A Miskatonic mystery in Second Life

A storm comes – and brings with it an assortment of nasties to plague Miskatonic

Currently open at Miskatonic County is Tales of Miskatonic County: The Perfect Storm. Described as “A Horror Survival Experience”, crreated by Rayden Evenstarr, Phoenix Sachin, Logan Porterfield and Tobiath Tendaze, it makes for an interesting if (for me at least) a slight confusing diversion.

Using the Second Life experience system The Perfect Storm pitches you against zombies, lurkers, cultist gunmen, ghosts, creature of the deep and more in a battle to survive and to complete assorted quests. The latter range from killing some of the aforementioned monsters and creatures through to rounding up kittens or finding puppies – which makes for an interesting mix!

As you emerge from the theatre in Downtown Miskatonic, you find a town in chaos. Torrents of blinding rain obscure amorphous shapes lurking in the shadows. Telephone poles have been sent crashing to the ground in showers of sparks while trees fall upon cars and houses alike. Danger lurks in every alleyway, and you feel as though a thousand eyes are upon you.

Miskatonic is no ordinary town, and this is no ordinary Halloween. The day is October 31st, 1991. The day a ferocious storm system suddenly formed off the New England coastline. A storm system so large that meteorologists deemed it “The Perfect Storm.” The storm turned westward, moving against the jet stream, striking the coastline with a deadly storm surge and hurricane-force winds. Many old-timers of the region dubbed the storm “unnatural.”

– Introduction to ales of Miskatonic County: The Perfect Storm

The streets are lashed with rain – and home to things that creep and lurk

The adventure begins at the Miskatonic Theatre, where players pick-up the game HUD (and must accept the region’s experience in order to play – a one-time only requirement unless the experience is subsequently blocked), together with a magic ring and a pistol.

The HUD will auto-attach to the player’s screen under scripted control, and will auto-detach on departing the game. It acts as a relay to record your health, shield and armour, and as an information giver – prompts are displayed in the lower section of the HUD, and there are two buttons: Stories and Quests, of which more anon. The gun and ring are inventory objects and must be worn. The former is required to kill the nasties (you must be in Mouselook), and the latter helps “buff” your game stats.


The HUD provides health information (top), general information on your location (centre) and buttons to view your quests (if any are in progress) and any story fragments you’ve found

Outside of the theatre, the storm is in full force. The northern end of the town is subject to flooding from the storm’s surge, and rain is falling in heavy sheets across the rest of the landscape, with copious amounts of storm damage to be found in the streets.

You’ll need to be in Mouselook whenever you are outdoors, as this is where the nasties roam. You can switch back to third-person view when inside buildings to ease exploring them and interacting with things in them. Shooting the the nasties is a case of aiming the screen cursor at them and blasting away with left-clicks. Hits earn points and will eventually kill the nasty, earning you bonus experience points. However, be warned that they can strike back with claws, teeth, knives, hatchets and guns of their own, eroding your health, shield and armour.

Health can be restored by finding crafting stations and then rummaging for ingredients, then using the crafting station to make consumables and eat / drink them. These items are added to inventory for rezzing and can also be traded with other players, allowing those playing together to help one another. Consumables, once made, can be worn to consume or carried. Some will restore lost health / shields, some may only “buff” for a period of time.

Quests and stories (shown) are displayed in a separate HUD panel by clicking on the Quest or Stories button on the main HUD

Quests are undertaken by finding non-player characters (NPCs) scattered within various locations. Clicking on them will open the Quest panel on your screen and display details of a quest for you to complete. click the “off” button on the panel to close it, and you can set out to complete the required task.

You can have up to four quests running simultaneously, and some will be auto-complete (achieve the goal and the quest ends), others will require you return to the Quest giver. A tally is kept of your progress, and I found this a little irritating, as each time I achieved a target in a quest, the panel would open, blocking part of my view and requiring I hop out of Mouselook to close it (ALT-click didn’t seem to work).

