Don't Dawdle, 21Shoe's Deals on Limited Second Life Footwear Won't Wait for the Weekend

Essenz_051521Shoe_600
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

21Shoe is an event I don't often get the occasion to cover, simply because it's window is too narrow for me to squeeze a post about it into the schedule. It opens on the 21st of every month... And only the 21st. If you miss that 24 hour span then too bad, so sad, because the lovely discounts (and often limited editions) that come with it will soon be out of reach.

This month's lineup has a distinctly summery feel and I've picked a few of my favorite entries to share, so keep reading if you're looking for the perfect pair of virtual shoes to flaunt your avatar's latest mesh pedicure.

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Iris Wants to Know: Do You Spend More Time Tweaking Your Virtual Home or Your Virtual Self?

Pokute Burt New Cafe
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

For as long as I've been in Second Life, I've always changed my avatar's outfit almost as often as I changed my own in reality. This isn't always limited to SL, either. In both Skyrim and Dragon Age Inquisition I'm the kind of player who keeps a few different outfits on hand for a few different situations. An outfit for fighting dragons, an outfit for fighting demons, an outfit for hanging out in the fancy town with the fancy people. You know, practical considerations.

For as often as I change my avatar's clothes, however, I almost never spend too much time changing my avatar's surroundings. I'm the kind of person who updates my land or skybox once a year, if that, but at the same time I'm a big fan of some of the SL photographers on Flickr who capture their decor with as much originality and detail as avatars. Folks like pokute Burt, who created the pic embedded above, who can build a room with more character than ten avatars tied together. 

That's why I want to know, do you put more time into tweaking the look of your land, your virtual home, your skybox or whatever it is you have, or your avatar? What leads you to favor one over the other? As ever, leave your responses in the comments below.

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I Just Can't Stop Staring at this Stunning Watercolorized Second Life Snapshot

Kala Bijoux Madeline of Pleasure
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'm head over heels for this avatar snapshot Kala Bijoux posted on her Flickr recently. Dubbed "Madeline of Pleasure" this picture is vibrantly colored and incredibly distinctive. I especially like the edges of the image, which fade from dappled color to white like an unfinished watercolor painting. The end result is ridiculously harmonious, what else can I say?

Kala Bijoux's name is a little more familiar for her wing designs than her work on Flickr. She's the designer behind Material Squirrel, a Second Life shop that specializing in meticulously painted avatar wings. Material Squirrel has been around for quite a while now, and takes particular pride in their array of flexible prim wings, rather than using rigid mesh to do the job. This allows her wings to move and bend, meaning that they've retained a popularity that few other flexiprim-based items can claim in SL these days.

if you want to see more of Kala's work, you can check out "Madeline of Pleasure" in all its glory on Flickr, or visit Material Squirrel Wings for yourself on the Second Life Marketplace.

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Kickstart This: Das Tal, an Innovative MMO Where Regular Server Wipes are a Feature

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

Typically, character wipes are a nightmare. When a game wipes everyone's characters for whatever reason (usually during its beta phases) all that hard-won loot and all those hard-earned levels evaporate into thin air, and everyone from the most hardcore to the most casual players are dropped right back at square one. Together.

It's infuriating.

Which is why it might seem a bit baffling that an MMO currently seeking development funds on Kickstarter is advertising its regular character wipes. They're not a grim necessity or an unfortunate by-product of development, but rather a feature. Something intended to improve the overall experience of playing. That's what PVP sandbox MMO Das Tal is promising, and that promise itself is fascinating.

Here's the heart of their pitch:

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Iris' Social Network Guide for Second Life Users, Part 2

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

Last week I wrote about some of the most prominent social networks for Second Life users to connect with each other outside of SL itself. The article ended with a request that any networks I overlook be shared in the comments. Well, while I'd say I hit the nail on the head in regards to many of the more popular choices among SLers, I definitely overlooked enough to warrant a sequel to the original list. So here it is! If Twitter's too blah, if Plurk's too dramatic, if Tumblr's too trendy or if Flickr's too cliquey for you, just take a look at this list of further alternatives. 

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Check Out Highest Point, an iOS Game Featuring Art from a Ridiculously Talented Second Life Designer

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

I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's surprising just how few Second Life designers get snapped up to work on games, particularly independently-made ones. There are some phenomenally talented people producing content for SL, and it seems like a big talent pool that's going more or less untapped outside of the virtual world. Not entirely untapped, though.

