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NWN's Monthly Blogger Challenge #1: MMORPG Style!

NWN Blogger Challenge 1
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world fashion

Like a lot of bloggers I sometimes have a hard time finding inspiration, so I've always been a big fan of the clever prompts given for fashion blogger challenges. Lately these creative community posts have caught Hamlet's eye as well, and we decided to start an ongoing blogger challenge of our own. At the end of every month, I'll be picking and announcing a new theme for intrepid SL photographers and bloggers to take on, starting today!

In picking the first theme, I took a look at something everyone seems to love, but can rarely blog about-- MMORPGs. It seems like almost every virtual fashionista I know has a favorite MMORPG, so games like WoW, Rift, Aion, and lately Guild Wars 2 all seem to have pretty fashionable fan followings. Why not tap into that with some MMORPG-themed SL snapshots?

Keep reading for notes on my entry, and details for submitting yours!

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Modding Tips and Tricks for an Easy Makie Makeover

 Makie Makeover Comparison

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

Last week I got (and reviewed) my Makie, a posable figure made a 3D printer with features I designed based on my Second Life avatar back in May. My ultimate conclusion about the alpha release Makies is that while they may not be ready for someone who wants out-of-the-box perfection, they're excellent for modders and people who want a truly one-of-a-kind item.

Of course, I can't make a statement like that without doing a little beginner-level modding of my own. Check out the side by side comparison above: on the right is my Makie just 7 days ago, and on the left is my Makie today. In my opinion they're worlds apart, and all said it only took a couple hours to bring a little life to a plastic version Iris Ophelia.

I expect eventually we'll see tricked out badass night elf makies with expertly made armor, but since I'm not quite that talented this article will be a great starting point for Makie modding even if you don't have much experience. So, let's get started!

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William Weaver Shoots SL Machinima of Luminous Beauty

I told you about William Weaver's Phototools recently, for creating beautiful SL photographs, so now watch how Mr. Weaver shoots SL in motion:

Weaver's camera technique adds depth and drama to the images, and sometimes, he makes the movements even more dramatic in post-production:

"For my video work, I sometimes speed up the film and usually add a bit of camera motion blur as this render feature is not available in SL at the moment," Weaver tells me. "It helps to smooth the motion and give the video a more 'film-like' feeling (in real life, such blur would be there when the camera moves)." See many more from Weaver here.

President Obama Visits the Virtual Community of Reddit

President Obama on Reddit

President Obama is now on Reddit, taking questions on an Ask Me Anything Thread. (You can see his responses on his Reddit account "President Obama" here.) This is a landmark in Internet culture, the most prominent appearance of a real world person in a pseudonymous, virtual community driven by virtual rewards -- in this case, Upvotes and Karma. (Past milestones include Governor Mark Warner visiting Second Life in 2006 when he was a Presidential hopeful). Last January, I wrote about Reddit's growing influence over social media sites for Internet Evolution, and while I'm hardly the first or most prominent person to suggest this, I ended the essay with these words:

I'll be very surprised if President Obama and his GOP rival don't take their cases to Reddit -- while advocates of social media helplessly wonder why so many people have shifted their energies to a virtual community far from the din of context-less Tweets and the restrictions of real-name Facebook postings.

Mitt Romney, the virtual ball is in your court.

The Second Life of Isadora Tooley: New Novel That's Sorta SL-Meets-50 Shades of Grey Romantic Thriller

Second Life Novel

The Second Life of Isadora Tooley is a new e-book novel by db hobbs, and since it's about an actress with a waning career and a failed marriage who discovers a new (if virtual) world of erotic exploration, I asked the author, "Fair to say it's 50 Shades of Grey meets Second Life?" And author db hobbs answered this way:

"It’s funny that you mention Fifty Shades of Grey. My publisher did as well after reading my book. It's an interesting description... but I think my book is laced with more dark humor than E. L. James’ book. Of course, The Second Life of Isadora Tooley is a romantic thriller which means there’s some sex and violence, but it’s mostly about relationships and musings about the nature of reality set against the backdrop of Second Life. At the same time, some of the imagery is graphic and not for the fainthearted. I tried not to pull any punches."

So, you have been warned -- or enticed, as the case may be. I read the first chapter, and it's a pretty engaging page turner if you're into this kind of thing (and I bet many of you are). The first few chapters of the Kindle edition are free, so why not check it out, and share your thoughts below.

