SLBlogger Back Up

The [SL Blogger Weblog][SLB] is now once again running. Chage McCoy is responsible for poking Adam (I think a bit too heavily :) ) once Drupal spent way too long fixing the exploit that caused said downtime in the first place.

That’s the main reason you’re not seeing Drupal here. I’ll stick with WordPress, thank ya.

Well, now that I can access those articles again, I’ll begin to xfer them over here for completeness. Though looking over the old entries, I already see that it does not place timestamps. Argh!

Ah well, back to my own setups, starting with adding SLB to my webring here. ;)

–Alan

[SLB]: http://www.slblogger.com

From a Latus to a Meta World

A [recent white paper][VRAS] (though not yet done) referenced in the New World Notes weblog made me swing by the GoG forums again, regarding a discussion on Cyan’s [Latus Project][Latus].

The two have an interesting parallel: The want to have a distributed system of 3D interaction worldwide, while still allowing small group entitiesto work on their own.

This is the crux of what I feel is a meta world. It can be just you, a small group of friends (LAN or WAN), or encompassing the entire Internet and then some. The smaller group is important, in fact vital – for it is in those smaller groups that big things begin to happen…

–Alan

[VRAS]: http://slwriters.cust.nearlyfreespeech.net/wiki/index.php/Virtual_Reality_Architecture_Standard
[Latus]: http://forums.guildofgreeters.com/index.php?showtopic=7070

‘Rock Stars’ and growing Uru

Quick note regarding a [post][1] on Babbage’s weblog:

You do not, per se, need to be a content creator to be a ‘rock star,’ or for that matter to be even mildly noticed in some circles.

My appearance as an Honor Guard for the Until Uru St Pats Parade, has gone from a one-time thing to a group of volunteers who add content to an apparently ‘contentless’ environment. I’ve also been involved in other events in UU such as a Trick or Treat event, avatar hunts, and user-created puzzles. All within the restrictions of an environment that people thought had no new content.

And now, at least in the Prime (single player) game, we are beginning to have the tools to *really* create our own content.

There are many other individuals and groups within the Uru community who would agree with me that the people themselves make the environment live – no matter where that environment is. It does not matter if one uses the ‘true’ meta worlds like Second Life, There, and Eve Online, or even a semi-meta world like Until Uru or NeverWinter Nights. What matters is that the players themselves, pick up those tools before them and create their own wonders…

–Alan

[1]: http://secondlife.blogs.com/babbage/2005/11/do_you_feel_lik.html

There.com – Investigating New Options

I have spent the past few days now playing in the There.com meta world. It is the main competitor to Second Life, and has some vastly different philosophies that are making me take a hard look at my remaining a hard-core SL player.

First off, it does not cater to Mature content. Most would be turned off by this, but as an Until Uru player who is trying to find a way for the entire family to meet online, SL will not allow me to meet with my younger neices and nephews. They would end up on the Teen Grid, away from me (and rightly so – the content has gone from the standard R-rated stuff you’d find in everyday RL today, to near or beyond X in some cases). In There, everything is pre-screened before its allowed in, period. And they won’t allow Mature content until they can find a way to keep it to restricted areas.

Second, they have working physics, in particular for vehicles. I’ve never had so much fun on a vehicle in *any* game until I hopped on a hoverboard in There, or running full tilt boost on a buggy. An absolute thrill, and something I’ve never been able to experience with SL.

Third, an _opt-in_ combat/collision system. Called a ‘Forcefield,’ you have to turn it off to be pushed or attacked. Something that SL residents have been downright screaming for, There has already.

Fourth, system stability. I’m very forgiving of the SL system, I know they’re trying to do a lot. But between the 1.6 and 1.7 releases, plus the horrid growing pains they are still experiencing, makes certain parts of the world rather unstable. It’s not helping that stability is a fleeting thing, and not quite able to pin down the source of the latest set of server-side bugs causing this. The user community helps (I’ve seen that firsthand in the IRC channel), but even they feel stifled at times — since it appears that Linden Labs (the company running SL) is not certain what’s going on either.

