Pokémon Has Been Playable in Second Life for Over 8 Years -- in Full 3D!

Pokemon Go SL Arccanine

About to catch an Arccanine

The Pokémon franchise has been around in various forms for twenty years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a team of Second Life users have created a playable version of the game. What is surprising is how long the game has existed, and how ambitious it is -- and how few players even knew it existed, until the Pokémon Go phenomenon. For the last 8 or years, in fact, the three creators have been building and maintaining a full Pokemon roleplaying experience on the island of Ravenlock. Only recently, thanks to the new augmented reality mobile game hit, foot traffic from random visitors in search of virtual Pokémon has spiked.

“On average,” lead creator Mindy Runo tells me, “we get roughly ten new players a day prior to Go. And now it’s about twenty to thirty [a day].”

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Welcome NWN Partner Fawns: Free, Breedable Pet Game in Second Life (Partner News)

Fawns SL breedable game

Fawns is a free-to-breed pet game for Second Life, and I'm proud to announce they're now a sponsoring partner of New World Notes. (No fooling!) Breedables are an incredibly popular (and technically impressive) genre of games in SL, so I'm glad to finally have one as a partner. Created by Daemon Blackflag, Dashing Riddler, and Katharine McGinnis, the same team behind the well-known Fennux breedables, Fawns, as the name suggests, are adorable as hell baby deer, and come with some unique features:

"We didn't want to release a new breedable that would step on our own product's toes, so we created something that literally anyone would feel comfortable breeding due to the low cost of entry - just obtaining a pair of fawns and breeding for free," says Daemon. The team are touting Fawns as "the first major/mainstream breedable to have a completely free method of breeding. Once someone owns a male and a female fawn, they can breed completely for free."

Some other unique features:

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Flickr of the Day: Epic Remnants of Earth-ers Group Photo

Last year I told you about Remnants of Earth, the impressive user-made MMO in Second Life played by thousands, now let Voidar show some of its dedicated community members:

All Stars

Click here to embiggen, and get all the cast credits. Love that looks like the ensemble cast of a badass cyberpunk mini-series you wish you could see.  Voidar's Flickr, by the way, is generally and consistently full of epic like this.

Thanks to Caitlin Tobias for the tip!

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Sims-Like Games Make Second Life Seem More Like Second Life (If You Know What I Mean)

Life2 Second Life

Aemyth has a really interesting review of two Second Life-based games which used a heads-up display (or HUD) to turn your open-ended Second Life experience into a simulation game. G&S is medieval-themed, which means your avatar will engage in mining, crafting, carpentry, fishing, and raising animals. Life 2, as the name suggests, is pretty much The Sims in Second Life, tracking your basic needs like hunger, thirst, bathroom trips, and so on -- see the HUD above.

Here's Aemyth's final comparison between the two games:

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An Amazingly Detailed Final Fantasy VII RP Community Has Existed in Second Life for Near a Damn Decade

Final Fantasy VII Second Life Midgar

SLFFVII.com is the incredibly detailed web portal of an online sub-community within a larger online community that's actually the spinoff of yet another online community -- specifically, it's a group of Final Fantasy VII roleplayers who've re-created much of that game in Second Life. That's not necessarily notable in itself. Like I mentioned last week, various Star Wars-themed roleplay communities have existed in SL for years. Thing is, SLFFVII has existed in Second Life as a contiguous community on the same sim with the same FFVII community for nearly a decade. Since 2007, in fact, which is when this blog first covered it.

Compare and contrast current images, from how it looked -- and how it was organized -- back then:

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Force Awakens Gives Second Life to Star Wars Roleplay in Second Life (So At Least It's Got That Going For It)

Star Wars Roleplay Second Life

Not film still - a screenshot from Second Life (via Zam)

Force Awakens may be a totally disappointing movie in relation to three-plus decades of anticipation (just admit in your heart you know it's true), but it has given a second life to the once thriving Star Wars-roleplay community in Second Life. This from Ashley Barry, a former active member of that community, who visited after a long absence:

The Force Awakens, the most recent Star Wars installment, has led to a new surge of activity in the RP community. When I traveled to the latest Coruscant sim a few days after the film came out -- there have been multiple versions of the planet in Second Life throughout the years -- it was populated with so many diverse looking avatars: Mandalorians, Bothan soldiers, Twi’lek’s, and more. I was home again and it felt damn good.

