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Meet the Strangelings: Linden Lab Alum and Ozimals Creators Launch Cross-Platform Breedable Game Backed by Philip Rosedale and Other Lindens

Strangelings breedable pets

Strangelings is a new breedable animal game in Beta for the web and iPhone/iPad with a very interesting background: It's being developed by several ex-Linden Lab staff, backed by angel funding from Philip Rosedale and other Linden luminaries, with a crossover connection to Second Life itself. Founded by Chris Collins (formerly Logan Linden), his new company, FMI Games, is creating a game that is, Chris tells me, "focused on the gaming market and bringing a new type of game out to Mobile/Tablet and Web by taking one of the most successful games in Second Life, breedable pets."

Chris was a right hand man to Philip Rosedale during Second Life's salad days, and when I asked him, Philip told me just why he's backing it:

"Well first of all," Philip tells me by e=mail, "I think Chris is absolutely great as an entrepreneur and designer. Next, I think the whole idea of breedable animals, with all the emergent complexity and behavior that comes with the idea of those animals interacting in a virtual world is just amazing...

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SL Hair by Truth Hawks Will Turn Heads (NWN Readers' Choice, Top SL Brand)

Truth Hair Brand

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

Truth is another brand that's been in Second Life for years now, and unsurprisingly these high-quality hairstyles (mostly for women) have become a staple of SL fashion. Hair by Truth Hawks has a very distinctive texture and style to it, and even his mesh styles feel natural and soft when others may look plasticky or piecy. Above I'm wearing my last purchase from Truth, Cyanne, a relatively recent rigged mesh style that comes with a colour-changing head scarf.

There's a serious critique of Truth that his styles often look very similar. I always get a bit bothered when I hear this because although it may seem true in some cases, you really need to take a minute to think about why. How many times a day do you think popular hair designers get bothered in IMs or notecards about silly things like adding bangs to one of their pre-existing styles, or making it shorter, or longer, or fluffier, or flatter? One of the reasons for Truth's popularity is that he has a little something to satisfy everyones wants and needs. His store is so absolutely massive at this point that you can nearly arrange his styles like a gradient to find the one that's perfect for your features and your taste. Though some styles might look similar at first blush, it's a godsend if you're looking for a cut that's juuuuust right.

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Love it or Leave it, Skyrim Edition: One Year Later, What's Still Great About Elder Scrolls 5 -- and What Isn't

Skyrim Dryad Spriggan Companion
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Skyrim celebrated the first anniversary of its release this month, and even one year later it's still a hot topic. It has it's own subreddit forum that gets new material posted as often as every couple hours from the community, and modding sites like Skyrim Nexus are still teeming with innovative new content.

Skyrim has proven that it has the same staying power that of previous games in the series (namely Morrowind and Oblivion) had... Maybe even more. But what exactly is it that keeps it going strong, and what parts of it have we outgrown in the past year? Here's my take:

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TonkTastic May Give You the Edge on the Battleground of SL Fashion (NWN Readers' Choice, Top SL Brand)

TonkTastic_-_Cargo_Pants_big_box
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The gritty and grungy aesthetic you'll find at TonkTastic has been popular in Second Life for a long time, but there are very few other shops in this niche who do it with technical standards as high as Tonk Tomcat's. Though most of what you'll see there isn't my usual style, I can't help but appreciate the detail and care put into even something as deceptively simple looking as a pair of mesh cargo pants. If you're used to looking prim and proper it's easy to overlook the fact that making a great piece of grungy gear can be even more work than your immaculate party dress-- you still have to make a good looking item, then you have to take the time to make it look good and messy on top of that.

TonkTastic specializes in urban and military-style gear, so if you're a fan of gasmasks, dog tags, combat boots, and the kind of practical tactical clothing that will keep you hidden from the enemy until it's far too late, you should definitely add this brand to your weekend shopping list!

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Scribblenauts Unlimited's Puzzles May Not Pack Much Punch, but its Creation Tools Sure Do

Scribblenauts Blade Runner

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

Scribblenauts Unlimited is the latest installment in the sandbox-style Scribblenauts puzzle game series, and it offers a few substantial changes from previous titles. It adds an incredibly cute back-story for the notebook-toting main character, a new field-based level system instead of menus, but most importantly the WiiU and PC versions add the ability to create your own objects and avatars for your Scribblenauts world. I decided I wanted to play as an adorable little Scribblenautsified Iris instead of main character Maxwell, for example...

Even better, in the PC version you can share your creations on the Steam Workshop as well as downloading other peoples' to use in your game, and even though the game's only been out for a week there are oodles of amazing objects available already. What about a Bearsharktopus? A mythical 3-headed president lizard? You can even download the Dovahkiin, who fights using blasts of air. There are also these awesome screenshots parodying famous movies, games, and tv shows with awesome accuracy. So given all this awesome creative potential, I had to share this game with my favorite community of content-creators and sandbox-lovers. Keep reading for my full review!

