An arty ol’ time

So if one lived in an artistically rundown section of some hip city somewhere, it might be that a friend, or a friend of a friend, might call up at random some night, give you an address, and hang up. And on going out and up and down streets, up the stairs to a pad somewhere, you might find a room full of various friends and luminaries, some that you know, some that you know by name, and some that you’ve never heard of but are clearly fascinating, and you might stand around talking and laughing and exchanging wit and wisdom for an hour or two while the person whose pad it is has each of you sit down in a particular chair and have a picture taken, for no immediately apparent reason.

That happened to me the other day, except that I live in SL (which I suppose is in some sense an artistically rundown section of some hip city somewhere), and it was a TP offer rather than a phone call, and the pad in question was a kilometer or so up in the sky somewhere:

Art Party, um, thing!

There’s the chair in the foreground and a buncha people milling about; click through to the flickr page for a partial list of luminaries that I vaguely recall passing through. It was great fun; I hope someday to find out what it was all about.

And later that day, as amusing SL coincidences go, I discovered that the extremely amazing, um, experience ride art thing that I was riding in with a friend:

The Tunnel Of Light

is down at ground level in that very same sim, and the whole thing teacup and all was built by the same person who was taking the pictures up in the sky earlier.

Small world indeed. Odd, also…

Blowing stuff up

In a couple of places recently (Vidal Tripsa and Crap Mariner come to mind, but darned if I can find the actual postings depite long milliseconds of searching) I’ve seen references to causing builds to blow up by setting them physical and temporary, and then delinking them.

The other evening amazing small-stuff maker PatriciaAnne (see her Lilliton for instance) IMd me asking for a script to make something explode, and I jumped at the chance to say “sure” and thus commit myself to figuring out the details and writing a script to do that myself.

I eventually wrote it, and gave it to PatriciaAnne, and also to the world on the Second Life wiki. And now we have a demo!

Here is the thing to be blown up: a popular freebie house, rezzed on a nice seacliff somewhere in Shengri La:

The Beginning

We insert the script, utter the magic words, and ka-boom:


Debris flying everywhere!

And here is the result:


Nicely destroyed.

(Some number of seconds later the debris all vanishes automatically; no need for cleanup work…)

Calling not-yet-famous SL clothing designers!

Are you a talented clothing designer in SL, looking for a hightoned place to show your stuff? Are you tired of looking at an endless series of overpriced uninteresting square stalls, in malls where the vendor next door is selling badly-scripted genitalia and the only potential customers are 50m away on the camping chairs? Or do you know someone in that unfortunate position? In that case (ta-ta-ta-taaa), lookit the Shengri La Vintage Marketplace:

As Michele says on that flickr page:

The Shengri La Vintage Marketplace space is designed to give new designers a leg up for a short period of time.

If you are or know of an emerging fashion designer with lots of talent and ideas but no idea how to go about getting established, send a notecard to [Michele Hyacinth] the next time you’re inworld. Include your name, preferred time to contact in-game, a couple of sentences about your fashion line (hoped for or just getting started), and if you have pictures, add those too! Then I’ll be in touch!

(And let me say editorially that as well as being in one of the grid’s loveliest sims, one of the great attractions of this marketplace would be the opportunity to work with Michele, ’cause she is neat.)

Botgirl’s Identity Circus: Featuring me!

Well okay, not really featuring me, but I think some form of Botgirl’s “Dale’s Tale” strip might be included somewhere in Botgirl’s Identity Circus (housed in a build by the formidable Sabrinaa Nightfire), which this posting is really intending to advertise:

Put it on your calendars!

Spennix in 3D!

For Christmas (in 2007) I got permission to get a Figure Prints “print” made of my primary World of Warcraft character, the lil gnome rogue Spennix.

This is one of those kewl 3D printing things, where a computer is given a three dimensional shape (in this case from the amazingly extensive online WoW databases, including the Armory), and by various magical processes involving atoms it produces a real-life made-of-atoms version of the shape. Skilled artisans then paint it and otherwise finish it off, and it is shipped off to someone for lots of money. (This has also been done for Second Life AV’s; from the pictures on the site it’s pretty awful; I hope atom-Spennix looks better than that!)

It turns out that not only does this cost the sort of money that one doesn’t spend, but rather is given for Christmas, but also there’s a huge demand and not much supply (the two are probably somehow related). There’s a monthly drawing to select those peoples whose WoW characters FigurePrints will actually take money to produce in atoms, and you just have to enter and cross your fingers. I entered and crossed my fingers, and nine months later (hm), I got a congratulatory note saying that my name had been drawn, and I could fill out the order form.

Being an interactive Web 2.7183 order form, as well as letting me order it also showed me a picture (see?) of (something like roughly) what the final product will look like. I checked the boxes to have Spennix’s guild tabard and current roguish facemask not shown, and her dual daggers out, standing in her typical “stealth” pose (but not half-invisible, ’cause that wasn’t an option).

Isn’t that cool?!?!

Atom-Spennix should apparently arrive at my atom-doorstep in something like a month. oh boy oh boy…

Phunny Physics

The other evening I wanted to make something simple and interesting, and it occurred to me that I really don’t know much about SL physics, so I thought I’d build a simple physical experiment: a sand-pile maker:

Pile 001

(Mad Photoshop Skillz used to fade the non-essential things like me and the rest of the Hughes Rise Park in the image.)

