Friday, July 22, 2016

This Weekend, Visit the Massive, Mythical, Murakami-Inspired Second Life Birthday Cakes of Ms. Mikati Slade

Mikati Slade SL Cake Murakami

Click here to visit the land of Japanese 3D pixel artist Mikati Slade, who became renowned for her pink and luminous and massive birthday cakes celebrating Second Life's yearly anniversary. Usually, the cakes are removed from the world after the anniversary, but for a limited time, they're available for photoshoots and gawking here.

Mikati won the auction for a New World Notes post in the Pulse fundraiser, but in all honesty, I've actually long been hoping to blog about her SL art, which is fantastic and dazzling and, she tells me, is inspired by famed, fellow Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

She traces her inspirations even farther back than that, to her parents -- and a fairly recent tragedy:

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Posted at 07:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virtual Hair Benefit for Wigs for Kids Non-Profit

952

Hair Fair 2016 is now running in Second Life, an annual extravaganza fundraiser in which all proceeds from sales of virtual hair are converted into real cash to benefit Wigs for Kids, a three decade-old non-profit providing, as the site explains, "Hair Replacement Systems and support for children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other medical issues at no cost to children or their families."

Go here for all the links and virtual hair for sale. For further inspiration, here's a Flickr pool of Hair Fair submissions on display (where I got the one above, from Carley Benazzi).

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Posted at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oculus Users Consider Sansar Through Second Life Lens

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 10.37.13 AM

Interesting thread in the very large /Oculus user group on Reddit, riffing off this recent TechCrunch post on Project Sansar. To succeed, Sansar needs to grow interest from VR fans far beyond the established SL user base, but as the conversational thread shows, that's a somewhat paradoxical challenge is: The only people likely to be extremely enthused by Sansar are dedicated Second Life users. (In great part because they're hoping to be able to move their SL content/identity/currency to Sansar.) For just about everyone else (in this case, Oculus Rift early adopters), pitching Sansar as "from the people who created Second Life" will elicit a shrug, or a vaguely positive/negative kind of "Oh that 3D Sims-like thing that got a lot of media coverage a few years ago" -- or from the millions who actually tried SL once, something like this, one of the top upvoted comment in the thread:

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Posted at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Text Communication Online to Be Supplanted by VR, Says Mark Zuckerberg Via Text Communication Online

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 12.12.28 PM

This is a photo of Mark Zuckerberg included to highlight a text-based opinion about Mark Zuckerberg's text-based opinion about photos being more important than text

I continue to be fascinated by the highly debatable assumptions that very smart people make to assert that virtual reality will become the future's primary medium. Goldman Sachs assumes VR is easy to use (LOL), and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (who got this VR wave going with his $2 billion purchase of Oculus Rift) makes this fascinating argument in an interview with The Verge:

VR is important for a couple of big reasons. The first is that our mission is to give everyone the power to share their experience as best as possible, and to help everyone understand what’s going around the world. Technology allows that to happen at increasing levels of richness. If you go back 10 or 15 years, most of what people shared online and most of what you read was probably text. And now almost everything has photos, and photos are becoming a very primary way that people communicate. And as the networks get better, we’re getting videos, too. Now you can post a video without it taking minutes to upload, you can watch a video without it taking 30 seconds to buffer, [and] it’s starting to be a good experience. So videos are starting to be one of, if not the main, ways that people interact and consume content online. But that’s not the end of the line — there’s always more, and our [lived] experience isn’t video.

He's right of course that photos and video-based communication are much more pervasive online now, but the shaky assumption is that photos and video are therefore supplanting or overshadowing text in some meaningful way. If anything, the exact opposite is the case -- photos and video primarily exist to enhance text-based communication, while text itself has grown in importance and reach.

Consider:

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Posted at 01:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Meet Metaworld: Potato-Headed Virtual World for VR Powered by Improbable

MetaWorld is an upcoming virtual world for VR devices that I haven't read much about until recently, such as this short article in Variety, which helps explains why it's peopled by potato-headed avatars:

MetaWorld consists of 10,000 square miles of virtual environment, complete with meadows, trees, mountains, lakes, and yes, campfires, that will be made available to early adopters through a “Pioneer Edition” program for high-end VR headsets like the HTC Vive later this year... MetaWorld by comparison is bare, and serene. During a demo for Variety, HelloVR co-founder Carleton DiLeo explained that some of this reduction was done on purpose. MetaWorld avatars for example don’t come with a full body. Instead, you’re represented by a floating head and two hands. “Your mind fills in the rest,” said DiLeo — and it actually does a better job doing so than VR experiences can.

You might think that potato heads aren't pretty enough to appeal, but then again, ask 100 million Minecraft players what they think of their own blocky-ass avatars. In any case, the piece that appeals to me most is that MetaWorld is powered by SpatialOS from Improbable, which a lot of smart people are counting on to transform virtual worlds:

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Posted at 11:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Second Life Community Gives Largest Grassroots Donation to Pulse Victims Fund -- 10th Biggest Overall!

