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.