It's that week between christmas when you sit back and relax with left overs and rubbish tv….
well thats what it's supposed to be. In stead i have been popping into SL every couple of hours to check on SIM performance and dealing with user questions regarding the Dark Aether Falls game.
The Dark Aether Ends
Lets step back a few weeks first. Early december the Dark Aether Falls role-play was in full swing after two months build up. The Mini clue hunt game was finished and served as a side plot for a story explaining who Jason Moriarty was and present a few ideas for why he was so hell bent on the destruction of the town.
The residents of New Babbage loved this small game as a prelude to the final chapter and end of the story which this year entailed a ritual, race against time hunt amongst the clouds to stop the Dark Aether from falling.
Everything was automated this year making it easier for me to do talking parts between NPC's while the machinery clanked away behind me revealing the final monster. This was all thanks to my continued efforts in grasping SL scripting by communicating with brilliant minds on the SL scripting forums.
The story that unfolded was everything i hoped for with the Cloud angels, Moriarty, the Van Creed, the canisters all converging for a climatic end with a building collapsing around the players in a panic. Everything went to plan except as hard as i tried to kill off the main character the players refused to let him die :). So as i close this chapter of my creative story it has been taken out of my hands by those who are so involved with the cannon created that they can't bare to let it die.
The feed back from the residents of New babbage has been phenomenal and extremely positive and although i have said i will not be returning next year with an rp on that scale, I'm sure i will will have something because what i learnt this year is that creating an RP story for a small group is very different and sometimes more rewarding than making a game experience for a mass of people.
The Dark Aether Continues
So what happens when 80 people an hour arrive to play your gaming experience? Let me take another step back to explain how its possible to end up having 80 people an hour arriving at your region.
When i first announced the Dark Aether Falls mini game at the start of december i had only just submitted my game to Destination Guide. Linden Realms was being promoted on the main login screen and all over the front of the Destination guide. I thought at first as you do that they were just using their godly powers to be ahead of everyone else. I now believe it was necessary for them to understand how the destination guide herds n00bs to places en mass and to gage how regions cope with the strain.
I myself enjoyed being placed in the Destination guide at a position that saw low but manageable levels of interest from people who were experienced in SL.
What happens when 80 people an hour arrive at your region?
Then came boxing day and suddenly New Babbage was seeing thousands of people a day arriving to play the Dark Aether Falls mini game. It was soon discovered that the Dark Aether had been placed on the number one slot of the login screen and New babbage was suffering. The SIM crawled to a halt as people continued to arrive at the HUD shop making it impossible to do anything. Not only does movement become impossible but script also start being delayed and so the game HUDS stopped working.
And this is where i am today, overwhelmed by the interest caused by the Login Screen Destination guide, trying to help those i can who have managed to get through the lag to play the game they purchased in SL. For many this is their first experience of SL after going through the orientation and i so wish it wasn't. I feel helpless to do anything.
I requested the destination guide editor to remove the Dark Aether from the number one slot to try and lower the number of visitors which they did and New Babbage is once again playable. Thanks to the LL editor being quick :).
'Be careful what you wish for'
yes i wished for lots of people to be able to experience what i make, and why shouldn't i? I haven't been put off by whats happened in New Babbage, instead i view it as highlighting a very important area in which the Lab NEEDS to be aware of and strive to fix.
The lab has avoided this issue with their Linden Realms game as they created twelve regions. Im not sure how many people can afford £3500 a month tier costs (not including VAT) to run a game in a similar fashion, but the drop off from destination guide will kill you out right. I would like to know how many are still playing Linden Realms now it has dropped off the number one slot.
Linden Lab want us to use new gaming tools to build games in order to bring value back into owning land and encourage new and current users to stick around longer. Combine that with the current destination guide, all you will get is bad experiences like i'm currently going through :).
Egnog shows a fragmented future.
Dark Aether aside, i did one final gaming experience before the end of the year. Egnog the christmas Troll is a character i created for my SL friends. He is not of any faith and simply gives you a present if you want it. Originally created 4 years ago he was made crudely with 24 sculpt prims and this year i decided to recreate him and his winter grotto in MESH. He is now only 10 prims and more detailed.
The grotto is perfect example of all that i have learnt this year in SL. From Mesh modelling and texturing to automated scripted machines and gaming HUDS. Unfortunately the free Egnog game HUD does not work so well, but again i have learnt a lot from making it.
It has highlighted an issue that will plague me and those working in Mesh to make detailed, efficient builds throughout 2012. That is the issue of fragmentation between viewers.
Part of the decision to make Egnog in mesh was because the Phoenix viewer now has mesh support, but the feed back i was getting was that many could not see Egnog because they had changed back to the old phoenix simply because it's a faster viewer. If you remove the ability to render objects, textures sounds and lighting, then yeh your viewer is going to be faster of course, but then you can't complain when you don't see things.
We should be embracing mesh viewers and demanding that LL make it work better.
Anyway Egnogs winter grotto is open to who ever visits Escapades Island or shares between friends and will be around until New Year.