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The kindness of strangers

April 10th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

An Easter Portrait

I feel like this entry is practically a fashion entry — though it’s not really my best “fashion” photo above — so I will indeed add a “style card” at the bottom. You can click it to see the photo at a larger size. While I am sporting a whole lot of attire from the April round of Collabor88 and other current events, this post is actually more about the kindness of one of the designers for same.

It is often difficult to find good clothing for a kid avatar. Most of the kid stores are building for the Toddleedoo mesh child avatar shape, while adult designers are using the standard sizes to rig their outfits. This can often mean some fairly sparse pickins’ for an old-school kid avatar like me. I’ll write more about this in the future, including stores like Intrigue Co. and FATEwear/FATEplay which do sometimes make clothes for avatars like me

It can often be a disappointing search, especially with events. You might see something previewed on a blog that looks positively adorable, only to try a demo and discover that even the XXS size has got ample… space… up front. I could go on about how XXS size clothing from many designers still display at least a C cup bust, but I’ll save the rant for another time.

I saw a very cute skirt and blouse combination from The Secret Store. I’ve bought quite a bit over time from this store during various treks to The Arcade. I think I still have an abundance of spare skates and casette players in my inventory while hunting for rare items.

So I had to try this new outfit from Collabor88. It was simply too cute. As you can guess, however, it had a chest.

Unlike many, this wasn’t a huge amount, and I did opt to wear a white version of the top during Collabor88 set up, I was somewhat disappointed it did not have a flatter chest. While talking to the owner of The Secret Store, Maylee Oh, on other issues, I mentioned the top.

Mere moments later, she passed me a top to try out. It fit perfectly. I was stunned by how quickly she presented this, and that she would even be willing to do so.Thanks to her, I have four great outfits that people are going to get really tired of seeing me in this spring and summer, because I will be wearing these until they’re threadbare.

If you happen to be a child avatar, or just someone who prefers a flatter look for whatever reason, stop by Collabor88 and pick up the Betsy Halter Tank. Maylee does not have the kid size in the box there, nor has she reshaped any but the tucked halter — both things I hope she’ll consider changing down the line — but she is willing to provide the flat version of the top by request.

This is only one of many amazing things in Collabor88 this month, BTW, including things that would be great for SL kids. The Clawtooth hair is wonderful (though “Chick Habit’s” ponytail is clearly made for a larger chest), the Schadenfreude flats are amazing, and both MishMish and Half-Deer have brought the cute to the table. Check it all out when you can, but I know the sims will be jam packed for days yet.

Thank you again, Maylee. It really means a lot to me when someone will go that extra mile.

P.S.: If anyone wants a “typical” kid-size shape for creation or testing purchases, I have this one up on Marketplace and at my store in Bay City and Livingtree.

 

Welcome Home to Our World

April 5th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

A strange thing happened this week: I met Ebbe Linden

Me and Ebbe

Now I suppose this should not be too shocking, given I have a lot history of meeting Lindens. He’s not hardly the first, nor is he the first Linden Lab® CEO I’ve known. What makes this unusual, though, is how hard it has been to find Linden Lab employees inworld over the reign of the last CEO.

There were policies in place, I have heard, that prevented Lindens from socializing inworld. Instant Messages would go unanswered. Governance and support Lindens were hidden behind “Governance Linden” staff accounts. Office hours became user groups, and most of those were quickly shuttered. Linden Village – already decimated after the June 2010 layoffs, became an empty ghost town. By the same token, the blog and other forms of “official” communication went silent.

I can understand a lot of the reasons why. There were other policies that forbade Linden Lab staff from being on social media, too. No one wants the company tainted with a Justine Sacco-like situation. Likewise, the company insisted that they wanted the focus to be on the things its Residents created and did, not on their employees’ efforts. Fair enough.

Yet from its earliest days, Second Life™ has been a collaborative effort. The Lindens and the Residents, at first, worked very much hand in hand, with the Lab’s Liaison program hiring from the Resident pool. Additional Lindens worked with the Mentor program, or worked with both Lab and Residents in other ways.

