Second Life Cosmetics Makers Gear Up for Spring With Colorful Virtual Manicures

Action Cosmetic Fair Nail Appliers
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Something about spring just makes me want to paint my nails. Okay, so I don't exactly stop painting them in the winter, but when you have to worry less about heavy gloves and dry cuticles and all that shovelling and scraping, it's much easier to enjoy a fresh coat or two of polish for more than a day at a time. Even with winter casting about in its death throes this week, it's hard not to get inspired by the vivid spring colors popping up in time for Easter.

Evidently quite a few Second Life designers are feeling inspired by impending May flowers too, as the latest round of Cosmetic Fair (open until April 30th [SLURL]) is packed with colorful manicures, ready to be applied. Among all the pastels and patterns available, the offerings from two brands in particular stand out from the crowd...

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If This Video Doesn't Make You Excited About Tomodachi Life, Nothing Will

 
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Right now, every day until June 6th is just another day to cross off my calendar. Why? Because June 6th is when the English version of Tomodachi Life will be released for the Nintendo 3DS in North America. Tomodachi Life, of course, is the sequel to 2009's Tomodachi Collection for the DS, which was never released outside of Japan... And that's a real shame, because these games are absolutely wonderful. Just take a look at the video above if you want to see just how wonderful it can get.

Think of the Tomodachi series like Animal Crossing meets The Sims. In Tomodachi, you're given an island and an apartment complex to populate with yourself, your friends, your favorite characters or celebrities or whoever else you like. You'll take care of them, customize them, and unlock new features as time goes on, but most of the joy is in finding bizarre litle easter eggs and watching the drama that can unfold on its own.

If you want to see more of Tomodachi Life, last week's Nintendo Direct is an absolute must-watch. I also decided to do my homework, and picked up an import copy of the original Tomodachi Collection (pro tip: they're dirt cheap on Amazon) to catch up on what these games have to offer. Look forward to reading about my experiences with it in the near future!

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Linden Lab Unveils New Avatar Fitting Classifications for Second Life -- But Will They Work?

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Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Linden Lab has unveiled a new way for shoppers and designers to identify what will and what won't fit a Second Life avatar. Rooted in this Knowledge Base entry, designers can now find badges like the one above meant to identify products intended for normal and mesh-augmented avatars respectively, as well as detailed instructions for how to access new categorization options on the SL Marketplace that will allow designers to list products that require certain base components (for example SLink mesh feet, hands, or heads) to work properly. 

So will it get the job done? Here are my thoughts:

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Play It This Weekend: Solve Pastel Puzzles Straight from M.C. Escher's Dreams in Monument Valley for iOS

Monument Valley
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Pretty little puzzle game Monument Valley is making a splash on the app store this month, and after playing it for myself it's very easy to understand why. It's clever, it's challenging, and above all else its absolutely beautiful. 

If your curiosity has been piqued, keep reading for the details.

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5 Things to Love (and Hate) About The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online  (8)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The more I time I spend with The Elder Scrolls Online, the more conflicted I feel about it.

Since I wrote about it last Friday I've only gone deeper down the rabbit hole. I still have fun playing (I would have stopped ong ago otherwise), but it seems that for every element I enjoy there's another element working directly against it. Here's what I mean:

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Iris Wants to Know: Which Fantasy RPG Class Do You Love to Play the Most?

ESO Templar Archer
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I've been playing a lot more of The Elder Scrolls Online than I expected to play, and a big part of that has been due to the game's flexible character classes. I'll get into that in more detail later this week (and you can read my launch day post about the game here) but suffice it to say that at some point my two favorite characters became a sorcerer who loads herself up with heavy armor beneath her unassuming cloth robe, and a templar who weilds a shortbow in place of the melee weapons most players of that class favor. These combinations both have advantages and disadvantages, but they've both been much more enjoyable to play than the more "vanilla" characters I've tried.

All this has got me thinking about character classes in general, though. I tend to gravitate towards mages and archers... Even though I still loathe any game that gender-locks female characters into either role. Essentially I want to have a big impact on a fight with lots of flashy effects, but I'd like to remain as strategically placed (and as far away from the action) as possible. That's not to say I don't enjoy melee classes from time to time -- my main alt in Skyrim favored both bows and one-handed weapons -- but I definitely have a preference.

