Ciaran Laval

Feb 012016

Just over a year ago I blogged :Baylor College Of Medicine Utilising Second Life To Aid Women With Physical Limitations Lose Weight. That post looked at a program designed to help women lose weight when exercise is not really an option due to their physical limitations.

Fast forward to January 29th and wheelchair user Terri O’Hare has blogged about her experience of the program. The post is not too lengthy but well worth a read. Terri explains how it was with some major reluctance that she entered the virtual world of Second Life, due to the fact that she thought it would be largely inhabited by thirteen year old boys. However, she soon discovered that this was not the case :

At first I strongly resisted Second Life (SL), figuring it was a fantasy world full of 13 year-old boys. But then I actually entered it after a training session and walked, flew, and jumped around the beautiful “world” our program instructors built just for us.

That space included a workout area complete with yoga, bicycles, rock climbing and more. Terri also describes how she became attached to her avatar.

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Jan 222016

Project Sansar Concept Art

Project Sansar is widely being dubbed as the Second Life of Second Life. This makes it sound as if Second Life has gone away, if you read the headlines, but when you read the articles then you discover that Second Life is not only healthy, it’s arguably still the best virtual world out there.

We’ll take a look at a couple of articles to demonstrate this point, the first is by Annie Gaus and published on Silicon Valley Business Journals : In virtual reality, Second Life prepares for its second act. The article talks about the virtual reality boom, the fact that Linden Lab have a new product on the way and dives into the hype machine that is currently in action regarding VR :

Now, the makers of Second Life are preparing for a new life of their own in the fast-developing virtual reality market, which Deloitte analysts estimate will hit $1 billion for the first time in 2016.

However, before we can move forward into the new virtual reality, we have to step back and the article acknowledges that Second Life was a successful early experiment, so successful that the article also points out that Second Life’s longevity makes it ancient in Internet years.

The article also contains some quotes from Ebbe Altberg, many which have been heard before but one really stands out from the crowd, especially when people seem to feel that the end of the Second Life virtual world is nigh :

It’s still the best virtual world out there today. We’re profitable all thanks to Second Life.

People should bear this in mind, Second Life is still paying its own way for Linden Lab, Project Sansar is still some way off from being a polished product and even when it is a polished product, it won’t be Second Life, which means that Second Life may still have a home. The article does of course delve into Project Sansar, which is seen as the future, but the future isn’t here yet.

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Jan 222016

Virtuallyabout LLC dba Crystal Delights doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as a company name, but it’s a company with interesting roots because they have made the leap from the virtual world to the real world with a range of adult products.

The leap from the virtual world to the real world hasn’t just happened, as we can see from the about us section of their website :

Virtuallyabout LLC dba Crystal Delights began in 2008 as a successful line of digital toys in the virtual world of Second Life. Along with the “Crystal Delights” virtual adult toy product line, we launched virtual sales kiosks that allowed Second Life avatars the ability to purchase real-world pleasure products using Lindens, Second Life’s currency. When Second Life began to pursue different avenues, and restricting adult commerce, the idea grew to create a real-life “Crystal Delights” pleasure product.

The above also explains why I stumbled across news of the company, because I was searching for articles on Second Life at the time and found this article at : Retail store offering adult glass pleasure products opens. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. The reason the company are in the news now is because their new store is opening on January 23rd.

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Jan 152016

The Elven Isle Of Telrunya

So there I was, wandering around Second Life, minding my own business when an Elf leaped out of the bushes and ordered me to stop. I decided to do what I always do when I encounter Elves, never trust them! Unfortunately this Elf was far more cunning than I expected.

He invited me to a party, fed me copious amounts of food and a strange liquid. Initially everything was fine, I felt rather merry and many more Elves arrived. We danced, they sang, I forgot my suspicions and then awoke, my memory mysteriously erased.

Where am I?” I pondered.

Azeroth, land of people with yellow exclamation marks above their head“, came the reply, from someone who identified as a Rogue.

Noooooo” I cried, “This can’t be happening, how will I ever get home?

Hearthstone?” suggested the Rogue. Unfortunately that just returned me to a strange location with lots of odd looking characters.

Still waiting!!!

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Dec 182015

Snowball Rifle

A long time ago in a virtual world far, far away ……

Linden Lab have announced the date and the time of the annual Linden & Resident Snowball Fight. The date and time for those who may not be paying as close attention as they should is Monday December 21st at 10am SLT.

Ready To Rumble

The blog post bills this as :

Come one – come all to the Snowball Arena for a friendly ice battle of epic proportions! We’re bringing back the Official Snowball Showdown – where you’re free to pelt your fellow Second Life Residents and Lindens with a bevy of sparkling snowballs!

These battles can indeed be epic.

Maxwell Graf & Vaki Zenovka

Do not fear if you think you will be walking into a trap, there’s no need to be unarmed and not very dangerous because there is free weaponry available from the vendors in Winter Wonderland.

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Dec 182015

On Wednesday December 16th Linden Lab announced; Introducing Project Bento – New Bones Added to Second Life Avatar Skeleton. The project is designed to add extensions to the Second Life skeleton in terms of bones, these bones :

  • 11 extra limb bones for wings, additional arms, or extra legs.
  • 6 tail bones.
  • 30 bones in the hands (all 10 fingers!).
  • 30 bones for facial expressions.
  • 2 other new bones in the head for animating ears or antennae.
  • 13 new attachment points associated with the new bones.

