Sunday, 13 November 2011

New Nests, New Coats, New HUD, Oh My!

Sometime in the near future Meeroo Nests are going to undergo a slight change, for the better. As part of an update Nests are going to be improved in subtle but significant ways. The biggest and most welcome upgrade is that, post update, CSR's will be able to replace lost Meeroo Nests with another Nest. They will no longer be restricted to replacing only live Meeroos. If you have ever required a Nest replacement for a Meeroo you had plans to save in its Nest you will understand how important that is. Tiger makes a very important note: "If you do get a nest replaced and sent to you by a CSR, it is imperative you rezz it immediately as the process is not complete until after you do this." It sounds like the replacement Nest will need to communicate with the database, with you as the owner, to complete the transaction. If you do get a Nest given back to you by a CSR do not keep it in Inventory. Rez it first and give it a few minutes to connect, then it should be safe to take back to Inventory. This improvement is not live yet, as far as I know CSR's can not replace lost Nests with new Nests yet.
 Nests are also getting visual gender identification in addition to float text: The small white flowers that we are used to seeing on Nests are going to get some colour. Nests containing male Meeroos will be adorned with blue flowers and female Nests will have pink. Colour coding the Nests will save a huge amount of time when shopping. On a less practical note the varied colours on the Nests should make my Nest filled Meeroo area a touch brighter.

Also announced in THIS blog post by Tiger: "There will be a new HUD that kicks off the start of Chapter 2 content." Not only do we have the new and improved Nests to look forward to but also an update to the now very familiar HUD. I do not know what we might expect to see change on the HUD but it is bound to be interesting.

Preceding all of the above there have recently been three (3) new Coats discovered: Darkmire, Silverbay and Mistwalker. I have not been able to locate any to photograph yet, but the links on their names above go to photos of them posted online. Catherine says that these Coats are not from the twenty five (25) new Coats promised and that they have always been available for discovery: "The new coats we're seeing are not a part of the update. They've been in the current genetics since release, and there are still more I'm sure we'll see soon." from THIS forum post. We can expect to be notified when the genetics update is applied, as Catherine says: "The genetics update includes a large amount of new content, and I'll definitely let you know when that goes live!" That is the genetics update to our current Meeroos, unrelated to the Chapter 2 expansion.

Keep your eyes out for those newly colour coded Nests and of course new Coats. Soon we should be seeing more facets of Chapter 2 dropping into place followed by the release of the Nocturnals themselves. There is much to come.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Only Pixels?

Almost inevitably when a person complains about loosing a Meeroo, or having issues with them, some other individual will make a comment along the lines of: "They are only pixels." There are a few variations on the wording but the concept is the same and I am not entirely sure what it is intended to mean. I might just as well say: "The Mona Lisa is only paint" or "That dog is only cells." Both are accurate, but they do not convey the entirety of the object being observed. A lot more goes into Meeroos than what you see on your screen.
One explanation of what the phrase might really mean is: "They are not real." That leads us to examine what being real is. In no way are they the same as a live animal, but they do exist. Perhaps it is because, technically, they can be turned off. A light bulb can be turned on and off, but that does not make light less real. One significant difference that must be noted is that real life animals can feel pain, they can be unhappy and uncomfortable. You can buy yourself a whole litter of Meeroos for your Birthday and if in six (6) months you do not like them any more you can just delete them, or give them away. Nobody is hurt because, while they are incredible, Meeroos can not really feel. So part of what could be meant is that becoming attached to your Meeroos is one-sided. You can love your Meeroos all you want but they are, in fact; scripted. We all accept that Meeroos are simulacrum, that they mimic life. It is part of becoming immersed in Second Life, that slight suspension of disbelief that makes it possible to accept Second Life as it is. There is really no issue there, it is understood that the attachment is simulated by the Meeroos, that does not diminish the attachment their owners hold for them. Nobody, I hope, is saying that any digital pet is equivalent to a real animal. If you have to choose betwixt Meeroo food and dog food, please please, for Vashara's sake, feed the dog.

Some people have more cause to become attached, almost reliant on their Meeroos. As inevitable as the first comment disparaging the form Meeroos are presented in is the eventual reply from another player, housebound with a dying relative, confined to a bed for months at a time, permanently disabled, agoraphobic, and so on. There are so many people out there using Second Life in general and Meeroos in specific to bring some joy into their lives, to keep them company or to keep them busy when there may be nothing else there to fill that void. Would they find some other outlet if Meeroos did not exist? Many would, some perhaps not, but what matters is that they do exist and they have and or are performing that roll. When something is that important to you, maybe even keeping you sane, you can be excused for becoming slightly attached. For every corporate style mega breeder in it for the money there is another player for whom Meeroos are a lifeline.

Meeroos are pixels, that can not be denied, but they are far more than pixels. A complex web of data, scripts, prims, textures and they are real, despite the fact that you can not hold one. There are many real things that cannot be held. Meeroos should perhaps be likened to great works of art, or architecture. They are a creation of humans, and some very real people put in an awful lot of time and effort to get them to where they are now. They are not alive, just adorable.

Finally there is another interpretation of the pixels phrase that occurs to me, that what they are really saying is "You should not care so much" to which I reply: I will care as much as I like thank you, but I hope that is not the case. The recent spate of Nest giving philanthropists in Group Chat leads me to believe the vast majority of Meeroos folks have their hearts in the right place.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Q and A

Recently Levio and Allison attended a Q&A session held by Sacred Tome. They had a decent chat and answered a few questions, some of them with very interesting information. The meeting was held using voice and the recording has not yet been transcribed as far as I know, the audio is about 105min long. I have listened to it all and intend to share some of the highlights. If you wish to listen to the recording yourself it is available on the Sacred Tome blog HERE.

A few quick items: There will be a script update. Sounds like it will be before the expansion, Chapter 2. Team Meeroos intends to ensure there is always something new to discover. So when all eyes, or all tails, or all of any trait have been found the goal is to immediately add new content. This has nothing to do with expansions, like Chapter 2, but only with updating existing Meeroos. There has been no official decision on what the remedy to the Regard situation will be. I suspect that decision alone may hold Chapter 2 back a few days. Levio has awesomely reiterated that there are no plans to develop or release "add-on" products for Meeroos such as fertility boosters. Excellent news, good to see Malevay Studios is maintaining their dedication to that issue.

Fascinating factoid: Levio says in the recording that Meeroo Personalities were added to the game specifically to stimulate the secondary market. Another example of foresight on the part of Malevay Studios. I think it has worked out well, and also birthed a trade network where Nests and lives are swapped to create compatible pairs. Some of my best Meeroos have come from Nest trades.

Not much can be said about the Nocturnals yet, prior to release most everything about them is secret. Levio was able to share that Nocturnals and Diurnals will be interbreedable immediately upon release. So the day Chapter 2 goes live you will be able to begin pairing new Nocturnals with Diurnal Meeroos you have now. For the curious: the Bengal coat Meeroo is a Diurnal, it will be breedable from the Meeroos we have now.

A major piece of data concerning the retiring of coats emerged during the Q&A: When a Coat is retired from the starter kits it will no longer be available to have as a new Nest either. Once the Coat is retired it will be impossible to produce a new Nest with that Coat. If we use, as an example, Winecoats; say Winecoats are retired. There would not be any in starter packs. I assume one of the higher Coats would drop down into the starter packs. Levio said that new genetics would not be available in starter packs, so it is a fairly safe guess that another Coat will move down into them. Even if you pair two (2) Winecoats, once the Coat is retired, they will not have Winecoat offspring. Retirement will cap the number of that type on the Grid, there will be no way to create more. Which Coat will be withdrawn has not been announced. I use Winecoats as an example only, it could be any of the current starter Coats.