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Say Hello to Hamlet 3.0: The Results of Hamlet's Head-to-Toe Virtual Makeover

Hamlet Makeover 2
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

While Hamlet's busy in in China I decided it would be the perfect time to give his dreadfully dated avatar a complete makeover, and you guys offered a tidal wave of excellent advice. I took it all under consideration yesterday when I brought Hamlet's avatar out for a little shopping spree, and I think the results speak for themselves. Are you ready for the big reveal? Imagine a drum roll, if you will...

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Borderlands 2 Finally Brings Pandora-Chic to OS X

Borderlands 2 Mac OS X Gear 

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

If you're a PC game, there are two very quick ways to get into my heart: Have robust character customization, and be Mac compatible. I'll gladly take one without the other, but if you give me both I'll never let you go. This is precisely why even though Borderlands 2 might feel like old news in the gaming world since it came out in October, I really had to talk about last week's release of Borderlands 2 for Mac.

Borderlands 2 is the sequel to the wildly popular Borderlands (obviously), and it takes place in a world that has been summarized quite tidily by the Lore in a Minute series (which should be your BFF if you're prone to skipping cutscenes and lazily skimming codexes like I do from time to time):

 

Think Saints Row 3 meets the Fallout-style apocalypse, then move that into space and you're close. You can pick from a handful of classes to play (I picked the uber-stylish Siren class of course) and then proceed to shoot the hell out of anything that so much as looks at you funny. It has an excellent soundtrack, an impressive aesthetic, and it's an all-around fun and over-the-top experience... But does it have what it takes to satisfy a picky fashionista gamer? Let's find out:

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Beloved Brand BareRose Delivers Wide Array of SL Fashion in Everyone's Reach (NWN Readers' Choice, Top SL Brand)

BareRose Ao Dai

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

BareRose (or B@R for short) has been a huge part of the fashion world of SL for longer than most of us can remember. It started out humbly as a cosplay-oriented shop (and some people still dismiss it for that), but these days you can find just about anything there-- casual wear, formal wear, latex catsuits, furniture, and even some of the most lovingly crafted ethnic-inspired clothing available in SL, like the mesh Ao Dai I'm wearing above. June Dion's an incredibly prolific and creative designer who has managed to cater to a broader audience than almost any other SL brand. She doesn't ignore the men of SL either, making both male and female versions for probably more than a third of her releases... And, as if that isn't enough, she frequently bundles all the colour variations of her outfits together for ridiculously low prices, making BareRose a great place to build a diverse virtual wardrobe on a budget. It's no secret that I've worshipped at the B@R altar since my newbie days, and I'll probably continue to as long as I'm in SL.

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Kobold Studios' Realistic Mesh Monstrosities Will Make Your Skin Crawl (NWN Readers' Choice, Top SL Brand)

6500910_orig

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

With the NWN Readers Choice Blogs wrapped up, it's my turn to take the reins for the top 20 NWN Reader's Choice Brands, just in time for the holiday shopping season! We've had a really eclectic array of nominations that I narrowed down to a list of 20 based on the number of nominations as well as amount of recent activity from the designer to ensure that the final list would represent some of the best and most dedicated content creators in SL.

There were plenty of brands that are favourites of mine as well as many that are entirely new to me. Today's brand is one of the latter, but it's one I'm definitely glad to know about. Kobold Studios [SL Marketplace] [SLURL] specializes in absolutely ghoulish mesh avatars and accessories. Of course true to their name they have kobolds, as well as goblins, aliens, and plenty of other creepy creations done in a very recognizable and stylized manner. Kobold Studios is the Second Life presence of 3D digital artist Synthetic Monkeys, and a trip to their website will reveal a wealth of 3D modelling talent extending well beyond SL. If you're looking to put together a look for your avatar that starts with a sinister grin and a mischievous posture, Kobold Studios is the perfect place to start.

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Living in a Modemworld is NWN Readers' Favorite SL Blog!

SL Blog NWN Favorite

Mega metaverse congrats to Living in a Modemworld, the Second Life blog by Inara Pey that New World Notes readers selected among dozens of candidates by overwhelming vote as their most favorite SL blog. Modemworld is a copiously updated and illustrated blog covering SL from a tech, business, and culture perspective (a rare thing in Second Life blogs), a one stop place recommending new viewers to download, in-world sites to see, mainstream media coverage to read, Linden Lab updates to read closely. I visit near-daily myself, and frankly I think you should too -- go here to get into the Modemworld.

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