Friday, September 23, 2016

Palmer Luckey's Support for Pro-Trump Group Reminds Me of His Support For Pacifying the Poor With VR -- UPDATE, 7:10pm: Luckey Posts Confusing Apology on Facebook

Update, 7:10pm: Luckey just posted a carefully worded, ambivalent apology -- read on Facebook here or after the break with my thoughts.

Oculus Rift Palmer Luckey Second Life

Now burning up my social media (not to mention the Oculus Rift subbreddit) is this jaw-dropping report from The Daily Beast that Palmer Luckey has been secretly funding a pro-Trump organization founded by some uniquely noxious online racists:

Along with Luckey, Nimble America was founded by two moderators of Reddit’s r/The_Donald, which helped popularize Trump-themed white supremacist and anti-Semitic memes along with 4Chan and 8Chan. A questionnaire to become a moderator at r/The_Donald posted in March had applicants answer the questions “Is there a difference between white nationalism and white supremacy?” and “Was 9/11 an inside job?”

... Before becoming directly involved in the process, Luckey met the man who would serve as the liaison for the nascent political action group, and provide legitimacy to a Reddit audience for later donations without having to reveal Luckey’s identity: Breitbart tech editor and Trump booster Milo Yiannopoulos.

Yiannopoulos, of course, is also one of the official/unofficial leaders of GamerGate (which seems to have mostly matriculated to backing the Trump cause), while Breitbart was developed into a haven for white nationalists by chairman Stephen Bannon... who now leads Trump's campaign. I'm actually not entirely surprised by this news, as I've often seen Luckey write or Tweet things which seemed supportive of Gamergate and/or Trump. 

The real curiosity, to me, is the virtual one: How much does Luckey's support for Trump relate to his views on virtual reality, and its importance to society? One clue might be in this passage I wrote for my Wired article last February, which was abbreviated in the final copy, but here's the original, unedited version:

Continue reading "Palmer Luckey's Support for Pro-Trump Group Reminds Me of His Support For Pacifying the Poor With VR -- UPDATE, 7:10pm: Luckey Posts Confusing Apology on Facebook"

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to Create 360 Panoramic Shots of Second Life for Twitter & Facebook

This is a screenshot from Second Life with a difference -- it's 360 degrees. If you can't get the full effect on New World Notes, click through to view (and spin around in) on Twitter:

Pretty cool way of presenting more immersive depictions of the virtual world on the "flat" Internet. As the Tweet suggests, this is possible through a device created by Microsoft's Jim Reichert, which he recently made available for fellow SLers on the Marketplace here.

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Avatar-Based DJ Becomes Mixcloud Chart Topper

If you're one of the many users of MixCloud, a hugely popular music streaming site for DJs, you might have noticed that this particular DJ was recently listed as #1 in the ElectroHouse category:

Mixcloud Electrohouse SL DJ London Callin

... which is somewhat surreal, because London Callin only exists as an avatar in Second Life, and her mix was recorded in an SL club:

"SMASH is a club on the Whiskey sim, full standalone sim, split between residentials and the club venues. I DJ a twice-monthly residency there as well as other irregular themed sets, etc," as London tells me. (Click here to visit the sim.)

Among thousands of DJs on the site with millions of listeners, how did London Callin hit the top of the charts?

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Using Virtual Reality Seems to Enhance Dreamtime Reality

TiltBrush VR

Fascinating story from The Atlantic:

Could regular forays into virtual reality actually trigger lucid dreams, too? A survey Gackenbach conducted in conjunction with her study finds a correlation between heavy Rift usage and increased dream lucidity. Participants, including both Rift developers and gamers, described having increasingly lucid dreams as they spent more time immersed in virtual reality. “I seem more in control of my dreams now and am somewhat aware that it is a dream,” one technical writer reported.

This makes intuitive sense to me, since many VR experiences, like Tilt Brush, already feel like lucid dreaming. If this phenomenon scales to the wider population, it may turn out to be one of the most interesting and worthwhile use cases for VR:

Continue reading "Using Virtual Reality Seems to Enhance Dreamtime Reality"

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SL Brand Owners: Tell Me If You're Setting Up in Sansar

Sansar Screenshot 4

We know that top SL game brand Madpea is setting up in High Fidelity, we know that top SL fashion brand Blueberry is too. But unless I missed it (and that's quite possible), not a single SL brand has yet announced plans to set up shop in Linden Lab's upcoming Sansar. (Even though a majority polled say they planned to do so.)