Other miscellaneous items of note: There will remain only one HUD, even once Chapter 2 is released there will be one HUD only. It will work with all Meeroos. Much in the same vein you will not need new Home stumps for Nocturnals. Levio mentions at one point that there was, once, a plan to add rarity indicators to the Meeroos HUD. I had never heard of it, but in any case the idea has been scrapped and that data will not be added to the HUD. Things that Levio tells us will also probably not be happening: Copyable Homes, Having more than eight (8) Meeroos on a Home and Affiliate Vendors. All fine with me. The Meeroos per Home thing sounds like a script memory issue, and I would think not worth trying to circumvent. I totally understand their Affiliate Vendor stance after all the attempts made to defraud Malevay Studios and its customers. I would never have expected copyable Homes to be on the table, they would have to be inordinately expensive. A note on Home stump distances, Levio advises that the ideal ratio of Homes per square meter is less than twelve (12) Homes per 20sqm area. Maintain that spacing and you should rarely, if ever, experience stump hopping.

Finally, in more super good news, once released the Nocturnals will dig up their own unique Treasures. Levio was uncertain if they will have their own basic Treasures analogous to the Tin Can and Rotten Banana of the Diurnal Meeroos or if it will be restricted to the "better" Treasures. I hope they have their own basic Treasures, they are a small touch but they add so much to the experience. I am always in favour of adding in more Treasure types, both basic and spectacular [epic?].

There is more in the recording that I have not mentioned here, what I have done is the highlights of my notes. If you have the time, pop over to the Sacred Tome website and have a listen for yourself.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Chapter Deux

It looks like Team Meeroos will not make the deadline for the release of Chapter 2, or will they? Catherine writes in THIS blog post that the date will certainly be pushed back: " much has occurred between development and now, that we're too far behind to reach that release date. I'm disappointed, absolutely..." Having said that the Roo Region has been redone, and is worth a look. There is now an Orlex statue in the centre of the store and Vashara is nowhere to be seen. Where has she gone? In all likely-hood she needed her hair done, or perhaps she just avoids Orlex whenever possible. Either way it is something new to check out. It makes me wonder how far off Chapter 2 really is.
It bears saying that pushing the release back, if required, is a good move by Malevay Studios. We would all prefer a completed product that performs to the same standard as the Meeroos we have now, not something hurried. In no case will it be perfect. I have no problem waiting as long as it takes, I much prefer stability over speed. For some people Meeroos may be all about breeding and unlocking and also selling. While those things are all of interest to me as well I, embarrassingly, become attached to my Meeroos. It is one of the things that I think has held me back a bit as a breeder, I just can not release a Meeroo that has not had a full sixty (60) day lifespan. I mean what if they can not find a mate in the wild? For anyone who shares my affliction loosing a Meeroo, even temporarily, to a Second Life or Meeroo coding error can be devastating. To be fair the same is true even if your goal is financial; if a Meeroo who is near breeding time is lost it may not be replaced until it has missed its chance. Right now I think that is unlikely, I had a Meeroo poof and it was replaced within hours of my filing a ticket on the WW of Meeroos site. Response times have improved an incredible amount. That will all change if the Chapter 2 Meeroos have significant issues requiring CSR intervention. So, here is my chant: What do we want? Chapter 2! When do we want it? When it is ready and not before! Going to try and get that going on Roo at some point, if everyone is up for it...?
While we are waiting it behoves us to take a look at what Chapter 2 will bring, there have been some very interesting quotes from the official site on the matter. To begin with Catherine writes in THIS answer post: "The Expansion is a whole new editions of the game, everything is new, new content, new Meeroos, new personalities..." So the first thing we know is that there will be new personalities, one wonders how the compatibility will work? What will the new personalities be? Also from that answer: "These will arrive in separate starter packs, and will be priced exactly the same as the current ones. There will be no changes to the food." Of course we will have to buy Chapter 2 starter packs if we want to participate in it and it is good to know the starter pack prices are not going up. Looks like there will not be any new food either which is probably a good thing. They will not even need new Homes, and both the current Meeroos and the Chapter 2 Meeroos will continue to receive genetic updates as the game progresses, as we see in THIS answer post: "We will continue to introduce new genetics for both, and the two kinds will be just fine together. You don't have to have new homes..." Keep in mind the Chapter 2 expansion is optional, nobody has to buy new starter packs if they do not wish to do so. You can continue with the Meeroos you have now and bypass Chapter 2 altogether if that is what you want to do. Finally, something I think may have been a bit overlooked, from THIS blog post: "..we're retiring some Meeroos. These are being removed from Starter Kits." Wow, since the only coats available from a starter chest are: Winecoat, Fawn and Ursine it must be one, or more, of those. Will their removal increase their value? Probably. So we will loose some Meeroos and gain the ability to purchase new ones, sounds good to me.

While all this has been going on there has been a major change at Malevay Studios, I am unsure how major but Catherine is taking a "...step back from a few roles at Malevay Studios." I do not know which roles she is giving up nor which she is retaining but it is both a sad and encouraging change. While I hate to see Catherine take a back seat on the Meeroo bus I believe she has excellent reasons for doing so, the view is better back there. It also leaves a spot open which has been filled by long time CSR Allison Bluebird. Already she has written her first blog post and has been active in the Forums. Welcome Allison and I can not wait to hear more from you. Delegating some of her duties should free Catherine up to focus on Meeroo development, or whatever else she chooses to pursue, leaving poor Allison with the task of dealing with, well: us.

Finally and perhaps most excitingly there is a Meeroos photo contest under-way right now. If you have photography skills and/or Photoshop skills you should check out the information post HERE. There have already been a ton of exceptional entries which can be viewed on the Roo Region. If you go to the main store there is a teleport sign close to where the Homes used to be located. It is just to the right of the berries food vendors. Right click and select the "teleport" option and it will pop you over to the display area. You can TP in directly using this SLURL. When I was last there MeeroosContest Resident was adding even more graphics to the display wall. It is definitely worth a trip to Roo to check it out, some of the entries are amazing. I have one entered myself, wonder if anybody can spot it? Team Meeroos will be accepting entries until October 21st at midnight and the winners will be announced on the following Monday the 24th. Five (5) winners will each receive one of the very limited edition black-light skeleton costume brushes. Bet nobody will be using the soap on those!

Monday, 10 October 2011


Yes; the post title means multiple instances of spookiness. I am sure it is a word, I mean once it is added to the user dictionary it is official, right? Moving on: things have been pretty uneventful Meeroos wise for me lately. I am sort of waiting with baited breath for the impending advent of Chapter 2. There is now a deadline associated with the release, but it is not firm. Catherine says: "We hope to make our October 31 release date but that remains to be seen." in THIS answers post. I would not count on that being the date of release, these things tend to run behind. If anybody can pull it off in time it is Team Meeroos. I will be updating my public Meeroos events Google calendar with the thirty first (31st) as the launch date and crossing my fingers.
Chapter 2 looks like it is going to bring some interesting changes, in the answer post linked above Catherine also says: "The Expansion is a whole new editions of the game, everything is new, new content, new Meeroos, new personalities, and new angles to the game." I am very interested in what new personalities might mean. Will they be compatible with current personalities? What will their unique animations be? Will I ever manage to catch up on my Personality Profiles if they keep adding more? Regard will also be undergoing some changes: "There are pretty strong changes coming to Regard and the way it behaves and what it rewards." To me that implies that regard may be gained for things other than petting, perhaps just being in the presence of your Meeroos will generate Regard. I have thought, since I started my involvement with breedable pets, that there should be a reward for spending time with your creatures. Simple avatar presence may not be enough however as people would use bots to keep their avatar present all the time. There has to be some method to ensure the player is there and not automated, how that might be accomplished is beyond me.

