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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Friday, June 29, 2007
Script Is Missing from Database
Okay, I've just gotten my third "Script is missing from database" error in the last week. I believe the colloquial term is WTF?!

This one was for a product I was releasing this evening. Vexing. Fortunately, it is only a freebie, and the scripting was complete. The executable is still intact and functional. I guess I just won't be making any upgrades to it. But, still. This should not happen.

Oh, by the way, the first smartass that says "You should backup your scripts on your local hard drive!" dies. Painfully. If I can't depend on SL's asset server to keep up with a damned plaintext file, something is drastically, catastrophically wrong. Yes, by all means, keep up with every disposable plywood cube in my Trash folder until the end of days. But that script I spent a few hours pounding out last month? Eh, it's not important. Flush it!

And, while I'm bitching, what is up with the change to llOwnerSay? Why was it even necessary to change the format of the OwnerSay messages in the first place, and why didn't someone check it before pushing it to a few million customers? Now, every time one of my scripted items speaks to its owner, the message is prefaced with "Object say, ..." as in "Object say, Me am speaking now!" It makes such a wonderful impression on my customers when my products sound like ESL class dropouts.

Honest, folks, I have a basic grasp of English! It's not my fault! I swear, I'm going to post that on a 10 meter tall sign in front of my shop. I'm sure there are dozens of grammatical errors, typoes, etc. strewn throughout the client. But this one actively makes me and every other scripter out there look ignorant. 99% of the SL residents won't realize the problem comes from the client. They'll just assume the scripter doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. Not. Good.

Addendum, June 30, 2007
I guess I should have followed my own advice here (the bit at the end). Second life, on the whole, is teh awesome. And the Lindens are doing a bang-up job with a system that is teetering perpetually on the edge of total meltdown, with a few hundred thousand new residents coming along every month to give it a push. Stuff happens, and I expect it. Sometimes, you just have to vent, though. That's what weblogs are for. It's my blog, and I can bitch if I want to.

Ahem. Anyway. On with your web browsing.

More Snapshots
Just cleaning out my snapshots folder again.

Today marks the final day of the Garage of DOOM. At right is a picture of the Anklebiter monster, taken for a promo sign posted by Onder Skall at his in-world games storefront. The sign shows this picture and the text "the Garage of DOOM." It dispenses a notecard with landmark and the game description, "Shoot monsters. Don't die." Oh, and a picture of me running away from a dozen assorted baddies in the Garage. Simple, but apparently effective, if my traffic numbers are to be believed. Big thanks to Onder for pointing people my way, and for the general support of my gaming efforts.

Sadly, I've had to let it go. Between the prim requirements, the innate SL simulator limitations, and the lag-induced glitches (a new casino in the sim, built out of physics-raping megaprims and stocked with slot machines and camping chairs, tends to drag down the sim performance a tad), it was becoming more frustration that it was worth. I've about come to the conclusion that you just can't make a decent arcade-style game in SL, especially when you don't own your own island. I may get around to posting a post-mortem here someday, but I believe that's going to be the main point.

A moodily lit picture of the down transport from the SkyLounge. I recently relocated the Lounge and combined it with the new Mo-Tech Industries shop (which I'll talk about in another post). But this part stayed the same. I think ballistic reentry is considerably more stylish than a mere elevator.

This discovery made me want to cry. One evening, I had occasion to crank my view distance up to 512 meters. I can't remember why, now, and I wish I hadn't. In the far background, you can see the SkyLounge, at 4000-plus meters. In the foreground, you can see some faux ground slabs hanging in the air. Apparently, someone decided to start a build at max altitude, and was doing so right on my doorstep. I haven't checked on it recently, mostly because I didn't really want to know. I have hopes that the constant need for re-rezzing at these heights scared the would-be builder into a lower altitude build. Apparently, there just isn't anyplace you can build for privacy in SL. Not even at four kilometers above ground.

Addendum, 11:30pm
I just checked. The skygrass is gone. Crisis averted, I guess.