As well as quests, there are story fragments to be found scattered around – these take the form of books with hovertext floating above them. Clicking on a book will add the story fragment to your HUD – click the Stories button to open a panel listing the available stories, and click on the one you want to read by clicking on its title.

Should you find your health drops below 0, you will be incapacitated and transported to the Miskatonic Medical Centre. This restores your health and reveals one of the secrets of the experience: it exists on multiple levels stacked up one above the other through the vertical extent of the region. They are connected by teleports in the form road tunnels. Moving to each of them can earn experience points.

A creature of the deep roams Miskatonic

If I’m totally honest, I don’t entirely “get” the overall goal – other than survival (which may be the sole point) – but then, I’ve not progressed full through the entire experience. In this, the instructions and introduction are somewhat vague – and “emissary” is reportedly coming, but what / who that might be slipped by me. There is also reference to artefacts being stolen – but whether recovering them forms a part of any of the quests, I could say.

Perhaps the way to find out is to play for yourself?

SLurl Details

2019 SL Christmas Expo: call for DJs, helpers, bloggers and more

via SLchristmasexpo.com

The 2019 SL Christmas Expo in support of the American Cancer Society via Relay for Life of Second Life will take place from Thursday, December 5th through Sunday, December 15th, 2019 with the theme of Believe in the Magic of Christmas, and the doors have opened for merchant registrations and sponsorship.

The aim of this year’s event is to raise $20,000 toward the American Cancer Society VR Headset programme for kids receiving cancer treatment.

Over the past few days / weeks the organisers have put out a number of calls for interested parties to sign-up to the event.

In particular, the organisers are seeking DJs, hosts and stage managers to help with the event’s entertainment programme, and for bloggers interested in cover the event. A call has also gone out to breedable auction houses interested in participating in the Xmas Expo.

DJs / Broadcasters, Hosts and Stage Managers

The event is looking to offer as much non-stop entertainment throughout the Expo, but in order to do so they need DJs and broadcasters willing to provide that entertainment, and hosts and stage managers to help with running the entertainment activities.

DJs / Broadcasters are asked to fill out the DJ application form, and note the following guidelines:

  • Performances cannot be adult in nature – this includes behaviour, music, objects, avatars, sets, or props etc. However, performances do not have to have a Christmas / holiday theme.
  • Tip jars are not permitted, as this is a charity event, and RFL of SL donation kiosks will be available in the performance areas.
  • All performers will be supplied with a note card listing key points and sponsors to be mentioned during their sets, and are asked to mention at least one during their set – although they may mention more.

Stage Managers will be asked to oversee event hosts (including ensuring entertainment notices have been posted), ensure proper streams are set and performers are at the correct locations.

Hosts will be asked to offer assistance to attendees when required and engage with attendees (welcome them, etc.), share information about the event and mission of the Expo and send group notices on the events they are host are sent out.

Those interested in being either a stage manager or event host are asked to complete and submit the Christmas Expo Stage Manager / Event Host application form.

Bloggers

The SL Christmas Expo welcomes all bloggers to participate and share the holiday magic, promote the event and the activities at the event and encourage attendance. Full details on opportunities for blogging, expectations and requirements can be found on the SL Christmas Expo Blogger application form.

Breedable Auctions at the Expo

All Breedable Creators and Auction Houses are encouraged to show their support for The American Cancer Society by holding one or more auctions at the SL Christmas Expo. This auction will be promoted as being sponsored by the creator or auction house running it, and should involve a minimum of 15 breedables being auctioned.

Space will be provided at the Expo, and auctions will be promoted via the SL Christmas Expo web page and social media in addition to any advertising run by the creator / auction house through their own channels / groups.

Creators / auctions houses will be responsible for organising and running their auctions, and all proceeds must go to RFL of SL.

Please refer to the Breedable Auctions page on the official SL Christmas Expo website for additional information. Those interested in running an auction should complete and submit the Auction House reservation form, no later than Thursday, November 28th.

