Nov 072015

This weekend sees the launch of Immersive Edge, A Hypergrid Story. I initially took a look at this project a week or so ago; OpenSim Storytellers Are Developing Some Impressive Storytelling Techniques. The launch covers more than just introducing people to Immersive Edge, there will also be presentations from writers and designers regarding techniques and tools that can be used in bringing immersive fiction to virtual worlds utilising OpenSim.

Some of the techniques will also be good for other virtual worlds, but OpenSim has made some great leaps and bounds in making it easier for people to create immersive fiction than other platforms. Let’s take a look at the presenters for the launch, or more accurately, let’s take a look at Nara Malone’s blog post introducing us to the presenters; Meet the Presenters for Immersive Edge Launch.

Sande Chen

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer. Her writing work includes 1999 Independent Games Festival winner Terminus and the 2007 PC RPG of the Year, The Witcher. Sande was also nominated for a Writers Guild Award in Videogame Writing for The Witcher.

Sande is the co-author of Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform and a contributor to Writing for Video Game Genres, Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, and Secrets of the Game Business.

Sande was profiled as one of the top 100 most influential women in the game industry back in 2006 for her work as Director of Girls in Games, Inc. On top of that, Sande was nominated for a Grammy Nomination in 1996 for music video direction.

So that’s quite an impressive bio I’d say! Sande will be speaking on Sunday November 8th at 9:00am SLT. The title of Sande’s presentation is : “How Technology is Changing Storytelling”.
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Mar 242015
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Fantasy Faire 2015

Fantasy Faire 2015 is about more than gorgeous buildings and magical items, it’s also about entertainment, music, storytelling, poetry and bringing magic to the virtual world of Second Life, as well of course as being an excellent participant in the Relay For Life fundraising effort in Second Life.

Last year Fantasy Faire raised 5,955,893 Linden Dollars ($ 23,824) for Relay For Life and part of the reason that so much money is raised is thanks to those who entertain us, which is why they are now looking for DJ’s, Storytellers and poets to help with this year’s event.

Please note that despite my enthusiasm, I am not part of the organisational team, so please don’t send your applications to me! Follow the links guys and girls, follow the links.

Da5id Abbot

In terms of DJ’s, The Fantasy Faire team are Searching For Song Spinners :

Fantasy Faire Radio is now accepting applications for DJs who would like to be part of the on-air team for 2015. 

If you follow the link to Searching For Song Spinners you will find more details and the application form. However if you prefer other art forms, do not worry, there’s space for you at Fantasy Faire 2015 too.

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Feb 242015

Inside Elinor Caiman Sands Exhibit

Authors outside the virtual world at times pay attention to the virtual world. Terry Pratchett visited once for a talk in a promotion of his book Nation. Science Fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson used to pop into Second Life for a talk or two, dressed as a coyote. I’ve talked, more than once, with Nara Malone who has formed community links with authors in Second Life and beyond into OpenSim, especially with projects such as The HyperGrid Stories Project.

Over the weekend whilst roaming around the Science Fiction Convention 2015 in Second Life I stumbled across the works of another author, UK based SciFi & Fantasy author Elinor Caiman Sands.

Elinor has a small exhibit in the Risa sim at the conference, featuring promotion of her books and some Second Life based artwork. Elinor is a fan of alligators, I’m not sure how many of them really exist in swamps in the UK, although legend has it that the UK was indeed once a very swampy land. However she does have experience of the British Labour party, so she should be used to people showing their teeth and trying to snap.

At the exhibition four of Elinor’s e-books are promoted :

  • Europa Spring
  • Elinor’s Little Book of Funny Critters
  • The Martian Ascent
  • Mouse About the House

These are all short stories and were published as Kindle editions in 2014.

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Jan 222015

Regular readers of blog may be familiar with the fact that I’m a big fan of Storytelling and I’m happy to see quite a few storytelling groups in virtual worlds. Some are in Second Life, some go beyond Second Life’s borders but they all have a story to tell.

In this post I’m going to list some of the forthcoming events from The Alexandrian Free Library in Second Life. The Alexandrian Free Library is a community based group, supporting libraries in Second Life and their members come from lands such as :

Caledon, Winterfell, Steelhead, New Toulouse, New Babbage, Amatsu Shima, West of Ireland, Steeltopia, Deadwood, Al Andalus & Constantinople.

With that said, on with the forthcoming events :

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Philomena Public Library
Philomena Public Library Weekly Book Discussion Club
3:00pm – 4:00pm SLT
Where: Philomena Public Library


A 1903 novel by Frank Norris set in the wheat speculation trading pits at the Chicago Board of Trade Building. Aspects of love, marriage and wealth are included. We get a glimpse of urban life in the early 1900’s.

You are invited to attend the informal discussion. We often assemble in 1900 – 1920 period clothing. We meet over tea and often talk over other topics as well. All are welcome to attend.

