Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dangerous experiment continues

(What happend before: Cristopher Lefavre found a strange triangle outside his sim, where a new TP menu was available. After doing some research, he clicked on the RL item, and suddenly found himselves in a very strange environment)

I recognize this grid! I am sure I have been here before! Strange....

The sunset is very high resolution, but somehow even an estate manager can't set the sun position. And there is no environment menu...

I found myselves in a small boat outside a large island, comprised by at least a 100 sims. I started to explore, and lo and behold: I was right! Not only have I been here before but the 1024 sqm parcel I bought that summer was still there, with all my builds intact. I think I'll just lie down in the sun for a while....

Week 2:

I have started to build again, and is constantly reminded of the strange ways of this grid:
  • All prims are physical.
  • There are no phantom prims.
  • I can't script the prims!
  • There are no prim limits, but prims have to be bought at a builders shop and can be expensive.
  • No megaprims available in this grid either.
  • When a prim is reduced in size, it can not be made larger again.
  • Prims detoriate with time.
  • Retexturing takes a long time as each layer of texture need to dry.
  • Flexible prims to cover windows are normally bought by woman and is even more expensive.
  • All clothing are flexi prims attachments, and womans clothes can be ridiculously expensive (ah ok, same as SL....)
After a trip to a builders shop I got back with 29 prims that I intend to use to extend an outdoor floor. That set me back a full month tier for an island. LOL! But I expect these 29 prims to last for 50 years, which is more than can be said about anything buildt in SL.

Emerald asks on her latest blog post "Are you in Second Life to stay, meaning, now that you're here do you think it'll always be a part of your life?"

The answer to this is Yes, I think, IF I manage to finish the process of making SL a part of my one life, like blogs and facebook and internet banking is now. Really living a full Second Life is like burning your candle in both ends. And end up feeling discontented with both lives, not really being present in either but allways worrying about things happening in the one you temporarily disconnect from.

After checking my profile I find that my rez day in this grid is getting close, and the event calendar says I will have some visitors then. I better finish my build......

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dolls and Dangerous Experiments

The Drama Doll bandwagon is rolling, today Joonie posts about her experience with the dolls. Its so nice to read about people who like what we made.

But as hard as it is to believe, there are people in SL not reading blogs. Sigh, the fun they miss! So I thought it would be cool to put up an ad, especially since I had this 16sqm roadfront parcel in Dauphin lying completely dormant. I tried to make the sign non-obtrusive; its almost transparent from the back so as not to take too much view from the store behind. And if you click it, a Fuginista is temp-rezzed and she shows a few animations.

After putting up the sign I tried to TP home, only to find my region not accessible. And true enough, the rolling restart had reached the City of Paris, and now I'm on server 1.27 too! Pity I have some RL work to do today or I would have experimented with HTTP-in.... But there are other news in 1.27:

A year ago, Linden Lab announced the possibility to teleport from Second Life to an OpenSim based grid. Since then, it's been all quiet. No words was ever heard from the Gridnauts again.

But inside the development unit at LL, it has been anything but quiet.

Second Life Server 1.27, being rolled out this week, contains a set of top secret new features, on a highly experimental stage. Outside every SIM bordering the empty sea there is now a triangle (it shows up red in the map, as you can se above), and when an avatar gets there a new pie menu opens, allowing him or her to teleport to a number of grids, including (gulp) one named "RL".

Now, to reach this triangle, you have to do some megaprim tweeks to transport an island outside of the sim. This island must be linked with some form of poseball and a coconut tree. Sitting on the poseball, waiting for a coconut to fall on your head, you may suddenly be TP'ed to OSGrid, OpenLife, and even the internal LL grid!)

The real tricky one is the RL choice. Because while TP-ed to the other grid, Ctrl-H will still take you home to SL. That was very useful when I explored the CIA grid and got some matrix-style agents shooting at me:

(Picture location courtesy of Rezzable, go see this SIM while you can)

BUT the RL link depends on time- and map-wormholes in cyberspace that opens and closes depending on solar flares caught in the fibre optic cables at SL's service providor. So the return journey becomes much more unsecure!

Some time later today I will dare the RL TP link anyway. Research has made me quite sure of the existence of a return window no later than mid-august, so if you don't hear from me until then I am out exploring the biggest grid of them all. Hopefully I will catch the bus home and come back unharmed.

Until then: Play safe, have fun, be happy!