The blog post describes this as :

While we want to make improvements, we also want to maximize backward compatibility. Get ready for the biggest thing that’s happened to avatars in years …

Ever wish you could incorporate a tail, wings, or second set of arms into your avatar? How about having animations for facial expressions and finger movements? Yes, we know that there are some incredibly creative workarounds that give you some of these, but they can’t leverage skeletal animation, so they have been very complex, often fragile, and very expensive in performance and resources both in your Viewer and the Simulator.

The biggest thing that has happened to Second Life avatars in years is a bold claim but looking at the reaction from Second Life content creators, it seems that this bold claim has some merit.

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Dec 162015

The Tribeca Film Festival® is set to run April 13th April 24th 2016 and news about the festival is starting to appear. The first round of speakers have been announced.  Tina Fey and Tom Hanks are grabbing the headlines for their part in; Tribeca Talks: Storytellers platform, and I do love storytelling but this year’s festival is also taking a look at technology and innovation :

On April 19, it’ll be home to Imagination Day, powered by the Hatchery. The industry’s top minds will convene for an all-day summit focused on, “What happens when our wildest dreams become reality, and what will that reality be in our not-so-distant future?” The first round of confirmed speakers is no joke: entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, and business leader and product innovator Regina Dugan, of Google ATAP. The Hub will also host the following esteemed VR creatives and tech entrepreneurs: Second Life and High Fidelity founder Philip Rosedale, VR directors Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël of Felix & Paul Studios, and STRIVR founder and CEO Derek Belch.

Imagination day sounds like quite an interesting day, although there aren’t many firm details just yet.

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Dec 112015

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Episode 34 of the Linden Lab sponsored Drax Files: World Makers, features the Cheeky Pea brand and the people behind it, Isla Gealach and Ewan Mureaux. This is the age old tale of virtual world scripter meets virtual world home and garden decor creator, they fall in love and live happily ever after. This of course isn’t the story the media often highlight regarding virtual world romance turned real, but it’s a story beautifully told in this edition of The Drax Files : World Makers.

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Don’t panic, it’s not a mushy love story, it’s a tale of the benefits of virtual world collaboration and physical world realism making up the whole. The episode opens with Isla talking about the beauty of immersion in a virtual world, how the space can be manipulated to create something you can feel.

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Where this episode really hits the button is in terms of the footage outside the virtual world. Isla using Maya to create items, her daughter taking an interest and even wanting to create her own items firmly makes the point that behind the 3D avatars are real people, doing real things.

There’s also an excellent section where we see how the physical world that we all live in, is an inspiration for the items created for a virtual world.

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Dec 082015

Back in June 2012 I blogged about Blender version 2.64 having Second Life related options. I also mentioned that there were opportunities for the Second Life and 3D creation communities to cross promote their wares :

I’ve often wondered why Adobe aren’t advertising on the Second Life forums, after all Photoshop is a popular tool for Second Life creators. Then there’s Autodesk Maya which can be used to make Mesh.

Blender and Gimp are open source tools that can be used for Second Life content creation, how about some adverts for them in the forum in exchange for links to Second Life from their sites, or Linden Lab talk to the guys at Blender Cookie about linking to some of their training materials, some of their content is free to use and some require a subscription fee. Linden Lab could even enquire if they could sell training subscriptions on behalf of Blender Cookie and bundle it with a new premium plus membership package for Second Life, which would be aimed at content creators.

I returned to this area in March 2014 when I blogged about missed opportunities for cross promotion between Second Life and Adobe :

However with Adobe charging a monthly fee, and with Linden Lab charging a monthly fee and taking into account that Adobe have products that are very suitable for Second Life content creation, I feel there’s a massive cross promotion opportunity here. A new premium membership plan could be introduced that includes a subscription to Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, obviously this would be more expensive than the current Second Life Premium plan but with sensible negotiation between Linden Lab and Adobe, it would work out roughly the same or cheaper, than subscribing to both, on the Second Life end you’d lose some of the current premium perks to compensate for this.

Whereas this still hasn’t happened, we are seeing a step in the right direction with Linden Lab’s blog informing us of an offer; 50% Off Marvelous Designer Online Training from CG Elves – Limited Time!

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Dec 042015

Picture the scene, Daniel Voyager, Draxtor Despres, Inara Pey, Loki Eliot, Jo Yardley, Nalates Uriah, Canary Beck, Strawberry SinghHamlet Au and myself are all in a darkened room somewhere in Second Life, quite possibly Linden World, which is a top secret bunker. A door opens, the creak echoes in the room and we hear footsteps. Fire lights the room, a wooden torch held up to reveal that Gray of the Lab from San Francisco (AKA Pete Linden, AKA Peter Gray), Ebbe Altberg and Xiola Linden have entered the room.

They look at us, suspiciously, there’s a hush and then we are all asked to swear an oath of secrecy before being handed a dossier entitled “Top Secret”. This dossier contains secret plans from the evil empire with regards to taking over the virtual world under the banner of “Project Sanasr Sansar”. *See comments for explanation of the strike through.

“At least one of you will betray us .. three times to be precise,” Xiola Linden tells us.

“Three of you may betray us once each”, ponders Gray of the Lab from San Francisco.

“All of you belong to us,” cackles Ebbe Altberg and with that they leave the room. The bloggers stand there, cold and in silence.

I look at the dossier in front of me, this is gold. I’ll have countless blogs on this subject. At that point, Strawberry Singh elbows me in the ribs and glares at me “You swore an oath!”

So I’m here to tell you that I can’t tell you about the top secret dossier. What I can exclusively tell you is that Secret Second Life Bloggers Club doesn’t exist. The last person you would entrust with secret plans for virtual world domination is a blogger, seriously.

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