Reading Schedule:
January 25th: Chapters VII and VIII
February 1st: Chapters IX, X and Conclusion

A copy of the book can be found in the Town of Philomena Public Library.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Philomena Public Library
Philomena Public Library – Oral Reading
4:00pm – 4:30pm SLT (immediately following the weekly Book Discussion)
Where: Philomena Public Library


Skilled Sage and Bard Big Red will continue reading from Jules Verne’s “Master of the World.” This is a serialized book and will end with a cliff hanger each week. Red will also read a personal letter written by his uncle during the first world war circa 1916 – 1918.

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Nov 212014
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Episode 24 Of Drax Files

Episode 24 of The Drax Files : World Makers features MadameThespian Underhill, Actor-director with the Avatar Repertory Theater and Builder/seller of Victorian homes & items, pianos, harpsichords, pipe organs and scripted music. Then there’s more, MadameThespian is one of those rare beasts in Second Life, she’s a Charter Member! Even Lindens get excited when they see Charter Members. Charter Member status means that someone is rather old in Second Life terms, in this case MadameThespian has a rez date of 18th December 2002.

More importantly Charter Members played a very important role in keeping Second Life afloat during its early days. They paid an upfront fee which I believe guaranteed them a 4096m plot for life with no further land fees. However the upfront fee they paid, around USD$160.00, provided some much needed cash to keep Second Life in development.

Outside Theatre

Virtual worlds, explains MadameThespian, are an extension to the ancient art of live storytelling. The Avatar Repertory Theater have produced many shows over the years including original productions and adaptations of existing works.

They build their own sets and create some of their own items but sometimes someone else makes a better item and they take full advantage of the fact that there are plenty of other content creators in Second Life who create suitable wares for their shows.

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Acting in Second Life

MadameThespian comes from, a thespian background. She was a Chicago based actor through most of the eighties but now lives in the mountains of Montana where she is a member of the Montana Shakespeare company. However there are certain areas of acting where the virtual world provides opportunities for actors where the real world may close doors.

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Sep 122014

Nara Malone isn’t happy; “It’s like being caught in your curlers” she purrs as I whip out my camera, but there’s a glint in her eye as she stands amidst the scene of an in progress exhibit from Fuscia Nightfire.

Nara Malone

Nara is showing me around the build which is an interactive exhibit featuring machinima, which is playing on the floor and surrounding walls. The finished exhibit will feature the use of Non Player Characters (NPC’s) and Nara has been demonstrating to me just how easy they are to create in OpenSim.

Nara rezes a poseball and then explains the process to me : “I click the ball once it records my appearance, it runs the animation I put in the poseball. I can change those out or run a string. This is our simplest character maker.

With that said Nara clicks the ball and few second later another Nara is in my view, this one sitting down tying her lace, which is the animation inside the pose ball. However how resource hungry are they? Nara explains that they are not that resource hungry at all : “Its just an animation running…very easy resource. We can have 20 or so at a time with 10 users online. We have more complex versions but this is the starter one. We can make them talk, Program them to interact so they are very helpful with storytelling and with the immersion. The characters draw readers in.

Nara is a storyteller and of course her stories must be told. However she’s not alone and the exhibit she’s giving me a sneak preview of is part of her group’s work for the OpenSimulator Conference in November. Whereas the big names are keynote speakers such as High Fidelity’s Philip Rosedale and Oculus Rift’s Steve LaValle, many from the general OpenSim community will be there too and exhibiting their wares.

Nara explains to me that her group will have a total of eight examples of their work running at the conference. Whereas there’s a lot of storytelling, there’s also a lot of scripting involved and Nara tells me that scripting guru Fred Beckhusen is on their team.

So just what are Nara and her team working on? Nara passes me a note with some preliminary but rather ambitious details.

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Jul 172014

I’ve mentioned before how much I like the art of storytelling, I’ve also mentioned before how I’m surprised there’s not more storytelling in Second Life and how a virtual world is an environment that could allow for a feature rich interactive storytelling experience.

I haven’t changed my mind on any of the above but this evening I read an interesting post regarding storytelling in different virtual worlds : Why Kitely? What about Second Life? The post is from the Seanchai Library website.

First things first, Seanchai Library have been bringing stories to Second Life for over six years now, they are very much supporters of Second Life and aim to continue in Second Life. The post isn’t a bash Second Life post, it makes an interesting comparison between what can be done in Second Life v what can be done in Kitely and points out the cold, hard, financial realities.

The post talks about the possibilities of immersive storytelling and why Kitely may be a more attractive proposition for that sort of storytelling :

As we continue to explore creating increasingly immersive story experiences – an opportunity in what we do that several of us are very interested in – we run into immediate limits in Second Life. Those restrictions are, to be blunt, money and prims. A build like last year’s Dickens’ Project takes nearly 3800 prims (incomplete, by the way) and the space to manage them, none of which comes cheap in SL.