This began to change during Mark ”M Linden” Kingdon’s era, and while many hoped that Rodvik “Rodvik Linden” Humble might revive some of that spirit, instead things went very much the other way.

Now — to steal liberally from Crap Mariner — it is not Ebbe Linden we should be seeing so much of. Yes, he should be there for the big events; the SL birthdays and such. He should be busy doing “CEO things,” however. Steering the company, keeping it profitable and well. At the same time, he should have people who work for him who can be that face, who can serve to communicate his and the company’s vision, who can help the community, and manage the same.

It would not be the first time I’ve noted this, but I think Second Life is better when Linden Lab’s staff are present on the Agni grid, experiencing what all of us experience. See what works and what does not, and understand what Second Life’s users experience.

I saw a big first step with this, not from seeing Ebbe inworld, but the following day

First, while out shopping at Happy Mood, I came across Marissa Linden at the same store. I then went to a new island in the chain of Linden Village regions on Northwestern Sansara, where I witnessed half a dozen Lindens setting up their own homes.

Linden Village

Linden Village during the Rodvik era was a symbol of how bad things were. It was abandoned, Empty, full of damaged and disused parcels. The feeling was, to me, that they really did not care for this world any more. They had moved on.

So this was heartening to see. It was great to see Ebbe, but it seems far better to see Linden Lab staff there, in Our World, with us. Experiencing the same joys and heartaches of any other user. It was a new symbol, one of renewal and hope.

Second Life is a shared experience, and really is best when it is shared at all levels. We all have something to bring to the table, and there is no better place for that than within Second Life itself.

Welcome Home, Lindens.

Dear Ebbe,

February 25th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

Ebbe Linden as the Iron Giant

Welcome to Linden Lab©, Ebbe. I hope you have a long and successful career.

First off, I have to welcome you. I read that you have had some experience with Second Life™ before, and I think that’s great. A lot of folks have complained in ages past that Linden Lab doesn’t always use Second Life, or at least does not use it like their Residents. I hope that you get some time in just to see the world and try your hand at Second Life when you aren’t otherwise tied up keeping the lights on at 945 Battery Street, or working on some of the Lab’s other gaming properties.

My name is Marianne McCann. I’ve been in Second Life now for eight years, almost to the day. I’ve outlasted three other CEOs — one of them twice — and have seen the Grid go through some amazing changes in all that time. The world of Second Life is not the one I originally joined, and has changed countless times. With your new role, it will change again.

Many people, as I’m sure you noticed, will be asking for your attention, for all sorts of issues. Heck, there’s already a parody Twitter account dedicated just to all the things folks might feel you need to do. In a world as diverse as Second Life, I’m sure that any requests will be just as diverse, even contradictory. On top of that, you have to look at the big picture. You are answerable to the Board of Directors, and you have to do the good job they expect of you.

That said, I AM going to ask of you just one thing. Not for me, mind, though it will certainly make my Second Life easier: communicate.

Now I don’t mean that you need to spend your day jockeying at Twitter or posting to the Second Life feeds and message boards. While that is appreciated, it’s far from sustainable. You’ll get swamped in a heartbeat.

But I hope you will consider looking at how the company as a whole can better communicate to us, the Residents of Second Life. There is a reputation of poor communication, and knowing what was going on with Second Life from the Lab’s perspective has often been spotty. The Community team staff, cut thin in 2008, has remained so, and communications has been largely relegated to a grapevine of Residents. The JIRA was closed. “Office Hours” between Residents and Linden Lab employees were shuttered. Lab employees were barred from fraternizing with Residents.

When no news is provided, people build their own narratives — and they tend to focus on little more than doom and gloom. It hurt everyone, not the least of which is Linden Lab.

The Second Life community can be a best friend or a worst enemy. Some days they’re both. The better the communications, the better information and resources are provided to us — and the easier it is for us to do what we choose to do in Second Life — the more times the community will edge towards the former.

The community — some would say communities — of Second Life is your best asset. It always has been. We do more than build the content, host the events, and fill up servers: we evangelize Second Life. Or we do, when we feel there is something worth evangelizing.

Now I don’t think this is anything surprising or groundbreaking for you. I’ve read your tweets, and you do seem to get how important this is. I only ask, as you go forward, that you keep it in mind, and do what you can to open — rather than close — communication channels.

