Last update June 22, 1998.

The Tenochtitlan web site has been designed as a "companion piece" to the book The VRML 2.0 Handbook, incorporating many of the features now available in VRML 2.0, including animation, sounds, and sensors. Many of the smaller examples used in the book are also based on parts of this VRML 2.0 world. You can follow along the guided tour, as is outlined in the book, or feel free to explore on your own.

This site is also an experiment in building a large scale world in an educational context, and is an ongoing testbed for refining performance, and testing VRML 2.0.

Please read Getting Started, below, especially for information on the PC version.

About the Tenochtitlan Site and the Guided Tour
The year is 1519. Hernan Cortes, flanked by his armed and mounted Spanish conquistadors, is riding toward the island city of Tenochtitlan, center of the Aztec Empire. Moctezuma, despite a series of foreboding omens, has decided to receive Cortes and provide the hospitality for which he and his people are known. Accordingly, the Spanish entourage will be escorted about this wondrous city, as grand as Seville, and more than four times its size. And now, nearly 500 years later, we are poised to follow in their footsteps as we visit a portion of Tenochtitlan-the walled sacred precinct which is the ceremonial heart of the city.

For an introduction to the site, you might want to follow the tour, which will take you to principal viewpoints in the scene. You can do this by clicking on the pointing hand to advance to the next stop. As you navigate through the model, you will find a number of other clickable objects--icons as well as pieces of the model itself. By selecting any of these objects, you can invoke different pages in this document containing information on the history of the Aztecs, the archaeological data, a map, and the bibliographic and reference material. The headdress icon invokes pages that chronicle the meeting between Moctezuma and Cortes from Moctezuma's viewpoint. Cortes' and the conquistadors comments are found on the pages invoked by clicking on the helmet icon. (NOTE: Some of these pages are based on actual chronicles of the events, while others have sprung from the author's imagination.)

Getting Started
The Web Site (SGI or fast PC version) has been gzipped, and is 1.378 MB including sound and texture map files. Sound files are in the .WAV format, and the textures are in the .gif format. I tested this on my 233 MHz PC, with no hardware acceleration, and it works fine--once it downloads.

The Web Site (slower PC version) is now up. It is subdivided into three smaller subworlds that can be downloaded one at a time, but the overall content will be the same. I turned off the two point lights and just used the headlight, so the lighting isn't quite as nice. 32 MB of memory is recommended for PC viewing, as well as having colors set to 16 bit or better. Set your monitor to 800x600 for a reasonable resolution. Using 8 bit color mode will produce an "interesting" but inaccurate set of colors.

For both versions, I fixed the probelm with the .gz file extensions. This means that the files are gzipped, but the .gz extension is gone. This should eliminate the error messages you may have seen in the browser.

Still images are available, if you don't feel like waiting to download the whole world. There are various snaps from different parts of the tour. This is a good place to check on what your browser should be displaying!

Stills from the examples. Again, here is a good place to check whether your browser is displaying the right thing.

Known Bugs
As of June 22, 1998. I found a problem in viewing the world with CosmoPlayer 2.0 and Internet Explorer 4, in regards to the targets on the html pages. If you click on the "Headdress" or "Helmet" icon, the browser is unable to find the target in the page. However, all these "Headdress" and "Helmet" sections are paired on the same pages, so all you have to do is scroll down a small ways to find the right narrative section. We are looking into this. It works ok in all versions of Netscape, as far as I know.

About Browsers
The world is now VRML 2.0 compliant. All the available browsers are in different states of completion, so not all the features will work perfectly in all browsers, with the exception ofCosmoWorlds running on SGI machines, and on PCs. We urge you to keep downloading the latest version of your favorite browser in order to track the updates.

So far, this world has been tested with the SGI CosmoPlayer versions for the SGI machine and for the PC. The world has been built using frames in Netscape, and tested with Netscape 3.01 Gold, with IE 4, and Netscape 4.

If you don't have it yet, download the CosmoPlayer browser now (for PC and SGI).

For best viewing, hide the buttons and navigation aids at the top of Netscape before downloading the world. On SGI machines without texture hardware, you might want to turn textures off from time to time to view the animation at a better frame rate. (The subdivided PC version should have no problems with animation performance when it is ready to be released.)