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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
I've gone public.
Well, I just announced this blog on the forums. Let the flaming and the drama begin!
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Today, during my lunch hour SL session, it started raining. This puzzled me. Did the Lindens add weather to the game? I didn't see anything in the release notes about it. What's going on?

Then I happened to spot a translucent sphere hovering at a hundred meters or so above me and to my North. It was shrouded in fog, so it was only blind luck that allowed me to spot it. As I watched, it bumbled around aimlessly for a bit, then set off at a leisurely pace to the South. It was carried by the wind! In less than a minute, the sudden storm had passed, pulled along behind the mysterious orb.

Sometimes, I seriously consider quitting this game. The last couple of days, for example, have been particularly disheartening. Then, something simple, random, and wonderful happens, and my faith in the potential of this world is restored. Thank you, Michael Psaltry, for washing away some of the dirt and debris from the past few days.
Two Useful SL Features
Learned a couple of useful things in SL over the last week or so. Most experienced players will have learned about them on their own, but I thought it might be nice to point them out explicitly for newer folks (like me).

First, I found out something kind of useful about the object selection particles. (That little stream of lights that jets from your left hand to whatever in-game object you are using.) Apparently, these particles point at the exact location where you click on the target object. I had just assumed that they pointed at the object's insertion point. (Yes, I know, I'm not terrifically observant.) So you can use them to point out a specific point in space. This pretty much renders the whole laser pointer project moot. Oh well. It was pretty trivial, anyway.

Second, you know those white crosshairs that appear on the faces of objects when you hit Select Texture in the Edit window? Those work great for lining up textures across multiple prims. This is what they were no doubt designed to do, but nobody seemed to think it was worth mentioning. So there you go. Just make sure your texture scale matches (either by using repeats-per-meter or adjusting the horizontal and vertical repeats as required for each prim), then adjust your texture offsets until the crosshairs line up at the edges.

As things are now, the crosshars are kind of frustrating to use. You can only work with one object face at a time. The crosshairs on the previously selected face disappear when a new face is selected. I contacted Live Help to ask if there was an override to switch them on full-time. They said that there was not, and that this kind of thing could be done numerically, anyway. (I can't argue that, but the math gets tedious with oddly spaced prims). One of them, a Linden whose name I can't remember (I've got to write these things down), agreed that this would be a useful feature. He even suggested that I post it to the Feature Suggestions forum. Sadly, this suggestion went unacknowledged, and I expect that it will never come to pass. That's unfortunate, since it seems like it'd be both useful and easy to implement.

In the interim, I whipped up my own version of a grid alignment tool. It uses voice commands to slide it out of the way during edits, and even changes color on demand. It's still kind of primitive and clunky, but it seems to work well enough. Laura Ingersoll used it to line up the walls on her and Chrestomanci Bard's new shop in Abitibi. She reported that it worked pretty well. I went in and lined one up with the East wall, just to show the grid in action.

I know, it's a simple device, compared to some of the items in game. But I'm kind of proud of how well it worked out.
Monday, April 25, 2005
The Case for Immersion #1
Depending on when you ask, my feelings about Second Life range somewhere between "It's just a game. Get a life!" (best read in William Shatner SNL skit outrage) and "SL is my life. Everything else is just the login queue." Usually, I'm somewhere in between.

But even during my worst bouts of obsession, I seldom see Second Life as anything more than a combination game/chat service. I don't see SL (or the internet in general) as an alternate dimension, or a joining of spirits across the wires, or a place where minds can roam free of their physical restraints, or any of the other high sounding nonsense occasionally spewed across the web by those who feel compelled to justify their wasted evenings. I'll concede that Second Life may be some or all of those things for some people. And more power to the True Believers... I'm just not one of them.

However, there are moments when that view changes. Sometimes, for a few seconds, I forget it's a game. In those moments, the boundaries blur, and Second Life becomes real to me. Then, the moment passes, and I'm left laughing at myself and trying to grab onto that feeling before it slips away completely. In order to hold on to these moments, and to keep my post count up, I've decided to document these incidents here as they happen (or when I remember them, anyway).