So this is a call: If you own a well-known SL brand and you're planning to launch in Sansar soon, please let me know. Post in Comments below, hit me up in any of these social/SL channels listed here. I'd love to know what you're planning.

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SL Flickr of the Day: Pepa Cometa, Master of Virtual Focus

The river's sound

If you're not following Ms. Pepe Cometa on Flickr, you surely should. More than most SL photographers, she's expert at using focus effects in the SL viewer to create portraits of virtual locations that feel like cinema stills. Here she is, for instance, in a sim inspired by Jane Austen novels, and you can just imagine this from the opening of an Ang Lee movie in your dreams. (Teleport to it here.).

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VR Headset Price & Spec Comparison Shows Why Sony Will Win Platform War This Year

Just came across this very helpful price/spec comparison of the leading VR headset platforms on Amazon via Reddit's Vive group:

Amazon's VR Headset comparison chart

Lined up together like that, it's even easier to see Playstation VR has graphics specs equal or sometimes superior to the Oculus and Vive... for $300 less. And it's compatible with the Playstation 4, which should hit an install base of around 50 million by the end of this year. And hardcore gamers who own a high-end PC powerful enough to handle a Oculus or Vive are likely to also own a Playstation 4. And Playstation VR has a huge pipeline of VR games coming soon. And Playstation has by far better name recognition among consumers. Etc. etc.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top SL Game Developer Making Games for High Fidelity

MadPea High Fidelity Second Life

MadPea, which is probably the most well-known game studio in Second Life, recently announced that they're also going to be developing content in High Fidelity:

To date, MadPea has produced a staggering anthology of more than 80 interactive experiences in Second Life, alone. Now, it’s time to take a step into a new direction and we’re delighted to announce that we’re expanding to a new platform and joining High Fidelity’s Pioneers of VR program to produce exciting new content in VR.

The move isn't entirely surprising, as the studio has reported difficulty making major, cost-effective projects in SL. MadPea joins Blueberry, a well-known SL brand which is also shifting some focus to HF.

"We're very interested in exploring new platforms and spreading our legume legion as far as we can, but Second Life will always be our main base of operations," MadPea's Kiana Writer assures me. "We'll continue to develop, create and imagine all sorts of wicked and wonderful things for Second Life no matter if we're working in HiFi or any other virtual world."

That said, she has high goals for Philip Rosedale's new virtual world:

Continue reading "Top SL Game Developer Making Games for High Fidelity"

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Java Programmers: Would Working on Your Code in VR Make Your Code Any Better?

The creators of Primitive seem to think it just might, as UploadVR reports:

As it stands today, Primitive does not solve the entire productivity problem, but it might offer a foothold upon which a more complete solution might be built. “The most powerful aspect of our tech is that it can take any Java code and automatically create an animated 3D model out of it. This means that teams with large projects can visualize their code and watch it run in all of its detail. We are learning a lot from this,” [Primitive creator John] Voorhees wrote in an email. “We need to find out if visually stepping through complicated code in VR leads to faster and deeper comprehension. The immediate application is project management and onboarding new employees.”

I don't actually see how onboarding and project managing would be any more efficient in VR -- unless, that is, the actual project being managed and onboarded is itself a VR project. But I can kind of see how some aspects of coding could be improved this way:

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Posted at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Linden Lab Vet Reveals Secret of Second Life Graphics

Linden alum Yoz Grahame shines a line through the virtual fog:

Which now that he mentions it, does make total sense:

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Top SL Creator Releases Bento-Powered Wing Template

Bento Wing Template Damien Fate

Veteran SL content creator Damien Fate recently released a Bento-powered wing template in the run-up to Bento becoming part of the official viewer. By "template", he means just that:

These wings are customizable, so you can replace the texture with your own. Included in this package is a full permissions copy of the default wing texture as a guide. As well as being modifiable you can also use the included texture applier to sell your own custom wing textures. 

So expect to soon see a flock of Bento/Fate-powered wings flying through the SL skies quite soon.

