VR5, known as the city of Nidus, was a world originally owned and maintained by the corporation VR5 Online of New Jersey. The purpose of this world was to initiate and practice different building techniques in an open environment, while sharing the results with the rest of the community.
While many people believe it was purely a commercial world, quite the opposite is true. It was completely funded by VR5 Online, and any commercial aspects included in the 3D World only had proper permission from the respective companies for their use. The true intention of this world was to research various techniques across a wide variety of situations pertaining to a virtual world and it's inhabitants.
Some of these examples would include:
- Proper marketing strategy within a virtual environment
- Seamless e-Commerce examples with a non-truncated transition
- Use of the virtual world to access local functions of a computer
- Exploration of fully streaming media television in a virtual world
- Recreation of real life buildings via modeling from photographs
- Introducing photo realistic models into the environment
- Live Virtual Events Planning
- Testing theories related to metaphor shear
- Use of Particle effects to create the illusion of lighting
- And of course the browser test known as Metaverse EX
The original staff and participants of the VR5 world were also nominated and won the Support AW Award (2007) for "Best Use of Innovative Technology". On behalf of VR5 Online, Darian Knight received the award.
Shortly after the SAW Awards, the order was handed down from the owner of VR5 Online to close the project and move on to "phase two" of the research, which did not involve the use of Active Worlds technology. Instead of taking the news in a bad way, as if it were a funeral, it was decided to instead throw an all out bash and celebration for the closing.
On June 16, 2007, the closing party began with spectacular light shows that literally pushed the limits of Activeworlds 4.1 and entertainment lined up for the evening, ending with a final ride on Tower of Terror, where the party was held.
Behind the scenes, Darian had received a phone call from Neocube on the 11th hour to get permission to take over the world where he would be leaving off. As of June 24, 2007, the owner of the world is Neocube.
The world has an extended past as a general project in and of itself. The name itself, "City of Nidus", dates back to around 2000 - 2001, when the then-original project was located in an AWI sponsored world, Flagg007.
While much of the goal of Nidus did not change, in its original form it was not a corporate project but instead a selected build team of citizens. After many extenuating circumstances, the world was closed down and most of the original build team had left Active Worlds.
In 2005, the VR5 Online build team returned (Capri Primal, Darian Knight) under the incorporated company of the same name. The purpose being more or less what the original Nidus had set out to accomplish before being ended abruptly, but this time with more advanced concepts and tests that were previously not possible.
Following 2005 and into 2006, many tests were applied in the first year. One of these tests included an initial concert, free to the citizens and tourists of AW. With the first concert past and a wild success, (earning three separate Cy Award nominations) - VR5 set their sights on a repeat performance but using the newly released AW 4.1 browser. Making use of particle effects, they created an entire plethora of lighting type effects, stage controls, fireworks and roman candles.
A third concert was planned with another group called Myndkill to include a fully live video stream of the band playing for the exclusive crowd of the AW universe, but due to circumstances outside of VR5's control, this concert was forced to be canceled.
VR5, in its original state, was home to the first 4.1-series ride, Tower of Terror, including all of the new object types and new special effects that were not possible before. Three AWI employees also rode VR5's Tower of Terror (Flagg, Martin, and Oleyo). Both Tower of Terror and the final VR5 Bash, held June 24, 2007, were nominated for an award in Best Media at the 2007 Cy Awards. Tower of Terror made the Top 3 for its category, but later lost to tunablues.
Awards and Nominations
- Cy Awards: 4 Nominations
- Flight International Festival: Community Service
- AWExpo Award: Best of Show
- SAW Award: Best Use of Innovative Technology
- Cy Award: Best Build (Nidus Gas Station)
- AW Expo Award: Best Build
Statements from Past Owner
Darian Knight stated publicly that he himself nominated the gas station as a joke. While completely surprised that it won instead of a technically advanced lightshow (created by GSK), he does acknowledge that the Gas Station build was one of his better builds over the years, with as much detail as he could put into it. This lead to a build where the complete atmosphere of a gas station and mini-mart were achieved without using a custom model for the building.
The Gas Station was a joint effort by Darian Knight and Brina in the beginning of 2007 as one of the final creations he would make in the VR5 world before it was to transfer ownership outside of VR5 Online. The purpose of the Gas Station build was to help teach Brina the finer art of paying attention to the details when creating an environment - the theme of Gas Station was chosen because it seemed the least important to build at the time.
After winning the Cy award for the gas station, he officially moved on to a larger project outside of the Active Worlds Universe, and to devote his time and energy into bringing it to the public.