Thank you for your time, and I hope we’ll hear more from you soon.

Looking back on my little part of 2013

December 27th, 2013 by Marianne McCann

Out on the Solstice

Out on the Solstice

In looking back at 2013, one really can just note that — not including this one — I managed to get a whopping two blog entries up here within the year. It’s just been that kind of year.

I helped get the Second Life tenth anniversary community celebration, otherwise know as SL10B, down the aisle. In some ways I was behind the scenes, helping to arrange for the regions, preparing the corn field and bear island — yes, that was a part of my collection out there this time — and doing infrastructure work.

Most noted was my SL10B History Walk build, which I did with Pygar Bu and Harlequin Rhode. It was a year by year breakdown of notable portions of Second Life™ history, the good and the not as good, as well as a large selection of items emblematic of each year. It was an honor to put that together.

My Year!

My Year!

Little known fact, though: I had about 8 or so builds at SL10B. As well as the history walk, I built the Bay City History Pavilion, co-built the SL10B welcome area (which used original vintage items from the very first Second Life welcome area in Natoma), created a sculpture garden featuring works by Starax Statosky and others, presented a display of items from Greenies Home, put up a vintage infohub display, and did a temple to Mount G’al.

This wasn’t the only big event for me this year: at Burn2, I was the lead on The Man, working with a small team to recreate The Man and Man Base from the 2013 Burning Man event. It was a difficult build at time, particularly as hopes to have the actual blueprints fell through, but it came together fairly close to the real thing. I also worked on Inner Child Camp for Burn2, and did a build focusing on the “Leave No Trace” principle for Burn2′s “Conception” event.

Meanwhile, on the Playa...

Meanwhile, on the Playa…

Bay City is very much my home, and there too I found myself with plenty to do. As well as leading the Bay City Alliance in its weekly meetings, I helped arrange for the Fifth Anniversary parade and celebration, the annual Mole Day event, our fashion week and “Hot Bay City Nights” events, the Hallowe’en Hay Maze, Oktoberfest, and our Annual Tree Lighting charity event. I also built up one of my Bay City lands into The Pen, a Beatnik coffee house with regular open mic nights and other random events.

Bay City's 5th Anniversary

Bay City’s 5th Anniversary

One of my other priorities for 2013 has been Livingtree, Robin Sojourner’s island I share with her and Pygar Bu. Early on in the year we decided it was time to update the overall look and feel of the island, and I took point on refreshing everything. There is still a couple things we wish to do, but the heavy lifting ended around August and September. I think it’s overall turned into a lovely and photogenic place. I also did my usual Summertime fireworks shows on the island, and helped with the hosting of fishing contests.

Autumn comes to Livingtree.

Autumn comes to Livingtree.

Beyond these, I hosted fishing camps at the 7Seas fishiversary and the Fall Fishing Festival, I attended the Summer and Winter sessions of Camp HardKnock, I took a role as Head Moderator for the popular Arcade gacha event, I attended Oceanside Elementary, and I did an awful lot of flying in SL in a growing collection of aircraft. I got interviewed a couple times for Designing Worlds, appeared in several of the Drax Files: World Makers episodes (most notably the Rodvik Linden and Robin Sojourner episodes), and was seem in a few other spots besides. Oh, and I started to learn mesh, added a couple things to my store (many less than I intended), re-dressed some of my other locations, and took scores of photos.

So, as you can well imagine, I did not get a lot of down time. Some parts were too busy, and a busier first life will mean cutting back on parts of my second. I’ve yet to decide what form that might take.

But was it fun? You bet it was. I worked alongside some great folks, and met all the more. More than that, I helped a great many others get to know each other, learn, and grow. Totally worth it if only for that.

And now, onto 2014!

1, 5, 10

June 23rd, 2013 by Marianne McCann

Mari-SL10B

Second Life™, as of today, has officially marked its tenth year since leaving beta. That is very much a milestone, and one I am glad to be a part of. I have been a sim coordinator for this year’s event, as well as a builder of many pieces of infrastructure, an exhibitor, and someone who has been called on to perform all sorts of necessary acts to get SL10B together and running. It has been an honor.

