January 11, 2012

Ruined

Posted in Grids, Second Life, User Experience tagged , , , , , , , at 10:16 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

The OpenSim Provider Keitly was the first to sell (OpenSim-)land pretty cheap due to a trick. When no user is on a sim, it goes into a suspension mode thus not needing any server resources. Now Linden Lab has copied this trick to save real money. Other than Kitley, Linden Labs savings am not reflected in price savings for Linden Labs customers. As the CEO said, all that is to be expected, is that Second Life land fees do not increase in 2012.

Still one could think its a good thing, if the company makes Second Life more profitable, the product is safe, and as long as it doesn’t hurt someone?

Well it does. I rented mainland espacially because of the neighbourhood to the protected(!) Route 2 and its wateraccess because I like to make tours in air, on water and on land. And now its ruined with that “innovation”.

Missing neighbourhood

1. Sims am not visible while noone is on them.
2. have to boot from suspension when you enter them, which may take a minute and does not preload the scenerie.
3. I can only see the sim my land is on. Good thing my land is more in the center

So its simply not possible anymore to travel fluently with, lets say even a slow 10 mp/h speed over mainlandregions.

I feel screwed by Linden Lab!

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December 22, 2011

IBMs technology predictions and virtual worlds

Posted in Hypergrid, Metaverse, Second Life, User Experience tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 2:18 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

IBM recently published five technology predictions for the next five years and they do this regularly, so five years ago there have been some, too.

And one of that was the idea, that 3D Internet (with the example of Second Life) becomes as common, as the 2D version. Maybe this was even the start of the mediahype around Second Life.

At an article of MSN News from the time you can read the one point about it:

‘• The 3-D Internet: Pohle said this technology is “about translating the user experience on the Internet from being almost a replication of a piece of paper – a Web ‘page’ – to almost a three-dimensional experience on the Internet.” Basically, a virtual world a la Second Life, with open borders.

IBM has been experimenting with virtual environments for locales ranging from Eternal Egypt and Russia’s Hermitage Museum (open now) to China’s Forbidden City (due in 2008). Just this month, the company announced a deal with Circuit City for an experiment in Second Life retailing.

As the 3-D Internet develops, IBM says it will be aiming for the integration of virtual environments into a seamless whole.

“Instead of separate islands of virtual worlds, where you cannot cross over from one to the other in a consistent way, IBM’s vision is to allow your virtual personal to cross over from one world to another, much in the same way you can go from one page to another on the Internet without losing any consistence, enabling all sorts of new applications of the technology,” the company says in a 3-D Internet fact sheet.

Pohle said “we’re not sure where this is going to lead, but the experience you get going to a 3-D site is a very different experience from what you get using the traditional Internet or a messaging tool.”‘

Other articles often emphasized the idea to experience Real Life products in such a world and then being able to purchase them there, even todays reviews in context of the new predictions.

But how should that work? The key element for the user of 3D worlds to become immersed are mirrorneurons. You see something and it is set in context with previous experiences which then am felt again, as if they were part of the action.

Lets have a look at one project that tried exactly that. The now gone motorcompany Pontiac tried it with their car “Solstice” and the result was this car, which is still wide spread as a freebie:
2006 Pontiac Solstice

Its a very good work for its time, which in Second Life terms is actually from another age completly, and Pontiac spent quite some money in that built, yet its only an oversimplified model of the design. You could not really  judge the looks from it, if you compare it with a good ol`2D photography of the actual product:

2006 Pontiac Solstice

But when you have seen the Solstice, you can see it in the 3D Version. It even gets worse when think of actually touching the car or how it feels sitting in it. Can you judge it by seeing how your Avatar fits in? No, you won’t, with the exception that you once sat in the car and renember that while your minds alligns your experiences with that of your avatar.
And let alone the drive scripts, in Second Life those are far from a realistic driving experiencing let alone one that represents the car. In simulation games like Forza this is actually a feature. Yet even the best simulation can’t simulate the sense that rallydriver Walter Röhrl once called “Popometer” (could be translated to buttsensor), an amalagan of all sensoric impulses. I actually made the experience that good RL drivers often suck in games, because the lack of the “Popometer” leaves them somewhat blind.

So the 3D Pontiac Solstice can’t tell you anything, and somehow you only really can experience it as an Solstice, if you had at least one RL-testdrive with the car, completely turning around the idea of presenting products in a 3D world to test them there.

So if you, as a potential buyer, want to buy a product, your still left with 2D photos and information sheets and a real life experienced testdrive (our testseating on a couch, e.g.) while 3D only has shortcomings, at least as long as there is no metaverse available with the simulationquality of the (movie-)Matrix.

Its quite similar with other tasks. You can write your emails in Second Life or OpenSim, or even do quite some more “work” of that kind in case its available as online application with the option of viewing websites inworld, but why should you, when the very desktop or notebook you use to access the virtual world is by far better suited for the task. Information is often presented in 2D because another dimension adds no value to it.

So what is really missing to make 3D internet is a killer application, something everyone needs to do and that is (almost) only possible in an immersive, shared, 3D envirenment.

I was suggested to me that learning and meetings / presentations could be that, but in my opinion it fails on the fact that you have to be already immersed into a virtual world, before it becomes beneficial, lacking the easy access that is needed to make it into a killer application. Another area, where 3D Internet can be very beneficial is the health sector, yet it is to hope that we are never in a situation where nearly everyone needs this.

I really don’t see how 3D Internet would ever be as common as the 2D Internet, and I don’t think it will ever reach a high penetration, while often those who found their use of it, like me, hold it very dearly.

Yet one prediction of IBM came true, that there will be a more indipendent approach and that virtual worlds would be not really seperated anymore. This technology is here with Open Simulator and the Hypergrid.

