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

Fun /w Portable Music II

I’m sitting here waiting for the below-mentioned MicroDrive to finish its new format, and a later run with Norton Disk Doctor (if it allows me). Got some errors and trying to diagnose now.

In any event, attempt 4 will be to hijack what music I need onto a 512 Meg thumbdrive. Enough for a couple albums I listen to most, plus a hodgepodge collection to round out the free space.

Last I heard the actual HDD for work should be back this week.

[EDIT: Nope. *sigh* So much for hope. Still rebuilding, scanning, and futzing to try and clean the MD.]

–Alan

Fun /w Getting Music Portable

I normally would not post about anything remotely related to work, but this is bordering on a funny story and not really related to work per se.

Got hooked on listening to music at night, from co-worker leaving an external disk of his hooked up on the USB. He’s had it sent off to a relative for couple months now, and am getting serious withdrawal.

Not interested in kicking off a remote/Internet stream, as it gets logged and I feel that I’m skirting things as it is with [CGI:IRC][1] (though not as badly, its just a bunch of text). Also, the streams I preferred died due to lack of donations or other funding, or required something like WinAmp or some other player that was *not* the default in a Win2K environment (aka Media Player 9). So, I start to go about getting my own relatively small setup to bring on my own.

Now, one would think that it’s relatively easy to do this. Well, you’d be wrong. I have horrible luck at times…

Attempt 1: 1 Gig USB thumbdrive (fits enough for me to enjoy). I lost it at a Target store within 12 hours of thinking this and loading it with songs. Thanks to that I’m getting [StuffBak][2] tags for the important things, and ordered the second-gen Lexar SecureDrive II so I can also hold important files in encrypted form in case another loss occurs, even while attached to work PCs (thankfully there was nothing important on the damn thing).

Attempt 2: My Camera card (512 CF) and the small USB Reader I bought with it. Well, they’re also MIA at the moment, but known to be in the apartment somewhere anyway so not worried as much.

Attempt 3: A 4 Gig MicroDrive I was able to rip out of a semi-portable USB chassis, for which the normal connector failed (freebie from my father). Though the older reader is still MIA, a secondary was found in the form of the USB floppy drive I bought for my recently aquired SFF case. A bit bulky, but is doing the job OK for now. This begs for a pic, but as I said my Camera Card is missing. :(

Indeed, horrid luck. I’d have used the new notebook, but it will read everything except CF/MD. Figures.

[1]: http://cgiirc.sourceforge.net/
[2]: http://www.stuffbak.com/

Second Life Community Convention

I am currently sitting again at the NY Law School. This time however, the participants only for State of Play have left and now we’re about to kick off the Second Life Community Convention.

This is a first for Second Life. Though unofficial gatherings have happened before, this is an officially sponsored event. I hope that it will be an interesting way for the SL folks to interact in RL from here on.

More later in the week. I’m going to be busy from here on out today.

–Alan

[Followup] The weekend was a nice one, overall. I do not have much else to say really, something like SLCC or SoP is new to me and really don’t have anything to compare it to. I’m following a couple other folks’ blogs now (look to your right) and will comment to them as posts happen.

–Alan

State of Play – My summary

I’m writing this from the State of Play confrence right now, in the afternoon of the second day. I’ve had an amazing time, although being 3rd shift, I’m also horribly tired.

This is a terribly truncated summary, as there are much more detailed descriptions out there. Most of them have probably posted by now as well. :)

Day one was Oct 7, Friday. There was an initial discussion about the financial possibilities of the Meteverse applications like [Second Life][1] and [There][2], as well as the MMO environments like [WoW][3]. Questions ensued regarding regulatory and legal issues, and I think was quite interesting; I even had a shot to pop a question in myself.

Most of the late morning and the afternoon was evoted to workshops. I participated in one which was discussing virtial identities, and the sharing of such. A very good real-life example – maintaining reputation across MMO environments – was used as the starting point of the second half of the workshop, which was to come up with possible solutions. Suggestions from a simple linking mechanism to more details forms which would be useable by MMO hosts for quicker authentication were discussed, and all of them viable to one degree or another. It would be quite exciting to see if any of this actually comes to frution; Time will only tell.

The evening dinner was a discussion on the expansion possibilities of the more larger metaverses, in particular [Eve Online][4] and [Second Life][1]. Both use different forms of scarce or basic starting tools and/or resources, and for the most part allows the customer base to generate the content and interact as they see fit. They also are what’s called ‘one shard’ or ‘one location’ systems – unlike an MMORPG like [WoW][3] where its one fixed content server which is repeated as many times as needed to get your customer base up to the millions. It had also turned out to be quite an interesting discussion.

For the completeness in context of this weblog, I must remind that Until Uru is also a multi-shard system; However, though the content is both fixed and (currently!) not extendable at the moment, the players there have done an amazing time generating their own with tools even more scarce than what is available in an MMO. One upcoming example, the [D’ni Olympics][5], I in fact will probably be attending based upon the possiblility of my pulling out the Honor Guard ‘uniform’ again.

At this point, I collapsed at home for over eight hours; I had very little sleep Fri morning, but was quite enjoyable. Definately going to do this again.

So I arrived back here late in the morning, about 11 AM or so. Spent most of the time so far in the main lobby; Some PCs were set up (one of them crashed already :) ), available with the Second Life environment for login.

I did have a brief chat with Philip Rosedale (aka Philip Linden), regarding the 1.7 Preview, and the odd fact that I noticed some driver files of theirs says they are owned by NVidia. That was for my own curiosity, but I may post it. Still thinking about it…

–Alan

[1]: http://www.secondlife.com
[2]: http://www.there.com
[3]: http://worldofwarcraft.com
[4]: http://www.eve-online.com
[5]: http://www.dni-olympics.info/

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

Stepping back from SL, due to RL

After thinking about it, I do need the spare time right now to help my brother and my mother. Any off-time I actually find during this period I’ll likely spend on Myst V, or on the Greeters forums.

This is not the first time I’ve done this. However its the first time I’ve done it with land I actively need to maintain. I’ll login to Numbakulla from time to time since that only takes a few minutes; Otherwise right now I’m not seeing an issue as of yet.

Time will tell. I just hope that my mother gets better in the interim…

–Alan

Fun with SLCC Badges

In trying to get my mind off my mother Monday, I decided to work on getting a pic sent off that could be used on my ID badge at the SLCC confrence. I had gotten the email earlier in the day, and was also interested in re-stretching what skills I had in Paintshop Pro as well.

So, a couple hours and about six layers later, I had something I was reasonably happy with, and I hope reflects the fact of my links with Uru. It includes:

— A D’ni glyph of my full RL name, shaded real low to almost be like a watermark. The original was made for me by fellow Uru player Gadren.

— Shrunken pics of my Uru-TPOTS avatar, and a variant of my common forum avatar. The original picture used for the forum av was from a commissioned rendition of myself, as my favorite RPG character Sungak ‘Silverhands’ Alkandenes. (and anyone who’s seen the old sungak.net home page knows now where that came from too). The forum av is the one I use in the Uru forums, incidentally.

— And at the bottom, the SL avatar in a chair, in the setup I normally use. It of course includes my KI (Uru prop) and the shirt I made which has my RL first name on it as a D’ni glyph (also by Gadren).

I will post a link to it here, pending its approved. :)

–Alan