As this year's fall fashion season begins, the top designers in Second Life are unleashing a new wave of fashion forward creations to help you make over your look. Fortunately, you don't have to travel to NYC to attend Fashion Week to see the latest styles. Stay home and get a sneak peek at the hottest looks and future SL fashion trends at Modavia Fashion Week, held Sept. 9-16 in Second Life. This event, which occurs in parallel with Fashion Week in NYC, includes 35 shows over eight days in a new multi-sim venue. That's four to five fashion events a day!
The exclusive opening day launch event, which features highlights of the week's fashions, is invite only. However, you can still watch live video of the action on treet.tv from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Pacific time on Sept. 9. Most other Fashion Week events are open to the general public beginning Sept. 9 by visiting Modavia II in Second Life.
To find our more information, including the full list of participating fashion houses, visit the Modavia Fashion Week website.
If you're looking for intellectually stimulating games that combine strong storytelling elements with clever puzzles, cool graphics and unexpected surprises...then look no further than MadPea's creations in Second Life. This immersive gaming environment is the result of MadPea Productions, a global collaboration between Kiana Writer, Colin Nilsson, SweetDevil Magic and Madcow Cosmos. Together, they've created several of the most challenging and fun games inside Second Life including Devil's Labyrinth, The Kaaos Effect and Reaction.
We recently spoke with MadPea's founder and director Kiana Writer about the projects. To see a walk-through of the island, watch the video below.
We've also included the full text of the interview below.
KW: It all starts from a tiny idea that usually just grows into being an amazing experience. We create the storyline first and plan the puzzles. We don’t try to import any existing games into SL, instead we create new original adventures that work on the platform. After the initial plan is ready we begin the building process followed by texturing. Scripting and sounds come next and then all kinds of after effects to make sure the game experience is smooth. We always betatest before opening a new game.
We have been creating games for two years now and it all began with a small hunt. You can see a lot of improvement and new features in our newer games, each big game is always more complex than the previous one. It will be really exciting to release our new games in the next couple of months and truly surprise people again to show what is actually possible to do inside Second Life.
DG: There are several people on the MadPea development team. Are you all located in the same area and, if not, has the distance been a problem in collaborating on each project?
KW: The HUD design was based around the logo for the game itself. The shape of the HUD is actually the Greek symbol for the labyrinth, which stands for an elaborate structure built to hold in the forces of evil. Combining that shape with the different symbols that you collect throughout the maze was the main design concept. The four items you have to find in Path 1 of the Devil’s Labyrinth are also Greek symbols that have a background storyline behind their use and intertwined with the story of the individual demons you will battle in later paths. We wanted to try to make a role playing HUD that offered the players an easy to use interface. We tried to use symbols for each of the buttons on the HUD to make the players understand right off the bat what they are used for but at the same time leave some mystery to be found out as you go. The use of magical items and other objects found throughout your journey helps you complete different tasks necessary to complete the path.
For the more experienced roleplayers the use of both mana, health and gold in the gameplay allows an instant familiarity of the goals of the game.
The center devil’s head button serves as a multipurpose button allowing you to revive your character and return to your last save point or even allows you to return to the sim from anywhere in SL through the use of the map features. You can return back to the game from wherever you left off in your game progress depending on your last save point.
In our next version of the Devil’s Labyrinth we are incorporating the players’ ability to upgrade items, purchase new items through the gold and or our MadPoints system and the ability to customize their characters.
DG: One unique feature we've noticed is the loading screen that appears when traveling between areas. How did that come about?
KW: The screen was originally created for The Kaaos Effect to ‘hide’ things... Not so many people realize that in Kaaos the player doesn’t actually move after the initial pull by the HUD. The whole game is played on holodecks and once a puzzle has been successfully completed, the HUD effect covers your whole screen to hide the fact that the whole room is pulled apart underneath your feet and a new one is rezzed immediately.
DG: Another innovation that we noticed was present in your puzzle game The KAAOS Effect. In this time travel adventure, the design enabled participants to share hints as they traveled from room to room -- yet, each person's journey is routed in a "sharded" or independent path so that they don't actually encounter other players directly. Can you explain a bit about this design approach?
KW: Because Kaaos is played on holodecks, the game is meant to be a solo-experience. Only one player can interact with one holodeck at a time. This was the best solution to keep people from disturbing each other’s game experience. We created armbands for sim-wide communication, so that all the players could still chat with each other, even while they were playing different parts of the game.
DG: The level of detail in many of your games is impressive. Are there any cheat codes or "Easter eggs" that we should keep an eye out for?
KW: Play the game to find out.. You should always pay attention to the smallest of details, we like to add hints to those.. In Kaaos for example, there is an underlying story behind the main one that you get if you find some extra items in the rooms. Also, as a bonus you get so see something hilarious in the end after finding all the clocks. Make sure always to click and try out different things in the games, you never know what happens!
DG: Rumor has it that you are working on a couple of new projects. One that is referenced on your blog is the VMD - Learning Medicine in Virtual Worlds. What can you tell us about that?
KW: VMD will truly show what is possible to do in SL. We have created a breath-taking experience that is also educational together with a real life surgeon Cha Klaar. In the game the player becomes a doctor of the future and will cure patients from inside of their bodies. The game making project has been long, since it’s by far the most complicated thing we have ever designed. You will be shrunk down with your ship to enter the body in the funniest ways and see the most bizarre things. One of the greatest things about this game is that you will learn medicine in a fun way. The game will be playable in six different languages. Coming soon!
DG: Some of your newer work merges educational elements into the gaming, such as Reaction and Notes from the Voyage. Why go this direction?
KW: At first we used to do very dark games and mysteries and people seemed to think we were only enjoying one style. We definitely don’t want to be categorized, since we are interested in all kinds of genres. We believe Second Life is a great environment for learning and when Sigma-Aldrich approached us about Reaction, it was great fun to create something that had an educational value and yet still being exciting, interactive and immersive.
DG: Are there any game ideas you considered but abandoned, and why?
KW: Let’s just say that we have several stories written for adventures that are just waiting to get built one day. I think our main disappointment was with Within 2, we had an amazing build ready, story and puzzles all planned. In the sequel to a popular Secret organization where the players became assassins, they were actually supposed to hunt down extremely intelligent aliens to create a virus. The aliens were the main part of the game and were designed by a big real life company who sadly left Second Life and we never had a chance to release the game. Hopefully one day we can do that still.
DG: What's next for MadPea Productions?
KW: Make sure to come back and check on us, we are currently working on four big projects at the same time and once those are released within the next couple of months, all the anxious waiting will certainly be rewarded!
If you've enjoyed the design aesthetic and attention to detail found in dark RPG spots like InSilico and S.I.C., then you'll probably also like The Next Day. This atmospheric, gloomy sim is a place to fully immerse and lose yourself in community combat and post-apocalyptic roleplay. Drop yourself into the middle of the region, which depicts the aftermath of a major disaster that occurs in the future. Darkness now prevails across the region, which is filled with hidden corners and secret spots to explore. Join a clan for combat or assume the role of a citizen, criminal, police officer or even a medical worker. The region includes a combat arena, dance club and, surprisingly, an art gallery.
There's lots of creativity to be found in the design of The Next Day, so the Destination Guide editorial team took to the mean streets to track down builder Sana Dagger, who along with Sephiroth Juran and sweet Tantalus, created this inspiring location.
And we even inspire each other...sweet may spend an evening with a structure I like and then I'll spend the night building... For the rest, it may even happen to me during a nice movie where I'll stand up and tell myself, "This is what i want for Next!"
DG: Have you worked on or designed other sims or roleplay games in the past?
They can even find activities like exotic dancers, tattooers or donuts vendors.
DG: For people that are unfamiliar with the CCS combat system, can you explain how this works in relation to your sim? Is it easy for someone to get started?
Funhouses. If you've ever been to a carnival (or seen a low-budget horror film) you've probably stepped inside one of these warped wonders. Funhouses can be silly, scary, confusing, and sometimes all three. The very best act as a gateway to another reality, to a place where swirly colors are the norm and all sense of time and space is lost. That's what designer Freecilla Kuhn has created with TRP360, a trippy puzzle box that's one part art instillation and another part obstacle course. Drop through the small black circle at the top of the build and you'll confront giant cockroaches, swirling vortexes, fiery pits, and more. It's a freaky trip, but one well worth taking. I recently caught up with Freecilla and talked about her love of puzzles, TRP360's unique design, and why you should never trust a smiley face.
It's really no surprise Freecilla decided to create a funhouse. A long-time fan and creator of games and puzzles ('TRP' is actually a reference to her personal web site 'The Reid Puzzles'), Freecilla has always had an interest in unique shapes and unusual perspectives. It was only once she began exploring Second Life that she realized that she had the opportunity to create a sim that forced visitors to interact, rather than just observe.
"To me, exploring should be more about interacting with the environment, rather than just visiting a location and viewing it. I tried to make TRP360 enjoyable for the puzzle lover yet challenging enough that a second or third visit will not be too easy," Freecilla says.
This emphasis on challenge also played a big role in TRP360's design. Freecilla created each room, from the library with the flying books to the observatory filled with model planets, on two elements. The first is perspective, or how the Resident feels inside the room. Whether they feel big, tiny, warm or cold, Freecilla plays off the expectations of how Residents see themselves. The second element is the actual challenge, including the conventional (such as pits and mazes) and unconventional (like optical illusions).
"I wanted to challenge visitors with the type of puzzles I enjoy the most, the kind that make you think in different ways as opposed to the ones you merely solve in the same old repetitive way," Freecilla says.
In fact, her favorite room in TRP360 is a thin wooden plank suspended over a pit of spikes, which follows these concepts to the letter. Freecilla originally made the plank too slim, but instead of widening it and diluting the challenge, she kept practicing until she could walk across almost every time. She still loves the reactions the room generates:
"I like the way most people look at it when they see it for the first time and say, '...you go first'," she says.
With all the emphasis on challenges, Freecilla realized she needed some way to keep Residents from becoming frustrated. She devised a clever hint system, based on a certain iconic image. Located somewhere within most of TRP360's many puzzle rooms are yellow smiley faces that (sometimes) point to the exit. Freecilla says she chose the smiley face image for a reason. Smiley faces are associated with happiness and, in the context of a maze, happiness is finding the way out. While it made sense to use smiley faces as hints and directional markers, she explains that visitors shouldn't trust everything the smileys tells you since they can also throw you off the path.
"In some rooms they are very important directional markers, in others they are helpful hints," she says. "In some cases smiley faces work as a good distraction so people don't accidentally find one of the many hidden passages."
Freecilla may have accomplished what she set out to do with TRP360, but she's hardly resting on her laurels. She recently opened a new sim 'Relativity' and there is one more, slightly more ambitious project she'd like to undertake someday.
"If I had another sim, I would like to create a totally different, more detailed, sim-wide fun house--maybe one day."