One thing I have been undertaking is creating a more focused breeding program. Because I am lazy I have not been participating in the secondary marketplace for Meeroo sales, as such I have had a limited budget for berries. I look at it as a good thing, I have reduced the number of breeding Meeroos I keep to about twenty (20) and am keeping a close eye on them. I love how when I have fewer Meeroos I can remember all their names, and when I get the new-nest offlines I now know exactly who the parents are and what I might be expecting from them. Before I had so many I would have to check the spreadsheet or log in to find out who the parents were, what their traits are and then I could decide if I was thrilled or disappointed with the Nest. I do have far fewer Nests being produced now, but they are more in line with what I am trying to do breeding wise. As I wrote in an earlier post I have also switched to Short-Cycle breeding and am spending more time evaluating pairs and switching partners around in the hopes of getting more traits from them. It has not been long enough for me to judge the results yet, but it will soon be time to swap a few Meeroos around; dare I hold out hope for an ever elusive Snowpaw?
Malevay Studios has outdone itself again with the Halloween content they have created. The concept of "costumes" for Meeroos is genius, I do not know why nobody else has ever though of it. Brilliant discoveries always seem easy after someone else figures them out I guess. The way the outfits work is this: You buy the costume for L$350 and you can then paint it on to any Meeroo you own. It works on both normal and MeePet Meeroos. The costumes are limited edition, only available until November first (1st). That means you have the chance to turn any Meeroo into a limited edition one. While all of the costumes are well done, in my opinion the monster and ghost costumes are exceptional. I suggest the ghost for un-traited Meeroos since you can not see most of the Meeroo anyway because, you know; its a ghost. The monster is absolutely adorable in very short tail. I still have a few of my very first Meeroos, ones I persuaded to forgo the wild for the time being in exchange for unlimited honey. They are only special to me, their value is sentimental. What could be better to lift their spirits than a fancy new spooky outfit? They get to chill out with the breeding Meeroos in style. I bet the others are jealous*.

If for some reason you change your mind and wish to revert your costumed Meeroo back to its original coat you can do so with a bar of soap, also available at the Meeroos store. The soap is currently on sale for L$50 but looks like it will eventually be priced at L$350. I do not know why anybody would want to remove the costumes but the choice is there.
As if the costumes were not enough there are also new Meeroo Homes to choose from. My favourites are the scary stump of infinite fright and the spooky green gourd. Also the pumpkin. Really I like them all. Do not forget that there will be new Homes arriving with Chapter 2 as well, although from what I understand the current ones will work fine for Chapter 2 Meeroos. Perhaps I am a bit unusual (perhaps??) but I like the Halloween "look" pretty much all year round. Some things are a bit over the top, even for me, like candy-corn in May. In this case I will have no problem finding permanent locations for my haunted Homes or my mysterious Meeroos. There was some mention of games being available before Halloween where an additional costume will be one of the prizes. I am no good at games, but you never know; I might get lucky.

* I have already gotten at least two (2) IMs from my breeding Meeroos, one of the older ones, claiming that the MeePets getting costumes is unfair and threatening to halt Nest creation until everyone gets a costume. I explained the impracticality of that but it went over like a broken pipe. They might be unionising...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Scams and Unfortunate Occurances

With any successful product you will find people looking to use loopholes or ignorance for personal gain. Any project in Second Life has additional concerns, platform specific exploits and eccentricities that make business even more challenging. Many times these “exploits” are performed by accident, often without the knowledge of the player involved. I am writing this to pass on information about some common problems I have noticed in relation to Meeroos in Second Life. Please understand that many of the things mentioned below can happen quite without the intention of the players concerned. Some scams are just that, and the intent of the offender should be clear once the scam is revealed. Other times fault may lay more with Second Life than with the individuals involved. I have found the Meeroos community to be honest in the vast majority of cases. The few reports I have heard of actual intentional scamming are far and few between.

I will try to point out where and how I think some of the issues could be unintentional. Please keep an open mind when contacting an avatar who may have wronged you. There is a very real possibility that the slight was not intended and that they will make it right, if that is within their power. I have had nothing but good experiences contacting other players when things have gone awry.

A big issue is fake food. This is a scam and nothing else. Selling fake food has a couple of scam types: at one time scammers were able to exploit a Second Life permissions bug and build fake food vendors they then placed over real ones at the Meeroos main stores. Once Team Meeroos and Linden Labs insured that could not happen again they,... Shortly after I finished the original draft of this post I came across THIS blog post from the official WW of Meeroos site. The fake food vendor problem has not entirely been solved. It is always in your best interest to check that you are paying Meeroos Resident, and not some variant of that name, when you are using the vendors. If you are concerned about using the inworld options there is still the web. You can buy from the official Meeroos store on the SL Marketplace. Best place to find the URL is on the main page of the WW of Meeroos web site. So, slightly delayed post with an added warning, now back to the original:

The Marketplace scam. In this version an account set up to look like a Malevay Studios employee will contact you directly, in IM, and offer food at a reduced price. They then provide you with a SL Marketplace web address that points to their merchant page with their fake food listed as products. The fake vendor issues have been resolved at the Roo location from what I understand and thus are no longer an issue. The fake Marketplace scam is very easy to avoid by always buying from the official Meeroos SL Marketplace store. If you want to be super sure you are in the right store use the link on the WW of Meeroos website main page. If anyone contacts you inworld offering reduced price food; you can be sure it is a scam. Meeroos food is non-transferable and if Malevay Studios wants to offer a food price reduction they will do it via their store and Marketplace listings, not some rogue back-ally CSR. Not that any such CSRs exist, anyone claiming to be such a person has got to be a con artist.

Fake food is a clear scam, intentionally designed to deceive players into giving up their L$. This next unfortunate issue is less clear. I am not overly interested in the ethics or morality of these issues. I am approaching them from a business aspect as well as that of a fellow player. The case of L$10 Nests is essentially ethical in nature and cannot be avoided. The classic example of a grey area L$10 Nest issue is when a seller forgets to put a price in, or some Second Life error prevents it from being accepted and the Nest is set for sale at L$10 instead of the intended price. Eventually someone will come by and notice the accidental pricing. Quite a few people will buy the under-priced Nest and return it to the seller, I have heard a few accounts. Other times the seller notices before it to sold. Finally there are times where the Nest is purchased and retained. This may well be unethical, but there is something I feel important to point out: It is not theft. Wherever you place the blame for the pricing error, it should always be double, and in Second Life possibly triple, checked. In the end it was priced and set for sale, the purchasing party paid the price and took possession of the Nest. I find it patently unfair to accuse such a person on theft, especially in Group Chat as I have seen an unfortunate number of times. I understand the frustration, but while un-ethical is it not an act of theft. Also remember that prices fluctuate rapidly in the Meeroo marketplace, it is possible that for Meeroos not priced a massive amount over L$10 to legitimately be priced as such. Some vendors even hide surprise super low priced Nests amongst their stock. Often they are set for L$10. So the purchasing party may not even be un-ethical, they may honestly believe that the Nest was set at its intended price.

The second, darker aspect of the L$10 Nest problem might be more accurately referred to as the While-prices-are-changing-swindle. In this case the avatar who ends up with the Nest is intentionally exploiting a Second Life idocyrcrasity: they wait until they know a Nest will have a price set or changed. While the price change is taking place the price of the Nest can temporarily become L$10 or some power of ten (10) less than the intended price, because of typing lag. So an Nest being set for L$9,000 might be scooped up for L$900 by a quick but exploitive buyer. This is a trick often employed at auctions where it is a certainty Nests will be set for sale or repriced at predictable intervals. You have a few options for combating the sneaky Nest russlers: On newer viewers you can un-check the "for sale" box and still change the price. Then you can re-check the "for sale" box when the new value has been entered. If that option is not available you can price Objects in Inventory. I had no idea about this and know there was once a time it was not possible. When I was not looking Linden Labs deceptively added a useful feature without personally telling me, as they never do. It means that you can take the Nest you wish to reprice into your Inventory and price it there. If you want to place it back in the identical location use the "return Object to last location" option from the select pull-down menu on the Nest while it is in Inventory.

