Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Second Life Paris Unfurls Banners in Solidarity for RL Paris
In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks on the staff of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper in Paris, the owners of Second Life's virtual Paris have unfurled banners from the beams of the Eiffel Tower -- solidarity from a digital realm created to enshrine creative expression, to a shattered city that's inspired so much of humanity's greatest art, thought, and satire. Click here to visit virtual Paris.
SLurl for third party viewers below:
Dans la foulée des attaques terroristes horribles sur le personnel de Charlie Hebdo, un journal satirique à Paris, les propriétaires du Paris virtuel en Second Life ont déroulé des banderoles des poutres de la Tour Eiffel--démontrant la solidarité d'un royaume numérique créé pour préserver l'expression créative, à une ville brisée qui a inspiré tant des grandes pensées et de l'art de l'humanité. Cliquez ici pour visiter Paris virtuel.
SLurl pour les clients tierces parties ci-dessous:
Lost Constellation is NOT a Demo for Night in the Woods--and That's One More Reason Why You Should Play
Over the holiday lull, the developers of upcoming game Night in the Woods dropped a doozy of a demo, named Lost Constellation. Except... Lost Constellation isn't actually a demo, even though it does demonstrate certain aspects of Night in the Woods. Lost Constellation also isn't a standalone game, even thought it does certainly stand on its own.
In the developers' words, Lost Constellation is a 'supplemental game'. Given the scarcity of game demos (at least compared to how things were a decade ago) that distinction may seem unnecessary, but in fact these kinds of un-demos are an increasingly popular way for indie devs to do a lot of things at once.
A Virtual World Where Avatars Are Wordless, Magical Deer
You arrive to a forest as a baby deer or foal. Above your head is a unique glowing symbol which is you, and what others recognize you by. You will come across other deer and will realize quite quickly that there is no way to communicate with them. There is no typing out text to one another but instead you have a variety of ways to communicate with body language. Shake your head, rear up onto your back legs and so on. It is a community embracing the absence of normal communication, and then what happens in that environment.
The wordless, magical communication aspect was a powerful element of Journey, and I'd love to see it in other MMOs. Or why not a Second Life sim where text and voice chat were forbidden, and only gestural communication allowed? What a fricking relief from the voices you hear in Second Life's Welcome Area that would be.
By contrast, here's what interaction looks like in The Endless Forest:
New on Paste: Appreciating the Value of Virtual Spaces in Dragon Age: Inquisition and Beyond
In my latest piece for Paste 's Games section, I wanted to dissect the love/hate relationship that players of Dragon Age: Inquisition have with several of the game's maps, particularly The Hissing Wastes. A location that many players consider big and boring became my favorite in the game, and I think that has a lot to do both with what we expect game areas to be and what we expect them to do.
Although my take on this hasn't exactly earned universal agreement from fellow gaming enthusiasts, I'm willing to bet that most Second Life users take this position for granted...
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Virtual Reality Advertisers Seem Hellbent on Repeating Second Life Marketing Mistakes
AdWeek, the advertising industry's main publication, has a cover story on virtual reality as a new marketing platform, and my first thought when glancing at it was, "Welp, here we go again." I groaned further after I read the first two paragraph:
Nancy Bennett is a virtual-reality marketing veteran. (Yes, such people actually exist and are about to become hot commodities among talent recruiters.) In the mid-2000s, Bennett had her avatar boots on the Internet-code-built ground of Second Life, constructing cyber experiences for her employer at the time, MTV Networks. Of course, Second Life never really took off. So with her been there, done that perspective several years later as chief content officer at Two Bit Circus, she does not deal in hyperbole when it comes to the impact the much-hyped virtual reality headset Oculus Rift will have on marketing. Rather, Bennett leans on data. One-third of her agency's new business in 2014 was powered by the Oculus Rift developer's kit, helping grow her 2-year-old Los Angeles digital shop from 15 to 35 employees.
At least two things wrong here:
- Second Life "never really took off", in great part, because major marketing campaigns that companies created for Second Life met with extremely low levels of engagement. As a result, the entire platform was largely written off by most people in tech, not to mention all the major organizations who wasted their money on that outreach. This failure was largely not the fault of Second Life, as I explained at length at the time, but when esteemed companies conspicuously blow tens of millions of dollars on a platform, people tend to stop listening.