Full details on all of the above available from the RFL of SL Christmas Expo website.

2019 Simulator User Group week #45 summary

Whimsies and Dreamscapes, September 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for news and updates:

  • The SLS (main) channel on Tuesday, November 5th, leaving it on server release 2019-10-26T00:06:48.532192, previously released on October 30th and comprising:
    • A previously released hotfix to fix teleports being 5%-7% less reliable.
    • A change that makes the simulator take a little bit longer to report as “Up” to the Lab’s internal tools to more accurately reflect when residents can actually access a region.
  • There is a single RC deployment planned for Wednesday, November 6th: version 2019-11-01T18:02:37.532376, which is essentially a rebuild of 532143, originally deployed on Wednesday, October 30th and containing the above updates as well. No release had been released at the time of writing.

Note: a second RC deployment, 532377, comprising an internal update and a script to monitor additional region data during rolls was cancelled after it was discovered in QA it broke script uploading. 

Linden Lab request that if anyone sees messages about “Unable to upload 12345678-90ab-cdef-1234567890ab due to the following reason” on a version that isn’t 532377, could they please file a bug report and provide full information of when, where and how they encountered the message. 

SL Viewer

The Ordered Shutdown RC viewer was updated to version 6.3.4.532299 on Monday, November 4th. At the time of writing, the rest of the viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.3.3.531811, formerly the Voice RC viewer, dated October 18, promoted October 31 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.531949, October 28.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.3.531844, October 21.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16.

Simulator Performance

There are continued reports of simulator performance issues – notably with Mainland regions. The most common description of the problem is that over time, script performance on Full region simulators declines to the point where only around 20% or so of scripts are running per cycle, and the simulator has no spare time, forcing the region holder to submit a ticket requesting a move to a different server. This tends to resolve the problem – at least until the next rolling restart, when the performance degradation starts again.

There appears to be no discernible reason for this. Rider Linden has been making improvements on how scripts – particularly idle scripts – are handled, and at the meeting, Simon Linden noted:

We’ve been looking at scripts and performance and there are some changes in the works that will hopefully help … those are on about 15% of the regions now, and will expand to about 20% tomorrow.

…Rider’s work looked at a bunch of the event distribution code like that, and he made it faster with re-writing it and getting rid of brute-force searching and so on. Of course, that changed some script timing and killed some kittens and pot plants. Sometimes it really hits me what a strange job this is.

The issues have led to speculation that the Lab might be stacking more regions on their servers or are reducing the server resources available to each simulator. Responding to an enquiry on this, Simon indicated that the Lab have not changed either for years. However, he did note the fact that the servers the Lab uses do change, so something may have been introduced to impact performance.

Melusina’s Cars in Second Life

Melusina Parkin – Cars

Now open at Melusina Parkin’s gallery space, located above her Melu Deco store, is her latest exhibition, Cars. It is a small, cosy exhibition of a dozen pieces focused – as the name suggests – on cars. Or more specifically, cars in Second Life.

In keeping with Melu’s approach to her art, these are not simple studies of motor vehicles; Melu has an eye for detail and angle, and this is much in evidence in these pieces.

Melusina Parkin – Cars

So, rather than presenting us with what might be regarded as “traditional” shots of cars – side views, three-quarter front or back views, etc., Melu presents us with images in which the framing and background is as important as the vehicle itself, or where the car is presented in unusual circumstances. Nor are these bright shiny models: Melu offers shots of vehicles that have seen better days.

The result is a collection of images where the vehicles depicted within them are more than just cars, they are characters, and the pictures containing them are studies of their nature. It’s an elegant series, each beautifully presented and with a story within it.

Melusina Parkin – Cars

As well as Cars, visitors to the exhibition space can also view a copy of Melusina’s Second Life Exhibits, a gorgeous collection of her exhibitions between 2011 and 2019. Just click on the book and follow the web link.

SLurl Details