Monday, November 24, 2014

Top Seven New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Second Life 2 Sex

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Friday, November 21, 2014

SL Go Places: "CHAOS, KOSMOS", Massive New Installation in the Linden Endowment for the Arts Sim

SL Go SL art Giovanna Cerise Chaos 2

That's me floating at the base of CHAOS, KOSMOS, a vast and sprawling new art installation now being featured in the LEA sim -- that is, the Linden Endowment of the Arts island, a partnership between Linden Lab and Second Life artists. Created by Giovanna Cerise, CHAOS, KOSMOS is an incredibly SL Go OnLivechallenging 3D sculpture to see in its full glory, so I was curious how it would look running SL Go on my old Dell laptop.

I took this pic and the one below with the draw distance up to 500 meters, dynamic shadows enabled, and when you're able to see that far, and you're floating alongside it up high, Cerise's installation looks like this:

Continue reading "SL Go Places: "CHAOS, KOSMOS", Massive New Installation in the Linden Endowment for the Arts Sim"

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Buy a Second Life Dress to Help Educate Sierra Leone Girls

Second Life Charity Event

Strawberry Singh has news of an excellent non-profit campaign in Second Life, led by Juno Mantel, a well-known SL fashion designer:

Juno Mantel of Junbug has started a campaign to help educate girls in Sierra Leone [one of the world's most impoverished countries]. She has created this adorable vintage school dress, available in 5 colors, and 100% of the sales will be donated to her Do it in a Dress campaign... The Do it in a Dress campaign is part of the One Girl Organization in Australia. People from all over the world (men, women and children) have been taking part by wearing a dress and raising funds.

So now SLers can dress up to help raise funds too. Click here to buy the dresses in SL and go here to watch the funds come in on the NGO's official website.

Also via Strawberry, here's a video from One Girl explaining the program more:

Continue reading "Buy a Second Life Dress to Help Educate Sierra Leone Girls"

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Linden Lab Pulls Minecraft-Esque Patterns from Steam

Patterns Linden Lab review

Dorito boy, we hardly knew ye. Linden Lab has pulled Pattern, its inventive, Minecraft-eseque sandbox game, from Steam:

While “extremely grateful” to the players who bought an Early Access copy of Patterns, features relying on server connections, such as world-sharing are going to be turned off and the there will be no future updates. The offline content released so far will still be playable, however. “Patterns had early promise,” the team say. “And while Linden Lab focuses our efforts on our other offerings, we are still evaluating the future of the Patterns technology.” Patterns players are angry at the sudden announcement. There’d been no updates to the game since May but there had been nothing written to suggest the team would take the money and run.

That's disappointing news, because Patterns showed a lot of potential. Even Minecraft creator Markus Persson was digging it, while a well-known developer admired the hell of it on New World Notes. But apparently it wasn't gaining enough traction/sales to justify more effort on it, besides the company's core focus:

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DX Exchange Hiring In-World Staff (NWN Partner News)

DX Linden Dollar merchant

DX Exchange (a proud NWN partner) is now hiring paid in-world staff to help expand its Linden Dollar to real currency exchange service throughout Second Life -- especially users who are fluent in both English and Spanish or Chinese. If you're qualified and interested, e-mail support at dxexchange dot com or IM the company's in-world representative (pictured here) MarcelEdward DX.

More details after the break. 

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Watch Iris Play: Goat Simulator's Latest Update, a Hilarious Take on Your Least Favorite MMO Tropes

Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Remember Goat Simulator? I don't think there's any other game that I enjoyed as much but played so little of. When it first came out it was a genuinely entertaining diversion, but even when they released a new map I didn't feel much of a need to return; it all just wore thin too quickly. That's likely why their latest piece of DLC (released yesterday) has taken me by surprise. For the first time ever, I'm playing Goat Simulator and seriously planning to play more

The Goat MMO Simulator DLC is absolutely free, and brings multiple new maps and atcivities into the game. It's simultaneously a snarky response to all the fans who speculated that it would be easy for the developers to patch in online multiplayer and a legitimately purposeful parody of your typical MMORPG.

Yesterday I tried Goat MMO Simulator out for the first time live with a couple of friends, so if you want a taste of what this DLC has in store just watch for yourself (above).

Continue reading "Watch Iris Play: Goat Simulator's Latest Update, a Hilarious Take on Your Least Favorite MMO Tropes"

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Day in the Life of One of Second Life's Most Stylish Avatars

O'Clock Magazine 5 Matilda SoonJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

O'Clock is a Second Life fashion magazine with a damn clever premise. It follows a single featured avatar through their "day", starting in the morning, with each spread themed around their daily activities. It's an interesting twist on its own, but this month's issue of O'Clock is even more special. Issue number five's highlighted avatar is Matilda Soon, a mature lady who oozes class out of every virtual pore.