Soccer fever (or, "football fever" if you're anywhere apart from the USA!) is about to grip the planet once again when the 2010 FIFA World Cup gets underway in South Africa on June 11th. Taking place every four years, this will be the 19th international tournament, and will see the best footballing nations of the world gathering on the African continent for the first time in history. The FIFA World Cup unites people everywhere, and even non-sports fans join in the fun and enjoy the spectacle as 32 teams compete for soccer's biggest prize.
We'll be taking some time out from our busy schedules to watch the odd match or two and are calling on Residents to submit inworld locations for a special Destination Guide category dedicated to the event. Have you built a bar or pub for fans to gather, celebrate, and chat about the day's action? Is your sim, which already covers "the beautiful game" getting a makeover for this special occasion? Got some cool soccer gear you're just itching to offer to your fellow Residents?
Share your creations with us in Second Life, and we'll share them with your fellow Residents. Leave a comment below, use the online submission form (please consult our Destination Guide FAQ), or drop us an e-mail directly. We'll look at all your entries, but can't promise that every one will be included in the Destination Guide. Editorial review of all submissions will begin immediately, so early suggestions are encouraged!
As always, please remember that your creations in Second Life need to abide by our Intellectual Property Policy.
Enjoy the tournament!
Scottius Polke has a thing for fish. The unconventional designer behind last year's 'mushROOM' sim has recently launched his latest build 'Lunamaruna' as part of the Project Z art installation. Visitors will encounter a cartoonish village populated by pufferfish. Yeah, pufferfish. It may sound odd at first, but taken along with the build's unusual color palette and exaggerated architecture, it all makes sense. And like all of Polke's builds, it's really funny. Whether it's 'mushROOM''s lethal smelly socks or 'Lunamaruna''s flying manta rays and rideable pufferfish, rezzing into one of his builds without cracking a smile is no easy task. So how does Scottius create such stunning builds while tickling Residents' funny bones at the same time? I recently spoke with him about 'Lunamaruna,' his design process, and what's the deal with all those tropical fish.
1. Walk me through your design process. What steps do you go through when creating a new build?
It is an evolving process for me. The ideas and style of my builds start with ink drawings in my sketchbook. I envision how to bring this illustrated world into Second Life in a way that both maintains their original character, but also works in the context of a 3D realm. I then start on the basic framework and structure of the new build. I will draw some very simple background illustrations, scanning them in and slowly trying to work out their general color palette. Next come specific objects here and there, such as a chair or a creature, in an attempt to discover just what it is that resides in this world I am creating.
It's not unusual for me to get a considerable way into a build and then find the need to greatly alter it. That was the case with Lunamaruna; I had worked on it for about a month but felt the quality and coherency to be weak. I pulled back for some time and re-examined what direction I wanted to go with it, bouncing ideas around with a couple of friends. I wound up scrapping much of the original design, which was difficult, but the end result was a piece that is better suited for Second Life.
2. What was the inspiration behind 'Lunamaruna?' There seems to be a little Dr. Seuss meets Tim Burton vibe going on in your work.
The idea for Lunamaruna came from a drawing of a floating island I did a few years back. This one in particular fascinated me, as the island was overflowing with an odd combination of organic and inorganic objects. However, I was dissatisfied with how I initially brought the drawing into 3D form, and it has since changed considerably from the original.
The bright colors and fantastical creatures definitely harken back to Dr Seuss. While not an intentional inspiration, the organic buildings of Gaudi probably influenced me, as he is one of my favorite architects. Surrealistic images of Miro, Ernst, and Magritte are always floating around in my head, so there's a little of that, too.
3. There definitely appears to be some similarities between Lunamaruna and your earlier build, 'mushROOM.' Did any of the ideas you had while designing 'mushROOM' influence 'Lunamaruna?'
There is an obvious stylistic connection between the two, especially in the use of hand-drawn illustrations to create the textures. One of the thoughts in my head when finishing mushROOM was to take this style and move it on to a bigger stage; to take it out of the bedroom and into the village. Lunamaruna contains the same feeling of life that mushROOM has. MushROOM has amoebas, molds and fungi, and Lunamaruna has manta rays, pufferfish and angler fish. I also felt that Lunamaruna had to have that touch of humor and playfulness that mushROOM possessed. You will also find the rocking chair from mushROOM being used by one of the fish (who is appropriately named Grumpy McGil).
4. Is there an official story or narrative to 'Lunamaruna,' or is that something you want Residents to create for themselves when they visit?
While there are many clues around the island as to what this place is and what may have happened there, I intentionally kept the storyline open-ended. I would rather Residents come up with their own ideas about Lunamaruna. I feel this may give them a more active role in exploring and allow visitors to connect to my village on a more personal level, so that they can take away their own stories.
5. What can Residents expect from you next? Do you have any other projects in the works?
I have some ideas floating around that involve dogs, crocodiles, and caves.
6. Seriously, why tropical fish?
Tropical fish are a metaphor of each individual's struggle to maintain expressive autonomy in society....well, not really. It's just that I think the fish iz so groovy.
Many builds in Second Life fall into one of two camps: the massive, sprawling landscape that can at times feel a little empty or the smaller, intimate sim that fits many ideas into a tight, limited space. It's rare for a build to combine a widescreen, epic scale with a meticulous level of detail, and yet that's exactly what you find in Alpha Point.
Designed by Masoon Ringo and Sweetlemon Jewell, Alpha Point is a fantasy/sci-fi-style city guaranteed to overwhelm the senses with its sheer size and unique design. From cavernous LCD spires to caged angel statues, everywhere you turn there's some new and interesting eye candy to feast on. The high level of creativity makes Alpha Point a must-see destination. Oh yeah, and it's got pterodactyls.
Alpha Point began modestly enough, as a compliment to the pair's first build, Omega Point. But as the initial three-month design process wore on, Sweetlemon found herself throwing more and more ideas into the pot. She describes the build as a "world in confusion," a fitting description for a place that has so much to see and discover. There's a lot of elements in Alpha Point that don't seem to go together (Again, what's up with those pterodactyls?). However, the longer one spends among the crimson towers or exploring the breathtaking main castle, it begins to feel more and more like one complete, coherent world.
And while Sweetlemon does admit to taking inspiration from the works of "Alien" designer Hans Rudolf Giger and classic science-fiction writers like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, most of the ideas in Alpha Point come straight from her and Sweetlemon.
"Omega and Alpha Point are our creations entirely," Sweetlemon says. "It all comes from our own imaginations."
But if all these allusions to classic sci-fi and fantasy make it seems like Alpha Point is a roleplaying sim without a story, well, that's kind of the point. From the start Sweetlemon set out to create a place that, while visually distinct, still encourages visitors to create their own interpretation of what Alpha Point is all about.
"I give a traveler a free dream," Sweetlemon says. "It may be joy or it may be fear, but if a visitor creates their own story based on something I've done then I've achieved my goal."
But don't think that just because Alpha Point is so filled with surprises that there isn't more to come. Masoon and Sweetlemon claim the build is still incomplete and that they're adding to it as we speak. And like any good creators, they realize that change is constant and in order to keep Alpha Point relevant they can't get too attached to any one idea.
"I think of a sim like a living creature. What's there today might be extinct tomorrow. I'm always inventing fresh ideas and repeating the cycle of creation and destruction."
The wonderful, post-apocalyptic, urban decay of role-playing area I-Reckon impressed me from the very first moment I visited... but, be warned -- this gritty, industrial area may not always be suitable for those with delicate consitutions. Its creator, Inbred Texan, is fiercely proud of his Southern roots.
"I am from Texas where life can be as simple or complicated as you make it," says Inbred. "I'm sure that's how it is everywhere but there are terms that have come to describe people like myself that sometimes stick. I've been called a 'redneck,' 'white trash,' or even a 'hillbilly' at times and I just grin and keep on trucking. To me, it's a compliment. To me, being a redneck means that I'm a hard worker who can enjoy the simple things at times. I'm crafty and sometimes the things I create may look old and broken, but they are most definitely functional, and are usually made out of things I have around. That's why I also don't mind the terms 'white trash' and 'hillbilly.' It's all a matter of perception. Throughout my life, I've taken terms that some would consider to be derogatory and turned them into an advantage or a positive. Every culture has its positive attributes, and rednecks definitely have their own style and charm. I've taken several of the stereotypes and ran with them."
So, while I-Reckon may be full of lawn chairs, trailer parks, abandoned buildings, and hold that certain whiff of death and decay, it's all been lovingly created and is mostly interactive.
"Its OK to visit I-Reckon and just purely explore with your friends and family," Inbred explains. "I love regions that offer the ability to explore and move around freely without the sense that it's a mall and you have to buy something. Of course, people are still able to purchase my creations from a small store set up on the west side of the sim as it helps me to continue building and expanding my range of builds, but one of the things that I suggest to Residents while visiting is to play with their WindLight settings. I have taken a variety of different photographs using my builds as backdrops for profile pics and other Websites that offer virtual world art. The combination of WindLight and the textures on I-Reckon make for excellent photo shoots."
Inbred also stresses that it's important that Residents maintain their sense of humor when spending time at an edgy sim like I-Reckon.
"I would say another thing I hope people get out of their visit is that it's OK to poke fun at yourself, and just let loose and have fun. One of the other things I hope people see is that you don't need to be rich in RL or in SL to have the essentials you need to survive. Not everyone throughout the world lives in mansions and has all the other luxuries that go with being rich. The I-Reckon store hopefully shows that there are cultures and people out there who live day-to-day with just the things they've accumulated over time. Often, merging things together to create a functional tool or item makes their lives easier. I guess that pretty much sums up the I-Reckon experience for me personally: I've combined a variety of skills and tools which I've established over time and created some functional builds for people to enjoy."
As I-Reckon continues to grow and change in the future, expect more additions and variations to the land. But one thing is certain: Inbred is going to continue with the post-war 'redneck' style, that's for sure.
"I actually love the ability to learn as I grow and continue to build my skill set while I work towards a final goal. I hope to have something that everyone can enjoy, chuckle at, or spend some time at with their friends and family."
I-Reckon that sounds like a damn fine idea.
Spring is approaching in Second Life and to celebrate the Destination Guide editorial team will soon be adding a new seasonal Spring Fling category.
We're looking for your suggestions on spring-themed spots that capture the spirit and essence of the arriving season. There's a diverse range of creative interpretations for spring, but examples might include sites with blooming flowers, romantic meadows, chirping birds, egg hunts, or even bouncing bunnies.
The Spring Fling category will debut on or around March 20 (the first day of spring) and will be live through mid-May.
Share your favorite spring spot with editors in one of two ways.
First, you can use our Destination Guide Suggestion Submission Form at http://bit.ly/akOGyz (login may be required). When submitting a suggestion using the form, please identify your entry as a Spring Fling suggestion in the Editor Notes field.
Alternatively, you can discuss and recommend your favorite places on the Destination Guide forum on Avatars United http://bit.ly/d1sZNm.
All submission suggestions via the form or forum will be reviewed for consideration and possible placement in the Spring Fling category. For more information on Destination Guide and general editorial criteria, please visit the FAQ.