As a child avatar — perhaps one of the better known child avatars, at that — I find myself reflecting about child avatar involvement at these events. It has been a long and sometimes tulmutous history.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the first child avatar was created by Washu Zebrastripe sometime during Second Life’s beta. Then again, the option has long been there for shrinking one’s avatar down to 0 on the height slider and doing what one can to give your avatar a child-like appearance.

Child avatars at Second Life's first anniversary gala. Photo by Bacarra Rhodes.

Child avatars at Second Life’s first anniversary gala. Photo by Bacarra Rhodes.

At the Second Life First Year Anniversary Gala, in addition to a gala parade and time capsule event, Bacarra Rhodes organized the One Year Young festival. It was a one-day event on the 24th of June. Avatars were encouraged to be a kid for the day, and enjoy various carnival rides and refreshments. They even had contests for the best looking and wackiest kid avatar. Was all in great fun, and a product of what was, then, a very innocent and young world. What could possibly go wrong?

Fast forward five years. Second Life was booming. In the course of two years, they’d gained millions of account. Corporations were flocking to the virtual world as yet another means to sell their products.

Of course, with the greater visibility came greater scrutiny from a mainstream that was leery of the “wild west” ways of Second Life. One of the biggest scandals? Sexual ageplay. After Report Mainz uncovered a sexual ageplay and real-world child pornography ring operating in Second Life, Linden Lab clamped down on child avatars of all sorts. Many wished the lab went even further, barring child avatars altogether.

A year and change from the Report Mainz investigation came SL5B, the fifth anniversary. Linden Lab was gearing up for big change, with a fresh, new CEO incoming and high hopes to eventually take the company public. Second Life’s 5th birthday was seen as a big event to show a more professional side of Second Life, and help lure in some big names. But first, some clean up would need to happen. The Lindens involved with the event had to keep out the Goreans, the sexual content, and most of all — child avatars.

Meeting between Dusty Linden, Loki Eliot, and Marianne McCann in the lead up to SL5B

Meeting between Dusty Linden, Loki Eliot, and Marianne McCann in the lead up to SL5B

Loki Eliot and I were summoned to LindenWorld Lobby a few weeks before SL5B. We both had submitted applications to be a part of the event, as had a handful of other kids. We were eager to find out what part we may be playing in SL5B — and then Dusty Linden dropped a bombshell on us. Higher ups had decided that child avatars could not present at SL5B. We were “respectfully declined.”

Protests broke out. Resident volunteers resigned. People got angry. Kid avatars held their own event, Kids5B. Eventually the lab relented, first changing the stance to allow kid avatars, but barring any photos of child avatars in the same frame as adults, nor being pictured anywhere near a bed, no matter how innocent the photo. By the end of the event, even that had been softened — but the damage had been done.

Much changed after this, including that CEO. After a disastrous tenure that saw the launch of the much-maligned “Viewer 2.0,” Second Life went from wonderkind to has-been in the eyes of the media. A new CEO, Rod Humble, took the helm — and while SL is not what it was in the Golden Age of 2006-2008, its heart is still very much beating.

The SL10B history walk exhibit.

The SL10B history walk exhibit.

SL10B took place this year, and as I already said, I had no small part of it. I was one of two child avatars who served as sim coordinators. Though some happenstance, some of my work has ended up featured. So has the brilliant Behemoth build that Loki Eliot presented. There were eight builds that I know of that featured child avatar content, ranging all the way from the LAMP mesh child avatar project to an underwater presentation on mer-children. The kids of Escapades were interviewed at the SL10B auditorium. Gemini Enfield, one of the founders of Second Life Children, DJed at the lake stage. Kids were everywhere.

It’s been no small honor to be a part of the event, and to help make it possible. I could never have conceived that SL10B would be what is has been back in the days of being “respectfully declined” from SL5B, much like I doubt any of those early pioneers expected Second Life to even still be a thing ten years on.

Here’s to another successful decade, Second Life.

Bay City’s 5th Anniversary Celebration!

