More dabbling in dio and some thoughts

dio-logoUpdate, February 19th, 2014: dio was discontinued by Linden Lab on February 19th, 2014. Links to the dio website, etc., have therefore been removed from this article.

Last week, Linden Lab launched dio, and I provided something of an initial look and feel for using the product.

Since then, as time allows (and there hasn’t been a lot of it), I’ve been dabbling some more and building various bits. The first of these is an attempt to build an interactive tour. Unsurprisingly, the subject matter is Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s seminal build, and particularly my efforts to emulate this remarkable house in the virtual world of Kitely.

The start of the tour: An introductory page isn't a requirement for a dio place, however, I've included one to give people some background on things.
The start of the tour: An introductory page isn’t a requirement for a dio place, however, I’ve included one to give people some background on things.

The tour is intended to let people understand something of the build – what it is, where it resides, etc., before allowing them to set off to explore it on their own, moving through the various dio “rooms” (which I’ve roughly aligned to rooms and parts of the Fallingwater build) where they can see images and find out more about both the real and virtual Fallingwater as interpreted by myself.

To add a little fun, I’ve added one (so far) inventory item, which must be collected in order for the house to be fully explored (I may add more at some point), and also added some other interaction  using the “Appear / Disappear” actions.

Adding a little interactivity
Adding a little interactivity

There is a degree of logic to be followed with the tour – the introduction and the “media suite” can only be accessed at the start. This is to encourage people to do a complete circuit of the place (in whatever direction they choose), but I’m also aware it might be a tad irritating to some. So I’ll be curious as to feedback – if any …

The tour can be found on the dio Community page, or for those signed-up to dio, you can jump to it from here.

The "Explore" object is a means by which I've hidden objects until such time as Explore is opened - a useful means of controlling information flow in complex rooms
The “Explore” object is a means by which I’ve hidden objects until such time as Explore is opened – a useful means of controlling information flow in complex rooms

Thoughts on Planning a dio Place

Along the way, I’ve picked up a few broad points which might prove useful to those trying-out dio:

  • Watch the tutorial videos
  • Plan what you want to do. In particular:
    • What do you want to achieve?
    • Is your place designed to be sequential (i.e. people need to progress through it in a certain order, perhaps achieving things along the way), is it free form (i.e. perhaps a central “hub” from which people can explore various things / ideas / groupings of images, etc.), or perhaps something which is semi-procedural, but free-form (i.e. users proceed from room to room, but can do so in an order of their choosing, and perhaps collecting things as they go)
    • What needs to be specified in terms of distinct rooms, and what can be specified as objects (images, videos) in a room?
    • Do you want to collect items of inventory? If so, where, what and why? Will people, for example need to collect the means to open doors, etc?
    • What other interactions do you want? NPCs? Trigger objects? How do these interactions add to the experience? Could they detract from it?
  • Consider your navigation:
      • If you are developing a place with a central hub, establish the hub as the first room visitors will see on entering your place, and ensure that they can easily find their way back to it from whatever rooms they visit, preferably by direct linking, rather than them having to retrace steps through multiple rooms
      • If you have game rules, guidelines for your place, some form of Quick Reference Guide (such as notes on what different inventory items do and the value they have), consider how people are supposed to access them quickly without detracting from the experience
      • Map the route or routes through your place to make sure that there are no gaps or places where connections exist which you might not want (i.e. you may want people to get from A to B, but do you really want them to get back to A without going via C?)
  • Consider your logic. Can a puzzle at one point be circumvented by a user approaching things differently? Do you want this to be possible? How can you eliminate it, if not?
  • Consider how the tools can be used to present different views of information – lists of objects in a room, or sequential actions you wish a visitor to perform
  • Take your time and try to personalise options. The default value for moving from one room to another is “Enter”, but you could change this to suit whatever the user is about to do, “go upstairs”, “crawl through the tunnel”, “see my family portraits”, etc.
Object / action triggers can be used to present a lot of information cleanly on the room panels. In this example, on first entering the room, the visitor has two choices, either of which expands the list of objects based on their initial choice. Each set of option can then be toggled between using the circled buttons
Object / action triggers can be used to present a lot of information cleanly on the room panels. In this example, on first entering the room, the visitor has two choices, either of which expands the list of objects based on their initial choice. Each set of option can then be toggled between using the circled buttons