I admit it: I’m a total wrestling geek. The colorful characters, the crazy promos, the lights, the pyro -- there’s really nothing like it. That’s why so many Residents have taken their love for pro wrestling’s unique blend of action, drama, and over-the-top craziness and brought it to Second Life. I recently spoke with Loody Graves, Chairman for SL wrestling promotion Xtreme Wrestling Action who gave me the inside scoop on how SL wrestling works, what it takes to put on a big wrestling event, and how you can become a SL pro wrestler.
First, a spoiler: pro wrestling isn't real. Shocking right? But just because it's scripted doesn't mean it's fake. Before show time, the wrestlers consult with each other and plot out the most exciting match possible. They either write down a list of moves on a notecard or improvise the action in the ring.
Once the match begins, the combatants use a special gesture-based animation system, similar to the one used for couples animations, which allows them to perform many of the death-defying moves and stunts fans have come to expect. Since the matches takes place in a virtual environment like Second Life, there's no fear of injury and the action can get as wild as the wrestlers’ imaginations.
"We have so many capabilities," says Loody, “when it comes to high-risk moves off a stage, a cell, or cage matches. It opens up opportunities for people to see just how far we can go with any single wrestling event.”
So how does one become an inworld wrestling superstar? In real life, it can take an aspiring grappler years or even decades to make it to the big time. Fortunately, things work a little differently in SL. Most Residents just need to sign up with a wrestling promotion and pick up the free wrestling HUD and start training.
Like its real world counterpart, there is a subtle science to putting on a compelling wrestling match. While SL wrestling doesn’t require any extra trips to the gym, it does demand a little extra know-how. However, Loody stresses most junior grapplers pick up on things pretty quickly.
“Training a wrestler is quite simple. Depending on how much time it takes to learn the wrestling system, it takes mere days, weeks, or months to fully train someone to become a wrestler in SL.”
Training in SL may be easy, but putting on a full Xtreme Wrestling Action show is another matter entirely. A two-man staff is often required to run the show while supplemental staff handles things like lighting systems and streaming video entrances. It’s hard work, but according to Loody, that hard work is paying off. Xtreme Wrestling Action and other wrestling promotions are slowly gaining recognition in SL, with more fans and aspiring wrestlers getting involved regularly.
Despite the increased popularity, Loody says that at the end of the day it's all about the fans and putting on a great show for them.
"Every wrestling group has the same goal, to perform for people and to entertain. We at Xtreme Wrestling Action value our fans and our community and we will keep on entertaining anyone who has a few hours to come down and watch our show. It's what we do best."
Disclaimer: The Xtreme Wrestling Action in Second Life is not affiliated with or endorsed by any real world wrestling organization.
There's no denying that an appreciation of nature can unite us all, and Zoo Neunkirchen offers Residents the opportunity to spend time within an environment where the stars of the show are the many amazing animals on display. Although most of the signage at the entrance is in German, it doesn't mean it cannot be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their mother tongue.
It's rare to see such well-formed and sculpted animals in Second Life. These wonderful beasts are often animated and they even react when you touch them. From fearsome lions and polar bears, to mellower chickens and livestock, there should be something here for everyone to enjoy.
Once inside the gates, Residents can tour the area on the back of a camel, or simply wander around on foot. The big cats enclosure is particularly impressive with its lions, leopards, and cheetahs. But look closer at the ground, and you'll see an incredible stream of ants scuttling along. It might freak you out if you're not a fan of creepy crawlies, but it's also just another example of how much attention to detail the designers of Zoo Neunkirchen have paid to their creation.
Also on display are polar bears, seals, giraffes, and some fantastic animated elephants that make their familiar trumpeting sounds when you get too close. In fact, throughout the zoo, Residents will feel truly immersed as the sounds of the animal kingdom, from shrieks and cries to whistles and roars, surround their avatar and enhance the atmosphere.
Just to the right of the main entrance is a relaxing park-like area. There are also more animals here, but with its waterfalls, ponds and places to sit and relax, this quieter area of the zoo makes for a beautifully romantic spot to share with a loved one. Just don't get too close to the crocodiles and gorillas, and remember that those hippos can bite.
This week Eureka spotlights two very different builds with two very similar origins.
The first, 'The Mother Road,' is a slice of Americana cut right from the 1950's that pays homage to the famous Route 66 and to the generation of poets and writers who set so many of their classic stories along its dusty roadside.
The other, 'Napoliy,' also draws inspiration from American mythology, but with very different results. A rainy, dismal place, Napoliy feels more like the set of a slasher film and yet, like 'The Mother Road,' still invokes a spirit that's very realistic, and very American.
These two builds also share another curious similarity: both were created by Japanese Residents who drew on their fascination with American culture while designing them. The creators, Macolinn McMillan and Renn Luik (Mother Road) and Tetuma Kawashima (Napoliy) all spoke with me and offered their thoughts on their builds, each other's builds, and how American culture influenced their creative vision.
The idea for 'The Mother Road' began when Renn decided to bring his love of classic Americana and the Beatnik Generation of the 1950's to Second Life. Taking inspiration from old archival photos of Route 66 and the novels of Beatnik authors like Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, and Jim Carroll, Renn and Macolinn created an enchanting strip of lost highway that's as much fairy tale as it is re-creation. The old diner, gas station, church, and pool hall exist in a world of perpetual sunset, a place where freedom is counted in miles traveled and self-discovery (or self-destruction) is only one wrong turn away. The power of the build is obvious although it should come as no surprise given the 'no excuses' philosophy Macolinn and Renn adopted while designing it.
"Our common theme is, 'Stop producing if you compromise,'" said Renn, driving home the point that he and Macolinn were dedicated to bringing their vision of a lost America to the Grid, no matter what.
Like Renn and Macolinn, Tetuma Kawasima also had a very distinctive piece of American culture that he wanted to bring to SL. His influences however, lead him somewhere darker.
Inspired by movies and documentaries like "Silent Hill," "City of God," and "American History X," Tetuma says he wanted to "create a balance between horror and daily life." An ambitious goal, but one that Tetuma has definitely achieved, as anyone who's ever visited 'Napoliy' will attest. Described as 'unrealistically real,' a sense of uneasy and tension seeps into every rain-soaked prim, the creeping feeling that something is lurking behind every dead tree and boarded-up building is ever present.
Compared to 'Mother Road,' Napoliy is a place Kerouc and his buddies would pull over to visit--and then jump back into their cars. Mike Myers or Jason Voorhees, meanwhile, would feel right at home. Tetuma says he believes both builds share an 'American essence,' which reminds us all what fascinating and special things are possible whenever SL creators view other cultures through their own unique eyes.
Racers Island offers high-speed, drifting, karting, and stock car racing on a choice of eight tracks. There’s also a huge mall featuring great car builders and race gear creators from all over Second Life.
Eddie Mathieson has been a Second Life Resident for three years and joined out of curiosity because of his background in 3D graphics and animation. The Canada-based racing enthusiast has worked in the marketing and advertising industry for over 30 years, so it’s no surprise that he stays on top of the latest racing trends and tries to bring them inworld.
"Racers Island is one of the most radical, revved up racing sims around," claims Mathieson. "Whether you are looking to see cutting edge building in Second Life, or you like to zoom around in realistic, fast cars and tracks that adhere to real-world physics, or simply like to find some super shopping and a place to gather with friends and relax in our spacious Racers Lounge -- Racers Island is a must see spot in Second Life!"
And Eddie has a great deal to be proud of. With four league races a week and hundreds of visitors every day, Racers Island is always evolving and innovative.
"3D virtual environments have always inspired me to have no limits in my creative abilities," says Mathieson. "With 10 years experience in 3D design and animation, Second Life offered me a chance to build, design, learn, and to meet some great people along the way. Ideas flowed so I went on to build houses and finally I purchased a car and have been hooked ever since. After learning how races take place and how to organize them in Second Life, an idea to bring something not done in-world took shape. Racers Island began with three tracks: an oval banked track, a high-speed track, and a drift track. As soon as Linden Labs enabled us to build as high as 4,000 meters, I couldn't stop creating new tracks which became favorites to many resident racers, to the point of having eight tracks rezzed at all times."
In almost three years of owning Racers Island, Eddie has built over 32 different tracks and is always getting better at creating circuits that work well with the league cars that are offered for sale in the mall. But don't worry if you’re new to racing inworld. Racers Island welcomes fresh drivers with open arms as well as old hands.
"Our tracks are free for everyone to use," says Mathieson. "Only cars and motorcycles are allowed to run. Anyone can rez their own or purchase one. There’s a variety of cars and bikes of all sorts to suit your needs, from a simple cruising car to a fun 'just for laughs' silly car. For the more serious, we also offer tunable cars with many extra options. Tracks are open 24/7 to practice. The events start off with qualifications of all drivers in groups of three. Once the gate info has recorded everyone's fastest times, we then race in one or two sub-races and the winners move up and race the fastest drivers. Up to L$2,000 is paid out at each race. We run three series at the moment with open-wheel on Tuesday, drift cars on Thursday, and stock cars on Sunday. We also have a kart series on Saturday that is managed by John Alturas of KJ Karting. Our series run for 15 races each, points are awarded after each one and are all posted on our Web site right after. At the end of each season, we celebrate with a huge formal award presentation with personalized trophies, live DJs, and lots of fun!"
Eddie has six new track designs and concepts right now and says he never gets fed up of building. He always aims to provide a venue of fun and laughter, with the only stress being the hard-edged competition of racing. By the sounds of things, Racers Island should keep going from strength-to-strength with Eddie at the helm.
Eddie has many people to thank including Scooters Frog, Lilliana Vollmar, Hirez Hotshot, Nella Boccara, Stephanie Bosch, Scottie Easterman, Brave Ashbourne, and Bumblebee Nakumara, his general managers and best friends. He also thanks his scripter, Ichtyo Broome, Haru Kappler who helped create the open-wheel cars, and his old friend CharlyM3 Foden, a close friend, fellow racer, and biggest inspiration. Last, and by no means least, Eddie thanks Piper Tornado who not only makes all his outfits and clothing, but is also his biggest supporter, and the one person who has kept him sane over the years!
Second Life rocks. Every day musicians from across the globe log on and play their hearts out for fans. But just like in the Real World, the path to rock star glory is paved with potholes. Booking gigs, setting up streams, and just gaining exposure are all obstacles the SL musician must face, and that's where the TRAX Live Music Resource Center comes in, a build dedicated to helping musicians get the most out of their SL experience. Born out of owner Bones Writer and programmer Tangle Giano's mutual desire to create a level playing field for musicians in SL, TRAX provides services to all SL musicians regardless of skill or experience level, from listening booths where they can post their songs to regular tutorials on live streaming and booking gigs. All artists featured at TRAX's listening booths also receive equal placement, making it easy for Residents, as well as venue owners, to listen to and discover many artists at once.
I recently sat down with Bones, who spoke candidly about his experiences as an SL musician, why he founded TRAX, and how he'd like to see the music scene grow in the future.
Tell us about the origins of TRAX, how did you first get involved in the SL music scene and what made you think a place like this was necessary?
