Ciaran Laval

Dec 172014
An Image Should Be Here

SL GO Comes To Firestorm

Last Friday’s Drax Files Radio hour is well worth a listen because it featured Cubey “Not the Grandfather Of Aviation In Second Life” Terra. However it also featured something else, Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley dropping hints about a big secret regarding SL GO from Onlive.

I’d actually forgotten all about this until I saw a post on New World Notes : SL Go Streaming Now Available Through PC/Mac Versions of Firestorm, Second Life’s Most Popular Viewer. SL GO can now be used with Firestorm as the client. This is further explained by the Firestorm team themselves in their own blog post : Firestrom On SL GO!

It should be noted that SL GO is not yet available on mobile devices with Firestorm. However that is promised for the future. Wait a minute, isn’t SL GO aimed at mobile devices such as Tablets? Well yes and no. SL GO can also be used to bring more life to Second Life on older PC/Mac hardware. The Firestorm blog post explains how this all works, I’ll quote some of that here but you really need to read the whole blog to get the full picture :

Onlive is essentially a streaming service. They host Firestorm and the SL Viewer on their many servers and stream video of a viewer’s interface and graphics to your computer screen while relaying your key and mouse inputs back to the viewer. This allows you to use graphically intensive games and applications without weighting down your own computer. In many ways it is like a remote desktop allowing you to manipulate the computer you are connected to with your own computer or mobile device. And since the computers on which OnLive hosts Firestorm are very high-end machines, you can run SL with full ultra graphics, shadows and everything without the drop in performance that highly detailed graphics usually cause!

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Dec 162014

Back in April 2011 Linden Lab announced : Introducing the Updated SL Viewer Beta with Enhanced Avatar Physics. In that post they explained the arrival of a new feature in Second Life, that of avatar physics :

In this viewer, you can now configure the amount of movement that you would like for your avatar’s soft body parts, making your avatar much more (ahem) realistic. Since the physics are controlled by a wearable object, you have the ability to easily customize and personalize your settings just as if you were editing any other clothing item. So whether you want lots of movement, or only a bit, you can adjust your settings and they will apply only to your avatar’s targeted body part.

Of course, we continue to smash bugs and make strides in viewer stability and performance, but we figured that you would be much more interested in avatars bouncing and jiggling.

The idea behind Avatar Physics is of course to make parts of the avatar body move in a more realistic fashion. Second Life, being user generated content of course, saw people create some very extreme physics for giggles. However over time things seem to have generally calmed down so that people try and use avatar physics in a sensible fashion. An example of the extremes of these physics was produced by Seraph Linden :

People in Second Life are familiar with avatar physics these days, some people use them well, some people don’t bother with them at all. That’s the same with a lot of avatar features in Second Life, plenty of people still happily go about their business without an AO.

Unity 3D allows avatar physics too, but they have found themselves in hot water because of it. The problems started when Unity Asset Store Tweeted :

Apply physics to bones, joints, hair or breasts! #AssetStore 24 hour deal : 50% off Dyanmic Bone

The offending part of the tweet was that Unity Asset Store had mentioned the word “breasts“, even though avatar physics does actually apply to breasts. The Tweet appears to have been removed and therefore a lot of the conversation is now in picture form or on archive sites.

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Dec 152014

I’ve mentioned this before but here we go again. Second Life could do with more ways for people to share information about events, places and sims by allowing people to easily embed that information into blog posts.

Flickr allows you to embed or copy the code of a picture easily so that you can included it in a blog post :

Cracked Mirror

YouTube makes it easy for you to share or embed videos :

These quick and easy ways of sharing content from social media sites help to not only promote your own content, they help to promote the brand of the platform you publish on. Second Life is a little lacking in this area when it comes to sharing content from Second Life on blogs. Let’s look at some more social media examples.