Something you do not see much of now, but still happens is the duplicate Nests being sold issue. This is where a player has a duplicated Nest, identical to another one created at almost exactly the same time. I understand this was an issue on Magnum release channel Regions for awhile and may have manifested at a couple of other times as well outside of Magnum SIMs. These Nest pairs are only capable of creating one (1) Meeroo, not two (2). Once they have both been Coaxed one will poof. Now if you, as the breeder, Coax both of them yourself there is no real problem, just surprise. You have not lost anything because there should only have been one (1) Nest. What happens if both Nests are sold, or if one is and the other is Coaxed by the breeder? There is a very real chance the breeder has no idea they are duplicate Nests. The more Meeroos they breed the more likely that is. In either case people will have paid L$ for a Nest that will produce a Meeroo who may poof through the fault of, pretty much: nobody. Malevay Studios can not do much about it, especially if one (1) or both of the Nests are kept in Inventory for most of their lives. If the Nests are in Inventory or a SL Marketplace box they can not communicate with the server, even if they could I am not sure how it would sort out which to delete nor how that would be any fairer than the current method. If you have this happen to you, and it is very very uncommon, it is most likely not intentional and with some understanding it can usually be put right.

The last two issues are really different flavours of the same thing. Because of the immense impact genetics have on Meeroo breeding the genealogy of a Meeroo is closely tied to its perceived value. One way to inflate the price of a Meeroo is to fabricate its family tree and hope someone buys the Meeroo without checking. Always verify the parents and grandparents data on the official website before considering expensive Meeroos. With the information being as complex as it is the seller may have made a legitimate error. When doing multiple listings it is possible to copy and paste the wrong text into a Marketplace listing. The seller should always check each listing for correctness, but sometimes things are missed. Protect yourself as a buyer and have a look at the family tree if lineage is a driving force behind your purchase. The second part of the issue is more of a annoyance, perhaps only to me. It is something that can be confusing and leave people feeling taken advantage of: it is the misuse of the term "Offspring" often abbreviated OS. The OS tag is very useful, offspring Nests are an awesome source of cheaper genes. For me the term offspring, or the tag OS, means that one of the Nests parents had the trait that merits the OS. For example if I see a Loch OS Nest I expect that either the mother or father of that Nest was, in fact, a Loch coat Meeroo. I have personally seen listings on the Marketplace where I had to go back three (3) generations to find the trait indicated. I am not sure it counts as a trick, other people may disagree with me. It is something to keep an eye out for. Always check the lineage on the website to be sure, then you know what you are buying.

All the issues above are rare. I have bought a lot of Nests and have not had any unfixable issues. I can say one hundred percent (100%) that I have never been scammed, nor has my partner scarlett. While it does happen, and my heart goes out to you if you have been a victim, it is not frequent. Simply being aware of the issues can prevent most of them happening to you. When things do go a bit wrong try to contact the seller first, I have always managed to find a solution that way. Most sellers want to help and will try to fix things where and when they can. I had an experience where I bought a Meeroo that was, somehow, set to "sell contents". So I got a bunch of scripts in a folder but no Meeroo. He was still right there in front of me, not belonging to me. At first I thought it must be a trick but once I realized what had happened I realized it was likely a mistake. The breeder was able to transfer me the Meeroo directly once I contacted her and I had a few Highland coats from him before he scooted off to the wild. No harm no foul.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Long Cycle vs. Short Cycle Breeding

Recently I had a conversation during which the other person, somewhat tactfully, implied that I do not have many rare Meeroos. They are not entirely wrong, I have a few Amber coats and a few very short tails. That is the result of my endeavours so far. I do not think I have done poorly, I do not keep a massive number of Meeroos. I do think I can do better. I have come to the understanding that the Regard boost is minute, at least I believe it to be. Perhaps significant from time to time, providing a surprise. But for the most part it is the nudge Tiger describes.

My breeding method up until now has included something I will call long cycle breeding, my words for the concept of breeding a large percentage of my Meeroos for their entire breeding cycle of sixty (60) days. I thought the additional Regard gained by the Meeroos during their lives would eventually provide some better traits. In some cases this may even have worked, it is hard to say. I have gotten some cool traits and the parental Regard may have played a part.

My new method I am calling short cycle breeding. It it based on the principle that genetics play the dominant role in breeding and almost discounting the Regard boost. My plan is to breed each set of Meeroos a few times, no more than (3) and if they do not produce the Nests I want I will switch their partners. Again I will let them breed no more than three (3) times before making a final decision on keeping them until they elderize or setting them free.

I can only guess what, if any, effect my new strategy will have on my breeding program. I am not sure how to measure it exactly, but I will keep you posted if I notice anything different. If I get any results or have any failures. I hope my accelerated Coaxing will use up a few of the exciting Nests I have around I really want to Coax. I had forgotten how many offspring Nests I have stashed away.

I am not eschewing Regard totally, I still intend to use the hilarious Pet-O-Matic to bring my new generations up to over one thousand (1,000) Regard points quickly. I do think that helps quite a bit. After they achieve the proper number of points I will slow the petter down to extend its battery life.

I am looking forward to Chapter 2 being released next month [October]. I think I will be able to keep myself busy with breeding until then.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Pet-O-Matic!

The legal auto-petter has landed and it is known as the "Pet-O-Matic". If you have somehow missed the auto-petter drama here is a short history: In the beginning all was well and all Meeroo petting was done by hand. Dedicated Meeroos enthusiasts would pet each little fur-ball individually and thus gain Regard points for their pets. Unbeknownst to us, deep in the recesses of the secret Meeroos development cave, the WeeMee was being planned and balanced. It was intended to assist with the task of petting Meeroos and would require some upkeep or interaction itself as a reward. Before the WeeMee even saw what is outside the cave a third party created their own petting aid without balance; it could pet every Meeroo it could find every hour indefinitely without user interaction. I say created their own but the most important scripts, the ones that made it possible, were appropriated from Malevay Studios. They were not authorized to use the scripts they took in the way that they did. The scripts in the HUD are meant to stay in the HUD and removing them violated the Meeroos TOS. This threw the balance of the game out of whack somewhat. Players using the auto-petters gained inordinate amounts of Regard leaving the rest of us in the, somewhat cliche: dust.
The maker of the auto-petter was contacted and asked to remove the item, they initially agreed but then decided against it. So it remained on the market while a DMCA was filed and then it was removed by Linden Labs. Players using the auto-petter were not penalized or punished in any way. Almost immediately another version of the auto-petter surfaced which required the end-user to break the TOS by removing the vital scripts from the HUD and place them into the petter themselves. While some players were auto-banned as a result of it, as I understand it most if not all of them were un-banned eventually. Most did not realize that they were breaking the TOS and were simply following the instruction that came with their shiny new auto-petter.

Soon after that Catherine wrote a blog post notifying everyone that as of Monday the 5th of September all third party auto-petters would be illegal to use and doing so would result in penalties. There are three (3) penalty levels, as stated in THIS blog post they are: "We will issue a warning to any player found using it. A second offense will result in a reset of their regard total to Zero. A third offense will invoke a permanent ban from the game." And that was the end of non-TOS compliant auto-petters.

With Team Meeroos now back in control of the game all was, once again, well. Many players had become, dare I say "addicted" to their auto-petters and I understand why. While a novel and integral part of the Meeroos universe petting can get tiresome over time. From what Catherine has said it is now obvious that petting was never intended to be a large part of the game: "The acquisition was intended to be a casual game that provided small bonus benefits at milestone levels. The bonuses never guaranteed specific results or an endless streak of WIN!" While important for various reasons the most important in my view is the boost provided to breeding, the boost is not massive. While we do not know exactly how much of a push it is, or if its effect is even quantifiable, Catherine and Tiger have made it clear it is a "nudge" not a shove. That being said in an environment as competitive as Meeroo breeding some players feel it is important to have every advantage possible to maintain their edge over the competition. An not without cause, it is important to get the most out of your Meeroos. So we all want to pet but sometimes just do not have the time or patience to do so. The loss of a device that solved that problem was hard for those using them to accept.

