borck: lol no Roland: Brock even Roland: there is no patent on Active worlds Strike Rapier: are you sure? Roland: no Strike there is not Roland: don't confuse patents and copyrivhts Rossyboy: Roland, are you planning to move to other projects? Roland: sorry rossy, too much chat to keep up with...as to my future plans, currently I have none Roland: i'd like to, you know, get another job or something Roland: work on some cool software Roland: yeah but hopefully I can take a little time off first, which isn't hard to do in this job market... Roland: yes send all crash and bug reports to 9 9 9:) Byte Me: Roland... get into the MMORPG market :) Roland: uh, tried that Byte :) Roland: ok now im running under the debugger...if it happens again ill be ready! Roland: i still have 90 minutes left of my job here...maybe I can fix one last bug before I go TheTraveLer: Roland_are_they_gonna_let_you_keep_your_cit?.com Roland: TheTraveler: I don't know, I hope so King Brian K O: You quit or was let go ? Roland: King Brian: it was my decision to leave AW Rossyboy: Roland: have you seen Cyboria yet? Roland: no Rossy I have not, except for screen shots Brock: Why Roland, tell us the truth :P Roland: well, it's a long story... Roland: suffice to say, I decided it was time for me to try something different Goober King: Save it for the interview! I need *some* exclusive material! :D Roland: oh sorry Goober :) Roland: I'm getting several telegrams and whispers a minute here, can't answer them, sorry! Roland: the story on skinned avatars is, they are supported in theory in 3.3, in practice Mike and Hamfon are still working on the best way to make them Roland: so hopefully they'll get that worked out soon and then write some help files about how to make them yourselves HamFon: Yeah, the code supports them, we're coming up with samples and help and instructions - and fixing any bugs we find Roland: it's tricky Roland: ok I figure out how to fix the crash bug...just run under the debugger Roland: (I'm secretely hoping that by saying that now I'll crash...) Roland: so before I go, I did want to say a big THANK YOU to all the citizens of AW, who have supported me and AW over the years Roland: I know it's been a rough ride...but we're still here! Roland: despite all the naysayers over the years...everyone who said "AW is gonna die real soon"...here we are, 7 years later Roland: you guys have been great, of course AW would be nothing with out its users Roland: in fact our user base and community have always been the envy of all the other online 3D ventures... Roland: yes I will visit AW as long as I have a cit Roland: i'm sorry if I couldn't always add that special feature you wanted...or drop everything to come look at your weird bug :) Roland: it was tough sometimes, there are so many of you and so few of us :) Roland: i know some people have expressed concern about my departure, but... Roland: just remember, there are a lot of very good programmers in the world, most of them better than I am... Roland: so I'm sure AW will continue to live and grow long after I'm gone... Roland: it's sad, for once I don't know what to say Roland: oh yeah...I remember what I wanted to say...sorry about all the bugs :) SWE: wait, roland, can u eject me? so i can be the last person ever ejected by yoy lol Roland: i can't even remember the last person I ejected...probably Eep lol
Following his departure from Activeworlds Inc., he went on to work in different places such as on Maxis development team for The Sims and SimCity 4.