More from Ashley here, who describes an incredibly detailed sub-community that has been thriving in SL for roughly a decade. I last wrote about it in 2008, when it was in full flower:

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Soap Opera as Mini-MMO: In Second Life's "Exiled", Players Roleplay in Kardashian-Meets-Royal Family Mega-Drama

SL Roleplay Experiment

Exiled is a really ambitious new multi-player roleplaying game based in Second Life, where instead of being a zombie killer or vampire leader, you play someone in the circle of a squabbling, drama-filled royal family in exile in Connecticut:

"Think the royal family of Monaco, with a bucket of Kardashian thrown in the mix," Phan Republic tells me. "We have a defined plot that we hope to reveal over the season through our roleplay, divided up into outlined 'episodes' (we use that term rather than 'event') that allow for each actor to develop their character and improvise quite a bit ... as long as key plot turns take place each time."

So basically, you choose a pre-existing character, or propose one of your own, and then jump into the storyline. There's still a few openings available, like Detective Elden Pepperidge, who has to solve a murder in the royal family and whose hobbies include "spying on the only woman he had an affair with 10 years ago." (Apply here.)

While the storyline and main characters are set, there's quite a lot of room for improvisation, and the results are published to look TV episode recaps or short stories:

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Long-Running MMO/Combat NoR Regions Shutting Down, Possibly Over Payment Confusion?

Well this also sucks: The regions associated with Land of NoR (for Nation of Remembrance), a popular and long-running MMO/Combat-themed area, are shutting down today, reports Nalates. Worst, it looks like it's happening due to preventable drama and miscommunication. As Nalates infers:

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Despite 2500 Players, Leading Second Life Game Developer MadPea Shifts Away from Major Projects Like UNIA

Second Life SL FPS The Drowning Dreamscene

Second Life can be a great platform for indie games and indie game developers, but does it have a large enough user base to support ambitious multiplayer-type projects from for-profit studios? Likely not, to judge by the experiences of UNIA, the survival horror FPS game from MadPea Studios which launched last April in Second Life (blogged last on NWN here), and has since attracted nearly 2500 players, adding about 50-100 new players every week (according to development lead Kiana Writer). Based on Kiana's estimates (below), the game has earned her and the UNIA team about USD$7000.

Despite that success, however, Kiana just announced that MadPea will no longer develop major SL-based games on a scale of UNIA, which required dozens of developers:

UNIA Part 1 is not going anywhere for a while. It has been a HUGE accomplishment to realize in Second Life. It took us over two years to make and cost over 12 000 USD... With our current resources we could do either one of the two things: Continue developing the UNIA saga or put our focus on smaller adventures such as BURIED and the Collection. Making smaller adventures takes us around 2 months while UNIA 2 would be at least 6 more months of waiting.

Read the rest here. This announcement brings up several concerns: Widely promoted by Linden Lab and Second Life's community/social media ecosystem, 2500 is a pretty good number of players, but not enough to sustain relatively big budget game projects like UNIA. Instead, it could be Second Life is only feasible as a game platform for labor of love, non-profit projects like the popular MMO Remnants of the Earth, or (as MadPea is shifting toward) smaller games created and supported by smaller teams.

To tease out those details for future SL-based games, I asked Kiana more details on her studio's announcement:

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Last Chance to See in Second Life: 2 Gorgeous MMO Sims

Vampire Roleplay Second Life

Bad news via Ziki Questi: Venexia (above) and Goatswood, two beautiful and acclaimed MMO roleplay sims owned and managed by the SGS/eDream Factory studio, are going away very soon - June 13 and 19th, respectively. Ziki has all the details and links you need, and notes that waning traffic seems to be the problem:

[O]ver time, the sims have become more and more quiet, to the point where visitors might now find themselves wandering solo. Guests have always been welcomed and provided with a free three-day pass, but perhaps for the casual explorer that very aspect diminished the sims' desirability as places to simply visit.

With less and less active users paying the sim owners to play their MMOs, paying Linden Lab $300 each month for each sim quickly became unsustainable. This is disappointing, because while most sim owners can't afford to keep operating without a revenue model, these two did.

Here's a machinima of Venexia, BTW:

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