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Five Ways to Make Second Life Machinima So Good It's Scary

If you haven't seen the fun, highly-polished Halloween machinima comedy from Running Lady Studios and Virtual Girl Productions' I blogged last week, Halloween's a good night to do so. (There it is, right above.) And if you make machinima, you'll want to take some tips from the production team, Gameela Wright, and Rob See and K. DaVette See, which I've crystallized below into five helpful tips:


"Just like traditional animation has its challenges, so does a new medium like machinima. Some they share, and some are unique to machinima. I'd say the first challenge is location of the participants. In traditional animation everything may be in-house. The final version of the project may be done in another country, but the principals are in the same place or close by: the writers, director, voice actors, techs, etc. In machinima, there's a VERY good chance that your cast and crew are scattered. Suzy and Gnu are either in California or Oklahoma. I'm in New York City. But right now I'm in Arkansas to do a play. Our puppetry actors are everywhere. So distance, time zone differences all play a major role." (Gameela Wright -- AvaJean Westland in SL)

Four more tips after the break:

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SL Store Directory Now Lists 1400 Stores, 450+ Store Blogs!

Blogging Second Life brands

The Blogging Second Life guide lists over 2000 SL blogs, as I blogged recently, and here's another impressive number from that site, which is also an important data point to how large the SL economy is: It lists over 1400 SL stores, over 450 of which maintain a store blog, as well. All this has been compiled by Evelyn Hartshon (pictured here), who works with Cajsa Lilliehook on the site:

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Meet Trout Linden, Coder of the Second Life Aquatic

Trout Linden

There once was a giant fish who occupied a Linden Lab programmer's desk, and Trout was his name. Captured by Linden staffer Valentyn Gatsuk, this photo showed up on a Lab alumni group page, and seeing as it's Halloween, I felt this to be a fish worth sharing. However, Trout has been a Linden for a long time since before this Halloween, and over the years, has been implicated in at least a couple cases of fish-on-employee assault. However, Trout also has his defenders: "One time, Trout Linden stole my monitor while I was on vacation and replaced it with a monitor lizard," former Linden UI designer Erica Olsen Firment fondly reminisced. "The whole thing was done to scale. Went swimmingly. I was hooked."

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Watch the Machinima Trailer for the Machinima Expo

The Machinima Expo is coming November 16-18, showcasing machinima made in various platforms, including Second Life, Grand Theft Auto, Sims 3, Valve's Source Filmmaker. Here's the Expo trailer from Tutsy Navarantha*, a machinima montage made by a metaverse machinima master:

Get more all the info you need on the Machinima Expo here, where the Expo will also be streamed on 16th through 18th. Looking forward to watching some of the best. I just hope there's a minimum of horrible avatar lip dubbing.

* I've written a lot about Mr. Navarantha's machinima a lot, but here's my favorite of his after the break:

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Is It Ever Right to Dox a Pseudonymous Internet User?

Doxxing pseudonymous user

Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed is looking into the identity and motivations of a pseudonymous Twitter user who's been spreading incredibly irresponsible and potentially dangerous false Hurricane Sandy rumors, thus bringing up a subject that's been coming up a lot lately: "Doxxing" -- that is, the act of publishing a pseudonymous user's real life identity and identifying details. danah boyd has a very good introduction to the topic on Wired that cites two extremely well known, recent cases of doxxing, one a Gawker article which outed a troll on Reddit, the other a stalker on YouTube whose actions contributed to a woman's suicide. danah weighs the moral dimensions each situation exposes:

By enabling the rapid flow of information, technology offers us a unique tool to publicly out people or collectively tar and feather them. Well-meaning people may hope to spread their messages far and wide using Twitter or Facebook, but the fast-spreading messages tend to be sexual, horrific, or humiliating... When someone’s been wronged – or the opportunity arises to use someone to make a statement – it is relatively easy to leverage social media to incite the hive mind to draw attention to an individual. The same tactic that trolls use to target people is the same tactic that people use to out trolls.

I think about the topic of pseudonymous identity a lot, because Second Life and other online worlds mainly involve users known only by their avatar pseudonyms, and would prefer not to connect their in-world activity with their real life identity. Generally my policy on that is this:

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Stay Safe, NWN Readers in Hurricane Sandy's Path!

The woman known in Second Life as Whiskey Monday makes a very succinct point that's worth considering more than just about anything else at the moment:

Hurricane Sandy Second Life users

Stay safe, all of you reading this who are in Hurricane Sandy's path (or indeed, it's wet and brutal wake). I know there's a lot of you out there. And if you feel like checking in to let your online friends know how you're doing, please do in Comments -- I'm sure they (and me) want to hear from you.

When It Comes to Fashion, Virtual & Real Are Just About Equal (Comment of Week)

Matrix and NWN comments

I love the long reader comment thread on last week's post about a study which suggests some people prefer virtual experiences to real ones, because it's just as interesting (if not more so) than the actual post. It also reminds me how lucky I am to write for such a smart and engaged group of readers. (Dammit I fricking love you guys.) I'm tempted to say all the comments constitute last week's Comment of the Week, but let me highlight this one from Ezra, on the appeal of virtual fashion:

"I bet a lot of people using Second Life spend more money on virtual clothes than real clothes some months. Why? A lot of us, especially those of us that live in temperate places, don't buy clothes at all based off of physical functions like keeping warm or protected anymore. The bulk of our closets are items we chose based on shape, colors and patterns, and most important of all how we believe thousands of passerbyers in the streets will like them when seen but never touched.

"So what makes a real shirt more 'real' than a virtual one in terms of value when anything physical doesn't play a part?

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Read an Excerpt from Game Design Secrets, My New Book from Wiley Out This Week!

Game Design Secrets iOS Web Facebook

Game Design Secrets, my new book from Wiley, is coming out this week in paperback and e-book -- for a 40% discount, click here and use code “GDS12″ at checkout -- and you can read an excerpt on GigaOM now: "What top VCs look for in gaming startups", which as the title suggests, is advice from well-known venture capitalists to game developers on getting money from them. While the book is specifically about game design for iOS, Facebook, and the web, most of it also applies to other platforms (yes, including Second Life). For example, consider this point from VC Nabeel Hyatt:

Pitch games that give players long-term aspirations

Hyatt puts a lot of stock in the long-term goals a game creates for a player:

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Top 7 New World Notes Posts from Last Week

Linden Lab 2005

Weekend Machinima: "The Twilight Sim", Fun & Spooky Halloween Satire

Perfect for pre-Halloween weekend viewing, take an SL machinima walk into the "Twilight Sim", where dumb horny teenagers meet some creepy big-headed demon child spawn:

Written by actress Gameela Wright (AvaJean Westland in SL) and directed by K. DaVette See (Suzy Yue in SL), it's a lot of fun, with great production values, editing, and voice acting, matched to a pretty clever script with some cute inside jokes for SLers. I continue to be a skeptic of lip synch in Second Life machinima, because it's still too difficult to do convincingly, but Yue and team do a fairly decent job matching mouth movement to audio.

What inspired the machinima? After you've seen it, let Ms. Westland explain:

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