27 September 2007

Burning Life: it will remain a mystery to me

Second LifeI had heard of it. I had seen photos of it. I knew it was coming, but I did not know what I could expect.

Burning Life, the SL equivalent of the RL Burning Man Festival. Something with a wooden frame on fire in the desert. The idea I used to have of it was that of men coming their in pickup trucks, drinking beer, talking about women, cars and fire. I now learned it has something to do with art apparently. And with art, criticism and concern:

And freedom and kicking against bureaucracy apparently, but if so, what's all the fuzz about sculptures in PG regions censored? Then just don't make the regions PG or anything, but if you fight for freedom, you can't have censorship.

But I'm having a hard time. When I teleport over, I see interesting things nearby. I check it out, but see something else rezzing (with half-loading textures), check that out, meanwhile forgetting where I was, what else I wanted to see. So I quickly give up checking everything out, because I'm so overwhelmed, I feel I'd need a year to really see everything and appreciate it.

But without really checking things out, what's there to do but flying around randomly, hoping things rezzed before you've flown over them. And with that, the whole purpose is a complete blur to me. It is simply too much and too large. If I want an art show, I'm happy at Oyster Bay, with shows like Hidden Starax, which are set up so you know you have the time for all pieces, yet won't miss out on anything.

SL4B had 9 regions, that was a lot too, but since every region had a simple theme, it was still overseeable. Also, every region had a Telehub, with a map of the area and teleporters. So you could easily tp into a region, look on the map what there was to be seen, then tp off to the desired location. None of that in Burning Life, it seems everything is just scattered around with no directions or other forms of clarity.

I will see if the regions are accessible on Sunday for Burning The Man (O irony, 22 regions, far too much for a simple guy like me to explore in a few days, yet it probably won't be enough for the climax of the show!), but apart from that, I don't think I'll spend much time there. And that's too bad, because I know there is cool stuff out there, but with no clear pointers, I'm just lost. And thus, I did not know what to expect, I still don't know.

01 September 2007

Flying high in Second Life

Second LifeIt's an often asked question, it even was in the SL knowledge base: How high can you fly?

Anybody older than one week will probably know you can get up to a few hundred meters, and even sink back a bit when releasing the PgUp key. Using special objects, such as a Flight Feather, you can get much higher and you'll discover the world you know on the SL ground is only the tip of the iceberg, there are skyboxes up to 700 meters high (iirc, 768m is the highest you can build, vehicles may go higher).

But even then, flying up is slow, and above 1000 meters terribly boring. Teleporting to higher altitudes also doesn't work. Most Residents will rely on eye witness accounts of avatars going higher than that. Back in 2004, a post about it was made on SLuniverse.com (now home of Snapzilla): "Exploring Second Life's Highest Frontiers".

Intrigued by paragraphs like "In the day skybox, blue sky contracts to a narrow, vivid line of blues, grays, silvers, and reds on the horizon, at about 500,000 meters. The sun shines overhead in a black sky," I wanted to see for myself, but all means I had were just too slow.

Until I got a b.places HUD, which allowed upwards speeds even unmeasurable to itself (it says I'm going at 250 meters per second, but I think 500 meters per second is more accurate). I now could fly to over 100,000 meters within a few minutes, I now could fly as high as I wished.

All the things I read in the SLuniverse post I didn't encounter at all, I suppose they were fixed in the 2.5 years since then. However, I did notice from about 20,000-30,000 meters, my avatar started to 'jiggle'. Going even higher explained why that happened, from about 100,000 meters, it is obvious the 'jiggle' is caused by a lower vertical resolution. So when my avatar's arms move just slowly up and down a bit, the lower resolution made fast, larger moves of that.

This vertical deterioration seriously deforms the avatar going up to 1 million meters height, causing the eyes to sometimes snap outside the head, makes the fingers flat as a pancake or thick as an elephant.

I didn't go higher than 1 million meters, as at about that point, the avatar just disappears and doesn't return, even after teleporting back to ground level. Only a relog fixes that. And apart from the avatar's deformation, I saw nothing change in the sky, the sun was bright as ever and the sky was blue.

However, I did want to share this experience with everybody, therefor I took a Snapshot at 38 positions, morphed them from one to another and made a video out of it: