Monday, October 02, 2006
No, I'm not still malingering over my very minor injuries. I was perfectly fine within 48 hours. In fact, I've completed the wooden rocker platform, and firmly clamped the exer-cycle to it. The physical portion of the interface seems to work fine. It's a nervous business to mount the thing, as it rocks and tilts (rolls and pitches) under me as I climb aboard, but it's pretty stable once I'm in position. I'm surprised at how easy it is to balance on a platform that's a mere 9" wide by 16" long and resting on a padded carpet. I feel quite secure, even whilst pedaling at a reasonably good clip. It takes a deliberate act to overbalance the resting platform and lean on the outriggers. No more unintended backflips, anyway. I'm actually considering shortening the platform a bit, once I get used to everything. This will all make more sense when I get around to posting pictures.
Next step is to fit it out with tilt switches. I've purchased a few mercury switches for the purpose, but I'm not sure how they'll perform with sudden movements. Also not certain the platform will tilt sufficiently, especially in the roll direction. I opted for safety there, so it only tilts something like 10 degrees forward and back. I may have to trade the mercury switches for some kind of simple pushbutton switches that will close on contact with the floor.
I also have to track down a maddening short in the switch and wiring for the right turn control. I'm hoping it's just a wiring fault, and not an indication of degradation of my USB interface.
Then there's designing the in-world vehicle. I'm more than a bit dissatisfied with SL's vehicle code and general performance. And I'm sick to death of running to invisible no-entry lines at sim borders (when, oh when will they fix that?!), and having my vehicle continue on while my avatar drops to the ground and sits in mid air. I know of at least one or two houses that now have a half dozen test vehicles embedded in their rafters. Frankly, if you have your home flagged No Entry with no auto-return, you deserve to have your property littered with other people's crap. Most people (myself included) will at least attempt to clean up their messes... Provided they can enter your property to get to them. But I'll be derned if I'm going to spend half an hour playing camera tag to find lost vehicles and such from 30 meters away, just because you decide your prefab newbie box absolutely must be secure from any and all passersby who might have the temerity to walk on your lawn.
Sorry. After the 57th time this kind of thing happens, I'm a little irked. It's my weblog, and I'll gripe if I want to... Vent if I want to... Bitch if I want to... You would gripe too, if it happened to you! (With apologies to Lesley Gore.) Ahem. Anyway.
As far as the Garage of DOOM is concerned (haven't talked about that in a while), performance is a bit of an issue. When things are going well, the framerate is very nice. (I'm still a huge advocate of high altitude builds for this reason alone.) But it's pretty much unplayable during peak times, especially with multiple players. The lag hits the players harder than the monsters, making a difficult game impossible. It's just too easy to lag-freeze one second and die the next. I'm a little disappointed in this, and hope that it's a transient effect. Seems like every time I try to test it, some schmuck is launching a self-replication attack. I may have to put in a time dilation monitor to limit monster production during peak loads.
I think my hubris about minimal sim impact was probably unjustified, in any case. My one-man runs just weren't testing the system sufficiently. I'll have to do some further optimization (and have already done some), but this is never going to be a no-impact game. Unfortunate. I find it hard to feel too bad about this, though, especially given the transgressions of some of my neighbors (still haven't found what is dropping time dilation to 0.2 every 20 minutes or so, but it's unrelated to the GoD). I suppose I'm going to have to make some hard decisions for the general health of the sim. I'd hate to have to limit the game to single player, but I may have to at least cap it at two-man teams.
I have received quite a few comments from the beta test message recorder. Most have been quite positive. Some folks have asked for things like 3-D models and support for third-party guns. Quite a few people seem to be using their own guns, anyway. I fear I'm going to have to enable no-push on my property, once the no-push vs. objects is enabled (this coming update, if I remember correctly), just to keep people from blasting zombies into adjacent sims. I have failsafes to zot them after 60 seconds if they leave the arena, but I still get three or four monsters returned to me a day. I don't see the appeal of using third-party guns, given that they won't register damage against the monsters. Blasting them across the sim doesn't seem to be a lot of fun, but whatever keeps people entertained, I suppose.
As for 3-D monster models, well, not going to happen. They're physical movers. Even if I somehow had the prim count for decent prim statues, and the talent to make them, I doubt I could keep them under 31 prims (the limit for physical objects). I am kicking around making a boss monster, someday, and I expect it'll be a prim model instead of a cutout. Perhaps some kind of tentacled horror emerging from the manhole? We'll see.
A few people have suggested enabling the No-Fly flag, to keep folks from flying around the arena. Flying generally results in bouncing around the floors (unless you have a flight assist, you can't ascend at these altitudes) and slam into corners in the confined space, but it does give you a burst of speed. I don't think I'm going to do the No-Fly, mostly because it's obnoxious to passersby, but I am kicking around some kind of in-game punishment for flight. Perhaps some kind of special monster that rezzes only if you're flying, or maybe something built into the HUD to lock the player in place and/or damage him if he attempts to fly. I can't decide if I want to completely remove flight as a valid game strategy, or just make it costly in some way. I'll have to think about it some more.
And I notice someone beat my high score... Gonna have to do something about that.