Ready Player One 3D Avatar Creation Contest: Winners Get $1000 & Chance to Appear in Spielberg's Adaptation

Ready Player One 3D Avatar Contest

Cool avatar design contest run for Steven Spielberg's upcoming adaptation of the Ernest Cline novel: Design a 3D avatar in a typical file format (.ma, .mb, .obj, .fbx, .ztl), follow the rules and submit here, and five entries win $1000 and a chance to have that model depicted in OASIS, the film's version of Ready Player's metaverse. Looks like a full-mesh version of a Second Life avatar could work as an entry (long as you send it in original file form.)

If you do submit, let me know: I'd love to feature submissions in upcoming New World Notes posts!

Watch Ernest Cline's announcement of the contest below. And yes, Cline used to hang out in Second Life before the novel was published.

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Scaling Single-Sharded Virtual Worlds: Eve Online & Second Life Vet Jim "Babbage" Purbrick Explains

I'm highly biased but I think this presentation by my pal Jim "Babbage Linden" Purbrick gave to Facebook developers recently is pretty damn interesting:

Now at Facebook himself, Jim explains how he helped scale Second Life during its high growth period, and just as important, connect it to the web through APIs, then went on to do the same with Eve Online. Some highlights:

  • Discussing Linden Lab's "firebreak" strategy to stop grey goo attacks in SL. (Around 13 minutes in.)
  • What Suzanne Vega's appearance in SL (see video below) taught Jim about scaling. (Around 16 minutes in.)
  • Interestingly, judging by concurrency rates, Eve Online is slightly less active than SL. (23 minutes in.)

Also: epic space battle. After watching it, I got to chatting with Jim on Facebook Messenger (of course), and he made some really interesting points about scaling VR-enabled virtual worlds I'll discuss in a future post.

By the way, here's the video I shot of the Suzanne Vega show in SL which happened (wow) almost exactly ten years ago:

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Black Desert MMO Sells 400K Copies in One Month

Playing Around

Avatar created by Connie Sec in Black Desert's Character Creator

NWN readers aren't the only folks interested in Black Desert, the Korean-made MMO with impressive avatar customization capabilities. VentureBeat reports:

Korean publisher Daum Games has sold more than 400,000 copies of its Black Desert Online MMO role-playing game after only a month on the market in Europe and North America. The developer brought the fantasy game to the West in March at $30, $50, and $100 pricing tiers, and it has instantly clicked with a large audience. Daum thinks the game will likely even keep growing its momentum moving forward, which is proof that the MMO market can support more than World of Warcraft and an endless pile of free-to-play competitors.

I know many NWNers installed the free avatar customizer -- has anyone gone ahead and grabbed the whole thing? Here's some stunning in-world footage in case you're on the fence:

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Linden Lab's Blocksworld Now Lets Users Sell Their In-Game Creations for Real Cash - First for a Mobile Game?

Blocksworld Linden Lab iPhone

Blocksworld from Linden Lab is now available for iPhone (in addition to iPad), and that transition comes with a pretty big announcement that hasn't gotten much coverage:

To date, Blocksworld players have published more than 2.7 million creations, and more than 700,000 player-created models are currently for sale in the marketplace. The Blocksworld coins that creators earn can be used to purchase additional content within the app, including themed building sets and models. Now, eligible Blocksworld creators will also be able to redeem Blocksworld coins for real money.

Linden's Peter Gray just explained to me how that works:

"Today, creators who have earned at least 20,000 Blocksworld coins (by selling models they've created) are eligible for redemptions, and they're presented with an in-app message giving them the option to redeem their coins at a rate of $10 per 20,000 coins." That's a starting rate/eligibility point, he says, which may be adjusted in the future. "If an eligible creator opts to redeem his or her coins, they're asked to provide the e-mail address for their PayPal account (a parent's account for those under 13), which they then need to verify."

That's pretty great, especially since Blocksworld is very much in the Minecraft-esque genre, and there's so much great user-generated content already happening in the game.

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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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Worlds Adrift: Single-Sharded, Fully-Simulated MMO

Worlds Adrift is an upcoming MMO which is just about the most impressive virtual world project I've read about in some time -- primarily because it is a virtual world in the sense of being a persistent place with an environment that responds like an environment actually would. Built in Unity by a small indie team, it's using Improbable technology, which we wondered last year might transform virtual worlds. And to judge by this blog post about Worlds Adrift on the Improbable site, it looks like it has:

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System Shock 3 in Development After 15+ Year Delay & 3 "Spiritual Successors", Warren Spector Confirms

System Shock 3 Warren Spector

System Shock 3 is now in development, led by two leads of the first, original 1994 classic -- Paul Neurath, who led the studio that created it, Looking Glass, and veteran game designer Warren Spector, who was its producer. (Neurath's new studio is Other Side Entertainment, which is also reviving Looking Glass' Ultima Underworld.) Spector just confirmed his involvement in a social media post (above), and for any fan of the classic, incredibly influential first-person, immersive roleplaying game, this is awesome news indeed.

"I think it's safe to say SHODAN and Citadel Station will be involved," Warren tells me, mentioning elements from the first game. "Though maybe not in the ways people expect. We'll just have to wait and see."

System Shock 2's lead designer was Ken Levine, but after the IP rights to the franchise were tied up -- for nearly 20 years, let's note -- he went on to lead design its "spiritual successor" -- the three BioShock games. Warren tells me they have fans of both franchises in mind:

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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 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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Will Amazon's Lumberyard Not Unity Rule the Virtual World?

Free, cross-platform, based on the revolutionary CryEngine, connected to Amazon's server architecture, which many MMOs and other multiplayer games already depend upon, it sure seems like it:

Support for mobile devices and VR headsets is in the works and should be available within a couple of months... If your game needs a scalable, cloud-based runtime environment, you should definitely take a look at Amazon GameLift. You can use it to host many different types of shared, connected, regularly-synchronized games including first-person shooters, survival & sandbox games, racing games, sports games, and MOBA (multiplayer Online Battlefield Arena) games.

Sort of strange that Project Sansar isn't being developed in Lumberyard (or is it?), seeing as Amazon's Jeff Bezos is an early investor of Linden Lab. Also notable:

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SL Avatar Photography Veteran Plays With Black Desert

Playing Around

After posting about Black Desert's free character creator, longtime avatar photographer Connie Arida whipped this above pic up in about 30 minutes. Pretty impressive in such short a time, though IMO Black Desert's hair modeling is not ideal. And while I like the emotional expressiveness here, the smile seems a bit off -- not engaging all the facial muscles we'd associate with a genuine smile. Connie created another version that works a bit better in my view:

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