Monday, June 30, 2008

Vyttenyn, near Mirilene stargate

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fortimus harbour by night

Even in the dark it looks nice. Good job, Zena!, to be honest, I thought I'd already sent this one. But when I leave mouselook, the 'send postcard' menu appears again. This is with 1.20 RC11..bug?
posted by Sered Woollahra on Fortimus using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Fortimus harbour by night

Even in the dark it looks nice. Good job, Zena!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Fortimus using a blogHUD : [permalink]

..proudly presents: Fortimus Harbour!

I managed to buy a couple of parcels next to one another in Fortimus. My business partner Zena Silverstar and her team from Tropical Beach Rentals, transformed the lots into this beautiful water themed rental park, with little beaches for each parcel. We decided to leave the middle parcel open, so that each other parcel has access to open water. Hence the name: Fortimus Harbour.

I'm really quite happy with how it turned out!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eve online: after battle

Eve online: after battle, originally uploaded by seredwoollahra.

Much debris is left in this deadspace area after battle.. my ship survived, be it with the help of a repair job half way through! A couple of tactical adjustments helped me to survive when I got back into the fray after repairing the ship.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Landlord - part II

So I've been a landlord in Second Life for a couple of weeks now. I was quite happy with theFortimus parcel, as it had nice views and a lot of water surrounding it. I hadn't been there for a week (don't want to disturb the tenants!) but today I decided to take a look. I was quite surprised to find my neighbours' parcel for sale, for a nice price too! Of course I bought it, but now I've gone into the next tier - so I might as well buy some more to make good use of it! I've been thinking about creating a little park there. There's a couple of other parcels for sale as well; they would make nice parcels for a rental. The waterland lot I just bought could serve as a harbour, so my tenants would always have water in front of their house.

Eve online: lessons learned

So, after playing Eve for two weeks, what have I learned?

First, it's more demanding than a social world like SL. Objectives need to be met, progress needs to be made. You will never get anywhere without a bit of commitment. Of course one can choose not to go anywhere, but then the game could become boring quite quickly.

A player can make progress alone, but it's not easy. It's best to join a corp as soon as possible! I'm quite happy with the corporation I joined: there's always a couple of fellow Traders online, and all my n00b questions were answered - correctly I might add - within a couple of minutes. I'm sure I would have spent hours researching the answers to some of my questions, if it hadn't been for my fellow corp members. The corporation is (in my case) a useful support group and a very welcome social element in this high tech universe.

Skills are more important than ships or armor. For a game that's set in space and often involves shooting (either defensive or offensive), that may sound a bit over the top, perhaps. But still, if you don't train your skills, you'll never get into the ships necessary for the better missions, the higher rewards, the bigger battles or mining operations. Without the skills, you're pretty much stuck in high security regions doing smalltime mining ops. You're simply not going anywhere without properly trained skills. The good part is: in Eve, skill training is easy. But still you have to do it; and you better get to it because it takes time.

You can buy skills and train them subsequently. But it's better to acquire some real skills too, by running missions. At first I was a bit hesitant about doing missions. I was having fun chasing rats in higher security sectors (0.7 or 0.8), why should I do formal missions? It turns out that mission running does pay well; the rewards are often quite good. And, sometimes there's better loot to be had, during missions. It is more dangerous however, I had to retreat and repair my ship before finishing one of my missions; my ship was too damaged by sustained and heavy enemy fire to carry on with the battle. But before I can pilot a bigger, better ship with more firepower, I need more skills. See the previous point! Finally, mission running has a positive effect on your security standing and, probably, on your informal standing within the corporation as well.

Fly safe!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Second Life and Eve Online: single shards

Recently, Eve Online brought it's expansion "Empyrean Age" online. It seems to have drawn new players. I'm seeing more people online anyway, in the (Western European) evening, there's usually well over 30.000 pilots active with concurrency peaks over 35.000. In the trial period I did, just before Empyrean came online, it was often two to four thousand less.

Second Life on the other hand hasn't really been growing that much, recently. After a couple of concurrency peaks with over 60.000 players online in early 2008, it never pushed through; concurrency is still usually under that figure. Yet, Second Life has been really unstable now for quite some time, with outages and asset server issues abound.

Single Shard
Both Second Life and Eve-Online are 'single shard' environments, meaning that every player is online on the same instance of a virtual world. For other virtual worlds, sharding is used as a way to spread players over multiple instances (shards) of a virtual world. This allows for spreading workload, and helps tremendously with issues of scaling and performance. The downside however is is that players in one shard one cannot communicate, play with or against, players in another shard. For a social world like Second Life this is not acceptable, as much needed social interaction between groups of residents would become impossible!

CCP, the designers of Eve Online, also decided long ago they wanted a one shard world. That leaves you pretty much with one solution: grid computing, where the physical environment of the virtual world is divided over multiple, connected and communicating computers.

The Second Life grid
Second Life's grid is notoriously unstable. Periods of relative quiet are followed by weeks or even months of system outages, simulator crashes, lag and general unreliability, often blamed on the asset cluster that handles the residents' inventories (read: the database) or the SL simulator software itself. Eve online to me seems to run much more smooth and stable, even with over 35.000 concurrent users online. But I think there may be good reasons for that.

