Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Fractal Lab Project Puts Awesome 3D Graphics in a Browser
Fractal Lab is a jaw-dropping project that displays progressive rendering of fractals in WebGL, which is pretty much geekspeak for, "OMFG lookit this cool 3D animation in mah web browser!" Watch:
Video and website via Lee Perry of Epic Games, who knows more than a bit about epic 3D. The Fractal Lab project is really a portfolio sample by a crazy talented programmer/artist called Tom Beddard, and unsurprisingly, it got him a good gig. On the down side, that means it'll likely be awhile before we get to play with it too:
This Unbelievably Gorgeous Second Life Snapshot Will Take Your Breath Away
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:
How Old Can't Guess How Old Wrinkle-Free Avatars Are
"In most of the pics," Cajsa tells me, laughing wrly, "it's a PXL skin which is one I prefer because it looks older." (Click to embiggen.) Looks like the lack of any wrinkles or age contours confuses the crap of the program. Which helps to illustrate a larger truism about avatars: Perfection and ageless beauty is easy to stimulate - the opposite, not so much.
Monday, May 04, 2015
HoloLens Promises of Immersive AR/VR "Basically a Lie" - Also Makes You Look Like Kim-Jung Il
After months of anticipation based on videos like this one, everybody in tech was excited to see the Microsoft HoloLens in action, and assorted developers/reporters finally got their hands on a demo last week. The Verge for one was impressed on a certain level, but also cut through the hype:
Short version of the Verge's take: The HoloLens has a great display screen, but has nothing like the fully immersive, wraparound images that were promised in its promotional videos. Which means HoloLens' potential as an augmented reality platform is more limited than many of us thought, and is a VR platform not at all.
Also: It's surprising how few people are commenting just how dorky these things look. Like worse than even Google Glass. I mean, just look:
How to Increase Your SL Blog Traffic (Hint: SEO, Yo!)
Canary Beck has a good long post on why search is so important to increasing views to your Second Life blog. (Or for that matter, any blog in any particular vertical.) As I told her in an e-mail, New World Notes gets about 30% of its 110K-190K+ monthly views through search, which is more or less a good target to shoot for. If I could add a TL;DR to her post (which you really should read in full here), I'd put it this way:
Kotaku & Cracked Give Janine Hawkins & NWN Nice Nods
NWN senior writer Janine "Iris" Hawkins' post on the Steam paid mods controversy got a nice mention on Kotaku. Also gratifying to see Cracked.com cite NWN in this smartass listicle post, "6 Dorky Hobbies That Shatter Your Image Of Famous People", noting our tribute to Robin WIilliam's love (and artistic inspiration from) roleplaying games.
Reader Comments: Fond Memories of the Wonderful World of Svarga in Second Life
Last week I asked readers to share memories of the first user-maintained Second Life sims they remember visiting. The responses are great to read through, whether you're looking to stir up your own memories of the sims mentioned or just invoke a sense of general nostalgia.
My absolute favorite comment came from Sepp, who reflected on (and shared some trivia about) one of the most interesting sims in Second Life history:
Svarga, Laukosargas Svarog's experimental virtual ecosystem. In mythology, Svarga is the heavenly abode of the Slavic god Svarog, the supreme god of the Slavic pantheon and the god of fire and blacksmithing. In Second Life, Svarga was a sim with not only a castle, hidden caves but rain clouds, flowers puffing spores and insects buzzing around. There was a wasp ride to give you a tour around the sim, magical places and a fantastic echo sound experiment area.
I remember spending days and days there, there was a thriving vampire community, lots of friendly people, waterfalls and mushrooms to sit on. There was a dream dancing event and contless[sic] photo sessions.
Svarga has been around since 2006. Amazingly it's still featured in the destination guide, although I dont think Laukosargas is involved any longer.
I have some wonderful memories from Svarga. I met the most wonderfuil[sic] person there.
Top Five New World Notes Posts from Last Week
- This is the Single Worst Sentence in Bethseda's Announcement Defending Paid Skyrim Mods
- VR Pioneer Explains Why Virtual Reality is Making the Same Mistakes That Hurt VR in the 90s - And How to Avoid Them
- Iris Wants to Know: What Was the First Second Life Sim You Remember Visiting?
- Watch This Gorgeous Machinima Tour Through Second Life's Fantasy Faire 2015
- I'm Disappointed That Steam's Paid Mods Are Off the Table (for Now), and Here's Why
Friday, May 01, 2015
Insilico: Meet the Faces Behind Second Life's Top Cyberpunk Roleplay Destination
Ask many long-time Second Life users about the best location to soak in a dystopian cyberpunk future and Insilico will be the first name on their lips. At this point it's an institution, a thrumming neon node on SL's map that's been a constant for years. Insilico has been my own go-to futuristic backdrop for virtual world photography for as long as I can remember, but I never had a concept of who was working behind the scenes to build and maintain this unique and enduring place. In my mind, Insilico always just... was.
That's why it was a pleasant surprise to see that mixed reality film maker Draxtor Despres took on the story of the Insilico sim for the latest episode of his Linden Lab-sponsored YouTube series, The Drax Files: World Makers. If you've ever wanted to know what's going on behind the gleaming facade of one of Second Life's most recognizable cyberpunk sims, now's your chance to find out.
Watch the full episode above, and be sure to drop by and see Insilico [Teleport link] for yourself afterwards. You can also check out Draxtor's YouTube channel to catch up on more of his fascinating series.