My Second Life

Fat Elf Project

By admin | Juni 25, 2008

This actually started as a joke when roleplaying with friends. I like to build SL avatars for my RPG characters. As I am artistically challenged (read: I can’t draw) it is a great way for me to get a better feel for them. But even aside of creating avatars for my RPG characters I much enjoy creating various looks for me in world.

Now I think my group didn’t like my latest work on my avatar as much as I had enjoyed working on it, but that lead to a discussion on stereotypical views on how characters from different character classes should look like (according to some gamers). In the end we had a great time joking around and finally I proclaimed I would build a “fat elf” avatar and put the picture up at deviantART.

I feel like this really isn’t anything you could put up at deviantART, but I had just too much fun to not share it at this point. Part of the fun was creating an avatar that looks different. Most human avatars in Second Life look stereotypically perfect - including some of mine, as I have to admit. I am not sure, if I will feel comfortable enough in this shape to wear my fat elf avatar more often, so the impact of my work in world may be limited. Still I see it as a small contribution to more diversity in my favorite virtual world.

Picture taken at Elven Forest, a really beautiful sim, so they deserve to be properly credited for the beautiful background.

SLURL: Elven Forest http://slurl.com/secondlife/Elven%20Forest/78/136/26

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Second Life Status Display for Your Website

By admin | Juni 8, 2008

As you can see on the right, I added an in world status display to this blog. This way you can easily see, if I am in world or not. Maybe you even like it so much that you will want it for your own website or blog. If you do, you can drop me an IM message to Max Bergson or mail me at annette@pohlke.de. I sell single person solutions for 1000 L$ and full copy solutions that will allow you to display the status of as many users as you want on your page. What you must be able to provide to make it work:

- PHP on your webserver
- a place to set up a status server in world (just 1 prim)
- the key for all residents whos status you want to display on your page
- the ability to do some simple editing in PHP and HTML to paste the PHP code into your page and to edit the HTML code for the text or image displayed on your website.

The single person edition can be used for one resident on as many websites as you may have.

I am still looking for a way to make it available for those who do not have their own PHP server or no way to edit the code, so that it will be possible to include it on Facebook and other social sites, but I had to start somewhere. If you would be interested in purchasing such a solution you can drop me a line as well, it may motivate me to know that there is a demand for it.

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Vandalism

By admin | Juni 4, 2008

This site was hacked two weeks ago. All files were destroyed and I had to set up a new blog and populate it form the (unscratched) database. As a result this blog wa snot available for two weeks and all pictures are missing. I will restore as many of them as possible, but some may no longer be stored on any of my hard drives and amy be lost forever.

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Is this photography?

By admin | Mai 12, 2008

AngelI always took great pleasure in taking screenshots from Second Life. It was one of the things I enjoyed a lot and spent a good deal of time on when I worked on my book, especially whenever I could go beyond purely illustrative shots that would help to explain the interface.

Since I developed a mild addiction to deviantART, taking screenshots in Second Life and sometimes modifying them with Photoshop annd posting them to my deviantART gallery became a new obsession. There is just one problem I inevitably face: Which category to select. 3D art? I usually go for this, but I feel like it doesn’t really apply. Work posted there usually covers 3D art you created, not a 2D screenshot taken in a 3D environment someone else built. Actually the closest I can think of is photography or (if photoshopping is involved) photo manipulation. I select the model, select the outfit and the setting, I take care of the light, the angle - all the things a photographer usually does.

If I made moving images, it would be machinima (not that there would be a category for it at deviantART either….), but as far as I know there is no label for similar work using still images yet. The work of Dena Dana comes closest to this, probably, but she also does original 3D art, working with screenshots from Second Life seems to be more a business to her, as she does all of it as comissioned work. Still I can’t stop admiring her work in this department.

Links:
Dena’s studio
My profile at deviantART

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Addicted?

