Friday, February 18, 2011

Rush Hour in Second Life

Back when I started in SL there were dirt roads throughout the mainland (and yes I had to walk 5 miles to school, in the snow, with bare feet). These were Linden Roads and it was considered beneficial to own land next to the road because, at least on that side of your parcel, you wouldn't have rotating ads or naked people on billboards peering down at you. It was fun to walk or ride down the road and explore the neighbouring sims.

The Linden Roads are still there but now are paved- which is not a bad thing. The few I've seen look good and are well maintained (no potholes at least). A friend of mine lives next to one of these roads and asked me to investigate a sudden influx of traffic going by her house.

Standing at the intersection near her parcel I watched as varying types of vehicles went past about every 3 minutes. Sometimes two would arrive at the intersection from different directions at the same time. The vehicles included taxi's, tanks, an ice cream truck and a school bus and you can ride them - although you don't steer them (more about that later).

The vehicles are created by AnnMarie O'Toole and I did try to speak with her but I'm guessing she's a very busy woman so I failed to connect. I did figure out that you don't have to hop on one of the moving vehicles to take a ride - you can start a journey at one of almost 70 rezzing stations around the grid. This one is the Straminsky Depot. Note that they don't pollute the air and only one, the ice cream truck, appears to include sound. Unfortunately I'll be humming "Daisy, Daisy" for the rest of the day.

I am awe-struck at the amount of work that has gone into this endeavour and I think it makes a lot of sense to actually have traffic on the Linden Roads. It's also nice to have another way to explore the grid. Having said that there are a couple of issues. Script doesn't always work the way it should - I'm not blaming the scripters, I'm sure there are variables beyond their control e.g., sim script load or server behaviour.

I did take a ride in a garbage truck and concluded that the invisible driver was probably drunk. The truck kept leaving the road and then attempting to get back on track. Finally it crossed a couple of parcels and crashed into a nursery, wheels spinning uselessly in the air.

I waited and watched and the truck did vanish. However when I checked I realized that the parcel had auto-return enabled, I don't know how long it would have remained otherwise.

Admittedly my mind works in bizarre ways, but these are the thoughts that occurred to me:

  • Prim littering must be a concern - there are many reasons people won't have auto-return enabled.
  • What happens if the Second Life Transit Authority gets competition? Having a lot of scripted vehicles running around could lead to interesting truck duels.
  • Do we now need sidewalks for joggers and hikers? What about horse or bicycle paths?

The friend who got me started on this would like to see fewer vehicles - maybe reduce the frequency to 3 per hour. That might help with prim littering as well. Of course she'd also prefer fewer garbage trucks and graffiti-laden school buses. She's such a princess! :)

As I stood near the intersection and pondered the amount of work behind this rush hour on Linden Roads and the possible implications, I heard a strange sound. This made me laugh for a long time. So much for our Robot Overlords.


lufpleh said...

Think avatar load (scripts/attachments) could be a significant unknown for scripters

Brinda said...

Yes...apparently prim litter is an ongoing problem with these "vehicles". I've read another blog post discussing this... the author of that blog was able to contact the creator you spoke of...seems a very confrontational exchange occurred.

Honour McMillan said...

I have some questions - but honestly wasn't wanting to confront her, just understand the endeavour a bit more. :)

Dale Innis said...

My impression is that these vehicles used to be much less frequent (like maybe a couple per hour). At that rate, I think they're great; surprising and random and odd, just like I like the mainland. I'm not sure if they've gotten more common due to some bug (but you'd like it'd be fixed by now) or the creator just turning the volume up (but why?) or more people doing it (but I've only seen the one person so far).

There's a JIRA item open on allowing a script to say "if this object gets onto land that doesn't allow this script to run, delete the object at once". That would help with the littering problem (the vehicles apparently do contain "delete myself if I get completely stuck" code, but on no-script land that code can't run).

If too many people decided to do this kind of thing, we'd clearly have to figure out a solution. But so far it's just one :) and I'm okay with things that might someday be a problem, myself...

Honour McMillan said...

I'm not against them either, I think they're cool :) The frequency is pretty high though - and yes fixing the prim littering thing would a really good idea.