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This is it, the final blog post for MUV, and what journey it has been. Over the past 5-6 weeks I have poured my heart into this little forest of mine, and I am pretty happy with the results. As my previous post examined the many obstacles that I have encountered along the way, I will attempt to give a more general overview of the building process and my thoughts along the way.

When I first started building my Island I was very enthusiastic about the whole thing. I knew that my goal was rather ambitious but I didn’t realise the amount of work that went into building something this large and complex. Luckily before this feeling of being overwhelmed began to kick in, Claire got me onto some fantastic free trees, that she found in an OAR file. After taking these my forest began to come alive. I was only utilising basic designer skills at this stage, and hadn’t jumped into the technical aspect at this stage.

After about two weeks of terraforming and placing trees and rocks, my other assignments began to take up more and more of my time. This was really frustrating for me because at this stage the building was actually rather enjoyable. However with just a week and a half to go, I returned with full force to tackle this massive project. The forest didn’t look anything like I had imagined at this crucial stage, and it was at this point that I felt the most underwater (metaphorically speaking).

However I persevered and I soon found that everything began to look like I had originally thought. Well, almost everything, I was/still am having massive trouble with getting my Fog Emitters to actually do what I wanted them to do. I found that they frequently turned off by themselves, and only dispersed the particles in a circle pattern. I had tried changing the particle patterns in the Fog Script but with strange results.

When I finally came to putting everything together I was quite pleased, but I have to say that my final build didn’t live up to that first concept in my head. Perhaps something like that can’t be captured in reality, but I suppose it could if a really good builder came along…(psssst Isa).

I can say that completing such a large undertaking has given me a totally new understanding of the amount of work that goes into building in Second Life/OpenSim. Everytime I see something as simple as the Dodgems Bumper Cars, it makes me stand back and admire the workmanship and time/effort that goes into building something like that. You could say that construction in a virtual world has a steeper learing curve than in real life, but apart from this it is limited only to your imagination. It is easy to see why this limitless environment appeals to so many people, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Thanks Isa and Arwenna for the awesome Semester!

As I am coming to the end of my building in my SimOnAStick Island it is time to discuss many (so many) issues that I have faced over the last few weeks as I attempt to recreate JR Tolkien’s elven forest Lothlorien.

One of  the first difficulties that I had to face was the fact that my ability to 3D Model was terrible. I found that making the most basic shape, using a variety of different modelling software, was very hard. I had to abandon my hopes of making my own trees, because it was simply to hard for a non-artistic person like me. Anyhow I was put onto some free trees that looked really great, so I nabbed them (with notation to their original owners of course), and added them to my forest.

Eventually I found a modelling program that was reasonably intuitive and I rapidly made a mushroom “sculptie” for my build. Importing this was a breeze, but making my own texture for it was painstakingly slow. I had imported at least 6 different textures until I was satisfied with my mushroom. As well as this I made a funky shape, a little by accident, which I decided to use as my lantern model. I soon merged a bunch of scripts and added my own touch to get them to make the lantern to glow at 10 second intervals. This was really effective with a green water texture, and I had soon scattered them over through my Forest.

The next major issue was created when I had decided to add Fog Generators to my Forest. This seemed really important to me (what is an forest without fog!) but trying to institute this by myself was very hard. I have spent far to long-playing with variables to try to get the fog to cover the ground of my forest in a consistent manner. I typically ended up with a whole bunch of white orbs in big circle pattern, which was really disheartening. At this stage I am toying with a control prim which will rez a whole bunch of transparent, phantom Prims which will distribute fog in a regular pattern.

One thing that I can say in hindsight, is that I would most definitely build everything in my Island first. Only once I had built everything that I would need to make the entire build, would I begin placing and arranging everything. This is because I had placed all of my trees and rocks etc, and then started building. This made the construction process a lot slower than what it needed to be as well as normal maneuvering around my build became increasingly frustrating. This was especially the case when trying to get glowing and light to work, as I had to set my graphics to Ultra to get the best effect…so slow.

Overall I found the building to very rewarding. Although dealing with all of the above road block,  I find that activities which give me a chance to express my creativity are very enjoyable. It is a satisfying feeling to overcome these obstacles and create something like this.

