Apr 072015
 

Fantasy Faire 2015 in Second Life is just over a couple of weeks away now, but you don’t have to wait until Fantasy Faire opens to join in. A recent blog post on the official Fantasy Faire website informs us : Waiting For Fantasy Faire To Open? Here Are Five Things You Can Do Now!

A View Of Lumenaria

1) Make sure you are following the Fantasy Faire blog.

Well this is a pretty easy one, but it’s also an important one. There are a few ways to keep your eyes on blogs, you can bookmark the Fantasy Faire website. Then there’s the follow feature which is available on WordPress blogs which will email you details.

Then there’s the old fashioned way, note the URL : https://fantasyfairesl.wordpress.com/

Saffia Widdershins

2) Take the “Why I Relay” challenge

Fantasy Faire is part of the Relay For Life fundraising effort in Second Life and the purpose of the “Why I Relay” challenge is for people who want to share their reasons for supporting the Relay For Life event. This is a challenge that is open to anyone, you don’t need to be a blogger.

A way of sharing your reasons has been provided by Catalina Staheli, who is taking portraits of people for the challenge.

Jeff and Penny Keith

For more details read this blog post or take a look at Catalina’s Flickr Page.

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Apr 062015
 

We Love Roleplay

We Love Roleplay in Second Life is a monthly shopping event aimed at nerds … in their words! I’ll say it’s aimed at Roleplayers. The aim of the event is described on their website as :

Our goal is not to make money, but to spread the word of awesome creations delivered by our favorite designers and support the role-play community with an event that offers great deals and quality items. We wish to support true creativity and true talent, especially with the current influx of ripped content, which often lets the motivation of true designers diminish.

This goal generally is visualized, too, by a carefully and tastefully designed location with attention to details. We wish to deliver a feeling of a true role-play event, almost as if you could come shop in character.

The event usually starts on the 4th of each month, although they do make an exception in July.

We Love RP Streets

The themes you’re likely to find here are described as :

Medieval (Fantasy), Gor, Ancient Rome/Greece/Egypt, Victorian, Vikings, Barbarians, Native American, Wizards* (Merlin etc.), Steampunk, Fantasy and similar themes.

However the organisers are open to other themes, so if you have a theme you think may be suitable for this event, contact the organisers.

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Apr 042015
 

Frog Worship

Dandelion in Second Life is home to Fantavatar & Moonstruck, Lilith’s Den, [ Oblivion ], The Wishbringer and The Medieval Fantasy Grid Crier. In short, it’s a place where you can get supplies, clothing and items for your fantasy roleplay.

However there’s more to it than that, because it’s a rather gorgeous sim with nooks, crannies and a strange homage paid to Frog Lords!

Mystical

Fantavatar and Moonstruck are purveyors of medieval fantasy creations including clothes, shoes, armor, Fae wings, hair, complete fantasy avatars, tree houses and gardens.

Onwards

Wishbringer are purveyors of fantasy items for your home or role play, including building kits and Sim designs. They create custom made designs and meshes.

Wishbringer

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Apr 042015
 

Linden Lab have once again made a discount offer to entice people to engage with Premium Membership in Second Life : Don’t Miss This Limited-Time Sale on Premium Membership!

You know how this goes, Linden Lab offer a discount on quarterly membership and throw in a gift. However, in a bid to ensure we’re all paying attention, Linden Lab have changed the offer!

If you’ve been waiting to upgrade to a Premium account, now is a great time, because today we’re kicking off a great new sale: from today until April 13, 2015, you can upgrade to Premium subscription for less than $5 for your first month! That’s a 50% discount off the regular rate, and this offer won’t last long. Upgrade today and start enjoying Premium benefits at our lowest-ever monthly rate.

Wait, what? Let’s check the small print on this :

TERMS & CONDITIONS FOR 50% DISCOUNT This limited-time discount offer is available only for purchases of memberships on the Monthly billing plan. Discount will be applied to the first monthly billing cycle only, and all future charges will be at the regular Premium price ($9.95 USD, excluding VAT where applicable). Sign-up bonus will be paid upon 45 consecutive days of membership. To qualify, Second Life members must have an active Basic account or create a new Second Life account. Discount offer begins on Friday the 3rd of April at 8:00 am Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) and expires on Monday the 13th of April 2015 at 8:00 am Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

So this offer is based on monthly membership, rather than the traditional quarterly offer and there’s no gift!

