Aesthetic World Visions

Version 1.1
for
Windows 95/Windows NT

Copyright 1998, Aesthetic Solutions, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.


R e l e a s e    N o t e s

Release Date –4/29/1998


Use and distribution of Aesthetic World Visions™ 1.1 is subject to all terms and conditions detailed in the associated license agreement.


Welcome to Aesthetic World Visions™!

Thank you for downloading and installing Aesthetic World Visions™.
We strongly recommend that you read all of these Release Notes before using the tool.

Aesthetic World Visions™ is the first in the Aesthetic Visions™ family of VRML compatible, Virtual Reality (VR) authoring tools. Aesthetic World Visions™ is unlike any other VR or VRML authoring tool you may have used in the past. This is because Aesthetic World Visions™, like the other tools in the Aesthetic Visions™ family, is built over a unique, “component-based” VR authoring technology that was designed to make VR authoring easier and more efficient.

You do not have to be an expert in VRML or any other programming or modeling language to use Aesthetic World Visions™. Aesthetic World Visions™ allows you to use prefabricated components-with-behavior to generate and configure virtual worlds in minutes. These components are templates that contain 3D models, textures, behaviors, and other special forms of information. This approach allows you to work at a very high level to assemble and configure animated virtual worlds using simple point-and-click logic. Aesthetic World Visions™ does not expose you to low level details such as scene graphs, scripts, or nodes. World Visions’s pre-fabricated components hide these details while providing you with an easy-to-use interface for controlling component and world content and configuration. Even if you have no 3D graphics, VRML, or programming experience you will be able to construct animated virtual worlds. Try it and see for yourself.

Free Upgrades and Support

Should you decide to purchase Aesthetic World Visions™ 1.1, all upgrades through version 2.0 will be available free of charge! This ensures that you will be kept up to date with all the latest features and we are continuously adding new features. Aesthetic World Visions™ 1.1, for example, represents a major improvement over 1.0 and 1.01 and is available as a free upgrade to all 1.0 and 1.01 registered users. As a registered user, you will also be entitled to low cost upgrades to both Aesthetic World Visions™ 2.0 and Aesthetic Component Visions™ 1.0.

Also, free email technical support is available to all registered users of Aesthetic World Visions™. Simply email your support requests to support@aesthetic.com. We don’t know how much longer we can continue this but for the time being, we are providing this service to you at no charge. Take advantage while it lasts and feel free to send us your comments and ideas for future releases. We do listen to your ideas.


Remove Old Versions Before Installing

It is absolutely essential that you remove (de-install) any older versions of Aesthetic World Visions™ before installing this release. This will ensure that you have the latest versions of all libraries and resource files. This process will not delete any world files you have and Aesthetic World Visions™ 1.00 and 1.01 world files will work with Aesthetic World Visions™ 1.1.


Importing Models and Adding Components

    Importing VRML 2.0 models with ComponentMaker

We understand that some of you do not want to be limited to the use of prefabricated components created by others. To address this, we have provided you with a tool known as ComponentMaker. ComponentMaker allows you to import 3D models that have been created by third party tools such as modelers and automatically turn them into components that can be used with World Visions. The current release of ComponentMaker will import VRML 2.0 models, turn them into components, and attach standard move and follow_path behaviors. Future releases of ComponentMaker will support additional import file formats. ComponentMaker can be used as a stand-alone utility or can be accessed directly through World Visions (Select “Import Object …” on the file menu).

ComponentMaker is still evolving and does have some limitations. While most VRML 2.0 geometry nodes are supported, ComponentMaker will not import VRML 2.0 models with any of the following node types: 1) Sensors, 2) Sound nodes, and 3) or Extrusion nodes. ComponentMaker will also not copy textures and thus any textures used in an imported model must be manually copied into the geometry directory (You select this directory when you do an import - the default is the “<tool installation directory>/Resources/Geometry” directory). ComponentMaker will continue to improve and new file formats will be supported in future releases. Please feel free to contact us at info@aesthetic.com if you have any suggestions on features or import formats.

    Creating Components with Aesthetic Component Visions™

If you want complete freedom to create new components, our forthcoming Aesthetic Component Visions™ tool will allow you to import and augment models or to build components from scratch. With Aesthetic Component Visions™, you will be able to control every detail of component content, including geometry, textures, behaviors, and attributes. Aesthetic Component Visions™ Beta 1 is currently being tested by a limited group of handpicked testers. Following Beta 1 testing, a Beta 2 will be made available for free download to the general public. If you are an experienced developer, like to tinker, and don’t mind being exposed to low-level details, you will want to take a look when it is available. Aesthetic Component Visions™ will come with the latest version of World Visions and thus Aesthetic Component Visions™ users will have a complete VR development solution with VRML 2.0 compatibility. Check our web site at www.aesthetic.com for the latest information on Aesthetic Component Visions™.


