Thursday, January 26, 2012

Embarrassing glows and missed targets

The much-esteemed Guvnah of the fair realm of Caledon issued an annoucement concerning glowing objects.  Apparently, there is no set standard in OpenGL for the rendering of glow, which means that some people see glowy things as nigh-thermonuclear blazes of light, and this puts them off settling nearby.  The Guvnah, therefore, exhorts us all to a seemly moderation in the use of this setting.

"No problem!" I thought, and even announced in Caledon group chat.  "I use point light settings when I want illumination, so there's no likelihood of me using excessive glowiness!"

Then, later on, I thought, "Well, I suppose I'd better make sure..."

Turned out I was one of the worst offenders in this regard.  Can we say "oops"?

Now, I am labouring on antiquated and inadequate equipment - it's a wonder I'm in SL at all, my machine finds Nethack a bit of a challenge - and so I have rather the opposite problem.  I have a vague feeling I used to be able to see glowiness, somewhat, but in the round of updates to drivers and viewers and OpenGL in general, that ability has been denied me, these days.  So, though I went around performing emergency glow-ectomies on various objects on my parcels in Steam SkyCity, at the end of the day, I wasn't sure I'd got the lot.

At which point the redoubtable Miss Tali Rosca enters this sorry tale.  Miss Rosca is a scripter, sculpter, builder and generally all-around-skilled SL person of quite phenomenal ability, and she has a bang-up-to-date viewer and graphics setup, with which it is her wont to take pictures of excessive lighting setups.  So, I begged a favour of her; could she take a brief tour of my parcels and note anything that might still be emitting pyrotechnic glow?  And she was kind enough to say yes.

... and, shortly thereafter, messaged me with a query; did I know that one of the landmarks I had given her was to an area with no floor, causing her to drop fifty meters on materialization and land in the waters beneath the Sky City?

It would be nice to say that I'm above such crude practical jokes, but, let's face it, I'm not.  However, this particular instance of dropping visitors in the drink was not intentional.... So I used the very same landmark, and materialized, as I'd expected to, on the perfectly solid metal deck of my art-deco cafe on the Sky City.  And shortly afterwards, Miss Rosca appeared, using that very same landmark, and hanging in midair above a hole in the floor, about five meters to the north of me.

So, it seemed that this was a consistent problem, and I recalled a previous incident where a visitor had materialized off-target and vanished downwards for an early bath.  Something was amiss here.  But what?

Cue pauses for rumination, cogitation, and experimentation, interrupted occasionally by the sound of one of SL's most accomplished creators falling in the water.

It wasn't until I'd set a new landmark on the floor upstairs, and Miss Rosca was still plummeting, that the penny finally dropped.  For Miss Rosca.  My pennies remained firmly balanced on top of my empty blonde head.

Put simply: when I took over the parcel, I inherited a pre-set landing point that I'd never thought to change.

The parcel used to be the old giant robot head, which was on the side of the Sky City for simply ages, it was something of a landmark, I missed it when it went.  I still have a snapshot of the city which shows it, and here we can see it:-

But it went the way of so many SL landmarks (not landmarks in the LM sense, I mean... oh, you know what I mean!), and when I took over, the parcel was just an empty space, and I built something that looks like this:-

Now, as you can see, the robot head, in plan, is basically square.  And the lower floor of my subsection, in plan, is basically L-shaped.  And the landing point, set in the robot head's heyday?  You guessed it: right in the middle of the cut-out section.

So visitors could use the landmark I gave them, and would be automatically re-routed five metres to the north, and thence re-routed by gravity to the icy waters beneath.  Meanwhile I, as the parcel's owner of record, could ignore the teleport routing and appear where I wished.  And "where I wished" was, obviously enough, somewhere I wouldn't fall in the water.  But it was close enough to the set landing point that I could write off any mis-appearances I saw as some sort of SL glitch.  Because I am, sometimes, one dumb blonde.

So - things I learned, that I should already have known:-

1.  A landing point, once set on a parcel, persists until it's explicitly changed, even through changes of parcel ownership.  (Why this should surprise me, given how assiduously SL preserves state, I really don't know.)
2. The owner of a parcel automatically overrides any set landing point and may appear wherever she (or presumably he) wishes to.

And I should probably add 3. I am extremely lucky to have tolerant and intelligent friends like Miss Rosca, who are prepared to spend time falling repeatedly into the sea in order to get my ideas straightened out!

All in all, not one of my best days.

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