Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How We Plan to Warm Up Your Winter

If we can't warm it up, we'll at least try to keep you so intellectually engaged that it'll seem like spring arrived in a blink.


This Sunday is the winter solstice. If that's something you celebrate , you can visit our Winter Wiccan Circle and dance with the NPCs or possibly catch some of us there. We decorated an evergreen with pretty dance balls and supplied it with NPC partners. This will also be the location of our Next Book Birthday, January 2nd, starting 6 pm grid time. world.narasnook.com:8900:Series 

There is a dance ball over the fire for NPC dance/skating. There are book boys, satyrs, snow fairies and ice demons loaded for you winter celebration delight. We plan to leave the circle in place until Candlemas in Feb.

Moonlight Safari

Wednesday night will be the last Moonlight Safari launching from the Nook. We will still have an evening  hypergrid event but it will no longer be a mirror of Safari and they will no longer be scheduling events for us, so given that our original name was a hat tip to all they do for us, the name will change to Hypergrid Nights to reflect that we are no longer a jointly managed event. We still love and support HG Safari and you will see me on safaris. We'll still network and share our finds for great region visits with each other.

This week we will be visiting Senchai Library in Kitely where Shandon Loring will be doing a reading of A Christmas Carol. Put a swim suit in your suitcase or wear it under your winter woollies because after that I'll be hopping to a beach party and anyone who wants to join me is welcome.

Hypergrid Nights

We'll be taking a break from our grid hopping for the holidays as next Wednesday is Christmas Eve and the following Wednesday is New Years Eve. Starting January 7th we'll launch again with a Yacht party in the water regions at Mike Hart's Next Reality grid. Same time, 9 pm EST. Same launch place world.narasnook.com:8900 Greyville. We will also switch from three scheduled hops a night to one hop, dropping that time commitment from three hours to one, though I expect some of you will want to keep playing past the official timed visit and that will be fine.

Our focus will likely shift a bit to reflect the unique interests of our group and to activities that are friendly to our US-based team members time zone. If you have a region you'd like us to spotlight, contact Nara Nook at Nara's Nook. You can reach me as Nara Malone on G+ and @nara_malone on Twitter.

Tattoo Workshop

This Thursday, Dec 18 at 4 pm grid time, John Sheppard will be leading a tattoo making class at the Nook. Meet up by the fire circle. world.narasnook.com:8900:Greyville

Book in A Year

Author Shannan Albright will be leading a writer's workshop with the goal of finishing a book in a year: From beginning to end learn the tips and tricks to put that novel in your head on paper. This year-long workshop covers from the very basics to advanced tools to craft your book. Then covers the aspect of marketing and publication. From the dreaded synopsis to branding. How to get your book in front of readers. This workshop is for all from beginners to advanced.
Participants can interact at in-world meet-ups and/or via forums on the Nook website.

NPC Workshops

I will be leading a series of NPC workshops for Hypergrid University to be held in the Pandora region of Nook grid which contains all our demo projects on using NPCS. The workshops will be every other month on the 3rd Sunday at noon grid time. Watch our calendar link to keep up with the workshop dates. The first is January 18th and will cover basic NPC creation and animation. I will have everyone looking at their first animated NPC in under five minutes.

Other Workshops

The third Sunday of each month remains our workshop Sunday, and we are lining up other events to fill up that schedule, including a Flash Fiction workshop from Siobhan Muir and another workshop on Cross Promotions and Social Networking--skills mandatory for authors but something the metaverse residents could use as well. If you or someone you know would be interested in leading a workshop at the Nook, catch up with me. Topics of interest users have indicated they would find interesting are making clothing, animating, basic building.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Grid-Hopping Through Inner-Space

Moonlight Leaders

We had some grand adventures planned for our first full-fledged safari this week. While you may know where you are going, and even if you are going to a place you've been before, the experience revolves around the people sharing the adventure with you. Six hours of grid hopping brought that point home to me.
Toboggan Ride with HG Safari
 The HG Safari group and Moonlight Safari group
Moonlight Balloon Ride
 aren't as different as night and day but their interests diverge. I think the evening group springing up from our base at Nara's Nook is more reader/writer/romance focused. Diverging interests will lead to diverging paths, but more on that later.

 I promised the Moonlight group creatively inspiring adventures. The first was in L'Hiver du Grand Nord from Dabici Straulino. It lived up to the promise, sledding being the favored pastime but the romantic call of the hot air balloon and the beautiful rural setting filled our hour with oohs and aahs. The graciousness of Dabici and Kelso Uxlay went above and beyond--it was something like 3 AM for them if I am calculating right and they stayed for every minute right up until we left. This second balloon ride pic taken by Dabici just before we hopped to our next stop. Drop by and pick up items from their Winter Market. Have tea and bring home a teapot.