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 4.56.14 PM

This is so awesome it's what the word "awesome" is for: The Second Life community's fundraiser of $20,000+ for the Equality Florida's Victim fund is not only huge, right now it's the very largest grassroots, community-based donation on the GoFundMe crowdfunder page, and tenth highest overall. You can see for yourself when you go to the page and click the Highest/Most Liked/Recent toggle on the right.

That's an incredible achievement, considering the $7.8 million total raised so far and that the biggest donors are mostly comprised of individuals and corporations. To be sure, any contribution of any size is great, but the fact that thousands of people from all over the world whose only connection is being part of an online virtual world rapidly put together a series of impromptu events, set up dozens of donation boxes, and even put themselves up for auction -- it's just truly amazing and heartening. During such a fraught time fractured by so much anger and rage, a virtual community quickly collaborated, and got good things done.

Speaking of which, everyone please join me in thanking Casper Warden, the UK-based SLer who got the donation drive started, and volunteered so much of his time collecting donations through his system of boards, converting the Linden Dollars to US$, and sending it along to Equality Florida. If you were one of the donors, you already received screenshots confirming the Linden Dollar cash-out and the Paypal donation, but for the record, here's a copy of the latter below:

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Posted at 05:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Second Life Brand Survey: Are You Already Preparing to Launch Your SL Brand in Project Sansar or High Fidelity?

Now that we're starting to see some SL-based brands transition to the next generation of virtual worlds, I'm curious how many others are also in that process. For this survey question, feel free to define "already" as openly as your like -- anything from directly working with the companies behind High Fidelity and Project Sansar, to exploring these platforms' beta with an eye what it takes to set up shop at launch.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top SL Fashion Brand Developing Project in High Fidelity

Well this is an interesting tweet that High Fidelity founder Philip Rosedale retweeted today:

Gizem Mishi Akin is associated with the insanely popular Second Life fashion brand known as Blueberry. Unless I missed it, this is the first well-known SL brand that's publicly announced a project in High Fidelity (let alone Linden Lab's Project Sansar.)

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Posted at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Play Urja: First-Person Strategy Game by Famed Anonymous Second Life Creator -- Now On Sale for 99 Cents on Steam

Urja is a strange and beautiful-looking first-person strategy game that came out a couple years ago but is now on sale on Steam for just 99 cents here.

As it happens, Urja was created by a famous Second Life creator whose avatar name I can't mention for reasons of privacy, but if you're a longtime SLer, you almost certainly know about him (or her). I will say Urja looks like it draws from similar fantastic visuals and sense of surprise and wonder this artist was renowned for in SL. Anyway, instead of belaboring that point, here's some more about the game:

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Posted at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academics Study Child & Family Roleplay in Second Life

Virtual Family Alicia Second Life

Interesting that I had just blogged Alicia Chenaux's thoughts on roleplaying as the virtual mother of virtual children (who are adults themselves), when up pops this fascinating Inverse story about two academics studying that very phenomena:

The exact why people are looking to live as children, and tangentially why other users what to act as their parents, is what more analysis will reveal to Loveland and Gilbert before they can make any definitive claims. But they do have a research-supported hypothesis, which was recently presented to the Western Psychological Association. “The hypothesis is that both the child and the parental avatars are motivated to explore these roles as a kind of corrective emotional experience,” Gilbert tells Inverse. “This may be because of traumatic or difficult experiences in childhood, so that in effect both child and parental avatars are trying to recreate a family that would be a more positive, and hopefully healing, experience.”

That description fits the experiences of Alicia, who is physically unable to have children in real life, or this profile of someone who roleplays as a child and reports being a child abuse survivor.

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Posted at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Did Daily Transactions of Bitcoin Go Up in Q2 2016?

No. No they did not:

Bitcoin daily transactions

Which means this is your quarterly reminder (or if you prefer, annoyance) that despite the 1 billion+ actual dollars invested in Bitcoin-related startups, the virtual currency is still used less than Linden Dollars, developed for a virtual world now over 13 years old and sellable on the open market for US$ for at least 12 of those years.

Despite that (and despite years of marginal growth), hope remains eternal among Bitcoin evangelists:

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Posted at 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

10 Year Second Life Vet Wonders What Else There Is To Do

Second Life Reddit

Pretty interesting /Secondlife thread started by "takeoutthegunman", who's been using SL for nearly ten years and says, "I'm just not sure what to do anymore." Before you think, "Well you could do X or Y", because if you read his list, he pretty much lists every possibility of X or Y. One point in particular jumped out at me:

The Events tab used to have a few decent things to find. Now it's just spammed to hell with "skilled games", photo contests, best in *, and treasure hunts that give away cheap garbage that wouldn't fit my avatars anyway.

... because that rings really true to me, too. I don't get the impression Linden Lab has hired someone to work full-time on curating and promoting a diverse range of high-quality in-world events (or if they are, it's not obvious), even though that would do wonders to maintaining or even boosting retention.

