Thursday, September 27, 2007

Limitations of the System

There are a number of technical constraints to SL that drive me nuts. I'm not talking about lag here (although that does indeed drive me nuts- but there are very good reasons for lag to exist, unfortunately). My current largest headaches:

The avatar mesh...gah. I wish they'd thought things through a bit more when they decided to use these things. The head is the most problematic, as things are jammed together too close together. The inner mouth is shoved right up against the back of the head, so either you get head seam or flesh tongue. The eyelashes are up against the scalp, giving a black edge when you've zoomed out enough that it downsamples (also see head seam). Only one arm for the torso puts some severe limitations on what's allowed in shirts/jackets/tattoos. And only one foot...why? You've got ample space for two. I know, you've already got one arm, you might as well have a more efficient foot mapping, and that is even more likely to be symmetric than the arms, but still, limits what you can do severely. There's no fixing that at this point, without just scrapping it for an entirely new UV map, which will just piss everyone off- people with custom skins will find their skins useless, and skin makers will just have people bitching to them for free upgrades. At that point they might as well just go with an entirely new mesh anyway, since while this one does work reasonably well, it's older tech- plus the mesh was associated sort of messily, when you look at how things deform badly at not-even-out-of-the-ordinary sizes (look at skinny people's shoulderblades, my nose and cheekbones could cut glass, my knees are ridiculously nobby, and the entire neck shoulder area on the male model just makes me cringe. I don't actually care that large breasts become boxy though, I admit- it certainly doesn't seem to stop people). Some of that is a limitation in making it stretch so large to small, but it still could be done better.

Worse, whoever figured out the alpha for clothing items...*sigh* Have you noticed that bastard seam that will show skin through around the middle unless you've got something in the jacket layer covering it up? Because that's entirely because the alpha was halfassed. Aside from the fact the lines don't match up in the least anywhere (and no, there really isn't any reason for as much of that as there is other than "I couldn't be arsed to care"), you can put all your sliders to maximum coverage, and still skin shows through because of messy alpha edges. That could be fixed, now, with minimal pain to the system. But they aren't going to do it, but it's a "minor detail issue" and see previous "can't be arsed to care."

And the skirt mesh...ugh. That's just a massive headache.

There are also many suggestions that while possibly a good idea have negative ramifications. I'd love to see more layers, so you could have skin tone, makeup and tattoos all in a "skin" layer, both for the problematic head area and so you aren't using up slots on the body, but remember lag? Yeah, that just adds to it. Every extra layer is just a little bit harder you're making the system work, and the system already has issues with how hard it is working. More attachment points fall into the same "it would be nice but just going to cause problems" as well.

Animations could do with a bit of an overhaul. Placing more control over them in LSL (or Mono) would be ideal really. The hand position glitch has been a problem for a while and no one cares, so it isn't going to be fixed. Only 6 votes? That's rather disappointing. Really, I'd far prefer to be able to dictate hand position in the programming language anyway though, I can already fix the expression glitch (since it also blips and goes away, if it even starts at all). It appears as if it's an uploading glitch as well, not a reading glitch, which means everything that people upload now? Broken. Will need to be uploaded again if they ever actually bother to do anything about it. That really pisses me off. You're talking hundreds of wasted files.

I'd also like to see in general more animation control- in world control over priority would be awesome (instead of having to upload the same pose 4 times, upload one and assign them in world). The ability to adjust centre point would also be a boon- consider all of the custom sits which fail horribly if you don't have the perfect height avatar, the ability to add a modifier to the hip location would make things far more feasible. In general, the animation system gives you only just barely what you need, and not what you want, which really isn't helpful.

Monday, September 24, 2007

KillTower Halloween

Halloween is coming up, so it's time to hit the haunted houses. KillTower Park came up in a search, so I figured I'd check it out.

They've got a fair amount of activities, first thing I did was walk up the hill to the big tower. There isn't much you can do there, although I did electrocute myself, and checked out the (occupied) lethal camping.