This is the Blog Post to demonstrate how I am targeting each of the specific requirements for Assessment 3. There are Blog requirements, basic Build requirements and my personal target of Visual Build Requirements. A while back I had made a simple table to give myself something to aim for without feeling overwhelmed. I have added this below to give you an idea of where I am at the moment.

As you will be able to see when you read the checklist, is that I have a lot to do to complete everything, and make everything look as good as I want it to, before Friday 4pm. Oh well no sleep till then…;)

Blog

Title Example Done
Initial Planning N/A  Yes
Design and development of activity N/A  Yes
How the various requirements are being fulfilled N/A  Now 🙂
Problems and issues – how they are resolved (or not) N/A  No
A Final blog post containing reflection on both the process and the final outcome N/A  No

Build

Title Example Done
A minimum of 50 and a maximum of 300 prims used in the construction N/A  Yes
At least three different primitive types (i.e. Sphere, Torus, etc.)
  1. Sphere cut in half and flattened used for planks in Treehouse
  2. Cylinder used for building aid and root prim for Treehouse
  3. Sculpted Mushroom
 2/3
At least four different forms of prim manipulation (i.e. Cut, Twist, etc.)
  1. Sphere cut in half and flattened used for planks in Treehouse
  2. Twisted Glowing lamp.
 1/2
The use of different textures and colours throughout the build with consideration given to using appropriate textures, texture repeats, offsets and rotations  Variation given to textures on Treehouse to make it look more natural.

Changed ground terrain to custom Moss texture from default dirt to suit theme.

 Yes….
At least two different texture manipulations (i.e. Glow, Shininess, etc.)
  1.  Twisted Glowing lamp.
  2. Unsure
0/2
The appropriate use of multiple textures on a prim  Unsure  No
The appropriate scale for purpose both in construction and texture use This was need for the proprotion of the Trees, Mushrooms, Treehouse, Rocks, Boats etc.  Yes

Visual

Title Example Done
The use of at least two sculpties
  1. Sculpted Mushroom
  2. Sculpted Rock
 0/2 Already made sculpties, but getting good textures for them is another thing….
The use of at least three textures with transparency
  1. Transparent Cylinder used for building aid and root prim for Treehouse
  2. Partially Transparent Leave Textures
  3. Unsure
 2/3
An appropriate particle system  I have purchased a basic Fog Script from the Second Life Marketplace. However I have had to edit the script a lot to make it work the way I want… anyway
 1/1
An instance of a prim with Light
  1.  Twisted Glowing lamp.
 I think this will work
At least two different texture manipulations (i.e. Glow, Shininess, etc.)
  1.  Unsure
  2. Unsure
 0/2
A scripted change in texture
  1. Ability to make the entire Treehouse Invisible.
 0/1
A scripted change in colour
  1.  Non-Sculptie Mushroom Ring Colour Change
 

Its been a long crazy past two weeks, and now I am down to only two courses! Finally I can sink my teeth into some serious building.

Over the past week I have continued to terraform my Island to incorporate more trees, as well as a waterfall. I have also spent some time trying create a basic treehouse using a innovative build design. However it should look good when its finishes in a few days.

Over the next week I have a few more ideas, but most involve trying to include some texture changing scripts. This will be needed for the waterfall, and the sparkles for the forest. Now all I need is some sort of fog effect and everything will come together great.

Anyway here is my basic treehouse prototype:

Example Treehouse in Action

Treehouse Prototype Build

It has been a reasonable time period between my Initial Plan and a lot has occuring during this time. The most frustrating of which was SimOnAStick no longer works on my Laptop. After countless hours spent trying to decipher the issue, which is centralised around MySql not running properly, I have given up.

However I have been very kindly set up a building space in Second Life by Isa Goodman, and so can construct my objects here. Meanwhile while I can construct objects in Second Life I have been hard at work terraforming and laying out my Lothlorien backdrop. I have some really amazing trees which have been borrowed from Jessica Random’s Oar found here. With these some other tidbits I have been getting a feel for how it is going to look.

Over the next few weeks I have plans to make/edit my own set of textures in order to give the trees that moss colour and give my whole Sim a subdued green theme which is essential to a Lothlorien Forest. Here are some very early snaps to keep you guys interested.