By admin | Mai 2, 2008

I am sorry for slacking and posting so little in such a long time. Yet I can’t help to see some good in it. It could help to finally proof - to others, not to myself, for I already knew this - that I am not “addicted” to the net, blogging or - most important - Second Life. I am less sure, if I may not have an addiction to computers (in any way and form), but that’s another story.

It was starting to get on my nerves last year. I wrote a book and a master thesis about Second Life, so I had many reasons to talk about Second Life to people. At some point the inevitable question would be: “And how much time do you spend there? How many days a week do you use Second Life?” And when I told them that I am usually in Second Life every day and spend there anything between 2 and 8 hours a day I got the predictable look of well controlled concern and pity in their eyes, usually followed by an equally concerned and carefully phrased version of: “Have you considered the possibility you may be addicted?”

I did mention that I was writing a book and a thesis, didn’t I? If I were to confess that I spent 8 hours, 5 days a week at a library, would any of them have suspected me to have an unhealthy addiction to the library or books? Would any of the people in an average 9 to 5 job consider themselves “office addicts”? I bet not.

I see this as a combination of two things. First, people tend to be scared about new media. In 1840 it were novels that were supposed to seduce the mind, corrupt the youth and was seen as the root of socially irresponsible behaviour. In 1950 it was television. Ten years ago it was the internet, now it is Second Life and computer games.

The other thing is the rather stupid destinction between what people see as serious work and things that can never be serious, no matter what you use them for. Everything with 3D graphics in it can not be serious - unless you are doing CAD. If it looks in any way or form similar to a comic book or a computer game - even worse. And this is bad news for all you dedicated educators out there. Whatever you may do or say, it just doesn’t look like work. At least not to “normal” people.

I guess I must sound like a nerd now, so I better step off my soap box.

I tried to find a straitjacket or a junkie avi in Second Life to get a screenshot to go with this entry, but couldn’t find either one. If any of you knows where to get the former - I may still be interested.

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My Own Gallery

By admin | März 30, 2008

amanora1.jpgI’m back after focussing more on other activities for a while. I now set up my own gallery. Not so much because this is what I always wanted, but more as some kind of birthday gift for a friend. So far she hosts her artwork at Deviant Art (http://amanora.deviantart.com/) and it was just so tempting to bring it into Second Life. Now linking Second Life with other web based application is one of my main interests, so I liked the idea to link Deviant Art with Second Life in some way. At the gallery you can buy the pictures in world, but you are also directed to the Deviant Art page where you can order a real life print of the picture. Of course it will also be possible to buy the pictures in Second Life through the web through SLExchange (http://slexchange.com/modules.php?name=Marketplace&MerchantID=9240). So you can then buy real life prints from Second Life and pictures in Second Life through the web. More options to access different services and products through Second Life may be added later, I will surely update my reader in time.

The current exhibition features Amanora’s fractal art, I may add more or change pictures after a while.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Lythria/6/121/554

Topics: museum, places | No Comments »

A look at other virtual worlds: Entropia Universe - NOT!

By admin | Dezember 17, 2007

In my endeavour to visit as many virtual worlds as possible I am sometime hindered by all kind of complications. Entropia Universe turned out to be a major problem, so I decided to tell you what I could find out about it so far and why I couldn’t get you any first hand reports from in world yet.

When I first tried to visit Entropia Universe, I was simply unable to download the client. I would click the download link, but nothing happened, not even when I tried a day later. I gave up, frustrated, and busy enough with other things. But I did return. How pleasantly surprised was I, when a download was started this time, so I happily proceded to setting up an account. When I was thropugh with the procedure, the download was finished. At least this is what I thought. When I then tried to start the application, I learned fast that the software you initially download is just a small parts of what you really need. The “real thing” exceeds the GB limit and I had to wait over an hour before the download was finished. I guess my DSL isn’t fast enough any more. I waited, less and less patiently. When I finally tried to start up the client, it would start the install procedure again - and start loading again, the same file I had just downloaded minutes ago and no matter what I did, I couldn’t start the client, coulden’t log in or do anything to escape this vicious cicle. At some point I was thinking it could have been because I had interrupted the install procdeure at some point, so I cleaned everything from my harddrive and started from scratches. Yes, I do mean I downloaded everything once again. When I was done, the time that had elapsed from my first click on a “download” button was roughly four hours. My hope was crushed when again the client wouldn’t launch any virtual world for me, but just another download. At this point I gave up.