In response to player requests for a legal auto-petter Team Meeroos made one for us and it is super fun. It does have many of the same features that the banned petters had but implemented in a better way. While the pet-o-matic is free it requires batteries to operate. These batteries come in various "sizes" and must be purchased from the Meeroos store or the Marketplace. This moderates their use somewhat. Although this does give an advantage to players with L$ to spend it is much better than the buy-once-pet-forever third party petters. I think the pet-o-matic is a stopgap measure, I would not be surprised to see it phased out when the WeeMee makes its way into the light of day. Yes, you read correctly: the WeeMee, once put on hold, has now been put back into development. Again this was done as a result of an outpouring of player requests for it. Having been told about it prior to the release of the pet-o-matic it became apparent that people were enchanted with the idea and wanted one, badly. Team Meeroos has responded and said it will be released. I am quite excited, I am interested in both how it looks and how it functions. Hopefully it will take us away from a L$ for Regard system that the pet-o-matic embodies. Like I said: do not be alarmed if the petter is depreciated when the WeeMee arrives, auto-petters were never intended to be a part of the game dynamic and I believe the WeeMee is intended to offer much the same benefit without unbalancing the game. Of course the WeeMee might be released without the petting function at all leaving the pet-o-matic in place, as is. I can not complain either way. That brings us up to now, we have the pet-o-matic and it is oven-gloving our Meeroos to Regard nirvana. Perhaps that history was not so short after all.

How does the pet-o-matic work? It can be a little confusing to piece together from the boxes and signs at the Meeroos main store. I think that time was the most important factor in creating the petter and some things got done in a big hurry. Completely understandable given the constant chorus of "we want our auto-petters back!" So I will attempt to make it simple as I am not under their time constraints.

The pet-o-matic has a 10m range. If you drew a circle around it with the edge of the circle being the extent of its range that circle would have a 10m radius and thus a 20m diameter, for the math geeks it covers an area of about 314sqm. It will pet every Meeroo within its range at whatever frequency you set it to, you can choose to include or exclude Meeroos set to your Fellowship but not owned by you. The frequency options run from four (4) times a day up to a maximum of twenty four (24) times per day. It takes batteries which come in a few sizes. The important thing to remember about battery sizes is that, like Meeroo food, you are actually buying a set number of pets per battery. All the boxes state the frequency setting you would need to use to have the battery last for one week, if you wish you can set the frequency higher and it will simply not last as long. The petter displays the number of pets remaining in float text when touched and on the drop down menu, as well as the time till the next petting event.

As far as I can ascertain to be pet the Meeroo itself must be within the range of the pet-o-matic when the petting event occurs. It is not enough to have their stump within range. I like to let my Meeroos roam a bit, all my Homes are set to a 4 meter wander range. This means that for me to be 100% sure all the Meeroos on one of my stumps will get pet: the Home needs to be at least four (4) meters in from the edge of the petters range. I ran some numbers and came up with the probabilities that Meeroos would miss getting pet if their Homes are not quite close enough. The graphic below provides a visual representation of the results. The percentage missed is the quantity of Meeroos who would most likely be missed on any given pet event. A Home with eight (8) Meeroos in residence on the edge of the petters range would, on average, have four (4) Meeroos receive a pet when the pet-o-matic triggers. The same Home at three (3) meters in would allow seven (7) of its Meeroos to feel the oven-glove during a pet event. Of course the best placement is to have the edge of the Homes range not exceed the range of the pet-o-matic whenever possible. The easiest way I have found to determine optimal placement is to build a twenty (20) meter diameter cylinder and flatten it down to look more like a circle. That will show you the range of the pet-o-matic. Position the cylinder where it reaches the most Meeroos and then copy down its coordinates. When you rez your pet-o-matic you can enter those numbers in the edit floater and it will snap to the location you have chosen.
There has been a lot of positive and a lot of negative comments about the pet-o-matic. Whichever way you feel: it is here for now and it is pretty cool (check out the battery changing particles when you add a battery), even if you hate the concept of it. I love mine, it really does almost sub-consciously relieve the pressure to pet my Meeroos all the time. I can get back to petting them when I feel like it without the worry that I am loosing out on something. I hope everyone sees the positives in time and if not, and you have decided you hate the pet-o-matic; do not give up hope. The WeeMee is still on the way, who knows what it might bring? You can always pet your Meeroos by hand, I do think they prefer it that way.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Fellowships: What Are They Good For?

With all the recent hullabaloo over Regard and the auto-petter I am interested in taking a look at what benefits being in a Fellowship can provide. There is no breeding boost from Fellowship Regard and with releases to the Regard Store suspended for the time being a player would be justified is asking what they are good for. Do not give up hope, they still have value it is just not based on Regard.
For competitive players the top five hundred (500) Fellowships are listed, in order of Regard points, on the leader board. While there is no benefit gained from being in the top five hundred (500) or any ranking, it is fun to see where your Fellowship is on the list. In terms of tangible benefits you have: Trading Meeroos/Nests, Information and Tips, Help in an Emergency and possibly Mates for "spare" Meeroos in Season. Not all Fellowships will offer these things and some offer more. I have seen Fellowships that offer free space to rez and breed Meeroos. This is often on land where they will be pet frequently. These Fellowships tend to have requirements as well. To remain a member you may have to agree to pet other members Meeroos a pre-set number of times per day. For people who can not afford land these could be a valuable resource, possibly enabling avatars to own Meeroos who otherwise would be unable to.

Beware of any Fellowship that claims they can tell you how to breed rare Meeroos. They may have done a lot of research, they may even have a good working theory, but nobody can tell you with any certainty that their method will work one hundred percent of the time. As we have learned: any Fellowship which makes outrageous claims like that has the potential to be a Fellowship built around cheating the game using exploits as opposed to legitimate breeding. Anybody who tells you they can breed out whatever type of Meeroo you want ought to have a pen full of the most valuable Meeroos on the grid, or be well on their way towards it. If someone who has nothing rarer than a Sierra says they can teach you to breed Koi, be very careful, it is probably a scam or an exploit.

Trading Meeroos and/or Nests is, in my opinion, a vital part of any Fellowship. Of course you can trade outside your Fellowship, and you ought too, but you can get to know the people in your Fellowship and they can get to know you. Our Fellowship uses an InWorld group to communicate. Nests, either wanted or available for trade, get posted as a group notice. Some of my best Meeroos have come from Meeroos I traded for within our Fellowship, I hope others have benefited from the ones I traded them.

Information and breeding tips can be scattered and often inaccurate. While the WW of Meeroos group chat is a useful place to pick up tips it can also lead to confusion when the information is misleading or just plain wrong. While it is not likely to be intentional some people are, unfortunately, misinformed and they then spread that incorrect data unwittingly. Always take information in group chat with a grain of salt or two. Once you get to know the members of your Fellowship and interact with them you will be able to judge if their information is generally valid or not. The ones who provide the correct answers, in a way that you understand, will become apparent. That alone can be very valuable, especially if you do not have time to keep up with the WW of Meeroos blog and group notices. Having a Fellowship member or two who you can rely on to fill you in makes everything easier.
You can not plan an emergency, they happen all on their own. Sometimes you have to be away from Second Life, or (gasp!) the Internet itself, for days, sometimes weeks. In that time your Meeroos could starve. Even putting out tons of food might not be enough, and what if the emergency is that you can not afford food for a few days? Since Meeroos and their food have the option of being set to Fellowship your fellow members can feed your Meeroos in your absence. Make sure they can rez objects on your land and that your Meeroos are set to fellowship before attempting this. Another unfortunate problem is when rental Regions unexpectedly close or go out of business. One of our Fellowship members had her Region poof with about a days notice. Unless you have quite a few L$ sitting around relocating can be difficult and time intensive if not impossible. In the case of our Fellowship member we were lucky enough to have spare prims on our land at the time, so we were able to accommodate her Meeroos until she found a place to take them. While I enjoy helping people, and would never want to see a Meeroo without a home, I doubt we would have extended that offer to anyone who was not in our Fellowship.