Nothing much to say about this one. On left is Will Webb, with glowing light-source halo. At right is yours truly, wielding a blue flashlight. Said flashlight has menu controls to change light color and flashlight body color. Kind of a fun thing to play with. One day, I may get around to selling it. Or just giving it away as a freebie.

Addendum, 11:28pm:
It's now a freebie at the new and improved Mo-Tech Industries. Search for "Mo-Tech" in the Classifieds and drop by for your copy! Just don't expect any upgrades anytime soon.

Here I am in a jail of my own devising. Were I of a more introspective bent, I might have something profound to say at this point. But, as it is, I'll just yammer about the technical aspects. The jail and HUD are going to be used in an upcoming Jail an Avatar fundraising event for SL Relay for Life. Basically, volunteers let themselves be locked inside the jail, and try to persuade friends to come donate money to buy their freedom. This has been done before, of course. But I decided to make it a little more sophisticated (or perhaps just needlessly complicated).

The HUD allows one jailer to remotely control multiple jails (currently limited to 10, but more could be added easily enough, if prims allowed). He can remotely open or close a jail, change the required donation amount, and reset as necessary. It also relays status information from each jail, including current occupants, current donation amounts, and any error messages that come up. The error checking is what proved to be the most complex, as expected. I had to deal with situations where the volunteer may stand up before reaching his goal. I don't know if every Jail an Av device has provision for this (they should), but there are just too many cases where an av can accidentally (or on purpose) vacate his seat. And it causes all sorts of problems if his donation drive ends prematurely.

Finally, I settled on a manual state-change system. Once an avatar sits in a vacant jail, the door slams shut and the jail changes to collection mode. If he stands up/disappears, the jail door opens for him (it's bad form to trap an avatar), but continues to collect in his name. This gives him the chance to return to his seat after a relog, sim crash, teleport, accidental stand, etc. without the jail losing track of the money he collected. All money goes to the jailer for processing, in any case, but it would be unfortunate if technical difficulties caused someone to have to start his donation drive from scratch. (More than likely, he'd just give up and move on.) This way, he can pick up where he left off, even if his client crashed or the simulator went down.

The down side is the jailer has to decide for himself when an abandoned jail is truly unoccupied. He'll receive a message, "John Doe has left his jail early!" But it will be up to him to find out what happened, and clear the jail if required. I suppose I could have come up with a timer to reset the jail in such situations. I went as far as starting that, actually, but decided that it would be better to have a live jailer with his human judgment mediate the situation. I'm sure I'll catch flack for not making it all automagic but, given that real Lindenbucks are changing hands, I'd prefer to require a real live human be present to monitor the process.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Three haikus found in an unfinished draft e-mail that I started a couple years ago:

Heed well, young player!
Scantily clad enchantress,
She's a man, baby!

"I R sexy grrrl!"
Says the fat man from Jersey,
Dressed in Wood Elf togs.

Online gender lies.
Pixels are cheap surgery
For swapping gonads.

Okay, they may only be 5-7-5 patterned poems. I don't think you can legitimately call it a haiku unless you mention cherry blossoms or Mount Fuji. In any case, just thought I'd share.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Folks, as part of my tiering down campaign, I'm afraid I'm going to have to shut down the Garage of DOOM. Once I've reached my required tier goal (hopefully before my tier payment in early July), I will no longer be able to support the prim requirements for the game space and associated monsters. Play it while you can, because the GoD will be gone on July 1.

Thanks to everyone for the comments and encouragement over the past few months. It's been fun.
Earlier, I went through some old SL-related e-mails, and ran across this unused and forgotten draft for a Plywood comic. As far as I am concerned, the Plywood Players Present comics were kind of cheating, in any case. When I posted a PPP, odds are it meant I was either feeling burned out or was out of real ideas. Not that some of them weren't pretty good, if I do say so myself, but they always felt like pointless filler to me.

Title: Plywood Players Present #N

Frame One:
A typical court room. Gretel, dressed in black robe, plays the judge. She's sitting behind the bench at left, gavel in hand. Jayne sits at the witness stand at right, dressed in formal attire suitable for court. Jon stands in front of the bench, center of frame, with white hair and the trademark light grey suit. He's playing the part of Matlock, the famous TV lawyer.