I'm a professional musician in real life and I originally came to Second Life to explore playing music online. When I first got here the economy was flourishing with all the casinos and gambling. It was quite easy to get hired and play paid dates for a reasonable fee. I played several shows but then like most of us got stuck on a pose ball for a couple of months. Eventually I bought my first sim and started building clubs and malls and trying to make something to sell. I started to fool around with streaming my MP3s into SL from my server to my land. Eventually this led me to the idea of building an SLCD that would work in SL by streaming MP3s from my server to the land but also would deliver MP3 songs digitally to the user's PC. At the same time, I had also been playing with these collision platforms I had made that changed the land stream when people stepped on them. It was a way to let people hear my music when I wasn't performing live and eventually it led to my idea of building the TRAX Listening Booth.
But it wasn't until about a year-and-a-half ago that TRAX would become a reality. It happened when I met Tangle Giano, a high level programmer in RL and a wonderful person, at a music event in SL. We started talking about mutual ideas and interests in music education, streaming, building, scripting and the future of live music in SL. We took both of our ideas and knowledge and combined them together to form TRAX, an educational resource center that would help both old and new musicians get set up to play live in SL and give them a place to market and sell their music, drive traffic to their websites, and get SL bookings. When Tangle and I started TRAX there was no one place in SL to find out how to play live music here. There were no SLCD's and no listening booths. You had to go to many places to find out about streams and how to connect and what to use. And there was no place here for artists to market their music, it was all individual and scattered. We both felt a need to have a place in SL that was dedicated to live music and wanted to create a place where musicians could all play nice together. Educating musicians and giving them a place in SL to learn how all this stuff works was an integral part of the design.
What does an aspiring musician need to start playing gigs in SL?
Actually anyone can download a broadcast software package such as Butt Broadcaster, Winamp or Nicecast off the net, rent or use someone's shoutcast stream and sing or play right through their computer mic. But to sound good we recommend that they get a simple external 4-track mixer with some reverb, EQ, and basic effects. The better the equipment the better you'll sound here.
In what ways do you think Second Life benefits musicians trying to get their music heard?
We see more professional musicians coming here everyday. I think a lot of them are starting to see the benefits of playing to a live audience in a virtual world. Some come to drive more traffic to their websites, some are trying to build a larger, more international fanbase and sell more real life CDs, and others are here just for fun and to play music. I've heard lots of moaning about the music industry but my feeling is it's time to stop whining about it and embrace the new technology and the opportunities it offers us as independent musicians to create something new out of all of this. Second Life offers us a whole new way of getting our music out to the world and this 3D environment is an incredible creative tool to mold the new music industry into a new shape. Even the sky is not the limit in a 3D world where we can create anything our mind's imagine!
How would you describe the current state of live music in SL and where do you see it going in the future?
Where can go in the future is only limited by how many people you can fit on your sim before it crashes, haha! I really do believe the next step is musicians playing live together. The solo dates are fun but the beauty of playing live with another musician in real time is way too exciting, not only for the listener but for us as musicians! Maybe Linden can make a multiplayer music button next to the 'Talk' button that would allow us to play live dates together in real time. We've had a Ninjam server here at TRAX but the complexity and equipment needs have discouraged many musicians.
Live music video is another place I see in the future. I'm hoping that Linden opens up more types of live video streaming other than just QuickTime, which has limited a lot of musicians from using it. I believe if Linden added more types of video streaming here we would see a lot more musicians use live video broadcasting and everyone would benefit!
What's the overall goal for TRAX, what do you hope people take away from it after visiting?
Our overall goal, like any sim in SL, pay the tier fees every month, haha! But really our hope is that musicians and everyone who comes here sees that it's a whole new music industry for musicians and listeners and we as artists need to push the envelope and embrace this technology and use this beautiful 3D medium to its fullest to keep live music flourishing. And most important HAVE FUN! Life is way too short!
Innsmouth is a dark, foggy 1930s New England coastal town. The buildings are crumbling or derelict and residents are few, but if you listen carefully, you can hear... things.
I fell in love with Innsmouth when I first visited it. I loved the incessant rain, the abandoned structures, the giant sea monster looming by the coast. It's a place that warrants exploration and is extremely photogenic, so I chatted to its creator, Darmin Darkes, who not only designed the sim, but has just recently bought it from its owner.
"Well, I love dark, grungy, rusty places. I wanted to create an abandoned, antique town full of atmosphere, melancholy, and dark potential. Plus, it's an era I've not seen overdone in SL and it was attractive in that way too."
Innsmouth is deeply influenced by American writer H.P. Lovecraft, who was active in the 1920s and 1930s.
"He's notorious for his murky prose," say Darmin, "but his strengths were in creating the underlying mood of impending doom and the deeply constructed mythos that is all part of his stories. He created an entire pre-history of our planet and the stars with his race of elder gods and their influences upon us. The sim loosely echoes the the situation of the story The Shadow Over Innsmouth with a few references to The Colour Out of Space and other bits of Lovecraftian mood."
Innsmouth grew organically. With her partner, BaileyMarie Princess, Darmin sculpted the landscape, plotted the sewers, then the town continued to grow.
"The client, Joyous Parkin, had a few requirements other than the agreed-upon Innsmouth theme. The Opera House was her idea, and she pushed many parts of the build with a thought or phrase or suggestion thrown into our discussions. Most of the textures were all researched and adapted for this build; the shadowy, mottled look is on everything. I guess the biggest hurdle was knowing when to stop building! Give us a million prims and we'd use them all!"
Darmin has been a resident in Second Life since early 2006. Once she learned to build, she was hooked on the creative potential and got obsessed with all the details that make a viewer go "wow". A fan of detailed builds and avatars, Darmin cites World War II sim 1942 and Chakryn Forest among her favorites. A professional designer in real life, she lives in the southern United States.
So what should visitors expect from a visit to Innsmouth?
"I would love people to land, tweak their WindLight settings, get out an umbrella, and walk slowly through the town," says Darmin. "I'd want them to take away an appreciation of the sim of course, and what's possible with building in Second Life, but maybe with a touch of melancholy."
And it's that melancholic edge that makes Innsmouth so interesting. It's dark yet beautiful, and Darmin definitely encourages Residents to snap some photos while they're visiting.
"I've just purchased Innsmouth, so it will stay as it is until I think of something to tweak and improve. I hope it lasts forever! I like that it's so low key… no club or shopping to detract from the atmosphere… but that may have to change. I get so many positive comments from visitors and it pleases me to be able to make something they appreciate so deeply. When you see something you love about SL, you should always try and thank someone."
Well, thank you, Darmin for creating such an incredible region! Innsmouth is definitely worth everyone's time and attention.
Darmin thanks Joyous Parkin who started the sim and said, "Hey, would you be interested in building a Lovecraft-themed sim?" Darmin also offers a million thanks to BaileyMarie Princess who gives her a million things in a million ways.
Second Life and roleplaying were made for each other and action-hungry gamers have no shortage of choices when exploring the Grid. Few builds however, can match the opulence and grandeur of Kingdom of Sand, the Arabian-themed combat sim developed by Kora Zenovka and Baal Zobel, the design team collectively known as eDream Factory. The pair are no strangers to the combat sim genre, creating both the Wicked City and Midian City builds before releasing KOS late last year. Baal was gracious enough to take time out from preparing eDream's next big project to speak with me about the creative process, the art style, and how, despite all the intricate design work, it's all about giving Residents what they want.
Kingdom of Sand has been through three builds, each one bigger than the one before. Even so, none of the builds took much more than three weeks to a month to get to a stage where they could be opened to the public. Actual building, as in prim manipulation, is by far the easiest part.
For us Second Life is a visual experience; if people wanted just a good RP experience and didn’t care about the looks of the place they were in, then why would they even bother to leave text based systems. On the other hand, we know only too well that having a great looking sim alone will not attract people to stay. You have to have a visually stimulating environment to inspire people to want to live there and invest time creating a character, but there should also be other options and simple aids for people who want a quick gameplay fix. Mixing the two elements is our biggest challenge.
Ask us again in ten years maybe. We still have too much to learn to give advice to others. But the only way to learn is to actually get down and do it, and Second Life gives you all the tools you need and is an amazing place to create and learn.
The first thing that strikes you about a visit to the Crossworlds Art Gallery is its sheer scale. Split over three giant spheres with a total of 14 floors of the best in Second Life art, Crossworlds warrants numerous visits to experience all its charms.
Artists who create both in Second Life and real life have often been the focus of interviews and features, and rightly so: much of their work is impressive and deserves attention. However, the time and effort that goes into organizing and conserving SL art spaces and galleries is too often overlooked. I talked with Crossworlds curator and manager, Fabilene Cortes, to find out what it really takes to build and maintain a gallery in Second Life.
“I have always tried to really do the best I can to think of fresh ways to celebrate the magic that artists create. Anyone who is passionate about the creative process does it. A curator has to choose the best way to help the artists show their work.”
Fabilene joined Second Life in March 2007. A language teacher in her native France, she joined to see how SL could help her students, and because she’s always been inspired by art. The first opening of Crossworlds was back in July 2007 and it was just three floors at that time. Fabilene’s friend and fellow Resident, Nerd Bert, built the structure itself and owns the sim on which it stands.
“It’s a nonprofit gallery offering free space to about 40 artists from all over the world, with permanent and non-permanent exhibitions,” explains Fabilene. “Artwork is spread over all the floors including painting, watercolors, ink-work, photos, and sculptures. Nerd Bert’s aim was to make a bridge between SL and RL, between dreams and realities… a true patron of the arts!”
All the artists exhibited at Crossworlds work both in Second Life and real life and include some popular and familiar names like Bryn Oh, AuraKyo Insoo, Feathers Boa, Glyph Graves, Scottius Polke, Filthy Fluno, and many others.
“The works on display are photos of RL works uploaded in SL textures. Copies or originals -- if not sold yet -- can be purchased in RL.” Fabilene definitely has a soft spot for her favorite Bryn Oh sculpture called The Rabbicorn.
Fabilene visited a lot of different places to gather the art, but was amazed that once she found some artists who agreed to show their work, how quickly she was introduced to others. Once again, this demonstrates the uniqueness and close-knit nature of the artist community in Second Life.
“I saw some paintings by Catharina Ivanova while I was dancing. I looked for her and made friends with her, and she is such a marvelous artist! I have her skyscapes and her inner landscapes at Crossworlds. Hughby Looby introduced me to AuraKyo Insoo who, in turn, introduced me to Bryn Oh who introduced me to Glyph Graves... I met Quadrapop Lane at a meeting about copyright and art in SL.”
So, what does the future hold for Crossworlds? Fabilene is keen to use what she has learned and the tools available in SL to build in RL. She hopes to sell art one day, too. In the meantime, Fabilene continues to be inspired by the art she curates.
“They all went straight to my heart, that’s all. Moved me deeply, told me stories. They made me feel alive. They aroused my curiosity. They helped me find a never-ending interest in life.”