I had spent the several hours of waiting with reading everything available on the website, so I can ahre with you a few thoughts on Entropia Universe - at least from the outside.

Entropia Universe is clearly marketed as a virtual world, so I included it here, but the more I read about it the more I wodner, if it isn’t rather a game. Not that this is a bad thing, it is just something different.

What makes it more like an MMORPG is the fact that it offers a setting to new residents to live and play in. The affinity to gaming is further stressed by MindArk’s announcemnet that it will introduce the CryENGINE of well known game developer Crytek to Entropia Universe in 2008. Their aim is to go for the most lifelike look in a virtual world. This surely makes them an interesting candidate, as this will set them apart from other worlds that usually go for a more comic book style in looks.

So the question is, why Entropia Universe is still marketed rather as a Virtual World and not so much as a game. My best guess is the strong economic features that allow the conversion of in world money to real life money, just as Second Life does. This has become more and more a standard feature for Virtual Worlds, while the option to buy in game good (including in game money) is usually still frowned upon by many players of typical MMORPG. It should be noted that trade with in game assets has become more and more important in MMORPGs as well and is about to become more important than the classical subscription fee, yet this often still has a bad reputation with the gamers’ community. So marketing Entropia Universe as a Virtual World, not as an MMORPG is more a statment about which community they want to address than about the existence or lack of features.

One other aspect of Virtual Worlds I usually pay a lot of attention to is how they deal with the IP rights of users. As most other Virtual Worlds (with the notable exception of Second Life) you have to sign of your IP rights with the standard license agreement. To quote from it:

“You hereby grant MindArk the worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, right to exercise all intellectual property rights for any content you may upload to the Entropia universe, including, but not limited to, user-to-user communications.”

This is standard, I still don’t like it. At least they didn’t include “exclusive”.

This is roughly how far I got so far. I should contact the support, they may be able to help me to get Entropia Universe up and running, but I am not really motivated to do this now. As usually I searched the internet to look for solutions to my problem and found out that I am not alone, maybe MindArk should really work on this, it is effectively preventing users from becoming residents in their brave new world.

URL: http://www.entropiauniverse.com/index.var

Topics: VR | No Comments »

Surreal Beauty

By admin | November 29, 2007

With Windlight coming back my SL snapshots got a more realistic, but also more surrelatistic touch. I couldn’t help to feel like I walked right into a picture of DalĂ­ when I logged in to be greeted by twilight in the Gypsy Moon sim and just had to share this with you.

gypsymoon1.jpg

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Gypsy%20Moon/144/108/32

Topics: places | No Comments »

Masks

By admin | November 15, 2007

Robbie Dingo uses Second Life to create great machinimas. His “Starry, Starry Night” video has gained some popularity, but now a friend directed me to another one that may be less spectatcular, but I love it the more, because it reflects so many discussions I had in Second Life about the revealing nature of the mask. Please enjoy!

URL: http://digitaldouble.blogspot.com/2007/11/mask.html

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Second Life Keynote at OOPSLA

By admin | November 12, 2007

I came across a short blog notice today that I found most interesting and worth mentioning as a little detail on user statistics for Second Life. These are the notes of Michael Stal on the keynote of Jim Purbick (aka Babbage Linden) and Mark Lentczner (aka Zero Linden) at OOPSLA conference.

