.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}
Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Another Few Seconds of My Warhol Time
Thanks go out to Hamlet Linden over at New World Notes for the article about my book reader for Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. For those SL players who don't follow NWN (shame on you), Hamlet challenged the SL community to come up with a user-friendly version of the book in-world. (D&O is released under Creative Commons License, and the author encourages readers to disseminate it in as many forms as possible.) Sure, it'd be easy to make a notecard dispenser, but the challenge is to make a book that is nicely formatted/typeset, and is actually enjoyable to read. In July, the various readers will be displayed, and the creator of the best (selected by popular vote) will be given the honor of being the first to publish Cory's new book in world.

If anyone is interested, Falk Bergman and I have setup a simple notecard dispenser with the UUIDs for the textures. (Falk did the file conversion, I just provided the real estate.) It's located on the picnic table at Louise (177,176). The plain text version (as well as several other formats) can be found here. There are still plenty of variations left to explore, folks, and there's still a month left before the July deadline. If you have an idea, give it a shot!

Demonstrating the Book

Come to think of it, this was probably one of my more literate moments in SL. I sat in the shadows of both the Librarium Project (a virtual library of RL literature) and the Herald's in-world HQ, being interviewed by a journalist for NWN about publishing a new book in SL. Almost makes me wish I hadn't had an old episode of the Simpsons playing in the background.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
My Av Is Cooler Than Your Av
That's right. Hang your head in despair, for my avatar is now far cooler than yours can ever hope to be. This position is unassailable, so give up now. Why? Because Moriash Moreau now comes equipped with a ridiculously detailed, one-of-a-kind custom knockoff of Spider Jerusalem's shades.

Thanks to Aliasi Stonebender for the prototype model. Go check out her stuff. Now. I'll still be here when you get back.

And special thanks to Chrestomanci Bard, micro-prim wrangler extraordinaire. I had the opportunity to watch her work, start to finish, as she built these. I can't tell you how she managed some of the tiny parts, but I can tell you that 99% of the game population would have screamed obscenities at their screens and quit before they were half done. And this was a relatively simple project, compared to her normal jewelry work. Building with tiny prims is a specialized art. Go check out her ever-growing line of beautiful, and mercifully bling-free, jewelry at Ingersoll and Bard Aesthetics.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Futile Rant #3: The FIC
Okay, boys and girls, settle down while Mori gives you the benefit of his dubious wisdom. Every so often, I hear people spouting off about the so called "Feted Inner Core." The FIC. The secret cabal of longtime players that has the ear of the Lindens, and secretly dictates policy to oppress the hapless newbies. Naturally, the Lindens deny the existence of such a group, or at least denies their influence in policy and development. Bladdy bladdy bladdy.

Well, I've got news for you. There is an FIC. Every MMORPG has one. (Although SL is the first one I've seen populated with members that know what "feted" means.) I've seen them in early MUDs, I've seen them in Everquest, and I've seen them here. But, like any conspiracy theory, there's a tiny kernel of truth wrapped in about 37.496 Imperial Tons of paranoid speculation.

The influential minority in any online game is naturally going to be composed of the most sophisticated and experienced players. In other words, the early adopters and the 16-hour-a-day psychos. In Everquest, these people would naturally gravitate to the power guilds. Known as the Uber Guilds (or sometimes the Ubar, to give it the proper Schwarzenegger-esque accent), they were the ones that routinely raided the highest level, most difficult zones. And they were the ones that, naturally, ended up effectively playtesting the self-same zones. They were the first ones to get the newest gear, the latest spells, the most advanced disciplines. So, strangely enough, their opinions mattered on these issues. Who was the programming team supposed to listen to regarding these issues? EQ became far, far too complex for one small programming team to plumb all the depths and nuances. The developers would be fools to pass up on input from the power guilds that spent day after day grinding through every square meter of the new content. Theirs are the most knowledgeable opinions in the game.

Now let's map this over to Second Life. There are no levels. There is no uber phat loots. (Yes, "phat loots" is singular. Strange, and sad, but true.) But there are still the old timers and the experienced power elite. These are the ones that have been around since the beginning, that have plumbed the depths of multiple aspects of the game (be they technical or social) time and again. Who exactly should the Lindens listen to? Someone who's seen it all from the beginning? Or some schmoe (like me) who wasn't even around for the prim tax or the last stipend cut? And, frankly, who deserves a little extra recognition from the Powers That Be? The ones that showed up this year, or the ones who have supported the game and helped it prosper since v1.1?

It's a given that, based on their relative experience, some players' opinions are more useful than others. And, of course, there are some players whose opinions will never be respected, even if they stick around until we're all playing via Holodeck in a Lunar old folks home. But, by and large, the community and the Lindens both place more import on the opinions of the old timers and the power players. This is as it should be.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the extent of the ominous powers of the so called FIC. People listen to them, because they actually know what they're talking about. (And some of them are conceited little assjacks that will take great pains to remind you of their status and importance every 30 seconds, as if they were set on their own personal self-aggrandizement llSetTimerEvent. But that's a completely different issue.) It's a simple matter of veneration and service. Nothing more sinister than that. They stuck around through the rough years, they had faith in the game, they used the tools of the system to the utmost. And, as a byproduct, they bought a little extra esteem in the game world.

