Watch Iris Play: Goat Simulator's Latest Update, a Hilarious Take on Your Least Favorite MMO Tropes

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

Remember Goat Simulator? I don't think there's any other game that I enjoyed as much but played so little of. When it first came out it was a genuinely entertaining diversion, but even when they released a new map I didn't feel much of a need to return; it all just wore thin too quickly. That's likely why their latest piece of DLC (released yesterday) has taken me by surprise. For the first time ever, I'm playing Goat Simulator and seriously planning to play more

The Goat MMO Simulator DLC is absolutely free, and brings multiple new maps and atcivities into the game. It's simultaneously a snarky response to all the fans who speculated that it would be easy for the developers to patch in online multiplayer and a legitimately purposeful parody of your typical MMORPG.

Yesterday I tried Goat MMO Simulator out for the first time live with a couple of friends, so if you want a taste of what this DLC has in store just watch for yourself (above).

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Day in the Life of One of Second Life's Most Stylish Avatars

O'Clock Magazine 5 Matilda SoonJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

O'Clock is a Second Life fashion magazine with a damn clever premise. It follows a single featured avatar through their "day", starting in the morning, with each spread themed around their daily activities. It's an interesting twist on its own, but this month's issue of O'Clock is even more special. Issue number five's highlighted avatar is Matilda Soon, a mature lady who oozes class out of every virtual pore.

Matilda's not the first stylish avatar to take on the chic older woman look, but unlike many of the others she might share the category with Matilda's not too married to her cateye frames and pearls. She dresses the part of an aging Coco Chanel as easily as she slips into trendier, more contemporary galaxy-prints and geometric motifs. In fact one of my favorite spreads in the magazine features Matilda's morning yoga routine, expertly shot without an ounce of farce or comedy.

That's an important aspect of Matilda, too. She's absolutely not a joke, and she's made that abundantly clear:

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Back to Nature: Paint and Explore an Idyllic World in Toca Boca's Latest Game for iOS

Toca Nature  (3)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Toca Boca's iOS apps might be better described as toys than games. They specialize in providing the foundational elements of play and then letting their players loose without any further guidance, leading to a lineup of products that resemble dollhouses more than they resemble a lot of their fellow child-oriented apps. Their philosophy is clean and simple, with an up-front cost and absolutely no in-app purchases.

But even though Toca Boca's work is designed with kids in mind, you can still get a lot of joy out of them as an adult. For example, consider their latest: Toca Nature...

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Inquiring About Inquisitors: Who's Your Hero in Dragon Age: Inquisition and Why?

DAI  (2)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The character you make in a BioWare game can be a strangely personal thing. Unless you're one of those weirdos who goes with the default (bo-ring) there's a lot for you to consider before you even start playing. Where's your character from? What life have they lived? What kind of person are they/will they become? What do they want out of the world? Appearance customization is almost the simplest part of the process, even though Dragon Age: Inquisition offers more customization options than ever before.

I mulled all of these things over last night and came up with something I'm happy with, but what about you?

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Three Items from The Kawaii Project Guaranteed to Make Your Second Life Cuter

Kawaii Project - Foxes Bookbag
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I don't get excited about new shopping events in Second Life very often, but when I do they're almost always kawaii. It's true that every week it seems there's a new event, a new hunt, a new fair, a new something pulling SL consumers in every direction, so these days only a handful of them ever really catch my eye. The Kawaii Project is one of them, promising to be a monthly event where designers inspired by all things cute and lovely can gather together and flaunt their latest work.

I've picked out three items you won't want to miss from the debut round of the Kawaii Project, so keep reading for the details!

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Here's Why Shadow of Mordor's Photo Mode Could Be a Game-Changer

Shadow of Mordor Photo Mode  (4)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style


In what I can only describe as my fugue of anticipation leading up to Dragon Age: Inquisition's release, this past weekend I decided to dip my toes back into Shadow of Mordor. Shadow of Mordor is pretty highly acclaimed and has some very interesting systems, but for whatever reason it didn't really "stick" with me and consequently I hadn't played it since early October -- which, as it turns out is around when they added a feature that would have absolutely rekindled my interest: Photo Mode.

It's perfect for capturing some of the more tranquil scenes from the game, as show above, as well as some decidedly less tranquil (and less flattering) ones. For example...

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Detailed Second Life Snapshots Don't Have to Overwhelm You (or the Viewer)

Pokute Burt (2)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

It can be really tempting, when taking detail-rich snapshots in Second Life, to try to put as many shots and angles together as you can. It's a trap I've fallen into as a blogger many times, feeling like I need to show off every little part of an outfit or a scene in one image. This sometimes leads to Frankensteined Photoshop collages that may show off all of the details, but will be so busy and cluttered that a viewer may not be able to appreciate them anyway.

SL artist pokute Burt recently posted a pair of snapshots that reminded me of this dilemma, and the fact that sometimes the simplest compositions are the best. Instead of crowding the above shot with panels and vignettes as I might have been tempted to do myself, pokute instead follows up with a detailed shot even more charming than the first:

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The Many Faces of Mizu, A Brand New Mesh Head for Second Life Avatars

Willow Zander TSG Mizu
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I wasn't sold on the new mesh head from The Sugar Garden when I first saw it. I'm still head-over-heels in love with my Snow Rabbit head from a couple years back, and even with all the expression-heavy heads coming out lately none of them have come close to matching it in cuteness. TSG's pouty "Mizu" is a contender, but it took me until I saw longtime fashion blogger Willow Zander's feature on the head to get fully on board. Here's why:

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Grey Rabbit: How to Take a Second Life Fashion Snapshot With Character

Nomak Nyoki INVIZJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's typically a surplus of brash postures, bold makeup, and bright lights in fashion imagery, and Second Life fashion snaps are no exception. While this standard makes for some pretty powerful images and showcases many designs well, there's still something to be said for branching off in another direction -- pursuing a look that's decidedly more... Quiet.

Nomak Nyoki's photography is typically not something you could characterize as quiet. He's a master at portraying stylish male avatars in particular, and they're often as bold as can be. Compared to them this sombre female figure he posted today certainly stands out, but not in a bad way. It's an image with a lot of character. 

To some extent, all the brashness, boldness, and brightness in many fashion snapshots washes character away by design; it's a marketing-oriented style intended to make you want to place yourself in that scene. But images like these can feel much more authentic. The model's not a blank slate, but a person with vulnerabilities. She's the personification of her rabbit pendant, soft and slouched, and that makes this image much more interesting to me than dozens of others that could have been taken.

Check out the original here, and visit Nomak Nyoki's Flickr gallery if you're itching to see more of his work.

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Five Things You Need to Do Before Dragon Age: Inquisition Comes Out

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

I'm not going to mince words here; I'll admit that I'm working myself into a bit of a froth over Dragon Age: Inquisition, which is due to be released next Tuesday. It's receiving rave reviews from critics I respect, and the general consensus seems to be that it does so many things right that previous games in the series may have done wrong. Notably, for the first time in the series players won't be confined to a single nation. They'll roam across Thedas in a game world larger and more open than ever before, and peppered with plenty secrets and points of interest.

But Tuesday is basically an eternity away, and I -- I mean you -- might need your Dragon Age fix right now. If so you're in luck, because I have a laundry list of five things you should definitely do before you finally lay your hands on Inquisition next week, starting with...

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