If you do be the kind o' Captain who sails the seven seas o' Thereia a-seekin' and a-searching for the Thereian like o' Cap'n Ahab's great white whale, get yourself down to the chandler's and pick up a copy o' Cap'n Ahab's helper…
Here's an interesting picture taken as the result of some accidental aerobatics in the Cannery area. If your point of view is under the water, you can see that all of the wooden pillars on which the piers stand are actually much longer than you can see from above the surface, and come to a point at some great depth. In other words, they are not square posts at all but inverted square-based pyramids.
The reason things are done this way is to save on rendering resources in your client machine, where the basic unit of cost is often the simple triangle. A square post of any height has two triangles per face, so a total of 12 triangles in all. A square-based pyramid, on the other hand, has two triangles on the base (the top of the post in this case), one triangle per side and of course no bottom face at all. This gives a total of only 6 triangles, a saving of 50%. The extremely elongated pyramids still look like square posts if you only look at the portion above the surface.
I love walking around There and listening to the music people are playing; it adds tremendously to the feeling of "place" when you can walk up to someone's zone and hear the same music they do.
Sometimes, though, particularly in crowded areas where you don't want to pay the bandwidth and lag costs, it can be nice to turn radios off. Unfortunately, the obvious solution (turn down the volume knob, or the There music volume slider) doesn't actually disconnect you from the radio station in the current release (V2.06). Walking up to an individual radio and muting it manually does disconnect you from the station, but doesn't work very well in an area with multiple speakers.
Although this issue is apparently going to be addressed in a future release of There (V2.10), I've decided to make my personal loudspeaker muting program available for download to anyone who would like to try it. This program works just like walking up to every loudspeaker you can see and pressing mute on each one.
I've been collecting technical snippets about There since I joined last November, and I'm sure a lot of other people have their own private collection. More recently, I've been organising the information I have and combining it with contributions from other people to build a There Technical Wiki.
For the moment, the Wiki is publicly readable but only editable by people with edit passwords. I'm very open to handing out editing passwords to anyone who wants to contribute, though, so please get in touch with me if you want to get involved. If you just have some useful information but don't want to go through the hassle of organising it and getting registered, just e-mailing it to me or sticking it on as a comment to this entry will work fine.
I saw this Happy Vertical People Transporter the other day in a portazone outside Zephyr. It is made of a stack of the lowest angle "kick" ramps carefully tweaked so that when a male avatar walks in, There's collision algorithm pushes the avatar up through each successive layer. As I understand it, a female avatar (being slightly less tall) needs to keep walking forward to make this particular elevator work, but it is possible to tune the stack for different heights.
These artful ruins were created to the East side of the Oasis village some time ago, but I've only recently managed to get a clean image of them (even this one needed a little retouching). The ruins are partially visible from the main plaza and help to break up the eastern edge of the village.
Constructed by villager Terrapin, you can see a half-buried deck used as a sand-covered ruined floor. This is possible because the ground is uneven here and when placing a deck, only the very center of the object is used as a height reference. Thus, while the center of the deck will always be above ground, the edges may be partially obscured. Rocks and plants are by marisa9.
I'm a member of Josie2's Adventure Quest Club; this month I qualified for the monthly chest award for the first time. The image shows the January chest, gold with red jewels inside.
In the top-left corner, you can see the chest from a fair distance; top-right is slightly closer: you can see that the chest has opened slightly! Similarly, in bottom-left and bottom-right you can see the final transition to a "fully open" state.
Given that object builders don't yet have the ability to "script" objects, how can this be happening? I believe that the designer (Jeff) is taking advantage of the fact that each object in There is actually designed at several "levels of detail" or LODs: the idea being that as you move further from an object, you need to see it at a lower level of detail and a simpler model can be used. In the usual case, the lower-detail models are just simplified versions of the highest detail one; in the case of the award chests the different models have altogether different shapes, thus leading to the pseudo-animation shown.
Having seen pixiemoto's spaceship recently, I couldn't resist going to Tyr and seeing what Tophe's new Green Glow Industrial Columns looked like in the darkness. I couldn't find any already in use, so I rented a couple from auctions and threw them up in a temporary portazone near the Boneyard. The simple answer is: they are awesome.
The columns appear solid (you can't walk through them) but that doesn't stop you from using the "hoverpack trick" to get inside them, as the picture shows. The hoverpack trick just involves hoverpacking up close to an object, facing it, then jumping off. There's collision detection logic doesn't seem to work during the dismount animation, and the result is that you can use this trick to get through walls or even jump inside an apparently solid object.
The Caldera Sun-Times recently ran an art competition. The competition's grand prize (one of freddie's amazing Origami Tiger hoverbikes) was awarded to Kangaroo, seen here with the animal suitably caged.
What you can't see here (and the reason I've placed this item in the Techniques category) is that as you approach this tiger, it makes a most un-There-like roaring sound that has astonished many an onlooker and not a few passing hoverboat passengers.
The clue to this is the radio you can just see hidden behind Kangaroo's chair: it is tuned to a custom Shoutcast channel sourced from his home computer, broadcasting a loop of various "roaring tiger" sounds. Anyone approaching the cage will hear this as long as they have made the small one-time purchase of the music pack or transitioned from the original There beta program.
Of course, pulling off something like this requires a fair degree of technical sophistication, but I can't help feeling that this technique might be used in a lot of places to give custom ambient sounds to a location or even just provide a public address system for events.
Kangaroo is one of those people who likes to push the envelope a little bit. Newbies to There quickly find out that the sea is solid; most people know that buggies travel faster over water than over land for some reason, perhaps to allow quicker travel between islands. A few people have noticed that balls bounce differently on the sea than on the land in that they don't bounce lower and lower in the way you would expect; this may be related somehow to the buggy effect. Kangaroo is the only person I know who has pushed things to the limit and used this effect to make a perpetual motion machine.
The picture shows Kangaroo standing behind his construction, which as you can see is made out of four walls with windows plus one roof all placed in a casual portazone. You can put one or more soccer balls into such a cage and they will bounce forever in a quite hypnotic fashion. Drop a couple of dogs in there for the maximum fun; they really seem to enjoy this setup and will run round and round in circles after the balls.
You'll find that if you drop one of the larger "feelium" balls over the ocean that it appears to vanish; in fact, it is just going straight up faster than you can see. You can verify this by putting out a large builder portazone with a large deck placed at its top, then dropping a feelium ball from a hoverpack directly under the deck and retreating rapidly to a safe distance before the ball hits the sea. The result is similar to Kangaroo's cage but on a much larger scale and with much faster movement.