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Summary form only given. Although existing for many years, distributed virtual environments (DVEs) have only recently started to become widely implemented. With an increasing adoption rate, understanding the constitution of DVEs is of significant importance. One of the largest problems facing current DVE development is a lack of order. In an attempt to provide order to the area, we present a categorisation model for DVEs of significant complexity, represented as a multidimensional categorisation structure. From the highest level, the categorisation model is broken into two subspaces for categorisation: issues that may be perceived with no knowledge of a DVE's internal operation and those with a tight coupling to implementation specifics. Participant observable issues are further categorised with the axes of purpose, multimedia output, user interactions and time/timescales. In turn, implementation issues are further categorised into the axes of distribution, security, scalability, data and state synchronisation. Existing work provides insight into pertinent issues for constructing DVEs, however little has been done to: facilitate groupings of current implementations in a complex, multidimensional structure that places the many implementation efforts in some logical perspective; or identify areas that have been well researched and those in which research is lacking. We address some of these needs.