Fabilene wants to publicly thank Nerd Bert because without him, Crossworlds wouldn’t exist. She also thanks Stefanik Dagostino for the advice he gave her about managing a gallery, Bernard Herzog for help with building, Drezz Jarman for the music and landscaping, and Sasun Steinbeck for the information available from the art gallery owner’s group.
Like most stories, this one begins with a boy in love with a girl. To get the girl, the boy starts out on a perilous journey, meets mysterious new friends, escapes from hungry witches, outsmarts a crafty troll, and ultimately learns the true value of friendship and loyalty. The story is called 'The Companion,' an old Norwegian folktale that's been delighting readers for generations. It's also a fascinating build in Second Life, a frosty, ice-covered place where Residents can follow the nameless boy on his remarkable adventure. The Companion is the brainchild of Frigg Ragu, a storytelling researcher at the University College of Oslo in Norway, who saw Second Life as an exciting new platform to tell this timeless tale.
Frigg generously took time out to answer a few questions about 'The Companion,' its origins, and what storytellers can gain by working in Second Life.
1. Explain the background of 'The Companion' project. How did you come up with the idea and who else helped you realize it?
Second life speaks to me because of my First Life job – working with stories and constantly feeding my inner life and imagination. I discovered quickly that I could use it as a creative tool and connect the two experiences – my First Life work and Second Life activity. I am not a builder myself, and my other skills in the metaverse are poor, so I needed help which I found when I first met Miskat Qinan – who did stunning work on the terraforming and Soror Nishi who worked on visualizing the inner landscape of 'The Companion.'
2. Why 'The Companion?' What about the story made you think it would work in a digital world like Second Life?
The Companion is in one way a very simple story, the narrative is clear, but at the same time it has a lot of layers. It is filled with archetypes and metaphors you can find in many cultures. At the same time it is very Norwegian in the sense of choosing its characters – it talks about Norwegian folklore. It is a story many can recognize. It is a story about becoming an adult.
But perhaps the most important thing, it is a story I love, and as a storyteller I never tell a story I do not have “the urge” to tell.
3. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during development?
There were a lot of challenges - time and resources of course – but the biggest problem was my own lack of building skills and network. Because “I did not have a name” in SL it was hard to get others to believe in the idea.
4. There are poseballs all over the region and you encourage visitors to submit photos of their experience. Why did you choose to add these interactive elements to the build?
Storytelling is an interactive form in First Life and the audience influences the story in many ways, so I wanted to experiment with this element. It's also a way to make the story vibrant and give the visitor possibilities to create their own stories. Storytelling stresses the importance of living in the audience, so hopefully this can help the story to go on living in the audience.
5. The Companion is a narrative experience with a complete story and characters. What are your feelings on narrative experiences in virtual worlds like SL? Do you think we'll see more experiments like this in the future?
I do think the possibly to actively use storytelling is not used, researched or experimented with to its full extent – The Companion included. I have been to storytelling performances and was surprised how they tried to duplicate first life storytelling. I think there is a lack of awareness on the complex yet simple combinations of form and function.
6. Ultimately, what do you hope Residents will take away from 'The Companion'?
I do hope Residents TP away with impulses. Impulses to retell the story and in this way keep the story alive and impulses to create something themselves and in this way feel they have accomplished something.
Stargazers have a new home in Second Life! The Bell of Firmament is an interactive star constellation viewer that is unlike anything else I’ve come across in the metaverse.
Up until now, both amateur and professional stargazers have had numerous photos, charts, and diagrams which are used to get a better idea of the constellations and their relationship to one another in the universe. There’s some great open source planetarium software out there which can also render information about the stars, but only as we see them from Earth.
But what if you wanted to get right into the thick of the action? What if you wanted to view the constellations as they really appear and almost reach out and touch them? Maygray Heron may have made this dream a reality with The Bell of Firmament, which offers Residents a unique and interactive way of viewing the constellations that’s only possible in Second Life.
Maygray was kind enough to tell me about his amazing creation.
“It tries to represent the information as precisely as possible, although of course there are some things which cannot be displayed on a proper scale,” says Maygray. “Thus, the sizes and distances of the stars are not on a linear scale. Otherwise some of the stars probably would span over several sims and more. Still, it serves well in visualizing stars seen from Earth, and where they actually might be placed out in space.”
Maygray joined Second Life two years ago on the recommendation of his friend, and fellow Resident Kailrim Garrigus, who was also hugely influential in the building of The Bell of Firmament. A computer engineering student in RL, Maygray and his partner Loulou Riverview have also created the MayLou Estate which stretches over four islands and includes the beautiful Enscharys, a cloud-high elven castle which forms the background to a fairy tale-based game. He also cites the MadPea games in Second Life amongst his favorites.
Maygray discovered that some star-gazing programs, despite being very useful, just weren’t particularly helpful.
“I desired a certain interactivity which I did not find in other applications. Second Life made it very easy to develop a prototype, and right from the first version it was fascinating to walk around the stars and look at constellations from an entirely different perspective.
The Bell of Firmament now stretches 15 meters, and Maygray plans to expand it further. Although web sites and other star-gazing programs can’t display the stars in 3D like The Bell does, they can render distant galaxies, nebulae, and the planets of the solar system.
“Eventually I will add such features to the Bell as well,” says Maygray.
One thing’s for sure: I’ll certainly be visiting again when he does.
Welcome loyal Eureka reader(s) to the next phase of your beloved (and much neglected) Second Life travel blog! I had originally started Eureka as a means to share stories of not simply the inspirational places and things to do in SL, but of the smart, talented, and just plain cool people and communities behind them. Thanks to SL blogs like Working Inworld and Learning Inworld you regularly get to hear about the amazing things real world groups are doing in SL, but just as compelling and deserving of documentation are the stories of our home-grown heroes, the residents.
I dreamt of revealing every single one of these cool people and places, but 2009 has been crazy-insane busy and let's face it...I came up a bit short. But that's no reason to shelve the dream! As such, we're going to go ahead with the original long-range plan and bring on some other notable explorers to expand this into a multi-author blog, and share with you MORE coolness than ever before. With "More" being such an easy target, I'm declairing victory right here and now...wewt!
So welcome to the Eureka - The Destination Guide Blog!
I would like to introduce and welcome Limey and Silver Linden, socialites and explorers of distinction, who will be the first Eureka bloggers joining me in sharing their personal stories of inworld discovery. With their existing experience, working to uncover amazing SL stuff for the Destination Guide, they are a most welcome addition. Please give them a warm welcome and stay tuned as they make their inaugural posts in the upcoming weeks!
See you inworld,
P.S. Wondering how to get YOUR cool location in the Destination Guide? Check the wiki right here for more info!
Prologue - "What the? I thought Blue fell off the face of the grid?"
Yes, it's been a while since I posted. Originally Eureka was meant to be a big chunk of each of my days, but I ended up helping with new blogs and website and well...just got really busy in general. I have missed exploring and reporting back to you, reader of great taste and distinction, so I'm going to try LIKE HECK to not be such a despicable slacker in this respect. Wish me luck
As a testament to the great range of experiences to be found in Second Life, and to the truly inspirational community therein, I'd like to present you with a simple truth...After 6+ years inworld I still find myself surprised and delighted regularly by things I've never before experienced.
And last week was no exception, as i found myself witness to some world class sawing.
Thursday afternoon, while we talked about cool stuff to do in SL, Mab MacMoragh indicated that she was going to a recital a bit later and handed me a notecard with details of the event. The playlist at first appeared to be a bit above my payscale, culturally speaking, and described a concerto for oboe and a certain Op. 38, No. 2 in c minor for piano. Although I don't speak Italian or Musician, I was able to translate this as meaning "an evening of musical frolic and cavortment". It was then that I noticed words that appeared to be in English...."Musical Saw".
I arrived at the Amadora Recital Hall at 5pm for the recital and squeezed* into one of the seats in the back to avoid blocking anyone's view. I was reminded again of why I love live music in SL. Meeting new friends, the silly back-channel chit chat, the familiar sense of presence that comes from being in a concert hall, club, or pub...all of which are much cooler places to listen to music than my workspace...and of course the casual nature of the musicians' communications with the audience, something not always a part of real life shows. In this particular case the musicians, our gracious hosts, were most hospitable. The Schumanns were described by the aforementioned notecard as follows:
As mentioned, it was the musical saw that caught my eye and made me think "I just never know what I'm going to see next in SL", but I want to note that I don't mean to slight the beautiful music made that night with other instruments by focusing exclusively on the saw. Both Kahuna and Sisi are accomplished musicians and all of us in the audience were alternately hushed by emotional passages on piano and compelled to laugh and dance in our seats to the rowdy Yiddish oboery.
You do have to admit, however, that it's quite the conversation starter to being able to tell someone "Not doing much, just hanging out in a virtual world listening to musical saw." And I learned some fun saw facts in the process! For example...I always assumed that there was a particular musician-grade saw that was used to make that haunting, theramin-like sound. Kahuna indicates, however, that he was playing a $4 saw picked up at his local hardware store. Now that's cool....i think next time i visit my folks, I'll be raiding dad's workshop.
And so, if you are musically inclined, I encourage you to stop by the Amadora Recital Hall where you can find more info on classes, lectures, workshops, and of course beautiful music.
*Note to architects...monsters need comfortable seating too!
A little while back I was invited to visit the Gregory sim, at the gracious invitation of Isadaft Trollop, to take a look at a her cool lighthouse (I lurve a good lighthouse). While there, I noticed a sign indicating the island's proximity to frequent ironclad battles. Surf, sun, Ironclads? That sounded like summer fun to me, so I came back after hours one Thursday night to have a look.
What's an Ironclad you ask? Don't they teach you kids anything in school these days?
When I arrived, the combatants were taking some time to go over the rules of engagement for the decided-upon teams. This night, the Red and Blue teams were each comprised of 2 fast attack craft in support of a single hulking Brawler and the stage was set for battle.
The numerous variations mean a wide range of strategic possibilities as demonstrated by the stark differences in the evening's matches. The first started with each craft making a move on its counterpart and everyone on offense. Individual tactics ruled the day as the victors of each sortie moved to support their teammates.
In the next round, however, Red team immediately made a coordinated move on the Blue Brawler, quickly putting their opponents on defense. The two Red fast attack boats made their way to the stern of their heavily armored adversary, trying to stick close to the Brawler's rudder and far from the front mounted weapons which of course left the two Blue swift craft largely unguarded to do as they liked. In the end, and despite Red's concerted efforts, only Big Blue limped away from the clash (just barely) after cannons and flamethrowers reduced all other craft to flotsam.
When everyone was fished out of the drink, Issy and I flew over to say hullo to the combatants and, as is my compulsion, to find out how people can join in the fun...
Blue Linden: so can anyone learn to pilot and join in the wargames?
Blue Linden: or is it a group event?
Aeolus Cleanslate: absolutely, Blue
Molly Steampunk: JA!
Hotspur Otoole: sure can, Blue, we encourage it.
Aeolus Cleanslate: wide open - the more the merrier
Jedburgh30 Dagger: pretty much open to anyone who is willing
Molly Steampunk: De more de merrier!