Keynote on Second Life, Jim Purbrick, Mark Lentczner, Linden Lab
People can do anything, so they do anything to experiment. Demographics match demographics of real world. Lot of code running, teaching ordinary people to build software. 15% of 2nd life population codes. LSL script. VM - very low number of features. Must fit in 16k. Everything in message passing. 14500 regions each of them running in a separate CPU. Each of them running 1k-2k scripts. Massively concurrent! Scripts can move. Thus they must be able to be persisted.

Source: http://stal.blogspot.com/2007/10/oopsla-2007-unplugged.html

At first, I was just interested in the statistic, but was then intrigued by the fact that an conference on object oriented programming had decided to invite people from SL to the party. I know a good deal of programmers who look down on LSL, because it is not object oriented - at least not at first glance. Personally, I always felt like LSL and its use in Second Life actually created a completely new style of programming where the term “object oriented” has become literally true. You can’t run a script in Second Life outside of an object. Only if you place it into a prim - and object - your script can be executed. But as soon as you did this, you can copy the object and the script within. Create as many instances as you like, if you want to look at it like that. An object copied that way will “inherit” its “properties” and “methods” from its parent - unless you overwrite them. Or you can add new “methods”, e.g. by taking a box that hand in a notecard and drop in a second script to set a floating text on top of the box. I know many people who deel that object oriented programming is the “natural” way to look at things and thus also to code. Well, it never was to me. But putting little snippets of code into plywood boxes and combining those boxes into complex objects gave me a completely new understanding of the whole concept. At the same time, it irritated me taht others seem to fidn it hard to see this parallel between OOP and the use of LSL in Second Life. I hope that events like OOSLA may help to start a more productive dialogue between programmers that use LSL and programmers who use more traditional object oriented languages.

Intriqued by the snippet, I listened to the complete keynote, that is available as a podcast from http://www.oopsla.org/oopsla2007/index.php?page=podcasts/. The exact statistics that Jim Purbrick used to make a statment on the average Second Life resident are these:

“43% of people who use Second Life are female. [...] The midian age in Second Life is in the 30ies. [...] 54% of people using Second Life are from Europe. It is no longer a North American phenomenon. And as you can see form the age distribution [...], its’n not just geeky males in their 20ies who are using Second Life, it’s absolutely everybody.”

The point he was trying to make is that Second Life introduced ordinary and very average people to coding. BUT, as they added, in a “horrid, broken language”. This pretty much echoes the concerns most programmers I know have about LSL. So why the hell is Linden Lab offering its users such a “horrid, broken language”? I was hoping to get some answers in the keynote. Just listening how Zero Linden described, how horrible, horrible LSL is to a true, dedicated (and OOP loving) programmer is a lot of fun. He is using and at the same time playing with stereotyped prejudices, appealing to what he must assumme as the common understanding of his audience, yet he is at the same time challenging them to think out of this little box and take a fresh look at a language he expects them to reject at first sight. But then he starts to explore further and comes to the conclusion that it is the runtime, the environment that those scripts run in that make it interesting, something taht you can’t actually see, if you look just at the language istelf.

Actually Zero Linden comes to similar observations as what I described above. He explains how scripts are sold to add a specific behaviour to an object, using the example of a script that will make a pet follow you, which means:

“We have code reuse, despite not having any linguistic support whatsoever for it.”

Like this he keeps explaining how important principles like concurrency, code replication, independance of code, object migration are all a fact for LSL, even if none of it is implemented by the linguistics of the language. In short: A great presentation.

The keynote offers many more interesting insights, like answers to the question: What actually happens, if a scripted object crosses into a new region? To me this was fascinating, even if it is of little pracatical value (again just to me).

If you want to know more on this, I can only suggest you hear the keynote entirely, it is surely worth your time, even if it is quite lengthy. Listening to it gave me a far deeper appriciation for what Second Life really is, and everyone knows how much I even appreciated it before. It was like listening to a scientist explaining the wonders of the human body to you, explaining how what makes your heart beat and your brain work and your bowls move without your conscious self ever really taking notice of the complex mechanisms behind it. I can surelyl recommend this keynote.

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