Sometimes you end up with a "spare" Meeroo. Perhaps its mate has turned sixty (60) and been released to elder land or maybe it was needed to go breed with another Meeroo. Sometimes you birth a Nest by accident (looking at you scarlett :P). There are many reasons you might have an extra Meeroo and not be able to find a mate amongst your brood for them. The best part is: you are not the only one. There is a good chance that someone else in your Fellowship is in the same situation, and if by chance their Meeroo is compatible with yours then it is synergy time. By putting those two mate-less Meeroos together to have a Nest everybody wins: you both get the three hundred (300) Meeroo Regard points for breeding and whomever owns the Male owns the Nest created. I find it prudent to decide in advance what will be done with the Nest, even if it hinges on what the Nest is, best to have a plan in place to avoid arguing over an unexpected Loch coat with notched ears. You do not even have to transfer the Meeroos, if both are set to Fellowship just rez them on a Home set to Fellowship and they will breed without needing to be owned by the same avatar.

So in my opinion, even without the Regard Store, without any direct game benefits, Fellowships still have a purpose, they are still relevant. No matter what happens to Regard that will be the case. There may be other ways to obtain some of the benefits of a Fellowship without joining one; the re-instated Trade forums are fantastic for swapping Nests or lives. There may be drawbacks as well, as I said: some Fellowships require you to sign-up to pet other members Meeroos X number of times per day. Additional requirements may apply as well, such as a minimum Regard level to join. I prefer a laid-back approach myself, but I am not overly competitive. Make sure you read about what you are agreeing to when you join a new Fellowship, or risk being kicked out for non-compliance. Since there is no game-play benefit from Fellowship membership I suggest you pick one you are comfortable in, if you do not like the other members: do not join. If you feel joining a particular Fellowship, or any Fellowship, would add stress to your Meeroos experience I advise against joining. If you find one where you "click" and the people are friendly and helpful then consider yourself lucky, and do not forget to help them out when they need it!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

How Big a Boost?

Something I find myself discussing a lot lately is this: How much of a boost does breeding get from player and Meeroo Regard? I do not think we will ever be told exactly how Regard enhances breeding which is fair and possibly vital to the game. What I would like to have is some sort of analogy, something to give me an idea of its impact without being specific. I could even do with a colourful physics parallel, something in the vein of bouncing a marble off a pool ball. Anything that would give me some idea of how much effect Regard has on the process.

I would like to know because for one I am curious. The more practical second reason is that I want to know how much effort I should put forth to gain said Regard. I try to pet my Meeroos as often as I can, certainly any time I am inworld. I have often logged-in for the sole purpose of petting my little friends. I do not begrudge that interaction at all but I am not sure I would be quite so persistent if I knew the Regard bonus was something I consider insignificant. I do not even know what level I would consider that to be. It would depend on the way the information was presented. I think a percent value is probably not possible to give, what does a 3% boost mean in breeding? Three (3) percent boost to what? I think it is far more likely, as has been hinted at, that Regard provides the ability to reach further back into the Meeroos genetic history. So it could operate in units such as years, or ages.

If I knew even vaguely what I am achieving with my petting I could better judge how much time to spend on it. I do feel quite a bit of pressure to pet and I do not know if that is justified or not. Am I going to miss out on some amazing Nest because I did not pet that Amber enough? I suppose that is always possible, we can never know what we might have gotten had we managed to pet the parents just a few more times. I do think I could make better choices if I could estimate what effect my diligence might have.

The whole reason auto-petters were created is that people want this breeding bonus. There is currently nothing else Regard is going to do for you. You do not need much Regard for any of the items in the Regard store at the moment and that is based only on player Regard. Meeroo Regard does nothing except boost breeding, until they are Released when they pass it on to their owner. I wonder if the people who paid L$ for the auto-petters would have done so if they knew how much of a bonus Regard really provides? Perhaps so, it could be that they were value for money and the boost can be significant. Just as easily it could be the opposite: the Regard bonus might be almost imperceptible.

I have collected a few quotes from Team Meeroos about the Regard boost: In THIS post we are told " can considerably increase the chances of success by increasing your status with the Meeroos, by raising the regard points of your breeding pairs as well as your own" as well as "...many of you were worried that petting and acquisition of regard appeared to be nothing more than a time sink, and I can assure you that isn't so." In another post HERE we have been informed that the bonus provided has been raised, a lot: "We have significantly increased the bonus regard rewards a player and a meeroo that allows it the chance to reach further back in their genetic timeline." Finally, consider this " is more of a nudge in popping out coveted traits, not a sledgehammer." from THIS post and from a recent answer: "The acquisition [of Regard] was intended to be a casual game that provided small bonus benefits at milestone levels."

While it is not guaranteed, I can think of no reason why the boost from Meeroo Regard would not work in a similar way to player Regard. For players the breeding boost is level specific, so two (2) players who are both on level twenty (20) would get the same benefit even if one has more points than the other. Thus player Regard bonuses are tiered and top out at level twenty five (25) for now. I figure it is likely to be the same with Meeroo Regard, see Catherine's comment about "milestone levels" in the paragraph above. While we do not know what the tiers might be I think it is reasonable to assume that, as an example, a Meeroo with one thousand (1,000) Regard points would garner the exact same enhancement as a Meeroo with one thousand three hundred (1,300) points. The next tier might begin at two thousand five hundred (2,500) meaning there would be no further breeding boosts until that value is eclipsed my the Meeroo in question. I would love to hear what other breeders have observed relating to Meeroo Regard. I have noticed myself, and seen mention of in group chat, that there is a boost that takes effect at about one thousand (1,000) Regard points and again around two thousand five hundred (2,500) to three thousand (3,000) . Breeders have noticed that at those tipping points paired sets of Meeroos begin giving better traits. There is not a statistically significant dataset however and all evidence of those tiers is anecdotal and possibly just the result of humans trying to impose order on something that appears chaotic.

Regard itself is in a sort of limbo right now. Releases to the Regard store have been paused while it is being sorted out. The advent of the auto-petters has enabled the formation of a gap in Regard points between players who used them and those who did not. Malevay Studios is working to rectify the problem. They have stated that once the regard level cap is raised upon reaching the maximum level your Regard points will also stop accumulating. Right now once you reach level twenty five (25) you stop levelling up but your Regard points continue to build. They may take additional steps to repair the damage to the Regard aspect of Meeroos. As such Regard as it is now may change or be implemented slightly differently in the near future. Whatever is done I hope we will either be told, or with time and experience deduce to some degree, what Regard does for breeding, how strong of an influence it is. I will pet my Meeroos no matter what, often I feel the motivation to cuddle them comes more from my not wanting them to be sad than any possible value the Regard points might have. They are too cute not to pet and petting is an integral part of the Meeroos experience but as Catherine said: "Petting was never intended to be a job."

No un-pet Meeroo
on the grid or in the wild.
Rare traits tomorrow.

-Regard bonus Haiku

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Oracle and the Compass

Along with the arrival of the Dryads comes a bit of a Merunic puzzle. We were told, as a hint, that: "The Oracle is facing North!" However there were three (3) locations and I believe the Oracle was aligned differently at each one. In none of them was she facing directly Second Life North. So the hint must reference something else the Oracle is facing. The arrival platform she stands on looks suspiciously like a steam punk compass and has a single Merunic glyph inscribed at each of the cardinal points. My inclination is to assume that she is facing the symbol for North.
There is a second mystery to be explored as well: which way do the symbols face? On a normal compass the letters are arranged so that their base is pointed towards the centre of the dial. This way you can read the one furthest away from you in its upright position while the letter closest to you will be upside-down. Just makes it easier to read. This is not the case on the Oracle's compass. If you look closely at each glyph you can see a small drop-shadow on each one [see: figure 1]. This allows us to align them all facing the same direction, which it appears they already are. In the case of the Oracle's compass all of the symbols are aligned to be read from the same position. I believe they are placed so they could be read easily by a person facing the Oracle [see: figure 2]. That is: I assume that the bottom of the symbols, when in front of the Oracle, would be closest to the viewer, or right-side-up as it were.
figure 1 (drop-shadow highlighted in green)
figure 2
figure 3
figure 4
I have often been wrong before, I am no linguist nor am I an adept puzzle solver, and there is one possibly fatal flaw with my theory: in the other Regions where Dryads were available, at least in the Hewes Region, the Oracle faces a different symbol [see: figures 3 & 4]. So that may put my theory directly out the proverbial window. If I am right then the graphic below is correctly labeled, if not then maybe someone from Team Meeroos could just put the proper labels on and email me a copy? [Not really, was worth a try though, right?]
I am looking forward to the delivery of the mystery stones Catherine mentioned. Yet another enigma I can stare at in uncomprehending wonder. We should soon gain access to the scroll containing the Dryad's message, in Merunic of course. Perhaps when paired with the data we have from the Oracle's compass and the store arch it will become possible to translate part, or even all of it. I hope so, the message is bound to be important.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Auto-Petting Zoo