May 16th, 2013 by Marianne McCann

Bay City 5th anniversary poster

In May of 2008 the Linden Department of Public Works unveiled its first project, the themed city area on the Second Life™ Mainland known as Bay City. Now, as Bay City turns five, its community invites everyone to join us in celebrating this milestone.

Anniversary celebrations will kick off around noon SLT/PDT on Sunday, the 19th of May, with a parade lineup at the bandshell in Bay City – Harwich. The parade will make its way down Route 66 beginning at 12:30 p.m. SLT/PDT, concluding at the Bay City Fairgrounds in the North Channel region.

A live concert will kick off at 1:30 p.m. SLT/PDT at the Fairgrounds, featuring Christov Kohnke, CelticMaidenWarrior Lancaster, and RoseDrop Rust, and including GoSpeed Racer of KONA Stream providing music leading into the event.

All Residents of the Second Life grid are encouraged to participate. Celebration goods are available at the Bay City Community Center, in the Daley Bay region, for those who wish to be a part of the parade, and able viewing area is provided. The music event is also open to all who desire to attend.

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab™ and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life™ and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest Bay City group, and home to most Residents of Bay City.

 

Doing the impossible

November 30th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

In Second Life, the impossible is commonplace. We teleport so often that it is considered as typical as walking. Unassisted flight causes us to not even break a sweat. We can explore places from all times, all places, and born out of pure imagination. We continually go beyond our First Life limitations: it’s what we do.

Yet there’s another form of impossible. Things that are impossible in Second Life.

Of course, there are plenty of “should nots,” both in the form of social mores and in the terms of service. There are also a lot of things that you really cannot do, and that code prohibits. You can’t make a 65-meter prim, or build over 4096m in the air, as examples.

There are other forms of impossible, but these are a different kettle of fish — and this is the sort of impossible I relish in.

One impossibility I love breaking: region crossings. The mantra has been, for years, that region crossings are a painful, difficult issue. To be fair, they long were a difficult issue. For the last year or so, however, they’ve been largely pretty easy (recent Havok upgrades being one pain point for a few weeks). With the advent of high quality, mesh vehicles and advanced physics, we’re also seeing vehicles of great detail, capable of carrying sizable numbers of avatars.

This is where things go well into the real of supposed unobtainability. It has always been bad enough trying to get one avatar in one vehicle to cross one region crossing. Can you imagine putting several into a vehicle, and crossing multiple regions? It’s unheard of, preposterous.

You know where this is going.

Lockheed Electra 10e

Here’s the plane: an Electra 10e from Drusilla Saunders. It’s not yet commercially available, but should be very soon.

Passengers

Here are the folks in the cabin: a hardy bunch of friends and others from around Bay City.

We initially took off from North Channel, just after our weekly “Bay City Rumble,” which this week was a demolition derby the likes of which has never been seen in SL. Cars bashing themselves to bits in SL: incredible building and scripting work by ADudeNamed Anthony, making that work. I should note that, yes, we did have a sim outage after that, proving that there are still limited to physics. Oops.

Anyway, after that was cleared, we took off and headed for the Bay City Municipal Aeroport in the Hau Koda region. This was a trip that had us crossing 6 region borders, including going over a busy Infohub (Moose Beach). We made it with nary a scratch on the polished aluminum hull.

My passengers had quite a bit of fun. So much that they were still up for some more flight.

We took off from Bay City Municipal Aeroport on a slightly longer route. The final destination was the old Areodrome space in Abbotts, via the southern water passage. Total crossings for this route: nineteen. Again, we’d cross Moose Beach, and travel perilously close to the sandbox regions.

I showed a friend of mine the shot of all the passengers. She assumed it was just a posed photo and we did not actually fly. Again, the common wisdom is that you simply do not do that in Second Life. It’s impossible.

Electra crossing by the Battery Point Lighthouse

Nineteen crossings later, we touched down, safely, in Abbotts. We rubberbanded at a crossing here and there, but nothing too frightening. No one got logged out, and no one stalled at a region crossing.

I’ll admit that I know others who continually face difficulties crossings regions. It is a challenge for many — but here’s me, on an iMac from 2008, on a so-so network connection, and I can pilot that flight. The impossible is possible.

