< Back
Direct3D Support

Last Updated: 2/21/1

Active Worlds (AW) 2.2 uses Criterion Studios Limited's RenderWare (RW) 2.1 3D rendering library. AW3+ uses RW3 and does not have a software driver so this page doesn't apply to it since hardware acceleration is standard.

A RW Direct3D driver for AW is available, which provides better rendering performance and visual effects by using Direct3D and your 3D video card (depending on the card and if it even supports Direct3D—most do these days).

Better rendering performance:

Enhanced visual effects: Limitations:

It is hoped that the compatibiliy of the Direct3D driver with additional 3D accelerator cards is verified in the near future. At a minimum, this driver requires a 3D accelerator card that supports both perspectively correct texture maps, and windowed (not full-screen) mode.

If you think your video card meets these requirements, and you would like to try the RW Direct3D driver with AW on your computer, first be sure you have DirectX installed, then download the RW Direct3D driver.

Unzip the driver directly into the AW directory (usually C:\Program Files\Active Worlds). Then, open the file aworld.ini (also in that directory) for text editing. Find the section that begins with:


Below this section, add a new line that says:


Save the file and start AW.

AW will attempt to initalize the Direct3D driver on startup. If this attempt fails, you will see a dialog box with the message "Active Worlds was unable to load the Direct3D rendering driver. Active Worlds will now attempt to load a different driver." This means RW was unable to use the Direct3D driver on your video card. Keep in mind that just because a video card claims to support Direct3D, this does not necessarily mean that it provides the hardware acceleration features which RW requires to take full advantage of Direct3D.

One thing you can try is to be sure you have the latest drivers for your video card. Check your video card manufacturer/vendor's website.

If after following these steps you do not get an error message, RW was probably able to load the Direct3D driver successfully. However, it is possible that you may see disrupted and/or distorted effects in the 3D viewport pane as a result. Another possibility is that a crash may occur. If this happens, open up aworld.ini again and add a semi-colon (;) in front of the direct3d=1 line to disable Direct3D.

This driver currently only works with AW on a few video cards, so it is not included as a standard part of the installation.

As of 9/28/97, Criterion says the best 3D chips to use with RW 2.1 are:

However, because this list is over a year old, newer cards should also work and even provide better performance.

The RW Direct3D driver has been reported tested with these cards/3D chipsets:

Video Card3D Chipset(s)
DirectX Version
3Dfx Voodoo 3000/35003Dfx Voodoo³
works fine
ATI 3D Xpression+PC2TVATI Rage II
works with DirectX 5 and 6, but not 3; pauses for ~5-10 seconds when resizing and closing
"wouldn't load the 3D drivers"
Creative Labs 3D Blaster RIVA TNTnVidia RIVA TNT
¹ ²
Creative Labs 3D Blaster RIVA TNT2 UltranVidia RIVA TNT2 Ultra
masked textures don't always show what's behind them correctly screenshot screenshot
Diamond GL Pro 1000 AGP3DLabs Permedia 2
"colors were distorted and no objects over 40m rendered at all"
Diamond Monster 3D3Dfx Voodoo
works only in full-screen
Diamond Monster Fusion PCI3Dfx Voodoo Banshee
"3D window size seems to have a maximum at something like 800x600"
Diamond Stealth 3D 20003Dfx Voodoo*
"some objects have the world background color 'bleeding' through them if viewing them through objects with masked textures"
Diamond Viper V330nVidia RIVA 128
"Direct Draw won't initialize. Direct3D looks OK with no obvious frame rate change, but crashed right away."
Diamond Viper V550nVidia RIVA TNT
¹ ² ³
Diamond Viper V770 UltranVidia RIVA TNT2 Ultra
masked textures don't always show what's behind them correctly
Intergraph Intense 3D3Dfx Voodoo Rush
works fine
Matrox Millennium G200Matrox MGA-G200
"works only with 32-bit color"; crashes sporadically in any color depth
Matrox Mystique 220Matrox MGA-1164SG
"works as long as the Active Worlds window isn't resized (causes crash)"
Quantum3D Raven Banshee3Dfx Voodoo Banshee
¹ ²
S3 Virge
overlapping masked-textured polygons don't blend
STB Velocity 128nVidia RIVA 128
Grover (edited): "Starts up OK while you're standing still, but invariably crashes in a matter of seconds after starting to move." ²
STB Velocity 4400nVidia RIVA TNT
¹ ²
Stingray 128/3D3Dfx Voodoo Rush
Viewtop 3D Vulcan B3Dfx Voodoo Banshee
"works fine with the updated EEPROM (now version 1.03) and the driver (981207)"

* Some people have noticed cards with 3Dfx Voodoo/Voodoo2 chipsets cause the 3D portion of the Active Worlds browser to revert to full-screen instead of remaining windowed.

¹ Objects behind transparent polygons show world background and will be semi-visible. FireSong: "In cases where there should be transparency, objects in the foreground 'blocks'. A tree, for example, will display as a tree, but if an object is partly behind it, that object will be partly invisible and the world background will show instead."

² Supposedly the latest video drivers for this chipset correct this problem.

³ Dthknight (edited): "Flashing white lines (yellow lines also sometimes appear) when in dense (lots of objects) areas and after starting to build. Note: ¹ does not seem to happen."

At any rate, if you do or do not get the driver working, please feel free to email me your success and/or failure, video card make/model, DirectX version (obtainable from C:\Program Files\directx\dxsetup.exe, usually), and (optional) screen resolutions and color depths tried.

^ Top
< Back