I did not want to do a post on auto-petters or their effects on the game but after Catherine's last blog post, the one HERE, I feel like I have to. I would never have anticipated the scope and ferocity of the backlash  and what I have seen myself, only a small fraction of what Team Meeroos must see daily, saddens me. Malevay Studios has given us this incredible adventure. It is more than just a creature and some support props, this is the real deal: an immersive experience within Second Life, an adventure with a story and its own planned evolution. I think some people have become side-tracked with banalities and forgotten what Meeroos are all about.
I want to start by saying that I understand why people want auto-petters, I want one. I understand why people bought them, like I say; I want one. I do not hold anything against anybody for using one. Neither scarlett nor I have every used one and my reasons are simple: I have never thought that Malevay Studios endorsed or in any way was OK with them. I could not figure out how they worked, until the "Take-the-HUD-Apart-Yourself" one was released. Then it became even more obvious that it was not an entirely ethical product. I think it should set off alarm bells for anyone when a Creator asks you to dismantle another Creators product to make theirs work. That is akin to selling prefab houses and mentoring your customers in how to steal a door script or a window tint script from another vendor and use it in their new home. It is just not right. Not on the part of the customers who may not have known better, but certainly on the part of the offending Creator.

My general approach to creating and distributing Meeroos related products is that if I even suspect Team Meeroos would not approve: I do not offer it for sale. That is why I have never offered a Treasure Finder. I noticed shortly after Open-Beta the treasures were modified so that their name is no longer what type of treasure they are when they are just sitting around. If you touch one it reverts its name to "Rotten Banana" or "Tin Can" but for the rest of the time it is called something random "g7ie45" or the like. Well it may not be random, but it appears random to me. That was a subtle signal that Malevay Studios did not want third party Treasure Finders since they took steps to make creating them more difficult. I decided to spend my time developing other products and chilling with my Meeroos.

I do not understand the position some people have wherein they think that because a thing can be done it should be, or at least it is allowed or acceptable. Meeroos are not a secure system, they are not banking software, they are incredibly detailed and complex breedable pets, I am tempted to add: for crying out loud. Just because there are, or were, ways to hack the HUD and make it do things it was not designed to do does not make doing so permissible. While Malevay Studios is responsible for their product and keeping it fair for everyone, they should never be required to obtain perfection. The steps they have taken to protect their products, and their players, are sufficient; for me. Malevay Studios has a finite amount of resources, they have to allocate them to various aspects of the game. The more time spent perfecting the security of the software the less time spent developing new features and fixing non-security related bugs. Tiger has obviously spent some time on security to protect ethical players, who are the vast majority, from the unscrupulous ones. I think he has done a thorough job: all Meeroos products seem to be able to protect themselves and even auto-ban players who tamper with them. As new hacks arise they will have to be patched, that is the nature of any system humans will attempt to circumvent. But let us let Teem Meeroos focus on the Meeroos. How many un-patched security exploits are present in Windows today? Can anybody even count that high? In my opinion Catherine and her team have a firm grasp on the relative importance of various exploits/bugs/features. I trust them to triage new threats appropriately and will leave them to it.

What can they do now that the damage is done? I am still saying "What damage?" myself, but perhaps I just see things a bit differently, or am less effected than others. I know there are now two (2) tiers of players when it comes to Regard: those who utilized the auto-petters when they were under review and those who did not. There are some players in that top tier, the one with the auto-petter users, who have never used one. Some players I have talked to gained incredible amounts of Regard through completely legitimate means. I know one woman who was setting her alarm clock every four (4) hours just to log on and pet her Meeroos. That is devotion. I want people to be aware that when they talk about dealing with people with extraordinary Regard that group includes players who gained Regard without effort and players who worked hard for every point, gave up sleep, gave up their L$ and their time to gain those points. I know Team Meeroos has considered how  their choices in this unfortunate circumstance will effect those players, I hope everyone does.

I had someone tell me in group chat the other day that Regard is now worthless. I disagree. For one it still has the same effect on breeding, giving higher Regard players and Meeroos a nudge in the rare traits direction. That will soon be enhanced when the Regard level cap is raised to thirty-five (35). As I recently discovered the breeding boost is dependant on the regard level you are on, not the number of Regard points you have. Once a player reaches level twenty-five (25) they have achieved the maximum boost currently possible. Having millions of additional points has no effect other than shooting you to the top of the levels any-time the level cap is raised. Malevay Studios has even addressed that issue, and levelled the playing field more, by saying that after the cap is raised this time Regard points themselves will be capped when you reach the maximum level [in this case level 35]. That means that nobody will have an insurmountable advantage when the next level cap increase occurs.

Catherine says they are looking at ways to re-balance the game, and revitalize Regard. Will their solution be perfect? No, I doubt it. The damage, what there is of it, has been done and done intentionally. Remember that disrupting the game and its mechanics was the aim of the extortionists. They found a tiny crack and did their level best to pry it open. I feel they failed and Team Meeroos has prevailed. They are clearly going to great pains to make whatever they put in place as fair as possible to all players. They have shown that they are listening and understand by putting the Wee-Mee back into development and working to release their own stop-gap auto-petter. Both much requested by the community, myself included. I totally need a Wee-Mee in my life, well Second Life.

The way Catherine ends the blog post referenced at the top makes me sad because I wish life were not like this. I wish everything directed at Malevay Studios, and any creator, was positive. Even criticism can be stated in a positive, or at the very least impersonal, way. I find it is best received in that form. Sometimes tempers will flare and one might misspeak, or go on a tirade in anger. That I understand, and the more responsible among us generally apologize for and retract words they do not mean. The length and breadth of the rants I have seen over the auto-petter issue boggle my mind, some of them are beyond reason altogether. That same final paragraph also gives me great hope as well, it tells me that my faith is fortuitously placed as Catherine says: "Whether we have 5 or 5,000 people with us on this adventure, our path won't change. We'd rather have five of you with us enjoying what we do, then 5,000 people who don't and make us miserable because of it. We're going to fight to maintain our vision, because, at the end of the day, it is ours." Bravo Catherine. I concur with your sentiment one hundred percent. To anyone who said "You killed your game" I say to you: you must have overlooked a few of us; scarlett and I are still right here. Meeroos are far from dead, they are after all immortal. I can not promise I will be in the final five (5) players but if it comes to that: I intend to be.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Arrival of the Dryads

The four (4) Meeroo messengers have arrived! The Dryads: Troo from the South, Myrr of the East, Sula from the North and Azra from the West; they have returned bearing a message. It must be a message of some epic importance to warrant such measures. We have not yet seen the message, the scroll. When we do it is in Merunic and will take some deciphering. Preceding that we have the messengers themselves. All four (4) are fantastic, if offered a free Cinder coat to pick, I would have to admit to the Azra being my preferred messenger with the Myrr coming in a close second. Myrr is next up for MeePet/Shoulder Pet treatment however. They are going to be popular come Halloween season.
I did manage to obtain an entire set of Dryads, mostly made possible by the recently reinstated Trading forums on the WW of Meeroos website. I can not express how much of an aid it is having it back, how much simpler it is to facilitate swaps in a recognized Meeroo-central forum. I say I managed to put together a full set but scarlett did all the actual work, you know, contacting people and, as it were: exchanging the Meeroos themselves, both while keeping track of Nests and the like. Since we were not lucky enough to buy a Sula directly from the Meeroos store, which is by far the rarest of the bunch, the trading was essential to completing our collection.
Some people do not seem to understand Dryads. Since the traits that make them Dryads do not pass on to offspring, that is the coat and eyes do not pass, the claim is they may as well be Winecoats. For the most part they are. As I understand it these Dryads have the same genetic limitations as any other starter Meeroo. They can be Winecoat, Fawn or Ursine and have both short ears and tails. But they can not be a Loch genetically because that is not something you can get, from a starter. That does not mean they do not carry Loch genetics, just that it would not be apparent on the surface even if they were not a Dryad. It does irk me slightly that the photos given out in the WW of Meeroos InWorld group show Dryad Meeroos that could not possibly exist on the Grid at this time. They have traits not available from starter Nests, like the very short tail and neck fluff on the Sula and the long main fluff on the Azra. I take it that these represent Dryad Meeroos from the ancient past that no longer exist. I am thrilled we have the ones with us that we do. Now if we can just get that message sorted out. In the meantime, enjoy the photographs:

Monday, 29 August 2011

Meeroos: The First Hundred Days

New Presidents in the United States are always evaluated after their first hundred days in office. Meeroos are at least as important as U.S. politics so I think it only fair to do the same for them. By my calculations Meeroos will have been available to the public, the avatars of Second Life, for one hundred (100) days on Monday August 29th 2011. This is, perhaps not coincidentally, the day the new messenger Meeroos are to arrive [They have been released already, one day early]. One hundred days and we are about to receive our first message, in Merunic, to decipher. That is what is next, and most likely beyond my ability anyway. For now I am looking back to see where we have been so far.
Many new Meeroo traits have been coaxed from the Meeroo genetic puzzle. As I understand it over twenty-five (25) new coats have been discovered since launch. That is over a coat every four (4) days. Not bad breeders, not bad. Of course we have had changes to both Regard and the chance for rare Meeroos from starter Trunks. The impact Regard has on breeding has been enhanced multiple times in the last hundred days and the percentage of rare traited Nests in starter Trunks has dropped from some small number to absolutely zero. Thus ending what was commonly referred to as the "Nest Lottery". A side effect of this is that we now have "Starter" and "Non-Starter" Meeroos as only some traits are possible from the Meeroos store.

Some of the first very rare Meeroos came directly from starter Trunks. If I have my information correct the first was the Koi coat Meeroo from Japan. Then there seemed to be a short lull for a week or two before the others began to appear. Now we have two (2) new types of food to feed two (2) new species of Meeroos: From Africa we have the Savanna Meeroos which eat Desert Grass and from Egypt we have the Nile Meeroos who prefer exclusively Junglevine. Catherine does keep saying these, the ones found so far, are just the beginning. I can not imagine what might be next; we will be getting a sneak peek however. Catherine writes on a recent blog post: "We are preparing to show you a few pictures of species you have not found yet. Last time we used the Kirstens viewer splash screen, this time we're going another route." I will be keeping a close eye on the WW of Meeroos blog to see what that route might be.

Team Meeroos has released a few ancillary Meeroo items since launch. The much anticipated Honey Dipper for converting Meeroos into MeePets and the Whistle of Return, used to call back Meeroos who have run off due to lack of food. We have also seen the opening of the Regard Store with its first two (2) products: the Primbie Treasure finding bird and the Seasons calendar. I particularly like the Primbie bird, he is very amusing and gets hyper excited about everything the Meeroos dig up. I think they enjoy having a cheerleader of sorts.
I have been and remain befuddled by the lack of bugs and issues with the Meeroos themselves, and the HUD. Nothing is perfect, of course, but there have been no major updates or fixes. Part of the beauty of the way the Meeroos are scripted is they can be tweaked without having to issue an update. Much of the code behind the Meeroos is on Malevay Studios servers and Tiger can manipulate it when it needs adjusting without the need to inconvenience the players: us. There have been some issues, most notably the "Baby Ready" Nests. While frustrating these problems have been transient and, in the scheme of things, not really all that bad. Most of the issues Team Meeroos have faced have been man-made; some extortionists have targeted Malevay Studios in an attempt to siphon off some of their hard earned L$. These thugs resorted to attacking the Meeroos store InWorld and, I assume, attacking the servers as well. This is the most likely cause for many of the problems players experienced. I do not think there was ever a question Team Meeroos would pay them off, I would hope not. So we had to endure the assault. At the end of the day: not such a big deal. I still have a mystery "Baby Ready" Nest. I look at is as a surprise, I will Coax it sometime I am feeling lucky. Any problems the Meeroos have experienced have been mitigated by the awesome CSRs employed by Malevay Studios. Even when response times have been longer they have, in my experience, always been polite and helpful.

Recently there has been one update, to the HUD. We have gone from version 1.0 to version 1.2, in one quick step. This is, I believe, in response to the proliferation of auto-petters which, in every case I have seen, violate the Meeroos TOS. The HUD permissions have changed and I assume some code has been re-written to prevent the exploit. I am relieved to see the issue put to bed for now. I do not judge anyone who ever used an auto-petter, I understand the desire to have your Meeroos stats maxed without having to put in the time. I can not wait for an official petter of some sort to materialize in the Regard Store and soon. I would even use a third party product if it were endorsed by Malevay Studios. Alas the auto-petters as they were designed were a hack, they got around a wall that was intended to be un-get-aroundable. They violated the TOS, and did so by using Tigers scripts in their own products. That or asking the end user to do so, to move the scripts over themselves thereby causing their own customers to break the TOS. That is just in bad taste. The new HUD also adds the Hair trait and the percentage of time spent in "Too Soon" [The time Meeroos can not breed for after creating a Nest] to the display. Both welcome and much requested additions.
The attempted, and successful, thefts at the Twas Meeroo store caused Team Meeroos to close up shop there and transition the store on the Roo SIM, then known as Haute Coture, into the only Meeroos store on the Grid. At the Twas, and Roo, stores the would-be thieves used a Second Life exploit to create Prims even though the permissions on both Regions were set to prevent that very action. Once created these unauthorized Prims were made invisible and placed over the legitimate food vendors inside the store. Unsuspecting players paid their L$ to the scammers instead of Meeroos Resident. The miscreants were using new accounts set up so that their names looked similar to the real Meeroos Resident, substituting zeros for O's and such. In an overzealous clampdown, meant to alleviate the problem, Linden Lab banned all of the avatars with names in that format. Including the real Meeroos Resident, leaving Team Meeroos with no way to sell food. It was not long before the account was restored and even before that the entire situation was remedied when Meeroo food was made available on the Second Life Marketplace. Or as I still call it: SLX. So something good came of it all. I love having access to Meeroos products via the web and it is a form of insurance in case Roo goes down or the store becomes inaccessible for any reason.

I am still unsure about the sixty (60) day breeding period Meeroos have. In many ways I do like it quite a bit, it does have some drawbacks: When things go wrong and one half of a breeding pair has to be replaced breeding cycles can be lost. There is a lot of pressure there for the breeder. I feel it leads to a lot of anger when hyper rare Meeroos miss a chance to breed through no fault of their owner. It is a more realistic system than a fixed number of Nests and I like that it keeps you involved. A breeder has to pay close attention to cycles and Personalities to use those days efficiently. I doubt it is something Malevay Studios is going to change, and I support that. Catherine and her team seem to know what they are doing. I would hate to see that muddled up by to many conflicting requests. I only bring up the breeding period because I said I would re-evaluate it after enough time had passed. I thought a hundred days would be enough but I am still on-the-fence. I would be interested to know how the rest of you feel about timed breeding periods versus a fixed number of offspring. Feel free to swamp me with your insights.

As I write this there have been 189,583 starter Nests created. Not to mention the number of Nests bred from those and their offspring and so on. Meeroos have exploded into the public consciousness. Maybe not everyone has Meeroos, or an interest in them, but nearly everybody has heard of them. The Meeroo lore is just beginning to heat up and get interesting. Recently there have been hints of fantastical things yet to come. All of this in the first one hundred days. Soon we can expect the release of Chapter two (2), sometime in October. Makes me wonder what the next hundred days will bring. I am still trying to breed a Cinder coat for peats sake!