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Virtual Worlds "Real" Enough Now (Comment of the Week)

Sansar Screenshot 2

Top Comment of Last Week goes to "JohnC", who offered this rejoinder to the idea that "real" virtual worlds are decades or even centuries away, basically arguing that they're real enough already:

SL is of course a real experience, too real in fact, because apart from the mental trick of transferring consciousness into the scene on the screen, same as one does with a book, or when watching a movie, you are really just sitting in a room staring at a monitor, book or TV screen. Surely the dreamed of goal of a true Virtual world is a far deeper whole body experience than that. An experience that convinces the mind that the virtual world is no less real than actual reality. The whole point of virtual reality I thought was that it is not real, it just convinces the mind and bodily senses that it is.

And we're already reaching that point with existing technology:

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HTC-Vive Install Base Now Approaching 150,000

Raw Data VR Game

Interesting data points from a lead VR developer who created a rare hit for the HTC-Vive:

Vive-exclusive sci-fi shooter Raw Data has become the first virtual reality game to hit $1 million in sales in the space of a month. Developer Survios made the claim in an interview with Fast Company, and said at least 20 percent of HTC Vive owners have purchased the action title... The game currently retails for $39.99 on Steam -- though it was launched at a discounted $31.99.

As a lead third party developer, presumably Survios has an inside track from Valve and HTC about how many units of the VR platform have been sold. Because that estimate strongly suggests how many Vives are now on the market:

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Top Seven New World Notes Post from Last Week!

Harvard Berkman Second Life

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Friday, September 16, 2016

SL Flickr of the Day: Virtual Interior as Lush as a Painting

Ready for Fall?

I'm a fan of the virtual interior pics of Ms. Lemon Panda (yes), and this latest image from her Flickr stream is as richly textured as a painting of the Fall. Yes, she used some post-processing to give it extra luster, but, she tells me, the real magic is WindLight:

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Bento Be Release Candidate for Official SL Viewer

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 10.43.53 AM

Hungry for bento? It's about to be served straight from Linden Lab's kitchen:

The Bento Viewer is now a Release Candidate Viewer! This is the last stage before becoming the official release Viewer. If you are interested in avatar content creation, please give the new Viewer a try, and if you encounter problems, please let us know right away by filing a JIRA bug report. We believe the skeleton and sliders are in their final state, but the Release Candidate Viewer is intended to give us the opportunity to test with a much larger number of users to be sure we're ready to deploy throughout Second Life. It’s very important to hear about any remaining problems as soon as possible.

More here. So if you're interested, now would be a good time to start playing with the bento avatars already available, as here, and here.

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New for Fall: Ample Avi's Plum Ripe Shape for Second Life Avatars (NWN Partner News)

Ample Avi Plum Ripe

NWN sponsoring partner Ample Avi has introduced a brand new Second Life avatar shape to their lineup this month. Coming in at a height of 6'5", Plum Ripe is the latest from store owner Xme Xue, who specializes in shapes covering a range of natural proportions from the petite to the plush.

In case you're not in the loop on this particular brand, Ample Avi sells shapes for vanilla Second Life avatars (most of which fit standard mesh clothing sizes rather well, in my experience). Plum Ripe is specifically classed as a "Curvy Lush" shape, which means that compared to last month's new addition, Slim Chance, she's got a fair but more meat on her bones — though she still sports a dynamite hourglass physique. Plum Ripe's facial structure is also leans a little more on the "cute" side in my opinion, though as demonstrated in Ample Avi's own promo shots she still looks flawless all glammed up.

Like all of Ample Avi's full-priced shapes, Plum Ripe comes copy and mod enabled. Shapes are an essential staple for anyone who doesn't feel confident or patient enough to fiddle with their avatar sliders, but that doesn't mean that all avenues for customization have to be locked down. A copy and mod enabled shape means you can still tweak her features to suit your tastes and needs, and even save a separate version of her stowed safely in your inventory so you don't lose the original.

As ever, you can pick up Plum Ripe and check out the full Ample Avi lineup at their in-world shop in Pryeri [teleport link] or on the Second Life Marketplace.