Matilda's not the first stylish avatar to take on the chic older woman look, but unlike many of the others she might share the category with Matilda's not too married to her cateye frames and pearls. She dresses the part of an aging Coco Chanel as easily as she slips into trendier, more contemporary galaxy-prints and geometric motifs. In fact one of my favorite spreads in the magazine features Matilda's morning yoga routine, expertly shot without an ounce of farce or comedy.

That's an important aspect of Matilda, too. She's absolutely not a joke, and she's made that abundantly clear:

Continue reading "Day in the Life of One of Second Life's Most Stylish Avatars"

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

SL Go Places: Mayfair, a Stylish Little City Sim for Shoppers and Sightseers Alike

Mayfair 1
SL Go OnLive

Even if you have a decent computer, there are some things in Second Life that require technical compromises. Case in point: Occasionally crowded shopping sims with beautifully built surroundings. Mayfair is the perfect example of this, a place full of clean, classic mesh buildings. It's also home to popular brands Celoe and Mon Tissu, meaning that you'll rarely find yourself there alone, even if you visit during the current lull between releases.

That said, visiting Mayfair in SL Go was a surprisingly different experience than I'm used to having there. Here's why:

Continue reading "SL Go Places: Mayfair, a Stylish Little City Sim for Shoppers and Sightseers Alike"

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Second Life Machinima: Mr. Bones Meets a Mermaid

The latest hilarious and lovingly produced installment in the Second Life adventures of Ole "Mr. Bones" Etzel is full of disaster and danger and maybe some hotly hot hotness with a mermaid in the deep blue sea:

"Mr. Bones" is Ole Etzel, a German SLer with a knack for American folk music and machinima, who told me this about the latest adventures of his avatar:

Continue reading "Second Life Machinima: Mr. Bones Meets a Mermaid"

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New World Notes Seeking Guest Posts on SL & VR

New World Notes

We are looking for guest posts to run on New World Notes, broadly around the topic of Second Life, virtual worlds, and virtual reality. You'll get a chance to express your opinion in the largest SL-related blog online, and you can include a link to your SL blog/SL Marketplace listing/whatever in the process.

If you have an idea you'd like to outline, please e-mail me at wjamesau@gmail.com or send an IM to me in Second Life, to Hamlet Au. Express your idea for a post in a "nutgraf".

What's that? Well, this:

Continue reading "New World Notes Seeking Guest Posts on SL & VR"

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Back to Nature: Paint and Explore an Idyllic World in Toca Boca's Latest Game for iOS

Toca Nature  (3)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Toca Boca's iOS apps might be better described as toys than games. They specialize in providing the foundational elements of play and then letting their players loose without any further guidance, leading to a lineup of products that resemble dollhouses more than they resemble a lot of their fellow child-oriented apps. Their philosophy is clean and simple, with an up-front cost and absolutely no in-app purchases.

But even though Toca Boca's work is designed with kids in mind, you can still get a lot of joy out of them as an adult. For example, consider their latest: Toca Nature...

Continue reading "Back to Nature: Paint and Explore an Idyllic World in Toca Boca's Latest Game for iOS "

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OpenWorm Nervous System Simulated in LEGO Robot

I for one welcome our artificial worm-robot powered overlords:

This is the latest from OpenWorm, a collaborative, open source attempt to construct an artificial life form -- a simple worm, computationally created from the cellular level to a point where it's sophisticated enough to solve, as the site explains, "basic problems such as feeding, mate-finding and predator avoidance". As Cory Doctorow explains about this update:

[T]hey've sequenced the connectome of all 302 neurons in a C. Elegans worm, simulated them in software, and put them to work driving a Lego robot. The legobot's sensors and motors are connected to the software in a way that corresponds to the worm's sensory apparatus and motor neurons, and the researchers claim that the resulting robotic behaviors are strikingly similar to a C Elegans' own. The significant thing here is that these behaviors were not programmed: they emerged naturally from mere act of simulating the worm's neurons.

So yes, OpenWorm has moved from the digital realm into robots. And our world will soon be dominated by them.

