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Sim Deathwatch: Firefly Roleplay Site Washtown to Close

Firefly Second Life Washtown

Take a good look at Washtown in Burnet, the oldest sim in Second Life for Firefly-themed roleplay and the last one on the SL mainland, because after being around for over 5 years, it's reportedly going away after this Sunday, March 25. "Owners Anastascia Christiansen and Jadi Goodliffe had made the decision earlier in the evening," the Verse Voice wrote yesterday. "Economic issues have made the town too expensive to maintain as a fuctioning site." Joss Whedon's space Western has a passionate community of SL fans who not only roleplay Firefly in-world, but also have their own blogosphere, and that will continue after Washtown is gone: "The roleplay will wrap up any local storylines before the story moves on to other Firefly sims," notes the Verse.

Click this SLurl to see Burnet on the SL map and teleport in-world if you choose. Though after the 25th, the land will be bereft of Washtown.

Hat tip: Tillery Woodhen, who's had a place there for years.

How Kingdoms of Amalur Made Me Reconsider My Feelings About Sexy (and Sexist) Armor in Games

Amalur4

Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world fashion

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a vibrant game with fantastically designed weapons, environments, and characters, but the armor often falls very short -- especially for female gamers. While I expected a degree of realism when I played Skyrim, the involvement of comic artist Todd McFarlane in Reckoning made me expect far more dramatic (some might even say slutty) female fashions. If you've ever seen any of McFarlane's character art, especially Angela, you'll appreciate why. While most armor pieces maintain a good balance between practicality and fantasy, they often made me feel very plain and frumpy compared to what non-player characters (particularly females) wear in the game. I wasn't quite sure why I felt so let-down, until I contrasted it with my experience with the elaborate and imaginative female armor in the MMO TERA. Given its pedigree, I realized I'd been expecting something very different in Reckoning. Something a bit... sexier?

And that realization immediately made me feel like a bad feminist gamer. Sexy female armor is insulting and unrealistic! Sexy female armor is the enemy!

Isn't it? Well, not necessarily:

Continue reading "How Kingdoms of Amalur Made Me Reconsider My Feelings About Sexy (and Sexist) Armor in Games" »

Raglan Shire's SL-to-RL Crowdfunder Raises Its $8.5K Goal!

Raglan Shire kickstarter

Excellent news for many reasons: The Tinies of Raglan Shire Kickstarter, a crowdfunding drive to bring the popular tinies avatars of Second Life to a much wider, mass market audience, has just been funded. With 15 days to go, over a hundred donors pledged $8500 to fund production costs that will (hopefully) take the tinies of Wynx Whiplash and Zayn Till's company Jazz Paws to another level. (Hear their interview on the BBC here.) Great for Wynx and Zayn and their many fans, and also great for all the other popular SL brand owners interested in launching crowdfunders of their own. The virtual art of Bryn Oh crowdfunded $6000 to cover tier fees earlier this year, which is also awesome (especially for Linden Lab, since they'll get that money), though I tend to think Jazz Paws offers an even better model: Think about how a crowdfunder might expand your brand and IP above and beyond Second Life, where it can find a broader audience and new markets.

Continue reading "Raglan Shire's SL-to-RL Crowdfunder Raises Its $8.5K Goal!" »

SL Musicians: Have You Tried Stageit, Where Performers Can Play Live Online, Earn Cash Tips & Ticket Revenue?

Stageit live music online

Stageit is a cool-looking resource for musicians who want to perform live online, build a fanbase, and make some money from their performances. I met Stageit's founder and CEO Evan Lowenstein during South by Southwest earlier this month (of course), and he told me a number of the performers in the system got their start in Second Life's vibrant live music scene. Some have told him about that, and in turn, he's told SL's co-founder about that connection too:

"When I met Cory Ondrejka," he told me, "I remarked to him that I was so grateful that a 'second life' had been created because it has really helped people feel comfortable with their first life. There's a certain boldness that one feels when they're behind an avatar that allows them to try and say things they might not otherwise feel comfortable trying out with their real identity. I think that Second Life was a driving force behind people learning to be more comfortable with themselves." Stageit is one of the services benefiting from this effect, and in turn, so are the SL musicians now using it.

Unlike SL, however, live performers make money not from virtual donations, but tips and tickets purchased by fans via cash:

Continue reading "SL Musicians: Have You Tried Stageit, Where Performers Can Play Live Online, Earn Cash Tips & Ticket Revenue?" »

Will SL's Welcome Area Ever Actually Be Welcoming?

