Kind of quiet and free (for now) and pondering events

The last few days on the blog have been kind of quiet. There's a couple of good reasons for this. First off, of course, not a lot was happening with the allowance diary given that I was locked up for 5 days. Secondly, over the weekend and into this week, I've been pretty busy with kicking off The Femdom Hunt V and also getting some new Z&A releases out into the shop. It's been a fun few days, especially doing all of this while in the rather restricted environment Mistress left me in (rearranging the shop to make way for the new releases was.... interesting).

Yesterday, however, it was time for Mistress to unlock me again. We met up on the Z&A build platform (where we're still experimenting with textures and the like for a house we bought and should be swapping over to soon) and, after Mistress had changed outfits...

...she reluctantly unlocked me. The switch to normal windlight settings was really jarring to start with. After 5 days of being in near-darkness it was quite a shock.

After I got changed we decided to pop over to My Slink Obsession to see what's what over there, especially given that Mistress is a big fan of her Slink hands and feet (me not so much as I could never get the feet to work for me, although other mesh feet did work out for me and I am a big fan of Slink on Mistress and I especially find it a great source of gifts for her).

We were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't so busy as to make getting in difficult (I think there were only a dozen people there at the time), that made a very nice change for a popular shopping venue. The build itself is very pretty (even if the stonework texture is a little unrelenting) and sensibly laid out. And, more importantly, it seemed to load pretty quickly (although I did find that client-side lag kept kicking in, something I mostly fixed by dropping the draw distance quite a way).

Sadly our visit coincided with a grid issue so no actual shopping took place (Mistress even had trouble "buying" a L$0 demo), but we did make notes of a couple or so must-have items so a return visit is a must.

Talking of events: given that I was (relatively) "free" for the evening, between working on a few things, I decided to go and check out TMD. I'm not one to visit events on my own (most shopping events I visit are ones that interest Mistress) so this was a bit of a first. It didn't go so well.

I managed to get in while there were 38 other avatars on the map, I landed fine, took a few steps away from the landing point and waited for the place to load. And waited. And waited. And waited.... After about 1/2 hour many of the displays and products still hadn't loaded so I gave up and went home. Meanwhile I'd spent much of my time blocking and derendering gesturebaters who seemed to think that everyone badly needed to hear their over-loud and oh-so-amusing sound clips.

It really wasn't a pleasant experience.

To be clear: I'm not blaming the venue, not in the least. I'm very clear on the fact that the lag in loading (or more to the point failing to load) the venue was client-side. I'm more than comfortable with the idea that my connection and my video card just weren't up to the job of dealing with almost 40 other avatars and all the products and the displays -- that's a lot of mesh and texture data to deal with. Quite simply my machine just wasn't up to the job.

And this is where I think these shopping events fail. The idea is fantastic but SL and people's machines really don't scale so well. I understand the attraction of having a centralised event -- it's a social thing, it feels like an actual event, like you'd have in RL, it makes things look even more impressive and you also get to see lots of green dots on the screen. The flipside of course is that you see lots of frustrated people elsewhere who can't get in (watch plurk and twitter when a new event opens), many of whom resort to TP-spamming devices in a desperate attempt to get there (I do wonder what sort of load those failed TP attempts put on the hosting server) as well as lots of (often misdirected) complaints about the lag.

It's great that these sorts of events have made in-world shopping a bit more of a thing again but I can't help but think that distributed events make a lot more sense in Second Life. In the time I spent failing to load TMD I could have teleported to, and shopped at, quite a number of stores. In doing so the load on my machine would have been less and, I imagine, the load on the grid would be better distributed too.

But, yeah, a shopping-oriented event that's distributed amongst all the participants so more people can take part at the same time and it's an easier and more pleasant experience for all involved... that'll never catch on. ;)

*wanders off to consider writing a "Distributed Shopping Events" manifesto*

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