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Dec 132014

Centre Of Dublin

Virtual Dublin in Second Life has been around for a long time but it’s still a joy to visit. The first sim was opened on 29th April, 2006. There are now three sims joined together, Dublin, Dublin 2 and Dublin 3. The regions have gained attention outside of the virtual world environment,  a St Patrick’s Day parade organised by Tourism Ireland back in 2008 was held there and it’s not difficult to see why this would have been considered such a good location for that event.

Box Junction

The theme of the Sim is of course based on Dublin In Ireland and they have attempted to recreate the look and feel of part of the city, mainly O’Connell Street, Trinity College, St. Stephens Green, Guinness Brewery and Temple Bar area of Dublin including Grafton Street, Halfpenny Bridge, and Millenium Spire.

Looking Across Dublin 2

The Mayor of Dublin in Second Life is also the owner, Ham Rambler. The impressive recreation of Dublin has led to many Dubliners who have visited the sim saying “it’s just like being there!

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Dec 122014

Linden Lab’s invite for people to send suggestions to them via a new feedback process is gaining some interesting commentary outside the suggestion box. Indigo Mertel has gone for greater web functionality for Groups and communications whereas Hamlet Au over at New World Notes goes for achievements. Neither of these are new territory but they are good discussion territory.

I’m very much onboard with Indigo’s suggestions as they are largely suggestions I’ve made myself in the past. The benefits of web based groups are many but some key areas would mean that you wouldn’t have to receive a notecard, landmark and texture advertising events. The idea would be you’d get a notification pointing to the group web page. This allows communication channels to do what they do best and web pages to do what they do best.

Indigo has added some depth to the broad based group web page idea suggesting that they could have a forum, a wiki, an option for people to subscribe to notifications and the ability to make the group page viewable on the world wide web or not.

In short Indigo is thinking along the lines of the functionality that Facebook and Google + offer. Now you may think that if Facebook and Google + already offer this added functionality then why not go with them for Groups? Many people do, I get event invites sent to me on Google +. However not everyone has or wants an account on Facebook or Google + whereas people who are members of Second Life groups are already happy to be members of Second Life …. one would hope!

Now obviously this isn’t easy to achieve but going forward, I think there might be a pointer or two on how to try and manage groups in the future. Groups are a social experience and they require greater resources than the inworld Second Life experience can provide. Groups are essentially a social media tool and they really need a social media solution but one that can link into the inworld experience.

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Dec 112014

Linden Lab have slowly been trying to make peace with the education community in virtual worlds after the price change controversy a few years back. This has of course been reversed as Linden Lab seem to value the potential of educators using virtual worlds and this is further exemplified by the news that Ebbe Altberg will be the opening keynote speaker at VWBPE 2015 :

Great things are happening again this year at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference, so don’t miss out! We are very pleased to announce that Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, will be back on March 18, 2015, this time as our opening keynote speaker.

Ebbe will be joined by many other noteworthy presenters such as educators, researchers, professionals and instructors representing a broad range of areas including non-profits, sciences, IT , artists and of course, education.

Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education will be running from March 18th – 21st 2015.

I decided to dig a little deeper into the educational institutions currently active in Second Life. Unfortunately the Official Wiki is hopelessly out of date in this area. However the ever improving Destination Guide is very much relevant to the current market and better still, it includes lots of places that aren’t traditional places of learning. I decided to start my exploration at the DePaul College of Computing and Digital Media

DePaul University

The  thing to note is that this is a bloody impressive build. If you hadn’t intentionally teleported into an education sim, you would probably think it was some sort of roleplaying environment or a place where some serious content creators were at play. This is a very photogenic location.

DePaul University, College of CDM

See what the students at DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media have created on the school’s official campus. A monastery, pirate ship, manor house, and bell tower are just a few of the attractions to explore.

Visit in Second Life

Next up I headed over to The Cystic Fibrosis University. This is another impressive build and has a winter holiday theme going on at the moment.