I've written a lot about the OpenWorm project, because a well-known SL programmer was part of the lead team during its inception:

Continue reading "OpenWorm Nervous System Simulated in LEGO Robot"

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Linden Lab's Blocksworld Now Has 400K Monthly Users - Here's How They Can Grow it to Be Larger Than Second Life

Blocksworld Linden Lab

VentureBeat has a long interview with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, which mainly hits points he's discussed with us here and here, but he also reveals a new data point which helps explain why the company kept Blocksworld, the LEGO-like tablet-based application targeted at kids, while selling off properties like Desura:

We’re learning a ton about how to make creation easy and fun. We’re learning how kids interact with a device like this. We’ve done barely any marketing around this. We’re still evolving this product, still early. But we’re already up to just about 400,000 monthly users. We’re a top-ranked game in the education category. We tend to be near the top in both the family and education categories of the App Store, at least in the U.S. The app is available globally, but at the moment, it’s English only. (Emph. mine)

That's really impressive, especially without much marketing and no non-English versions to speak of. Second Life has about 600,000 active monthly users, so Blocksworld is already within striking distance. Create a version of Blocksworld for the Japanese and Korean markets (which monetize best) and for China (which has the largest install base), not to mention Germany (the EU's biggest mobile market, I believe), and I can easily see Blocksworld getting a monthly user-base far larger than Second Life itself.

Speaking of which, Altberg describes a rich ecosystem of user-genreated content in Blocksworld:

Continue reading "Linden Lab's Blocksworld Now Has 400K Monthly Users - Here's How They Can Grow it to Be Larger Than Second Life"

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Inquiring About Inquisitors: Who's Your Hero in Dragon Age: Inquisition and Why?

DAI  (2)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The character you make in a BioWare game can be a strangely personal thing. Unless you're one of those weirdos who goes with the default (bo-ring) there's a lot for you to consider before you even start playing. Where's your character from? What life have they lived? What kind of person are they/will they become? What do they want out of the world? Appearance customization is almost the simplest part of the process, even though Dragon Age: Inquisition offers more customization options than ever before.

I mulled all of these things over last night and came up with something I'm happy with, but what about you?

Continue reading "Inquiring About Inquisitors: Who's Your Hero in Dragon Age: Inquisition and Why?"

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Three Items from The Kawaii Project Guaranteed to Make Your Second Life Cuter

Kawaii Project - Foxes Bookbag
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I don't get excited about new shopping events in Second Life very often, but when I do they're almost always kawaii. It's true that every week it seems there's a new event, a new hunt, a new fair, a new something pulling SL consumers in every direction, so these days only a handful of them ever really catch my eye. The Kawaii Project is one of them, promising to be a monthly event where designers inspired by all things cute and lovely can gather together and flaunt their latest work.

I've picked out three items you won't want to miss from the debut round of the Kawaii Project, so keep reading for the details!

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Consider Kickstarting: That Dragon, Cancer, a Bereaved Couple's Interactive Memorial to Their Cancer-Stricken Son

That Dragon, Cancer, is a new, heart-wrenching Kickstarter project which is both a game and couple's memorial to their very young son, who recently succumbed to cancer:

Click here to consider funding. Despite all the drama and rancor around the game industry this year, the medium of games continues to be more ambitious, more willing to take on painful and controversial subjects -- and in the end, that's what really matters.

Posted at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why Second Life 2 Shouldn't Allow Porn at Launch, as Explained by a Single Viral Post

Second Life 2 Sex

So this totally NSFW post, "These Strange Stories Prove Second Life Isn't The Dreamworld You Believed...", from a site I've never heard about, is currently going viral, and as such, perfectly illustrates why I said Second Life's follow-up shouldn't allow porn at launch. The post itself is a cheesy, juvenile re-hashing of sexual content in Second Life (especially the kinkier and weirder kind) from many years ago. But here's the thing: Once that kind of content is out there in the social media ecosystem, it's impossible to retract, and thus becomes indelibly associated with the brand, with no way to disentangle it. Like I said:

It's inevitable that Oculus Rift and other VR platforms will inspire pornographic content, and many of the games set for deployment in VR are already violent, and that's fine for adults who want to immerse themselves in that kind of content. But virtual porn in particular has always been an impediment to Second Life going mainstream, hurting its brand, scaring away mainstream institutions, and just generally causing it to be a laughingstock for anyone who wasn't familiar with how much more non-porn content the world contained. (That is to say, just about everybody.)

A lot of readers objected to this idea, and their rejoinder is often something like this: The problem isn't with sex in Second Life, it's with conservative people (especially in the US) being puritanical about sexual content. But that response utterly misses the real problem:

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GamerGate "Movement" on Twitter Driven by Just 500 Accounts & 3000 Daily Users, MIT Lecturer Finds

GamerGate Twitter users Michael Trice

MIT lecturer Michael Trice crunched the numbers around the #GamerGate hashtag on Twitter during the first week of November, and came up with this shocking stat:

In both the case of tweets and RTs about 500 accounts create half of the total volume in the conversation. Regular daily participation floats around 3,000 users. Then there’s a large body of several thousand accounts dipping a toe in the conversation.

Overall participation in that hashtag during that time frame was around 16,000 accounts total, and it's not even clear how many accounts are advocates of the "movement", as opposed to detractors. In any case, kudos to Trice for doing the heavy lifting to get the concrete data, which as it happens, is in line with my September estimate that GamerGate is around 10,000 guys, give or take a few thousand.