Caption (at top) The Plywood Players Proudly Present... Matlock

Matlock (Jon): So you say you saw the defendant leaving the victim's house?
Witness (Jayne): Yes.
M: From your shop waaay over on the other side of the sim.
W: That's right.

Frame Two:
Change camera angle. Jon/Matlock stands at left, gesticulating in a casual manner as he speaks. Gretel/Judge still sits at her bench, now at right of frame, watching Jon/Matlock. The Prosecutor, played by Spicoli in formal black suit, stands at his table in the background, visible between the two. (The defendant, who is irrelevant to the story here, is conveniently hidden by Jon/Matlock.) Spicoli's hand is raised in objection, and his mouth is open. Jayne/Witness is not visible, but it's assumed she's out of frame at right.

M: Now, I'm just a simple country boy, and I don't understand all this technical mumbo-jumbo, but I have to ask...
M: Mrs. Smith, what is your draw distance?
Prosecutor (Spicoli, with emphasis): WTF?!
P: Objection, your honor! Relevance!
Judge (Gretel): I'll allow it. But get to the point, Mr. Matlock.
M: Thank you, your honor.

Frame Three:
Back to original camera angle. Jon/Matlock is addressing the witness. The witness looks upset.

M: Mrs. Smith?
W: It's...
W (emphasis): It's 64 meters.

Frame Four:
Same camera. Witness is slumped in her chair, defeated and deflated. Matlock smirks. Judge bangs gavel.

Offscreen Jury/Audience: Gasp!
J: "Order in the court!"
M: "I rest my case!"

And that was the joke. See, I was going for the old lawyer show cliche about the nearsighted eye witness. Said witness is somehow deprived of his glasses at the time of the incident, and is ultimately revealed to be lying about seeing the wrongly accused defendant. It's been in every legal drama ever made, in one variation or another. And low draw distance equals nearsightedness. See? Ha ha ha?

Draw distance. I was going to make a comic gag centered around draw distance settings. What was I thinking?
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
SkyPod 1 RIP
Well, after two-and-a-half years, I finally removed SkyPod 1 from the Garden of Mo.

Unfortunately, due to recent RL events, I'm having to cut my holdings in Louise and tier down. This meant removing unnecessary prim expenditures. And, given that I haven't been in SkyPod 1 for more than five minutes at a time in the last few months, I decided to let it go.

Still, I'm feeling a bit wistful and generally depressed about it. SkyPod 1 was the first thing I built on my First Land plot, way back in early January, 2005. And the Holodeck was my first substantial scripting endeavor. I think every technically inclined newbie comes up with the idea of scripting a furniture swapping, prim saving system at one time or another. It's almost a rite of passage.

I have fond memories of tinkering with the SkyPod's furniture, making jokes about getting pureed by the giant spinning blades, carefully arranging classic literature (or the notecard-dispensing prim equivalents) on the tables in an attempt to look cultured... I'm going to miss seeing it hanging there above me, suspended from its tireless, counter-rotating props. It feels like the end of my Second Life childhood.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Last One Out...
...Turn off the lights.

In two and a half years of upheavals and crises, this is the first time I have honestly felt that the end of Second Life was nigh. This is, frankly, scaring me. And, clearly, it's scaring Linden Lab, too. Otherwise they wouldn't be making such ill-conceived and intrinsically flawed statements in doomed hope of forestalling another lawsuit. The recent morality-releated changes (the umpteen announcements on ageplay sex, the age verification, the casino rulings, and the list goes on) all smack of desperate, one-hand-doesn't-know-what-the-other-is-doing flailing, not an organized plan for the future of Second Life. I just don't know what to make of all this yet. It makes me want to stand in the Welcome Area and greet each newcomer with "Are you sure you want to be here?"

I don't have anything more to say about this, except to express my anger and outrage. Some assjack suing because his 'sploitz didn't work out may very well end up killing the next step in the evolution of the information age.