SL Problems

All the diodes down my left side…

I have a snazzy computer. OK, it’s not a shit-hot gaming machine, but it didn’t cost me £2,000 so I never expected it to be. But still, way back in December 09 when I had the Great Graphics Card Balls Up (had to buy a new card, it didn’t fit in my PC or on my motherboard and I ended up buying a whole new PC in kit form and building it myself) I expected great things from it.

Well I’ve only had great-ish things from it.

It plays games wonderfully but it still finds SL a grind at times and a couple of weekends ago things came to a dramatic head when it simply refused to play ball during the Bay City 2nd Anniversary and I missed the Parade.

I think I’ve fixed it – I’ve certainly had no problems since Osprey’s advice, but in case anyone is looking for help with a similar issue, here’s what I did:

1) Cleared the cache. 4 times. Result: On relog things back to normal but not for long.

2) Defrag HD. Twice. Result: None.

3) Added 2Gb memory to take total to 4Gb. Result: None I can see so far but not tested much yet.

4) Switched on multi-threading in the SL client prefs (this was Os’ advice and it helps SL cope with multiple programs running on the computer). Result: This seems to have cracked it and I’ve had no problems since.

All in all it’s been hard to tell what worked as I was doing everything at the same time (bar adding the memory – that came a few days after and the system was running OK by then) but if you’re having problems, try the multi-threading thing out. Note, this is different from multi-threading on nVidia graphics cards which is about linking cards together.

I tell you what I’d miss about SL…

My blog.

That’s all.

Well, sort of.

You see I had this post planned a few weeks back when I was totally pissed off with SL. Since then I’ve had a new surge of fun and joy from being in-world – I’ve started writing again, I’ve actually built something, ideas are tumbling out of me and I have even found a work-around for the still fucking annoying snapshots-to-email bug(1).

But back then, in the Dark Weeks when I seriously did not want to log in, I got to thinking about what I was in SL for. What made me log in? Could I identify what I wanted from a virtual life and could I then find somewhere else to get it?

At the time several of my friends were having a rough time in SL. Osprey & Eladrienne were just two old hands among many who were finding, for various reasons, either more fun elsewhere or not enough in SL. It looked for a while as if a exodus of people I had ‘grown up’ with was about to start.

Things have calmed down but in that time I was thinking about what kept me in-world. Yes there are my friends, but I can keep in touch with them outside of SL as we all have email, Flickr, YouTube, blogs, twitter, facebook and therefore SL is only one of many ways I can be with them. What then about the things that have kept me in there in the last couple of years? The exploring stopped a year or more ago, I ditched my island months ago, even the show can no longer go on as it once did and none of these things seemed important. So what was it that was keeping me in SL? Try as I might I couldn’t answer that seemingly simple question until I shrunk it down to its bare, obvious minimum.

What would I miss if I never logged in again?

Now given that friends don’t count because even though I would miss them, I’d still be in touch with them, I suddenly realised there was one simple, honest answer.

My blog.

That’s what I do SL for. Something to post about. I love blogging, but need something to blog about. Without SL I was facing a very uncomfortable question. What would I write about? And that really shook me…

Now as I say, the things pissing me off about SL have lessened a little and I’ve found the time & energy to write and build. I’ve had tons of stuff to blog about and I’m happy again but the fact remains that, for me at least, SL is a sort of creative trigger for my writing, whether that be creative RP or just self-indulgent comic bollocks & waffle.

So maybe the question isn’t “What other world can replace SL for me?” and instead maybe it’s “What else do I find creatively inspiring enough that it makes me want to blog about it?”

But that, dear reader, is another question I have to ponder. For now I’m enjoying RPing in Steelhead, which constitutes about 99% of my online time now, as it is providing me with bags of stuff to write about. If that ever dries up then I’ll know it’s time to move on and look for something new – whether that will be in or out of SL remains to be seen.