Continue reading "GamerGate "Movement" on Twitter Driven by Just 500 Accounts & 3000 Daily Users, MIT Lecturer Finds"

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Here's Why Shadow of Mordor's Photo Mode Could Be a Game-Changer

Shadow of Mordor Photo Mode  (4)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style


In what I can only describe as my fugue of anticipation leading up to Dragon Age: Inquisition's release, this past weekend I decided to dip my toes back into Shadow of Mordor. Shadow of Mordor is pretty highly acclaimed and has some very interesting systems, but for whatever reason it didn't really "stick" with me and consequently I hadn't played it since early October -- which, as it turns out is around when they added a feature that would have absolutely rekindled my interest: Photo Mode.

It's perfect for capturing some of the more tranquil scenes from the game, as show above, as well as some decidedly less tranquil (and less flattering) ones. For example...

Continue reading "Here's Why Shadow of Mordor's Photo Mode Could Be a Game-Changer"

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Detailed Second Life Snapshots Don't Have to Overwhelm You (or the Viewer)

Pokute Burt (2)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

It can be really tempting, when taking detail-rich snapshots in Second Life, to try to put as many shots and angles together as you can. It's a trap I've fallen into as a blogger many times, feeling like I need to show off every little part of an outfit or a scene in one image. This sometimes leads to Frankensteined Photoshop collages that may show off all of the details, but will be so busy and cluttered that a viewer may not be able to appreciate them anyway.

SL artist pokute Burt recently posted a pair of snapshots that reminded me of this dilemma, and the fact that sometimes the simplest compositions are the best. Instead of crowding the above shot with panels and vignettes as I might have been tempted to do myself, pokute instead follows up with a detailed shot even more charming than the first:

Continue reading "Detailed Second Life Snapshots Don't Have to Overwhelm You (or the Viewer)"

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Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Eddie Escher Chris Edwards Second Life

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Watch This Weekend: South Park's Mind-Blowing VR Episode, a Cartesian Puzzle With Ball Punching UPDATE: Palmer Luckey Explains How Oculus Joined in on the Fun

Just like they did with World of Warcraft, South Park is getting the first and last word on virtual reality in the Oculus Rift era:

Basically it's a Cartesian allegory, with dick punching. And Eric Cartman as the evil deceiver:

Continue reading "Watch This Weekend: South Park's Mind-Blowing VR Episode, a Cartesian Puzzle With Ball Punching UPDATE: Palmer Luckey Explains How Oculus Joined in on the Fun"

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DX Exchange Launches New Web to SL Marketplace

DX Marketplace Second Life Items

DX Marketplace is a new service from NWN partner DX Exchange -- that's right, the authorized Linden Dollar re-seller now also sells Second Life items on the web, for pick-up at DX's many in-world terminals. They're offering a L$100 promotion for customer sign-ups, and SL designers and merchants can try the service for free (i.e. no listing fees) until the end of the year. (Click here to start listing SL items.) There's already several vendors on DX Exchange:

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The Many Faces of Mizu, A Brand New Mesh Head for Second Life Avatars

Willow Zander TSG Mizu
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I wasn't sold on the new mesh head from The Sugar Garden when I first saw it. I'm still head-over-heels in love with my Snow Rabbit head from a couple years back, and even with all the expression-heavy heads coming out lately none of them have come close to matching it in cuteness. TSG's pouty "Mizu" is a contender, but it took me until I saw longtime fashion blogger Willow Zander's feature on the head to get fully on board. Here's why:

Continue reading "The Many Faces of Mizu, A Brand New Mesh Head for Second Life Avatars"

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Grey Rabbit: How to Take a Second Life Fashion Snapshot With Character

Nomak Nyoki INVIZJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's typically a surplus of brash postures, bold makeup, and bright lights in fashion imagery, and Second Life fashion snaps are no exception. While this standard makes for some pretty powerful images and showcases many designs well, there's still something to be said for branching off in another direction -- pursuing a look that's decidedly more... Quiet.

Nomak Nyoki's photography is typically not something you could characterize as quiet. He's a master at portraying stylish male avatars in particular, and they're often as bold as can be. Compared to them this sombre female figure he posted today certainly stands out, but not in a bad way. It's an image with a lot of character. 

To some extent, all the brashness, boldness, and brightness in many fashion snapshots washes character away by design; it's a marketing-oriented style intended to make you want to place yourself in that scene. But images like these can feel much more authentic. The model's not a blank slate, but a person with vulnerabilities. She's the personification of her rabbit pendant, soft and slouched, and that makes this image much more interesting to me than dozens of others that could have been taken.

Check out the original here, and visit Nomak Nyoki's Flickr gallery if you're itching to see more of his work.

