• Greyville Writer's Colony: Tutorials and Information

    Teaching authors to use Virtual Worlds for inspiration,, world building, and promotions.

  • Workshops: Group and Individual Instruction

    Master the tools to bring your characters and worlds to life on the web.

  • Writer Roleplay

    Step inside your character's skin and get to know them better.

  • World Hosting: Build a place where readers can interact with your characters and stories.

    Start with one of our free spaces and move up as your world grows and budget allows.

  • Reader Cove: Where readers can curl up for a quiet read or to watch orcas play.

    Uniquely decorated cabins that highlight favorite reading spots.

Monday, November 9, 2015

We launched Immersive Edge this weekend and celebrated at the after party last night. It's the Monday morning after.

What Next? 

Well to start let's talk  about Next Dimension Tales which is a brand new grid that quietly launched  as part of Immersive Edge.
We wanted a place that was not linked to any particular commercial or private grid, something that could stand on it's own as a common ground for the hypergrid community. This is a library for 3D stories. If you create one we would like to link it via a holographic scene or a gate back to your grid. If it is a story built by a multi-grid team we can make space to host some. This is a free service so finances will create limits to how many can be directly hosted. Future projects from our teams will be hosted here. Immersive Edge will remain here open to the public.

How to submit a story to Next Dimension Tales:

1) It must be a 3D story.
2) It must be a story: a clear beginning, middle, end.
3) If both the above are true, you get in touch with Nara Malone via FaceBook, G+ or inworld and let her know you'd like to place a story at Next Dimension Tales.
4) Don't be intimidated by the rules because I am notorious for not following them. 

What will this look like?

I have a vision of a catalog region of floating books that rez a scene when you land on it. You would then walk through the scene as an introduction to the story and go through a teleporter into the book which may be hosted on another grid. I think of it as a library where you check into a book rather than check a book out. Ideas often shift and refine themselves as you start making them a reality, but that's where it stands for now.

We will be a resource for storybuilding as well:

The tools we used to build Immersive Edge, the tools we use to control NPCs are all there. Other creators are already contacting us about including AI, making ebooks that contain portals into worlds, holodeck novels and so on. We will add to current resources as new methods are developed.

Exploring the future of fiction:

Nara's Nook Greyville Writer's Colony was created to explore the future of fiction in virtual reality and how virtual reality can continue to inspire better traditional text stories. The Immersive Edge project demonstrates that it takes more than a writer to tell a 3D story. It requires artists, scripters, musicians, etc. Fortunately our grid projects have been a gathering places for folks with these skills, sometimes those skills are all wrapped up in one person. Most Nook members have homes on other grids but come to Nook to join our experiments. Others enjoy making their homes with us. Either way, Nook is where the plotting and experimenting takes place and we welcome anyone who wants to explore the future of fiction with us. If you decide to join the Nook grid, please hold off until next week as we are in the process of moving to a new server and would lose any new members registering now.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I thought I'd post the complete list of Immersive Edge machinima from Nina Camplin. I will add the remaining scenes here as they are made public. Nina's machinima is dramatic and compelling. Keep in mind that while the Immersive Edge movie tells the story in flash fiction narrative, there is a deeper story inside each scene. All scenes include immersive interaction between visitors and characters. You know you don't want to miss fending off crocodiles, riding the flying bed, shooting demons to set humans trapped inside free.

Chapter One: The Tesla Tower
The Tesla Tower scene was designed and built by Nara Malone, Neo Cortex, and Shannan Albright. Namaka's Journal Narrative and character dialog by Nara Malone.

Chapter Two: The Wizards RetreatWizard's retreat was built by Avia Bonne with scripting help from Jessie Campbell. Gameplay, characters, dialog and Dylan's Journal narrative from Shannan Albright. Be sure to test your skill crossing the bridge of falling books.

 Chapter Three: The Swamp
The swamp scene was designed and built by Mattie McBride, Serene Jewel, and Fred Beckhusen. Character dialog by the builders and Namaka's Journal narrative by Nara Malone. This scene is an exploration of nonhuman characters and I think it is safe to say there are more characters in this scene than any other.