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Top 50 Most Popular Second Life Sims for July 2012

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 25 most popular SL sims from last month, listed according to their average avatar visitor count at any given period, range over the month, and previous ranking the month before:

Top 25 SL sims July 2012

Click here to use SL's map function on the web to search and directly teleport to any of these sims. Louis tells me something has recently changed in the way information is stored on regions, so it's possible some of these July listings may be somewhat off; however, they seem pretty consistent to June 2012's rankings. Also, another warning: Despite Linden Lab's prohibition against traffic-gaming bots, several sims are often reported to be full of them. However, please don't assert in Comments that a sim is full of bots unless you have strong evidence for that claim, lest you attract the annoyance of non-bots.

Anyway, top 26-50 for July 2012 after the break...

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Philip Rosedale: SL Revealed The Limits of What We Can Do Online, But Will Still Change the Real World -- Someday

Philip Rosedale on SL

Philip Rosedale recently discussed with Reuters the latest changes to Coffee & Power, his new startup which uses location-based smartphones to leverage real world work collaboration, and in the conversation, said that Second Life showed him "the limits of what we can do online". However, he added this fascinating insight, which suggests he has not "given up" on Second Life, as some people sometimes claim. Rather, he says this:

I believe [SL] will have a far more profound implication on the nature of human existence, of work, of commerce, then frankly anything we've seen so far on the Internet. But the amount of time between now and then is very hard to say.

Watch the whole un-embedded video here. If we define Second Life in the broadest sense possible, so something like it exists on new platforms not yet released, and posit a whole new generation raised on virtual experiences (and I include technology like tablet and Kinect-based gaming here) I think he may quite possibly be correct. But as he somewhat suggests, that point is probably up to ten years down the road. Discuss.

Hat tip: Strawberry Singh.

Black & White Challenge for SL Fashion Bloggers

SL fashion black and white challenge

SL fashionistas Macie Restless and Hybie Mynx have a new black and white fashion challenge, which you can read about on Macie's blog, and upload your own black and white SL photos to this Flickr stream here. I love Ms. Restless' entry above, and as a film noir fan, hope see and blog other entries which also rock the monochrome so well.

Pathfinding Demo for Drone War, FPS Game in Second Life

Drone War is a multiplayer FPS game in Second Life, and as you might have guessed, it involves shooting, well, robot drones. Developed by Serigo Delacruz, it's going to be a direct beneficiary of the upcoming pathfinding tools Linden Lab will release soon. "I hope to implement these tools in my game 'Drone War'," Sergio tells me, "to create a complex combat system. Enemies will try to attack or hide if their health status is critical" So if it works as promised, the pathfinding system will make the Drones in Drone Wars more drone-like. Another upcoming application of pathfinding: A driving game. If you know of other upcoming projects that use the new pathfinding tools, please post links Comments!

Second Life is Not the Metaverse -- But That's Not What It Was First Invented to Be

Fleep Chris Collins Tuque

"Why Anyone Who Cares About the Metaverse Needs to Move Beyond Second Life; Now, Not Later" is an important new post by Chris "Fleep Tuque" Collins, an educator who also ran the Second Life Community Convention, and wrote an equally crucial post about that experience too. In her latest thoughts on Second Life, as the title suggests, she argues that advocates of the metaverse ideal -- where real work and activity is conducted within an immersive virtual world -- should look beyond Second Life, which is not the metaverse, for other options. I agree with her on this larger point, but the analysis is somewhat flawed by a misunderstanding of Linden Lab's history, in regards to the metaverse concept, and where the company is now, under the CEO stewardship of Rod Humble. For instance, she writes:

Back when Philip [Rosedale] ran the Lab, Second Life was not a game. Under Rod [Humble]’s leadership, a game is exactly what he’s trying to turn it into. My advice is: If you want to see the metaverse we imagined, then stop playing the perpetual hoping and waiting game that Second Life is.

It's true that Rod Humble is turning Second Life into a game platform, but here's an equally important thing to understand: Second Life was originally conceived and marketed by Linden Lab as a kind of game platform/play space, and not the metaverse.

Now, it's true that Linden Lab attempted to add metaverse-like aspects to SL many years after its launch, but no matter how much many of us wanted it to be the metaverse (I was among them) it failed in this post-facto goal because, in part, SL was never really conceived to be the metaverse in the first place, not even by its founders.

Consider:

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