Continue reading "Grey Rabbit: How to Take a Second Life Fashion Snapshot With Character"

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I Don't Always Blog About Second Life Fashion Spreads...

Miaa Rebane SL Fashion

... but when I do, it's usually about Miaa Rebane's latest. Because, I mean, wow.

Posted at 10:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Do You Want Virtual Reality in Your Web Browser?

Web VR Firefox

Moz VR, as the name suggests, is a virtual reality-compatible version of Firefox, now compatible with Oculus Rift, but compatibility with other VR platforms coming soon. As the Moz blog says:

We’ve designed MozVR to be a “native VR” Web experience, made from the ground up for virtual reality. As one of the first websites of it’s kind, building it required that we come up with new solutions for the unique challenges of a fully immersive, three-dimensional medium. To make it easier for others to build their own VR websites, we are sharing these solutions on MozVR and GitHub, from source code, to tools, to tutorials.

Nobody say the world "VRML" -- please, just don't -- but the developers want to turn web-browsing into a VR experience:

Continue reading "Do You Want Virtual Reality in Your Web Browser?"

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Five Things You Need to Do Before Dragon Age: Inquisition Comes Out

Dragon Age Keep
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'm not going to mince words here; I'll admit that I'm working myself into a bit of a froth over Dragon Age: Inquisition, which is due to be released next Tuesday. It's receiving rave reviews from critics I respect, and the general consensus seems to be that it does so many things right that previous games in the series may have done wrong. Notably, for the first time in the series players won't be confined to a single nation. They'll roam across Thedas in a game world larger and more open than ever before, and peppered with plenty secrets and points of interest.

But Tuesday is basically an eternity away, and I -- I mean you -- might need your Dragon Age fix right now. If so you're in luck, because I have a laundry list of five things you should definitely do before you finally lay your hands on Inquisition next week, starting with...

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Second Life Bloggers: Earn $10/Referral With SL Go's “Refer-A-Friend” Code -- I'll Help You Promote It!

SL GO affiliate code

OnLive (a proud partner to this blog) recently announced a new SL Go “Refer-A-Friend” program. For a limited time, anyone can earn $10 for every referral who converts to a paid SL Go subscriber. Here's the basic instructions:

  • Go here and create an account
  • Link your PayPal account to get paid.
  • Use the social sharing tools to get word out about SL Go.
  • a. Share on Facebook & Twitter. b. Send email to friends. c. Website banner tools are available, too.

And if you're an active SL blogger like me and you're interested in participating, I want to help you promote the offer so your readers can try out SL Go's streaming service for tablets and low-end laptops while giving you a nice cash bonus to support all your blogging. Here's how:

Continue reading "Second Life Bloggers: Earn $10/Referral With SL Go's “Refer-A-Friend” Code -- I'll Help You Promote It!"

Posted at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

RIP Eddie Escher, Pioneering Second Life Creator UPDATED: Added Short Video Documentary

Eddie Escher Chris Edwards Second Life

Fallingwater Cellardoor & Eddie Escher in Second Life, 2004; Alayne Wartell & Chris Edwards at his 40th birthday, 2010

Once upon a time, two shy but talented 3D artists met as avatars in Second Life, fell in love with each others' virtual creativity, and then finally, fell in love with each other, and moved across an ocean, to be together. In Second Life they were known as Fallingwater Cellardoor and Eddie Escher, and in 2004, they were among the world's best 3D artists. I wrote about how they met and fell in love then, but sad to say that Eddie, called Chris Edwards, passed away eariler this year, tragically just shy of his 45th birthday. Years before mesh or even sculpted prims, Eddie (a game dev artist by trade), showed how beautiful Second Life prims can be (see below). Fallingwater recently posted this sad news on the new Facebook group for longtime SLers, and since the story of their meeting is among my favorites, I wanted to share it here:

Continue reading "RIP Eddie Escher, Pioneering Second Life Creator UPDATED: Added Short Video Documentary"

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Fill Your Fall and Winter Wardrobe With These Five Picks from the Second Life Marketplace

ColdLogic_combo_-_wayne_-_QP
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're looking to restock your virtual wardrobe with a few cold weather essentials, the fall fashion showcase on the Second Life Marketplace right now won't be much help. Yesterday I wrote about exactly how little help it is, but at the time I didn't offer much in the way of advice for shoppers.

So with that in mind, if you are looking around the Marketplace for a few warmer seasonal pieces to add to your avatar's closet I have a few recently released recommendations for you to consider, starting with...