Go ice skating.

 Have a toboggan ride. Or two. Or twenty. But most of all, try going during Euro friendly hours so you can meet the lovely folks who put this special region together for you to enjoy.

And then...
 There be Dragons!

A lot of times in the G+ groups or in my social media streams I'll see picture someone shares tagged inspiration. If you've ever wondered what if anything those pics that go around do inspire, you're looking at the most recent evolution of a long line of fun inspired and produced because someone shared a pic of a woman on a white tiger in G+ OpenSim Virtual. A lengthy discussion ensued as to whether that could be done in OpenSim and at the time that answer was no.Fred Beckhusen didn't let that get in his way.
Doxa demonstrates riding a halfatar.

Instead, he invented the halfatar. The first halfatar was a woman tiger combination which I rode on an HG Safari once. Later Fred made a velociraptor version. This one he is giving away at Outworldz grid Dragon region is usable by male or female riders.

The halfatar led to the creation of a ride-able tiger on land. Somewhere in the middle of all that he created shape-shifting animals, a dragon shifter, and finally this beautiful flying dragon.
Fuschia Nightfire on a Dragon
 The worlds of Phase Demesnes in SL and Dragons in Opensim were inspired by Piers Anthony's Phaze science fiction series. If you haven't seen Phaze in Second Life, do so soon because it will be closing at the end of the month.  Fred and Debbie Edwards are just getting started with their dragon build in Outworldz. Truth is when I asked Fred if  Safari could drop in and see what he was doing,  he didn't think he had enough in place to interest anyone.

Really, that's what he said. 

Drop by Dragons, have a look around. Let me know if that's what you think.

And then...
Go see Alice. It starts as a game. You land by a tree, fall down a rabbit hole and well,you may know how the story goes,but just like the Dragons of Phaze it's an adventure through a story world the way someone else saw it in their imagination. In this case, the someone was Cherry Manga.

One pill makes you taller.

One pill makes you small...
As for the ones mother gives you, apparently they do more than they used to...
At various points in the evening we had varying numbers but 14 grid-hoppers overall and 10 who made every hop. Serene Jewell who does a similar weekend event from Kitely was there to greet us when we finished. We sat at the banquet table for the unbirthday party and talked about the adventure of walking through a simulation of a book as it was experienced in another imagination--their inner-space. It's not an easy time we have of it out here exploring the frontiers of inner-space. Things crash, they burn, RAIDS fail, we are bald when we don't want to be. Yet, stacked up against adventures like these, we all agreed the negatives are trivial.

Thanks Dabici, Kelso, Fred, Debbie, and Cherry for sharing your visions with us. To get to their sims, go here:

outworldz.com:9000:Phaze-Dragons hg.francogrid.org:80:aliceinwonderland

Monday, December 8, 2014

You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee

Refuge Grid
With the continued outage of OSGrid, the metaverse is doing it's best to accommodate displaced avatars. Much like the human counterparts who flee disasters, homeless OSG residents sought the nearest and most familiar port in a storm--Metropolis. As weeks of outage stretched into months of outage, as Metro's servers were pushed to the limit managing new members and expanding inventories, refugees  sought alternative  homes where they could begin rebuilding what they'd lost.
Safari Metro
 I don't think I am the only one who sees some good in the OSGrid crash that pushed us all out of comfort zones to cope. I've met so many wonderful new friends, including the team who manage HG Safari. When the OSGrid crash left Safari homeless, I asked Tim at Zetamex to move the budget estate region oar I'd had in OSG to Metro for them to use until the grid was back. He in turn stopped billing on the region when he moved it, donating the time and space to maintain it.
Safari Franco
As safari outgrew those resources and the outage had no end in site, Franco Grid donated a region that could support the growing number of grid-hoppers. Meanwhile, the tales of parties, concerts, and glorious builds had folks pleading for a safari scheduled during hours that would allow them to participate. In particular, several members at the Nook grid longed for hours that worked for those living in the PST zone. Shannan Albright, SiobhanMuir, and Endora Twinklens stepped up and offered to help me lead a trial Moonlight Safari at 6-9pm PST.
Safari Meet-up Area at Nook Grid
A brand new grid seemed the perfect hop to launch the new Safari. Refuge Grid, managed by Seth Nygard, was created by and for refugees. With three DJs and several clubs in place, it had already become a late night refuge Nook members slip off to after our evening write-ins. Most evenings you can find late night dancing going on in one of the regions.

Clubs open at RefugeGrid
Lady Jo Martinique's Dark Shadow's region features a winter dreamscape decorated for the holidays, while  Lady Pooh's Honeypot is a tropical paradise.