The first one I remember involved local fame, and a meeting with an honest-to-goodness SL celebrity. It was at the online gallery opening for the Seburo/Saedaku Weapons & Seburo PD Photography Contest, gawking at all the artwork. (Actually, this long-overdue NWN article is what reminded me of the incident. So blame them for this one.) Rhiannon Chatnoir, an in game acquaintance, had entered a (kickass!) image in the contest. She dropped a few of us IMs to remind us to go check out the opening of the in-game contest gallery and vote for our favorites.

Thus, that afternoon, I found myself wandering aimlessly and namelessly amongst the movers and shakers, examining the pictures and shamelessly eavesdropping. (That's so much easier when every word is conveyed with crystal clarity for up to 20 meters. SL trumps RL again.) I was standing in the middle of the aisle, tinkering with my newly discovered camera controls window, when I was bumped out of my remote view by none other than celebrated SL social butterfly, and she-of-the-watermelon-fixation, Torley Torgeson.

Torley: "Excuse me!"
Moriash: "No problem. Most action I've had in weeks." [Damn, I'm suave.]
Torley: "Awww."

At which point there was a brief, awkward silence before I wandered off to stare at another picture. That's right, I was tongue tied and awkward in front of a pixel representation of someone a few thousand miles away. And someone who is, reputedly, one of the most overtly friendly people in the game world. Honestly, I wouldn't have been more awestruck if I ran into Winona Ryder on the street. I actually found myself briefly starry eyed and flummoxed in the presence of an SL avatar, just as if this were all real.

And that's kind of the point of this little exercise. More to come.
Futile Rant #2: LOL
Okay, folks. I'll warn you in advance: I will be ranting incoherently, and at some length, here. I will be getting self-righteous. And I will also be absolutely, unassailably, infallibly right. (And if you don't agree, you're wrong. So sayeth Mori.) If you don't want to listen to me being a sanctimonious prick for the next several paragraphs, please feel free to skip on to the next entry. It's a cute story involving Torley Torgeson. (Well, a little bit.) And who doesn't like Torley?

See? I can name-drop, too. I'm officially an SL blogger now! I feel so proud. But enough of that. On to the vitriol.

I'm here to vent my spleen about "1337 Speek." IRC chat speak. Whatever you want to call it. I mean the idiotic shortcuts half of SL takes when they talk to one another.

Take, for example, the all-too-common "LOL." Seems like folks feel obligated to mindlessly chatter the acronym every time someone within a 20 meter radius says something even mildly amusing. How many times do you really Laugh Out Loud at your screen? You're sitting there alone, in the dark, typing by cathode ray light... And Laughing Out Loud every 37 seconds? I don't buy it. Laughter is a social phenomenon. Sitting there and continually chortling to yourself isn't hilarity. It's a sign of incipient mental illness. There's a reason why insane asylums are sometimes called "laughing academies."

So I assume you're not really sitting there, alone, giggling like an idiot every single time you type LOL into your chat bar. Once or twice a night, sure. Sometimes, even when you're by yourself, you just laugh for the pure joy of it. And I'll grant that it's a little easier to do so once you've become immersed in the game, and see those three-inch-tall pixel dolls as friends in the room with you. So, if you must, save your LOLs to show your appreciation for those rare cases when you actually catch yourself guffawing at your screen. It'll mean more, and it's more honest.

Even better, use an emote: "/me giggles like an idiot and snorfs Coca-Cola all over his screen." "/me laughs loud enough to wake the neighbors." Whatever you choose. Just change it up a bit. Use a little imagination. It won't come up that often, and the would-be comedian will appreciate the extra five seconds it took to type. Just do anything but machine gun yet another thoughtless LOL down the line.

LOL is perhaps the most insipid and overused term online today. (In my book, it's supplanted "cyber," which is a real feat.) You want people to know you're nominally joking? Want to keep them from giving you the verbal beat down you so richly deserve for your latest thoughtless and hurtful remark? Follow it up with an LOL! It worked on the playground when you were six ("You're ugly and you stink! Just kidding! Ha ha!"), so it's got to work now, right? Want people to know you're still there, soaking up server resources and wasting their time, but not actually participating in the conversation? Periodically hammer out an LOL at odd intervals! Maybe you can even set up a macro, and they'll never know you're watching TV and clipping your toe nails instead of paying attention. LOL is the wonder acronym! It can do anything, right?

No. Most of the time, LOL just makes you look like a twit.