This is a reality that many a venture in Second Life has to face, be it storytelling, art, roleplaying, money and prims quickly become an issue. When you’re looking to tell an immersive story, it becomes more of a challenge. The room to expand and contract, to rebuild, to have space to manage the operation. Kitely offers a cheaper alternative. However that doesn’t always make Kitely the better option, it’s going to depend upon what you want to do.

The post compares the way different storytelling styles can work in both platforms :

Most of what we now produce in SL is fairly presentational: people sit in rows of seats inside of an environment and we stand (or sit) before them and present the literature. That is certainly one way of bringing stories to life, and one that we have been very successful with. But could there be another means of becoming transported into the story without shifting completely over to role play? Imagine you were wandering through the different environments visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past and Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol while listening to the original text, presented live. Imagine exploring an ancient Irish tower house while listening to Gaelic folk tales. Imagine poking around 221B Baker Street while listening to a Sherlock Holmes adventure. As long as the environment engages you within voice range of the speaker, you can wander, explore, sit and experience the literature just as you do in a more traditional audience-performer setting.

The potential to get more immersive leans towards Kitely due to its lower costs, but traditional sit around the storyteller style storytelling can happily thrive in Second Life. Both are decent ways of telling stories.

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Mar 282014

I have been a fan of storytelling ever since I can remember, and before that too. I can remember watching and listening to Jackanory on the beeb as a very young boy, yes I was once a young boy. I can remember my parents reading fairy tales to me as I went to sleep at night to the likes of :

I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he live, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread

I’ve read stories, interacted with stories, played in stories and so forth. I’ve long been interested in the art of storytelling in virtual worlds and have recently been taking an interest in The Hypergrid Stories Project, which I think is a wonderful project. However before that I discovered a storytelling venture in Second Life, one that very much impressed me and that was Seanchai Library.


Inara Pey has been doing some wonderful coverage of Seanchai and it was on Inara’s blog that I discovered Seanchai was turning six years old in Second Life this week.

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Mar 112014

I’ve mentioned The Hypergrid Stories Project before, but now Nara Malone, who has a name that sounds like she’s some sort of super sleuth, has unveiled some meaty details about the project. Now this is a catch it whilst its hot deal because in its current form, it’s running until St Patrick’s day.

Now don’t be put off by the fact that this is billed as a Hypergrid stories project, yes it is largely an OpenSim venture, but not exclusively, from Nara’s blog post we can see a list of participating grids and they include Second Life:

Participating Grids

  • Next Reality Grid: Redlight Hotel from Mike Hart
  • Metropolis: Independetly Spoken from Crystal Brewton
  • Craft Grid: Spirit of Arcadia: Cogtown from Virtual Christine, Pitcairn: 111shawn from Shawn K Maloney, Aquarium from Tao Quan.
  • OS Grid: Virunga Mountains: from Debbie Edwards and Fred Beckhusen, Transmedia Learning 1 and 4 from Nara Malone.
  • NarasNookGrid: Greyville, Quarterz City, Siobhan Muir 1, Tina Glasneck 2, Series, Shadowling Manor, and Theria from the Greyville Authors.
  • Second Life: Phaze Demesnes from Debbie Edwards and Fred Beckhusen, Karpov from an anonymous donor.

The project is taking interactive fiction in a new direction, you actually walk into a giant book to follow the story! Then you’ll be teleported to a scene in the story and will eventually find a landmark to the next scene.

The stories are in the short story category, 500 – 1300 words but if you’re not that interested in stories you can follow the poetry trail instead or simply explore the builds.

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Feb 262014

I’ve covered storytelling here recently and was pleased to see a post from Inara Pey on the subject : Storyfest 4: Step forward and be heard! Inara’s post in turn links to another post from the organisers of StoryFest 14 : Call for Performers – STORYFEST ’14.

StoryFest ’14 is the fourth chapter in the annual StoryFest event in Second Life, which is quite an impressive feat. The event itself will take place in Second Life on Sunday, March 23rd at “Here Be Pictsies!” in Bran – 10am to 5pm.  . So the real question is, what’s the skinny on the lowdown? Well from the organisers site:

“StoryFest” is a partnership between the Branwen Arts Coop, Seanchai Library, and the Stories Unlimited!, Produced by StoryFest Events.  Our goal is to present a day of stories presented in a variety of live performance forms:  Traditional Telling, Literature, Theatre, Dance etc. 

They are looking for performers and volunteer hosts. If you are a performer you need to know a few things. The first is that these are live storytelling slots, not recordings. Next up you need to know that the slots are mostly going to be in thirty minute intervals, although a few longer slots may be available. Slots can be shared, so if you don’t want to do it all on your own, you don’t have to. However, most importantly, no live stream will be provided by the organisers. Those of you who are already storytelling in Second Life will know what to do about that.

The official World Storytelling Day is on March 20th, so you can engage with that in your usual locations and then attend this event in Second Life a few days later. Although world storytelling day has an official theme of “Monsters and Dragons”, you do not need to tell a story in that theme for StoryFest ’14 in Second Life, although you can if you want.

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