Chapter Four: The Desert
 Surreal build from Talia Sunsong and Endora Twinklens. Characters and dialog from the builders. Dylan's Journal Narrative from Shannan Albright. The Escher house is a must-see.

Chapter Five: Unicorn Valley
Fantasy and faeries from Sunbeam Magic with scripting help from Jessie Campbell, Fred Beckhusen, Neo Crotex and Aine Caoimhe. Namaka's Journal narrative from Nara Malone and character dialog from Sunbeam Magic. This is a build that feeds the soul. Be sure an ride that flying bed.

Chapter Six: Metamorphosis
Praline B and Cherry Manga were tasked with taking us through the dark night of the soul. Four levels of emotional and artistic brilliance await. The emotion HUDs put you inside the character viewpoint. Namaka's Journal narrative by Nara Malone. Scene dialogue by Cherry Manga and Praline B. Don't miss riding the keys.

 Chapter Seven: The Keeper's Tower
 Aine Caoimhe made a refuge for our characters where they could rest and reflect before the final conflict. Beautiful statues have lessons hidden inside. Dylan's Journal narrative written  by Shannan Albright. The Lesson dialogs were written by Aine Caoimhe.

Chapter Eight: The Labyrinth 

Ruby O' DeGee's build is a delight and a marvel. It includes a balloon ride and a chase across the sim through the labyrinth. Dylan's Journal narrative by Shannan Albright. Character dialog by Ruby O' DeGee. Don't miss collecting the treasures in the pirate chest.

 I'll add the remaining scenes to this post as they are released. To learn more about Immersive Edge and find details on the launch visit our website.

Friday, October 30, 2015

We're lucky to have an incredibly talented team  working on Immersive Edge and luckier still to have a gifted group of presenters dropping by on launch weekend to share their knowledge about story building  and storytelling. Presentation will last about 15 minutes, followed by  a few quick instructions from me on how to adjust your viewer settings for best experience and how to access the story. Then our team will give you a guided tour through Immersive Edge. Clean out those suitcases because scattered through the scenes are gift items and storytelling tools. We look forward to seeing friends from around the metaverse.  world.nextdimensiontales.com:8901

Speaker info and times :

Sande Chen:  How Technology is Changing Storytelling.

If you are a fan of The Witcher then you are already a Sande Chen fan. If you're more into serious games, the you'll recognize her as the coauthor of the book, Serious Games. She is respected throughout the gaming community as a game designer and author. Sande will be speaking Sunday, Nov 8th at 9 AM SLT.
Bio: Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose game credits span 10 years in the industry. Her writing credits include 1999 Independent Games Festival winner Terminus and the PC RPG of the Year, The Witcher, for which she was nominated for a 2007 Writers Guild Award in Videogame Writing. She is the co-author of Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform and a contributor to Writing for Video Game Genres, Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, and Secrets of the Game Business. In 2006, she was profiled as one of the game industry's top 100 most influential women for her work as Director of the non-profit, Girls in Games, Inc. She has spoken about games at conferences around the globe, including the Game Developers Conference, Austin Game Conference, and the Serious Games Summit D.C. She also has a Grammy nomination.

Ruby O' DeGee: Story Building

I was looking for a bio on Ruby and found this article and stole a chunk of it because I swear Ruby and I have some kind of mind link going on. This is exactly what I think the future of storytelling should look like:

"It seems like it took forever.  12 years of developing a process for storybuilding with virtual reality technology.  And finally we are not so lonely anymore.

With those billions of dollars on the horizon 2018-2020, the band wagon is being loaded with the folks (entertainment corporate sorts) who have the wherewithal to get things going.  I am not one of those folks, but my heart and soul is in it.  I would like to live long enough to see it happen: the wider acceptance of a new storytelling medium using digital and immersion arts.  From poetic tales written across clay tablets to novels and film.  Now at last we readers will enter the stories we tell for as long as we like, experience the triumphs and pitfalls, and be out in time to have dinner with our families or get a good night's sleep in our own cozy beds."
Drop by Saturday, November 7th, 9 AM SLT for Ruby's talk on Story Building. 