Exporting Worlds for Use With VRML Browsers

    Exporting VRML 2.0 Worlds

Aesthetic World Visions™ 1.1, like versions 1.00 and 1.01 before it, comes with an exporter that supports a compliant VRML 2.0 export format. Once you have constructed and saved a world, simply chose “Export World …” from the file menu and select a destination folder. We recommend that you create a separate folder for each export. We are still looking at ways to optimize export for different environments and we will continue to provide new and increasingly efficient ways to export for VRML 2.0 browsers.

    VRML Browser Quirks

We have expended great effort to maintain compatibility with the popular VRML browsers including Intervista WorldView, Cosmo Player, and Microsoft’s VRML browser. Despite the international standardization of VRML 2.0 in 1997, however, VRML continues to be an evolving technology. Our extensive use of VRML’s EXTERNPROTO construct, in particular, has caused problems in some VRML browsers for which we continue to produce work-arounds. In World Visions 1.1, you will notice that the exporter now supports 2 VRML export formats (with and without EXTERNPROTO’s). The default and most compatible mode is without EXTERNPROTOs, but feel free to experiment and report incompatibilities to us. We are absolutely committed to providing a VRML 2.0 compliant export format and we are eager to know about such incompatibilities. If you encounter incompatibilities with your browser, please let us know and we will work with you to come up with a solution. Like many of you, we are committed to VRML so feel free to commiserate with us at support@aesthetic.com.

    Navigator/Communicator Cache Problems

If you are using Netscape Navigator or Communicator and experience a crash when loading a world, try flushing the cache. A problem sometimes arises because these browsers cache the EXTERN PROTO files associated with VRML 2.0 worlds which sometimes prevents proper initialization of scripts embedded in the PROTOs. We have not yet encountered this problem in Explorer.


Changes & Improvements In 1.1

Where do we start! There have been so many improvements since 1.00/1.01.

    Component Library

The standard component library has again been expanded and now includes our first brand name character, “Viejo Joe”. There has been some compaction of the library, as well. The standard shapes have been reduced to only box, cone, cylinder, and sphere and their textured equivalent. The fixed color variants of these shapes (e.g., box_blue, box_green, etc) have been removed. You can set the color on any standard shapes and World Visions 1.1 will automatically replace old fixed color variants with a standard shape with the correct color set when detected in an old world file. New animations have been added to several components as well and you can expect to see lots of new animations now that Component Visions is in test.

    Better Animation

All animations and the path following behaviors now use internal interpolators for both smoother animation and better compatibility with browsers. You will find that the animation and follow path speeds are now much more consistent with the VRML browsers. You also have much better and smoother control over the speed of each animation.

    New Object Editing Interface

The old object editor has been broken up into at least three separate editors: 1) The Object Appearance Editor, 2) The Object Behavior Editor, and 3) The Object Link Editor. The Object Appearance Editor controls all object settings related to the size, scale, orientation, and center as well as special attributes related to text, color, or textures. The Object Behavior Editor controls all settings related to object behavior activation and parameters. The Object Link Editor control all settings related to url’s (i.e., a link to a web location) associated with an object.

    Object Appearance Editing Improvements

There have been a number of improvements related to editing object appearance. You can now set an object’s center of rotation in the Object Appearance Editor (you could only previously do this using a manipulator). You will also see a list of any appearance attributes an object has in the Object Appearance Editor. You can select any of these attributes from the list and edit it by clicking the edit button. We are planning to add many additional appearance attributes in the next release of World Visions so that you will have a great deal more control over individual object appearance even if they are all created from the same component.

    Object Behavior Editing Improvements

The Object Behavior Editor is brand new and designed to make it much easier to configure behaviors. The editor contains a tree in which all behaviors are shown at the first level with related attributes or behavior parameters shown under each behavior. You can activate a behavior by simply double clicking it or by selecting the behavior and clicking the activate button. You can edit behavior parameters by double clicking them or by selecting them and clicking the edit button. You will also notice that turning on some behaviors automatically causes other behaviors to deactivate. This is because we now have rule logic working inside the tool. Rules allow behaviors to have relationships such as mutual exclusion. For example, a character is not normally allowed to walk and run at the same time. Thus the walk and run behaviors have a mutual exclusion rule and when one is activated, the other is automatically deactivated (if active).

