Iris Wants to Know: Is Your Virtual Style More Important to You Than Your Virtual Space, or Vice Versa?

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

Avatar fashion has been a priority for me since well before I ever found Second Life, so it should be no surprise that that's exactly what I gravitated towards when I started. When you give me a dollhouse, my first priority will inevitably be the dolls themselves -- that's just how I am, and I have the sim households to prove it. That's not to say I'm not interested in what my spaces look like, but usually I care about the appearance of those spaces only in relation to the "dolls," as an extension of them (or even just a backdrop.) If I'm forced to choose between character customization and home customization, I'm probably not going to humm and haw about it terribly long.

But for every fashion-focused SL user who treats their virtual spaces like one big photo backdrop, there's someone else treating it like a canvas; placing everything just so, spending hours perfecting, tweaking, and upgrading it. Even if their shoes are dated (and honestly who even cares) there's no denying that their front foyer is current and on trend.

So what about you? I know for some it will be a tough choice, but here's what I want to know: If you had to choose between virtual fashion and vitual decor, which side would you choose and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Snap Up These Tempting SL Teacups While You Can

Apple Fall Kustom9 teacups (2)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Chalk this post up in the "Second Life designers are agonizingly talented" category, because I can't deal with the gorgeous little teacups that Apple Fall has released for Kustom9. He shared a few work-in-progress shots via Plurk earlier this week. They're almost beyond belief, and although each of the three in the set is stunning, the pearl-draped variation pictured above absolutely takes the cake.

It's no exaggeration to say that Apple Fall is one of the highest quality decor brands in SL these days, which shouldn't be any surprise if you've come across their work before. For instance, this set inspired by ancient Greece is another Apple Fall favorite of mine, as was the Breakfast at Tiffany's set they released for The Arcade a while back.

These immaculate little teacups (and loads of other items) are available at the Kustom9 gacha event [SLURL] until the end of the month, so don't dawdle if you're interested. You can also check out the full set on Apple Fall's Flickr, or visit Apple Fall on the SL Marketplace or in-world [SLURL] to see more.

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Kitty Powers' Matchmaker (iOS/Android): A Mobile Game That Gets Romance Right

Kitty Powers Matchmaker iOS (10)

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

A lot of games try to tackle the subject of romance, and it's safe to say that the majority of them don't get it right -- especially when it comes to integrating that romance into the actual gameplay. That's where terms like "kindness coins" come in, describing the kind of transaction-based relationship mechanics that games trying to represent dating and courtship often use. Tell someone what they want to hear, dress like they want you to dress, give them things they like, and eventually you'll earn enough points to win.

... Their love, I mean. Win their love. How romantic.

In reality, that's not an act that anyone can keep up for ever. Sooner or later a relationship built on nothing but white lies and pandering to your partner will fall apart. Most games don't care about addressing these inevitable Unhappily-Ever-Afters, but Kitty Powers' Matchmaker isn't most games.

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Sims 4 Modding Already Has a Hot, Surprising Trend Which Totally Improves EA's Original Avatars

Face Overlay by Plumb4
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Sims 4 modders have really hit the ground running since its release at the beginning of the month. Mods for the game, including recolors of vanilla content already number in the hundreds -- or thousands, if you include the build-in sharing tools that let players browse the rooms, lots, and households made by others. It's been a much smoother period for modders than The Sims 3's launch was, largely because early access to the CAS demo and developer transparency about how the game itself works have allowed experienced modders to get straight to work without having to spend nearly as much time figuring out how.

Amid the usual clothes and hairstyles and furniture and so on, there's one type of mod that's been gaining a lot of ground in spite of its unassuming nature. In fact, you'll find more of these than you will freckle mods or even eyeglass mods. What are they?

They're facial shaders.

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Budding Machinima-Makers, Please Stop Wasting Your Time With Watermarks!

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

One of my biggest pet peeves when I'm browsing new Second Life machinima on YouTube (or any gaming footage in general) is just how many potentially interesting videos have been ruined with watermarks from free or trial versions of recording software. I get it, if you're just getting your beak wet with something like machinima you may not want to commit to buying a piece of software to do so. But it doesn't have to be this way, it really doesn't. You don't need to settle for watermarks all over your recordings.