Bio : Ruby O'Degee is a fictive author and storybuilder, penned by Ann Dickerson. In the tradition of characters developed for telling stories (Sherlock Holmes, Marco Polo, Cynthia Rawlings), Ruby was first made a character for a journal in 1994, and later represented by an avatar (fall of 2003). Ruby is much better known than her typist, author and benefactor, a fact that pleases Ann.

Aine Caoimhe:  All about PMAC  

How do I love PMAC? Let me count the ways... I love it because I was able to figure it out myself in about 10 minutes. I love it because it sets me free from all plus and minus clicking of buttons in MLP to adjust a position. You just grab the model and put them where you want. I love it because starting from scratch with a build was impossible for me to figure out with MLP, but with PMAC I can do a set of animations for an object in a few minutes. I love it most of all because using NPCs on MLP is always a frustrating and iffy business. PMAC is built with NPCs in mind and sometimes even right inside. If those aren't enough reasons, when I replaced all the MLP in one house in one region with PMAC it dropped the region script usage by 30 percent.

Bio: Originally a photographic artist in the 70's and 80's, I gradually added digital art to my repertoire and now work primarily in Photoshop and Blender. I'm enjoying the freedom of retirement to explore 3D virtual worlds using Opensimulator software (OSGrid people will better know me as Mata Hari).

At various times I have taught, lectured and led workshops on photography, visual perception, and the psychology of art to all levels of student -- from post-grads to grade schoolers.

Now living in the wonderfully secluded wilds of northern Ontario with my daughter -- soon to be off to university herself -- and the latest addition to the family: Bonnie, our yellow Labrador retriever who keeps my heart light (and feet warm!)

On Saturday November 7th, noon SLT, Aine will demonstrate just how easy it is to make the PMAC system a part of your story builds.

 Fred Beckhusen: All-in-One-NPC Controller

The foundation of Immersive Edge is Fred's NPC controller. The years of work he has poured into making a tool easy for everyone paid off on this project. From artists to authors we were all able to use some version of Fred's work to rez and move NPCs through a scene to tell our stories. While we were building he kept adding new features we told him we needed. I think his controller went through a dozen  revisions over the course of the project. We've coaxed Fred out from under his troll bridge to demonstrate all the amazing things that are possible with his NPC controller.
Fred will be demonstrating the NPC Controller on November 8th at noon SLT.

Bio: Fred K. Beckhusen, President, Micro Technology Services, Inc. Microcomputer and microprocessor hardware design and programming. My software work is primarily in C and its variants C++ and C#, with lots of perl, lsl script, Visual Basic, 3-D modeling in Solidworks, and lots of other languages and tools I'd rather forget, dating all the way back to the early 1970's. My first computer was the Rockwell Autonetics Recomp-II, a 1K word, 40-bit drum-memory military computer. I took it apart, rebuild it, and wrote John Conways "Game of Life" for it, from careful study of the Mathematical Games column in Scientific American. I still read and love Scientific American, which first published the rules for the game of Life in 1970. Yeah, I know. It dates me.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

One of the most amazing scenes from Immersive Edge--an interactive story I have been working on--is this mirror scene. The couple dances in Avia Bonne's beautiful setting surrounded by mirrors. As they dance their appearance changes and the shift through each avatar identity that have taken on over the course of the story.

While this happens there is a dialogue going on, timed to match each shift in appearance.We needed a scene that would play through from beginning to end and reset to wait for the next visitor. This scene led to a collaboration of the scripters. Fred Beckhusen's NPC controller allowed ordinary users to type a list of simple actions on a notecard and NPCs would do them. Aine Caoimhe's PMAC let's non-techy users control and adjust animations and sit NPCs on them to run automatically.  Neo Cortex combined the power of Fred's NPC Controller and another script Fred used to make his controllers work in a sequence.  The result was a story sequencer specifically structured so writers can use NPCs to deliver a story.

With help from Aine Caoimhe, Neo added some code that allows the sequencer to deliver simultaneous appearance changes to a group of NPCs. We had five couples behind mirrors plus the center couple. Watch that change and you see the one in the mirror and the center happen at once. One PMAC script animates all 12 NPCs. So think about that. This is a tool with many applications. Machinima and dance shows come immediately to mind. Musical performances. Theater performances. Tour guides for your regions. With these tools, one not-so-skilled user can create master performances.

