Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sandbox Area Layout and Prices

Today's additions to the city are some roads and markers for the sandbox area, and setting it up so you can actually log in to the city. I decided to start with a 256m layout, since Second Life users are used to thinking in those terms. There are 6m wide roads and white columns to mark the edges of the layout. Unlike Second Life, where land comes in 4m minimum units and 256m regions, in Blue Mars this is entirely up to us. There are narrow paths at 64m intervals, to mark out areas 4096 sqm each (less the road width). These will be the initial building areas for people to use. The next step will be to convert them to Blue Mars "blocks". Blocks are exported as separate files for you to work on, then are merged back into the main city file.

Blocks will be on a first come / first served basis. In keeping with the spirit of Second Life sandboxes, there is no charge to use a block temporarily. If we run out of spaces and someone else needs it, then your stuff may be deleted. If you want to hold on to a space for the longer term, because you have an extended project, or even want to set up a house to live on, then I am asking 256L$ per 4096m block per month. This will cover the Blue Mars hosting costs if and when the city goes live on their servers. For the moment I am not taking any rental fees, until we are sure the block export and import is working, and people can run the city in developer mode.

The next photo shows how a city is set up so that you can log into it. "Entities" are Blue Mars items which can contain a script and optionally a 3D model. This is different than SL, where a script has to be contained within an object to run. In Blue Mars, if you have no 3D model assigned, the entity is just invisible. The RollupBar window shows the features of whatever item you currently have selected in the perspective view. The ugly pink mannikin, and the little camera by his feet are the necessary entities to log in. They are placed by dragging from the list of default entities found under the Objects header > Entity button.

The spawn point entity sets the login location for the city. Im not a good scripter, but I assume the script sets the avatar position to be equal to the spawn point position. The ARDefaultCamera entity sets the behavior of the camera view which moves with the avatar. You need one of each of these per city. These entities are invisible when you are logged in, but in the editor you can turn on Display > Show Helpers to show their names, and some markers so you can click on them.

The last photo shows my Blue Mars avatar logged in to the Sandbox City in Developer Mode. In this mode, he is actually logged in to the Blue Mars system. The only difference between this and normal play, is the city file is fetched from my "Blue Mars City Developer Tools" directory instead of my "Blue Mars" game directory.

In regular play, the city files are downloaded from their servers. In Developer Mode, the files are distributed direct from the city owner. Anyone with a copy can then log in, and we can see each other. The plan is to operate that way to start with, until we are ready to go live.


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