November 9, 2011

Snowland is No(go)land

Posted in Second Life tagged , , , , , at 4:18 am by SarahAndrea Royce

Triggered by the recent fun on the Route 2 in the north of the continent Heterocera Atoll. As beautiful as this road and many of its other roads was, as disappoiting was the continent Sansara, as far as I read the first one ever to appear in the virutal world of Second Life.

I was inspired to visit it by an article in the virtual magazine (how maching ;- ) “The Second Life Builder” which pointet to an old treet.tv article about a snail rally that was held there.

The first hard thing was to find a rezzone. I tried to made my start where the road of that certain rally began and I flew over many seems without spotting a single one. Finally I used the search and came out a a rezzone in the middle of the continent. At least I could start than. And not only where the roads sterile in texture and “flow” (all straight ahead or with sharp angles). Along the way were all kind off buildings and shops and very very big advertisement signs. Actually I was more than a little renembered of the uglier roads in the USA, where I made to great roadtrips together with my mother. Avoid staying in Flaggstaff, by the way. As romantic as the Santa Fee Express, the Route 66 and Flaggstaffs mentioning in Stephen King novels may paint it.

When I entered the Snowlans, the new Hardtop of the 1957 came in Handy, and I found even three places that where nice enaugh to take a photo. Yet the only positiv thing I can say, is that the textures of the roads where somewhat nice 😉

one of the view nice spots

Frozen roads

The best photo I could take on a bridge, I really love the way the shadows work out:

Great Shadows

Its a shame that a themed roadnetwork like that what was not built with the same feeling as it was the coastal Route 2.

I searched a random youtoube video as a message to the Lindens. This is how a mountain road in winter would look like:

November 8, 2011

MachinimaMonday

Posted in Second Life tagged , , , at 8:33 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

There is a group in Second Life for Machinimatographers which has weekly meetings. The MachinimaMonday Group.

Earlier this day, yesterday for americans, I attended the Machinima Monday meeting. A very good opportunity to learn more about machinima making and see a lot of good ones:

Virtual Marathon

Ambrosia’s trialer

Burn2 – Artists in the Desert by Scissores

Funny thing is, with attending such meetings at ungodly hours (4-5am in the morning, you can see my dire need for coffee in the photo) I bump into more and more second life celebrities. After meeting Draxtor at the Month of Machinima Kick off event for November, dressed as a character of his latest machinima.
"Mesh gut, Ja, Jawoll!"
This time, two seets to my right (actually, from my point of view to the left), sat Evie Fairchield, one of the oldes Second Life Citizens and the first one to have a private owned sim ever.
Machinima Monday
And she entered a video for discussion, too:

Evie Fairchild – Through the Looking Glass, Avatar Repertory Theater

JJCCC Coronet – JJ La Roux

SarahAndrea Royce – Interlude

Actually it was well received, which made me quite happy 🙂

There were three more machinimas discussed but of different reasons I will not post them. One is not public, one was not from Second Life and one was my Trailer for Second gear. The idea of having a regular machinima show resonated quite well with the people who then were still there.

June 30, 2011

Windows update made me a quite a gift

Posted in User Experience tagged , at 8:44 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

I’m usually not much into gaming, so when I bought my computer I equipped it for my kind of use. Fast hard drive, much ram for virtual computer systems needed for my development needs. I have lots of virtual machines, often each for one project. What I didn’t need was a high end graphic card. I just wanted two displays, which, I was told by the salesman, is not a problem as its pretty much standard nowadays. (Oh, the envy I received when I was an early adopter of the concept ).

It was only a view days before Windows 7 where released and so I got my system pre-installed with Vista and an update option which I had to do myself, which I later on did. And that has to be the moment when it happened. I catched a wrong driver and didn’t know it. Graphic worked the way I needed it. And when I started Second Life last year it worked – and I didn’t know a lot about the options of the viewer you can use with a better card.

Somewhere along the way I tested if my card is able to user OpenGL, a common standard, for 3D, but that turned out negative. I used a small game someone made, GlTron
something bad is gonna happen. But to which one?
which runs smooth on any OpenGL system but flickering on any other system because without OpenGL all visual 3D rendering is done by the game itself.

And it didn’t work… so what. Ok, the game is fun 😉

Then lately I discovered that windows update has updates for drivers in a separate folder and there were a few waiting for installing… which I had never done. As a part of cleaning up my system I did a full update on all things relevant. Now I have made it a server system its even more important, to keep it safe and clean.

And than it happened. It turned out I have a NVidea GForce. It was not the top model and its not the most actual, but its a card that is for 3D, the system gave me the wrong identification along with the wrong drivers all the time. A 9800 GT, to be exact.

When I learned that, I was eager to try out if only the name changed or if it was really giving me better 3D results.

The first thing I tried was how it handles shadows:
Guess what makes this shadowGuess what makes this shadow, comments are open

And it did well, while not perfect. I was able to enable shadows and keep it smooth yet the frame rate still dropped to 13, not for everyday use, yet shadows (and lighting) are not always an improvement in Second Life or OpenSim Worlds:
Shadow looks good, o well, o no, what is this????My roadster looses its colour and chrome effect, washing out all the surface techniques I used
So I adjusted the other controls. More drawing distance (bandwidth for loading textures was never a problem), all reflections on water, detailed avatar appearance, anti-isotropic filtering and finally, I enabled anti-aliasing with a value of four. But no shadows. If I add them on top of this, the viewer even may crash.

What a difference. And what a nice gift from Microsoft… a modern GForce might be better, but now the graving isn’t that strong any more.

Oh. And guess what? That little Game works now, OpenGL is now implemented.

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