Smilies are nearly as bad. But I can at least understand the evolutionary necessity in online communications. Stripped of the tools of intonation and body language, it is very difficult for a person to accurately convey his thoughts. Many of the things you would say in person, as an inoffensive joke, come across as calculated cruelty and spite when typed on the screen. If you can't manage to tailor your writing such that the ambiguity is removed (and I know I often can't), maybe a smiley is a good safety net. Just be aware that it smacks of the same playground humor mentioned above. If you find yourself putting a smiley in every other sentence, maybe it's time to rethink your online behaviour. Smilies are not the universal panacea for removing emotional misunderstandings. They're an shaky crutch, at best.

Then there's the old standbys: U for you, R for are, UR for your, and so on. There's no good excuse for these. I knock about 30 points off the estimated IQ score of anyone I see using these. Nobody is in that much of a hurry. It only costs you two extra keystrokes on your keyboard to type the full word. So why do it? When you get right down to it, it's kind of insulting. You're saying that, deep down, you don't care enough about the listener or what he has to say to grant him the few extra seconds it would take to write a complete, coherent sentence. I hate to break it to you, but your time just isn't that important. If it was, you wouldn't be in Second Life.

And, on top of that, you're also looking like a complete idiot. That's the most unforgivably sad thing about IRC-speak. This is Second Life! You can be anything you want, without the constraints of your probably-inadequate body. Face facts: if you were even marginally suave and handsome, you'd be out moving and shaking in RL. Frankly, you'd be out getting some, and not chatting up the scantily clad pixelated hotties at a random virtual Club 54 wannabe. (Swap adjectives as your RL gender and sexual preference dictate.) In the vast majority of cases, SL is the sanctuary of the outcast and the socially inept. (And, yes, I include myself in that class.) Being one of the Beautiful People there is simply a matter of carefully selecting how you present yourself. This means buying the right virtual clothes and carefully dragging the right appearance sliders. But, given that anyone can tweak the gravity on their boobs, narrow their waists to Jessica Rabbit proportions, or bump their privates from "coin purse" to "duffle bag," virtual appearance is nearly irrelevant. If everyone is beautiful, beauty no longer matters. Ultimately, your online persona, that indefinable something that makes you unique, comes down to what you say and how you say it.

Maybe it's just my own class hubris, but I see another defining factor of the SL community: intelligence. We may be awkward introverts with bodies like the Pilsbury dough boy and faces like a mud fence, but nearly all of us are resting quite comfortably on the right-hand side of the intelligence bell curve. Those players who made it past the 7-day trial without saying "Bwuh? Where's the monsters? Boooooring!" and hitting uninstall are probably amongst the sharper tools in the shed. (Yes, this even includes the Tringo players and the SexXxyBabies, much as it pains me to admit it.) This is a high concept, and it takes a pretty fair mind to wrap itself around it. Given all that, it honestly astounds me that someone would choose to construct his online image from things like "U suck!!1 LOL!! :)"

You're capable of so much more, or you wouldn't be in Second Life! Have a little pride, huh?

Addendum, 5/18/05:
These comics agree with me. Do you need any further proof that I am right? No, I didn't think so.
Futile Rant #1: Texture Overlap
Okay, boys and girls, here's a quick tip for you. If you place your primitives such that two exposed faces are coplanar and occupy the same space, it looks like hammered crap. It's just that simple. SL will attempt to draw the textures for both faces in the same space, and it will blink and flicker like a badly tuned television. Yes, I know it's easier to dump walls and floors into the world this way. Otherwise you might have to... GASP... Do some math! Life is tough all over.

I've seen this in way too many otherwise beautiful builds. And I'm sure the builders of each one looked at it and thought, "Eh. Nobody will notice." Well I have news for you: everyone notices! Do yourself a favor. Do your neighbors, the ones who have to look at your epileptic-fit-inducing jaggy walls, a favor. No more overlapping faces! Got it? Good.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Administrativa #2
I've decided to go ahead and place my last five posts on the front page, instead of only displaying the most recent entry. This will let me justify making shorter, more frequent posts. Previously, I caught myself waiting until I had enough material to make a post of sufficient length to take the front page solo... And thus waiting a week or more to create new entries. Unfortunately, in cases where I am suffering from unusually severe bouts of logorrhea, this will result in exceedingly long main pages. We'll see how things work out.