(1) I save them to HD. Yes, many people told me to do this to get past the bug and I have ended up doing that, but I still maintain it’s not my preferred choice. I have to upload my emails to flicker now, an extra step in the chain I never had to think about before, but hey ho… at least I can do one of my favourite things in SL again 🙂

Disaster in Rodeo! Kahruvel Erased… AGAIN!

I was pootling around in St Helens building a log cabin when an IM popped up from Neal Lyle: Get to the Forest! Something terrible has happened! Rodeo has gone!

Rodeo? Gone? I assumed he meant the sim had winked out of existence. It happens. Red mapped we used to call it – the whole sim just vanished leaving perfectly straight cliff walls tumbling into an inaccessible sea where once hills and valleys could be explored and enjoyed. It takes a while, but The Powers That Be can bring these lost lands back pretty quickly (and since Havok 4 came into being it seems to be quite rare) so as I TPed over I simply thought this would be a panic over little.

I should have known better. This was Neal, not some three-week old newbie still green around the gills. Neal knew the grid. Neal knew what warranted an urgent message and what didn’t. I should have known.

Rodeo is still there, but it looks as though everything on it has been erased! The land looks like it must before human (or otherwise) hand had touched it. The tower was gone. The standing stones and the aqueduct too. The idol’s head Ilia found, gone. All gone.

Neal and I both IMed Sal, but he was out-of world and there was nothing we could do but wait. It was terrible thing to stand on the hill over looking the inlet and see all I have loved about the first since I found it three years ago simply gone.

2007:
The old BB blog header

2009:
New BB Blog Header - Kahruvel & Rodeo

Now!
Rodeo Erased!

I heard on Sal’s twitter feed that he’s alerted the Linden’s, but he sounds worried and if Sal is worried we all should be. What if this is the work of the Great Erase? What if it has followed me back from Shade?

The Problem(s) with Roleplaying in SL

OK, dramatic title. Many people reading this… BWAHAHAHAHA! Sorry, that last bit amused me. Many people. If only.

Start again.

Dramatic title. Some people reading this will be incensed and think “I rolepay perfectly well in SL, you stupid man!”. Well good, I’m glad. But I don’t. Here’s why:

1) Lack of really immersive environment: Unless you live in a themed sim/sims then it’s hard to roleplay being vampire/Jedi/whatever with a lapdancing club next door and Spongebob cubes screaming above them. Even with a themed sim, you have little to no control who wanders in – from a lost newbie to some berk deliberately taking the piss out of the players, these can all go to ruining the roleplay. And then time dilation or script lag can ruin RP. Other dedicated games such as WoW, Eve or LoTR fair better because they are just that, dedicated to that roleplay game. SL is a creative opportunity where people try and overlay roleplay and it doesn’t always fit well.

2) A Million Stories: Arseholes and stories; everyone has one. Problem is, how do you boil down a million stories into a cohesive rolepayable whole? In dedicated sims, how do you manage an environment where everyone is a Baron or a Vampire Lord or Slave Master or Whatever As Long As Its Important? In the end, the sheer number of voices drown out almost everything.

The bottom line is that RP in SL is hard because of lack of immersion. Immersion is hard in SL because it is hard to control the environment and the environment was never built for roleplay games.

Leaving aside RPing in dedicated sims or communities, what about collaborative RP across blogs? Before I was part of the show, I found myself reading many, many blogs in the hope that in them I would find a new home. I found some good writing and some promising crossovers that hinted at wider community RPing, but almost without exception my attempts to ‘click in’ to them failed with my comments on posts either ignored or dead-ended. After many weeks of trying I gave up.

Take a look at how many blogs tell such tales and them look at the number of comments those posts have – usually around zero. Even on my blog where I get comments to most posts, The Lost Journal, The Island and Backpacking Burro posts get the lowest comments of all, with The Lost Journal getting almost none. It seems people either do not want to read such tales, or do not feel able to comment. Maybe the nature of the tale locks them out, in a way that silly posts or serious discussion-style posts don’t.