Cystic Fibrosis University

The Cystic Fibrosis university is ran by the Boomer Esiason Foundation and they explain a little bit about the purpose of their build in Second Life on their community portal section of their website:

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world – set up and monitored by the Boomer Esiason Foundation – with virtual characters (avatars) in a cyber community. The online world allows people to socialize and communicate (via typing) “face to face.” CF University, located on Second Life, is an educational and resourceful tool that also allows people with CF to have social interaction.

Cystic Fibrosis University

Presented by the Boomer Esiason Foundation, this region aims to educate the general public about cystic fibrosis, provides valuable resources to sufferers, and is a fun place to relax and socialize with the CF community.

Visit in Second Life

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Dec 092014

Linden Lab have announced that they are now offering A New Way To Share Your Suggestions For Second Life. “The Tier Is Too Damn High!” will probably not receive much of a response. The blog post opens with :

What’s the one thing Linden Lab could do that would have the biggest impact on further improving your Second Life experience?

Whether your suggestion is small or large, Linden Lab will welcome the feedback. I’m pretty sure we used to do this with a new feature suggestion on the Jira and in a galaxy far far away, on the Second Life forums. However attempts by Linden Lab to receive feedback from their community are most definitely welcome.

The new way of submitting feedback is to go to the feedback and suggestions section of the Second Life website. There, after logging in, you will be presented with a fairly simple form that informs you not to use this form for support requests.

Please note: this form is intended for suggestions, not support requests, bug reports, and other inquiries.

If you are trying to get in touch for a different purpose, below are links to the most appropriate resources.

Support and Downloads: Second Life Support Portal Bug Reports: JIRA

There’s a helpful dropdown on the form to help you categorise your suggestions and feedback. “The Tier Is Too Damn High!” isn’t there, but land is. In all seriousness, unless you’ve got a bloody good plan on how Linden Lab can lower tier and keep revenue stable, “The Tier is Too Damn High!” isn’t going to get very far. The Maths simply doesn’t add up for the idea that a reduction in tier cost would see an equivalent increase in demand and I say that as someone who very much believes that “The Tier Is Too Damn High!“. There’s no easy answer to that one, it involves Linden Lab being able to create more revenue streams.

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Dec 082014


Immerse yourself in the beauty, warmth and spirit of the holidays at Calas Galadhon Park’s Noel. Take a sleigh tour though this magical winter wonderland, all the way to the the beautiful Christmas Pavilion. Relax with a cup of hot chocolate or brandy, chat with friends by the fire or listen to one of the scheduled live music events. Don’t forget the flying reindeer ride!

Visit in Second Life

Calas Galadhon Park in Second Life has long been a place of beauty and wonder. The park itself isn’t just a single sim, there are eleven sims and one of the beauties of the park is that it changes with the season. December is no exception with the appearance of the winter wonderland of “Noel”.

Calas Galadhon Park's Noel

The sim itself is best viewed with the region windlight, I mess around with that to try and bring more light into my pictures but the darker skies of the default region windlight help to highlight the falling snow and give the sim a nice winter feeling.

There are activities you can engage in whilst exploring the sim, such as sleigh rides, ice skating and even hopping on a flying reindeer.

Daytime At Noel

There are also a series of events at the park, including live music with Antonio Galloway, Voodoo Shilton and Duncan Bagley all pencilled in for live performances.

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Dec 062014

2014 Christmas Expo & Winter Breedables Fair

The 2014 Second Life Christmas Expo & Winter Breedables Fair offers 12 days of shopping, hunts, live performances, and winter fun! This returning eight-sim event is in support of Relay For Life of Second Life. For more information, be sure to visit

Visit in Second Life

On a lighter note, the Christmas Expo & Winter Breedables Fair for Relay for Life of Second Life has now been open for a couple of days and includes some fantastic builds and Christmas themes.


The regions contain Christmas Trees! They also contain a radio stream to make you want to let it snow, actually it has snowed there, a lot!