Heritage Key - New home of Rezzable

After walking through the Black Swan I just had to peek into the new grid that Rezzable will move to. Downloading software and registration went nicely, Heritage Key uses a 1.21 - based viewer, and feels a little bit old-fashioned, but it works. I get to name the av after me, and after walking through a room with vendors giving out a few skins and clothing articles, I look like this:

Not really "me", but....

First stop is a room with a few web links:

Then I get to fly a balloon over a barren landscape (actually a map!), before landing on an excavation site:

The most interesting objects in this grid are the teleporters. They work the way they should, that is you walk right into them and suddenly you are TP-ed to another location.

Yeah, I know, in SL they would be badly abused, griefers would send you through an infinite loop of interconnected TP-s, but it feels much better to walk through a gateway than having to click and sit on it.

I ended up at the front of some virtual museum. A rather boring build with old-fashioned and simple textures.

Inside there are a few 3D objects you can look at, just like a museum. Note the gray fields of non-loaded textures on the right coffin: The whole grid was really kind of slow, making the experience less than ideal.

I found that a lot of the "fancy" interior made it hard to see the actual objects: It's like someone just HAD to use all those NPIRL features when decorating the interior.

This beautiful thing was hidden behind a lot of strange lines running around the room.

One thing strikes me:

The Heritage Key platform is several generations behind SL. The only reason to move to that grid is cost. Low cost - low capabilities. Simple as that. The Black Swan could just not give the same experience here due to server-based texture loading problems.

So, Prokofy Neva may be right when he states that Rezzables business model just doesn't work. I'd say that if you cant make money on SL, you definitely can't make them easier on any OpenSimulator powered grid right now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Laptop Struggles - updated: No struggles anymore!

A little while ago I got this new laptop at work, and while I thought it was kind of godsend to get a powerful computer for SL (too lol), and it really helped finishing the dolls, it does have a serious side effect.

I really cant get out of my workroom!

As long as I stay within 4 walls I get a nice 25fps framerate. But as soon as I walk out of the door and the screen starts to show a few more objects, its like someone inside decides to hit the breaks. The whole things slows down to a lower frame rate than my mini PC, and walking by the Seine I more often than not fall into the water.

The ""¤%¤# thing is powered by an AMD CPU and graphics card. There is a ton of Jira complaints about problems with SL and AMD Radeon graphics card. I have added my own to the weight, lets hope LL actually do something with it soon!

In the mean time, if you plan to fork out money for a computer to run SL, stay away from AMD. Get an NVidia/Intel powered thing instead.

UPDATE: After a reinstall of the ATI drivers that did not help the official viewer or Snowglobe, I tried the Cool Viewer with the special ATI installer. Lo and behold, now I have 20-25 fps all over my place! Hope LL grabs those patches, it means that they can no longer blame it all on ATI.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kajira - The movie

I love this move that Honour made - it shows off a lot of the anims in one of the dolls. Go get one for yourselves!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

Picture from Capitol Hill.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happyness."

According to Wikipedia, this is one of the best-known sentences in the english language. And it does have a certain grandeur in its composition, to match the powerful context. For those of us who loves the written words, these are things that matter.

One thing that strikes me when I read this sentence is the differences in the three rights explicitly mentioned. Life and Liberty seems to be such grand values. Easy to make a speech out of. But Happiness? How come that is lifted up as being equal to Life itself?

It can only be because those that wrote the declaration knew that we do not live just to live; we live our life with a purpose, even if we do not always know it. Or seek it. And we have a right to seek that purpose and the Happiness that follows it.

We do not have a right to be Happy. We have a right to pursue Happiness. In real life. And in SL. And while Life and Liberty in SL is not governed according to the rest of the declaration (there is no right of revolution in the TOS), at least the first sentence of the Community Standards indicates a certain acknowledgment of happiness:

"We hope you'll have a richly rewarding experience, filled with creativity, self expression and fun. "

Ah well, not as grandeur as the text we celebrate today, but then SL itself does not hold the greatness of the real world.


Happy 4th of July all of you!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More dolls and a concert

Had a late start in SL yesterday, and when I came on, Honour had finished the DollCozy floor of the shop. Looked very nice! In the shop I ran into Emerald Wynn and a friend of her, whose name I have forgotten, I'm so sorry to say - but nice to meet fellow bloggers; and even more so when they buy dolls:-)

These guys are just too cute:-) Or are they gals? I have though of them as males since Honour first gave me one to script, but they do have this kind of unisex appearance.

Tried to script a little something for the doll exhibit, but SL misbehaved tonight and would not even open the editor.... aw, rather tired of it anyway:-) I have heard about writers block, can it apply to scripting as well?