The Later Years
2007 marked 2 years of VR5 world (with renewals in July), and while the world has made many advances since it's beginning, each renewal decision was based solely on whether the team had reached the limits for the software or their capacity to justify continued testing. Failure to do so will, as always, result in the cancellation of both the world and the project in favor of other projects which VR5 Online is responsible for.
As a team, VR5 Online came a long way and survived two renewals in its effort to continually push the limits of an Active Worlds environment. But with each year it became increasingly harder to justify the costs versus output.
In June 2007, ownership of the world VR5 and subsequently The City of Nidus, was transferred to Neocube as caretaker and new owner. Within a week from that time, a majority of the volunteer team which worked in VR5 world had resigned from the project, including Darian Knight.
Up until recently, the world VR5 (City of Nidus) was considered a personal world owned and operated by Neocube for his own purposes, with a handful of original builds by the original Nidus team still on display.
The VR5 world was also the location of ASCII Memorial Park, where any and all awards earned by the team, past and present, were proudly on display.
Into The Future
Early in April 2008, Neocube officially closed the world VR5 and the City of Nidus two months earlier than it was scheduled to expire. Shortly thereafter, Keith Thomas of Planet Radio VR, and CT for AWMix02 world, promptly contacted Darian Knight (the original owner of Nidus) via Skype and worked out a plan to reinstate a backup of the ground zero area of Nidus as the ground zero of AWMix02 world.
Having Darian come into AWMix02 in order to work out the missing pieces from the backup, while polishing up some areas, currently the City of Nidus Memorial site stands in AWMix02 world.
The End of a Golden Age
While it is well known that Darian Knight was at best temperamental, and oftentimes overly demanding in the quality of design he expected from people who participated in the Nidus project over the years, little is heard or known about his full intentions for the community or his actual contributions overall to Active Worlds since 1998.
April 25, 2008 marked his final year as an Active Worlds citizen, and as his last project within Active Worlds, he originally had rebuilt ASCII Memorial Park to include an extensive memorial to every single person who had participated or inspired in Nidus since 2000, complete with a personal "Thank You" written on a plaque embedded into the ground.
Darian's Final WordsWritten here in the activewiki is the final thank you from Darian Knight, and his final words to the AW Community:
As I look back over the past ten or so years in Active Worlds, I have mixed feelings. From my very first build (The Crackerjack Club) to the original Nidus run by Gwala and then by myself and Capri, and later the resurgence of Nidus under VR5 Online, I see that there are incredibly talented people in the community.
I understand that I have held everyone to some unbelievably high standards when creating content in this system, and my scorn for lackluster performance even reached AWI themselves in their inability to produce a software package that could allow them to reclaim their status as The 3D Internet.
While my standards are unbelievably high, I was seldom disappointed with the results, as you have continually shown me unbelievable things.
But most of all, accept only the best and always try to innovate. That is why I am so proud of everyone who has contributed to Nidus over the years, and why that legacy will continue even after I have left. Accept nothing less than the best - from yourselves and from AWI.Here's to ten years and everything we've accomplished. Here's to the end of an era.
The End of VR5 Online
On Christmas 2007, VR5 Online as a company was dissolved as a joint decision between Bradley Clark (CEO) and William Burns (CTO). The decision was made shortly after the 2007 CY Awards as a result of the core team having successfully accomplished the entire research checklist as written in 2005, with no further research interests utilizing the ActiveWorlds platform. As a result, the original server was shut down in a decision to allow then CTO William Burns (Darian Knight) to move to further research and architecture planning for Andromeda Media Group. The stated purpose of this project (as seen on the accompanying website of www.andromeda3d.com) is focused on collaborative research and architecture implementation with various professionals in the field.
The full details of this project are unknown except to a small group of individuals participating in the private group, other than the working name of the architecture "Andromeda Media Universe".
As stated by Darian Knight concerning this project:
"It concerns much more than simply an architecture or building a product of sorts. Much like anything else I've worked on, there are many layers of interest and reason, with a possible new architecture being but one possibility as a goal (although most certainly it isn't my main priority). It's as much about the research and collaborative discussion of many very intelligent participants as it is about a possible tangible outcome. A lot of what goes on in the private domain of our group seems inconsequential, but then you'd have to see the whole as I do to understand that it all has a purpose, even if I haven't told anyone those details quite yet... There is something much bigger coming in the next few years, and I am trying to get the jump on it ahead of time." - Nov 28 2009