New tools & Cheese Fairies

We’ve seen Linden Realms with it’s auto teleporting abilities, it’s auto attaching temp HUDs that remember your last score. We’ve been crushed by giant rocks that wandered around then chased us and caused us to be auto teleported to a re-spawn point….

Almost a year later i still can’t reproduce this on own island. But I’ve been trying.

The free auto attaching temp HUD is available at Nemo Beach from this Sign.

The Cheese Fairy

I decided to use what i had learnt from SL9B using HUDS to tell a story and create a small adventure quest that would use new tools that had arrived this year.

Someone has eaten all the cheese and you need to find the culprit. The story is uncovered by clicking things which trigger the HUD to show encounter bubbles similar to what you find in RPG games and can include music and gifts all in the HUD. The potential is for an entire RPG story being stored in a HUD.

The HUD sits neatly at the bottom and only needs just one click to kick of the story

Most of this was just refining what i had learnt before with New Babbage Mystery and SL9B. But this time i learnt an extra trick to do with ‘lists’. Thanks to the kind people on the SL forums i learnt how to make a lists database so when someone clicks and object to get a message, if they click a second time it remembers the user and shows a different message. This can be seen if you click the Cheese fairy a second time.

Along with learning ‘Lists’ i also wanted to try some new stuff such as the Creator tools & Pathfinding.

 

The Grail Tools

The new Tools were originally referred to as the ‘Gaming’ tools when first announced by Rodvik, since then they changed to ‘Experience’ Tools and then to ‘creator’ Tools. I’ve started to refer to them as the ‘The Grail’ tools. I know they are coming, they will be released when its right. Linden Lab did release two parts of the Grail Tools, ‘AttachAvatarTemp’ and ‘TeleportAgent’.

AttachAvatarTemp This allows you to touch an object and have it auto attach itself to your avatar and because it is ‘Temp’ it will not be added to your inventory. It’s quite kool actually and really reduces the amount of faffing about needed to play some games. Usually you have to Click something, receive it, open inventory, find it in inventory then right click and wear it. With this new tool you click, it rezzes item and you click and it’s attached.

Only issue is with permissions, they really are a pain in the ass and ill get back to that later. You also can’t use TeleportAgent with a TempAttached object.

I used AttachAvatarTemp with there Cheese Fairy HUD, so its simple to attach and get on with the adventure. Then after you remove the HUD and it’s added nothing to your inventory.

TeleportAgent This allows you to click an object, or collide with an object and get instantly teleported ZOOOP!. AMAZING i hear you not cry, well it would be amazing if i could use it how i wanted. I tried to get it so the Quest HUD teleported you to a starting point when you clicked ‘START’. But due to permissions restrictions only the owner of the object can be teleported. Thats fine, because when you TempAttach the HUD you become the owner of the HUD. Well Linden Lab must have thought about it because the’ve made it so you can’t request Teleport permissions from a Temp Attached item. MEH.

With the help of my friend David we did try some work arounds where the hud rezzed temp objects inside the avatar which on collision sent a teleport request before deleting itself. This does work but causes a dialogue box to appear every time requesting permissions. I found this to be really annoying so decided to drop the TeleportAgent feature from the HUD.

When it comes to a fun experience the mechanism, the part that does all the work telling the story and pushing the user further into the experience needs to be as simple as possible. it needs to almost not be there. The user must not have to stop and work out a technical issue before returning to the experience and they should not have to click ‘request permissions’ boxes all the time.

The biggest of the Grail Tools yet to be released, or even mentioned in more detail is the fabled ‘universal permissions’. This is a set of permission you give a region owner allowing any item that calls for them to have permission to use you on the region you accepted them on. This would allow you to be teleported instantly, or have objects attached to you. It might even allow the region to animate you, or to control you. Used by the right sort of people these sorts of perms could lead to some truly amazing experiences in SL like nothing we’ve seen yet.. on the grid. Used by the wrong people and you could end up having a giant penis attached to your forehead. So with concerns like that i can imagine they would want make real sure the ‘Universal Permission’ system can’t be abused.

It would be nice to hear something about ‘Universal Permission’ some time to remind me i didn’t just dream them.

 

Pathfinding.

A feature switched on by scripting a character into an object. The script can give the object abilities such as pursuing, wandering, and evading. To accomplish this Linden Lab had to program a completely new way for land to be constructed, but you won’t see it because it’s invisible to normal users.

Seeing as i would be making a little Cheese Fairy character i decided to try and make it Pathfinding so it would be walking around when you found it. People who saw the Fairy waddling about said it was really cute. They found themselves connecting to it more as a character rather than a static statue which is a really important thing when trying to get users immersed in a story.

I used the same Alpha frame flipping technique as i used on the goblins and rats on Escapades but this time i added multiple states. So for example when walking it would show walking set of animations, then when it stopped, it would show a standing set of animations. This further gives the illusion of character.