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Posted at 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gaming's Top 13 Best Dressed Characters - Janine's Latest on Paste Magazine

Janine Iris Best Dressed in Games

"The 13 Best Costumed Characters in Videogames" is Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' latest post for the uber-hip Paste Magazine, and as everyone who reads her Second Life/MMO fashion coverage here, she's got an excellent eye for spotting avatar-based style. It's a compendium of characters across many genres of games, a lot of which will surprise even hardcore gamers. Among her faves are The Boyle Sisters from Dishonored, and I got no quarrel with that -- we both became big nuts for the immersive cross-genre steampunk action game from 2012, and fortunately, I was able to interview the lead creators, Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio, for several NWN posts on the now-classic game: The Story of Dishonored: How the Hit Game's Immersive Narrative Was Crafted and Told, Dishonored's End: Harvey Smith & Raphael Colantonio on Designing a Game That Changes Based on Player Behavior, Dishonored Players Evenly Choose High Chaos "Evil" & Low Chaos "Good" Endings, and How Dishonored Honors Thief.

Anyway, read Iris' full list here.

Posted at 10:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Iris Rants: I'm Sick and Tired of Meaningless Second Life Marketplace Features

SL Marketplace fall 1
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Another season, another seasonal showcase on the Second Life Marketplace. Although I've written very critically about these showcases in the past, I'll admit that I still check them regularly. When done right, they could be tremendously helpful for shoppers too overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content on the SL Marketplace to browse.

The problem is that they aren't. They never are. This time it's even worse than usual, and here's why:

Continue reading "Iris Rants: I'm Sick and Tired of Meaningless Second Life Marketplace Features"

Posted at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Here's How Insurance Policies for Digital Goods Kicked an Unreleased Game's Player Economy Into High Gear

Inside-star-citizens-grey-market-141268903726
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

One of the most fascinating virtual economies in action right now is the one that has emerged around Star Citizen (a crowdsourced game that is still in development) and a recent post on Eurogamer has done an excellent job of explaining just how that's come to be.

For some time now, backers and future players of Star Citizen have been able to use real money to buy and trade access to virtual ships -- which range in price from the cost of a decent meal out to the cost of a decent used car -- that they will be able to use when the game eventually launches. The catch is that much like ships in EVE OnlineStar Citizen's spacecraft are not invulnerable. They can be permanently destroyed... Unless the owner has insurance.

Those virtual insurance policies are exactly what's Kickstarted the player economy even while the game itself is still in development. Eurogamer's Wesley Yin-Poole writes:

Continue reading "Here's How Insurance Policies for Digital Goods Kicked an Unreleased Game's Player Economy Into High Gear"

Posted at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Top Fifty Most Active Second Life Sims, October 2014

Courtesy Louis Platini's Metaverse Business, a Second Life/OpenSim analytics company that gathers publicly accessible in-world data for its clients, here's the top 50 most active Second Life sims, starting with 26-50, listed by their average avatar visitor count at any given period, visitor range, and previous position last month (September in this case):

Top 50 Second Life Oct 2014

Click here to use SL's map function on the web to search and directly teleport to any of these sims. As with September's list, roughly half of the most active sims are Adult rated, with just five rated for General content. Here's 1-25 after the break:

Continue reading "Top Fifty Most Active Second Life Sims, October 2014"

Posted at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Top Ten Ways to Describe Second Life in Five Words

Five words or less

Iris' open forum last week challenging readers to describe Second Life in five words attracted a deluge of suggestions. Here's my favorite five which work best as an "elevator" pitch to a non-user:

  • "We all share lucid dreams." - Bavid Dailey
  • "Hideous, wonderful, disturbing, inspiring, oxymoronic."- Marigold Devin
  • "AutoCAD that you live in." -Jessica Pixel
  • "The Matrix in Beta (sorta)"- Gealya Aeon
  • "Your World. Your Imagination. Kinda." -- Val Kendal

And here's my five favorites more for insiders, decidely more snarky:

Continue reading "My Top Ten Ways to Describe Second Life in Five Words"

Posted at 01:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

2D to 3D: Check Out This Fascinating, Flattening Visual Effect from the Unity Editor

In The Witch's House
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

From a fan's perspective, one of the best perks of indie game development is that developers will often share interesting bits and pieces of what they're working on. Since small operations are typically only beholden to themselves and not massive companies (and NDAs) they can share more, and what they share is often more than just marketing materials. It may be a snapshot of their current progress or a glimpse at an asset or two. It may even be, like the gif above, just the result of fiddling with a few things for fun.

Chelsea Saunders tweeted this dynamic dollhouse view of a game she's currently working on a few days ago, demonstrating the effect of toggling 2D and 3D view options in the Unity editor she's developing in. It's utterly hypnotizing to watch... Even though it doesn't have anything to do with the game itself. In The Witch's House will be an exploration-based game set in what's already shaping up to be one of the most believably twee interiors in recent gaming memory.