Let me double-check that right now:

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Posted at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Pokemon Go Raph Koster MMO

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Acclaimed Metaverse Artist Bryn Oh Creates Virtual Therapy Environment to Help Treat Military Personnel With PTSD

Bryn Oh OpenSim PTSD US Army

Violence continues shredding the real world, but virtual worlds may be able to help. Acclaimed Second Life artist Bryn Oh (pseudonym of a Canadian painter), recently announced a project she did with the US military, creating a tranquil, beautiful virtual space as therapy for military personnel suffering from PTSD.

To the uninitiated, this may seem like a strange idea, but veterans and active duty service members have been using Second Life for just that purpose for years:

After all, some vets are uncomfortable about discussing their PTSD in public for many reasons, and are often physically disabled and/or live in remote areas, making it logistically difficult for them to commune in person with fellow service people. In these cases and others, a virtual community of avatars embodied in a shared space seemed like an ideal solution. That intuition was recently confirmed by an individual infinitely more qualified to speak on the subject: retired Marine Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman, who's now director of the vet support organization Freedom Is Not Free. In a speech at East Carolina University, which is experimenting with SL as a PSTD treatment platform, Kopelman addressed the subject of Second Life as a therapy tool: “I know Marines that say that Second Life is working when nothing else has," he said.

Today (like many other days), with real world news of terrorism and violent unrest at a fevered pitch, it's somewhat difficult to write about virtual worlds and games, but knowing that they can offer some healing to the wounds we keep inflicting on ourselves may offer some solace. Bryn writes on a similar theme in her announcement:

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Posted at 03:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Newt Gingrich, Who Wanted US Congress to Meet in Second Life, Now Wants to Expel Muslims from US

Newt Gingrich Second Life President

Newt Gingrich, who very, very nearly become Donald Trump's Vice Presidential nominee, has many odd and/or horrible ideas. Take today's example of the latter, expelling American Muslims from the United States. Or as an example of the former, visiting the virtual world of Second Life guarded by hot babe avatars while ignoring green fairy protestors to propose that US Congress meet in Second Life:

Newt talked about creating a "Second Legislation" sim [in SL] where legislators from the national and state levels could come together to share views on important subjects and bills, without the need for expensive travel. This was pretty far-fetched, but definitely interesting.

It's definitely interesting that a reputed national leader would propose the US government devote enormous time and resources attempting to legislate on a niche technology platform without any consideration of scalability, usability, hardware requirements, efficacy, alternative technologies, etc. etc. Then again, it's even more interesting that he'd make another proposal without any consideration of, you know, the US Constitution.

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Posted at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What Pokémon GO Needs to Keep Thriving: Veteran MMO Game Designer Raph Koster Explains

Pokemon Go Raph Koster MMO

"Augmented Reality is an MMO" is a widely-discussed analysis of Pokémon GO by veteran MMO game designer Raph Koster, explaining why the AR-based blockbuster is basically a massively multiplayer online game that's soon to encounter many of the problems MMOs face, with those problems now threatening to impact the real world even more. (As they're starting to already.) Since this is the first augmented reality hit and since so many play it (including me), I asked Raph what Pokémon GO's developer, Niantic, should do to keep its virtual economy stable and help insure the game itself doesn't become a short-term fad.

"They need to create a sense of interdependence between players, so that other players are always seen as a mutual benefit," Raph tells me. "They need to provide support/redress facilities for problems, and anticipate that the problems will arise."

But how to build interdependence? "Roles is the classic way." He means something like classic MMO classes such as tank, healer, etc, but “it doesn't have to be those. After all, goalie, striker, midfielder, defender are also roles.”

Perhaps an even greater concern is how Pokémon GO's virtual economy is managed:

"Seems clear it's an inflationary system right now, very few drains," says Raph. (A drain or "gold sink" is a game mechanic which removes virtual currency or valuable items from the game economy, to reduce inflation.) "If [player-to-player] trading comes, real money trading will happen instantly... Once there is trade, it's classic Mudflation." (I.E., where the value of virtual items in a game become grossly over or under-valued based on player supply and demand.)

"It's pure faucet. The creatures never die. That's where value pools. Mudflation ahoy."

As for maintaining Pokémon GO usage over the long term, Raph has a very interesting suggestion there:

Continue reading "What Pokémon GO Needs to Keep Thriving: Veteran MMO Game Designer Raph Koster Explains"

Posted at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Flickr of the Day: Amona Savira's "in the shadow"

in the shadow

Everything about this image from Amona Savira's Flickr is great: The shadow, the bold slash of light, the avatar and her ambivalent pose and expression. Last night Amona told me a touch of how she created it, and her process is just as impressive:

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Posted at 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pokémon Go Crushing VR Devices on Google Trends; Also Seems to Be Boosting Interest in AR

Pokemon AR versus Oculus versus Vive

This is not quite a fair apples to apples comparison, but here's how much enthusiasm the augmented reality game Pokémon Go is generating compared to the two leading VR devices, Oculus Rift and Vive, according to Google Trends. No competition, no question: Pikachu pwns. 

