04 March 2005

On the Origin of Spatulas

In determining the prescence or abscence of intelligence of our anscestral humanoids, determining usage of tools plays a major factor. Not so much whether tools were used, but how. Did they differentiate between different tools for similar tasks, i.e. using better adapted or specialised tools?
The right tool for the right job.

As I seem to have a penchant for, I've been using a 20 ton sledgehammer to drive carpet tacks again. Figuratively. As you can see, a simpler method was always available, but my desire for detail drew me to attempt an insane chore of creating a map of impossibly large scale such that 1" = 1". Just imagine attempting to fold that sucker. Not to mention the gathering of images detracts from actual game enjoyment. I hate to give up on the attempt anyway. Maybe I can contract Nevrax to send a probe for some aerial photos.

I finally disbursed the majority of Kalehar's posessions (all moneys to the Order of the Dragon guild) and quit the guild. I did send Lady Morgaine an in-game mail providing some of my heart-wrenching backstory while (hopefully) opening a 'legacy' way for my Matis character to join the guild and making a fond good-bye from Kalehar. Chtomelji has surpassed her abilities in half the time, although the Matis setting did help much with the crafting. Now all that remains is the trek to Pyr, which is probably going to be much less than fun, but we shall see. I would like to return to the Matis lands though, as foraging wasn't this easy in Fyros. On the other hand, I have a distinct impression that the Fyros is the more popular homin among players. Pyr was always jumping, and Yrkanis seems totally dead by comparison. Most remarkable is the level of chatter. HOURS will pass in Matis lands with not a single p33p peeping.

Well, game on, lets see if I can reach Pyr today... -K

03 March 2005

If Knowledge = Power, does thought = impulse?

Don't get me started on the physics involved there, cause I can do it!

Photoshop SC dont like my OS (ME) and I have been considering a move to XP, but that would necessitate a CPU/mobo/RAM upgrade due to 1) Win OS' = resource hogs and 2) the general principle of MITASWELL to address item 1. So I'll go back to earlier efforts of trying to appropriate an earlier version (except that the conduit for that wil be in Turkey until about the end of March...).

OK, preliminary image melding using software at hand went better than expected.

Nice as that looks, technical problems remain. Using that software requires that I specify an image size and then insert image copies into that void. I'd really like to just merge images without previously specifying a size. I'd also like to keep the images full-size for as long as possible into the process, but I'm sure that'll lead to hella big file sizes real fast. That wouldn't actually be a problem, but would almost certainly cause irritating swap-file activity during editing. Bummer.

And I managed to overwrite my homepage index while trying to post that image.
BAH! Yet another thing to fix/clean/do/email... argh!

But I'm wasting time. Morgaine got on a bit ago, I need to go and tell her that I am formally retiring Kalehar.

And kill things.
Thats always a plus. -K

02 March 2005

Never the Twain shall meet...

...cause the twacks go in different directions.

Ryzom's Windermeer shard came back online sometime this afternoon, so I did some feild testing (pun intended - hah! I kill me!) before I went to work.

Walk, screenshot, walk, screenshot, walk, screenshot.......
I pared 'desktop' components to a minimum and re-mapped the JPG screenshot key to increase efficiency, but I can already see where some problems will arise.

Basically, I've been intending to merge a series of screenshots into a long strip image, then repeat for another strip, and then merge the strips. Thats a bit like NASA probes do, except they have the luxury of being farther away, and can scan an entire strip pretty fast. They can also take parallel strip images fairly quickly due to their automation.

And here is where problem #1 arises: parallel. Walking across Yrkanis, no sweat. Walking across Yrkanis multiple times on parallel (and slightly overlapping) paths while taking screenshots........ yeah, thats gonna be a tad tricky.

Problem #2 (sorta related) is the several solid objects (obstacles). These are GOOD for map purposes (obvious landmarks) but will cause problems in creating the map image at first. Particularly, metropolitan Yrkanis will be nearly impossible, though thats a low priority.

Clearly there will be a few gaps as I assemble the strips. In some cases I could probably past in filler terrain, but in most cases I should think I would want to re-shoot problem areas just to confirm that pertinent information isnt lost. AND THEN as long as I have a full image which would fill a gap in the map anyway... mitaswell cobble that in.

Parallel is still going to be an issue. There may be a way I can use the compass to overcome that, but most objects in the compass move, and while I can set compass for some landmarks, I should want to be heading ~towards~ (or directly away from) the landmark at all times or my strip will wander. Such compass-ready landmarks just aren't there - with the possible exception of Natae to the west... and come to think of it, there is another town southward...

I may need to consider this a bit more...

It looks like I can DL a 'tryout' version of Photoshop SC (whatever "SC" means). I am certainly not able to shell for a full version.

Work beckons - K

01 March 2005

Ryzom: Denied!

And lo, it did come to pass that as the sun failed to rise on the first of March, there was a lone closed/locked shard, and it was Windermeer.

Yeah, the single Ryzom server for North America is down this morning, from at least 9am? til noon or later Central time. Bah! Just when I was all keyed up about mapping.
Mebbe I should take a moment here to file my tax forms... ya think?

This can't do their popularity much good. I've noticed that most players online seem to be either hardcore mega-level or relatively new. Probably due to the filtering effect of the free trial expiring and the pay factor coming into play. I think more people would stay on if the documentation was better, but thats just me focusing on glaring flaws.

