The horror!

What’s your worst nightmare come true? – Coming to think of it, considering rl events this week, i’ll re-phrase that: What’s your worst sl nightmare come true?

There’s quite a few answers to that, i’m sure. When you consider the capricious, obstinate and downright awkward nature of sl, the opportunities to be put in embarrassing, annoying and horrific situations are multitude; whether it’s being logged off at the world’s worst moment, logging in to find all your money missing and an empty inventory, or finding someone has built a huge brothel next door to obscure your beautiful sea view – all these things can, and do happen.

All of us, at sometime or other, have fallen victim to unmitigated sl disaster, and it always hits us like a bolt from the blue – the unintentionally revealing typo, for example… “Just killing my mic for a sex”; accidentally logging in to your previous location, forgetting it was your friend’s house, and disturbing them in the middle of some carnal activity; or the cringing embarrassment of typing something outrageously inappropriate in the wrong chat box! We’ve all fallen hapless victim to those moments.

My own particular nightmare came horribly true yesterday.

Picture the scene… i logged in as normal to my own little private area that i use to get changed, away from prying eyes. i fancied something a bit different, so i slipped into a gorgeous kimono i’d had hanging around and never yet worn. Extremely happy with the results, i TP’d to Moonletters Town, thinking an evening with friends in the pub would be just the ticket. There i am, taking my time as i happily walked down the full length of the street, admiring the way the garment had been designed to float and flow with the movement until, mere seconds from joining the throng in the pub, i get the following message: “I can see your breasts!”

It’s one of those moments when time stands still, as the horror of the situation gradually dawns. i went into panic mode… re-bake, edit appearance and, when those both failed, TP the hell outta there! One change of clothing later and i’m hoping the problem is solved, so back i go and, as before, everything appeared perfectly normal to me – how wrong i was! Once back in the street the horrible truth was revealed, (not the only thing to be revealed, i’m afraid.) – There i am, in full public view, starkers apart from a prim skirt, a pair of boots and a burning glow of embarrassment.

It’s amazing how few things you can find in your inventory to hide your embarrassment when you really need something urgently. How i wished i’d grabbed the ‘mermaid with strategically placed flowing hair’ set when i had the chance! Having tried a wide array of boxes and barrels, the only thing i could lay my hands on that was even remotely suitable was a space suit – hardly the garb for a night at the pub –  even so, it would have to do; later on, i switched to a cardboard box, What else could i do?

We’ve all heard of the nightmare when you dream you’re naked in a public place but, believe me, the reality is even worse – more so when you have no idea that you’re in the buff, until somebody else happens to mention it! Of course, the worst thing is, next time i log in i won’t believe i’m fully clothed, even if i seem to be properly dressed.

The situation holds more than a little irony for me – over the past few weeks, almost every time i’ve logged in i’ve received that alert we all know and love: “Your clothing is still downloading, other users will see you normally…”. No alerts on this particular occasion though, when i’d really have appreciated a “Your clothing has not downloaded – you’ll see yourself normally but other users will see you in your birthday suit” warning! Mind you, this is sl we’re talking about; ‘helpful’ is not a word that figures much in Linden Lab’s vocabulary. i still find it remarkable that they plough onwards with a completely blinkered approach – an approach where rolling out armies of new system avatars, building social network feeds into profiles and making the login page look pretty take precedence over the fundamental problems that residents experience on a daily basis.

Apart from my complete wardrobe malfunction, within the same session i experienced chat lag (which doesn’t officially exist any more, according to the Lindens) on several occasions, waited an age for proper textures to rez and watched somebody walk through walls and halfway across a sim, three times, as a result of lag. Nothing to do with my PC or connection either: all non-essential services were off, CPU and graphics card were over-clocked, plenty of spare bandwidth, a good pingback and 14fps framerate. Not that any of that means anything – i know that everybody, no matter what system they have, is plagued by this sort of nonsense constantly.

Surely it doesn’t need to be said that it’s pointless steamrolling mesh onto the Grid and other novelty innovations if the very basics just don’t work in the way they’re supposed to? Just imagine owning a car that only went backwards on three days a week and would only go forwards if you rebuilt the engine everytime you went for a drive; imagine if the wheels wouldn’t appear until ten minutes after you’d got in and, every now and again, it would turn into a pink, spotty, Model T Ford, for no apparent reason – how long would you put up with it? Now imagine, that despite these minor faults, the manufacturer insisted on re-spraying it every couple of months, provided six additional spare tyres in funky colours and provided us with a range of ‘go-faster’ stripes and stickers to decorate it with… would that make us any happier? i think you get my point!

So, here’s a challenge to any Linden technical chappies – well, any Linden really – who may perchance be reading this particular entry: How about it? Why not become the people’s hero and start throwing some resources at the root of the problems, rather than papering over the cracks in sl with cosmetic changes, whilst pandering to the needs of those few new users who’ll join because someone on Facebook tells them too, hang around for a couple of days and then go back to World of Warcraft? Why not fix sl so it works properly and doesn’t leave people stood in the street in a state of undress?

Somehow though, i can’t imagine that anything will change… the Lindens will sit on their private islands, coming up with newer and brighter ways to dilute the sl experience, (MSN messenger integration anyone? – just remember, when it happens, you saw it here first!), and we will continue to put up with a virtual world that doesn’t really work as well as it should, or could. /me sighs.

If you happen to run into me today and i’m wearing a box – it’s a fashion statement, ok?

S. x

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