User:Roland

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Roland has passed away.


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

Retirement

Roland's retirement party was held on May 31, 2002, in AWUniv world to a crowd of ~50 users.

Chat Log

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.

Sources

http://www.vilett.com/