    Right Click Menu in Tree View

In the tree view (i.e., the Production List) to the right of the main viewing area, you can now right click the mouse to get a handy popup menu that allows you to do most actions without having to access the main menu. This popup is context sensitive and will show choices appropriate to the object currently selected (if any).

    Better Control Over Texture Quality

Although this feature is only useful within the tool itself, you now have finer control over texture quality. To adjust the texture quality, select “Texture Quality …” from the World menu. Since most of you will not have much if any texture acceleration in your hardware, you might consider setting this down to 0.1 (a setting of 0 will disable textures) which will greatly speed things up.

    Better Transparency

The transparency model used within the tool is much better than in versions 1.00 and 1.01 and gives a much more realistic transparency effect. Load the jewel component to see the improvement.

    Dialog Context Switching

The various editor dialogs, with the exception of the Object Generator which is still modal, now automatically select and highlight, as appropriate, the entity being edited when you have several open and you switch between them on the fly.


Changes and Improvements in 1.01

    Component Library

The standard Aesthetic World Visions™ component library has been expanded slightly and now includes basic shape components (“box”, “cone”, “cylinder”, and “sphere”) whose color can be set. These will eventually replace the fixed color basic shape components (e.g., box_blue, etc) but were left in for compatibility with 1.00 worlds. We have also changed the standard ground component to have a color attribute that can be set and added a textured ground component (“ground_image_texture”) whose texture can be set.

    Importing

A very basic VRML 2.0 import capability is know integrated into the tool. It can be invoked by selecting “Import Object …” from the “File” menu. This is a temporary capability that allows you to select a VRML 2.0 file and create and install the necessary file and registry entries for use as a component with the tool. The import capability wraps the geometry in the necessary constructs and attaches the standard “follow_path” and “move” behaviors. This function does not instantiate an object into your world; you must use the object generator as you would with any installed component to do this. We will also be providing a standard alone tool based on this import capability on our web site. In the future, this capability will be greatly enhanced and more geometry file import formats will be supported, Watch the web site for details.

Hints and Tips

Performance Tip: If you are running on a really slow machine with no graphics acceleration, you might consider putting the tool into “no texture” or even wireframe viewing mode while you are working, To do this, simply right click the mouse in the world viewer and a pop-up menu will provide you with a number of options.

Interactive Online Tutorial: Check out the interactive on-line Aesthetic World Visions™ tutorial on our web site (www.aesthetic.com). This informative tutorial can be viewed over the Internet, so you won’t have to download it onto your hard disk before using it. The tutorial demonstrates the features of Aesthetic World Visions™ and provides a quick, easy way for getting started using Aesthetic World Visions™.


Add On Libraries

We will soon release add-on component libraries for Aesthetic World Visions™. Check our web site for availability. Also, if you have models that you are interested in contributing, please feel free to contact us at info@aesthetic.com. We will be starting a developer/contributor program with the release of Aesthetic Component Visions™.


Limitations and Open Issues

    Slow Loading

Our current world loader can be fairly slow, particularly when you are loading large, textured worlds. If you find the watch cursor on for a long time during a world load, be patient, the tool is not hung but merely processing the world definition with all it’s complex nested prototypes and geometry. Improving the performance of the loader is a top priority for us. Version 2.0 will make use of a fast loading binary format to speed things up.

    Cut and Paste

Not currently supported, but scheduled for the next release.

    Bad Open GL Drivers

Unfortunately, there are some bad Open GL drivers floating around. We have found that when some of these drivers are installed under Windows 95 at the time that Aesthetic World Visions™ is installed, Aesthetic World Visions™ will crash when first run. To address this, the installer now installs a known good set of drivers into the tool directory itself. This allows Aesthetic World Visions™ to work with known good drivers while preserving any existing GL drivers in the system directory for use with other applications that may require them. The downside to this is that you must currently have separate installations for Windows 95 and NT. If you experience any problems at all, please let us know at support@aesthetic.com.


Don’t Hand Edit the Resource Files!

Aesthetic World Visions™ uses a proprietary, VRML based format (i.e., .arl files) to store and retrieve information internally. You can monkey with exported VRML 2.0 world files to your heart’s content, because these files are not imported back into the tool. Whatever you do, however, please

Do not hand edit any of the files used by the tool internally.

This can result in a severe corruption of your world files, so please resist the temptation!

Enjoy And
Please Let Us Hear From You!

Web Site: www.aesthetic.com

Support Email: support@aesthetic.com

Information Email: info@aesthetic.com