There is a free alternative, one that works on both Mac and Windows, that allows you to combine game sound and mic input, that gives you an easy way to position multiple windows and overlays, and that most importantly doesn't leave your finished videos with any big glaring watermarks. I should know, because I've been using this particular program every week for just about a year now.

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Death of a Simsman: It's Hard Work Killing Off Your Sims in The Sims 4

Kotaku The Sim Who Refused to Die
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez recently published a piece about one of the most contentious issues surrounding The Sims 4: The ability to kill your sims. Developers have spoken about how they wanted to make it harder for sims to die accidentally compared to previous games (one expansion to The Sims 3 make it possible for sims to be spontaneously hit by meteors for instance) because it's not very fun to lose a sim in the middle of your game. At the same time, when you sit someone down with a simulation they will instinctively test for its limits -- and "simicide" is a big part of that. She writes:

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Microsoft, Minecraft and Mojang: Here's How to Make Sense of Microsoft's $2.5B Purchase

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

After some speculation, it's official: Microsoft has purchased voxel-based sandbox game Minecraft for $2.5 billion. Maybe that makes perfect sense to you and maybe it doesn't. This past weekend as we discussed the massive purchase, my mother asked my why on earth Microsoft would want to buy Minecraft for anything approaching that much money. My answer? That it might be better to think of it in terms of why a company might want to buy Barbie or Lego. They're monolithic brands; highly recognizable, widely available and beloved by huge swathes of customers, both young and old. There are already teenagers who look at Minecraft with nostalgia right alongside people experiencing it for the very first time. It's a cultural touchstone.

But there's more to it than that. If you break this purchase down into its most basic economic terms, as analyst Michael Pachter did at GamesBeat 2014, it makes perfect sense. Polygon's Owen Good has picked the juiciest bits out of Pachter's comments on Microsoft's acquisition of Minecraft, and summarizes the issue succinctly:

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You Won't Believe What This Second Life Picture Looked Like Before Photoshop

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

Xantheanne Resident (or Xanthe for short) is a damn talented Second Life photographer with consistently gorgeous output, and her blog is practically a visual feast for any fashionista who crosses its path. It's Xanthe's latest post that's caught my eye today -- particularly for the glimpse it offers at her snapshotting skills.

"French Perfume" is dark and decadent in the post-processed pic above, but what makes it stand out even more is the unprocessed version of the picture that Xanthe shared in advance on Plurk. Exactly how much work did she do to get that shot as flawless as it is? Just take a look at her original snapshot straight out of SL:

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This Weekend, Try Out a New Sims 4 House by a Familiar Second Life Designer

Barnesworth Anubis Sims 4 builds
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'll be cooling it slightly on the Sims 4 posts starting next week (I promise!) but I just had to mention this for the sake of anyone planning to play this weekend. Barnesworth Anubis, one of Second Life's most experienced and most popular virtual home designers, has been hard at work in The Sims 4 creating some of the most elegant houses I've seen yet. You won't find many cozy cottages or cramped starters in Barnesworth's portfolio, but if you're looking for a big beautiful space for your virtual family his creations are a great place to start.

Check out his designs in The Sims 4 gallery under the username "BarnesAnubis" or in his Sims 4 album on Flickr. And while you're at it, scope out some of his Second Life builds on the SL Marketplace.

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Home is Where the Craftybot is: Fan Remakes of Defunct MMO Glitch Are Making Serious Progress

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

Fans of Glitch are still hard at work on their projects to revive the closed (and subsequently open-sourced) MMO. Just this week the team behind one such project, named Eleven, released a video demonstrating the housing system in action. Unlike most tech demos the point of this video isn't to reveal anything new or surprising, but rather to demonstrate how faithful their reconstruction is -- to stir up the nostalgia and fondness that Glitch fans have for the defunct game. They also recently released character customization, so you can rebuild the Glitchens of your past or start completely fresh.

Eleven isn't the only Glitch remake in progress, however...

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