animats

Vehicles vs. sim crossings, why it's so awful

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Just a minor update. I've found a few more of those bad road holes. Not many. One spot on the outskirts of Zindra, and two in the snowlands of Sansara.

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This isn't a bridge. Just a bad road.

Newer mesh roads on irregular terrain tend to have this problem. No support prims, and long mesh pieces which cross regions.

Half-unsits continue, at the rate of 1-2 per hour of driving. Waiting for LL on that; they're actively working on the bug. That's the last killer problem.

Other than that, we're doing OK with our bikes. With all these fixes, our bikes are much easier for new riders. I just had a customer who had an old "light cycle" bike from Tron. He couldn't keep that on a narrow straight road for 100 meters. But he could ride our bike all around town without problems. One woman who had become frustrated with bikes tried one of ours around Robin Loop in Heterocera, which is a moderate-difficulty ride of a few kilometers. She completed Robin Loop on the first try, at a reasonably good speed, without going off the road. That's what should happen. I tell people "Just drive." It works.

It's fun to give people rides or loan them bikes. There are many SL users who don't have a sense of how big a world SL is. You can ride for an hour and keep seeing new things.

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Sim crossing problems act as a pervasive drag on large scale activities in SL. Here are a few of them.

Today, Drivers of SL had a three hour drive/quest. Dozens of drivers crossed hundreds of sim boundaries. I had two half-unsits in 3 hours. That's about typical. Everything we can do script side and viewer side can't get us below about one fail per hour. We can do a lot to make crossings smoother, but that sim-side bug where avatar and vehicle part company remains the big problem. Only LL can fix that, and they don't know how yet.

Today, the first responder groups in SL had a trade show. Fire engines, ambulances, rescue helicopters, and associated equipment were on show. Most are very realistic, with many functional features. One of the helicopter designers showing there gave me a ride a few weeks ago. She's a helicopter pilot in real life, and her helicopters are as realistic as she can make them. They take training and real piloting skills to fly. Yet they can be crashed by a sim crossing bug. People make realistic air ambulance runs in those things. Sim crossing failures discourage dedicated users from doing things like that. This is a killer for large scale roleplay.

I mentioned in another topic that many new users expect to be given a quest, or something to do, when they enter Second Life. One of the shorter Drivers of SL scenarios would be great for that. They have an excellent HUD system which guides users from waypoint to waypoint, gives them tasks to do, gives them items, checks their progress, and keeps the quest going. Newer HUD versions use experience tokens and are quite effective.

The quest falls apart on a failed region crossing. The user has to log out and log back in. They probably won't be near a rez point, so they can't create a new vehicle. Immersion is broken. That makes this unusable as something to help new users get started - we'd lose about half of them with a half-hour quest.

It's hard to think of any other online technology with a mean time before failure of less than an hour. Fifteen years ago, yes. Maybe ten years ago. Not today. The quality of the experience just is not good enough to retain new users. LL needs to get their act together, and fast.

 

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1 hour ago, animats said:

It's hard to think of any other online technology with a mean time before failure of less than an hour. Fifteen years ago, yes. Maybe ten years ago. Not today. The quality of the experience just is not good enough to retain new users. LL needs to get their act together, and fast.

Funny, SL hasn't failed on me in weeks. If SL had been designed to be a vehicle-based game, you could say it's failing. You're trying to turn what's basically a general-purpose sandbox into a vehicle-based game. Of course it doesn't work smoothly.

About 9 years ago I started noticing that people were teleporting everywhere. They'd teleport from a store to another store that was only 50 or so meters away. They wouldn't even know that the two stores were so close. It's still that way for most of SL's population. They don't walk anywhere, much less use vehicles. The behavior of vehicles at sim crossings, good or bad, will have nearly zero effect on new user retention.

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It doesn't work because of very specific bugs. Vehicles are a part of SL and are supposed to work. They're just broken. SL is probably a few hundred lines of code changes away from region crossings that work reliably. It's a tough few hundred lines. There's a message protocol bug. Two Lindens are working on this.

The "teleporting everywhere" thing is real, but many of the roleplay sims don't allow teleports, for realism. Many new users want a more game-like experience. SL isn't a game in itself, but many people build games within it. Even LL does that, although not very well. Having more game-like experiences on offer for new users is important. Some people want that structure. It beats dumping them out in a new user area full of loud griefers.

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