Continue reading "New for Fall: Ample Avi's Plum Ripe Shape for Second Life Avatars (NWN Partner News)"

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

How Microsoft System for Recording 3D Holographic Video for HoloLens is Jaw-Dropping

Well this is whoa-worthy:

As you can see in the video, Microsoft creates the high-quality videos for the HoloLens that can be compressed to bandwidth which is suitable for consumer applications. It’s pretty amazing to see how the company creates these videos which can be viewed as holograms. Their technology figures out how to present virtual objects so they fit in with the real world. Imagine a person’s hologram is projected in front of you, you could walk around the imaginary people just as if they were real, your viewpoint changing seamlessly as if they were actually there.

For that matter, imagine reality and the virtual blending so seamlessly we start to confuse the two, too!

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Another Mesmerizing SL Bento Avatar Head in Beta

She sounds like Scarlett Johansson (no thanks to laryngitis) but thanks to mesh, looks like Megan Fox -- here's fashionista supreme Daeberethwen Arbenlow, demo-ing another new avatar head powered by the new mega-articulatable Bento skeleton. Now witness a fully armed and operational Bento:

Lady Arbenlow tells me to look especially for adjustments around the eyes and chins for that extra Uncanny Valley-leaping action. A longtime fashion/Photoshop expert, she is psyched when these Beta heads officially start appearing on the official SL grid:

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High Fidelity Poll to Implement Chat System in VR World

High Fidelity Chat VR Poll

Really interesting survey from the High Fidelity team, asking users what kind of text-based chat system they'd like implemented in their virtual world -- interesting, because the way chat is implemented will massively impact how High Fidelity is used, and who uses it.

For instance, the poll asks how important it is that "Users should have the facility to forward chat snippets to High Fidelity for review" and that "Users should be able to rate other users individually." Either of those could be an important tool to curb user-to-user abuse -- but at the same time, incur enormous community management costs on the company's part. When they talk about users rating users, I assume (hope) they mean anonymously, as a way of flagging abuse, and not publicly -- as happened early in Second Life, with disastrous social consequences.

The fact that High Fidelity is even asking whether they should have text-based chat at all is surprising:

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Harvard Still Has a Sim in Second Life, But I'm Not Sure Even Harvard Remembers That

Harvard Berkman Second Life

When I noted the decline of "the most prominent and active presence of a major university in Second Life" on Monday, I added "active" as a qualifier because there's still some other prominent universities in SL, up to and including the most prominent in the entire world: Harvard University. Click here to visit Berkman, sponsored by Harvard's law college of the same name.

Thing is, you may be one of the few visitors in quite some time.

That wasn't always the case, because a decade ago, it was quite active, hosting events like "Avatar-based Marketing: What's the future of Real Life Companies Marketing to Second Life Avatars?", which spun out of an article from the Harvard Business Review. I was a panelist at that event, and another time, distinctly remember first meeting Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on the sim, as he was exploring SL as an avatar named Jimbo Berkman (yes).

The place is more or less empty now, except for a public sandbox, and to judge by the surroundings, hasn't been updated in many years. For instance, clicking a nearby bulletin board produces this notecard, dated 2011:

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"Second Life Friends" Largest SL User Group on Facebook

Second Life Facebook

Second Life Friends with nearly 30,000 members is by far the largest SLer-run group on Facebook, with a highly active feed of event announcements and pics (and, of course, blatant avatar self-promotion). Since it's set to private you have to request access from the moderators, but you probably should. The official SL Facebook group is much larger (nearly 400K subscribers) and nicely curated, but also tightly controlled by Linden Lab, which posts all the content, and I'd love to see a user-run alternative grow even larger.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

VR Wars on Google Trends: Gear Leads, Playstation Gains

If I was on the marketing team of Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, this Google Trends search would fairly freak me out:

VR Google Trends

Because we're fast careening toward the holiday shopping season, and without much fanfare, Playstation VR is fast on the heels of the two premium HMDs on the market, while those two are drawing waning interest. (Look how far Oculus Rift has fallen from its peak in 2014.) Also notable that Samsung Gear is the leader overall, interest-wise - not so surprising, as it has now double the install base of Rift and Vive combined. All of which suggests (as other analysts have noted) this: For 2016-2017, at least, VR will probably be a largely mobile and videogame console peripheral.