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Apr 042015
 

High Fidelity recently moved to the Open Alpha stage and with that they also removed their request for people to not blog about some of the inner workings of High Fidelity. The reason for the request was completely understandable as High Fidelity was in the closed Alpha phase when the request was made and public blog posts could make some misleading representations about the platform.

I would still advise people proceed with caution when blogging about High Fidelity because it is still in Alpha and things can change quite dramatically during this phase.

However you can get an insight into the progress and development that has been made so far with High Fidelity thanks to Austin Tate, who has been quietly blogging about High Fidelity during the closed Alpha phase, but kept his blog posts private.

The posts start in May 2014 : High Fidelity Alpha Tests – First Screens, in which Austin took a look at building tools, mesh, chat, using scripts and much more.

There’s also an interesting post about NPC Bots as Assignments, which as you’d expect, covers how one would implement NPC’s within High Fidelity. I’ve had a play around with that myself and it worked quite well as an initial test.

Another interesting post covers Experiments with Oculus Rift DK2, in which Austin talks about how Oculus Rift worked with High Fidelity at the time.

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Apr 032015
 

Welcome Area

I took a brief look at Remnants of Earth back in February when I boldly went in search of Science Fiction action in Second Life. However it’s worth revisiting again because it’s now being discussed by a wider audience, even beyond the Second Life blogsphere.

Remnants Of Earth is a cyberpunk roleplay game in Second Life and was recently covered by Hamlet Au over at New World Notes : Remnants of Earth, a User-Made MMO in Second Life.

However now news of the world has gone beyond Second Life, thanks to Hamlet Au’s post, Patricia Hernandez of Kotaku has noticed it : Players Built An MMO Inside Of Second Life, And It Looks Wild.

Street

The article consists mostly of screenshots from the Remnants of Earth website, which is an impressive website on its own, although be warned, it is quite bright and has some flicker.

So first of all, just what is Remnants Of Earth?

Remnants of Earth is a cyberpunk-fantasy role playing game within the metaverse of Second Life, with a heavy basis around classic pen and paper RPGs elements, like; dice rolling, stats, monster fighting, story driven events, MMO-like adventuring, and gathering. RoE is the first second life pen and paper table top game in SL, while still keeping the core features of any other roleplay sim. Players can interact with NPCs and other players to accomplish goals, and even engage in heated PvP faction wars. We even have a full crafting and mining system! Think of RoE as a fully functioning table top game in SL, like Dungeons and Dragons, or ShadowRun.

The world is extremely photogenic and has a definite cyberpunk feel to it. However as I haven’t engaged with the world properly, therefore I am unable to review the game mechanics.

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Apr 032015
 

A blog post from OnLive sheds a lot more light on the Sony deal : A Bright Future for Cloud Gaming at Sony. The post also confirms my thoughts that it’s unfair to paint Sony as the evil corporate villain in all of this, because there are some cold hard facts about the viability of the business are explained in the blog post.

One important point to note is that the blog post suggests that OnLive were indeed looking for someone to purchase them, and this section of the blog post spells out the situation quite clearly :

Since 2012, the company has dramatically improved its technology and business models such that all of its 5 services are gross margin positive, ranging from 43% to 86% margin. The fact that we had such positive margins should prevent repeat speculation that we were “crushed by infrastructure costs.” The company also was able to achieve conversion rates from free trial to paid of between 64-78% for its services. Despite these positive metrics, the lifetime value (TLV) of a subscriber was still less than the cost to acquire subscribers (CPA), but they were converging. While we knew we could not get to break-even on our own, we believed that there were many large companies who would be able to get there due to: 1) being able to communicate broadly and inexpensively (lowering CPA), 2) having their own distribution platform for the service, and 3) being able to license the most popular games and MMO’s, the latter 2 would have had the effect of both reducing CPA and reducing churn (thereby raising TLV). Despite these positive developments, we were unable to entice an acquirer who wanted to continue the service, and Sony already had their own service.

Therefore OnLive were seeking assistance in terms of breaking even and whereas some of that assistance could come from companies such as Linden Lab, they needed more companies to jump aboard the ship to make this project viable in the long term.