After serious contemplation I have decided to choose the Content Creation option for Assessment 3. My build will be visually complex, as this appeals to my sense of creativity.

At this stage my idea is to utilise SimonaStick, as it gives me complete control over terrain and prim amounts. It also allows me to work on the build while at home, without using my precious broadband via Second Life or OpenSim. I will eventually upload it to a Kitely world so that people can visit it.

My initial idea for the build would be to create an Island based off the Lord of The Ring’s Lothlórien Forest. This idea appeals to me in a creative sense, as well as giving me enough leeway to fulfil all of the requirements for the Visual Complex Content Creations. Hopefully the end product will look vaguely like the picture below, but I have it set in my mind eye what it is going to look like 😛

Lothlorien

The Community

To outline the community that I will discuss with below I have to give a short history lesson. Shadowbane is an MMORPG which was brought out in 2005 by Wolfpack Studios. It was made free-to-play around the time I started to play it in 2007. Shadowbane had many features that made it very enjoyable, including unlimited PVP (Player vs. Player Combat), extremely fast leveling, and player made cities. Although it did not have spectacular graphics or quests it had very cool and diverse player community.

If you hadn’t already noticed that fact that I have been talking in past tense, Shadowbane was shut down in 2009. This is was a much loved game with many features that other games couldn’t provide, mainly the massive PVP element and character creation. This was a real frustration for me because I didn’t know any other virtual world that I knew inside out, as well as being free like Shadowbane.

However in the same year that the original Shadowbane was taken down, a self made group of developers and designers began reconstructing Shadowbane. It was begun of the last official patch of the original Shadowbane in 2009. From this time the Shadowbane Emulator Project has come a long way and is now officially called “Play to Crush”. They have reached monthly public preview stage, and it is these that I have been participating in with all of my old hardcore Shadowbane buddies.

What do we do in the Play to Crush community?

The Play to Crush website consists of an extensive blog with many different forums attached to posts of the developers. This contains update information about the status of the Play to Crush Project as well a trivia and character discussions. A lot of people monitor the site and recount precious memories of the original Shadowbane, as well as create Guilds and Character Templates. I spend a lot time of lurking these forums but I never posted anything myself. This is just personality and I have never been a forum talking kind of person. For more information about to Play to Crush please visit their website HERE.

The most important and fun thing that we do in the Play to Crush Community is participate in the monthly public previews. This is chance to check out the progress of the Project itself as well as catch up with some of my oldest friends to PVP.

Play to Crush Events

April 2011 Public Preview

During the April Public Preview I spent a lot of time trying out different character builds. Because this is only a preview situation, then characters are auto-levelled to the highest level. This makes trying new characters a breeze, and is something that will help when the final version is released and I have a strong character. For information of the massive amount of class in Shadowbane go here. The first thing that I did was tryout a few of my old favourite characters, and then once I was happy with my Aelfborn Nightstalker (race & class) I began exploring the dynamic world of Shadowbane.

Because one of main feature of the April preview was to test the accuracy of mob placements, then I went searching for all of my favourite grinding and farming spots. I soon meet two other players that were also there and they made short work of my character (sigh). After this I joined a temporary guild for protection, and went exploring with a few strangers. This was a fairly uneventful preview, but I had learnt much in the way of character development.

March 2011 Public Preview

The next previous public preview that I participated in was the March 2011 Monthly Preview. This was the most fun of the previews I have been in because I was generally playing whilst the large American Population was on. Having lots of people in the Shadowbane world is so much more fun because there are so many more players to fight against. I think it was Friday night and me, my brother and a friend from America transported our avatars to a desert city region called Khar. This is a massive city region that is well known for its high level PVP. Because my character could go invisible I did so and ran around the massive embroiling conflict that was occurring at the gates of the city. Waiting for my moment I saw a low health Mage character try and run from the battle, and my friends and I made short work of him.

Representation of how many people there can be!

This was found here.

It turned out that the Mage had some powerful friends and we didn’t last much longer in the ensuing brawl. The rest of the preview continued in this fashion and was very enjoyable.

Unfortunately I don’t have any real screenshots because the servers are down and I didn’t have the foresight to get them from the previous previews. However keep your eyes peeled and I will post them up from the upcoming May Preview!