Using the the Story Sequencer is dead simple:

All of the tools that power the Immersive Edge scenes will be there free to copy so you can see how we have things set up and then build your own stories from those models. Most likely you will have to remake your NPC appearance cards because those don't transfer well across grids.

1) Looking at the controller content above you see a simple demo that will rez two characters, then sit them on a rock with a PMAC script and a couple of dances inside.

2) The controller prim contains the sequencer script, the appearances for the two characters, and the story card where you will craft your scene.

Assign Your NPCs a Number

Look at the first line, the first number 1 is the number you assign to that NPC when you spawn it. You can have up to 20 NPCs controlled by one controller. We're just using two here so I assigned Namaka the number one and if you scan down that first column every command that starts with a 1 is something Namaka will do.

Set the timing between events

The second number dictates the amount of time, in seconds, to wait before executing the next row of information in the card. This allows you to control the flow of a scene. If you are delivering a lengthy block of dialogue all at once, you want to give a few seconds for that to be read and absorbed by visitors before the next character speaks. If you deliver a three word comment, the timing before the next event can be quite short. you can set this timing as short as tenths of a second.

Make sure your punctuation is correct

Every programmer reading this blog just shuddered, but I'm an everyday author and this is how we think when we tell a story. We punctuate our scripts.
a) Each number needs a comma after
b) You need to put in a quote before you give the command.
c) Each command is preceded by an @ sign and there is no space between it and the command.
d) If a command requires specific information insert an equal sign and place info behind it. If it requires more that one information parameter, the parameters get separated by that vertical line called a pipe.
e) Every line closes with a quote.
It's a lot like the rules for punctuating dialog.

Choose a command

There are 12 possible commands I am going to talk about today for this simple demo:
@spawn=Firstname Lastname| <x,y,z>|AppearanceCardName   Rezzes an NPC at set coordinates
@say= The words you want the characters to deliver in local chatNPC dialogue

@delete deletes NPC
@touch=name_of_object_to_touch Lets an NPC activate a scripted object.
@walk=<x,y,z>  Insert the numerical coordinates for the x,y, and z positions of the destination.
@appearance=name_of_new_appearance card
@rotate=degrees_to_rotate Turns NPC to face a new direction.

That's it, four easy steps for each line you add to the story sequencer. So that first line, assigns Namaka Sun the number one and puts her at location 63, 202, 79. The next line puts Dylan in position. Fourth and fifth tell them to sit on the Dance object which is filled with an initial embrace, kiss, and a couple of dances for them to play through. All that in is the Dance object and preset so saves me programming them to do all that. This could just as easily have been poseballs I sat them on. The cool thing is that the next two lines of dialogue can happen while they are sitting on the Dance. So they talk while they dance.

Having the ability to sit characters on an object which plays through a series of animations (this could work just as well for sitting at a dinner table, eating and drinking while they chat) enables storytellers to give their audience action and dialogue at the same time.

This is easy to do. It's understandable without a degree in computer science. It's free. All of these elements make Opensimulator an excellent platform for authors and artists to learn how to use virtual reality to inspire, promote, and create their work.

Our Immersive Edge story launches Nov 7-8 at world.nextdimensiontales.com:8901  We will have presentations at 9 and noon Pacific time both days. Each program will start with a short presentation and be followed by a guided tour of the story.

To learn more about Immersive Edge and how you can be there for the opening of the story and live demos of the tools go here: http://hypergridstory.wix.com/portfolio

If you've never been inworld and want to learn how to do that so you can join us, go here and follow the tutorial: http://www.narasnook.com/2014/01/an-authors-guide-to-metaverse-how-to.html  Get that done ahead of launch day.

We currently have the portals to the story turned off but I will activate them on launch day so everyone can visit for presentations or view the story scenes at their leisure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This is where we were last fall. That is just a concept shot. You can see the final result at world.narasnook.com:8900:Pandora. Take the teleporter to Dixie Land Band and take home all the makings to try putting together your own band. The lizard band was fun and the most complicated thing we could do with an NPC. It was born from a collaboration between Endora Twinklens and Fred Beckhusen as part of our Hypergrid Story project for OSCC 2014.