Each Second Life avatar is a unique composition of customized body shape and facial features, clothing, accessories like glasses, jewelry, watches, shoes et cetera , tied to an identity . The shape and position of all these objects has to be calculated in three dimensions, both absolute (all the objects that make up one avatar in relation to one another), as well as relative to the landscape, buildings and other nearby avatars. The same holds true for individual objects: each object is comprised of one or more prims whose (unique!) shape, texture and and positions have to be computed both absolute and relative. Finally, the landscape is different for all locations, with unique combinations of texture and shape in many places. In effect, there are many uniques in Second Life. That makes for a CPU and database intensive environment, I'd say. This is most notable at simulator crossings: if you cross a simulator boundary, the whole avatar package, again including calculations on absolute and relative positions of objects, has to be handed over from the originating sim (computer or CPU) to the other, often causing a slight bump or delay in movement.

..versus uniform objects

Eve-Online on the other hand is much more straightforward. There is no unique avatar, there is only a limited number of ships one can fly ; your ship is tied to your identity but it has no unique features otherwise. Each type of ship obviously has a distinct look and shape, but all ships of a certain type look identical throughout the whole of Eve. There are differences of course, these can be found in the configuration of a ship. What tools, drones or weaponry are on board, what cargo does it carry? But, all of these are represented by styled icons, which makes them easy to display, cpu wise. There may very well be no really unique objects within Eve! As for the physical environment: each region of space is made up of different solar systems, which in turn consist of stars, planets, moons, asteroid belts, stargates and stations and, of course, game elements like computer generated 'enemies', real players and their ships or objects. Some of the planets or moons in the systems are unique indeed and graphically beautiful to see, but their number is relatively limited; as are the other objects within a system. I think that on any given moment, your average Second Life simulator is dealing with much more unique objects than an Eve solar system contains.

To be honest, I have no idea whether each Eve solar system runs on it's own CPU or not. There is some slightly dated information that multiple systems can be combined on one server but that one system cannot be divided between multiple servers. Typically when jumping from one system to another, you experience the same bump one notices when crossing a simulator border in Second Life - and my Wine based Linux Eve installation often doesn't survive that bump. That would suggest something of a CPU handoff indeed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eve-online: joined a corporation

Yesterday, after my space craft got shot to pieces, I decided it was time to join a corporation. In the Eve universe, players are expected work together in these corporations. There are many different corps: mining, mission running, trading and manufacturing, warfare, rat killing or, in most cases, a mixture of all these; often these activities are carried out together as well. Some corps require a tax payment of all your income, others don't. But, the tax charging corps don't only charge, they usually share as well: profits among (active?) members, or other useful stuff: ships, equipments, manufacturing blueprints, weaponry.

Another aspect of corporations is, that n00bs such as myself can learn the tricks of the trade from the old hands who often form the backbone of a successful corp. Transfer of knowledge is usually an integral part of these corps, even though there are corporations who only recruit experienced players.

Finally, last but not least, as part of a corporation you're better protected against random violence: if someone harms you, your entire corp gets to shoot at the bad guy who did it. As long as you're alone, you're basically fair game for anyone with a bigger ship than you; as part of a corp, a bad guy must not only deal with you, but with your corp as well. And your corp members may be much more dangerous than you!

Corporations are not alone either, they often form alliances for political and military purposes. A small corp within a powerful alliance may actually provide better protection than a larger corp without one.

You have to be careful when choosing a corporation. If you join a corp that requires your presence at practice drills or joint missions, you have to make sure you can comply with those demands. My busy schedule hardly allows for that, I'm glad if I get to play at all for several weeks! So after carefully weighing my options and limitations, I applied for membership or the Trade Academy Corporation. It's reasonable in it's demands, yet has an active member base, which is good for learning and protection. So I jumped to their head quarters and applied. After half an hour I got a call from Jenny Twotone, one of their members, and after a brief chat I was accepted as corp member!

Some advantages are visible immediately. In the in game chat window, the corp chat is automatically switched to your new corp. In my case I was introduced to my new corp colleagues by the officer who interviewed me before accepting my application, and others online welcomed me in their midst. Then one of the corp members requested assistance, he was in a big fight with a lot of Mordus rats somewhere in the Halle system. I was eight jumps out, so by the time I finally got there the fight was over - but the sky was literally littered with Mordus wreckage. One of the more experienced members called it "an epic space battle"! We looted like mad, as each wreck had more cargo on board than three of your average Serpentis wrecks combined. I've never had so much different objects in my cargo hold! I had to go to a nearby station to drop off cargo twice; by the time I returned for third round, most of the wreckage was cleared. To my surprise, the corp members allowed me to keep the loot I collected, even though I didn't participate in the firefight itself. A nice welcome present, that!

All in all it felt good to be part of something instead of going it alone. I'm sure I can learn a lot, and possibly contribute too - as soon as I can buy a larger, more powerful ship that is..