So I looked for some live music and found a performance by Carmen Roeth at the Cute's Club (LOL they even have this "I'm cute" group tag... somehow I quickly replaced it with the Dramatic tag).

Anyway, Carmen has a great voice, a hot avatar, and is a real performer keeping contact with the audience (even when the lag in the SIM with 57 avatars made her glide off the stage into some strange never-never land). Writing this, I just love the voice, now soft, now a bit rasping, gliding through classic Jazz and some real rock&roll.

Technology moves forward; it was really amazing to be able to follow a live event with sound on a laptop with a cellular phone connection, in a sim with more than 50 people. OK, so my framerate was between 2 and 4 on low graphics setting, but I did not crash once! Just a year ago, that would have been impossible!

As for cellular connections: I have noticed that the latest version of the linden viewer, including Snowglobe, is much less demanding on network bandwidth when "idle". Earlier versions where using 100kb/s even when nothing was moving on the screen. When you run on a line with download limitations (I have 5Gb/month on my cellular), that is really annoying. The imprudence viewer used to be the answer to those situations, but now I find the LL viewer performing at least as good.

I plan some experiments with different types of viewers on different kinds of computers and connections - I have this vague feeling that alternate viewers does not really give the performance gain a lot of people claim. But that needs to be verified, and I may not have time to spare the next few weeks. Well, there will not be fewer viewers to test even if I wait a few weeks.

/me hoping the script editor will work today

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Drama Dolls Dramatic Opening

Warning: Nekos on the beach!

The cat - or should I say the Dolls - are out of the closet. Those of us who have been involved in this project have looked forward to this day for a long time. Indeed, there are some who could not wait and did not refrain from breaking and entry to be the first to report the news:-)

Warning: Drama from the future!

I can hardly blame them. As I said in my previous post, I fell in love the moment I saw them, and looking back at what I got then the Art of Honour has only improved with time.

What are Drama Dolls? To quote Honour herselves:

Have you been dissed in SecondLife? Had a lover cheat on you? Or maybe a perfect stranger held you up to public ridicule by posting your photo on a blog and making fun of your hair/skin/shape or clothes?

Well now you have an alternative to stalking behaviour or public scenes. You can have your pain acknowledged by the perpetrator and, most importantly, get a heartfelt apology.

Words are our basic form of communication. And while our emotions often define how we are, our words tend to define how we want to be.

And they are our means to get there.

The dolls actually respond to your words. OK, you know it’s just a simple computer program, but you can accept that attention of any form helps you feel better when formulating your sentences.

They help you identify the doll with the person hurting you by both taking his/her name and character (we have a large variety of dolls, you should be able to find one that reminds you of the actual person).

You get an apology to acknowledge your hurt.

Lastly, you will watch the doll meet its end. It’s a bit dramaticJ

This is not about revenge, although I am sure some will get a certain satisfaction watching it happen. No, just like the punishments that you may get in a court of law in the outside word, the important thing is getting an acknowledgement. In RL, the society acknowledges your hurt by judging the one responsible. When using Drama Dolls, you get to witness justice be done.

Warning: Elves about to make out on your lawn!

But SL is luckily not all about drama. There is love and friendship in abundance. So of course we have the DollCozies!

I'm here to hug you!

A bit simpler but oh so cute creations you can trust with your message to someone you care about. When clicked they will say your message while it plays some animations to let the recipient know how you feel.

When animating these dolls I first had a vision of making them really look alive, something akin to an AO that makes you shift your weight from leg to leg, turn your head and do other things that may or may not be natural in the situation*. But after some experiments, it really did not feel right, because they are dolls, not avatars. And it would distract from their purpose: To make you attentive to your own emotions, inspire you to formulate them into words, and have an ocean of time to listen attentively to you. So, apart from when they are responding to you, there are only tiny movements

When the dolls are done delivering their apology, they "disappear - quite dramatically! :)" (to quote Honor's specs to me). Actually, they go through quite an ordeal:-) These sequences was fun to make, I am rather excited slash nervous to hear how you like them!

I was very conscious not to animate the dolls as though they where going through agony and pain. You want to use them to move on, not to nurture feelings of revenge. Its more in line with comics: Cat chases mouse, mouse drops a grand piano on the cat, cat shakes it's head and they both start running again.

Because SL, even with all its drama, should be a fun place to be! So take the cab to Drama Dolls and find your favorite!

* Update 08.07.2009: This posting contained a link to the most touching and revealing blog about the joys and perils of living in SL that I know of. Nightflower left SL almost 6 months ago, and now her blog is gone too. I delete it from my blogroll with great sorrow. Take care, Night!