Taking the 'port to one of the boat rides and the maze, I took the blood river ride first. Very county fair dark ride (at least of the sort we get here). The maze is diabolical- you can't see where you're going at all. Pumpkins are provided as markers, but it's easy to get turned around and going the wrong way (I ended up going in a circle once). It's close enough to the ride that occasionally you camera through the walls. It had become quite apparent by this point that they heavily recycle decorations, mostly flat cut-outs (however, most of them moan if you click on them, which is pretty cute). I'm generally a tad disappointed by haunted houses even in FL, as I prefer a bit more sophistication in my effects that rarely happens. However, still and all, not a waste of my time.

Next I 'ported back to the main area and checked out the blood falls ride- which does have a charge, albeit nominal. The log ride, which loops over most of the area, doesn't currently though. It did get a little stuck once on one of the ups, but it managed to unstick itself fairly quickly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Transaction History

So, ha, after deciding there was no way for me to have any idea who was buying what, or how much of anything was selling (mostly useful so I knew if something just wasn't selling so I could not bother with it) unless I was logged in at the time to see the little message, I found the transaction history. Joy! It's pretty awesome and useful, and something I never would have found without seeing another vendor's "how to give no transfer items as gifts" sign. I'm pretty blown out of the water. Over 150 things!

And because I totally already had to go hunting for how I found it, in SL, World->Account History sends a message to your trusty web browser of choice to load the page.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freebies: Pirate Hat, Helios

Incentive to join the Schadenfreude Enterprises group: I've released my first work-free freebie (since you have to find Helios, and really I have already been slowly distributing this to people for a while). A sculpted tricorne hat. I'm freebieing it because while it is still not too bad, it isn't perfect. The loss of detail with the JPEG2000 compression irks me horribly, and it was my first sculpty after all, so it was expected it wouldn't be perfect. I'll probably release head scarves for it at some point, but I doubt I'll texture it. However, anyone can request the sculpt map, and they can export it to texture their own (I do ask that you not reup the sculpt map just so you can sell the hat yourself, because that's rather tacky). I rather like my shiny black vinyl pirate hat, but that's because I actually have a shiny black vinyl pirate hat.

Picture taken on board The Black Sparrow in the Blackspot Shipyard on the Isle of Tao, one of the finest ships you might ever have the opportunity to sail upon.

I've been searching for treasure hunt items at the Exposition (and is it a pain! While most follow the in plain sight rule, the boxes are tiny!), and discovered that Helios is being distributed no modify. That was not intended, I must have accidentally given her the wrong permissions. Please contact me to get full mod versions of what you've found. (That goes for everything I've released so far, by the way- so if you've got something that's no mod, please let me know so I can fix it!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jewelry Exposition, first weekend

I'm well chuffed, I logged in to SL to find quite a tidy pile of money waiting for me. I'm sure it's quite modest in relation to the more well knowns (or, in fact, the known-at-alls), but it's quite substantially more Lindens than I've ever seen before! I calculate Lindens' worth in uploads, so I consider myself quite flush. I was a touch worried getting everything ready that I wasn't going to sell a blessed thing, and well, I was supposing just the cost of uploading all of the ad textures was getting off easy compared to rent plus that to give it a go in a case where I wouldn't have the built in traffic. Does give me hope I might actually be able to afford a shop though (which isn't to say people haven't been supportive; Max is often encouraging about how well things will sell, but he both shares my tastes a fair bit, and is my friend; and a couple of other people have made "you should sell that" noises when they inquire where I got things, but only a couple and they may just be being polite and all), so I suppose I ought to give some serious thought to where and what sort of rotation to run. Bleh, the responsibility of paying rent consistently is actually the worst bit.