This is why events like OSCC, AvatarFest, and Hypergrid Stories are important. They bring us together to share knowledge and work as teams to come up with those wow-factor projects. For the members of the Greyville Writer's Colony they are a chance to explore merging storytelling with 3D worlds.

We love visiting beautiful worlds, intriguing worlds, worlds that make us think.

Chapter Six: Nostalgie by Cherry Manga and Praline B

Ending C -- a virtual paradise by Avia Bonne

Personable characters you can interact with is a new feature we'd like to see more widely adopted. When you set down a character on a scene, especially a character that invites visitors to become a part of the activity, you deepen immersion and a visitor connection to your creation.

Chapter One Demon Dance by Nara Malone,  Shannan Albright and Neo Cortex.

Chapter Five Cheshire Cat by Fred Beckhusen and Sunbeam Magic

Chapter Three Tree Guides by Serene Jewel and Fred Beckhusen

We've come a long way in the year since we released that second round of hypergrid stories. We had 8 different stories by 8 authors in that build. This time around we wanted to see what would happen if we tried to tell a story together. Greyville Writers put out the call to the artists, scripters, and builders whose work we admire. We shared a moment of sheer panic when everyone said yes. This was going to happen. We were going to be spending the summer creating with intimidatingly talented folks.

Traditionally group stories are crazy-quilt tales lacking a common thread or coherence. That didn't happen with Immersive Edge. I'm still in awe of what this team effort produced. We have all learned and grown skills and craft over the course of this project that we now take back to our own grids. The weekend we launch we will be giving presentations on the tools developed to create Immersive Edge and gifting them to the Opensim community. This is why the hypergrid is so important to Opensim.

Immersive Edge is an interactive story using tools that allow us to bring characters to life as NPCs that lead you through the story and invite you to join in the adventure. It was created by members from around the hypergrid community. You'll journey through 9 regions/chapters and choose the ending you want for the characters. Learn more at the Hypergrid Story website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tales from the Hypergrid Nights

Vector's Vortex

This is a story I've been struggling to find my way into telling. The usual travelogue doesn't suit what this is. This is more than tourism. It's a magic carpet ride. The sort of magic carpet that might manifest as a bubble, or a flying book, or even as dragons.

Outworldz: Dragons
Next Reality

Can you imagine? But it is more than imagining. It is immersing. It is more than following a guide and listening to the spiel. It is a group immersion. Where the travel group learns to act as a whole and make things happen. One is the head another the feet. If you lose someone the team works together to get them back. We have gone from separate curious avatars to being able to dance together as one body of many unique beings. We dance together every chance we get.
Vector's Vortex

Dark Shadows

Yo Frankie

We are the tales we will tell you. We are a shape-shifting crew of travelers,
Vector's Vortex pic by Karima Hoisan

 in an invisible boat sailing through Arcadia Asylum's imagination with Virtual Christine as navigator.

Spirit of Arcadia

Spirit of Arcadia

We are stalking the Gorillas in the Mists of Virunga with our cameras.

Virunga Mountains

Virunga Mountains

We have a need for speed. Be it by motor cycle, tiger, or cow.

Motopolis Opensim Speedway

Pantherian Swamp

Yo Frankie MooFerd Track
We take our hunts beyond the plains and swamps to search for treasure at Winter,


Winter Hunt

search for romance at The Valentine Hunt/Ball,

Truelie Telling at the  Coca

Shannans World
Shannans World

and search for each other across intricate and beautiful regions at Ekisaito


Meeting Ekisaito creator Oopsee Joseppe (blue dress)

Celebrating Mardis Gras at the French Quarter and Meddlesome Roleplay.

French Quarter

Meddlesome Roleplay

We have a need for story be it a reading at Seanchai, visiting the ghosts of Hypergrid Tales lingering at the Redlight Club, or touring the World of Turia built as a tribute to the 33 novels of John Norman's Gor series?
Seanchai Library on Kitely Grid

Redlight Club Next Reality Grid

Turia at Counter Earth Grid

During our tenth journey on the magic carpet of the Hypergrid Nights. We wandered through the interactive educational builds at VIBE grid. 


 Then our sleepless and winter-weary band of explorers made the last hop of the evening to The Library of Alexandria region.