Niggles and Improvements

There are a few niggles and annoyances which I feel could do with addressing. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of things (particularly given dio is another beta release from the Lab), but they are some of the things I found a tad irritating in putting the Fallingwater place together, as both the creator and the user.I’m noting them here just in case Bo Barfield drops by :).

  • Some functions have only “add” and “delete ” options, and could benefit from having a “modify” capability. For example, users can only add or delete trigger action connections. Make a mistake (mis-assign one of the two required dropped downs (trigger button and trigger action), and the connection must be deleted and re-created
Mis-assign a trigger action (ringed in red) and save, and you can't modify - the connection must be deleted and re-created
Mis-assign a trigger action (ringed in red) and OK it, and you can’t modify – the connection (not the trigger object) must be deleted and re-created
  • Objects in a room are displayed in the order they are created, with the latest objects appearing at the bottom of the list. An ability to drag and drop items appearing in the In This Room panel would make it easier for users who wish to impose a hierarchy on listed items to do so
  • Videos could benefit from an autoplay option
  • The image upload / selection / library panel is a tad minimal and doesn’t make for easy browsing or searching, particularly once someone has developed more than one place
  • Page loading seems a little rough; entering a room for the first time may display any intial image and text as the creator intended, or may display the lower half of the page, skipping any supplied image, depending upon the amount of text provided for the room.

Further Thoughts and Feedback

Putting this tour together was relatively straightforward, although a couple of the issues mentioned above dis cause some gritted teeth. I still feel the comments system is limited at present, and very far from any real form of “persistent live chat” – it’s a message board pinned to a room, no more, no less. A lot of functionality needs to go in here before it becomes really useful.

I’ve also been thinking a little more about the appearance of Linden Dollars in dio’s ToS. I had swayed toward this being perhaps an error in boilerplating the ToS from Second Life. Now I’m not so sure.

Could it be that Linden Dollars are the means by which LL plan to earn revenue from users, rather than (or in addition to) some flat-rate charge? dio relies upon content uploads and links. SL, as we know, charges for the upload of textures, etc. So could LL be considering / planning a means of charging for uploads to dio – but rather than paying in hard currency, users purchase Linden Dollars as tokens which are added to their account, and a set amount per upload (type) is deducted from the account, à la SL? Were this to be the case, the process of adding (and charging for) additional capabilities might be rendered a lot easier (and possibly more attractive) than charging in terms of US dollars.

Overall, I’m still enjoying twiddling with dio – and so are many others by the look of things, even if the pace of change in places has slackened-off since the initial spike of interest following the launch. Even so, I’ll be continuing to poke around at things, as I have a couple more little projects in mind, including sorting out and updating the SL gallery idea I fiddled with last time.

Related Links

4 thoughts on “More dabbling in dio and some thoughts

    1. Weird :(.

      I’ve had issues with dio sometimes booting me back to the Community page 5 minutes after I first start using it each day, but password has been fine.

      I suspect the code is very browser-sensitive as well (but have yet to make time to really drive it across different browsers). I do know that it is a lot more stable on Chrome than Firefox. I’ve yet to be booted back to the Community page, for example, when running on Chrome, and it also displays place summary pages correctly for me, when compared to Firefox.

      Hope you do more – I’ve add your place to my Fallingwater place :).

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    1. A lot :). Hence the links. Not just SL-related either. Have also motored around a few of the game-style places, visited a couple of the more “tourist”-themed places and generally dived in-and-out of the others. Some are fairly complete some are still rather empty.

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