I suppose either way this means quite a nice import cushion. (I suppose I say "I suppose" too much, but you'll get used to that.) I guess I'll just have to spend it building more clothes then! I do have to sort out an AO as well, I just keep waffling on what sort of poses. But standing around with the defaults really is beginning to irk me something fierce.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


My Jewelry Exposition booth is set up. The Exposition does not start until Saturday, however. I needed to set up early because I have to take a trip out of town. I should be back Sunday, barring new disasters.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Murders in Babbage, conclusion

The murders in New Babbage appears to have been solved. Jason Moriarty confessed to killing the Professor, and with the murders being so similar it is assumed that he committed the rest as well. In the shopping alley, I discovered a book he wrote which provided an insight into his highly disturbed mind. The Professor's experiments has obviously unhinged him, and he felt betrayed when the Professor left him to his own devices and returned to working on the Porta Terrarum device, which appears to have been what caused his mental instability- he heard voices which may have originated from beyond our world, from one of the worlds touched by the device. The Professor was working on the device for the Thirteen, who were also seeking to destroy Moriarty. Perhaps the disturbance in his mind explains the clues left haphazardly, as well as his desire to seek attention and vindication for his actions, as he saw himself as so betrayed. It still seems a touch facile, perhaps, but then life often is. The Van Greed Society, the Thirteen, and the Masonic contact within New Babbage remain mysteries for another day.

The device located in the Bow Street Police office was a fake, as I suspected- it didn't make much sense otherwise (in fact, it made little sense for the police to display it so openly if even they believed it genuine). The real device was hidden beneath the theatre, and Moriarty used it to open a doorway to allow entrance to our world to monstrous things, which hovered above the theatre after the device reached some sort of critical mass. Professor Nishi underwent a transformation into some sort of creature herself, and fought them off. After the battle, she dropped to earth, apparently injured in some manner beyond the flesh, and disappeared before our eyes.

While it appeared that she might perhaps be gone from our world forever, it was revealed that in fact she was safe and sound, although drained from the experience.

Alcmund cross on velvet ribbon

St. Alcmund was a bishop miracle worker, who died in 781. In the eleventh century he appeared to a parishioner, telling him to move his bones, which had been forgotten. His remains were later gathered together with other Hexham saints, and they were all destroyed in 1296 when the region was attacked by Scottish Highlanders.

The Alcmund cross has a single gem in the centre, and is on a velvet ribbon, tied with a bow in the back.

The colour key:

(Hair from Here Comes Trouble)

Fleur de Lys earrings and bracelet

The fleur-de-lys is a stylized iris design, that was especially utilized by French monarchy, although it also featured prominently in heraldry in general as well.

The Fleur de Lys set is a bracelet and ring with the design, and assorted colour changing ability. The earrings have gem drops or pearls, or can be without drops entirely with /49 earring clear. The bracelet has the normal assortment of Cathedral gems and pearls.

The colour key:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Prouille ring

A church in Prouille in France is where the apparition of Mary of Our Lady of the Rosary appeared to Saint Dominic in 1208.

Prouille is a ring, scripted with my regular hand scripts, that features a rose window, of the early Gothic style associated with Our Lady of the Rosary, with a pearl in the centre.

The variation keys:

Irmina necklace and earring set

Saint Irmina was the daughter of Dagobert II, whose betrothed husband died on their wedding day. She became a Benedictine abbess, and died in 716 C.E. at monastery of Weissenburg.

Irmina is a cathedral inspired set, with semi transparent gems and window inset, reminiscent of stained glass. Irmina currently comes in a light version with white pearls, and a dark version with black pearls, which also features more aged silver. Irmina actually features two necklaces, as the links were too prim heavy to be completed around the entire necklace in one attachment. There is a version with a spine and a chest attachment, that features the links for the entire necklace, and a version with just a single attachment that has a simple chain across the back (the links go far enough back that both look identical from the front).

Both versions are scripted to change colours. The gems and glass change, between red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, purple, black and white- for instance, type /49 necklace red to turn it red, alternately you can type /49 all red, which will also change other items in the Cathedral set. Telling it to change to clear will set the window open, without the glass, leaving the rest set to its current colours. The earrings do not change colour.

A key for the colour changing is included. And /49 necklace clear will make the window open.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A 3rd murder in New Babbage!

There has been a third murder. I find the whole case exciting- I'm in no danger, as I have no connections at all to any of the intrigue, and am a total outsider having to reconstruct the facts with no other reference.

The third victim was a Mr. Edler Reifsnider, a Mason, and someone on one side or the other searching for the mysterious device. The body was found in the theatre, hung and stabbed, which seems a touch excessive, but on the other hand the knives seem to be more of a system to ensure the letters do not blow away in all cases, and there hasn't been any blood on any of them since the first. Perhaps they were already dead some other way, for long enough to cease the flow of blood?

I'm in the Absinthe house next door, while assorted people mill about. I'm having a drink, to settle my nerves...well, truly, any excuse is a good excuse, and though there is a pool of blood under the body it isn't that gruesome, although some of the more excitable of the crowd have been speculating on seeing the corpse move. I believe the majority of the group started at a meeting earlier, which I tried to attend but as is the case in New Babbage, I simply get lagging out and can't even move, so I gave up. I suppose I ought to have said hello or whatnot, but I never do know how to call attention to myself in social situations. Regardless of what should or should not have been done, I'm taking the time to sort through the clues I have discovered to date, to attempt to organize things a touch.

At the first crime scene, where the deceased grandfather of Loki Eliot was discovered, there is a letter stating that he is going to be murdered by the Van Greed Society, and mention of both his grandson and another urchin who he refers to as "Ally Wunder." This letter is bloodstained and torn- the only letter in the series to be either, and written with urgency suggesting that he was interrupted by the killer during the writing of it. A second letter referred to the device, and the experiments on Sunrise, as well as one of the volunteers for his experiments, Jason, becoming psychotic, and performing experiments of his own upon the urchins (it has been theorized that Jason is one of the lycanthropes plaguing New Babbage currently). A third is a follow up to the disaster on Sunrise, and includes an ominous reference to "Suqare & compass"(?)- it is occasionally difficult to decypher the Professor's writing, and it could be a misspelling if he was in a rush, he occasionally dropped capitals most definitely. Possibly Square & compass, although still the actual source of the reference is still unclear. An experiment diary outlines the disaster itself and the explosion of the island, from what the Professor witnessed, which wasn't a great deal.

All of the letters are addressed "Dear Friends," so it is a mystery as for whom exactly the Professor was writing these unsent letters.

The second body, Giles Canning, was discovered not far from the scene of the first crime, although the body was brazenly left just off the street, behind some crates. He had a letter from The Thirteen upon his person, who he appeared to be working for, or otherwise associated with. They appear to also be interested in the Sunrise Device, and wished Canning to aid them in covering up the whole affair that was brought to the attention of the authorities with the first murder. Upon his person was also the infamous list:

Ally Wunder     Victor Wunderlich?
Loki Eliot     Grandson. where father?
Myrtil Igaly & Mckay Beck
Jason Moriarty
Nareth E. Nishi

I met Ms. Nishi at the site where the body had been, after escourting a doctor from Caledon there (I had stumbled across the body earlier that day, but it was removed before the arrival of the doctor by the Bow Street Police. The doctor attempted to persuade the Mayor to allow him to resurrect the victim, but he appeared to be having no luck). I met Myrtil Igaly at Sunrise, although I didn't know it was that island at the time, and she expressed fear for her life. The true associations of the list, whether they are all potential victims, whether the last two are conspirators, or whether it has different meaning entirely, has been a subject of much speculation. The first section is all composed of urchins and the second is not, so that could be the real reason for the split. Moriarty could, of course, be the psychotic Jason referred to by the Professor. Ms. Nishi seems to believe it is instead Canning's list of people to inquire as to the whereabouts of the device, but the killer still would have seen it, and does not appear to be adverse to murdering any in his way.

