Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The answer, as expected, was very simple

From the Second Life forums: set the dot to be "temporary when rezzed". Then it doesn't count against your prim limit. Well, that was easy.

To bulk this post out a bit, have a more representative picture (click to enlarge).


In which Suspicions are Raised regarding the Efficiency of Prim Counting

Your correspondent has perhaps become over-impressed with the idea of creating objects that follow one about or spy on one. Scripted objects of reasonable complexity so far consist of:

- A gun turret which raises an alarm when seeing anyone nearby, and also opens fire on them without even giving twenty seconds to comply;

- A CCTV camera on a pole which watches passers-by suspiciously, and also takes their names down;

- Some daft-looking fish in a tank. Okay, these weren't actually spying on anyone, but they did look as if they might be;

And today:

- A radar device using coloured dots to represent the positions of nearby people.

This has the following appearance:

small visual radar

(click for larger)

Unfortunately the snapshot function in SL doesn't appear to record floating text, but be assured that the yellow dot there had my name over it, and how far I was from the scanner (four metres I believe).

And that's all very well and good. It's not a terribly hard thing to scan an area for avatars. llSensorRepeat and the sensor event are what you want to look up here. Whenever a scan takes place, the device - I called it a Visual Radar Display, or VRD - goes through the list of people it has found, calculates a scale according to the maximum range so that the furthest avatar is placed at the outside of the display radius and everyone else is placed proportionately inside it, and then rezzes dots at appropriate positions.

Getting the dots to play nicely was the hard part. Each dot should have the name of the scanned personage floating above it, which initially I did by having the dot do a little mini-scan itself, except this is slow and doesn't work properly if there are lots of fast-moving avatars around. (Also, it can't scan from the position of the actual VRD, so things could go slightly wrong.)

I solved this with smart dots, which could be told what to display, and also told to disappear when a new scan was to take place. These dots listen on a channel exclusive to themselves for the VRD to tell them the name and range of who they represent, and whether that person is the owner of the VRD or not, in which case the dot should turn yellow. Fine. It all took a bit of tweaking but I don't mind doing that. Oh, it makes noises too when you turn it on and off, and you can give it voice commands to change the radius and the scan interval, did I mention that? I'm mentioning it now.

I did most of the testing in a sandbox, where there were lots of other people around for the VRD to scan, and then took it back to my home location to test, and that's where I encountered a slight problem. I have 38 prims left in my home area allowance, after I accidentally killed off the poor innocent fish. They live on in my inventory, don't worry, I will put them back. This should be plenty for radar purposes - the VRD itself is two prims, each dot including the central one is one and there's never more than three or four people within scan radius of my little abode in any case. Every time a new dot is placed, the old one is deleted first, so there shouldn't be any problem, should there?

Apparently there is because after a time I get an error message telling me that the VRD can't create a new object because my "parcel" (land parcel, it's not rude) is full. Well, it's clearly not full, is it? I delete all my unused junk. But there's no telling Second Life this. "Don't give me that," it says, "you're full, you're out of luck, I don't care, ha ha ha".

If I wait a bit I find that it does let me start placing dots again, which leads me to propose that perhaps, just perhaps, it's not keeping proper tally of objects in the area, and takes a while to notice that I've told a whole load of dots to die. This is probably something very well-known of course but I'm finding it very irritating. I don't have the prim allowance to build a huge spectacular building, and now it appears that I can't even pointlessly flood the place with coloured dots. Something must be done, or I will write a letter to the Telegraph.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

In which Ordinal expresses Frustrations regarding Modes of Transport, and hopes for a Bright Future

If there is one thing which has annoyed me more even than people rezzing enormous noisy waterfalls next to my home land before I worked out how to restrict spatialised sound, it has been the telehub experience. It's a nice idea in theory; telehubs suck create a de facto community area by making people who want to visit an area teleport to a central location first then make their way to their destination, which should not be more than a few hundred metres away.

In practice what this means is that land around telehubs becomes much more valuable commercially because it's the first thing that people encounter, having no choice in the matter, and tactics for getting your attention become extreme. It's not just a question of immense gaudy adverts everywhere, but also of you actually being constrained in where you can go. It's made worse by the fact that all the data has to be downloaded before you can avoid it, so, in practice, you take off from the telehub, fly for a bit as grey objects slowly appear around you, and then inevitably stop with a thump as you hit something that hasn't fully appeared.

Now comes the fascinating game of "find your way out of a building which you can't see". Let's try going above it... no, I've hit the ceiling. Maybe if I go a bit to the left... no, I'm still bashing my head against the virtual glass like a deranged fly. Often the only way to escape is to wait until the sex motel or shoe mall that you're trapped in has completely come into existence, and then see if you can find your way out. There is no C4 in Second Life. Unfortunately.

I really can't see how this works commercially. I'm not inclined to buy things in places that harass me. All I can think of is that this is land spam - if you throw it in enough people's faces, someone somewhere will buy something and make the effort worthwhile. It also appears to serve the commercial interests of land speculators, whether the tactic works or not, many of whom seem now to be complaining and demanding to be compensated for purchases that they have made which turn out now to be much less valuable - because now, in case you missed the announcements, point to point (P2P) teleportation is being introduced, the details being fairly sketchy details at the moment, but clearly it will mean that visiting telehubs becomes optional. And who would want to visit most of the ones that exist at the moment by choice?

I suppose there might be some ethical point if they have bought land direct from the Lindens at inflated prices when the Lindens knew that they were going to abolish telehubs in the near future, but if they've acquired them on the open market? Tough.

The effect of this on SL commerce isn't actually a point that concerns me in any case (and certainly not the effect on the property market). I'm looking forward to a situation where I can go where I want to go without being funnelled through a laggy sales zone. If that means that the structure of how stuff is sold has to change to one less based on annoying people, that's just an extra bonus.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

An introduction

Before I write any more I think that I should post a little about myself.

In Second Life I am Ordinal Malaprop, member of the Socialist Party and the Victorian Retrotech Society, birth date 9/9/2005. I'm mostly interested in scripting since, in my First Life, I am a programmer, but I'm also interested in pretty much anything else that comes along - socialising, politics, exploring how things work in Second Life.

me in a red jacket me in Victorian dress I'm a creator type. I do a little clothes design, but I'm not terribly interested in that - almost all of my time is spent on scripting and building, at this stage mostly tinkering. I build up a lot of in-game money because I don't have much to spend it on; the odd item of clothing or gadget that I see and think is cool, but rarely anything for a particular purpose (though I'm always on the lookout for quality Victorian clothes). I buy textures and sounds occasionally but they're not hard to generate myself or find on the net.

Firearms? Objects? Textures? I understand that this might not mean a lot if you're not a Second Lifer. It's probably easiest to visit the link to the left to the official SL site and read some of the descriptions. On a basic level, Second Life is an online multiplayer 3D environment where people can create and program objects in the game, unlike most such things where you are limited to whatever the authors provide. Players can build houses, furniture, robots, vehicles, clothes, weapons, all sorts. I'm going to assume for the purposes of writing this that the basic principles are generally understood, simply to make my life easier, but if there's any confusion leave comments and I'll do my best. I expect that most people reading this are going to have found it while specifically searching for Second Life material anyway so aren't going to need much basic explanation. In fact, you probably know more than I do.

First post

How shall I fashion me to wear a cloak?
I pray thee, let me feel thy cloak upon me.
What letter is this same? What's here? 'To Silvia'!
And here an engine fit for my proceeding.
I'll be so bold to break the seal for once.
(Two Gentleman Of Verona, Act III Scene I)

It's not meant to mean anything particularly. I could probably dig out some relevance if you like.