If you can pry your eyes away from her clever gif, you can check out screenshots and information about Saunders' upcoming game In The Witch's House on her blog.

Continue reading "2D to 3D: Check Out This Fascinating, Flattening Visual Effect from the Unity Editor"

Posted at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Start Your Monday Right With 36 Seconds of Absolutely Absurd Second Life Machinima

Nanri Ying Pumpkin Split
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A fluffy white cat with uncannily dark features stands poolside in the midst of a vast, autumnal forest. There is quiet and the soft lapping of water before the cat seizes up, lifts into the air and drops mechanically down onto one of many pumpkins sitting nearby. In a burst of juice and pulp, the pumpkin collapses into sections like a freshly-whacked chocolate orange. The scene repeats itself several times over the span of 36 seconds, and comprises one of the most absurd things I've seen in a while.

Nanri Ying's "かぼちゃ割" (or "Pumpkin Split") is exactly 36 seconds of a cat smashing pumpkins in the most awkward and somehow perfect manner possible, and there really is no more to it than that. I've already spoiled the entire thing, but I bet it's still not enough. Not until you've seen it. If you don't, the curiousity may very well gnaw at you forever...

So go ahead, watch it for yourself:

Continue reading "Start Your Monday Right With 36 Seconds of Absolutely Absurd Second Life Machinima"

Posted at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top EIGHT New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Linden Lab Second Life T Shirt

Posted at 01:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 07, 2014

Play in Second Life This Month (If You Dare): An R-Rated Adventure Game from MadPea Called Blood Letters

Madpea Second Life game

Blood Letters is a new point-and-click adventure game from renowned Second Life game developer Madpea, and this one is a decidedly R-rated search for a serial killer.

"In some ways," Madpea's Kiana Writer tells me, "we're going back to the basics and encourage the use of your brain. While the game is HUD -driven, the players can collect extra clues and solve puzzles if they keep a traditional pen and paper with them and take notes during the gameplay."

Go here to get started. Oh, and Kiana tells me there's a bonus for dedicated players:

Continue reading "Play in Second Life This Month (If You Dare): An R-Rated Adventure Game from MadPea Called Blood Letters"

Posted at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

DX Exchange Adds Payment Options for Spanish & Canadian SLers (NWN Partner News)

DX Club Linden Dollar exchange

DX Exchange (a proud partner to this blog) just let me know they've added payment options for Linden Dollar purchasing designed especially for Second Life users in Spain and Canada. To support those customers, they added Trustly as an online banking payment method (a popular payment service in Spain) and Payza (a popular service in Canada, since it's easily connectable with Canada's Interac Online service. DX is also partnered with SL's Quebec Bunker Club (direct teleport here). Canadian Slers interested in using DX, go here - Spanish SLers interested in using DX, go here.

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

This Weekend in Second Life: Explore a Kinectic Art Installation Inside a Floating Metal Bubble

Second Life art

There's a giant metal bubble floating in the Second Life sky, and inside it there's an interactive art installation full of strange wonders. Eddi Haskell has the inside word: "Touch shapes and objects to interact with the exhibit. Be prepared for some very hyperkinetic movements. Make sure your sounds are turned when you visit -- this is an interactive media event." Click here to teleport directly with the official SL viewer -- Or if you're using a 3rd party viewer or SL Go, copy/paste the SLURL to get there:

Continue reading "This Weekend in Second Life: Explore a Kinectic Art Installation Inside a Floating Metal Bubble"

Posted at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iris Wants to Know: How Would You Describe Second Life in Five Words or Less?

Five words or less
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

When someone asks you to explain Second Life, what do you tell them? These days it's just as likely that they're asking you because they don't know as it is that they're hoping you'll confirm some idea they've picked up about it. There's no escaping the fact that in some circles, Second Life is a punchline, and even if you don't want to blindly defend it it's difficult to come up with a fair description that's still concise enough to keep the asker from tuning out altogether.

Once upon a time I would launch into a detailed description only to see eyes gloss over and heads turn away, so these days I'm more inclined to shrug lightly and describe it as Westworld meets the internet. It may get the job done, but it's not the most accurate way to frame things to say the least.

That's what's inspired this request. I want to know the punchiest way you can think of to describe SL to an outsider. So can you encapsulate the metaverse experience in five words or less? Give it a shot in the comments below!

Continue reading "Iris Wants to Know: How Would You Describe Second Life in Five Words or Less?"

Posted at 01:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (71)

This Second Life Artist Achieves the Perfect Blend of Avatar and Environment

Marimari Yuitza 1
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A tricky part of virtual world photography is making your subject and the background feel harmonious. There are no shortage of avatar snapshots taken "on location" that look like they could have been Photoshopped together after the fact. I have a hard time putting my finger on the exact cause of this backdropping effect (flat lighting? dissonant shading? malevolent computer witches?) but very few Second Life artists are fully immune to it. 

