LSL unable to save data in game

I've been programming around a little yesterday and made my first simple LSL-script - a notecard giver keeping track of unique visitors. Really simple when you get the heck off it and quite useful for different things, not so far fetched to turn it into a greeter, visitor counter and other things, also or make it into a big whole-into-one-package.

What bothers me, though, is that LSL is unable to save data into a notecard stored into the object. This seems to be really a big drawback of the language - hopefully there is going to be some support for this in the future. So, in the meantime, you have to save data - if you need it - on external webservers with llHTTPRequest() - seems that's the only possibility when you don't want to use instant messages or open chat, to have a nice formatted file of data. Bummer.

I hate that!

New upcoming trend: raytraced computer games (?)

While it is still not available on our computers, it's in the making at the moment: raytraced computer games engines. For the record: almost any modern 3D computer game, like Second Life, uses so called raycasting as computing method, which is a much smaller version of raytracing itself. To sum the differences up in short: raycasting cannot compute reflactions, retractions or shadows at all; raytracing can. This makes raycasting of course much, much faster, while raytracing was still slower in these days, but produces much more realistic pictures in the end. Movie productions, like Shrek for example, are all made with raytracers and big rendering farms in the background, as raytracing needs much more horsepower in your computer to work sufficiently than raycasting needs.

Popular raytracers for the normal human being are for example Blender, which was used to produce the movie picture "Elephant's dream" or the Persistence of Vision Raytracer, short Povray. For examples, how raytraced pictures can look like, take a look at the Internet Raytracing Competition. This competition began back in 1996, there are six rounds every year, running for two months under a certain theme, everybody can apply with his own pictures and in the end the winners are voted. Many pictures there are really artistic and it is a nice showcase to demonstrate what modern raytracers are capable of; also a good showcase to get an impression of the rendering times for those pictures, if you take a look at the commentaries. For example a picture like this one or this one could never be done with a raycaster. Period. If you want to get an impression, what animations made with raytracers can look like, take a look at the animations there or download Elephant's dream, since it is for free and a good showcase of what Blender is capable of (a new version of Blender was released some days ago, so it can now do even more).

So, to sum it up: raycasters are the way modern 3D computer games do their work. It is the technology that has been used by good old Doom, Unreal Tournament, Quake and is also used by Second Life and many other games. It's the industry standard for computer games. It is a subset of the possibilites what raytracing is capable of. Raytracing itself has been probably around even longer, but the CPUs were not fast enough until recently to use raytracing in gaming engines, until now, so it seems.

The University of Saarland is doing research in this field and a group around Professor Slusallek is using a new raytracing code that makes use of multicore CPUs and modern GPUs. They are going to showcase their software at the CeBIT and are claiming, that it is already good and fast enough for usage in modern computer games. There has already been a project around, called Quake 4 Real Time, that has enhanced the old Quake engine to raytracing usage. There are also many screenshots and a video on that page to showcase how such a game looks like and no, it's not for download.

If you take in account, that they are using high end CPUs at the moment to achieve their goals, but the technology is already around and the software now, too, as it seems, then it would be not surprising to see raytracing game engines in around 3-5 years entering the computer gaming market, since until then the technology is more at the mid to low end and should be around in masses. This could be definitely the next big step in computer gaming and is worth watching it.

To sum the outcome up: at the moment a game designer has to work around the shortcomings of raycasting and its shortages. But with raytracing capable game engines this would be gone, you can build what you like, but of course you must place your light sources better.

About the economics of Second Life

The Register ran a story one week ago about the economics of Second Life. They are taking a very close look at the hard facts of the economics in Second Life beside the hype. Some measures are really interesting and were even new to me.

First, there is the churn rate. Only about 15% of the people who create an avatar in October 2006 logged in again after their first 30 days in SL. Very interesting measure, indeed. This drastically reduces the number of real residents, of course. Even more when you take all alts out.

There are about 4 million residents at the moment, when you do the math, this means that there are really about 600.000 residents who login regularly (alts included in this measure).

They are also pointing out that the maximum number of avatars in one sim is around 100 at the moment; also a very important restriction on doing business in SL. But then again, the business in SL has found ways around it.

70% of the revenue of Lindenlabs is generated at the moment by land sales and tier fees. No surprise in there. It's a bubble at the moment, bound to burst sooner or later. Of course, LL would like it to burst later to generate more profit out of it.