And yes, yes, Vive and Rift are VR hardware devices while Pokémon Go is an AR software application, but then again, there's not even a VR software application with enough users to make a direct comparison. (See this study of VR apps on Steam, nearly all little used.)

Speaking of which, another interesting Google Trends data point: It seems like Pokémon Go is driving interest in augmented reality as a category in relationship to VR -- look:

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Posted at 11:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Do You Want to Prisma Your Avatar? Of Course You Do

Download the iOS app here, add an image of your avatar to your iOS device's photo roll, select a filter, and watch your avatar transform into something like this:

Prisma avatar Second Life app

Originally designed to convert photos into images inspired by the paintings of Lichtenstein, Munch, Picasso, Hokusai, and so on, Prisma seems to work just as well with photos from the virtual world. Here's the original screenshot:

Continue reading "Do You Want to Prisma Your Avatar? Of Course You Do"

Posted at 01:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

StyLit Turns Hand-Drawn Images Into 3D Renderings

Via Kottke, this impressive, in-development technology suggests all kinds of applications for developing virtual worlds and 3D animation and more:

It's called StyLit, and it converts hand-drawn images into 3D renderings. It also converts the textures of a hand-drawn image (light, shadow, etc.) into an existing image. From the project site:

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3rd Party SL Viewer for Consumer Oculus Rift Available

Oculus Rift Second Life OpenSim

Linden Lab may no longer support its Oculus Rift-compatible viewer for Second Life, but David Rowe of CtrlAltStudio does. Click here to read his notes and get the viewer download link.

Reading the comment thread, it looks like David's version works with the consumer version of Oculus Rift (i.e. CV1) quite well, which is great, because Linden Lab's did not. Says Neo Cortex, for instance:

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Posted at 01:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Second Life Users Raise Over 5 Million in L$ Donations for Victims of Pulse Shooting -- Over $20,000 USD! UPDATE: Donation Drive Ends With L$5.5 Million Collected

Linden Dollar donations Pulse Orlando

Update, 1:40pm SLT: Donation boxes are now closed, organizer Casper Warden just told me: "We've closed the boards at 5.5 million -- doing the withdrawal now." That's over $21,000 USD after funds are converted to cash going to Equality Florida's Pulse Victims Fund on Gofundme (where you can still donate US cash)!

As of last night, Second Life users have donated 5,340,029 in Linden Dollars to benefit victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting, with all L$ proceeds converted into real cash going to Equality Florida's Pulse Victims Fund on Gofundme: That's well over 20,000 USD, you awesome people. All the more impressive how quickly this massive fundraiser came together, with dozens donating themselves in a benefit auction, and thousands donating.

Speaking of which, congrats to Mikati Slade, an acclaimed Japanese artist who's been working in SL as her medium for years, who won the auction bidding on me. More on her soon.

Meantime, the auction may be over, but donations are stilling being taken -- how about we shoot for L$10 million now? Click here to donate in SL.

Continue reading "Second Life Users Raise Over 5 Million in L$ Donations for Victims of Pulse Shooting -- Over $20,000 USD! UPDATE: Donation Drive Ends With L$5.5 Million Collected"

Posted at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pokémon Go Big or Go Home: Massive Hit Shows Major Brand Needed for Augmented Reality MMOs to Succeed

Pokemon Go ARSo, Pokémon Go: How many New World Notes readers are already playing? Published to smartphone app stores less than 7 days ago, it's already more popular on Android than Twitter or even Tinder. I.E., More people are now looking for virtual monsters than actual hookups. (Or to put it another way, more prefer Pokémon Go than go poke a man.)

Converting the real world around you into a parallel, invisible world inhabited by magical creatures you can locate, spot, and catch, you play it with a customizable avatar, and interact, collaborate, or compete with other players in the real world. So basically, Pokémon Go is the first augmented reality MMO to become truly massive -- far larger than Ingress, another AR MMO from Niantic, which also developed Pokémon Go. In fact, for anyone who's played the many other smartphone AR games that have come and go, Pokémon Go will seem pretty damn simple. 