And now, as a special treat for my regular readers (both of you), here's a guided tour of my home office. Chances are, if you are speaking to my avatar in game, this is where my meat body will be.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Weekend Report
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.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
CoH Flashback
While vanity-surfing through some old posts from another weblog, I ran across the entry below. Since it touches on some hot-button game issues, and since it's a cheap way to keep my post count up, I thought I'd cross-post it here. I still feel the same way now that I'm in SL. People should be treated with respect, as unique individuals, with worth and complexity beyond the surface trappings. But, given the appearances some people freely choose in world... Well, right or wrong, sometimes it's hard to muster that respect.

It goes without saying (at least I hope it does) that I don't advocate harassment in any form, even against those who seem to be "asking for it." But in a virtual world like SL, where your appearance is 100% up to you, you need to understand that the face you show isn't solely a personal aesthetic choice. It's a complex visual statement of precisely how you wish to be perceived.

I have no answers or particularly deep insights here. But the whole issue is food for thought, anyway.

My Sidekick, November 2, 2004

Today, I saved a fellow superhero from a hoard of Hellion thugs in the Hollows. Or, rather, Jackrabbit (my City of Heroes alter ego) did. She had gotten herself in over her head and, after politely asking if she wanted assistance, I jumped in and routed the gangsters. I do that kind of thing a couple times a night, and I actually kind of enjoy it. Superhero for the superheroes, that's me.

She thanked me for my assistance, and I ended up adopting her as my sidekick for a couple of hours. The sidekick system allows characters of disparate levels to partner up, by boosting the effective level of the sidekick when he is in the vicinity (within about 200 feet) of his mentor. I think this is a nice touch, and well in keeping with the whole Golden Age comic book mythos. Before he got all uppity and decided to change is name to Nightwing or some such, Robin was only so-so by himself. However, fighting at Batman's side, he was a formidable foe. Similar examples can be found throughout comicdom.

But I digress. Frequently. My sidekick and I wandered the Hollows (a small suburb that was destroyed by a massive cave-in, engineered by the subterranean Trollkins) and did our part to take back the streets for the decent folk of Cherry Hill Estates. During the downtimes, we chatted a bit. We are both relatively new to the game (these being our first characters), and are cautiously optimistic about its potential. She established that her real-life gender matched her character. (This is not always the case, not that it really matters. CoH is very enlightened in this regard. The females punch, blast, and slam just as hard as the males.) She mentioned how her boyfriend recently introduced her to the game, as consolation for her MMORPG widow status.

I made reference to my previous experience playing EQ, and how people's behavior in this relatively new game was so much different from the established rules of etiquette and procedure that arose in the venerable old RPG. People kill-steal right and left, and have no qualms about dragging thirty additional aggressive foes through a pitched battle, just because it's 50 yards closer that way. Those kind of stunts would get you shunned in the comparatively civilized world of EQ, where most competent players have realized that basic manners and good sportsmanship are survival traits. (This earned me the virtual equivalent to a blank look, as usual. But I have the slim hope that, if I preach long enough, to enough people, civility will catch on in CoH. As my grandma used to say, if you run 'em under the water enough times, they're bound to get wet.) Basically, just the normal chitchat.

But one comment kind of stuck in my mind. She mentioned that, as a female who played a female character, she hated the way she was treated by other players. My sidekick told me how most of the male players she met (with the notable exception of yours truly, thank you very much) spent all of their time making lewd comments, asking for cyber sex, and just generally harassing her. I agreed that this was indeed unfortunate, then quickly changed the subject by leaping in to save a helpless old woman from a band of Outcasts.

My sidekick's name? Orgasmia. Her costume? Flesh-colored, skin-tight briefs and top (about as close to naked as you can get in this game), and a pair of black leather boots with stiletto heels.

I know we're all taught not to blame the victim, and that a woman has every right to expect not to be sexually harassed, no matter the circumstances. And I completely agree with all that. There are rules to civilized behavior, and to being a gentleman.

However, there is also such a thing as personal responsibility. No, the Fratboy Defense ("She was asking for it!") doesn't cut any ice here, nor should it. And even putting aside the common rules of decency and RL law for a moment, the EULA prohibits such treatment of other players. But, honestly, what did she expect? When you tailor your entire online persona to elicit crude lust (inasmuch as this is possible with real-time rendering, shading, and... ahem... bump mapping), you really can't be too surprised when unwanted lascivious comments are sent in your direction. It's unfortunate to see someone's faith in a society's protections betrayed, but I just can't muster much sympathy for the naked woman in the black leather boots.

