Monday, April 11, 2005
The past few days have been evenly divided between coding various projects and general loafing.
The latter seemed to revolve around Cubey Terra products. (I want to be Cubey when I grow up.) Several of us (Laura, Chrestomanci, OmegaX, myself) spent a few idle hours touring in Omega's Terra Balloon 3. If you've never taken a balloon ride, you should. In my opinion, it's the best way to see the world. Unlike faster air vehicles, or even basic flight, it moves slow enough to allow the world to rez around you. And it's also slow enough to pass a sim boundary without self destructing. This is a feature I insist on in an aircraft. Even so, I was given plenty of opportunities to use the E-Chute.
And while I'm talking about Terra products, you really should invest in a Warp 2 flight enhancement. It's simple to use, discreet, and it works at elevations up to 9 million meters! (Yes, I have tested this. Maybe I'll tell you about it sometime.)
While we were out, I added several new "to be visited later" landmarks to my list. One of these days, I'm going to go through the thirty or so sites in the queue and take a boatload of stereo pictures. I'm sure I'll be subjecting you, my loyal readers, to them soon after.
One noteworthy stop on the balloon tour was the Governor's Mansion. If you haven't been there, you should. It's a piece of SL history, and a nifty build besides. It looks fairly primitive, compared to modern construction, but it's still impressive to see what could be done with the early beta tools. The museum in the basement is especially worth a look. It's still a work in progress, but it contains dozens of early screenshots and a few other artifacts from the early days. The time capsule, however, is maddening. It contains several hundred artifacts, with the names tantalizingly viewable in the Edit window. But, unfortunately, nothing inside can be viewed. I guess we'll have to wait until 3004 to see what is inside. But take heart! With SL's 4 hour days, that's only 166.5 years!
As for my projects, it's been a productive few days. I'm nearing completion on the sumo arena. The arena itself is complete. It works automatically, without any outside intervention from judges. Basically, the two contestants enter and take their places in the starting circles. A translucent barrier is rezzed around the arena to detect ring-outs, and the names of the two contestants are fed into the sumo suits and the arena script. This way, the ring-out sensors and the sumo suits only work against the two contestants (thus reducing bystander interference, in the former case, and griefer use, in the latter). The arena bellows "Ready... Fight!" in a gravely, authoritative voice (voiced by yours truly, with the aid of a stubborn head cold). Then the contestants are pushed from their starting circles (via llUnSit) and allowed to go at it. The first one to touch the ring-out sensor grid is announced as the loser, and the remaining contender as the winner. The arena then resets itself for another bout.
The suits are nearing completion. I ended up with two options: a fake sumo suit (modeled roughly on novelty sumo overalls used at parties) and a more realistic sumo avatar. I think the avatar turned out especially well. I still need to make a couple more fake sumo suits, for medium and small avatars. And I need some method of distinguishing the sumo avatars apart. I'm leaning towards making the ribbons tying back the topknots change to green or blue, depending on the starting circles. Overall, once I finish the final details, I think this is going to work pretty well. Now I just need to make the time to actually host a sumo event or two.
Sadly, my other big project didn't turn out so well. I've been tinkering with making a laser pointer in game. I had hopes that such a device could be handy for use by in-game lecturers and such. It's turned on via the left mouse button, with voice controls on an inaudible channel to set the color. Nothing too fancy, but it looks pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself. I opted to go with a particle stream instead of a solid bar, mostly because most players don't play with their avatars visible in mouselook. As such, a simple solid attachment as a pointer would be invisible to the user. As it stands, the particle stream suggests a laser beam in a smokey room.
Looks neat, anyway. Sadly, it's too inaccurate for its intended use. I discovered this when OmegaX asked me to point it at his head, only to have him tell me that it was firing a good meter off to one side. (I owe him my thanks, actually. I never would have guessed that this would be a problem without the feedback.) I've determined that, for some reason, the rotation of the avatar is not reported the same for the local client and the server. I don't know if this is because of the animation (I used the standard Linden hold-gun-right animation), or some other issue. But the user can be pointing the laser at a target, while a third party sees it pointed a meter or two off to one side. This happened both with a particle stream and a solid pointer. It's possible that I am misunderstanding something fundamental, but at this point it looks like an unfixable problem. The lack of such devices from other builders may be proof that this is the case. Either that, or nobody else was willing to bring such an obnoxious device into the world.
This project turned out considerably better, although it's not nearly as useful. Meet LOLy the Parrot. LOLy doesn't like LOLs. And neither should you! Basically, when LOLy (and if anyone has a better name, please let me know) hears someone say LOL, he flaps his wings and screeches one of three short, random phrases. (All are along the lines of "SQUAWK! L-O-L! SQUAWK!") And, best of all, there's no way to make it stop... Except not saying the phrase in the first place. Just doing my little part to stomp out the scourge of IRC-speak in Second Life. Seriously, how often do you really Laugh Out Loud at the screen? Maybe once, twice a night, tops. It's horribly overused, and frankly it's getting on my nerves.
I'm hoping to sell LOLy, as well as a few other knick-knacks, at a vendor in Chrestomanci's and Laura's new shop in Abitibi (when it's completed). However, I'm in a bit of a quandary about the bird. The original, unscripted model was created by Alberto Linden. I made several modifications to the model itself, added the scripts, animated the wings, and even did the voice acting. Can I legitimately sell the parrot with these modifications? There are few actions in this game more reprehensible than selling other people's work as your own. Especially work from freebie boxes. If I give proper credit to the original creator of the unscripted model, can I justify selling the parrot with these modifications? I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts on this issue.
And now for something completely different: flaming flamingo! (Courtesy of the Pomponio volcano.)