And then there's marimari Yuitza. Her figures and backgrounds sometimes seem to melt together, and other times...

Continue reading "This Second Life Artist Achieves the Perfect Blend of Avatar and Environment"

Posted at 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

James Cameron: Virtual Reality a "Yawn" Until it Gets Mass Market Growth, Non-Gaming Experiences

James Cameron Oculus Rift

James Cameron just pronounced Oculus Rift and VR technology in general a "yawn", which is being widely interpreted as a slam (as here) -- but if you read what he says more closely, he's making a totally fair and valid point:

"The question that always occurred to me is, when is it going to be mature, when is it going to be accepted by the public at large, when are people going to start authoring in VR and what will that be?" Cameron said. "What will the level of interactivity with the user be other than just ‘I can stand and look around,'" he elaborated, adding: "If you want to move through a virtual reality it’s called a video game, it’s been around forever."

Or to put it another way virtual reality is not an exciting technology to him until it gains mass market acceptance, and develops a visual/experiential language that are markedly different than first-person video games. And really, both are solid statements:

Continue reading "James Cameron: Virtual Reality a "Yawn" Until it Gets Mass Market Growth, Non-Gaming Experiences"

Posted at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

SL Go Places: Blake Sea, a Vast Waterway for Realistic Sailing on the Second Life Sea (NWN Partner Co-Production)

Blake Sea Second Life

Blake Sea is a sprawling, atmosphere-rich place in Second Life (click here to teleport), and when I told readers I was planning to explore the best areas and communities in SL, it was was one of the suggestions which stood out most, and the one I wanted to visit first in SL Go Places, a new travelogue series we're doing with the help of NWN partner OnLive, which help powered this visit with SL Go on my old Dell laptop. 

SL Go OnLive

While Blake Sea is visually detailed, full of little elements that make it feel like a real place, the feature I like most about it is the sound: With constantly crashing waves and crying seagulls, Blake Sea has the audio ambience that many places in Second Life lack, and it's the kind of cue that makes strolling on the docks or wandering along the shorelines that make visiting feel so immersive. 

But that's not even the main purpose of Blake Sea, because it's the home of large flying and sailing communities, who worked with Linden Lab to make the place what it is:

Continue reading "SL Go Places: Blake Sea, a Vast Waterway for Realistic Sailing on the Second Life Sea (NWN Partner Co-Production)"

Posted at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

Why Linden Lab's Selling of Desura Might Be The Smartest Thing It's Ever Done -- Wait, This Sounds Familiar

Splash_Alt
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

When news broke last night that Linden Lab had sold Desura, I wasn't surprised. A little over a year ago when Linden Lab initially announced that it had acquired the indie gaming community's answer to Steam, I wrote that it might have been their smartest pick amid a wave of buying up diverse programs and platforms. But that statement came with a pretty big caveat, and that caveat is why if anything I was surprised that Linden Lab hadn't handed Desura off sooner.

Continue reading "Why Linden Lab's Selling of Desura Might Be The Smartest Thing It's Ever Done -- Wait, This Sounds Familiar"

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New World Notes: Now With 5000 Twitter Followers!

In news quite possibly interesting only to me, my 7 year old @SLHamlet Twitter account now (finally) has 5000 followers:

If you're on Twitter and not following yet, I hope you consider doing so. I make an effort to retweet as much good Second Life-based content and events as possible, so if you have anything like that to share, please Tweet it at me!

Posted at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Linden Lab Sells Desura Game Distribution Platform to Focus on Virtual Worlds (As Its Company T-Shirt Affirms)

Linden Lab has sold the Desura game distribution platform purchased during Rod Humble's tenure as CEO of the company, and this company T-shirt is a good way of explaining why:

Linden Lab Second Life T Shirt

The statement on the shirt came up during an all-hands company meeting held shortly after Ebbe Altberg became Linden Lab's new CEO, and it's a salty (and wearable!) way of saying this:

Transitioning Desura to a new owner is great for Linden Lab and our customers, as it allows us to further enhance our focus on creating the ambitious next-generation virtual world, while continuing to improve Second Life and growing Blocksworld

And yes, it's an official company shirt (though I'm guessing they might not wear it in public, but then maybe so). "The next time you're in SF," company spokesperson Pete Linden tells me, "you might spot some Lindens sporting them in person too."

Seems like a good way of focusing on the company's core business. (But then again, if Desura was extremely profitable for Linden Lab, they'd probably still be holding onto it.)  We did see a lot of potential to grow Desura, for as Iris argued last year:

Continue reading "Linden Lab Sells Desura Game Distribution Platform to Focus on Virtual Worlds (As Its Company T-Shirt Affirms)"

Posted at 03:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)


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