Blue Linden: ah cool...so I can blog about battles and you'll take all newb comers?
Hotspur Otoole: absolutely.
Hotspur Otoole: our rules of the road are minimal and commonsensical.
MrBunwah Murakami: lots of ships to choose from too
Aeolus Cleanslate: and more to come...
Hotspur Otoole: act like griefers, and you will suffer from the iron boot of death
Molly Steampunk snickers.
ZATZAi Asturias: Only limit is the homestead limit of 20 per sim
Greg Merryman: I hav2 in the works myself
Hotspur Otoole: act like gents, you're always welcome.
Blue Linden: As it should be!
Blue Linden: ah, more than the two types? that should add to the strategy
Hotspur Otoole: we have twenty or so types
MrBunwah Murakami: Justinian Huszar and I make 27 different ships
Jedburgh30 Dagger: we have lots and lots of boats
Hotspur Otoole: and growing all the time.
Blue Linden: and apprently you have to dress well, so I'm out
Hotspur Otoole: nah, this is my monkey suit, I wear it for this event. :-D
ZATZAi Asturias: Haha there's no dress code but many like to dress the part
Blue Linden: how long have there been battles? I only just learned of them recently
Hotspur Otoole: we're working with other sims for Scenario based roleplay type battles.
Hotspur Otoole: for about a month or two
Blue Linden: ah, so only about a year in SL time
Hotspur Otoole: got that right
Aeolus Cleanslate: wow - that makes me ... really old
Blue Linden: heheh
Jedburgh30 Dagger: yeah, you are
Hotspur Otoole: I've been here since Dec. 06, it feels like 10 years
Blue Linden: what are you planning with other sims?
Blue Linden: larger battles, or extended campaigns?
Hotspur Otoole: Well, we want to do story based battles..
Hotspur Otoole: which we support in various blogs and nings
Hotspur Otoole: "Capture the port"
Hotspur Otoole: Bombard the PIrates
MrBunwah Murakami: fleet battles (correct, O?)
Hotspur Otoole: Invasion!
Aeolus Cleanslate: and there has been talk of team-based tournaments too
Jedburgh30 Dagger: break the blockade
Hotspur Otoole: fleet battles!
Molly Steampunk: HOO!
Greg Merryman: spin the bottle?
Blue Linden: lol
Aeolus Cleanslate glares at Greg
Jedburgh30 Dagger: lol
Hotspur Otoole: We get people used to putting iron in the water and having a good time, first and foremost.
I wrote this post while I was ramping up for the soon-to-be new and exciting Second Life blogs, so please join me as we set the Wayback Machine to Sunday December 28th, 2008...
I recently read a New World Notes post by Vidal Tripsa on the inworld Trading Card Game (TCG) Combat Cards. I was familiar with it's predecessor, Sim Combat, but had never played the upgraded version and so, inspired by Vidal, I decided to check it out. As fate would have it, and this is a true story, the day I visited was the official launch of Combat Cards 2.0 and the real life Combat Cards. Such good timing!
Not familiar with Trading Card Games? At their most basic, TCGs play like Rock/Paper/Scissors with more variables. The Pokemon card game and Magic: The Gathering are the two most widely known TCGs and, like Combat Cards, require both tactical and strategic thinking. Because we're good friends, I can admit to you that I used to geek out to Pokemon with my nephew. I do not, however, like mudkips.
The Combat Cards system is easy to understand and I was quickly up to speed thanks to the video tutorial available. You can pick up a free demo deck loaded with basic cards and get playing right away. You can also buy advanced pre-balanced decks and random single cards to add to your own, and there is a swap table where you can pick up doubles that other players are selling, or sell your own.
After picking up a deck and honing my skills for a bit on the practice bots, I felt ready for a human opponent and returned later in the afternoon for the Combat Cards Undead Christmas and 2.0 launch party. With fighting, prizes, and more zombies than you can shake a stick at (aim for the head) it was sure to be the best xmas party ever...If only because zombies are, ironically, the life of any party.
When I arrived, creators Doc Boffin and Osprey Therian were there to welcome me and the numerous combative zombies who were arriving. After Doc explained the changes to the system made for 2.0 as well as the availability of real life Combat Cards we prepared for...holiday bloodnog! Oh wait...no, actually it was combat.
Despite kicking major bot ass during practice, I was quickly eliminated from both the demo deck and the custom deck tourneys. I put up a halfway decent fight, so I don't feel too badly about being defeated. And because of the visual nature of the game, with each attack fully animated and the attack cards and health points displayed, watching the rest of the tourney was entertaining and, for me, a learning experience. Next time I'll not go down so easily!
Art imitates life which imitates art, which imitates life. Based on the RL concept of TCGs, Combat Cards was prototyped, tested and then sold in Second Life. The profits from ingame sales then allowed Doc and Os to publish their game in real life! To me, this is the coolest aspect of the Combat Cards story...Aspiring game designers take note!
After the tournaments, Doc Boffin and Osprey Therian were nice enough to answer some of the questions I had on behalf of you, the discriminating blog reader! No need to thank me ^_^
Blue: Today was great fun for me even though I'm a Combat Card newb and I'm glad to see that you guys have a CC group that does this every week. How is this afternoon's tourney representative of the CC players' community?
Doc: It was pretty representative. We get together every Sunday at 2PM and normally have a few people come along to play some games and often test some new functionality or proposed cards.
Os: We've been working towards some big changes (Combat Cards 2.0), so things have been a bit quiet while we got it all ready. We've been busier in the past and will be busier in the future I'm sure. Our core group is made up mostly of gamers although the fun of seeing wild avatars in combat and hanging out with a congenial crowd has wide appeal.
Bloo: How did you guys get together to create Combat Cards, did you know each other in SL previously?
Doc: We found each other on the SL forums. I built Sim Combat with Jaladan Codesmith without artwork, but when SL added HUD functionality I wanted to turn it in to a trading card game, but needed someone to help with the art. I asked for help on the game forum and Osprey offered.
Os: I did a wee bit of beta testing for Sim Combat and used to go play now and then so when I saw Doc's post on the forum, in January 06, I knew what he was talking about. His plan sounded like a good idea - he wanted to switch the game from a simple "pick a menu item" interface to a HUD displaying trading cards that would have attack, block, heal, and other values, and which would display a Second Life avatar. (HUDs had arrived in SL at the end of 2005). I posted, "Good idea," then hung back and waited to see if dozens of volunteers were forthcoming; when they weren't I stepped up myself.
Bloo: Trading Cards are a very "real life" format. I'd suppose you could've created almost any kind of game inworld, and SL does have a number of realtime combat systems...why did you choose to create a turn based combat game?
Doc: The game that has become Combat Cards initially started as an idea for a combat system for warriors in online games like WoW, which I felt had a raw deal compared to the wizards who got lots of fun spells to choose from - the warriors mostly have to get in the way, mash a hit button and shout "heal!" at the appropriate moments. The idea was to create something that had interesting choices to make and that felt like close combat, but that didn't need the incredibly low latencies that games like Street Fighter need and that you can't achieve over a network. I built an early prototype of the game by sticking masking tape on a set of playing cards and scrawling numbers on them and the hope was always to create something as interesting as Magic, but with a close combat feel, so cards were never far away from my thinking.
Bloo: Getting into the mechanics of turn based gaming, many TCGs will consider combos a matter of collecting and spending power cards or points per turn. How does the Combat Cards' system of re-used sequential moves affect strategy?
Doc: Combat Cards is actually pretty different to most trading card games. Nearly all of the others follow the Magic: The Gathering mechanic of using power points to summon creatures and then having a little skirmish battle with spell based fire support. It's fun, but it doesn't feel a lot like 1-on-1 close combat. I want you to anticipate your opponents moves and react to them, like you do in Street Fighter. By re-using cards instead of drawing new ones you get to learn what your opponent has in their hand, so you can anticipate their moves and by playing cards simultaneously you get to bluff and respond to your opponent in a way that I think feels a lot more like swords than sorcery.
Os: We started with nothing and built up to the game as it currently - two series, Fantasy and Horror, which are compatible with each other and have 2 and 3 card combos, discard attacks, copy/dodge and other functions. Balancing is Doc's bailliwick, and it's difficult to level things out so that one card, or series, isn't tougher or easier than the other, but what we do now is place new cards in beta. Beta cards are free, but are changed and improved according to how they play - we love getting feedback about the beta cards. We add cards all the time, and have plans for a third series - sci-fi/robot. The cards can be traded and different cards, though they were originally sold for the same price, will have lower or higher value based upon their strength and rarity.
During a recent office hour, a number of fine folks joined me on an excursion to a Region that gets much deserved praise, but that most of us had only seen in pictures. And I must insist... although they give you a taste of the neon adventure that awaits, pictures do little justice to Spiral Walcher's work,
You start your voyage in a realistic environment and perpetual darkness, I suspect as contrast to what comes next. Following the glowing footsteps leads you to the start of your magical journey (or a souvenir shop depending on which way you go) where it's down the acid-trippy rabbit hole you go! Briefly separated as we plunge one at a time through the electric entryway, we arrive at the start of what turns out to be a familiar preface - the traditional amusement park lineup where you wait for the next car to arrive. Or in this case, the next teacup.
While waiting for our whole crew's descent, a couple rushes by us like excited kids who just finished their first go and are running back to the start for a second, while a more reserved couple stands by, hesitant about which might be the appropriate vehicle...are they simply Friends or is a Couples teacup more appropriate? Leaving the two to giggle and flirt a bit, and hoping they make the right decision, we split up by fours and cup by cup are immersed in the Glow!
GLOW, a feature enabled in Second Life specifically by your GPU, really powers the wow factor in the Tunnel of Light. It's a fun ride regardless, but having Glow turns this digital landscape into a neon nirvana. So be sure you've enabled Shaders to really get the most out of the experience.
In our travels we float on electrical currents via bone china under monster dragonflies and past giant trees. At a distance the fine mesh of neon lines and their fog of Glow (see above) creates a haze that acts as a kind of atmospheric perspective and keeps foreground items like your cup full of friends in sharp contrast. It's an emmersive effect unlike any other I've seen in SL.
The ride proceeds at a pace that you can choose (fast or slow) and, should you want to take a bit of a break, allows you to pull off the path to let other teacups float by while you pause. With this group of chatty office hour regulars, the slow ride is a good opportunity to goof around a bit and enjoy not just the charged scenery, but good company.
A bit later I had a chance to talk to Spiral about how he creates the patterns of light, and was surprised to find that I had guessed all wrong...
Blue Linden: hmmm so no sculpties involved?