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Throwback Tuesday: Talking About Virtual Worlds in 2007

Someone just posted to YouTube this debate about Second Life I did on G4TV in 2007 with a Forbes writer, and while I can't watch it beyond a few seconds without wincing, I'm putting it here for posterity's sake. Variations of the same arguments we made back then are now being made about VR and VR-oriented virtual worlds, so it's a good compare-and-contrast reference point. Also, if you're a relatively new New World Notes reader and you're wondering, "Why is this guy writing about VR when he sounds so skeptical about it so often?", the video might give you a clue:

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Top University Greatly Curtailing Second Life Footprint - Western Australia One of Last Major Schools Active in SL

Nish Mip SL art Last Ocean UWA sim

Sad news for the state of metaverse art and virtual world education: Due to budgetary/administrative changes, The University of Western Australia (UWA) in Second Life is being greatly scaled back -- in the next couple weeks, declining from five sims to just one. Jayjay Zifanwe, who's been managing the UWA's presence in SL for over seven years, has the details, and some mournful thoughts on this end:

The SIM that will remain for at least another year is the Uni of WA sim, which is our flagship sim housing Winthrop Clocktower and the Reflection Pond, The Sunken Gardens and The Somerville Theatre. Everyone, do come..reminisce....look through the blog posts here, find yourselves. It is all of you who made all of this possible. I normally am known for long drawn out presentations and speeches perhaps, but, this time it is too hard for me to think of what else to say... except ... THANK YOU EVERYONE.

Fittingly, the 3D art installation known as The Last Ocean, inspired by a theme of "death of a virtual world", will be open to UWA visitors for these last two weeks -- click here to visit by then.

On a big picture basis, this is easily the most prominent and active presence of a major university that's still in Second Life. (UWA has been ranked among the top 100 of universities in the entire world.) No doubt there's dozens of semi-dormant sims owned by smaller schools still on the grid, but thanks to Jayjay, UWA has always been the most active in recent years, at least from public-facing point of view:

Continue reading "Top University Greatly Curtailing Second Life Footprint - Western Australia One of Last Major Schools Active in SL"

Posted at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

"Real" Virtual Worlds Are Far Away (Comment of the Week)

Sansar Screenshot 2

Last week, a reader named "JC" came by this virtual reality/virtual world blog with a much needed bucket of cold water:

It may be that one day the majority of humanity might live in virtual worlds as described in books such as this, but even if it is to happen, it will be a lot further in the future than some headset-wearing salesmen might have us believe. It reminds me of the way we talk about other inhabitable planets light years away, where mankind might go when the earth is beyond redemption. As if we might head off there in a few years' time, when the reality is we are pretty much stuck here on earth for the next few hundred if not thousand years or so, until we come up with some radical new way of traveling through space.

Before you fire pooh-pooh pellets at the opinion, keep in mind that JC is actually a fan of virtual worlds, and is just trying to keep the virtual real:

Continue reading ""Real" Virtual Worlds Are Far Away (Comment of the Week)"

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Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week!

Burning Life SL

Posted at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weekend Open Forum: Say Anything About the Virtual

The microphone is yours. Particularly interesting comments/opinions/content links/events/etc. may be featured in a post next week, so bring your A game.

Posted at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, September 09, 2016

Open Source Web-Based Browser for OpenSim Coming Soon

MOSES OpenSim Web

Really interesting post on HyperGrid Business about an HTML5 viewer for the MOSES project, the US Army's OpenSim grid. Set for release this fall, it's developed to be usable on any device supporting HTML5 and WebGL, and even more crucial, will be released as open source. Another intriguing hook is that they're aiming to greatly improve the graphics with some new back-end:

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Posted at 02:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rapturous High Fidelity Review by VR Dev -- "[R]einforces the human experience more so than any other VR experience I've tried"

High Fidelity Philip Rosedale VR world

Fascinating and rapturous review of High Fidelity from Ursula Lane-Mullins, who's co-founder of a VR company, so knows from VR experiences. The way she describes High Fidelity in its current (open beta) form reminds me of the way I described Second Life in its very early incarnation, as underwater lucid dreaming with others. For instance, here's what it's like for her to visit High Fidelity's virtual Australia:

For some strange reason, we all try and get on the one bus in Australia, but its much more difficult than it seems. We all try and scale down our avatar, we are that desperate to get on the bus. As we are getting on the bus, the bus suddenly grows and becomes a walk in bus. Someone with us is changing the code on the fly and it is messing with our brains big time, but it’s also the best thing ever. He ends up expanding the bus so it becomes a ramp into infinity and we all just keep skipping up the plank into eternity, because we can, and because Australia.

