Simplicity

February 14, 2007 Ace Albion

My houses are scripted very simply. There are two main reasons for this- one is that I’m not a scripter, I figure out (or ask about) what I think I need to do, and I do it, and call it done. The second, while convenient in terms of the first, is also a specific and deliberate design choice. That is Keeping It Simple.

People want privacy windows, lockable doors and some way of controlling who can come and go in their houses. So I originally made a script which matched these features on a very simple level. Doors locked when you said “lock”, windows tinted when you said “blinds on” on the correct chat channel. Access to the commands was either owner only, or group. As in SL groups, as this follows the standard of how SL works with permissions like that. If your house was on group land, you set it to the group and allowed group the access. To further restrict access you would change the chat channel needed, like a PIN code for security for a given house. So the default is /102 (for a boring historical reason) but you could change it to /3456 and only tell your SL spouse and/or mistress. Simple. Easy to implement, and easy to manage.

The last big script update, available pre-installed in my later houses,  and available free for anyone with an older build, added a menu option because I’d figured that out (at least for the easy settings), and an “anyone” option alongside group. So people who want access lists have one in a way- the list of people they tell the secret channel number to.

Except they don’t, of course 🙂 So ok my documentation sucks, it’s a list of commands, and even though it’s explained, some understanding of how chat channels work in SL is needed. I know some houses spam menus at you if you even whisper the word “help” in open chat, but that’s not how I like to do things, so I don’t do that.

So people ask about doors with access lists that open automatically when the right person walks their face into them. My doors aren’t smart, they’re like real doors. They open when you touch them, and they are either locked or unlocked. To make them “smart” would involve all kinds of headache inducing communications between the main house control and the doors, or else have them seperate, and have people asking why the list they made for the front door doesn’t work on the balcony door.

Locked or unlocked. Some days I get IMs from people who don’t understand how to get the windows to tint etc. It’s not fair to say they didn’t read the notecards- a lot of people have english as a second (or third..) language, and it’s a lot to ask to make sense of heavy text. So “locked or unlocked” is a lot easier to explain than how to set up doors to do whatever. Never mind pulling some “does everything ever” script off the scripting forum and winding up doing support calls for that!

Everyone is different- I have people on occasion who tell me Blah Prefabs are cheaper why aren’t mine? And the same day someone else will ask how I can afford to sell a house for 500 that someone else would charge 2500 for. It’s interesting. So I have people who ask about the possibility of smart doors- two in one day as a record ever. The difference being one asked nicely, and seemed ok with the idea that the doors are easy to re-script by a third party as a personal preference, that mine are sold with the simple functionality. Of course the other one wouldn’t accept that rewriting my house menu from ground up to suit some door script he’d found wasn’t on my To Do list any time soon, that I should discuss it with him right there and then or else I don’t care about customers, that I should immediately resolve this issue with my substandard doors to give customers what they want. And keep repeating this after being told that I’m not going to do all that work for one guy. So that was unpleasant, and uncalled for, and led to my first ever muting of a sentient SL being, because of someone who just wouldn’t leave me alone, telling me I should “get a clue, girl”.

So sometimes it’s not so simple, because people make it complicated. Well, if you buy a house from me, you get the simple way. Anyone can put new scripts in if they want to- there are plenty out there, and I have good friends who will happily just replace say, an internal bedroom door with a super-scripted one without complaint, because that’s something they want, and most people don’t need. Other people want sealed box rooms only accessible by teleporter and a door that opens when they mash their face into it rather than clicking on it. That’s not my style at the moment. Sealed boxes with teleporters will never be my style, I think that approach to building is crass and disjointed. I always take the stairs or fly at a push (and I do a lot of builds with loft/gallery style upper floors for that) because a space should be interacted with, not bypassed. That is an artistic decision and no amount of “obey the customer” is going to change that. It’s why I sell almost all my houses modifyable. So buying from me you get what you see, and my promise to fix anything wrong that’s my fault, and an answer to all your IMs about things that aren’t my fault. What you don’t get is the right to bully me about it. These are prefab houses, not unique creations. Luckily for me, 99.9% of my customers seem happy, or too shy to complain. Hopefully the former. I am also sure people don’t like how it works, or won’t buy a house without seeing exactly what the menu looks like. I didn’t set my houses up to demo all that stuff- a lot don’t actually have a menu or “anyone” access as standard. It would take me a month to update the old houses, a month in which I’ll have made a better script. Again, upgrades are free and I’m determined to keep that promise. It’s ok. I don’t expect to sell a house to everyone who wants a house.

Transferable/resellable- no. I made a transferable house that’s just the same in style as a very popular low cost copy/mod one on the advice of a land reseller who said it would be the best thing ever and he’d buy ten a week. I never saw him again, I think I finally sold ten ever. I won’t sell no-copy (required for selling transferable) and modifyable, because people break things all the time, and “rez a new copy” isn’t going to help them. Selling no-modify makes it harder to offer upgrades, or for personalisation, so I don’t do that either on houses above a certain (low) price. That said, given that I know a couple of people who dress land for sale with houses, and want to offer that as furnished etc, I am looking very hard into some kind of position recording thinger that can be used to notecard and then later set up a replacement house. Maybe with a gift voucher system to try to make that as seamless as possible.

I am also looking hard into a lot of options and updates to my house control- it will be a new baseline (especially as I only this week read up on how to allow easy script updates) but it will be compatible with all existing mod/copy houses that I sell. Of course it will also be a free upgrade to all existing customers who want it. I’m thinking a lot about access lists (yes because people ask so I am thinking about it) and touch panels and accessory installations (scripted lights are my immediate priority). Smarter menus, maybe smarter doors down the line. It’s a long list, but any one thing is not going to be a priority because some bully insists on it. Priorities are what I think I can do soonest, or which I want to do soonest. That’s how I work on prefabs- I build something that I like, then offer it for sale, and if people like it, that’s great, if not, then I still built something I liked.

Custom work is charged at $20 (that’s US Dollars based on current rates, not Linden ones) per hour. Unless you flatter me a lot, or I think it would be a giggle, or you’re a good friend. That’s the charge for my time at the keyboard working on something for you, and you alone, without any other extras. Sometimes if it’s something I can do in the time it takes to be asked about it, I’ve done it for free. I’m random like that.

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Entry Filed under: Building in Second Life

2 Comments

  • 1. Mike&hellip  | 

    Would you mind sharing one of the scripts that uses a PIN to lock/unlock a door?

    Thanks!

  • 2. Ace Albion&hellip  | 

    Hi, Mike. It’s not on the doors, it’s on the whole house control script. It’s really nothing more than a chat channel that you can change, but the effect is the same as a PIN, because nobody who doesn’t know the channel, can talk to the control to get the menu.

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