Spiral Walcher: nope
Spiral Walcher: i very, very, VERY rarely use sculpties
Blue Linden: i just assumed
Spiral Walcher: most do
Blue Linden: they seem to trace intricate shapes
Spiral Walcher: most people also think all of my stuff is particles. lol
Blue Linden: hehe that's not too surprising
Blue Linden: since i discovered SL it's become easy for me to see the difference when games use one or the other
Spiral Walcher: yeah
Blue Linden: i don't know if I would have made the distinction before
Blue Linden: now I spend time playing games and saying "how can I do that in SL"
Spiral Walcher: heh. same here
Spiral Walcher: Crysis gave me a lot to figure out with glow here
Blue Linden: oh really
Spiral Walcher: yeah. they use a lot of glow highlights in the alien section of Crysis
Blue Linden: oh that's right
Blue Linden: that's a pretty game alright
Spiral Walcher: pretty?
Spiral Walcher: just pretty?
Spiral Walcher: it's damned sexy
Blue Linden: lol
Blue Linden: okay, it's hardware bendingly pretty
I find it reassuring that despite my 6 years of bending prims every which way, of all the conversations about how sculpties make regular prims obsolete, and of all the amazing things I've seen inworld...that someone can come along and make something simple yet elegant that really inspires.
Special thanks to the cool people, and nekos, and hellhounds, and robots who joined me on this Eureka Field Trip. Good times!
For the past year, various people have been telling me how addicted they are to fishing in SL and I had regularly seen groups of people fishing in backyards, on coastlines and even on clouds. I loved fishing as a kid, but haven't touch a Red Devil in decades. I've done a bit of virtual fishing in games like Okami or World of Warcraft (at least until I learned how to make Warp Burgers) but in those cases, I always thought it was horribly boring. Which made me think....Hey! My office hour is super boring....might as well drag the good folks who regularly show up to my office hour out for some angling.So off we went to the home of the 7Seas Fishing system, Flotsam Beach! If you're like i was at this point, you're unfamiliar with the process of catching virtual fish. Well you're in luck....I figured it out easily, which means anyone can.
Turns out, fishing in SL isn't as boring as the fishing I had experienced in other games... Here's the gist: You buy a pole, attach it and click CAST where there are fish...and there are fishing spots all over the grid owned by scores of residents. You'll run out of bait after a number of casts, but I got in about an hour of angling before I had to buy more. All in all a fairly cheap hobby.
The result of your efforts? The process is staccato so after casting you have a brief pause to talk to friends while waiting for the result and your next opportunity to cast. As such, fishing makes hanging out with Blue less boring! (okay no promises) In addition to hanging with your existing friends there are many fishing contests across the grid daily where you can meet and compete with like-minded mongers. (Check the link below for a fishing rally near you.)
Perhaps most of all, I love the fact that many the fish you catch are just plain silly...as a novice I was catching crab sushi, but more experienced anglers can haul out LOLcatfish and Frickin Laser Sharks. I'm told that these li'l guys are not for eating (darn) they're meant for companionship. Simply attach and you've got a scripted, animated friend. As an example of how deep the gameplay gets with this system, you can also catch salvage, which can be assembled to create special items that make it easier to catch more and rarer fish.
Then if you're truly hardcore about fishing you can set up your own pond with your own custom fish and host your own fishing contests! This is the part I find most intriguing...with the OpenOcean protocol the 7Seas folks have released, anyone can expand the system and even get a cut of the profits. So as time goes on there are more places to fish on the grid and more custom, rare fishes to collect. Smart!
While we were fishing, the creators of the system happened by. I'll assume this was a coincidence as they happen to be inworld quite frequently I'm told, and they seem like nice people, rather than obsessive stalkers who were watching us the whole time and only now revealed themselves O_o
Blue Linden: so what inspired you guys to create a fishing game in SL?
7Seas Sass: Insanity.
Seven Shikami: Boredom and a 512 plot that wasn't renting and "Wouldn't it be cool if..?"
7Seas Sass: Insanity AND boredom, yes.
Seven Shikami: We'd seen other fishing games, but we wanted one tailored to our own tastes, and to go for the challenge of making it.
Holocluck Henly: how many species did you start with
7Seas Sass: I think we had 40 fish by the end of beta, Holocluck... now there's over 300: http://7seasfishing.com/fish.html
7Seas Sass: Plus of course 1,500+ catchable fish etc. by other folks: http://7seasfishing.com/cc.html
7Seas Sass: Launching 7Seas was great timing too because it was right as Windlight came out, so everyone was all starry-eyed about the water too.
Holocluck Henly: Blue these folks have also used the game to raise money for charity
Blue Linden: oh really....fishing contests for charity?
Seven Shikami: Oh yeah, we raised... how much was it again, Sass?
7Seas Sass: Uh, I'll check. For Child's Play...
7Seas Sass: L$174,187. http://7seasfishing.com/charity.html
7Seas Sass: Which beat last year's total.
Seven Shikami: Contests are basically score-driven, with rarity = points. Whoever catches the most points in the time of the contest gets a trophy. We also have plugins and open development specs, some people use contests to drive local hall of fames, or prize givers, and stuff.
Seven Shikami: Oh, and we already have 3-man team fishing contests, which let you use motorboats.
7Seas Sass: I like the contest capabilities but I have to admit I think all the fish people are building through OpenSeas add even more variety and unique local flavor to the various fishing areas than the contests do.
Seven Shikami: Yeah, at first, local areas only really had contests to offer, so they were kinda all the "same". Now with customs your fishing area is totally yours.
7Seas Sass: With 560+ fishing areas out there, it's a great way to attract collectors to your area.
Amyla Wakowski: yes, I got into SL fishing for custom catches & custom prizes
7Seas Sass: Yeah, once you hit level 5 you can hit SuperUltraRare.
7Seas Sass: That's where the punniest fish live.
Malarthi Behemoth: How punny are we talking?
Seven Shikami: The pun-ishment is intense.
And what do they say to the accusation that fishing in SL is addictive?
7Seas Sass: We joke that our motto should be "7Seas: Don't Forget to Pee (tm)"
Special thanks to the talented anglers at my office hour who joined me on the adventure and gave me casting tips. It really was a lot of fun!
Tires howl their pain cry and oily white smoke as found in your sinuses for weeks. Steel fingernails torture blacktop chalkboards while horsepower strips paint and bumpers escape to the infield. Explosive attack and clattering sustain, a metal kiss and the chassis comes undone. Pistons lock and ignite. An ex-driver bolts.
It's been called the Best Therapy in SL*
No, this isn't the Jungian collective unconscious of Nascar's America, it's a visit to the Dirtfield Raceway in the Otway region where most days you can find hard drivin' avatars trying to lap each other for the trophy. After a qualifying heat, tonight's final race is demo cars 50 times around the oval track and despite the 70's movie trailer lead-in ('cause that's fun for me) there are as many silly moments as tense ones.
With custom cars designed to indicate damage and lose bits of themselves to collisions, the chance of one or more track littering wrecks is high. In fact, this particular race culminates in a total SPLODE-A-THON. And isn't that why we go to the races? I thought it was...Okay well that's the reason I go to the races. If I'm not driving, the more chaos the better!
And here at Otway there's plenty of chaos...but driving's an option too, if you can take the heat! Toby Rainbow and Suku Ming, the track owners were there to answer some of my questions after the races on Sunnndaaayyyyyyyy....
Blue: Can anyone get involved?
Toby: I like to think of our race track as an all inclusive venue. The cars are cheap, it's completely free to watch (just make sure to sit in the stands, and not wander onto the track, only Blue gets to do that) and there are no entry fees to race. So if you're online at that time, come on down and check us out.
Suku: We've got a lot of car types, but the best thing to remember is that each raceday we have a race with at least one car type that races on it every single time. So every single Tuesday we'll have the ORC (Off-Road Championship) trucks and buggies, every single Wednesday it's the Pure Stocks and Demo Derby Cars. Thursday it's the legends (and one other car type) Friday it's the Sportsman Late Models (and one other car type) Sunday it's the Dirt Modifieds (and one other car type).
Blue: How did you guys get into the SL racing business?
Suku: In late late 2005, a friend of mine stumbled across a race track on SL. I lagged so bad I couldn't really drive, but I hung around long enough that I got a job there. Eventually I ended up branching out on my own, and in mid-2006 started my first track.
Toby: Suku hired me in November of 2006. Now I'm the sim's owner and helping him with everything.
Blue: What's most compelling about racing in SL? Why not just play one of the many racing games on console?
Suku: The most compelling thing about SL racing is SL. Second Life is this amazing, crazy place where pretty much anything can happen. But the most important part about it for me is person to person interaction. In a racing game, you can't be a chain-smoking gun slinger from the wild-west. In a racing game, you can't dance, or usually even get out of your car. Sure, you can talk to eachother, but SL is a whole 'nother level of interaction.
So as you can see, everyone is welcome. Today, the drivers and about 15-20 of us in the crowd were fully into it. Even though I wasn't racing I had a blast and although I'm new to the sport the play-by-play calls out key elements of the race that I might not have picked up on, so it was a learning experience. I also had a great time hanging with the regulars. As is often the case when you find a group of people in SL who are doing what they love, they're a really nice bunch of folk. And the cars...?
Suku Ming: those wagons love exploding.
Blue Linden: they died doin' what they love!
So grab your helmet, buckle up and may the best man, woman, or hyena win!
Suku Ming and Toby Rainbow's Otway Raceway Park (AKA Dirtfield Raceway)
Tuesday 5 PM SLTime - Offroad
Wednesday 9 PM SLTime - Dirt Oval
Thursday 5 PM SLTime - Paved Oval
Friday 5 PM SLTime - Paved Oval
Sunday 3 PM SLTime - Dirt Oval
You can also get the replay with Suku and Zen by checking out Dirtfield Racing on SLCN
* Sonic Costello: best therapy in SL
(You were expecting maybe Dr. Phil?)
Hi guys! I wanted to let you know about some fun that's going on this week and on through the weekend. Didn't get enough Mardi Gras here in the real world? Missed out on all the fun? Well then, you're in luck. Never the type to let calendars get in the way of a good time, the Tinies are still at it!
On the 7-region archipelago known as Raglan Shire, Mardi Gras has been going strong since February 28th and is culminating this weekend with live music, parade, a Grand Ball, and of course, fireworks. Basically a non-stop party...which seems to be standard Tiny practice now that I think about it.
A little over a month ago I found myself wandering about in Raglan Shire wearing the Tiny mole avatar I got for working on LDPW. It wasn't long before I realized that the diminutive folks there were outgoingly friendly and INCREDIBLY SILLY. I was invited to the Friends of Raglan Shire group and have since been LOLing daily at the zany antics that oft ensue.
But the silliness is just the icing on the Frootcake, it would seem, as the community itself is not just warm and welcoming, it's quite active. In addition to the everyday games like Primtionary, the live music events, and various classes that bring folks together, there are the multi-week celebrations like Mardi Gras, the Medieval Faire (replete with Tiny Jousting), Halloween hijinx, Tiny-centric Winterfaire activities including Tiny Carolling, and the Tiny Olympics which consisted of 20 different competitive events. Phew! And lest it be said thatTinies only care about their own good times and damn the world, it should be known that the Raglan Shire folks raised $1200 last year to benefit One.org!
Although it's been around for a while, and I've had an awareness of the avatars, I'm sorry to say that I'm new to Tiny Culture. So I thought I'd pretend to be a journalist and harass some folks on the subject. In response to my IMs, Founder Zayn Till replied with a tiny origin story, so read on, true believer...