Bay City Tree Lighting!

November 26th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

Bay City Tree Lighting Poster

Come to the Bay City Fairgrounds on Saturday, 8th December 2012 from 1-4 pm SLT for a tree lighting, skating party, silent auction, music event featuring GoSpeed Racer, Grace McDunnough, and Bluemonk Rau.

All proceeds go to Child’s Play Charity. Child’s Play is a 501c3 non profit organization that helps seriously ill children around the globe.

Special items will be auctioned for charity. These include:

• Ecelectica “Nouveau Leaves” fatpack, exclusive to the event

Nouveau Leaves Fatpack

• Show of Support Artwork by Whiskey Monday, exclusive to the event

Show of Support

• Pop Shop Bunny Slipper Max Pack (two available)

Bunny Slippers Fat Pack

• This is my brain on drugs artwork by Ever Dreamscape

This Is My Brain On Drugs

• Lightening Video television and L$5000 gift certificate combo (two available)

Lightening Video Pack

• Set of Luxurious Animal Print Fur Coats from Curio Obscura

Luxurious Fur Coat Animal Print

• Set of Luxurious colorful fur coats from Curio Obscura

Luxurious Fur Coat Colorful

• Complete set of riderballs, the rideable vehicle ball by Curio Obscura

Riderball

• Set of one dozen illuminated Tall Oaks from Heart Garden Center (two available: one all white, one multi-color)

Illuminated Tall Oaks (Colorful)

• Treehouse and welcome mat by Emma Starsider

Emma Starsider Goods

• Eat Pray Love Artwork  by Gracie Kendal (aka Kristine Schomaker)

Eat Pray Love

• Cassandra jewelry set by MC Designs

Cassandra Jewelry Set

• Fortuna dress by Sonatta Morales

Fortuna Dress

• Morning Light Cupboard Bed by Trompe L’oeil Designs

 

Morning Light Bed

• DHC-2 Beaver by Spijkers and Wingtips Aviation

DHC-2

• Electra 10 by Drusilla Saunders Aeronautics

Saunders Electra 10

• Flowers of Passion by Teagen Slade

Flowers Of Passion

Auction will start at 10:00 am SLT, 8th December & end at the conclusion of the event at 4 p.m. SLT.

The event will be held at the Bay City Fairgrounds, in North Channel.

Additional donation items are welcomed. Please contact Marianne McCann inworld for details.

The death of a world

November 26th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

“This is a horrible day. This is a horrible thing to have to say: Glitch is closing.”

So begun a missive from Tiny Speck, the company behing a cute, quirky MMO game named Glitch. With those words, the land of Ur, fashioned by the imagination of eleven giants and populated by the seemingly-genderless glitchen and a host of other creatures mundane and magical, had its death warrant. As I type this, Glitch has two weeks before its demise.

Marianne in Glitch

This is my glitchen, Marianne. Yes, she’s rather kid-like there too, though the world is not much at all like, say, Second Life. She has her own little house (as do all players), is making her way through a maze of quests, learnable skills, and levels while running headlong to the end of the world.

I’m not going to bore you with reminiscing about her adventures — though the Last Pilgrimage of Esquibeth quest was beautiful, and I love the Autumn Walk — now do I want to spin a maudlin tale of woe about the loss of Ur.

Rather, I want to tell you about one of the most enduring, powerful parts of the Glitch world. It’s not the game play, the badges, the backstory, the adorable art direction, or even Glitch itself. It’s the community.

In the goodbye letter, Tiny Speck says that “Glitch has not attracted an audience large enough to sustain itself.” That’s likely true. It can be hard for a game — especially on e that is a bit off the beaten path like Glitch — to build an audience. That it is flash-based, not necessarily suited to mobile gameplay, and not another mindless game attached to Facebook likely doesn’t do much to help.

Yet the audience they did gain is the sort that most would be envious of. It’s a well-behaved, adult-acting community. They help out each other, a trait even more pronounced in light of the shutdown. They’re generally better at using blocking and reporting tools to keep things on track, and yet not vigilantes seeking to shut people out of their clique.