SL Xmas Expo

The expo is part of the Relay For Life fundraising effort and Linden Lab have happily joined in the spirit of good will to all men (and women) with a blog post in which they point out :

Returning for a 4th year – the expo kicks off today – December 4th- and runs through December 15th, 2014. Coordinated and sponsored by residents who wish to help fund a charitable organization with a festive event, this event intends to make the gift of giving memorable and fun.

This joyful happening helps raise funds for Relay for Life of Second Life – with 100% of registration fees, sponsorship feeds, kiosk donations, hunt, raffle, auction, and vendor donation items going to Relay for Life of Second Life – part of the American Cancer Society.

There will plenty of activities for you to participate in; from two tree lots filled with beautifully decorated trees from some of the best designers, auctions, live performances and DJs, to pictures with the man himself – Santa!

Exciting times indeed!

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Dec 052014

This is your normal every day story about controversial themes in video games, a baying mob placing pressure on a company with claims that are economic with the truth, a baying mob not grasping that there are serious concerns about said content and trolls emerging from beneath the bridge to spread heinous vitriol.

Target Australia have announced : Target Removes Grand Theft Auto 5 From Shelves. The announcement says :

Target General Manager Corporate Affairs Jim Cooper said the decision was made following extensive community and customer concern about the game.

“We’ve been speaking to many customers over recent days about the game, and there is a significant level of concern about the game’s content,” Mr Cooper said.

“We’ve also had customer feedback in support of us selling the game, and we respect their perspective on the issue.

“However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA5 is in line with the majority view of our customers.”

GTA is of course a controversial game and has extremely adult themes. However it’s rated as an 18 rated game, although parents all too often haven’t grasped that 18 rated games mean it’s only suitable for people 18 and over and in extreme cases like GTA, it’s questionable whether it’s suitable for all people as young as 18. However this isn’t helped when a company such as Target Australia advertise a game like GTA V next to Peppa Pig and Barbie in the toys and games section of an advertising brochure.

However it’s disappointing to see Target Australia bow down to the baying mob, just as it was disappointing when Intel bowed down to the baying mob over advertising on Gamasutra. However both companies have every right to take business decisions they consider to be suitable. Target Australia feel they are a family friendly store but  in the case of the latest hoo-ha, one can’t help but feel Target Australia are missing the target by a country mile. when you look at the next part of the announcement, it all gets a bit baffling :

Mr Cooper said Target would continue to sell other R-rated DVDs and games.

“While these products often contain imagery that some customers find offensive, in the vast majority of cases, we believe they are appropriate products for us to sell to adult customers.

“However, in the case of GTA5, we have listened to the strong feedback from customers that this is not a product they want us to sell.”

The Warehouse in New Zealand consider themselves to be a family friendly store, in November they took the decision to remove all R18 rated games and DVD’s off the shelves. GTA V was also at the heart of this decision, but The Warehouse took a consistent approach to these issues, as The Warehouse chief executive Mark Powell explained :

The recently released Grand Theft Auto V, which contains graphic sex scenes and violence towards women from a first person perspective, has acted as a catalyst for our decision to totally exit the R18 games and DVD market.

We considered simply ‘de-ranging’ this product, however that would require us to judge the merits of every R18 product on an ongoing basis, which we are not in a position to do, nor do we see as our role.

The arguments that follow over Target Australia’s decision will rage on about The Warehouse’s decision too but at least The Warehouse displayed a fine degree of consistency in their approach, the same cannot be said for Target Australia. I’m not quite sure why they think it’s fine to sell other content that contains sex and graphic violence but have decided to single out GTA V as not being suitable. The cynical side of me suspects a marketing gimmick to get eyes on the prize. They did indeed get a lot of eyes on their Facebook page and are still getting a lot of eyes on the prize, they are also busily deleting thousands of dissenting voices, many of which are polite and to the point rather than vitriolic and rude.

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