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 PTLeader.com : 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 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.

An image should be here

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 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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Dec 022015
 

Project Sansar Concept Art

Fancy a bite,
My appetite,
Yum yum gee it’s fun,
Banging on a different drum,

There seems to be a concern in some quarters that Linden Lab’s Project Sansar is poised to eat Linden Lab’s Second Life. I’m not quite sure where this concern stems from and that’s before we mention that Linden Lab have another product; Blocksworld, which people don’t pay much attention to in terms of eating too much of the Linden Lab pie.

Yes, Project Sansar is the project that Linden Lab have most employees working on, yes it’s new and shiny, yes it will tie in better with HMD’s than Second Life does. None of this means that Second Life will be swallowed by the Project Sansar shark. A lot of the current concern seems to stem from the recent Lab Chat and a question from long time Second Life resident and all round good guy, Qie Niangao :

Assuming Sansar makes it into a revenue-generating beta, how will the Lab organization be structured to keep SL and Sansar from sabotaging each other’s success?

This has been a problem for the Lab, historically, most disastrously with the competition between Marketplace and the Land product, but this could be worse: the Sansar team has a natural incentive to cannibalize the Second Life business — but if that’s premature, LL could be left with no profit from either product. How will you prevent this?

(Yes, eventually Sansar’s market should be so large that the current Second Life business doesn’t even register as a blip on the adoption curve. But initially, Sansar Marketing will be tempted to feed off SL, potentially leaving neither platform viable).

Good question, which deserves a good answer and it pretty much got one from Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO :

Well, I’m not sure why we would try to sabotage ourselves in the first place. But they are two very separate teams, from product and design and engineering are two completely separate teams … at some point they meet-up in the organisation higher up, but they are working very independently today.

And there’s some pieces the two products will share. Clearly we don’t want to have to replicate the whole virtual economy pieces, and all the compliance work that goes with that, so that is something we try to make sure we only do once; and that will be a service both Sansar and Second Life will leverage. but other than that, the teams are free to work completely independently on what they think is best for them and their users every day.

However the answer went further, it went into the cannibalisation issue and that’s where things get a bit messy in the minds of some.

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Dec 012015
 

Linden Lab today launched a new terms of service, which has been updated in three areas :

  • Remove outdated references to Desura and Authorised Resellers.
  • Explicitly address our intolerance of harassment of Linden Lab employees.
  • Clarify the arbitration provision in accordance with applicable law.

Some of these changes reflect the fact that terms of service changes can be a slow process. Desura went long ago, as did authorised resellers. The arbitration issue, I have absolutely no idea what that’s about, although I’m sure others will highlight those changes. The harassment of Linden Lab employees change is something that can be easily found in section 6.1 :

(iv) Post, display, or transmit Content (including any communication(s) with employees of Linden Lab) that is harmful, threatening or harassing, defamatory, libelous, false, inaccurate, misleading, or invades another person’s privacy.

The important point to note here is the any communication(s) part. That is going to cover, well, any communications. That means outside of Second Life, on Twitter, Facebook, email etc. Now I’m not sure what has happened to force Linden Lab to make this change, as I would have thought that this section would cover Linden Lab employees without explicitly stating that it does. The general points about not posting, displaying, transmitting said content would in theory cover it. However Linden Lab feel the need to explicitly address their intolerance of harassment of Linden Lab employees, so this will give it more teeth I guess.

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