Don't like it? Feel downtrodden and second class? Then try contributing something besides vitriol. Get in the game and earn your own measure of respect. Or just wait it out. The FIC isn't forever. As the game gets bigger, the opinion and influence of any one player matters less. Any mark you make on the grid is merely scribbling on shifting sand. People leave. Names are forgotten, especially on the net. How many people still know who Kibo is? And his net-audience was many times larger than Second Life will likely ever be. Fame, especially internet-based fame, is ephemeral. Most SL denizens, including the much hyped and disputed membership of the Feted Inner Core, will be forgotten five minutes after they stop paying their tier fees and log out for the last time.

Above all, remember it's just a game! SL is just not that important in the scheme of things. (At least, not unless you're a Linden. But that's another story altogether.) Your status in a venue that 99.44% of the world doesn't even know exists just doesn't buy you much. (And trust me, nothing is more pitiful than someone who goes around saying "I'm really big in [Obscure Online Community], honest!") The odds are overwhelmingly against SL ever being more than a social circle and entertaining diversion for a handful of social maladroits, stressed-out college students, and middle-class nobodies spread thinly around the globe.

Face that, and get on with the game.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Last week, I stopped by the Afton stronghold of the Brainiacs (SL location link). Like Oneironaut Escher's Cannabis Carnival (SL location link), Brainiac's HQ is a great place to drop in and have your mind blown.

I was particularly intrigued by a one item there: the Spirograph. Basically, it was a simple physical pendulum. The basic operation required no scripting. Instead, it ran indefinitely under the game's physics engine. The construction of such a device is simple:
  1. Create an anchor object several meters above the ground.
  2. Create a pendulum object a few meters below it.
  3. Select both of the objects.
  4. Under the Tools pulldown, select Make Joint and Point-to-Point.
  5. Select only the pendulum object.
  6. Turn on Physics.

And that's it! In order to see the trails, you'll probably want to add a simple particle script to drop particles from the pendulum bob a few times a second. (I'm too lazy to post said script. I just ripped it off from a Watermelon Gun bump, anyway.) Then, give it a nudge. The mechanism is frictionless, and will run indefinitely from a single push.

The pictures below were made with a 20 meter long pendulum. (The Make Joint command has the same limitations as Link Objects. As such, I had to create a "rope" to bring the physical pendulum close enough to the anchor to be joined.) I went ahead and made the whole assembly transparent for the pictures. As a further refinement, a script was added to periodically deliver a small, random impulse to the assembly every two minutes. This served slightly perturb the motion every so often. The results were kind of pretty, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, May 05, 2005
Quick RL Note: Air Filters?
When is the last time you checked your residential air filter? Well, that's too long!
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
The Case for Immersion #2
(For an explanation, see this entry.)

This one is pretty straightforward. Last Monday night, I was scheduled to attend a pitch meeting for a project that Chrestomanci, Laura, and myself have been working on for the past couple of weeks. I won't go into too many details at this point, but basically we were tasked with rewriting a script for the Second Life Theatre Guild. (A project which has been the source of a considerable amount of heartache and consternation over the past couple of weeks. I'm sure I'll whine about it here it at some point.) That night, we were to present the script and deal with the reactions.

In order to make a good impression, I decided to dress up a bit. I donned my expensive (for me, anyway) black suit and tie, and hunted down the black leather dress shoes buried deep in the bowels of my inventory. As I did so, Chres donned a fetching powder blue qipao, and dithered over the thigh-revealing cut-up-to-here slits in the sides. (Laura opted for her trademark black with fedora and scarf. The classics never change, I guess.) Finally, appearances secured, we moved into the Garden of Mo to kill a couple of minutes before heading out.

This is where the lines blurred. For a few moments, as I walked across the unkempt weeds and fretted about the upcoming firing line, I found myself seriously worrying about getting dirt on my suit. My virtual suit, in my virtual Garden.

Okay. Not a riveting story, I'll grant. But it is another data point. More to come.
Monday, May 02, 2005
The Australian Martian Druid Conspiracy
As I was making some minor adjustments to the Garden of Mo, I made a startling discovery. The Linden eucalyptus trees are not what they seem! Oh, I can hear you now. "But, Moriash, they're just trees!" Skeptics! Unbelievers! I have seen the truth, and so can you! What secrets can the humble Linden eucalyptus tree hold? Click the image below to find out... If you dare!

Do you see? Do you see the faces? Don't believe me? See for yourself! The sinister, staring face is branded on the trunk of every eucalyptus tree on grid! Is it just a coincidence? Is it a message for the people of Earth, like the face on Mars? Are secret factions within Linden Labs cooperating with the Australian government to take over Second Life? Is it a warning from the ancient and little known Australian Druids? Is it an Australian Martian Druid Conspiracy?! More on this exciting story as events unfold.