- Before the SL hype wave ended, Second Life-oriented marketing companies also grew at a rapid pace -- particularly the Metavese Big Three, The Electric Sheep Company, Millions of Us, and the UK studio Rivers Run Red. (As I recall, Millions of US, founded by a colleague and fellow ex-Linden, grew from just him to a staff of dozens in under a year.) But sad to say, that growth soon retracted when advertisers saw poor returns on their SL investment.
What's wrong with virtual reality as a marketing platform? I could go through the AdWeek article line by line to explain how misguided it (mostly) is, but let's just skip right to the TL;DR version:
Why Jenn Frank Compares GamerGate to a Massive ARG
On Slate, game journalist Jenn Frank (who'll soon be contributing to New World Notes) just wrote a perceptive analysis of Gamergate, the misogynist movement which temporarily drove her out of her vocation last year. Rather than being bitter about that experience, she takes a philosophical stance, arguing that "Gamergate is the most expansive real-world alternate reality game in video game history." Sample:
The authors of Gamergate’s oral history are a decentralized collective, a conglomerate of modern-day bards with no single leader, who use real-world details from the lives of real-world people to give the mythos texture, verisimilitude and, probably most important, real-world stakes. This is literally what we mean by “gamification”! (It’s also worth noting that Gamergate, alas, cannot be paused.)
Alas indeed. Anyway, Jenn let me share her thoughts for taking this approach on Slate:
Iris Wants to Know: How Do You Wear Your SL Hair?
I'm a little bit in love with the sweeping waves and swirly curls in the latest release from Second Life hair brand Magika. It's romantic but flawless, in just the right amount of disarray to look 'natural' without looking... Well, too natural. This is exactly what I want from the mesh haistyles topping off my avatar on a daily basis, but that's not the case for everyone.
My mother's a big fan of L fashion too, and our tastes in virtual hair tend to clash. For her, if a style doesn't have any flow or movement to it, it's pretty much off the table. That's not to say that's she's living in the pre-mesh past with her pixel perms, but she still certainly appreciates a dash of flexi here and there under all that mesh. A feature that's a dealbreaker for her is something I don't think I've ever even noticed among all the styles I own.
There's even more variation than that, though. I have friends who loathe chunky, "piecy" styles and others who wear them constantly. Some won't consider buying from a designer if they don't have a full range of dip-dyed texture options, while others never stray from their signature color. Even the least fashion-frenzied among us seem to be pretty picky about our avatar hair.
That's why today I want to know how you like to wear your Second Life hair? Are there features you can't live without/won't touch with a 10-foot prim pole, or are you pretty easygoing as long as you can find that perfect shade of auburn? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Monday, January 05, 2015
Open Forum: What Are Your 2015 Predictions for SL, SL2, High Fidelity, and VR in General?
Let's start this New Year, as we often do, with a New World Notes open forum for 2015 predictions on the future of Second Life, Second Life 2, High Fidelity, Oculus Rift, and virtual reality in general -- the more concrete the better, so we can definitively confirm whether they happened or not at the end of 2015.
To get the virtual ball rolling, I'll start. I think there's going to a Trough of Disillusionment around VR this year, that's going to lead to this specific thing happening:
Can You Pose Your SL Avatar for a Yearbook-Style Photo?
Here's a fun new challenge for the new year: Can you pose your SL avatar like he or she was smiling for a high school yearbook photo? That's the premise for Strawberry Singh's Second Life Yearbook Smile Challenge.. "I always have a hard time trying to make my avatar not look so creepy while smiling," as she explains how the idea came to be, "so I was testing it out a few days ago and shared my image on Plurk and Whiskey Monday came in leaving me comments as if she was signing my yearbook, which I thought was hilarious!"
Here's how to submit:
Share an image of your Second Life avatar smiling for a yearbook photo. Don’t forget to share the link to your post in the comments and add your pictures to the new Second Life Yearbook flickr group, you can also share them in the Blog Memes flickr group if you like.
Then again, is just about every high school yearbook photo I've ever seen, all the students' smiles are totally awkward -- covering up the braces on their face, trying to look emo and totally failing, and so on. (Not to mention the horrible hairstyles, the pimples, the look of inward terror and sexual frustration.) Now that's another yearbook avatar meme I'd love to see.