Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Phantomless Menace: Using the Firestorm AO to Replicate Phantom Mode

Up until recently, a number of Third Party Viewers have had a popular feature known as "Phantom mode" that allows the user to make his or her avatar immobile. Phantom mode was excellent for preventing one's avatar from being pushed by griefers or aimless noobs.

Unfortunately, when Linden Lab introduced their Pathfinding feature, Phantom mode was broken as collateral damage. Yes, the setting still shows up in your menus if you're on an older viewer, and yes, you won't be able to walk if you turn it on. But your avatar will be pushable. That part is gone, probably for good. Consequently, if you've upgraded your viewer since Pathfinding came out, you're probably using one that does not have Phantom mode as an option. Doesn't work anyway, so why leave it in?

So what other options do you have now?
  • Option A: Just use a Force Ground Sit. In Firestorm, this is found in Avatar > Movement > Force Ground Sit, or Ctrl-Alt-S. As many of us learned as our first lesson in virtual self-protection, you can't be moved if you're sitting. And Force Ground Sit will sit you down anywhere at all, even hovering in the sky. 
  • Option B: There are HUDs you can purchase that include a "movelock" feature that works similarly. No, I can't name a single one. I'm not a HUD person. Search the Marketplace if you're interested.
The drawback of Option A is that you'll be sitting down. There may be times when you'd rather be more subtle about what you're doing, and you probably don't want to sit in the middle of a club where everyone is standing or dancing. The drawback of Option B is having to use a HUD when it's really not necessary. Some people don't give that any thought, but I like to keep my screen and my attachment points free and clear, and I prefer to minimize worn scripts to only those for which there is no alternative.

So here is a nifty alternative that works well on Firestorm and any other TPVs that have incorporated the Firestorm client-side AO. It involves using the internal animation overrider to put your avatar in a ground sit while it appears to be standing. After it's set up, it's close enough that we can call it Fake Phantom. If you've already been using the Firestorm AO, then this will be very straightforward and you can mostly skim. If you're new to using the Firestorm AO, then read carefully and go one step at a time.

Replicating Phantom Mode in a Post-Phantom SL

1) Make sure you have at least one stand animation in your Inventory. You can copy one or more out of your animation overrider HUD if you need to (and if they are copiable). See "Extracting Animations" below for more info.

2) Open the client-side AO window. On all skins except the Vintage skin, do this by clicking the button marked "AO." On Firestorm's Vintage skin, click the Up arrow alongside the part that says "AO."

3) If all you see in the AO window when you open it is a dropdown, a couple of arrows, and a "Sit" box, then it's in its collapsed state. Click the Wrench icon to open it to full size.

4) Click the "+" icon in the full-size AO window and name the set you're about to create. "Standing Ground Sit" would be a logical option.

5) About a third of the way down the window, find a dropdown that most likely shows "Standing." Change that to "Sitting on Ground."

6) Drag one or more stand animations from your Inventory onto the open AO window. It will say "Reloading Config / Please Wait" while it processes. When it's done, you should see the animation(s) listed in the window.

7) To turn your new Fake Phantom mode on:

  • Make sure it's selected in the upper dropdown in the AO window.
  • If you have other AO sets loaded in addition to this one, click the checkmark icon to the right of the name. This tells the AO which set to use.
  • Turn the AO on using the toolbar button. On all skins besides Vintage, click the box in the corner of the button so a checkmark appears in it. On Vintage skin, click the part that says "AO."
  • Force a ground sit by going to Avatar > Movement > Force Ground Sit, or hit Ctrl-Alt-S.

8) Find yourself standing unmoveably in one spot. Don't forget to hit Stand before you try to go anywhere.

Additional Bits 'n' Pieces

  • Extracting animations: Your AO HUD is just like a box. You can unpack the contents in the same way.
    • If the animations are copiable, then you can wear the HUD, right-click it on your screen, and put it in Edit mode. Flip to the Content tab, find the animations you want to use, and left-click drag them from your AO into your Inventory. It doesn't much matter where they are in your Inventory for this particular use of the AO, but it doesn't hurt to create a folder for them so you can keep track of them.
    • If they're not copiable, then you can't have them in more than one place at once. Either in the HUD or in your Inventory, but not both. You can, however, use the same animation in more than one set in the client-side AO. So instead of just unpacking the stands, you might as well unpack everything at once and create not just a faux-phantom set but a regular set as well. Take the HUD off if you're wearing it, rez it on the ground, right-click it, and choose "Open" and then "Copy to Inventory." Then go back to the above instructions to finish creating Fake Phantom.
  • After you've created your Fake Phantom mode, you will have actually followed the same instructions you'd use for creating a full internal AO set using the Manual Method. To create that, as well, hit up our wiki page. Most of it will sound and look very famliar now.
  • Instead of stands, you can use dances for entering Fake Phantom mode at a dance club. Just follow the above instructions, but instead of loading standing animations, load dance animations. They will allow you to appear to be dancing when you're technically ground sitting.
  • If you've loaded more than one stand (or dance) animation as ground sits, you'll probably want them to cycle. In the AO window, make sure you have the ground sit set selected at the top and "Sitting on Ground" selected in the lower of the two dropdowns. Check the box marked "Cycle" and put your preferred cycle time in the space provided.
  • You can always add or remove animations from this set. To add, simply drag the additional animations from your Inventory onto your AO window as you did when you first set it up. Just make sure you have both of the dropdowns in the window set properly. To remove animations, highlight them in the AO window and then click the lower of the two Trash icons.
  • It doesn't matter what store you bought the animations from. It doesn't matter if they're copy or no copy once they're in your Inventory. This process works the same way regardless of those factors.
And that should do it! With just a little bit of prep work, you can get back that phantom functionality you're used to!


  1. Dear Lette,
    I tried to follow your instructions. But my lower body sits down while my torso follows the stand-animation I loaded while I hit "force ground sit". Any suggestion how to fix that?
    Best regards ToBe

  2. Nice idea but it doesn't work.