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Twinity: Alpha City Berlin, Alexanderplatz

These are daylight shots of Alpha City Berlin, Twinity's first real outdoor environment. It's alpha, meaning it's still in development, but I like it so far.

Eve Online: a cocky n00b

Bereye, Roden Shipyards, originally uploaded by seredwoollahra.

I was having a lot of fun tonight in Eve Online. Gathering and selling stuff, killing off (game generated) bad guys in Lirsautton, until one n00b asshole, called Gen Doctor, got in the way. For some reason, he seemed hellbent on interfering with me! First he stole my loot, which gave me kill rights on him. I talked to him, he didn't want to compensate me, instead he wanted a fight. I didn't, so I warped the heck out of there. After all, the galaxy is large enough, isn't it? But he started following me, long enough to get me angry: he tried to steal from me again! I enabled my shields and fired a warning shot at him when he was close enough, and now he's firing away at me with some heavy missile stuff.. and I just logged off. That's not the EVE Online I like to play!

Of course, for some, EVE Online is just that, player versus player combat. It's just that this is not (usually?) done in high sec regions, and I was in one of those! If I wanted to pick a fight with someone, I'd have jumped to a low sec region, don't you think?

Someone in an Eve online forum once said: these guys aren't assholes, this is just the game they play. My problem is that this guy forced me to play *his* game in a region that was not intended for it.

A cocky n00b with much too much armor and guns. Yuck.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Twinity: Alpha city Berlin

Twinity: Alpha city Berlin, originally uploaded by seredwoollahra.

One of my complaints with the first Twinity beta, was the lack of a real outdoor experience. Confined to houses or small gardens, it almost felt claustrophobic. In later releases, one could fly off a balcony and have a bit of freedom. But, it looks like it's going to get a whole lot better than that. This is Alpha city Berlin, an alpha version of a 'real' outdoor city! I need to check this out when it's day again, but in the dark it looks nice enough.

Oh, those starry skies.. those would never be possible in a real city, due to light pollution. But as an amateur astronomer, I like it!

ready for tenant

The two Timandra parcels are ready as well, meaning all three of my parcels are ready for a tenant All other Tropical Beach Rentals houses in Timandra and Thetidia have been rented already; it's possible my parcels will find a tenant sooner rather than later..
posted by Sered Woollahra on Thetidia using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Friday, June 13, 2008

a snapshot bug in 1.20 RC10

as of 1.20 RC10, the snapshot interface is included in a snapshot. But not in the preview, only when you click 'send' it becomes visible. Weird!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Fortimus using a blogHUD : [permalink]

available for rent!

Nice, TBR has already put up an advertisement for my parcel in Fortimus. I wonder how long it will take before it's rented!
posted by Sered Woollahra on Thetidia using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A real landlord, me ;-)

It looks like I've found a good construction for my land in Timandra. The rent for my neighbouring parcel was handled by Zena Silverstar of Tropical Beach Rentals, and after a few IM's and a few emails we decided to do business. She and her team will be handling my parcels as well!

Notice the multiple? I had only one 1100 meter parcel in Timandandra, meaning I had a couple of hundred meters left on my land tier. After consulting with Zena, I bought another nice 512 square meter waterland parcel in Fortimus, which will either feature a hotel or another rental house.

Zena handles most of the work for an (in my opinion) modest fee, and I get some return on investment without losing the parcel in Timandra. I consider myself lucky!

Oh, if you want to rent.. contact Zena :-)

My son loves this..

..the jumping orca, that is. I'd rather have the boat :-)
posted by Sered Woollahra on Putnami using a blogHUD : [permalink]

Sunday, June 8, 2008

An invitation to Twinity

Just like Tinsel, I've got a batch of special invitations to Twinity: the first fifty people to sign up through this link get direct access to the Twinity beta - without waiting time. Why don't you give it a shot!

Personally, I'm still trying to get Twinity to run on Wine. I'd like to stay in Ubuntu as much as possible, and so far Twinity is the only thing I need to go to Vista for. Obviously, Twinity on Wine isn't supported by Metaversum, but if anyone gets it to work, I'd love to hear how.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How to offer land for rent?

I am the lucky owner of a nice parcel at Timandra. It's really a neat place: surrounded by small, Linden owned waterways on three sides, not too big (1100 square meters), and so far the sim itself is quiet as well. A nice place to retreat to.

But, recently I haven't been using it, really. It's just the place I login to, or go to if I need some rest, but it has no real function. Yet I am paying the Lindens a premium account and a fee each month, just for this one parcel.

Yet I'd rather not sell it. I'm not sure I can get a place like this again, if I really want it or need it. So, I think the solution is to rent the place. It may or may not cover the cost, but at least it will bring back some of the dollars I'm spending on SL.

But how do I go about this? Ideally, I'd rent it to someone I know, or have an agency handle the rent stuff for me. Anyone else in this business? Useful advice?


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

quite a crowd the Metanomics session at the Tech Museum. We're getting a stream of a live discussion, featuring Philip Rosedale and Peter Friess, on 'digital democracy'. Should start at any minute now..
posted by Sered Woollahra on The Tech using a blogHUD : [permalink]