But that doesn’t answer question of why authors of such tales seem unwilling to answer comments left on their posts. Without doubt, some will be part of a clique and unwilling to allow others in, but not everyone can be like that. I really don’t know… it seems that most blog RPs are for either a closed community or the author alone.

Sigh, I just don’t think SL is the right place for a good, rich, deep RP experience. But then it never was, I guess.

hba
****

p.s. I’ll tell you something for nothing – collaboration is fun, yes, but it is also hard. Really. I’m currently working with Darien Mason to complete the tale of the Lost Journal, but because of our time differences and Darien’s current RL commitments the relationship is mainly limited to bouncing ideas about. From my time with the troupe of TSMGO I know how hard it is to get together and actually thrash out a workable act, let alone a whole script. Trying to plan out a tale that involves more people than yourself, all of whom have backgrounds you know little or nothing about, is hard and requires workarounds or frequent pauses to check facts. Still fun though – you should try it. Find a blog you like and plan a tale together 🙂

Playing SL ‘out of the box’

Prok has a great post up todayon the single most annoying thing about SL for me – the fact it takes a huge, expensive wallet-bollock of a computer to play it.

Sure I *can* get it to run on my old laptop (the very machine I started my second life on a few days shy of two years ago) but only if I want not to play it. Bollocks to what the techies say – Windlight fucked it over. And I love windlight.

This time last year I knew the laptop was all but buggered and I’d have to splash out on a new computer. I got a desktop in Feb 08 and it cost me £600 – not a small amount for me and hard to justify just so I can prance about like a gazelle every now and then. But I did it because I love SL.

But it should not be this way. Read Prok’s post. He’s right – why do we have to pay top dollar or bugger about checking if various bits of kit will work with SL when they work just fine with tons of other games? I don’t want to have a machine custom built. I don’t want to know what bits of kit I have to buy. I just want a box that plays it. I’m not a techie and SL is not the soul preserve of techies – they have other places and I respect them and their knowledge enough not to go blundering into those places and demanding they make them all work on my ZX81. But SL is ours. It should work for us – all of us.

For god’s sake, make the damn thing work with more graphics cards and make the fucking sliders actually positively impact performance when they go left instead of just cutting down the quality of appearance. I don’t mind if the world looks less than optimal on my old-but-once-capable-lappy, I just want it to work.

SL Weirdness: Ouch! Me Pelvis!

I was sat with Janey in Murray last night (Hi Smallbutt Maxy – I’m still not interested, even if you add even more tales of woes to the woey tales you spun) when all of a sudden, my pelvis twisted around like it was auditioning for the next Exorcist film! What the hell is this all about? Even weirder is that Janey didn’t see it – in fact I just sat crossed legged with my back to her throughout, even though on my lappy I’d been sat facing her! Gah! Weirdness and SL go together far too weel for my liking 🙂

Crashtastic!

Sheesh! What a night – crash after crash after crash. I had a great night just hanging out with friends, but SL went down more times than an Italian football star.

First I met up with JaneBackpacking Burro › Create New Post — WordPressy at her place before jetting off on VPRS work. Not long after, I crashed. When I came back on, I met up with JG Riggles who’d managed to find my wee island on his travels. I TPed Janey over and we spent a lovely evening on the beach, in the cave (sorry about Tiddles, JG – hope the stitches hold) and up in the floating gallery.

I crashed again.

After JG left (on a wonderful hobo bicycle blimp), Janey and I popped over to The Slaughtered Lamb, a great indie music club owned by mate mate Luna. She had a band called The Rails playing live – they are a great bunch and always worth catching. Unfortunately I crashed twice causing me to be unable to relog for ages – I even needed a full restart after the second.

When I got back on, the gig had finished but I chatted with Luna and the band a bit – crashed twice again.

Eventually, after catching up with Osprey and Enjah as well, the crashes got the better of me and I retired to bed muttering darkly about ‘memory leaks’ and ‘wasted time’.

To add insult to injury, this morning I found all my pictures of JG’s visit and me and Janey at the gig had gone. Arsecakes!

Hope this gets better for the Combat Cards meet on Sunday 🙂