Park University Faculty

Virtual Reality Worlds

In taking Nova Southeastern University's CISD 792, I learned graphics theory, and I learned a cool graphics language, VRML, that helps you to create virtual reality worlds. VRML stands for Virtual Reality Modeling Language. This page describes two of the VRML projects that I submitted as part of the homework for CISD 792. To view the projects, you'll need to download and install a VRML viewer. I recommend that you use Cortona, a free VRML viewer that can be downloaded from

Lighthouse on a desolate shore

The first project describes a lighthouse on the shore of a desolate mountainous island. VRML animations, such as the movement of the ocean waves and the revolving lighthouse beacon, are created with JavaScript. I created the mountains' 3-dimensional data points with a Java fractal program. Here's a snapshot of the world's initial view:

Lighthouse on a desolate shore

To fully experience the lighthouse world, you'll need to install a VRML viewer, like Cortona, and then load the world. When you're in the world, you should:

  • Turn on your computer’s speakers. From anywhere in the world, you should be able to hear the sound of wind. When positioned at the initial viewpoint, you should be able to barely hear the lighthouse horn.
  • Turn the viewer to the right about 45 degrees so that you see the right corner of the shoreline bluff.
  • Move toward the corner until you are 3 or 4 wavelengths away from the shore. As you approach the shore, notice the sound of waves crashing.
  • Turn to the left so that you are facing the lighthouse.
  • Move toward the lighthouse until you are right next to the lighthouse lantern (lantern is the formal term for the cabin area that houses the beacon light).
  • As you approach the lantern, notice that the lighthouse horn’s sound increases in volume. You should continue to hear the other 2 sounds – the wind and the waves crashing.

Drilling Operation on Io, Jupiter's volcanic moon

The next project describes Jupiter's volcanic moon, Io, in the year 2035. Io has huge oil reserves beneath its molten lava surface. President Jeb Bush and the United States government subsidized the Exxon Mobile-Bush Corporation to "drill baby, drill" on Io, and they established an oil drilling operation there. Because of the splattering lava, Io's surface is uninhabitable. Thus, the residents live on a platform above the moon's surface. Here's a snapshot of the world's initial view:

Jupiter's volcanic moon

To fully experience the Io world, after you've installed a VRML viewer, load the world. When you're in the world, you should:

  • Turn on your computer’s speakers. From anywhere in the lower part of the world, you should be able to hear Io's molten lava surface bubble. In addition, you should be able to hear the molten steam eruptions. The molten eruptions occur at random intervals, with an average of one eruption per second. The eruptions generate outgoing concentric circles, similar to actual eruptions. Each eruption generates its own sound, with a maximum of five overlapping eruption sounds. The eruption sound volumes are inversely proportional to the distance from the viewer.
  • To view the lower world, either fly with the user controls or select one of the first four views.
  • After exploring the lower world, select the fourth view ("For walking and using the elevator").
  • Move close enough to the elevator so that the open button becomes activated.
  • Click the open button and walk in the elevator. Notice the sound of the elevator doors opening (if it's not drowned out by a loud eruption). Within the elevator, the lava bubbling sound and the eruption sounds are quieter, but still audible. Thus, from within the elevator, the closing doors should be clearly audible.
  • Walk around in order to face the closed doors.
  • To go up, click the elevator's up arrow.
  • After hearing the elevator ding at the top, click the elevator's open button to open the doors. While the doors are open, move out of the elevator.
  • Move forward to the "Begin Tour Here" sign so that the sign becomes activated.
  • Click the tour sign, which starts an automated guided tour of the upper world.
  • On your guided tour, notice how the houses and cars are more detailed when they are closer to the viewer.
  • After finishing the tour, walk to one of the houses and go inside.
  • Return to the elevator, go in the elevator, go down, open the elevator door, go outside.
  • Walk over to the platform guard rails and enjoy the Ionic scenery, but try to avoid getting burned with spewing molten lava.