The blue thing there sits aways off the ground and every few seconds drops a little decimeter-sized cube; over time this forms a pile. If I had done this in a parcel with lots and lots of prims available, I could have let it drop a few hundred, to see what happens. But even after only a few dozen, the pile is noteworthy:

Pile 002

Note that it’s a rather flat pile, and most especially note that some (many) of the blocks are sort of floating in midair. This isn’t an action shot of the pile collapsing, catching cubes as they bounce around or anything like that; this is the static state of the pile after I turned off the dropper. So the floating is a tad unexpected.

It turns out that the SL physics engine is quite approximate. When figuring out physical interactions, it will get things more or less accurate to the tenth of a meter, but not any finer than that. Meaning that a physical decimeter cube may act as though it’s anywhere up to twice as big as it is; in this case by hovering suspended in the air, because the physics engine thinks that it’s resting on the ones below it, or close enough anyway.

SL physics is wonky in a number of other ways, due to this and other approximations. (For instance if you slam a physical object into a wall fast enough, it will pass right through a good fraction of the time.) Why don’t we Residents notice this more? Two reasons occur to me.

First, the vast (vast) majority of things in SL (AVs not included) aren’t physical! Prims are subject to the full laws of physics (such as they are) only if a particular box in the editing control is checked. And prims with that box checked are always falling over or sliding away or generally misbehaving, so creators don’t check that box without good reason. Prims without that box checked are non-physical, and stay wherever the heck they’re put (which is why my sandpile maker can just sit there in midair, and why we think nothing of seeing an informational sign sitting placidly half a meter off the ground with no visible support, and why skyboxes don’t need expensive anti-gravity generators).

Non-physical prims do serve the useful purpose of blocking vision (unless they’re transparent) and blocking the motion of AVs and physical objects (unless they’re phantom), but mostly the laws of physics ignore them. They can interpenetrate each other, sit in midair without support, never fall over on their own, etc.

Second, the most common physical objects that we do encounter are vehicles. Boats and cars and motorcycles and balloons and so on are usually physical, but they’re a rather special kind of physical object governed by one or more scripts that use the special vehicle-related scripting verbs. These verbs are designed specifically for the special case of vehicles, and they go some ways toward hiding the wonkiness of the underlying physics by making specifically vehicle-like operations work more or less as expected (sometimes definitely less, as anyone who’s done much vehicle driving knows).

Why is the physics engine wonky in this way, so that we have to be protected by living in a largely non-physics world where most of the physical things that we use are specially scripted to be vehicles? Why not just have a consistent laws of physics that everything obeys? The answer is that simulating physics is really really hard. The RL universe cheats by using massively parallel hardware; LL can’t afford that kind of compute power. Some other virtual worlds (WoW, Lively) have no notion of physics at all as far as I can tell, except in the degenerate sense that stuff stays where it’s put.

It’ll be interesting to see how this aspect of VWs plays out in the future. Will we see VWs with more and more powerful and “realistic” (or creatively unrealistic) physics engines, and will the laws of physics come to govern more of the virtual stuff that we work with? Or will this kind of physics remain a sort of a curiosity, turnable on for special cases (like vehicles or cannonballs), but off most of the time, because the physics that we really want in our VWs is a simple physics where things stay pretty much wherever they’re put?

(If you know of any virtual worlds that have more or different physics, do post in the comments! I know Torque has some, which are also pretty wonky, and I think some of the other game engines have pretty sophisticated ones, but I don’t know the details.)

And just for completeness, here’s a picture of me swimming with some otters in Firespire (I think it is):

I'm an otter!


Dale for Sale!

That’s me over there in the nice blue dress (a Nicky Ree freebie I’m pretty sure it was). I have my hands over my head like that, not because I’m pretending to be a bird or something, but because I’m pretending to be like tied to a pole which isn’t actually there, because I’m being auctioned off as part of the big SL Bloggers’ Party and charity auction (later in the auction I changed into a skimpy little bikini at the instruction of the auctioneer, but so far authorities have not located any pictures of that).

I hadn’t really planned to auction myself or to bid on anyone, mostly because I didn’t think I’d actually remember to attend. (One of the ways that I relax in SL is by never remembering when anything is scheduled for.) But someone IM’d me from the auction (because, in fact, they thought I might want to bid on botgirl, I think it was), and since I was just sort of hanging out with some ppls I TPd over and said Hi to everyone and stood around lagging and making fruitless (because I am cheap) bids on various famous personalities.

And then sort of on a whim I IMd the lovely auctioneer and asked if there was a huge line to be auctioned off, and she IMd back not long after saying “you want to go?”, and quickly enough to prevent myself from actually thinking about it I said “Sure!”, and there I was. I’m not sure in retrospect how incredibly clever this was (I mean, one is allowed to put conditions on the things that one is available to do during the 24 hours of servitude one owes the winner, so I laid out some conditions to prevent anything untoward, but still), but to my great good fortune I was won by v good friend Michele, and I expect the most onerous obligation I might find myself under will be to like say build something with her, which wouldn’t be bad at all. :)

(It occurs to me in retrospect that it might have been more interesting to be auctioned off as a boy; most of the other, um, offerings were also girls, maybe there would have been a different vibe. Of course then I might have been bought by someone less benign than Michele, so maybe it’s just as well!)

All sorts of interesting persons were bought and sold (botgirl in fact won one of the most notable purchases, as documented preliminarily here). We in the audience eventually worked out that the ownership graph now has at least one loop in it: Zoe bought Botgirl who bought Codie (as part of a package deal with Gabby) who in turn bought Zoe. At the very least, this means that each member of the cycle can indirectly give orders to herself, and as well as giving orders indirectly to her owner. (So Botgirl can say “Codie, tell Zoe to tell me to go out and buy some new positronic capacitors!”)

It’s a funny world…