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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3D Tribute to Undertale Reportedly Closing Soon Due to Hacking & Drama

Undertale 3D RPG Second Life

This is why we can't have nice things, I guess: According to a group announcement just posted to a blog, the seriously impressive Undertale tribute to Second Life I blogged about yesterday is being closed after donations to host it are gone. I've reached out to confirm this with the lead creator, Sykes Furse, but haven't heard back from him yet. What I can confirm is the sim it's based on, Souls Haven, is no longer generally accessible (at least to me).

According to the announcement (from the blog of Skills Hak, lead creator of the popular and acclaimed Insilico region), hacking and drama is the problem:

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A 3D Recreation of Undertale is Being Built in Second Life

Undertale 3D Second Life

UPDATE, 1/29: Read this post for news on this project, which is reportedly closing

I told you about the 3D version of Undertale, the beloved, hit indie RPG, being created in Second Life. Since then I had a chance to chat with Sykes Furse, who leads development on it with a large team of volunteers, and shared way more details:

“It's not a game, it's a simulator for people to enjoy the same game we all came to love, Undertale, in a 3D environment. We host nothing but an appreciation sim so others can enjoy it and hang out if they like. So far all we have are the Ruins and Snowdin. Toriel's home will be done sometime soon, but I and a few others are going to start working on Waterfall as soon as we possibly can!”

Surprisingly, Sykes' team of volunteers have created a pretty playable simulation with Second Life's basic building and scripting tools:

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Try Black Desert's Cutting Edge Avatar Creator for Free

Black Desert Avatar Creator

Black Desert's much-talked about avatar creator is free to download now. As longtime NWNers know, Janine "Iris" Hawkins was writing about how amazing it is a couple years ago:

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.

You can try it for free without necessarily playing the actual MMO it's been created for, so give it a while. If you do, all you masters of avatar customization, please share your character selfies in Comments!

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Anita Sarkeesian's Analysis of Male & Female Player Avatar Butts Needs an MMO Sequel

Sure to enrage a certain set of male gamers for no rational reason whatsoever, here's Anita Sarkeesian's latest look at the sexist tropes in most mainstream videogames:

The core of her argument is interesting and should be pretty obvious to gamers after she raises it: Game developers consistently sexualize female player characters' and female NPCs' butts, while also taking massive pains to non-sexualize male player avatar asses -- to the point of covering them up in physically implausible ways. And in this way, consciously or unconsciously, straight male players are told that games are catering to them, while pushing almost all female gamers away.

That said, I somewhat disagree with Sarkeesian that the solution to this is to non-sexualize all avatar butts, as opposed to exploiting them equally --mainly because in MMOs and other multiplayer games, her on-point analysis runs up against some interesting variables that may change the dynamic.

Here's some thoughts and citations on that theme:

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Playable 3D Recreation of Undertale RPG in Second Life

Click here to locate the Second Life recreation of Undertale, last year's acclaimed indie RPG game. I first noticed it via this brief walkthrough video by RainicK, who's clearly a fan of the original game. It includes puzzles and challenges based on the original game, and has a recreation of Snowdin, a town in Undertale. I haven't gotten around to playing the original game (it's on my list), but I was so intrigued, I went into Second Life last night to give it a quick look:

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Does Valve Want to Turn Steam Into a Gaming Metaverse?

Very interesting post from Redditor /godelbrot, citing this talk above by Valve CEO Gabe Newell (among other references), arguing that Valve is aiming to turn Steam into a kind of unifying metaverse for all the games within it, with a unified economy as well:

Gabe himself has said that where he sees the future of Steam is that every game on Steam is just an "instance dungeon" of the entire content economy that is the Steam Store. They are pushing to make it possible to transfer or trade value that you generate in one game to ANY game or to ANY player. So you spend 15 hours questing to get the Spear of Whatever, the value of your time spent on that is not boxed in to just one game, you could trade that Spear to another player for 10 Taunt Animations in another game or even just trade it for real currency. But it wouldn't just be limited to items, like I just mentioned: animations, skins, props, maps, badges, 'signed' items (THE ONLY weapon that Dendi used to win the International or something), essentially anything that represents value intrinsically or simply as a representation of time spent in a game ought to be transferable to any other game or tradeable. They want to turn the entire Steam Store into an actual economy. And this is why they have been hiring economists.

Notably, this would represent an ultimate triumph of user-generated content (i.e. modding) which has made Valve what it is today:

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The Second Life of Fallout 4 & Rise of Solo Virtual Worlds

Second Life of Fallout 4

The Verge has a really interesting post on how Fallout 4 is becoming some gamers' second life:

Two days, nine hours, and 17 minutes — that’s how long I’ve spent playing Fallout 4, the post-apocalyptic role-playing video game, since its release on November 10. I know this because the game keeps track and tells me every time I start it up. That’s 57 hours and change — almost one and a half workweeks — since the game arrived on my doorstep, and an even larger percentage of my waking hours... The game posted a record number of players on the PC game service Steam, too, reaching about 470,000 concurrent players. Judging from the online conversation, I’m not the only player who’s become lost in the game. Some appear to have far surpassed me, putting in 100 hours or more before the end of November. I guess I’ve got some catching up to do.

That's roughly more people having a second life in Fallout 4 than having a second life in, well, Second Life. What's really interesting is that Fallout 4 is single-player, but the world is so deep and self-consistent, it enables a lot more room for consistent, ongoing roleplay:

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The Making of Nethack, the Legendary Game That's Still Being Improved Three Decades After Launch

Nethack RPG Wagner James Au

Nethack has just been updated after a decade-long hiatus, which means the incredibly influential game -- it's basically the inspiration of pretty much every "rogue-like" RPG, including the Diablo franchise and mobile games like Pixel Dungeon -- is still being developed 30 years after launch. A testament to online collaborative content, Nethack has been improved by dozens of developers working together online for free over the last few decades.

As it happens, Nethack is also one of the very first games I wrote about for Salon, at the start of my career, and it's influenced my thoughts about games and collaborative creation ever since. Read the original article from 2000 below!

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Live Action Star Wars: Battlefront Trailer Nails the Power of Avatars & Virtual Worlds Better Than Anything I've Seen

Star Wars: Battlefront is not a persistent MMO, but this live action trailer for the new multiplayer FPS totally nails the appeal of avatars and virtual worlds better than anything I've seen in any marketing campaign for an actual virtual world or even an MMO. Battlefront is already massively popular, which suggests something else:

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