This is a video taken from SL's Welcome Area near Waterhead, and it's a sample of the first sights and sounds many if not most new users to Second Life experience. It's beautifully shot by Codizzo, who aptly entitles it, "Why So Many New Users to Second Life Have No Idea What's Going On", and as you may have already guessed, it's not safe for work viewing if you have no headphones on:

It would actually be kind of funny, if it also didn't include the sound of a dream fading away. I still have property in Waterhead nearby, so I can attest that this is pretty much what the Welcome Area is like any time I log in -- a mean, unrelenting, incoherent barrage of vocal skankitude. And the thing is, it's been this way here and the other official, Linden-owned Welcome Areas for new users for literally years:

Continue reading "Will SL's Welcome Area Ever Actually Be Welcoming?" »

Second Life Ad & Homepage Visuals Finally Improve... Mostly

Gogo Ad 3

Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of virtual world and MMO fashion

Like a lot of SLers who know just how beautiful SL can look without the use of Photoshop, I've been desperately hoping that LL would just bite the bullet and enlist the help of the massive number of rshutterbugs in the Second Life community. I've been very critical of the images that Linden Lab has been using to advertise Second Life, especially when it comes to the large eye-catching homepage graphics. And finally, after so much collective whining from SL style afficionados, Second Life is being promoted with flawless images from some of my favorite fellow fashionistas, in particular Gogo (aka Gorgeous Yongho/Juicy Littlething) of Juicybomb. Gogo only makes the most minimal touchups on her snapshots, and is always eager to play with innovations like shadows, depth of field, and mesh, so she's an excellent candidate to promote SL with her pictures.

But this wouldn't be a very long (or very popular) post if all I had was glowing praise for Linden Lab's choice here, right? It feels ungrateful to say it, but I do still have some problems...

Continue reading "Second Life Ad & Homepage Visuals Finally Improve... Mostly" »

SLurls on NWN Get Way Less Clickthrough Than URLs

Second Life web clickthrough rate

SLurl links, which take you directly to SL's web map and the option to launch the client, get way less clickthroughs than more traditional web links, such as an SL blog or an SL Marketplace listing. That's the case on New World Notes at least, which is probably the largest SL-oriented blog by traffic, but I suspect that's generally true with other sites. I track these clicks with bitly.com, the crazy useful service that shortens URLs, and also tracks clickthroughs in terms of site and national origin, and other nifty info. Above is a typical spread, with 27 clickthroughs to a SLurl, and 75 clickthroughs to Tyche Shephard's Grid Survey site, which I recently wrote about. This 3 to 1 ratio of URLs to SLurls is pretty typical, with the very most popular SLurls getting clickthroughs of around 150 or so then topping out, and the very most popular URLS getting 500-900 clicks. Even most non-SL sites I link to get stronger traffic than SLurls -- for example, that immersive Ana Somnia web experience I blogged yesterday has so far gotten 139 clickthroughs.

What does this mean? For New World Notes readers, it strongly suggests this: You are generally more interested in visiting websites with content about SL (and other virtual world/gaming/tech) than visiting SL itself. This isn't a total surprise, because if you are browsing the web, you don't necessarily want to interrupt or slow that experience by launching a heavy 3D client. But my original assumption was that readers would come back to interesting SLurls over the weekend or when they had more leisure, and that doesn't generally seem to be the case. (This is one of the reasons I write less about SL events.)

I think this observation is probably important for other SL content creators:

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Enter a 48 Hour Machinima Contest Head Judged by Star Wars FX Creator (UPDATED)

48 hour machinima contest

Click here to enter this year's 48 Hour Machinima contest, which you should do soon, because the deadline to register is before March 30. The contest is being co-judged by Tony Dyson, who built R2-fricking-D2 for Star Wars. More: The winner gets $3000 Australian dollars.

"All games and virtual worlds can enter this contest," contest co-producer Chantal Harvey tells me. "It is the biggest international machinima contest ever, and part of the 48 Hour Film Project."

Here's some more resources before getting started:

Continue reading "Enter a 48 Hour Machinima Contest Head Judged by Star Wars FX Creator (UPDATED)" »

Follow Me on Kickstarter -- and Tell Me About Great Gaming/Virtual World/Augmented Reality Kickstarters!

Wagner James Au Kickstarter

Click here to follow me on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site that's become an enormously valuable resource for game developers like Tim Schaefer and indie content creators like Raglan Shire, and has added some social network-style functionality. And when you're there (or here in Comments), please tell me about cool indie gaming/virtual world/augmented reality projects on Kickstarter, because I definitely plan on writing about them more.

Oh, the photo? Still from an upcoming action movie I plan to direct and star in, once I can Kickstart the necessary funds. Or not.

Guess Which 4 Were NOT Internal Linden Lab Project Names

Linden Lab project names

Here are twelve possible internal Linden Lab names for past Second Life development projects, so dubbed by the Linden staff who were working on them at the time. Four of them were not true Linden project names -- can you guess which?

  • Cheerfully Malevolent Turret
  • Crow Bar
  • Furrycon Adventure
  • House of Reason
  • Jazz Hands
  • Lipstick on a Pig
  • Liquid Banjo
  • Perfect Threat
  • Sex Bicycle
  • Project Donglescrub
  • Taste the Man
  • Whackadoodle Initiative

Answers after the break!

Continue reading "Guess Which 4 Were NOT Internal Linden Lab Project Names" »

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