Last number is that there are around 50.000 premium users at the moment; that's not really much for such a big game/platform/whatever.

It's a nice article with some new insides beside the mainstream and definitely worth a read.

The almighty lag hell

It seems, the more people are online, the more the almight lag continues to grow. SL is no fun noawadays when more than 30.000 people are online at the same time.

There is lag, lag, lag, teleporting issues, chat lag and other stuff, that turns down your experience. I just hope that the staff of Lindenlab is able to adress at least some of these issues on Wednesday at the scheduled downtime!

4 million residents reached

Today the resident count has reached a new peak - there are now over 4 million residents in Second Life. Again without much fanfare, like it was already when the 3 million mark was reached. This is no wonder, when you consider the problems that SL has in the moment and hopefully the next maintenance slot is somewhat going to fix.

Now let's see how fast the 5 million milestone is going to be reached; I guess this milestone will be then again covered by a press release.

4 million residents

Germans and their Arbeitsamt

There are many Germans in the game. Many of them are looking for a job. So, what would have been a better idea then to found something like a job agency for them? Yes, there is one, called SLArbeitsamt, the homepage is here.

Well, what is an Arbeitsamt? It is the job agency, founded by the government over there. But, it is already called since some years "Agentur für Arbeit" (Agency for Work), so no more Arbeitsamt anymore.

Whatever, taking a look at this homepage can be quite amusing. Most people looking for work are really young, so to speak; they should first hone their skills, then get to work. Of course, there are the typical jobs like model or escort - but hey, everybody can look good in SL without doing much, so there are masses of them. No wonder about that, but actually there are not soo much vacancies for them as you may think when you read the press about it.

There are also different kind of jobs, too, like a RW company looking for someone to hire in RL, their are looking for event hosts, DJs, hosts, designers, builders and other stuff.

My opinion? If you really want to get a job, it's perhaps a nice way to get one at the entry level. But that's all you can expect from them. Better jobs are surely not going to be posted there, they are given away like in RL, too, by reference and the reputation you've got in SL.

And it's always better to look for yourself for a job then taking the service from such kind of agency at all.

DVD about Second Life

Some team members of the German blog Industrial Technology&Witchcraft have produced a DVD, targeted at SL newbies as their main audience. There are videos on it, showing several different aspects of the client and the world itself, presented by the avatars Molly Fellini and Case Schnabel.

The price of the DVD is 14.99€ and it is available on some kind of webshop. There is also a 3 minute preview of one chapter of the DVD available for free so you can take a look at it if it is something worth investing your money or not.

Well, I am curious if they are going to sell them or not; I for myself would just rather download the client as newbie and fiddle with it direct without buying such a DVD. Learning by doing, so to speak.

Just a little reminder

When you're the owner of a good going business and are in the process of setting up your brand new arrived sim, better be sure that your access list is setup the way you think it should be. Why? Well, because when you're talking about the sim's name in public at your well frequented business, you never know who might overhear it and goes there to take a look around. Oh, and taking it in your pics is also not so good, then.

New pest coming around: banner ads

A new pest is forming up in Second Life: newbies going around with banner ads (and similar objects), getting paid for it the usual rates (2-4 L$ / 10 minutes). The benefit for them? Well, they can move in contrary to camping chairs or dancing pods, so I expect to see a drastical increase in such kind of advertisement.

The benefit for the people "employing" them? Very cheap advertisements running around nearly everywhere.

The drawbacks? Well, for me:

  • Bad karma and bad image. I would never do business with such a store/shop/company who litters the landscape of SL with such kind of garbage.
  • It ruins many places, because the banners are something that catches your eye.
  • The people doing it do this normally without asking, just come in with it and walk around, so they are in many places in for an ejection or ban. Go figure.

And here is a nice screenshot of such a guy dancing around in the garden of Intimate Moment's with such a banner ad:

Banner ad

I asked him two times to put this thing off, and he complied. Lucky him, otherwise I would have ejected him.

In the same league play for me guys going to an event with a vendor's tray hooked up. I've seen it already twice on events of us, some weird looking guy came in with a drawn weapon and a vendor's tray full of cigars and other stuff.  I just hate such behaviour and when I see such a guy I'm on a very short fuse.