Highest Point is a new game available on iOS that features quite a few assets created by Anya Ohmai. From the game's description on the App Store:

In a long forgotten time where wild animals roamed the lands, there lived a small cowardly man. To protect his family from danger, he moved to the Highest Point - a spot so far out, he believed nothing could harm them. Alas, no matter how high they were, threat followed. Lucky for him, his wife was fearless and naively in love with him. Can she protect them from harms way?

The longer you survive, the higher your score, the more you can level up and improve your odds further.

In addition to taking some damn fine snapshots Anya Ohmai is also one of the more skilled 3D modellers in SL, even though she tends to keep a pretty low profile. I'd say it shows, too, because Highest Point looks vastly better than much of its competition.

If you have an iOS device with iOS 8.3 or later, consider checking out Highest Point for yourself.

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Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Don't Miss Spiegel.tv's New Documentary About Second Life, Virtualize It

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

If you happen to know a bit of German (or be fluent, as Second Life has a substantial community of German users) then there's a brand new documentary that you may want to check out. Mixed reality documentarian Draxtor Despres tipped me off to Virtualize It, a 40 minute foray into virtual worlds and the people who use them directed. Draxtor himself makes an appearance alongside a cast of others including gamemakers MadPea, mocap animators Humanoid, and musician Mimi Aly (who performs in SL as Mimi Carpenter) who each explain the ins and outs of their virtual lives. 

... Well I assume that's what they're explaining, anyway. Unfortunately, I don't speak German. As I skimmed through the video I couldn't pick out much beyond Draxtor's brief mention of Call of Duty and some chatter about Minecraft. Luckily English subtitles are on the way, so if you don't have a working knowledge of the German language you'll still be able to enjoy this documentary in the near future.

You can watch Virtualize It completely free on Spiegel.tv. If you'd rather wait for the subtitled version, then keep your eyes peeled here on NWN and we'll update you when they become available.

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Iris' Social Network Guide for Second Life Users

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

Second Life may have its own built-in communication and networking tools, but they've never fully contained its community. If you're looking to make friends and keep in touch with other users what you do outside of SL is just as important as what you do inside of it. But where to even begin?

From Twitter to Tumblr to Flickr, many of the most popular social networks have accumulated their own Second Life communities, but each one is a little bit different from the others. For the Second Life resident who doesn't have much of a social footprint yet, it can be pretty daunting to pick the 'right' place to be. Here's how to figure out where you fit in.

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"You're Being RIPPED": Second Life Designer Challenges Pricey Photosourced Fashions

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

The pricing of virtual goods is always a controversial topic, especially when it comes to Second Life fashion. There are two words that can make it even more so: Templates (a topic I've covered to death here on NWN) and photosourcing. Photosourcing in SL fashion generally means using all or part of a photographed image of real clothing to texture your virtual goods, and while the results can look more realistic (but not necessarily 'better') than painstakingly created original textures, photosourcers seldom have the rights to use the photos they use, commercially or otherwise. Sometimes they do have the rights, or they're using assets specifically intended for that purpose. And sometimes they're just window shopping on the Agent Provocateur website, plucking their future releases from among sample images. Many such designers will charge a premium for their work, too. Agent Provocateur may not know it, but they're probably the most popular lingerie designer in all of SL.

Long story short, it's just one more complicated issue that some consumers may not even realize is there.

Roslin Petion (coincidentally the designer behind almost every piece of lingerie I've worn in NWN's sponsored posts for Ample Avi) recently posted a mini-rant on the subject of overpriced photosourced virtual lingerie over on Plurk, and it's too good not to share. Here's what she had to say:

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This Unbelievably Gorgeous Second Life Snapshot Will Take Your Breath Away

Boudicca Amat The Delphic OracleJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If I had to name the Second Life artist whose work impresses me the most consistently, Boudicca Amat would be the easy choice. Her latest pic, "The Delphic Oracle", is a perfect encapsulation of why. Boudicca often recreates classic paintings using the virtual world as her canvas, but sometimes she finds her inspiration from poetry, prose, and even quotations instead. Even when she's not directly recreating real world masterpieces, she invokes them and makes it look utterly effortless.

Anyone who's fiddled around with a Second Life snapshot in Photoshop can probably see the other reason I find this image so impressive. The way the light and shadow fall across the avatar's body is so natural, so believable, that it's almost hard to believe it's an avatar at all. It's almost easier to tell yourself that it's a full digital painting than to accept that the original image underneath the post-processing came from Second Life.

Unfortunately you'll need a (free) Flickr account to see the image in all its glory there, so here's a bigger version just for the Flickr-less masses:

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