Petra on Refuge Grid
If you want to explore, Danger Lytton's regions are under reconstruction, but I saw enough in Petra to put it on my list of places to watch and revisit.

The same is true for Paramour, from Mata Hari.

Our official destination for the evening was lingerie party at Mata Hari's (Aine Caoimhe) Hedonism Club. Thirza Ember had just launched her lovely lingerie shop, Sottigliezze, on the Nook grid in the Paradise region, so an area at the entrance for sharing and swapping lingerie creations attracted a lot of attention from both men and women.
Landing Area in Hedonism Club
One of our favorite things to do at Nook Grid is make book boyz--NPC characters that were heroes in our novels--and set them up as dance partners at our First Friday book birthday parties each month. As you can imagine, we were all over Mata Hari's new dance system that allows us to deliver male and female characters as dance partners from the dance ball.
Nara Dancing with an NPC
There were 28 guests enjoying the festivities.  Some of our guests were first time visitors from SL to Opensim. One confided that she didn't know we had clubs in OpenSim and she was impressed by the beauty of the build, low lag, the dance systems and those amazing NPCs. So was I.
NPC Chair Dancer
You can find Mata's  free dance balls, poles, and floors on the first floor of her Hedonism Club.Go to refugegrid.com:8002: From there take a gate to the Hedonism region.

If you'd like to grid-hop with us on our next Moonlight Safari, we leave Wednesday 9pm EST from world.narasnook.com:Greyville  This time we will be doing the full tour and visiting all the stops the HG Safari visited. If you can't make the earlier HG Safari, or couldn't make it to all the stops, drop in and join us.

~Nara Malone

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Easy NPC and DeMythifying the NPC Bug

NPCs are a powerful way to grab the attention of visitors to your sims and an excellent tool for engaging and guiding them through a region. At Nara's Nook we use them to greet, to entertain, and to introduce visitors to our novels. They can be so lifelike and enchanting that you might think they are powerfully complicated to create. When I first started creating them, that was true.

But as I demonstrated at the OSCC conference, and in this tiny video clip, it's now possible to create an NPC with a mouse-click and position it in less than a minute. Simply dress in the way you want the NPC to look and click the ball.  The Script will copy your appearance and rez an NPC that looks like you. You can drag the ball around to position the character as you'd like. Click the ball to derezz or rez the character. 

Right click the ball and you see this demo version contains three things: script, appearance card (titled "My Dancer") and an animation. You can add animations to this and when the character rezzes it will cycle through the animation in the contents. You can delete the animation provided in the ball but it must contain at least one animation to work.

This is character creation at its simplest. It's easy enough for the newest of our newbies to do. It requires no knowledge of scripting or animating. It uses little in the way of system resources. 

This worked beautifully for us until, around the end of September, a change in an Opensim update caused trouble. We call it the NPC bug. I want to emphasize, this bug is not isolated to this script. We have duplicated it in every NPC generation method we use. Fred Beckhusen, who generates more NPCs than I do, discovered the bug first in his regions and he does not use the same scripts we use at Nook grid. So lets bury the myth here that any particular generation script is the source of the NPC bug.

1. What is the NPC bug?

It is a change in the newest development releases of OpenSimulator that will cause all scripts running in a region to die when an NPC wearing scripts is deleted. It does not happen every single time but happens enough that it is a headache.

2. What versions of OpenSim is this a problem for?

I first ran into after some patches were uploaded for 8.0.1 around end of September. If your version is prior to that, you should not see this bug.

3. Is there a way to avoid triggering the NPC bug?

Yes. We had some 34 NPC characters in our build for the OpenSim conference--all generated by a variety of means and some requiring scripts to fulfill their purpose. After the bug appeared we had to go back and remake every NPC to insure they did not trigger the bug and crash us at the conference. Read on and I will walk you through the kinds of NPC and how to avoid the bug with each.

If  it is a simple NPC created with a  poseball as I demonstrate in the video, follow this procedure before clicking the poseball to save your appearance.

1. Detach any HUD or AO you have on your viewer interface--recording appearance with those on will result in an NPC that triggers the bug.

2. Remove any facelight, club lights, etc. Lights are the biggest source of NPC crash.

3. It's easy to forget that many attachments might have hidden scripts. Jewelry, shoes, hair should be script free. Inspect all attachments for scripts.