So why is it succeeding so well? That also seems pretty damn simple to explain:

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Posted at 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Firestorm Tip: How to Adjust Around Another Avatar

Did you know that in Firestorm, you can adjust another user's avatar around on your screen as easily as you could an inanimate object? Why yes, yes you can:

This is actually an old tutorial (by David Thomas Scorbal) and so probably old news to some readers, but seeing as I see top photographers still asking people they're photographing to move this way or that, it's likely news many can use. This isn't something you can do to any avatar, of course:

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Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Steam VR Ecosystem

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Friday, July 08, 2016

Second Life Pulls Official Promotion/Support for Oculus Rift

Here's what Second Life's homepage looked like last month:

Oculus Rift SL Homepage

And here's what it looks like now:

No VR Second Life homepage

So bye-bye Rift. Why bye-bye? Jo Yardly points us to this little-seen comment by a Linden Lab staffer in a long thread on the official Second Life messaging boards:

Thank you for experimenting with our Oculus Rift Project Viewer and offering your feedback. Unfortunately, the Project Viewer that we recently made available didn't meet our standards for quality, and so we've now removed it from the Alternate Viewers page.By definition, Project Viewers aren't ready for primetime. The purpose of these experimental Viewers is to share with you the earliest possible version of what we're working on, so that you can see what we're up to, help discover problems, and provide feedback. In this case, though, we're not ready for that, as those of you who tried it have seen. We can't say at this point when or even if we may release another Project Viewer for experimenting with the Oculus Rift in SL.

None of which is a surprise, as Linden Lab execs themselves have mentioned SL doesn't generally have a high enough frame rate to deliver a satisfying VR experience. The surprise is how long the company promoted Rift for SL on the homepage anyway. And anyway, the real capper to that comment comes at the end:

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Posted at 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Why Would a Woman Want to Roleplay as a Virtual Mom?

Virtual Family Alicia Second Life

Longtime SL blogger Alicia Chenaux has a fascinating post which helps illuminate a remarkable phenomenon in Second Life: The existence of virtual families, in which groups of SLers roleplay as traditional nuclear families with a mother, father, and two-three kids. (With the children being roleplayed by adults who've shrunk down their avatars to a kids' size.) For Alicia, becoming a virtual mother was inspired by a painful limitation in her real, offline existence:

It has always been a big deal to me that I haven’t been able to have children. In fact, it sent me into a depression for a long time after I found out that it just wasn’t going to happen for me. And adoption, unfortunately, is not in the cards for me in RL for various reasons. Also, my immediate family is very small. I have never had a sibling close to my age because my sisters were quite a bit older than me when I was born, so I was basically raised as an only child. It’s just my parents and me now, and the rest of our extended family all live very far away.

So when Alicia partnered with someone in Second Life, they "adopted" a couple of children -- all of whom know each other (to some extent) in real life, all with the knowledge and support of Alicia's real life boyfriend:

Continue reading "Why Would a Woman Want to Roleplay as a Virtual Mom?"

Posted at 11:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Steam's VR Ecosystem is a Microclimate: Vast Majority of Virtual Reality Apps Attract Little Ownership

Steam VR Ecosystem

Here's some very valuable VR numbers crunching from Tristan Parrish Moore of VR developer Broken Window Studios, who went through the data of virtual reality apps sold on Steam, and came up with this sobering chart above, counting "owners" of VR apps for Oculus Rift and HTV Vive sold on the massive game distribution service. (Steam counts over 125 million active users.) As I blogged last Tuesday, HTC Vive has sold around 100,000 units so far, with all models of the Oculus Rift (developer versions and recent consumer model) selling around 200,000-225,000 total. However, when it comes to actual usage of actual VR apps on Steam, 84% are "owned" by less than 20,000 people. (And "owned" includes people who own the game via a free key, versus actually buying it.) So again, not only is the market for VR devices still extremely small, almost all the people who own a high-end virtual reality device are buying very few VR apps.

For Moore, this leads to some very sensible conclusions for VR content creators:

I think it’s important at this point in time to measure expectations of the future VR market, at least until things start to pick up speed. As I stated previously, 64% of the games currently on Steam have sold less than 10,000 copies, and it’s currently extremely unlikely to sell over 100,000. While that is likely to change in the coming months, the VR market is currently not a healthy place to sustain a AAA budgeted game that doesn’t have an alternate market. While games with budgets of under $100,000 have a reasonably good chance to return the investment, anything over that is a serious gamble, and anything over a $1,000,000 budget is bordering on impossible.

Emphasis mine, because WTF. For developers of VR-centric applications we write about a lot here, High Fidelity and Project Sansar, that should elicit a double WTF:

Continue reading "Steam's VR Ecosystem is a Microclimate: Vast Majority of Virtual Reality Apps Attract Little Ownership"

Posted at 03:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

How to Optimize Second Life Mesh to Minimize Land Impact

Here's a seriously useful (and short!) video tutorial valuable for both SL mesh builders and land owners from Brookston Holiday of NWN's Metaverse ProTips. If you want to skip ahead, there's a place you should definitely not miss:

Continue reading "How to Optimize Second Life Mesh to Minimize Land Impact"

Posted at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Free NWN Post & Ad Still Up for Auction in Pulse Benefit

Bid on me and get a free post on New World Notes or a free 125 x 125 ad on New World Notes for 1 month, with all proceeds going to benefit victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando. Last I checked, the highest bid was L$7610. Want to bid more? Deadline is July 12 -- go here for all the details.