For her, just as important as the dream-like experience is the sense of inhabiting a body and a social space with others, which she says High Fidelity manages to do like no other:

Continue reading "Rapturous High Fidelity Review by VR Dev -- "[R]einforces the human experience more so than any other VR experience I've tried""

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Thursday, September 08, 2016

Expert Forecasts of Virtual Reality Adoption Vary Wildly While Actual Sales Are Slow

Goldman Sachs VR adoption

Is virtual reality about to go mass market, or is it destined to be a hardcore gamer niche? I've been tracking adoption forecasts of VR devices for at least the last two years, so let's take a look:

So predictions for even the short term future of VR/AR adoption (i.e., circa 2020) range wildly, anywhere from 38 million to 200 million+. These forecasts vary so wildly, we might as well average the figures out, toss a dart, and hope for the best.

The striking thing? We still don't have much of a baseline of ownership or usage to predict whether any of these numbers are actually achievable!

I mean, just look:

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Posted at 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

First Bento Mesh Heads Available to Demo in Second Life

After a long wait, we're starting to see avatars featuring Project Bento, Linden Lab's new skeleton extensions which greatly expand the expressive range of avatars. Above is what appears to be the first Bento-enabled mesh head, complete with a crazy degree of customization options.

The main advantage to a Bento-based versus standard mesh head, SL fashionista Strawberry Singh tells me, is "Basically just being able to adjust/modify it." She allows that there are still some issues to be worked out with this trial head. "Hopefully all that will be sorted before they release to main viewer."

Speaking of which, this mesh head from Akeruka isn't available on the main grid yet, but you can demo it now. Strawberry has instructions on how to do that, plus a video of her own walk-through (head-through?):

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Sansar Officially Appears on Twitter as @SansarOfficial

So far there's not much on it beyond some recent media coverage and those new pretty-if-avatar-free images, but Linden Lab's Project Sansar platform is now on Twitter. Only now -- after months of speculation that this was only a placeholder name -- it's known by its official name "Sansar" (Hindi for "world".) Tweets embedded below, follow for the latest.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Microsoft Exec Shows How to Shoot Panoramic Photos in Second Life to Share on HoloLens or Social Media

Here's a new video from Jim Reichert, the Senior Creative Technologist at Microsoft who made that nifty HoloLens demo last month, streaming Second Life video into his company's upcoming AR/VR glasses. Here, Jim is shooting 360 degree panoramic still photos of SL, and while he's using a HoloLens, anyone with a Second Life account can create pics like these with an in-world rig he's created for that very purpose. (Available here on the SL Marketplace.)

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Posted at 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Children of the New World: New Book That New World Notes Readers Should Enjoy

Children of the New World VR stories

Children of the New World is a collection of connected short stories by Alexander Weinstein that's received a lot of advanced literary acclaim (it officially debuts next week):

Children of the New World introduces readers to a near-future world of social media implants, memory manufacturers, dangerously immersive virtual reality games, and alarmingly intuitive robots. Many of these characters live in a utopian future of instant connection and technological gratification that belies an unbridgeable human distance, while others inhabit a post-collapse landscape made primitive by disaster, which they must work to rebuild as we once did millennia ago.

As that description suggests, and as longtime Second Life blogger/voracious reader Cajsa Lilliehook confirms, it's a book that virtual world fans should especially enjoy and appreciate:

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Posted at 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

SL Flickr of the Day: Eupalinos Ugajin's Avatar Profiles


"I sometimes eat one avatar a day in Second Life," Eupalinos Ugajin announces on his Flickr page, and indeed he does: Spectacular photos of spectacular avatars, such as this one above, featuring a post-apocalyptic survivor and his pet drone. Just wish he was hungry for avatars on more days.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

StartUp: New Show About Launch of Virtual Currency Better Than Bitcoin

StartUp, a new online series from Crackle is a crime-flavored twist on the Internet start-up show, in that it's set not in Silicon Valley but Miami (meaning less geeks in hoodies, more sex and sunlight), and it centers on the creation of GenCoin, a new virtual currency that's supposedly better than Bitcoin. Here's the sexy founder making the sexy pitch:

Pretty amazing, when you think about it, that a relatively big budget series with some well-known actors is about virtual currency. (Martin Freeman from the UK version of The Office and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a star.) Anyway, she gets to differentiate GenCoin from Bitcoin around 1:10:

"Bitcoin... good idea. Its code is open source, a true democratization of money... which makes it susceptible to third party interference, and ultimately corruption. "

Which is all very true. (Witness Bitcoin getting gamed by miners in China and the Great Firewall.) Then again, all money is democratized and susceptible to interference and corruption. So if I was writing the script, I'd write a more effective Bitcoin diss, like:

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Second Life Users Anonymously Discuss How They Juggle Real & Virtual Romances at the Same Time

Night and Scooter Second Life Sex

Really interesting anonymous thread on Plurk*, a social network popular with SLers, which starts by asking Second Life users how they're able to manage both a real life relationship while also spending lots of time in a virtual relationship. "I can barely keep up with one relationship in one world," the thread creator notes. "No idea how you manage both."

Communication, communication, communication:

For me it's emotionally fulfilling to have both and I do agree that I love each person differently. The heart has this amazing capacity when you allow it... My relationship with my SL partner is fully separate from my relationship with my RL partner. They are friends and speak openly though... I have a RL partner who understands my SL relationship. My SL partner and I had very similar needs so we have worked well together for years.

... with some pointed commentary:

I look at everyone who tells me its not real, like they are a bunch of liars and I just want them to admit it is real. Like when my friends tell me about it I'm like, i need you to stop bullshitting me if we're going to talk about this and stop telling me "oh it's not real because it's SL." I wasn't born yesterday.

I think a lot of married couples are inconsiderate of the RL people behind the SL relationship. At the end of the day, that person is alone and the married couple isn't. Just seems wrong to string them along.

And helpful advice:

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Posted at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Burning Man, Which Inspired Second Life, Gets Griefed Like Second Life

Burning Man Burning Life SL

Welp, there goes utopia:

The organizers of an exclusive camp at Nevada’s Burning Man festival have denounced “hooligans” whom they accuse of raiding their camp, stealing items, gluing trailer doors shut and cutting the power... The response from festival regulars has been split, with sympathy towards the camp tempered by many who say that the “prank” on White Ocean, a closed zone funded by tech entrepreneurs, was “taking burning man back from the parasite class”.

As the last line suggests, this conflict is probably the culmination of simmering resentment over the last few years, as Burning Man's original ideals were infected by the consumerism from many of its wealthiest attendees:

Participants at the three-decade old festival, which is based on an ethos of co-creation and mutual self-reliance, traditionally all pitch in to build the event. It is built around a radical “gifting” culture, where even strangers who wander into a camp are supposed to be served; in turn, they are expected to do the same for others. But as Burning Man has become more popular, it has become seen as an annual fixture for global elites who pay others to build them exclusive camps called “plug and plays”, which allow them to swoop in, turn on and drop out for a few days before returning to corporate life.

All of which is unsurprising, but also twice-cooked irony, a case of real history repeating the virtual recreation: 

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Monday, September 05, 2016

Top Four New World Notes' Posts from Last Week!

IPhone sales growth Statisa

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Friday, September 02, 2016

Metaverse Art to Visit This Weekend: "The Pillars" Featuring Four Lonely Bots & Massive Stone Spires

The Pillars from Tizzy Canucci on Vimeo.

Click here until October to see "The Pillars: Four Moments of Contemplation" by Oberon Onmura in full 3D. Ms. Tizzy Canucci shot the machinima documentary above, with a description of what visitors are about to see:

"[A] forest of mountain pillars inhabited by four bots, each in his own soundscape. And then, something flickers.... Oberon is known for his minimalist yet evocative style, sometimes highly scripted, and other times (such as this) more metaphoric."

Caitlin Tobias took a visit too, and has this write-up on her blog:

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High Fidelity $1000 Contest to Build VR Golf Course Game

High Fidelity Mini VR Golf Game

High Fidelity has a new contest challenging developers to create a single hole to be used in a full-fledged VR-enabled golf course game:

Submissions will be made available on semi-permanent display for High Fidelity users to enjoy on our new mini-golf experience. At the conclusion of this event, High Fidelity will host the winning submissions as a component of the High Fidelity Mini-Golf course accessible to all users... Up to nine winners will receive a cash prize of $1000, recognition in our blog and prominence on the official High Fidelity Mini-Golf Course.

