A road-tripper's guide to Second Life!

This is the start of my tips section, I’ll be adding more to this section soon, but to start with, here are some tips about a very important topic for anyone traveling over multiple sims: Sim Crossings.

Sim Crossings: the arch-nemesis of the traveler.

Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes in Second Life knows that crossing from one sim into another can be a real pain in the posterior, and driving a vehicle across only compounds the problem. While driving or sailing across sim borders I’ve experienced everything from minimal lag “hiccups” to being thrown into the air in a never-ending loop in the sky, and everything in between. I’ve also had passengers tell me they have fallen off and gotten left behind even though I still see their av sitting next to me. In short, sim crossings are a problem (duh!). Thankfully there are some things you can do to help mitigate this problem!

A lot of the advice I’m offering here is based on anecdotal evidence from my own experiences, and some sim crossings seem to be worse than others, but following these guidelines should help improve your experiences on the road.

Slow down for crossings

To me, traveling the roadways of the mainland is about the journey, not the destination or the speed at which you get there. If you want to drive really fast, there are plenty of single-sim race tracks that allow you to rez your own vehicle, and with no sim-crossings you can drive like a crazy kitty! I was recently racing around a sim like this and got chased by a cop car for speeding! The “cop” ended up being a nice guy who was just out having fun too :)

While I certainly don’t crawl along when I ride my scooter on the mainland, I always try to slow way down for sim crossings. I’ve noticed that charging full speed across sim borders often results in more lag and worse results than if you roll through more slowly. The real problem with this plan is that you can’t always tell when you are about to cross a sim… or can you?

Thankfully, I’ve noticed that often times rez zones are located right on the edge of a sim, so seeing road signs for an upcoming rez zone is often a clue that a sim crossing is coming up too. This is mostly true of the newer roads (higher road numbers), so you may have to travel a little slower on the older ones, but I have indicated in some of my drive guides if a particular route has rez zones on sim edges.

What to wear

I can see some of my male readers rolling their eyes at this topic, but let me assure you gentlemen, this tip is not about fashion. Avatars with high complexity and lots of scripts are going to have a harder time crossing a sim than lower complexity and fewer scripts. When you move from one sim to another, everything you are wearing and running has to be transferred to the next sim, so less stuff means a faster transfer.

For myself, I put together and saved a riding outfit specifically for when I’m out traveling. I made sure to wear lower complexity clothing, with no scripts, and I removed all HUDs that weren’t being used while on the road. Modern mesh clothing doesn’t need to have high complexity to look good, and its easy to look great while at the same time being well below 100,000 in complexity. My riding outfit is

As for scripts, remember, your vehicle is going to have scripts in it to make it work, so reducing or removing excess scripts in other places is an easy way to reduce crossing lag. The easiest way is to remove HUDs that aren’t important to traveling. Next, remove scripts from clothing, but BEFORE you remove any scripts, be sure the clothing item is copiable, then MAKE A COPY and remove the scripts from the copy. You can do the same with hair as well.

To sum up, make your avatar as “lightweight” as possible, it will help offset the lag your vehicle will cause when crossing sims.

What to drive

I can’t give you a definitive answer on this topic, but I can say some vehicles handle sim crossings better than others. For years I’ve been riding a little mint green scooter that I bought way back in 2009. It was the best looking scooter I could find back then, and it still looks surprisingly good for a pre-mesh build. At the time I wasn’t concerned with sim crossings, but as fortune would have it, this scooter turned out to be pretty good.

When I first decided to embark on my mainland road trips, I treated myself to a brand new mesh scooter. This new one is absolutely beautiful with more details, prettier textures and colors, and better sounds than my old scooter. Unfortunately, after I crossed a few sim borders, I realized the new scooter wan’t an improvement over the old one. In fact, it often sent me flying off the road further and longer before jerking me back to where I was than the old scooter did. I was pretty sad about this, but then I jumped on my old scooter again and been on the road with it ever since.

The point of this story is that you may have to try several vehicles before you decide on one that’s right for traveling the mainland roads. I don’t have any advice, scientific or otherwise, about what makes some vehicles better suited to sim crossings than others. My best advice is to find vehicle makers that have demos you can rez to try them out, preferably in places where you can cross a sim as part of the trial. You can also try joining driving groups such as “The Drivers of SL”; their members may be able to recommend a good vehicle to you.

Traveling with friends

Traveling with friends is fun, but I’ve noticed it can often compound the sim crossing problem. Again I only have anecdotal evidence from my own travels, but every time I’ve traveled with a group of friends or even just one other person, the problems seem worse. Luckily, I’ve got a few thoughts on reducing the problem,

  • First, all of the above information applies to everyone in your group; ask your friends to lower script usage and complexity, slow down over crossings, and try to pick good vehicles.
  • Travel in multiple vehicles, so there are fewer people in each one. Cross the border one vehicle at a time (assuming you know where the border is).
  • If you don’t know where the crossings are, don’t drive like Speed Racer!

I hope these tips help to make your journey a little more enjoyable. This tips section is definitely a work in progress, and I plan to add more here when I can, and when more ideas come to mind =^.^=

Let's hit the road!

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