This paper presents the CITYCLUSTER project, a virtual-reality networking matrix, in a high-tech framework with original technological features, navigation, interactivity, graphic, and content style, in which multiple environments, ambiences, and cities, both real and imagined, can be hosted, coexist, and be interrelated within themselves through a common virtual territory. It can be interconnected by high-speed network, enabling remote participants to access, interact, and collaborate in shared environments and work together in a common virtual space over distance in real time. The framework can be expanded and modified in accordance with the digital environment to be incorporated. Meta-Net-Page, a virtual-reality collaborative networking tool, was designed and implemented ad hoc for CITYCLUSTER.
“From the Renaissance to the Megabyte Networking Age” is the first CITY-CLUSTER virtual-reality networked application, which offers visitors a thrilling interactive journey, from the Renaissance to the Super Broadband Networking and Electronic Age. Florence represents the “Renaissance Age”, Chicago the “Gigabits Networking Age.” Each virtual city is inhabited by a group of avatars: David, Venus, and Machiavelli in Florence, and Mega, Giga, and Picasso in Chicago.
The implementation of CITYCLUSTER has given rise to a range of technological challenges, which in turn have revealed innovative aspects and salient features relative to content management, the development of juxtaposed virtual environments, networking interactive techniques, avatar design, architecture, and virtual effects. A series of special features and enhancements have been added to the software Ygdrasil, to satisfy content and quality levels of interactivity. In consequence, the Ygdrasil system was further refined as software tools that aid the rapid and intuitive development of interactive virtual environments for artists and other nontechnical users.
The CITYCLUSTER project is primarily designed to run in the CAVE and on the AGAVE (Access Grid Augmented Virtual Environment). It can run either locally or through remote networking in both SGIs and the Linux platform.