Which could be a lot of multiplayer fun, and a nice use of Rift/Vive hand-controllers. Pictured above as a representative sample is Cupcakegolf, a mini-game already in High Fidelity, to give an idea of the quirky wackiness they're going for. Also, interesting IP rights hook:

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Posted at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

SL Fashion Ad Photo to Rival the Best RL Fashion Ads

Skip Staheli SL FlickrS

Skip Staheli's stunning Second Life-based image is actually an advertisement for the SL brand Blacklace and features a dramatic pose from DeePosed, and for my money, it's better than any actual fashion photo from Vanity Fair or any other thick perfume sample-smelly magazine you'd care to crack. (Featuring SL supermodel and spouse Delinda Staheli.) Yes there's surely heavy post-processing going on in this image, but then again, RL fashion photos are even more notorious about Photoshop and pretend they're not. Click to Staheli's page embiggenate.

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

New Sansar Screenshots Sweet, But Sorely Lacking Avatars

Sansar Screenshot 1

With early creators getting their invites into Linden Lab's Sansar, Linden Lab's Flickr page now comes with several new Sansar screenshots. Which look great, except they're less the one feature that most virtual world users look for first: Where's the avatars?

Sansar Screenshot 4

Here some are! Way off in the sun-blasted distance. Maybe they're celebrity avatars, and this is the closest the Linden Lab paparazzi can get to them?

Wait a minute. Computer: enhance, enhance, enhance.

Sansar Avatars

Yeah: no. Still doesn't show us much. Are Sansar avatars really that generic?

Here's a couple more screenshots, full of atmospheric effects and impressive architecture...

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Donald Trump's Real Life Campaign CEO Previously CEO of Virtual World Company, Because Of Course

Trump Billboard in Second Life

Once CEO of a company that made money by selling the virtual world assets of real Chinese laborers, now CEO of a campaign complaining that Chinese labor is destroying America:

Stephen Bannon brought quite the varied résumé to his new gig as CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign... Bannon joined and eventually ran a company that made its name and fortune as an online marketplace to sell virtual gold to World of Warcraft players and other online gamers... much of it coming from gold farms in China, where people were paid to play the game and rake up loot.

As Mother Jones astutely points out, this also creates a more or less direct line linking Bannon, Gamergate, and the "alt right" Internet subcommunity which has become a key issue in the US Presidential race:

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Golden Ratio Heads-Up Display for Taking Perfect SL Pics

This is a clever HUD which helps you shoot Second Life photos based on the Golden ratio. Supports three rulers: Fibonacci, rule of Thirds, and Phi. Yes, you could just apply a golden ratio when cropping a screenshot after you've taken it, but where's the fun in that?Created by Vladimiro Renoir, it's in the SL Marketplace for the price of very cheap coffee.

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Posted at 11:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sign of the Times: SL-to-Sansar Ship Straddling

The very day Linden Lab starts sending out invites to Project Sansar creators, this Facebook group changes its name:

SL users move to SL Sansar

So that happened. Unless they're well-versed in standard 3D modeling platforms, I kinda think many or even most educators who use Second Life are in for a shock when they try to set up shop in Sansar, and so they might not want to fully jump ship just yet -- or even start trying to straddle both boats so soon. But we will see, we will see.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jane Austen MMO from Linden Lab Vet Featured on Kotaku!

Ever Jane Jane Austen MMO

If you're still not convinced enough to try out Ever, Jane, the Jane Austen-themed MMO from Linden Lab veteran Judy Tyrer, Kotaku's Cecilia D'Anastasio has an in-depth (dare I say "embedded virtual journalist") profile up now. Don't forget that Ever, Jane players can get a special-to-NWN 100 Pounds Sterling Regency bonus if they post their username in this post.

Meantime, read how Ms. D'Anastasio captures the flavor of the gameplay:

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Top 100 YouTuber Creating Second Life Machinimas

With well over 9 million subscribers, the Spanish language "DrossRotzank" has one of the very largest YouTube channels on the platform (among the top 100, in fact), which means he has a larger viewer base than most actual television shows -- and now, also means he's the top YouTube to actively stream about Second Life, as here:

Even if your Spanish is rudimentary or non-existent, the imagery is great. Some /SecondLife Redditors are here describing the gist of the action:

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