The oracle asked what I was looking for.

Me: Sleep.

Oracle: Sorry I can't find that.

Me: That's okay. Neither can I.

I asked for romance instead.

She carried me off in a bubble to an island in the sky.


The library delivered a book to my inventory. The Little Princess.  Girls where I come from don't get to be princesses. I've always been down with that. I'd rather ride dragons than be rescued from them. But maybe you shouldn't write off the princess life until you've looked it over.

Talia Sunsong

Would it be so bad to twirl around a ballroom in the arms of a dark-eyed prince. Isn't that what stories are for, a way to try a thing on before you buy into it? 

Our adventurers have spent ten different nights trying on unique realities. May there be many morenights, at least a hundred times that, plus one more.

Perhaps with Osgrid returned we can visit 1001 Nights region. The Mysts of Devokan are waiting our arrival and I  believe we'll be surfing in Hawaii and tubing down the lava tubes.  There's is an opening day at the ballpark in Dankoville and, and... You will have to come and see. We're always plotting fun.

List of sites we visited the first ten weeks:

grid.kitely.com:8002:Seanchai Library
Next Reality-- login.nextreality.biz.:8002
Virunga Mountains-- www.outworldz.com:9000

Spirit of Arcadia 1-13 on Sanctuary:
Turia-- jand.dyndns.biz:7002:Turia 2
grid.kitely.com:8002:French Quarter:
grid.kitely.com:8002:Vector's Vortex:
grid.kitely.com:8002:Meddlesome Roleplay:
Yo Frankie-- www.outworldz.com:9000
 Ingen-lab.com:8002:Motopolis Opensim Speedway

VIBE-- vibe.bio-se.info:9000
world.narasnook.com:8900:Pantherian Swamp:
world.narasnook.com:8900:Shannans World
world.narasnook.com:8900:Selkie Island:
world.narasnook.com:8900:Siobhan Muir 1:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

In the wake of our second huge event turn-out in less than a month, and in the wake of the chaos caused by three of the 30+ users attending, it's time to discuss the issues and the choices event hosts have to make as the party slows to a crawl. You know who is lagging you. You don't want them to have to leave. You stay silent and the whole thing comes apart. You say something to save the event but it ruins it for you because you turned out someone you care about.

How does a single user crash the system?

A high latency user is a user with a connection slower than good catsup. I know and love several users with this problem. I anticipate their arrival on my grid, savor their company, and I want to have them at the big events because they are cool and they are fun. Trouble is, once they join your workshop/grid-hop/party--other users are blocked from arriving, local chat becomes impossible, teleports grind to a halt. Under the server's hood a data tsunami is building, and when it lets go, all the avatars will go down.

Think of it this way:

My father was what I like to call a ponderer. If you wanted a banana for breakfast, you better ask the night before. Otherwise it might be dinnertime before you got approval for your breakfast. Add to that, he had nine children to care for on his own. This is a high latency responder in a high traffic situation. Kids can generate requests at the rate of about a hundred per second: Can I? Will you? Are you? How do you? What if? How does?

Multiply that by nine. Pop's mental queue was so overwhelmed that the answer to any question not involving threat to life or limb was likely to be delivered a week to a month after it was asked. RL chat lag at work. 

Basically this is the Opensim latency issue. We have have the host grid server which is spitting out requests like an impatient child to the incoming avatar: Tell me this this info. Give me that data. Do you hear me? Huh? Huh? Huh? Did you? Gimme. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme Now!

We have the high latency user answering:

Umm... Just a sec...

Where a sec=a-whole-freaking-minute-of-waiting.

Ignored, our host server melts down into an avatar-booting tantrum.

Or to be more precise about the cause, I'll quote Aine Caoimhe:

Viewer latency is an issue that we've begun to encounter in Opensim and appears to be a code bug/oversight that allows a single user's viewer to bring an entire region to its knees if a "perfect storm" of conditions occurs. This typically happens in a busy region with many concurrent users and/or a large amount of content when one of the  users in the region is on an internet connection that is slow or unreliable. This viewer "latency" can generate a bit of lag and could even snowball into what I call a "cascading latency" issue that can reach severe enough proportions to crash a simulator.