In the light of the shutdown, the community is going through the five stages of grief in their own ways. Many have chosen to drop all their goods into massive piles, letting others pick through and take it all away. Some are trying to organize other places on the web or in other games to continue to meet up. A cottage industry has sprung up of creators making physical copies of game sprites.

Meanwhile, many continue to explore the world, checking off their “bucket list” and getting some time in to enjoy the world they love one last time.

The glitchen who remain have stepped up, helping everyone they can to complete that last quest, gain that one item they wanted, or mentor new users even though we all know that time is limited. There are a lot more parties going on, too — no need to hoard their virtual “party packs” for that special day.

It is also refreshing to see how this has been handled by the owners of Glitch. Tiny Speck has been firm that, indeed, this is the end — but has taken the time between the announcement and the shutdown to introduce new lands, new items, and other upgrades they’ve had sitting around — giving people new items to have fun with even in the face of virtual doom.

The company has refunded all subscriptions, made everyone a subscriber, and provided every account with some free credits (you would usually have to purchase those with real-world money) to enjoy until the end.

Soon, my little glitchen will be a memory. All her achievements, all those little upgrades, her wall of trophies — they’ll only live on in a handful of snapshots from the game, and in my memories. It will be sad to see her go, but I’ll always appreciate the community of people there who have made the experience all worth while.

Pathfinding Panic

August 8th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

Usually I spend a lot more time being thoughtful before I post here. It means my entries are usually few and far between but, I hope, worth the wait. With all the brouhaha about pathfinding today, I opted to hop right into it.

First, let me start with a critique for anyone from the Lab who might be reading this: this is why you need to communicate. I am doing your job here, but if you guys would do a better job at communicating to your own paying customers, people would get better information than what I’m about to lay down here. Please rethink your communications policies.

So today Pathfinding code went live on the main channel of the Second Life server software (the code that runs all the regions on the grid). Tomorrow it hits the LeTigre and BlueSteel Release Client server software. That will mean that every public region on the main grid will be running server software with pathfinding code, including a Havok physics update.

Pathfinding is something the lab has been hammering on for months now. Makes prims that can act sort of like critters. They can wander, attack, evade. Kinda cool, if you’re into that. I’m not so much, but who knows. Maybe I’ve just not see the “use case” that I can use.

Meanwhile, a blog for a third party viewer went out, claiming that the pathfinding code will use up to 18% of your sim resources, and provided information on how to either optimize or disable pathfinding for your region.  This, in turn, led to what one might call “the usual panic.” Instantly, it became fact that “the evil ol’ lab was out there hurting its users, and it was up to all of us to fight back my immediately disable the code.”

The usual talking points were trotted out. The lab has clearly not tested the code. It is deliberately trying to “kill” SL by rolling this out, etc., ad naseum.

The thing is, this code did not just pop up on the main grid today. It was used in The Wilderness project and Hairy Hippo Fun Land months ago. It was sprinkled around the grid then as well as a “PF” release client. Five weeks ago, it was promoted to the Magnum release client server software, and has been chugging away ever since. Just ask anyone who uses mesh vehicles, and they’ll tell you all about the fun of trying to cross out of a Magnum viewer and dealing with the mismatch in Havok versions.

But what you won’t hear much about is how their regions were crippled by a staggering 18% of sim resources being tied up in pathfinding. The regions themselves have been running fine, albeit there have been a few bugs along the way — and there are still a few things that need to be ironed out. Some issues with the way some prims travel on the navmesh, for example.

Now, to be fair here, the code can use some resources. It is designed to throttle itself, however. It does not use all the resources all of the time, and is intended to deliberately not take resources from other uses. It is not going to be crippling your region.

So really, what I want to say is this. Enough with the knee-jerk reactions. I understand that the lab has not always thought things though, and was even fairly antagonistic to their userbase during the “M” era. Their current lack of clear global communication, too, doesn’t help to get people beyond that time.

But rather than seeing a blog post and instantly reacting to shut it all off, do your own tests. Go visit other regions that are running the code (which by the time you read this may well be all of them). Heck, try your own region on for size, and see if its running poorly compared to, say, this time last week. Don’t take the word of any blogger — even me. Go look with your own eyes, and form a rational opinion of your own.

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