Fifth, a well-defined economy. Everything revolves around the Therebuck (T), which you have to purchase from There at about 1800T/1$US. Those taking advantage of the current Basic/Premium package pair can add up to 40$US in T at discounted rate (about 2100/1) with the one-time upgrade to Premium; They specify the $40 level as ‘have everything,’ and those being even partially careful can in fact go a long way with that. Everything is bought, sold, and even re-sold from within the embedded interface so its easy to find things. You can even submit your own things that can be sold (for fees of course, but appears to be worth it from what I can see so far).

Second Life is hard to find new things to buy, and its economy has been rattled back and forth to some measure of uncertainty (I’m not alarmist, just having a partial lack of confidence regarding SL’s economy – like many others have).

And last (but certainly not least), a much larger portion of the Uru community is in There than in SL. Enough so in fact, that they appear to be helping to steer the metaworld into another form of Uru Live. That was the original goal I was heading toward when approaching SL so long ago, and its fallen a bit short of the mark (though not as much SL’s fault, as it is the downright hostility of its cummunity base sometimes).

Now don’t count me as a Therian Fanatic just yet. There has its own shortcomings, the biggest of which is that you do not have any rights to what content you submit to there.com – it becomes theirs legally. A proper comparison of the two will be forthcoming in a page post. I’m just willing to live with these for now, and as things progress I will see how things end up.

So here I am, pondering of all things a full-scale defection to There. Because it would be a rather poingant thing to do: Approaching the in-world equivalent of the Linden Labs offices like Martin Luther, leaving a prim paper of some sort on its ‘front door,’ and cancelling the Alan Kiesler account. Fitting too, since I’m a Protestant. :) I’ve definately made enough of a decision to add There to my musings at this point, and changed the subtitle of this weblog appropriately as well.

The moment this post heads up and other SL residents take notice, I’m sure to gain some interesting comments on the matter (on both sides). But remember, my reason for SL was always as a place for the Uru folks to gather. I’ve seen that both There and the Until Uru environments are much more active in that regard than Second Live would ever appear to be. Therefore, I have my two environments to hedge my bets, and SL can well fall by the wayside.

–Alan

An Ending Not Quite Written

I’ve gotten word that Cyan is back, with most of the employees hired back. References here:

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2005/09/cyan_after_12_m.html
http://forums.guildofgreeters.com/index.php?showtopic=9165

The word from Rand is somewhat guarded, but not surprising: “. . . Managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat (that I can’t give details about yet) . . .” and “. . . Crazy industry. It’s giving me whiplash!”

As one of the former Live players, and an active Until Uru player, I feel this is very good news. Hopefully the project related to Lattus and Something Else will come to frution now.

Also, as a SysAdmin, I understand all too well his second comment. The computer industry, and in particular the gaming industry, has had its ups and downs, focus and re-focus, in almost a series of fads. Myst was one of the first widespread of those re-focusing points, back toward the classic Adventure genre. We’re away from that again right now, into what sadly appears to be more violent territory. Perhaps they can find a way back.

Awaiting more info, as always, patiently…

–Alan

A Long Weekend of Concern

Much has happened over the weekend, best to place in one post as things are just winding down.

### Cyan closing up last week

On 9/2/05 it was mentioned on the blog for (now former) Cyanist [GreyDragon][1] that Cyan had layed off most of its employees. This is a saddening time indeed for those of us who have been involved in Myst and Uru, and formed our own communities within. A [followup post][2] has explicitly stated that Ubisoft is *not* at fault for this and has been extremely helpful in the publishing and marketing of _Myst V: End of Ages_, due out next week. I agree with GD’s perspective on the latter, and hope Rand the best in trying to get some sort of funding back up for the Somthing Else project or the other project I heard rumors about.

There is not much I can say that can extend beyond the (very copious) comments within the two posts, and can only add my farewell /salute (aka /hug) and my personal determination that this will not stop the communities from continuing on.

Even if that requires us to collectively pick up Until Uru or H’Uru or whatever by its bootstraps and continuing it ourselves.