Based on our testing, it seems that what happens is if a sim doesn't receive a packet response from a viewer (usually due to latency) it immediately resends the same packet again to try to elicit a response. The simulator seems to prioritize this resend ahead of all other user traffic, too, so a highly latent viewer can rapidly fill the entire traffic queue with resends and results in all other user traffic also grinding to a halt. If this only happens briefly and then the connection is restored, the simulator can recover once it catches up with everything. In serious cases, the other users' traffic will also start to time out because the simulator doesn't know that it's being backlogged by the queue, resulting in their traffic starting to be handled as latent too. Once it hits this tipping point, it rapidly cascades into either a complete simulator crash or the sim might manage to just kick a large number of the people from the region and then recover with whoever it left. Of course everyone who got disconnected will immediately try to return which just puts it under extreme load again....

Okey-dokey. So what can we do about that?

I am going to start by dropping to my knees and begging you all to do a couple of simple things before you try to join a high-traffic event. Grid owners usually know the major sources of their latency problems. They love those users. They don't want to ask them to leave an event. I'd also like to add that it doesn't mean all events are not for slow users, only events where server resources are seriously taxed. Be kind to event hosts and check your usage.

Consider how you connect to the internet:

a) Satellite users--if it is a group of 10 or more, not gonna work. :(

b) Cell phone users--if you are using a mobile hotspot or tethering in on a cellphone it might work. It depends on a lot of things. See the pre-event speed test below to determine if it will work for you.

c) Wireless users--typically free community WiFi or hooking up at the local coffee shop is gonna be slooow. See the speed test below. Also, where possible hook up by a wire to the router. If you're using a cellphone, try USB tethering direct to computer rather than WiFi hotspot mode.

d) Throttled users--if you are over your monthly data limit and your connection is throttled. Not gonna work. :(

Pre-event speed-testing your connection:

A ping test is like ping-pong. You whack a ball (packet) of data out to a server on the internet and see how successfully and quickly it is returned. I'm pasting in Aine's description (slightly condensed) of running the test. The pics are of my test so the numbers in my test differ from those in her description.

1) Open a command prompt. Windows XP users can get one with Start > Run.  Windows 7/8 do Start and then in the search box type "cmd" which should bring up cmd.exe as on option to run. This brings up a console with a command prompt.

2) Copy and paste this in the window: ping -n 20 narasnook.com

Use the address of the grid you're going to without the port number...can be either a domain name or an IP address.
Add caption
3)You will get something like this as a result:
First thing to look at is the number and percentage lost.

- if all are lost (100%) then the grid server does not allow ping tests (Nara's does but some others may not)
- if 1 or more is lost, run a second test with 50 pings instead of 20 (ping -n 50 narasnook.com)
- if 2 or more of those 50 are lost (loss > 4%) then the connection is likely going to be one that causes problems. Even 2% can cause problems, in fact.
- ideally you want to consistently see 0% as was the case in my test above

Next, look at the average value (my result was 96ms which is a little slow but I had other traffic on my system when I ran it)
- typical (good) average values will be anywhere from 30ms to as much as 150ms depending on distance between you and the server and how much internet traffic (in general) is going on at this time of day. Trans-Atlantic is often in the 120-150ms range. Local is usually more 30-75ms.
- if your average is >250ms you could cause isssues...try a 50-ping test and see if that holds pretty stable and if it does, be sensitive when you go to the party. If you're experiencing chat lag (more than a second) or script lag (dialogs are slow to pop up), you're the likely cause.
- averages over 500ms are extremely likely to cause issues, and 1000ms (a full second!!!) is almost guaranteed sim death in a busy region

Finally, look at the max value (mine was 108ms)
- if max <200 you're fine.
- if you have a max value between 200-500ms take a look at the indivudual results and see how many were over 200. If it was only 1 or two you're probably fine. If it was more than that, run a 50-ping test and look at the individual results as they appear on your screen, counting how many of them are over 300ms. If more than about 10 of 50 are longer than 300ms then there's a good chance you'll cause problems in a busy sim.
- if your max value was over 500ms then you have some latency and are probably going to cause issues but run a 50-ping test just to see. If you're getting any sort of regular ping responses over 500ms you're almost certain to kill a region if it's busy.