Step forward Sony. Unfortunately for us SL Go users and those who use OnLive Desktop, Sony have absolutely no need for a streaming service, as they are already running one in the shape and form of Playstation Now.

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Apr 032015
 

SL Go Closure Announcement

It was with great sadness that I read that SL Go from Onlive will be closing its services on April 30th. Sadness may be an understatement, there was much profanity. The reason for the closure of not only SL Go, but other OnLive games related services is due to Onlive selling patents to Sony as Kyle Orland explains over at Ars Technica.

Sony are of course a corporation and therefore it would be easy to paint Sony as the evil corporate villain. Fans of Science Fiction know where corporations are leading us, but to be fair to Sony they have a fairly decent reputation, therefore they’re not exactly in the same league as the Tyrell Corporation or Omni Consumer Products. More importantly, there’s probably more to this than meets the eye. The details of the deal haven’t been made public. I’ll find it hard to stay annoyed at Sony, especially as my annoyance may be misplaced.

SL Go Information

In Kyle Orland’s article there’s a quote from a statement by Sony Computer Entertainment VP of Global Business Development, Philip Rosenberg :

“These strategic purchases open up great opportunities for our gamers, and gives Sony a formidable patent portfolio in cloud gaming,”

“It is yet another proof point that demonstrates our commitment to changing the way gamers experience the world of PlayStation.”

The point being missed there, by a country mile, is customers of OnLive were not playing on the PlayStation. However there may be some good news for those who would like to give SL Go a try, even though it’s closing down on April 30th.

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Apr 022015
 

Back in 2012 some researchers decided that they wanted to conduct a survey on virtual worlds. Now, over two years on, the results of that survey have been revealed and the results are rather fascinating : Virtual Worlds Survey Report – A Trans-World Study Of Non-Game Virtual Worlds –Demographics, Attitudes, And Preferences.

The survey has been published by :

  • Celia Pearce – Game designer, author, researcher and teacher.
  • Bobby R. Blackburn – Independent game designer and research consultant.
  • Carl Symborski – Chief Engineer at Leidos Inc.

The survey doesn’t just focus on Second Life as a virtual world, its scope goes beyond that. However I’m going to focus on some Second Life aspects. The first one that strikes me as very interesting is that the survey results suggest that Second Life residents roleplay more than people who play MMORPG’s. The reason for this, the report suggests, is that people who play games focus on content, whereas Second Life residents focus more on creative and social aspects, such as roleplaying and dancing. Dancing as it turns out is very popular in Second Life.

Another point from the survey results of those who responded from Second Life is that the average age was 37. This isn’t that much higher than the average age I’ve seen reported from surveys about gamers.

Another point about Second Life is more about how the publishers sought responses. They didn’t just go to the official Second Life forum. They advertised on SLUniverse and New World Notes. This suggests that they had a bit of a clue about how virtual communities can utilise websites and forums away from the official sites.

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Apr 012015
 

High Fidelity, an open source virtual world solution, has until now been in a closed alpha phase with people only gaining access after being invited to participate. However yesterday they unofficially announced that Open Alpha was coming and now that has been officially announced by Philip Rosedale : High Fidelity Open Alpha.

It’s important to read the blog post before diving into High Fidelity because it includes some extremely important points regarding expectations, for example :

This is a very early release, and High Fidelity is still very much a work in progress. The look and visual quality is far from complete, and big things like avatar movement animation and physics are still not in place. There are lots of bugs to fix, and content formats will continue to change. But enough systems are now functional to make us feel that High Fidelity is useful for some types of work, experimentation, and exploration. Having run a small and controlled early alpha to iron out the really show-stopping bugs, we’re now eager to engage a larger group and recruit open source contributions from other developers working on building the metaverse.

Please bear this in mind because it is an early Alpha product and if you’re expecting something like Second Life in its current form then you will be sorely disappointed. However if you are prepared to put up with an early Alpha product, one in which things could change rather rapidly, then take a look at High Fidelity.

Another important thing to bear in mind, especially if you’re a casual traveller, is that at this stage, there isn’t that much to explore. However as High Fidelity moves to this Open Alpha stage, expect that to change.

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