Posted at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Leader of Pro-Trump Troll Group Reportedly Banned from Second Life, Leaving Behind Nazi Insignia at SL HQ

Trump SL Nazi racist trolls

Anonymous online trolls for Donald Trump continue to run rampant on Twitter and across much of the social media landscape, but there seems to be at least one Internet forum being closed off to them: Second Life, where a cohort of Trump trolls besieged a headquarters of Bernie Sanders' SL supporters with flying demons and swastikas last April, then gathered in their own headquarters in May, a fever dream auditorium replete with unabated furry porn, racial slurs, and a pot-smoking Trump-head choo-choo train. Now, however, according to a new report by roving furry reporter Bixyl Shuftan -- who's pretty much the Seymour Hersh of furries on this beat -- the ringleader and some of his crones have been banned in Second Life by Linden Lab. The private SL island where the Trump HQ was hosted -- appropriately entitled The Wall -- has been locked up, and had its content wiped.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 3.23.01 PMTrump trolls being Trump trolls, this (above right) is what the The Wall looked like up until the end of last month, as seen from Second Life's satellite map view: with a reconfigured version of the Nazi Party's eagle-headed Parteiadler insignia. Which probably in itself could have got the group leaders banned, seeing as racist symbols violate SL's official Community Standards. (Something I pointed out back in May.) As of today, however, the neo-Parteiadler insignia, and for that matter, the entire Wall, has been wiped clean. 

So that, evidently, is that, leaving us with yet another example of life echoing Second Life -- and in this particular case, also giving us an avatar-based glimpse of the online subculture which is now directly influencing a major US Presidential campaign:

Continue reading "Leader of Pro-Trump Troll Group Reportedly Banned from Second Life, Leaving Behind Nazi Insignia at SL HQ"

Posted at 03:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

SL Flickr of the Day: Li Aoki Floating in the Virtual Water

Here's a evocative, coolly calming SL pic for the hot Summer via Li Aoki's Flickr stream:

Drift...

Floating heads up in the digital water isn't a pose you usually see, which is no surprise, because it require much manipulation, both of the avatar and the water itself:

"I have a lying down pose using it on a pose stand + Animare, a build/edit pose stand in the water [set] to the level of your preference and voila," Ms. Aoki explains.

The shot reminded me of a class album cover from the 90s (which was probably in turn inspired by the story of Ophelia):

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Vive Leads Premium VR Device Market With ~100K Sales -- I.E. Total Western Install Base Likely Under 1M

Vive install base Gear Oculus VR

Based on usage data, Road to VR is estimating the total unit sales for HTC-Valve's Vive VR system so far as about 100,000:

The margin of error brings the headset’s install base as high as 103,124 or as low as 86,698 three months since launch. To put this into perspective, Oculus sold some 175,000 Rift DK1 and DK2 development kits over the course of their lifetime offering (August 2012 – October 2015).

To put this in even more perspective, the Playstation 4 sold 1 million units in the first 24 hours of its 2013 release. By contrast, it looks like all sales of medium to high end VR units in the Western market -- Vive, Oculus Rift, and Gear VR -- is closer to 1 million total:

Continue reading "Vive Leads Premium VR Device Market With ~100K Sales -- I.E. Total Western Install Base Likely Under 1M"

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Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Realistic High Fidelity VR Avatars

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Buy Me: I'm Auctioning a Free New World Notes Post or Ad in SL Fundraiser for Victims of Pulse Orlando Shooting

Pulse Auction SL Linden Dollars

Click here to bid on me -- I'm auctioning myself in the Second Life style community's massive fundraiser to benefit victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting, with all Linden Dollars proceeds converted into real cash going to Equality Florida's Pulse Victims Fund on Gofundme. I'm specifically auctioning off a free post or one month ad on New World Notes. (Details below.) To make a bid, just travel here in SL, and click on my head -- on the auction board, I'm right to the right of the big rainbow heart. (See above.) Last I checked, the current bid is L$1000 from a generous donor. If I'm not your virtual cup of tea, totally fine, there's lots of other SLers up for bid -- say, SL fashionista Strawberry Singh -- click here to visit and see all the offerings.

Here's the details of what you get when you successfully bid on me:

Continue reading "Buy Me: I'm Auctioning a Free New World Notes Post or Ad in SL Fundraiser for Victims of Pulse Orlando Shooting"

Posted at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Are You Virtually Doing This Long Weekend?

NWN Open Forum for the long weekend (at least here in the US, for the July 4th holiday): Post events, opinions, links, pretty much whatever as long as it's got a virtual spin.

Posted at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Metaverse ProTips: Building With Second Life Specular Maps

Specular 01

Brookston Holiday has been building in Second Life for 10 years. You can view his work on the SL Marketplace here and his ProMaterials brand.

Specular maps are the part of the Second Life materials system which allow us to create “shiny” objects. They determine how rough or smooth the reflections on a surface appear. In the photo above, the red ball has a high speculartity, with a small, focused specular reflection; the green ball has a low specularity, the surface appears to be a more matte, or satin like finish.