No ending is fully written, only chapters, and on top of that we always live within the moments of beginnings and endings. This just allows a new chapter to open, a new time for us as an Uru community, and one that I’m looking forward to see.

[1]: http://www.thegreydragon.com/2005/09/time-of-your-life-almost-all-of-cyan.html
[2]: http://www.thegreydragon.com/2005/09/debt-just-so-everyone-knows-cyan-is.html

### Mother in Hospital again

The same Friday that I learned about Cyan I got a call from my aunt saying my mother was admitted to a hospital again; She’s had another stroke. I did try to visit on Saturday, she was having tests done and was unable to see her. Hopefully I’ll have time on Wed while I’m in the area, and will try to visit this Friday or Saturday as well.

### The weekend of 9/11 – Working

I was at work this past weekend, both days, much as I’d rather have been in NYC on Sunday the 11th. Not much I could do, it was an important thing had to be done and I’m happy that, at the end, everything was good on Monday.

But despite the fustration and haggardness at the end, a part of me was glad to have worked this weekend. I lost two good friends on the 11th, co-workers whom were visiting the towers that day on business. I buried my emotions in work the rest of that week, getting things working so clients could do their work in our spare office space. That later backfired on me, but is another story.

So you’d think I would avoid work that day. Well, thinking back on this year so far, I’ve done so much – in RL, Uru, and SL. I think I wanted to prove to myself, once and for all, that I’m out of that blackness I dug myself into the initial months after 9/11.

If so, then I’ve proven myself to be once again back. I’m hoping that I can now keep this attitude the rest of my life. Perhaps this little spot of mine will help, we shall see…

–Alan

Quick note regarding Katrina

Unless you’ve been well away from both the popular media and the Gulf area of the US, there are lots of posts in weblogs and elsewhere regarding Katrina. I have nothing new to say to what’s already out there, and to be honest its not what this weblog is for.

However, from an Uru perspective, this community is a tight one and the effects of it ripple through the varying forums (peruse the two Uru forum links on my sidebar for examples). We all do care, and help in our ways.

*Bows head in silence*

-Alan

[SLB Import] Uru saved my soul

Yes, that’s one hell of a statement I’ve made there, but is a correct one.

Flip back to 9/11/01.  I lost two co-workers who were also good friends.  One of them taught me how some of our app works, so now checking it I always think of him.  And of course they were visiting that day, was not their normal office.

My next two years afterward were a bit of a blur really, due to a darkness that settled over me; I honestly cannot remember most of it.  I had moved to 3rd shift as my apathy came to an all-time low, and had settled into a routine that helped to slowly climb out of it.

November 2003, two things happened: New notebook, and Uru came out. The notebook was to create a fresh start, mark a new time in my life (I did the same with the car, in getting my first Prius one month later). Uru, however, I waited on since like all games I now waited due to patches and bugs. Plus I was extremely skeptical of Live at the time.

Well, after X-mas that year, I had spent some money getting the Myst Anniversary DVDs, and played them. I realized that I should try Uru after all, and got it. And finished it two days later. And applied for Live, for the heck of it.

I got in quickly enough, as one of the ‘Accounting Error’ group just after New Years. It was laggy, and overcrowded, and problematic. But realized from talking to others online that I had found a new group of friends. That *we* were going to be the story, for which an ending should not have been written.

But, alas, it was. The shutdown occured on my birthday no less. And yes, I’m still bitter at Ubisoft over this. I’ve been through the hell called the Diablo 2 server issues, and Uru Live was nothing like that, never would have been like that. It just needed time, and they were not given it; That’s it.

So why do I stand by this claim of Uru saving my soul? Many reasons. It introduced me to forum culture. It gave me a new circle of friends that I could understand and be with, even at my hours. And most importantly, it gave me a direction again – which I needed badly to get out of that darkness my soul was in.

But with Live offline, there was uncertainty of what I would do next. I swore off online games totally for a while, and forums as well for a bit. But I began seeking, and quietly heard of some places where people were trying this again.

That’s when I heard about Second Life…