I was first put in touch by a friend with Wynx and the Extrovirtual group when I heard they were looking to leave the sim they were renting on. At that time i had some sims that I had been renting out but what i really wanted was some kind of community. I had already been tiny at that point for a while and thought a tiny community could be something very enjoyable. I talked to Wynx and the Extro group and they liked the idea of a creative place beyond just shopping and BAM.. Raglan Shire came into being.
While we do have shop spaces, cottage spaces and land available to rent out to folks, this is only done to help subsidize the cost of tier. Raglan is NOT a mall, Raglan is NOT run for profit. I do not make any money and any money left after tier is paid is used to purchase fun things for the sims, pay for winnings on events and community games (such as Trivia or Primtionary or special events with winnings), cover the cost of the music stream for the Community Musicians, DJ’s & Guests and provide for the enormous amounts of public land & locales for visitors to explore & enjoy as well as provide for other needs that the Shire might have. Anything left after that goes into the war fund. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS!
Not too bad for my first scoop, eh? And since I'm pretending to be a journalist, let's cut now to our Eye-in-the-Sky reporter who's in the Blogwatch 7 chopper now with Wynx Whiplash...Over to you, Blue.
Blue Linden: I have always pointed to you as "inventor" of Tinies as very small animated avatars.
Blue Linden: Previous to that people might had non-animated-but-small prim avs, or moved the height slider all the way to 0. But yours was the first I had seen animated.
Blue Linden: Did you expect Tinies to spawn sub-continents and a whole cottage industry of clothes, vehicles, etc, etc
Wynx Whiplash: Well, first, I'll tell you I can't take credit for the invention! Kage Seraph came up with the method. I saw him running around as a very, very small mech and saw him say in the official SL forums that if anyone was interested in making some small avatars, we should contact him. I sort of filed that away in my head as I was concentrating on just learning SL and being social.
Wynx Whiplash: Then i had a dream where I was on our land in Bragg, surrounded by little animals in clothes all telling me they loved me.
Wynx Whiplash: and I woke up and started planning what to do and I remembered Kage's post on the forums, so I contacted him. It took him a few weeks to respond - he was busy IRL and offline, so I made the big bunnies while I was waiting.
Wynx Whiplash: Anyway, he let me use the anims, I made 3 avatars. Bunny, squirrel and panda
Blue Linden: I didn't know Kage did that first....very clever.
Wynx Whiplash: and I decided to charge very little because I knew they couldn't wear clothes or drive vehicles (you see where this is going, right?)
Blue Linden: hehe right
Wynx Whiplash: and I called them Tinies, and it was Good.
Blue Linden: Tinies came out when I was a noob Linden and I remember someone showing up at a meeting wearing one and everyone stopped what they were doing to laugh for about 15 minutes straight.
Wynx Whiplash: lol! Really?
Wynx Whiplash: I know I made a special one for Pathfinder
Wynx Whiplash: Kona IMed me too
Blue Linden: And you do realize of course that Tinies are the silliest things in SL. Raglan Shire folks alone are the zaniest residents en masse that I've ever met...
Blue Linden: They invaded my office to Tiny Riverdance me to death!
Wynx Whiplash: Oh, I know that! They're the most special group ever. So creative, funny....
Wynx Whiplash: Did they do Christmas carols for you?
Blue Linden: lol yes
Wynx Whiplash: the whole waffle obsession - the culture is entirely unique.
Blue Linden: They're definitely creative...some of the accessories they've designed are beautiful and elaborate
Blue Linden: Many remind me of those old Victorian postcards of cats dressed up, or the paintings of Louis Wain...before he went nuts that is. And the Raglan folks, perhaps after he did.
Wynx Whiplash: ha!
Blue Linden: there's just something fundamentally endearing about a realistic animal in human clothing I guess.
Wynx Whiplash: it's true. And they do so many fun events too. Like the Olympics.
Blue Linden: oh, I missed the Tiny Olympics!
Blue Linden: they've been doing many events leading up to this weekend's Mardi Gras as well
Blue Linden: I see you in the Friends Of Raglan Shire channel once in a while....are you very active in the group?
Wynx Whiplash: I just joined it a few months ago - I didn't actually realize what it was. i thought it was just an update group. Then i joined and found out a lot more about my customer base. They're all so great!!!!
Wynx Whiplash: I don't always speak up - I can be kind of shy. But if I know the answer ro something, I speak up.
Blue Linden: that's cool I had been wandering the Shire planning on writing about tinies
Blue Linden: and I realized that it was not just a place with shops, but a vibrant community
Blue Linden: and insane....they're all totally bonkers
Wynx Whiplash: Yeah, that's the best part!
Blue Linden: lol yes. we can feel right at home there ^_^
Wynx Whiplash: playing Frootcake, eating waffles and quaffing woot beer.
Wynx Whiplash: at the Paw & Whisker pub
Blue Linden: I can really see this culture of wackiness as it's own tiny grid someday
Blue Linden: they're industrious
Wynx Whiplash: wouldn't that be something?
Blue Linden: just a matter of time hehe
Blue Linden: what does the future of Tinies mean to you as a creator?
Wynx Whiplash: *that* is a difficult question
Wynx Whiplash: I mean, I suppose it's about half my income, possibly more, especially since I've been concentrating on the Tinies more lately
Wynx Whiplash: I love making stuff for them. Even recolors make folks happy!
Wynx Whiplash: But as for the future - it's anyone's guess. I'll keep making new ones as long as folks want them.
Blue Linden: I'm sure that will be the case for some time....you've still got a few species to get to
Wynx Whiplash: yeah. Wynx Whiplash: But I do get these other ideas that just pop into my head and insist that i do them. Sometimes they are't things for Tinies.
Blue Linden: well variety is the spice, and all that hehe
Wynx Whiplash: true, true!
So if you're looking for something fun to do, and being altitudinally challenged isn't a problem, there always seems to be something silly going on in Raglan Shire. I'll be there this Sunday at 11am SLT for the Mardi Gras parade. See you there!
Hi guys! I wanted to post today about how I plan to choose places to highlight in Eureka with the story of a field trip I took while doing prep work. I visited a region called that had been recommended to me by Torley and a several other mighty SL explorers. From their excitable descriptions I knew it was going to be a great place to write about...it was indicated to be gorgeous, silly, imaginative, magical, dream-like, and filled with great sculpties....and bunny-ridden.
Indeed, the Happy Mood region is all these things. And definitely the place to find bunneh...the best I've seen in SL in fact. But I also found that it immediately presented a serious problem with one of the rules for Eureka I had decided to insist upon.
See, it's that last bit that I realized was going to make things difficult.
I wanted to avoid covering products and stores in Eureka as there are lots of blogs out there that do it better than I could and Eureka is meant to encourage new folks to explore the many amazing places residents create. So in zooming around Happy Mood with the camera I was a bit disappointed to realize that Happy Mood is "just a store" and was getting ready to write it off as "Not appropriate to Eureka." But once I took a closer look and started exploring, I was forced to rethink my plans. The scenery justifies itself as rich in theme and detail and despite the lack of apparent narrative, it's like walking into a fairytale. It certainly meets the criteria for being Aesthetically Exceptional.
The centerpiece is growing from the pages of a giant storybook, its roots becoming branches of the illustrations, with animated sculpty songbirds and rabbits gathered around as if enticed by the "Once upon a time". With its warm, naturalistic environment constructed of watercolors and illustrative flourishes, this scene truly earns the 2009 Lindecott Medal, a prestigious award that I only just invented right now.
All the flora and fauna are available for purchase, as well as loads of furniture in the form of hobby horses, starry crystalline tables, and iridescent soap bubble seats. As a fan and collector of non-human avatars, I'm particularly impressed by a beautifully made beagle avatar that's as realistic as any animal I've seen inworld. So yes, it is a store and the products are the subject of the build, but they're so nicely displayed that it's easy to forget you're on the receiving end of a sales pitch.
After spending some time snooping around this fantasy showroom, and saying "Awwwwww ♥KAWAII♥" my mood was indeed improved, but one of my Eureka prerequisites lay in ruin. Of course it should have occurred to me sooner that the lines are severely blurred in SL. Silly Blue, you wouldn't argue that the Dresden Gallery is a big mall, simply becaus the paintings there are for sale. So I'm going to cut stores a bit of slack, but I remain wary as I don't want to expand the focus too far beyond "cool places to go"...that and, apart from being a non-human avatar collector, I'm not much of a shopper. I defer to Mia Linden when it comes to inventory loading!
And so even if you're not in the market for Lagomorphus Giganticus, I recommend stopping buy and picking up a Happy Mood.
NOTE: The author of this article, your pal Blue Linden, received no lovable animated sculpty rabbits to hug, and pet, and squeeze, and name George, in exchange for this review. He's not a politician, after all.
Thanks so much to those who helped us snicker through our blog launch delay by engaging in the battle of wits known to discerning Residents as the Told-You-So Competition. Many dozens of people provided deliciously snarky, surly, and just plain silly comebacks to commemorate my sitting down to scarf a big ol' serving of crow.
As you are aware, on Thursday the 19th of February, anxious Residents arrived at blog.secondlife.com in anticipation of the previously announced launch of a new suite of blogs. Blogs so exceptional in every way that these Residents would feel that their lives had been leading up to that very moment. Awash in the anticipation of absolute harmony and well-being they found instead, the old blog with a note taped to the front that said "the launch of the new blogs has been delayed to early next week."
And so a competition was had. And here are some of my favorite entries along with the one I chose as the best, and coincidentally, most representative of the actual, behind-the-scenes event as experienced by me, your pal, Blue Linden:
from Lucincia Muliaina
Friend: Why am I out of prims on my full sim?
You: Told ya to stop after the 100th Linden bear.
from Marianne McCann
I told you that codpiece would lead to trouble some day!
from Dedric Mauriac
Yoz: Hey Blue, we have to roll back the patch that fixed the patch that broke the patch that fixed the moon.
Blue: Told ya we shouldn’t be using a potato clock for the sun position.
from Aminom Marvin
Banker: You mean basing an economy on debt and not on producing things creates a massive recession?
For you my friend, there is no "I told you so". There is only facepalm.
from Panama Marama
Yoz: Hey Blue, we have to delay launch due to some technical issues.
Blue: Told ya we shoulda bought a new hamster wheel for the server gerbil.
There were plenty of great entries and the whole process was great fun, but the winner made me snort, which of course is the unmistakable sound of victory. Special credit to RichD Tomsen for his equally histerical and nearly identical entry which was posted only a couple hours after Marlette Mirabeau sent me this chortler via notecard inworld at 12:43am SLTime....
Yoz: Hey Blue, we have to delay launching the blog due to some technical issues.
And so Marlette, congrats....you are crowned the Queen of Comeback and winner of a special Eureka night out! I hope you are not afraid to be seen in public with a 12 foot green monster. ^_^
Stay tuned for tales of Marlette and Blue's great adventure!