Unfortunately there was some sort of bug that causes the alpha flipping to not work as it should. I filed a bug report and Linden Lab are looking into it. Also every Pathfinding character is automatically 15 land impact even if it was originally 1 land impact. I guess thats just how much resources a pathfinder objects takes. Also you can’t touch activate a pathfinder object, but this can be worked around by linking another object to it which CAN be touched. All this did not stop me from continuing with trying to script the Cheese fairy. What did stop me was my lack of scripting skill.

I could script the Fairy to trigger all the story elements of the quest HUD and i could script the multi-state pathfinding. But when it came to merging the two together so he wandered about then stopped when clicked to talk to the user, this i just could not work out and as yet there is no working references online to research from. I’ve not given up, its something ill have to learn at a later date. So for now the Cheese Fairy just nods his head while sat on a wall.

Pathfinding is an extremely complex feature added to SL, i think it’ll be a while before we see it’s true potential, but its something i think will add some really exciting new ideas.

 

Opening Doors.

Making this small Quest game has helped me learn a few things while confirming better ways of using HUDs. It has shown me the current limitations of of some new features and the possible future if Universal Permissions ever appear.

The Cheese Fairy Game is available AT NEMO BEACH. If you play the game you can then wonder like i am how well it might work with a story that goes beyond ‘who stole the cheese’.

This isn’t really a game, but an experiment to see how simple i can make a story telling experience.

5 thoughts on “New tools & Cheese Fairies

  1. Loki,
    Awesome, I will be there to try the cheese adventure. If you need help with lists, give me a call. I’ve been messing with lists for quite a while. There are some serious gotchas with lists, but darn handy things. Biggest gotcha is lists (as with all other variables) are pass by value, so list manipulation can use up a LOT of stack space.

    • While being given advice on the forums i was guided to use a system where each time the Fairy was clicked it made sure the list was kept at 15, removing the oldest records to be replaced by the newest. I took it to be to prevent using up stack space. Would i be correct?

  2. “AttachAvatarTemp – This allows you […] reduceing the amount of faffing about needed to play some games. Usually you have to Click something, receive it, open inventory, find it in inventory then right click and wear it. With this new tool you click, it rezzes item and you click and it’s attached.”

    Yes, but it is not the standard procedure and even if it involves less work, some people will probably not get it at first… It felt not intuitive to me.

    Some more thoughts on this absolutely cool quest (Great work, Loki!):

    – the fairy footprints are too small and there are prints missing when leaving the club house. I thought it was a dead end. Only because I have read this post and knew that it was worth searching, I continued looking and eventually found the tiny prints on the hill. Some people might give up at this point…

    – the conversation with the cheese fairy is great. it would be cool if it was possible to chose between 2-3 different statements. And based on the selected statement the fairy would react differently. Is that theoretically possible?

    – I tried to give the object “crackers” to the fairy by dragging the item onto it but that was not possible and gave an error message. Only then I rezzed it. I am not sure if rezzing it is intuitive (maybe make “rez-me” part of the object name?).

    – After wearing the cookie I clicked again on the fairy and it restarted with the first conversation. It would be better if the fairy remembered that the quest is finished and said something like “Thank you for helping me. See you soon.”

    My five cents to one of the best looking quests I have seen in SL so far. Very promising!

  3. He He thanks Estelle, the quest obviously fired your imagination about what could be possible which is great.

    With regards to intuition there is a possible difference between whats intuitive and whats merely pattern. For SL users it might seem easier and intuitive to do tasks which we have gotton used to even if they do take more clicks and more time to accomplish. For a new user, who has not been in second life, clicking to attach a temp rez object maybe more intuitive than looking for it in inventory. It’ll be interesting to see how people use the feature.

    The conversation with the cheese fairy is pretty limited due to it being a test but the idea of multiple choice answers is definitely something i’d like to try. I’m sure it’ll happen sometime next year.

    I was going to add a special ‘THANK YOU’ message at the end. It would have meant making a second List database to keep track of who had finished, but i decided i didn’t have time 🙂 Having a quest keep a track on who’d done what is a new and exciting area that i’ve just got into so expect better more complicated tasks in future 🙂

    Giving people objects they can rez is cool, it gives more of a real 3D feel to the world. Having items you can wear or rez thats part of Second Life. How to use objects as an interactive part of a game is still something i’m trying to decide on. Having to go into your SL inventory and find the object might detract from the game. One might find it intuitive to place object on the ground, another might find it intuitive to place the object on top of the object they hope to effect (the later only works if you hold CTRL and drop item on object).

    In most traditional games you dont get objects, you get ‘inventory items’ and i dont mean as in the SL inventory, i mean a HUD inventory, or an image of the item you collected. in these games you click the item and it does something in the 3d world. This is something i have thought about but as yet do not fully understand how it would work.

    Thanks for your ‘Five Cents’ they are greatly appreciated 🙂

  4. To add to the subject of using objects i have a small tale. When i created the underground base game where you have to blow up the main reactor. I would often arrive to find the reactor covered in spanners. The spanner is a free bashable weapon people can collect, but they were rezzing them to try and blow up the reactor. It was interesting how all the spanners were dropped on the centre of the Reactor showing that people were instinctively dropping the spanners at the point they thought it needed to break. It was a telling sign of virtual behaviour.

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