Google announced today that it has developed a Google-mapping system now for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment Systems (NES) -- complete with the little whirring jingle.
It made sense for Google to start with NES because Nintendo has 60 million units worldwide.
Naturally, when I saw from the Google Lat Long blog that this was already up and running, I contacted an ex-Linden who is now at Google and asked him what he new about developments for Second Life. He said they started with NES first because 2D wasn't as complex as 3D to work with, obviously, but that they actually already had an SL prototype working, and he gave me a link to a beta viewer to see how it will work.
It turns out that the path-finding feature developed for Linden Realms and the new Wilderness Adventure -- whose DNA can be found in the first Pac men and that little guy who takes the route from your mapped trip on Google Maps for NES -- is going to be bundled with a Google Maps appliance just for use within Second Life in Q4. This is one of those fun features that Rodvik has been chuckling about to himself for months.
The way it will work is something like this:
Say you want to go to that new club at the top of the list in search, but you want to make sure it isn't all traffic bots or sex bots and has real people in it that will really talk to you.
So you crank up the SL map which will be Google-mappified and you get a replication layered on top of the former SL map for your use (make sure you have eliminated all packet loss before this log-on session and make sure you live near the Linden server farm in Austin, Texas, or this experience will be sub-optimal).
Next, you will see that the "Google Street View" works even better than the real-life Google street view you may have seen on the Internet that at best, can show a still photo of a French man pissing in his garden or Dave Winer peering anxiously at the Google Map truck thinking it's a disguised Comcost van.
But thanks to the wonders of JPG2000 compression perfected originally by Philip Linden, and real-time rendering in virtuality, the SL Google Sim View gives you the real-time action preview. So you can see if those green dots on the map that really "tell you nothing" are in fact all slumped in a big box in the sky at 2527 meters up to simulate "patrons" but are really traffic bots OR you can track the chat log from the dancers and see if the loops around and in fact turn out to be just sex bots.
And here's where the fun really begins. Using another feature the Lindens have been working on, called "Avatar Astral Self Projection" (AASP), combined with the new path-finding feature, you right-click on your avatar, select "AASP session" and your astral self -- a kind of NPC -- projects to that sim invisibly (or safefly disguised as a Ben Linden Beach Plant or Qarl Linden Sculpty Rock to blend into the surroundings) and pathfinds itself to any other avatar, where you will observe it to see if it is what we call "real".
Another option is to put AASP on "display," where it will project an actual rendering of your avatar that is visible, and then interact with the selected avatars on that sim. You can even pre-package it with dialogue, like "Come here often?" "Didn't we meet at a Jaycatt & Frogg concert?" "Geez, the lag is killing me" or "I love your outfit, is that mesh?" and then, depending on the results, you can decide to actually TP to the sim and take it from there.
You can run multiple AASP at multiple locations, but I've found that after 4 of these, the layers lock up and sometimes crash. Be sure to uncheck HTTP textures on version 3.x.
With this option you can queue up to 6 different outfits, genders or creatures, and see what "works" for dating in that club. So far they only have "Cowboy," "Lounge Lizard" (an actual reptile), "Beatnik Poet" "Ophelia Emo" and "Fur Fluff" but I understand that some developers are going to be given the bit maps and LSL functions to create new customized AASP renderings. I tried "cowboy" but the belt buckle didn't rez. They really should take the mesh out of this before it's more bug-free.
I spoke to a Japanese developer on one of the Japanese sims and he suggested that blowing on your mouse before you fire up three AASP sessions will do the trick to get rid of the Google bugs, just as displayed in this video demonstration above with the NES box.
Another problem I ran across is that AASP will just land you in "heaven" where you can't see anything but clouds and your avatar is tiny-cized. This is actually the Penny Patton Edition.
So you were asking yourself: "Prokofy, isn't the big story here the Linden's new AASP? I mean, that's way more interesting than pathfinding and Google Maps for SLURL. Even if you can't get the map layers working, couldn't you just read the chat? It would still be useful."
And I agree, that even *without* the Maps for SLURL appliance and Sim View, AASP is a novelty -- but ask yourself: do you really want more text? I mean, more of those damn chicklet windows open? Every damn chatting object, bot, thing, avatar, greeter whatever is chatting and creating little "X" windows for you to "X" out or go nuts (I wish they'd just "die").
Do you really want to be on one sim with all the chatting junk and have the AASP session sim's chat cluttering up your screen, too? Because it won't be the chat you want to select out of the mess and filter as that Special Chat with that Special Someone.
AASP *would* be a big story if you didn't land in "heaven" half the time -- and be thankful it isn't with your hair up your butt. Or if you didn't just freeze and be unable even to teleport at all anywhere, completely depriving the AASP of any sense, if you are having "try-out" sessions, and it turns out this actual non-bot asks you up to their sky loft to see their fractals. You won't be able to go anywhere.
No, without maps and Second Life Sim View, especially with multiple sessions, AASP is fairly worthless so that's why the Lindens were right to wait until Google got the kinks out of 8-bit NES before deploying Maps for SLURL along with AASP, which they've been tinkering with for awhile.
Here's some screens of my AASP adventures:
Here I am disguised as a Ben Linden Beach Plant (Large) at VA Island. Perfect!
Through the wonders of the latest version 3 search, I found this place with only traffic 448 yet showing number one for the search terms "beach club". Red Spot it was called. I couldn't find a soul there. Suddenly, I realized the game: everybody was already in AASP disguised as a palm tree and a red sun umbrella. Well, somebody has to make the first move here!
I'll admit the hat in AASP Cowboy Mode is awfully dorky. I may try the Beatnik Poet next. Meanwhile, you ask: if I ever see Prokofy on a sim, how will I know that it's the real live real-time Prokofy and not an AASP Cowboy Mode session of Prokofy? And I'll give you a hint: my AASP cowbody has a tinted monocle. My real, real, actual real-time real self is not tinted. I suggest you develop a secret signal like that for your friends!
This girl turned out to be the only one who wasn't AFK, wasn't an AASP session, wasn't a bot of any kind, and was real. However, she was ugly. Too many spikes for us. Also, that teddy she is eating is actually her ex-boyfriend's AFK AASP, if you follow me. She was turning him into a voodoo doll and tormenting him.
One more jump -- the ghastly GIGGLES -- this is number one in the old search of version 1.23 with like 54,000 traffic -- so it has to be bots. GIGGLES welcomes adults, teens, and child avatars but it's a mature sim. When you land, it immediately offers you a sky box rental. Ugh. I'm actually glad most of these Gray People didn't render with a sim of 50 plus avatars.
After closing about 60 boxes with all the sessions and chatting objects, I reflected on AASP. "Nice to have," but I don't think I will be using it much. After all, I've gotten by for seven years without ever having animation override or hardly any gestures. Isn't my avatar already an astral projections enough as it is?