Ostensibly this is so that they can add some recently announced content. The expression goes "can't be bad", but I'm not sure that that expression fully applies. Ryzom does present a nifty RPG world, but there are all of 8 'rites' or quests installed as of yesterday. The sense that it was released when not yet ready for Prime Time settles in. I'm only subscribed for 3 months total at the moment. Seems like that'll be just about right to see whether its worth staying on. (By that time my Oldsmobile to-do list will be in full swing so screwing around in a virtual universe would be a bad thing anyway)
I'll have a quick look for a shareware photo-editor before I crash...


28 February 2005

Vertical Integration!

As will happen every so often, ambition raises its ugly head. While this too will pass, for now I'll see where it leads me.
Ryzom banter again,
A large part of what I have been doing is foraging for raw materials to craft with. The finer raw materials make better finished products, but creating any old junk will gain me exp to help progress in the Crafting skill to where I will be able to make better objects. (and doesn't that sound like a viscious circle?) Essentially, the lower grade mats that I find will be either sold or used to fab crap (exp fodder basically).

Another (on an apallingly short list of ) nice thing about Ryzom is that the fner grades of materials are more difficult to come by; manifesting seasonally or even during a specific time of day or certain weather. There is always one class or another of materials that I am in short supply of. Typically that is fibers, but I have a good source of grade-basic fibers now, that will feed the Craft machine until I find a regular source for Choice or better. Clearly, on a persistant world, the key here is remembering where to get all these diverse materials. To this end a map would be in order. A few Ryzom veterans have been doing this by superimposing their finds on a screenshot of the in-game map.
The in-game map, frankly, doesnt lend itself well to this application; the scale is still a bit smallish for locating the resource 'nodes', only the larger (read as geological) landmarks are visible, and pertinent information (e.g. hostile tribes) is omitted.

Enter ambition.
What can I do and how can I make a better map?
I can manipulate the camera to some degree, even to a birds-eye veiw, but still too close to my character (and the ground) to yeild any significant short-term benefits. Possibly this distance (esp to the ground) would improve while mounted on a Mektoub, but as I do not own one, that is idle fantasy.

I can also take screenshots, in BMP (I think) and JPG format. I've some experience with image manipulation, but I no longer have any of the REALLY useful software like Photoshop to facilitate editing now. I can still (I beleive.....) merge image files, and hopefully, thats all that I will need to do. Otherwise I'll need to try to aquire Photoshop again.

So.. as of next login, I'm going to make some preliminary tests in anticipation of the Great Chtomelji Geological Survey. (hmm... need a better acronym...) Basically a bunch of top-down screenshots with experimentation on scale and angle. Then switch to editing and see what I can accomplish. I'll need to enlist some help for those Gingo-infested areas...

A funny thing happened on the way to the improv.....

I only just noticed that my first entry appears to be written by some "Chtomelji" character, and not the typical "K" (which of course represents 'the artist whom will [at some indeterminate time that does not adequately translate to your pathetic Julian Calendars] also be Karl Erik Aune').
That occurred because I really started this here blog incarnation only to comment on another blog (since its free, I mitaswell relocate to here). The other blog is the calculated ravings of a now-former-Guildmate-and-forager-of-jewels-in-the-rosebeds-of-annoying-people. sHe and I are both engaged in a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game called The Saga of Ryzom.

Probably a mistake on my part, but my mistake to make. I started by playing a 2 week free trial (more like 18 days in my case) and I was so impressed with the crafting system that I was hooked. The usual materials are combined to make things, BUT the combinations with intra-special (as in species) varieties of each component (all raw materials in Ryzom are organic [you can construct projectile weapons; Guns don't kill people. NATURE kills people!]) allow creating a final object with a mind to controlling the traits of the product. You can opt to fabricate a sword with a bent for lightness, durability, amount of damage inflicted, or ability to parry an opponent's attack. Any such enhancement naturally detracts from the other traits somehow. I can't get what I really want out of life, but if I can assemble the appropriate components and prance about naked while chanting, I can create precisely what I want in Ryzom. (Naked prance-chanting is optional, but lots of fun!)

The serious drawback to Ryzom is its lack of documentation. Words really fail me here. I beleive Tycho of Penny Arcade would describe it thus: "They provided me with a manual that asserted in no authoritative terms that bananas might be yellow." What I mean by that is a manual does exist and it does describe character characteristics and other common terms while neglecting a LOT of specifics in many categories. New players start out on an island habitat that is separate from the Continent on which most of the game is played. This schism is a double-edged sword. Experienced players are suitably insulated from the annoying pleadings of neophytes (someone walked up to me and said "Give me something." No contingency, no courtesy, no shame.) while the new players are left to fathom the various nuances on their own. There do exist 'seeded' helper players, I think (real experienced people with characters in the training areas) but they dont appear to be accessible at all times. Since I journeyed to the continent I have met many experienced players who can and do answer my questions, but in my case this was too little too late.

One small example of lack of documentation is the skill "tree". A player gains 'skill points' with each successive level that can be spent acquiring skill or spell "stanzas" which becomes a new weapon in that character's arsenal for that specificskill class. The functionality of these stanzas, however, arent adequately explained in-game and hardly mentioned in the manual. Once purchased, the skill points are gone and you are stuck with that stanza, whether you needed it or not. (It turns out that some stanzas are not only optional, but could successfully be ignored entirely. Again, there isn't any manual or help file documentation to assert that) As a result I had to start a fresh character, this time avoiding the mistakes that I made because I couldn't make informed choices the first time around, wasting MANY skill points that should have been spent much wiser.

The above is one reason why many game reviewers have panned Ryzom. It doesn't feel like its ready for release, though its been out for how long - months? end this session