From Nara:
Keep in mind situations are fluid and things can still go wrong even if you pass the test. We're in the wilds of a new frontier and we have to roll with the whims of technology, pipelines, and mercury in retrograde.

Things all users can do to lower stress on a server--
1) Don't stream videos, Skype, surf the web, and log into the party as three different avatars all at once.

2) Don't hypergrid in with 15,000 inventory items in your suitcase. If you're going to a high-traffic event, the only items in your suitcase should be a landmark, clothing and attachments you are wearing. Extra copies of your hair, skirt, feet--to replace those the hypergrid eats.

3) If your connection is slowish, log in an hour ahead of the event and sit your avatar and leave it sitting. It gives the server time to deal with you.

4) Set your viewer bandwidth to 500kbps or less.

5) If the event is at six, be annoyingly early or very fashionably late. Everyone logging in at 6 on the dot does not work.

6) If there should be a region crash, everyone trying to log back in immediately is not going to get anyone anywhere. Take a potty break. Fix a sandwich. Return at leisure.

Advice from Aine:
Things region/grid owners can do to help the latency issue--

1) Force HG to arrive in an "empty" region first, so their initial HG login stuff can be handled separately on a sim that isn't under stress. That way when they tp to the party region it's handled as a local tp and is far less difficult for the region to manage

2) Keep party regions as sparse as you dare...disable any unnecessary scripts, try not to have too many different/high res textures in it, etc.

3) Keep in mind that each avi increases sim load exponentially not linearly and that sitting avi (including people couples dancing or poledancing) are far less of a drain on resources than an avi who is standing (or singles dancing) since they become phantom and don't use physics.

4) For a party, change opensim.ini to disable avatar collisions (so they can't bump into each other when standing/walking) since that also reduces physics calculations

5) For a party, set/manage the per-user throttle settings of the region (in opensim.ini) to restrict general traffic levels so people with viewers set to ridiculously high traffic levels don't create issues even if they have excellent connections...if your grid admin doesn't know how to do that, ask all people who visit to set their viewer bandwidth to 500kbps or less (in user preferences)

Key "tells" that typically signal a latent viewer in the region:

>>>> console starts to flood with "resend" messages for a specific user they are probably using a high-latency connection. Keep in mind, though, that if the region reaches that "cascade" level of resends, you'll be seeing them for pretty much every user in the region. Some log levels might not show this on the console (I don't recall off the top of my head what logging level is required to display them).

>>>> in console run "show stats" and look at UnackB, as well as the two pending. High counts in any of these means that some latency has occurred but this can also be from initial tps into a region with high traffic.

>>>> general chat lag that persists/occurs when a sim isn't in the process of handling an inbound tp (the initial arrival in a busy region will usually cause a bit)

>>>> slow response (or completely stoppage) of script dialog boxes appearing since that uses region chat too

>>>> if you have direct system-level access, run a per-user level test for packet resends and response times...when a latent viewer is in a region it can generate 60k+ resends in less than 5 minutes!!! If it manages to queue up enough resends, it will also start to make your other users appear latent and they'll start to rack up resends too. Compare total resends against time present in region to get an average resend rate...a latent viewer will have a very high value

Back to Nara again:

Bottom line here for event hosts-- if you have a high latency user dragging the whole thing down, you have to tell them what is going on and ask them to log out so the region won't crash. Up to this point I've let the crashes come where they may and hoped for the best--but that isn't fair to everyone who worked hard to prepare the event and all the people who made time to join you. Hopefully sharing this explanation of the situation and how to avoid it will limit the number of times you find yourself in that situation.

Last words from Aine:

At Refuge grid we're actively collecting and providing detailed data to the Opensim developers to help them track down and eventually eliminate the issue. Until then, there's no way to either prevent a high-latency viewer from disrupting everyone else's experience, nor is there any "fix" for someone who has such an issue (although perhaps the Sl on Go (http://www.firestormviewer.org/firestorm-on-sl-go/) service would work?) except to be sympathetic to region owners and other users and not go to regions that have high traffic. A sim-owner can take steps to make a region more "volume-friendly" but of course this may defeat the entire purpose of having the sim in the first place.

I hope this helps :)