Sunday, June 27, 2010

Heritage Key Update: Expansions

No more duck walk
Location: End of the Cosmos, Heritage Key Grid

IggyO Heritage razzed in his old spot, the Amarna sim, and he quickly found that a good deal more of Heritage Key's grid had changed. He found his way to the Rezzable starting point in order to pick up an animation override. These were on offer when last I visited HK, and I've been eager for them because it's a pleasure not to walk like a duck. In time, I'm sure Rezzable will offer variations on these AOs, so we don't all walk like Billy (or Billie Jo) Badass in exactly the same way.

I'm planning a post on the journal HUDs that will guide explorers though Heritage Key, but as usual, a map view distracted me to just, well, do what novice users might do: jaunt about randomly. The map view is enticing; it indicates how many sims Rezzable is adding to its virtual world.
Heritage Key Map

Rezzable's coders are also moving things around, so none of my old landmarks work. That Heritage Key even has working landmarks, teleportation, and a good map shows that the virtual world is nearly ready for explorers. It was also good to see that I did not crash, even once. I used the Hippo client rather than Rezzable's, but I don't think that accounts for the good performance I found.

I suspect that a lot of other work remains--such as avoiding my mistakes of "pick a spot on the map and teleport," which left IggyO stranded underwater or on desolate parcels with the real content nearby in a large box or bubble. This is, of course, how any precocious student would wish to travel. It's also intuitive: pick spot on map by name (or green dots) and go there. I'm certain these anomalies will vanish as quickly as Rezzable's staff sets default landing zones for each sim.

The Travel Center remains a great place to start, and from my peeks behind the scenes, Rezzable has many areas planned for Heritage Key. The teleporter boards--rather like the old Linden Lab telehubs?--provide a sense of that. The entire system worked well, except for a then-offline Collections Gallery I'd wanted to visit, until I went off script and began my random map-hunting.
Heritage Key Teleporter

Thus far, Heritage Key passes my test for what an OpenSim world should be with one exception: user-generated content. Right now, with so much in flux, that probably should not be a high priority. Opening building up could also invite griefers still angry over the Builderbot program that Rezzable briefly considered offering to the public (and DO I want a copy to back up my Usher build in SL). If Rezzable wants residents instead of occasional explorers of Heritage Key, however, some sort of educator's sandbox would be an excellent start.

That lack of a "dwelling" keeps me out of HK, but even a small academic office as a base for my research and teaching, and a place to stash my archeological finds. Such spaces for regular users, even for a small monthly fee, would retain the metaphor of time traveler meets Indiana Jones.

CEO Jon Himoff has noted, many times, that Linden Lab made a mistake by becoming a landlord. So I can see why Rezzable might not want to begin renting us offices. Yet like many faculty, I like being in charge, or at least the illusion of being in charge. If I cannot build stuff or scatter the virtual equivalent of my books and academic impedimenta, I'm still a tourist, not a creator.

But I can wait for such improvements. There's a lot of Rezzable's plate: the Chinese Terra-Cotta warriors, more at Stonehenge, and of course Ancient Egypt will keep the company busy for a long time. I got a peek into the test-area for the Unity-based viewer, so I confirmed that it's part of the main HK grid. That means that avatars using the full client should be able to interact with the web-based users, a very exciting prospect indeed.


Ann Wuyts said...

Hi Iggy, although things get moved about, the easiest way (if you want to go to a certain site, let's say Stonehenge 2400BC, or Durrington Walls or Armana) is use the 'sites' we've created for them on Heritage Key, as those err.. move along?

For Stonehenge Virtual
(under related structures you see the different areas)

same goes for King Tut Virtual

Hope this helps!

Iggy O said...

Vint it really does help--for those beginning with the Web page. But will students pay attention once they are in HK and find the in-world map?

I recommend a landing point in each of the sims, as a "just in case" feature. That way you need not have visitors go outside the client to find a site, if they are already in HK.