Creating the balls above was easy: I just applied a blank texture to the specular texture slot and adjusted the glossiness parameter. However, as you try to get more complicated looking effects using specular maps, you are likely to run into some complications that have given Second Life’s materials system a bad rap. I think the confusion stems from important settings being hidden away. Today we will take a look at these “secret” parts of the materials system.

Let’s start with some simple white tiles and add some realism using specularity:

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Overlook Research, Stealth Startup from SL Co-Founder & Facebook VP Cory Ondrejka, Now Hiring Designers & Devs

Cory Ondrejka Overlook Research FB SL Startup

Speaking of founding Lindens, Second Life co-founder Cory Ondrejka, who quit his position as VP of Engineering position at Facebook at the end of 2014, has a new stealth startup called Overlook Research:

building better mousetraps since 2015

We are hiring designers and js developers.

If you think the second mouse gets the cheese, send a resume or portfolio link to hiring@overlookresearch.com

That's all the site will reveal, and Cory himself is mum. But if you're a designer or dev looking for what's certain to be a cool gig, go here to consider applying.

Question is, what's the better mousetrap in this case?

Continue reading "Overlook Research, Stealth Startup from SL Co-Founder & Facebook VP Cory Ondrejka, Now Hiring Designers & Devs"

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Founding Linden & Top VC Hunter Walk Wonders if Virtual Worlds Need to Be Ultra-Realistic to Go Big

This is a really good and long interview with Hunter Walk, now an extremely influential venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, but who got his start in tech helping found Second Life in 2002. (A year after I joined the company as the "embedded journalist".) It's a excellent listen if you're also in the tech industry, but the Second Life and virtual reality stuff gets going around 8:30, starting right around Hunter saying, "Jokingly, you could claim Second Life is more profitable than Twitter, Uber, and Airbnb ever have been." (Though that's actually still true.)

A lot of what Hunter discusses from there is featured [shamelessplug]in my first book[/shamelessplug], but the points he makes about why Second Life failed to gain a mass market strike me as extremely relevant to the new wave of virtual reality-based worlds in the era of Oculus Rift and Vive -- i.e., for developers of High Fidelity, Project Sansar, and others -- and are really worth thinking about (around 23:45):

Continue reading "Founding Linden & Top VC Hunter Walk Wonders if Virtual Worlds Need to Be Ultra-Realistic to Go Big"

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Vive Safety Guide Includes Cartesian Evil Deceiver Warning

HTC Vive Cartesian Safety Warning

Once you spot Descartes' Evil Deceiver lurking in the virtual reality industry, you can't stop seeing him. From HTC Vive's Safety and regulatory guide [.pdf]:

"[I]t is important to remember that simulated objects, such as furniture, that may be encountered while using the product do not exist in the real world, and injuries may result when interacting with those simulated objects as if they were real, for example, by attempting to sit down on a virtual chair.

Or like my boy René put it almost 400 fricking years ago:

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Second Life Fashion Community Holds Massive Fundraiser to Benefit Victims of Orlando Pulse Shooting

SL Pulse Orlando Fundraiser

Click here to visit the Second Life sim hosting a massive virtual fashion and style auction running until July 12, with all L$ proceeds converted to cash going to Equality Florida's Pulse Victims Fund on Gofundme. At the moment, the server is utterly packed with users (I tried three times to get in), so if you can't, SL blogger supreme Strawberry Singh has a full compilation of links of everything that's available for sale, including over 60 style items, and possibly even more fun, the chance to bid on the services of dozens of in-world celebrities:

Continue reading "Second Life Fashion Community Holds Massive Fundraiser to Benefit Victims of Orlando Pulse Shooting"

Posted at 03:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Linden Lab Disputes Real Name Requirement for Project Sansar, But Unanswered Questions Remain

Sansar Footage Linden Lab video

Last Friday, Linden Lab spokesperson Peter Gray responded to my e-mail to him from last Wednesday, asking if it was true, as original reports and an interview with CEO Ebbe Altberg seemed to suggest, that Project Sansar would require users to create accounts with their real life names. Peter insists that this is not accurate, but I haven't gotten an official response from Altberg himself, despite three follow-up e-mails requesting one.

"As Ebbe said [in the interview]," Peter told me, "requiring a user to provide their real identity to Linden Lab in order to create an account wouldn't preclude one from using a pseudonymous (or anonymous) persona when interacting with other users on the platform. This is quite clear in the quotes below: 'So I could go into a role-playing, or into an experience as an anonymous user in that context. But to the platform, I am not anonymous...It’s definitely something we’re thinking a lot about. But do I want that people in Sansar should be able to walk around anonymously? Absolutely!'"