4. When you are script free, it is safe to click your poseball and record your appearance.

Some NPC, like the fire dancer , require a scripted item. In this case the rotating texture in the animation could be deleted after the object was rezzed and retain the animated behavior. We used that as the work around for the lizard band too. The lizards were attached to a scripted rotating disc and set up to rez when someone was near and disappear when no one was close. We couldn't figure out why they triggered the bug when they disappeared because they had no scripts. Deleting the script from the disc they were attached to eliminated the issues and once the rotation is part of the object parameters there is no need to keep the rotation script anyway. The trick with having certain NPC only rez if someone is close is how we managed to cram 34 NPCs into a build and still alow enough resources for the sim to handle visitors. For large groups of characters like the lizard band and the NPC dolls that gave clues in Free the Hero, it was crucial that they only re when needed.

There are some characters, like Shannan Albright's dragon shifter, that can't function without their scripts. Those are the ones you have to set to be on all the time. In that way the NPC is only deleted when the region is shutting down.

If you make a mistake and generate an NPC that triggers the bug it's not the end of the world. Delete the object that rezzes the NPC and restart the region. All should be well again.

That should get you started creating characters in your builds while avoiding the NPC bug. Don't let the bug scare you away from the chance to experience all the wonderful fun adding interactive characters to your builds can bring.

You can find the original NPC poseball in a gift box beside the landing area at world.narasnook.com:8900. You can find a version with the capability to sense and rez for nearby avatars in Paradise region. That one is a green poseball set to copy. Set float radius in that script to a non zero number to enable sensing.

If you'd like to see our the Geeked-Out Fairytales NPC exhibit we built for the conference, you'll find a duplicate of that build loaded at world.narasnook.com:8900:Pandora.
My thanks to Mata Hari who wrote the script we use in the original poseball and to Fred Beckhusen who added to it to create the sensor version. You will find a more advanced and powerful NPC Controller and instructions on how to use that here at Fred's website.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Safari XVII: Cats on Safari

This weeks Hops:

Destination 1 Wunderland in Metropolis  hypergrid.org:8002:Wunderland
Destination 2 Aire Mille Flux    grid.aire-mille-flux.org:8002
Destination 3 New Genres Grid  hg.ngrid.org:800


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Lost and Found

Thirza Ember, Wirzardoz Chrome, Snowbody Cortes

If you could be anything?

Wizard Gynoid and Fuschia Nightfire

Hypergrid Safari Gang at Safari Clubhouse Teravus Plaza OSGrid

What/who would you be? I've been experimenting four years now, trying to come up with an answer.

Nara in OSGrid avatar. Lost in FrancoGrid

The answers I've come up with are more internal than external.  I want adventures.

Pathfinder Lester (elephant's mouth), Serene Jewel, Miso Susanowa, Dharma Galaxy, Nara Nook and ?

 I want to be able to write anywhere...

Siobhan Muir and Me in my Nara's Nook avatar

Nara Nook: Did you ever imagine you'd one day be on an elephant and settling down to write?

Siobhan Muir: Not outside of India.

Nara Nook: Me either.

Nara Nook: Not even inside of India.
 I want to get lost in all the ways it is possible to get lost. 

Siobhan Muir and Nara in an OSGrid avatar at Sandbox Plaza III testing Bullet Physics Vehicles

With Siobhan doing the backseat driving and me doing the navigating, geographically-lost is a given.

Um...lost somewhere else.

I want to get lost in the dark depths of creativity, with new ideas blooming around me.
 Lost in the crowd.
Dance party at Dorena's World

I teleported into this and rezzed floating on my back above the crowd with lights flashing music blasting. Looking down on it, I thought this must be what Woodstock was like. Only this reality isn't drug induced.
And since I love to level up...

Nara LostWorld:Terrarium
  I can take lost to a whole new level at LostWorld Grid lostworld-os.com:8002:LostWorld

Lost in time...

LostWorld:Rome  There is a room with info displays on historical details

Roman Bath

Joe Builder, creator of LostWorld
 Lost in space...
Enterprise is the size of 4 256x256 meter regions

Wizard Gynoid takes charge.

Snowbody Cortes, Miso Susanowa, Wizard Gynoid look at home there.

Engine Room

Shuttle Bay

Klingon Ship:Bridge
And because we can still take lost to deeper levels....

Holodeck Garden Scene Rezzing

Nara lost in a new space in deep space.

Lost in a holodeck is my favorite place to be.

Go on a Hypergrid Safari with us or explore on your own. Immerse yourself and lose yourself in the adventure, the inspiration, the fun. Because it's only when you are willing to let go, lose yourself, that the real you can be found.

 ~Nara Malone

If you have never been to the metaverse, you can find out how to get there. If you need help figuring out those instructions you can message me as Nara Malone on Facebook, or G+

If you know all about the metaverse and have never been on Safari join the HG Safari Group on Facebook  or Hypergrid Safari on G+   There is a Sunday Safari leaving the clubhouse at Noon Pacific Time today. I'll be there. Will you?