So here's what I want to know: Do you have a favorite RPG class or archetype, and why do you think you're so drawn to them? Do you roll a healer time and time again because you prefer a support role, or would you rather be leading the team, axe-deep in goblin gore? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Korean MMO Black Desert Might Just Have the Best Character Customization Ever

Black Desert CBT2 Customization
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The team behind upcoming Korean MMO Black Desert have already offered a lot of material for fans and followers to drool over, but their latest tidbit will be like catnip for anyone with an eye on avatar customization.

Up until now, Black Desert's main selling point has undoubtedly been its graphics. Both the characters and the world look so polished and realistic that its screenshots could easily be mistaken for renders from 3D software like DAZ or Poser (seriously). But yesterday, in advance of their second closed beta test phase, the developers of Black Desert released a new video to flaunt the game's unique character customization system. Unlike preset or slider-based customization techniques that currently dominate modern MMOs, Black Desert divides the face and body up onto very precise elements that can be adjusted directly and intuitively. Click here to see it in action.

If you're as intrigued as I am, you'll probably have to wait a while before you can play for yourself. Black Desert's second closed beta period starts on April 22nd but will only be available to players in Korea. The game is expected to be localized for North America after its Korean release, but that often takes a year or more to come together. Until then, you can learn more about Black Desert here.

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Wasteland Queen: Don't Miss This Second Life Take on a Beloved Sailor Moon Villain

Ashlie Coba Black Lady Ruler of Worlds
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The very best cosplay (and cosplay photography) holds up on its own. It doesn't require the observer to have an understanding of the character or the source material to appreciate the care that went into assembling a truly perfect look, or taking that truly perfect picture.

That's the case with the latest post on Pixeled Fashionista, Ashlie Coba's Second Life fashion blog. Her portrayal of Black Lady (a character originating from, you guessed it, Sailor Moon) wears a slightly trendier and more up-to-date costume than the original without sacrificing any of the familiarity that comes from a character that's been a fan-favorite for just about twenty years now. Her makeup, accessories, and her dress (a mash-up of two separate items from ISON) combine with attitude-heavy poses and an utterly desolate wasteland backdrop for a flawless contemporary portrayal of a fascinating villain... Yet it's all so well coordinated that Ashlie looks downright fierce, whether you recognize her inspiration or not.

Check out Ashlie Coba's blog for complete notes on how to get this look for yourself.

(Hat tip: Chandra Masala)

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The Elder Scrolls Online is a Good MMO... But Not a Very Good Elder Scrolls Game

Elder Scrolls Online 10
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The very first thing that I will tell you about my time with The Elder Scrolls Online is how much I absolutely hated it during the beta. Playing it was like a chore -- gaming housework I had to do -- and I just wasn't having fun, full stop. The second thing I will tell you is that at some point, that changed. Since Head-Start access opened last week, I've spent every day eagerly anticipating the moment when my work is done and I'm free to play more. It's hard to pin down exactly why I've done a complete 180, but I think it has something to do with adjusting my expectations.

Writing about an MMO of this scope and scale at launch is difficult, so I will be breaking my coverage up. Progress in ESO feels slower than most MMOs I've played recently (Full disclosure, I'm playing ESO with a review code provided by the developer on request) and after a week of playing for about 2-5 hours a night on my main character I've only just hit level 10. So this week I'm going to be focussing on first impressions, and addressing the question that's on everyone's lips: How good an Elder Scrolls game is The Elder Scrolls Online?

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Give Your Closet a Moon Prism Makeover with Second Life Fashion Inspired by Sailor Moon

Cutie Moon Fair
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

No one should be surprised that Cutie Moon Fair [SLURL], a fashion event celebrating anime heroine Sailor Moon and running in Second Life until April 15th, is heaven for virtual cosplayers. What's more surprising, however, is just how much of what's available can be worked into your wardrobe even if you have no desire to fight evil by (digital) moonlight.

It was tempting to devote this post to recreating the famous looks of my favorite crew of magical girls, but I decided to go with a much more wearable look, which is just as stylish in the midst of Cutie Moon fair as it will be in a few months when I'm wearing it just to show my geeky stripes. Keep reading for the details!

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