Monday, 8 August 2011

An Eye for an Eye, a Nest for a Nest...

Meeroos have been under siege lately. Between scam artists placing fake food vendors over real ones at the store, Meeroos Resident getting banned, and the database going down it has been rough going for Malevay Studios. For the most part they have done a fantastic job of dealing with multiple simultaneous catastrophes. Yes, tickets are a bit backed up. That is to be expected when a lot of things go wrong at once. No company can afford to keep enough Help Desk type staff on payroll for a situation that only occurs once or twice a year. Does not stop it being very frustrating if you are waiting on a CSR, but things are getting done and they will get to you.

I know that databases go down, computer software of all types goes down, I accept that. I do not think anybody expects such things to be perfect. We know the Meeroos database can go down for awhile because it has, three (3) times in recent history. The first was unintentional, the second two planned. No problems there at all. Unfortunately these longer-than-normal database outages caused a, currently, unfixable issue: the infamous "Baby Ready" Nests.
A "Baby Ready" Nest (Hereafter BR Nest) is a Nest created during one of the periods where the database was offline. Instead of the normal float text explaining what type of Meeroo the Nest contains they have only the parents names and the words "Baby Ready" [See: photo above]. Touching a BR Nest will bring up the normal Nest menu with options for Coax, etc... It does blank the HUD as there is no information present about the Nest. If there is no ID# associated with the Nest, which there will not be if it is a true BR Nest, there is no way to get the statistics of the Meeroo within.

You have, apparently, two (2) options: 1) You can Coax the Nest and find out what sort of Meeroo it is. Be sure to Coax near a Home stump, failing to do so can have consequences. This leaves you with a live Meeroo of course, which you may not want. It is the simplest option, it is what I have done and what I suggest. It saves bogging Team Meeroos down with even more tickets. Understandably some people have Nests in this state that they A) expect to be quite good Meeroos and B) intended to sell. My partner scarlett is in exactly that situation; she has a few pairs of Meeroos that reliably produce Teacups, mostly zero-zero (0.0) ones at that. They are of little use to us as we have used some of the offspring already and the ones she gets now are too closely related for breeding. So she wants to be able to sell or trade them, but there is no way of knowing what type of Meeroos the BR Nests contain. This also effects some breeding programs: our plan, in part, involves holding onto some Nests with specific traits to Coax later. Not knowing what sort of Meeroo it is makes that impossible, for a very small fraction of our Nests.

So, option 2) Submit a ticket via the WW of Meeroos website and they will "fix" it for you. This is the part I have some reservations about. I have myself encountered the fact that, right now, a Meeroo broken for any reason can only be replaced with a live Meeroo. This means if you have a broken Nest it can not be replaced with another Nest. I am not exactly sure what the CSRs are doing with these tickets, from what I understand they basically Coax the Nest for you. Making it the same as option one (1). The issue I have is that when a CSR says: file a ticket and we will fix it for you, I expect that means they can and will rectify the situation and put everything right. In this case that can not be done. A broken Nest can not be replaced with a fixed one, only a live Meeroo. As a parallel: If I bought a bottle of wine, and it turned out to be mislabelled, I would be rather put-out if I was told they could only replace it with a recently opened bottle. 

I do not mean to be negative about it. I understand that it was likely far more important to have the ability to replace live Meeroos than Nests. I can think of a lot more situations where a live Meeroo would be preferable, and only a handful where having the Nest option is really needed. I also know that there are more important things to focus on right this second. Stability and safety from scammers are more pressing projects. I hope that, in future, Team Meeroos will be able to delay Meeroos having Nests for the duration of planned database downtimes and that they will develop a method for replacing broken Nests, with Nests. 

I sometimes have to remind myself just how new Meeroos are. There are going to be things that are not perfect, if I had given up on Second Life after my first few lost Inventory folders I would not be writing this today. These problems were caused intentionally, and Team Meeroos is going to have to be prepared for that. When you are the best you become a target for people wanting to rip off your customers. In the case of the fake food vendors I believe in most cases, as it happened multiple times, they were reported and removed within 30 minutes and Malevay Studios even worked with people who got scammed to get them legitimate Meeroo food. The only reason I feel the Nest4Nest option is so vital is that it would solve most all of the issues that arise when the database does go down for any reason. I think most people will accept it as a part of Second Life so long as their broken Nests can be replaced. That makes the inevitable database failures much less painful.

Things like changing the way Nests communicate with the server and adding the ability to pause Nest creation during downtimes sounds like something that might require a general Meeroos/Home update. Everybody complains about those, even though it is a breeze with Meeroos. When an update is released there is also the risk of releasing new bugs or exploits. I think it probable a lot of testing will be done before one is released, and I do not want them to rush it. I am willing to accept that things are as they are, for now, and it is being worked on. Tiger says in a recent post: "I won't be able to build something that replaces broken nests with a new nest for awhile." So we know it is something that will be worked on when the time is right. We all just need to hold on while development takes place.

Team Meeroos has never let me down. Nearly every issue, every minor complaint I have even thought of they have either already fixed or said they will fix. I have no doubt there will be a stylish solution to the database/Nest problems as well. For now there is a fairly simple work around: if you know the database is going to be taken offline in advance you can set any Meeroos that might breed during that time to Market Mode and they will not breed. This could cause them to miss a breeding cycle. If you do not need to know what the Nest is, or are going to Coax it no matter what, you are best off just leaving them. I do not think it will be a frequent event.

I wish Malevay Studios all the best during this. Tiger tweeted that this past weekend was "...the most stressful weekend of my life." I feel for everyone who has to put in the long hours to sort all of it out. If you do have a ticket waiting I am sure they are processing them as fast as possible, do not give up hope. Finally, if you deal with a CSR make sure to take the time to say thank you. Maybe give them a little hug or something.

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