However, in another part of the very same interview, Ebbe also suggested that the company is considering an identity system which integrates Facebook's real name policies with a pseudonymous one akin to Second Life and Twitter:

Continue reading "Linden Lab Disputes Real Name Requirement for Project Sansar, But Unanswered Questions Remain"

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Fantastic Flickr Album of Virtual World Still Lifes

SL FLickr art

Pepa Cometa has curated this glorious collection of virtual still lifes shot in Second Life, images that make such fantastic use of dynamic lighting and SL's full palette of tools they hover right between the virtual and the real. Featured above is Mich Michabo's "Dust has a right too...", one of many images Pepa found in her wanderings through collections by Flickr's large community of SL photographers:

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Monday, June 27, 2016

SL Users Raise Over $5000 USD in Donations for Pulse Shooting Victims - Major Fashion Fundraiser Starts 6/28

Second Life Pulse shooting fundraiser

Big leap in donations over the weekend brings the total Linden Dollars raised for victims of the Pulse shooting to well over 1.3 Million in L$ -- well over $5000 USD at current market rates. After being converted to cash, that sum will soon be sent to the official GoFundMe Pulse Victims Fund for Equality Florida , which as of today, is still about $700,000 short of its $7 million goal.

Wouldn't it be awesome if SLers could substantially help Equality Florida meet that goal? Good news, we can -- starting tomorrow, there's a huge SL fashion fundraiser with over 100 designers participating:

Continue reading "SL Users Raise Over $5000 USD in Donations for Pulse Shooting Victims - Major Fashion Fundraiser Starts 6/28"

Posted at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Top Seven New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Realistic High Fidelity VR Avatars

Posted at 10:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Open Forum: How Will Brexit Impact SL's Many UK Users?

Second Life London UK Brexit Linden Dollar

Pictured: SL's London Village -- click here to visit

UK users, the floor is yours -- how will last night's Brexit influence your usage of Second Life? British SLers make up a large percentage of the active userbase, and most economists believe the Brexit will have a heavy negative impact on the British economy, so the overall influence is likely to be sharp and noticeable.

Your own take, UK readers? And come to think of it, as the Brexit will probably impact every user in every country, this open forum is open to all.

Continue reading "Open Forum: How Will Brexit Impact SL's Many UK Users?"

Posted at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trump's Second Life Supporters Erect Giant Anti-Hillary Billboards Across the Street from Hillary HQ

Hillary Clinton Second Life Trump

So remember that Hillary Clinton headquarters in Second Life I told you about earlier this month? The one that had replaced a Trump fan's tribute to the Republican's Florida mansion? On a visit to the Hillary HQ this week, I felt a blobby mass looming over my head behind me, and so slowly turned around. And saw this:

Trump Billboard Hillary SL HQ

Yes: Trump's Second Life fans may have lost the mansion, but they put up a big billboard for Trump's SL headquarters (with a couple proposing Hillary for prison, for good measure) directly across the street. So now, both Trump and Hillary HQs stand at a literal crossroads:

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Posted at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Oculus Rift Terms of Service Warns VR Exposure May Increase Risk of Injury "in the Real World"

Oculus Rift Real Life VR Warning

Some VR experts believe the technology can endanger users in the real world, and in fact, Oculus Rift's Terms of Service warns consumers of just that -- however, you need to dig around to find that caution. Item 15 of Oculus' ToS, "Disclaimers", points to a .pdf document with safety warnings, then says "BY USING THE SERVICES, YOU REPRESENT AND WARRANT THAT YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THESE WARNINGS AND INSTRUCTIONS". The "Health and Safety" document is pretty standard for high tech devices until you get to the Discomfort section, which lists a host of symptoms ("seizures, loss of awareness... involuntary movements; altered, blurred, or double vision or other visual abnormalities" etc. etc.) followed by a passage in bold (captured above), which says this:

Continue reading "Oculus Rift Terms of Service Warns VR Exposure May Increase Risk of Injury "in the Real World""

Posted at 11:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Project Sansar May Require RL Names, Suggests CEO, UPDATE: Audio/Transcript Confirms, "But We Have Not Made Final Decisions", UPDATE 2: Linden Lab Disputes

Ebbe Altberg Second Life Sansar UGC

Update, 7/28: Linden Lab Disputes Real Name Requirement for Project Sansar, But Unanswered Questions Remain

Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg made a public appearance in Second Life yesterday during that virtual world's 13th year anniversary, and dropped this potentially unlucky bombshell about Project Sansar:

Ebbe was then asked if users of Sansar would have the option to chose their own names for their avatars, or would they be having to use real-life identities. Ebbe answered he was leaning to the latter, "I think what's best for Sansar is real names. ... anonymous identities makes things confusing."

I missed this press appearance, so it's possible that SL blogger Bixyl Shuftan misheard Ebbe on this point; I'm double-checking with Linden Lab now. But if that's accurate -- still a big if -- that's a pretty big potential showstopper:

Continue reading "Project Sansar May Require RL Names, Suggests CEO, UPDATE: Audio/Transcript Confirms, "But We Have Not Made Final Decisions", UPDATE 2: Linden Lab Disputes"

Posted at 03:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)


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