There was also a cylinder recording of the experiment, documenting the disaster, near the body, of what sounds to be an opening of a portal (or partial opening?) which had the horrifying repercussions. This murderer seems to have a very strange motive, leaving all of this evidence about the Sunrise Experiment on the bodies. He must want the authorities to find it? One wonders why one would go to all the trouble for something so simple (perhaps feeling it would be easier to steal then, but it has been safely ensconced within the Bow Street office for a fair amount of time now, and one would think it would be easier to simply find on one's own, without calling all this attention to one's actions. If one desired to use it, I should also think that the Professor, alive and captive, would be far more useful, as the device does not appear to function correctly as of the last reports. Perhaps it is simply the shortsightedness of villains, and those they choose to do their bidding, but that seems a bit of a facile answer). Especially as what purpose it would serve in the hands of the authorities is one of question as well. Will they attempt to use it? It appears to be something with devastatingly horrible potential, so perhaps the attempts by the Mason's to destroy it might be safest for everyone. Still, it would be a shame for the Professor's life work to be destroyed, and it might have potential for betterment for mankind as well.

Of course, the potential exists that red herrings are left in with real clues, to throw people off of the real story, and that the clues left in so melodramatic a manner are to encourage armchair detectives to join in and obfuscate matters. I am keeping myself to myself however, and do not believe I would be interfering with the investigations of the professionals in any way (beyond attempting to warn a couple on the list shortly after discovering it, just in case. Any involved with the device are potentially in danger at this point, regardless of whether they are actually targets, and it would be wise for them all to be aware of their surroundings, just in case).

(As an aside, Loki Eliot, Mckay Beck, and Nareth Nishi all were milling about the scene of the last crime looking at the body. Mckay was, I believe, the first speculating upon the corpse's movements. One must not find too much suspicious in their arrival, as it was rather obvious and well attended.)

I explored the island a little, and found some notes and drawings of what one assumes is the device. There is a device in the station set up by the Bow Stret Police, under glass, that appears to be it. The motives of the killer become even cloudier (if his intention was to drop the device into the laps of the constabulary, why then do the murders continue? And why would he desire to do such a thing anyway?). There was also reference to lycanthropy and the undead upon the island, and another reference to their activity in New Babbage since the Professor started his experiments. I've yet to personally witness any of either.

The newest letters confirm that the Van Greed Society is behind the string of murders, although there is also mention of the opposing force in search of the device, the Thirteen Club. The victim was apparently attempting to gain ownership of the theatre, forcing out the urchins who have made it their home, at the behest of the Masons- and meeting with much resistance from the residents of New Babbage. His Mason card was found under his body, next to a pool of blood. The Masons also have some interest in Ms. Nishi, although "her case" was not assigned to the victim. The victim was sent to destroy the Porta Terrarum, which appears to be an alternate name for the Sunrise Device (one must assume that the possibility exists that nothing is as it seems. However, the device has been stated as a method to open portals between our reality and others, so Porta Terrarum would be an apt name). There is an undisclosed (female) Masonic agent in New Babbage he was instructed to contact, as well as to attempt to involve the Mayor, although the suggestion seems against full disclosure of his intentions.

Regardless of speculation on the list, the Masonic agent that Mr. Reifsnider was to contact appears to be the most obvious next target, if the murderer can deduce her identity. One would find it unlikely she would be one of the urchins, in such a society, as well as it being unlikely that she would be Ms. Nishi. I had seen none of the victims about town before their untimely deaths though, so I assume I shall find out the identity of this mysterious agent after it is too late for her. That is the problem with secret societies, I suppose.

Arachnophobia I necklace, earrings, and ring set

This spidery set is a recreation of something I made with beads and wire. The original is blue, although I plan to make a red version if I ever find good beads for it.

Again, inquire directly for different permissions, separate pieces, other colour versions.