This probably makes me a male chauvinist pig. I guess I'll just have to live with that.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Progress Reports
With the addition of the addition of the llGetObjectMass command (as of v1.6), SL Sumo is much closer to becoming a reality. I had already made a prototype sumo suit a week or two ago. The collision routine turned out to be surprisingly complicated. On collision between two players, the suit must:
  1. Verify that the collision is with a valid opponent. Eventually, the suits will be designed such that they will only work inside the arena. I don't want the them to work all the time. Otherwise, they'd become yet another griefing tool.
  2. Calculate direction vector to the target. The impact force vector will be applied along the direction vector, so that the opponent is launched on a radial line directly away from the wearer.
  3. Check the wearer's velocity at time of impact. The magnitude of the force vector will be scaled based on the velocity (faster impact means more force applied).
  4. Check the opponent's mass. The magnitude of the force vector is scaled by the opponent's mass, with larger opponents receiving larger impulses. I realized early on that this must be done in order to level the playing field. Otherwise, smaller avs would get launched into orbit by forces that would only send a larger av back a couple of steps. This step was made considerably easier with v1.6 and the llGetObjectMass command. (While I realize that superior mass is an advantage in RL sumo wrestling, I didn't want people gaming the system here. RL sumo wrestlers train for years to increase their body mass. SL sumos can just adjust a few sliders.)
  5. Calculate the X and Y components of the force vector.
  6. Apply the force vector to the opponent with llPushObject.
  7. Sleep for a second or so, to prevent machine-gun bursts of impulses.
Keep in mind that the opponent's sumo suit will be performing the same actions. The net result is that both opponents will be launched in opposite directions on impact, with forces proportional to their initial velocities. It's an abuse of physics, but it should be fun nonetheless. The next step is to create the arena itself, complete with automatic ring-out detection and an authentic sumo referee.

On a completely different topic, I realized that I was taking my stereo pairs slightly wrong. Most stereo sets are taken with the camera views set parallel, instead of pointing inward at the subject. My previous method (center the camera on an object, take a screenshot, rotate the camera slightly, take another screenshot) yielded slightly distorted results. For a good example, take a look at this picture. The foreground objects came out reasonably well. But the background (the trees and the park entry arch) objects refuse to resolve properly. (Note also that the trees are blowing in the wind, creating further problems. Picking backdrops can be tricky.) For most objects, the method described works well enough. But with more complex images, with several foreground, mid-ground, and background objects (like the park bench picture linked above), the parallax errors stack up.

This is unfortunate, as it means that many of my accidental screenshot stereo pairs won't work as I had hoped. However, it is easy enough to take new ones in-game. Line up your first shot (left eye view) and take a screen capture. Then use the camera tool (see the View pulldown) to pan the camera to the right slightly. Use the arrows labeled "Move camera up, down, left, and right," on the right side of the camera control window. This will move the camera directly to the right without changing the angle. This is a reasonable in-game approximation of the so-called "Cha-Cha Method" of single-camera stereo photography.

While this works fine for informal pictures, especially at a distance (such as pictures of landscapes), there is room for improvement when photographing nearer objects. The distance between RL human eyes is about 2.5" (0.0635m). This works fine for subjects that are about 7 feet (2.1m) away. Many stereo photographers use the "1/30 Rule." That is, the camera should be shifted 1/30th of the distance from camera to the nearest object. So if the object is 30m away, the camera should be shifted about 1m to produce an effective 3-D effect. If it is 1.5m away, 0.05m could be used. From what I've seen, this is not a hard-and-fast rule, though.

However, the camera controls are not precise enough to do this very well for nearer objects. I expect that I will eventually make a camera pan chair for the purpose. At its simplest form, this would just be a simple chair equipped with a fixed camera angle. The user would sit down, and his camera would be fixed and pointed just in front of him. Then, the object edit tools could be used to adjust the position and offset. Ideally, a simple, user-controlled platform could be made to move around, adjust angles, and manage the camera offsets for a given user-defined subject distance. Yet another project, I guess... Someday.