My Second Life

AJAX - the Achille’s heel of OnRez Viewer?

By admin | Oktober 28, 2007

As Matthias Rückel observed (blogpost in German, sorry), Google tools will not work properly. I came across a similar problem with parts of the Star Wars Combine site, where some pages and tools will work fine, others won’t. Which pages and tools worked and which ones didn’t brought me to the conclusion that most likely AJAX is to blame. Or better: An incompatibility of the OnRez viewer with it. This would also explain, why - as reported by Matthias Rückel - a Wiki (most likely plain PHP) would work, while google documents (AJAX) won’t. I don’t know what difficulties Matthias observed, but for me individual elements of the page were misplaced, sometimes even outside the web window inside the OnRez Viewer. I am not that good with AJAX and didn’t dig deeper into the code of the pages concerned, but my best guess at that point is that it is a problem with the DOM model, maybe caused by the fact that now the webbrowser is no longer the top level window, but that it runs inside another widnow, the OnRez Viewer.

Topics: general | No Comments »

Presentation on Education in Second Life

By admin | Oktober 25, 2007

bildung1.jpgI was invited by Pedro Meya Marty to give a presentation on education in Second Life as part of one of their seminars. The focus was supposed to be on the potential use of Second Life for schools.

The whole event was of special interest to me, as they were able to provide a Shoutcast server and so I could deliver the whole presentation much like I was giving a speach in real life, just that I was physically sitting at my desk at home rather than standing in front of my audience. I attended events that used this feature before, but it was the first time that I could use it as a speaker.

All in all, the event went well and was a very pleasant experience. I was just a bit insecure or fiddeling with technology now and then, but it didn’t really interfere with my presentation and it was to be expected for doing this for the first time. I spoke about chances and challenges in using Second Life as an education al tool and pointed to two projets - the PacificRim Exchange and Schome - as two most interesting examples of work with teenagers that - in my opinion - teach interesting lessons for any possible use of Second Life at schools.

There was a short discussion and I want to use this blog entry to address some of the interesting points brought up.

Q: Are there any elementary schools using Second Life?
A: Not that I am aware of, this would be made impossible by the strict age segregation that is exclusing children that are not at least 13 years of age from using Second Life.

Q: Are there any ways to get around these age restrictions?
A: None that are not in violation of the TOS and may not lead to a permanent ban from Second Life as a result.

I am sure that people of all age lie about their age to get on the Main Grid or onto the Teen Grid when they shouldn’t, but

    - this isn’t any different from other age restricted websites, so Second Life is surely not more unsafe than the internet in general,
    - there is a risk to be caught and be permamnently exciled from SL with all your accounts
    - Linden Lab is implementing a system of age verification through third parties. The system is avialable only for landowners so far, but it can be expected that its use will be extended. It will allow you to get your age verified by providing your drivers’s license number or social security number through a third partya nd thus have you age verified. I have doubts, if this system really is as secure as some people assume it to be - who is perventing my kid from using my drivers license to register as me, for example - and I haven’t made up my mind yet, if I find it accaptable in terms of data privacy, but I can see how LL was forced to do something by all the bad press it received over the potential harm done to minors by being exposed to virtual nudity.

Q: How did you make this presentation?
A:
I made a presntation using Keynote (should be the same using PowerPoint for all your Windows users out there), saved all slides as JPGs, uploaded them to Second Life and dumped them into AngryBeath Shortbread’s whiteboard. The Second Life Voice feature doesn’t work well for me, so my voice was recorded using Nicecast and simultanously uploaded to a Shoutcast server, from where my voice was streamed into Second Life. It all worked excellent.

Q: Are there any alternative solutions to Second Life that are less commercially oriented?
A: Rather not.

There are many similar virtual worlds, I started to explore some of them and keep blogging about my findings here. So far I wrote a little about There, IMVU and Gaia Online, more articles should follow in due time. I understand that the public image of Second Life created by the media has stressed the commercial aspect of the world and it can easily look like everything in Second Life is about money. I have a few answers to this concern, sorry for being a bit verbouse, but I feel that this is a complex issue and may deserve some complex answers:

    - What in real life is not about money? Let’s stick to education. Our teachers are paid a salary, if we buy books for the kids no one will complaint that the publisher actually sells them (and doesn’t give them away for free), if a new school is built, someone has to buy land and pay the architect, the construction workers, the material. Yet no one would complaint that it is too commercially oriented. Most schools buy software, they rarely feel that it should be any other way. If we look at all this, it seems that the concerns of educators of the commercial aspects of Second Life are exaggerated. And as far as they are concerned about all the commerce going on at other places in Second Life - true, but there is commerce on many websites, still the school will probably have its own site. It is clear to them that the commercial site and their own site are two different things. It is exactly the same in Second Life. The university website and the Amazon website are on the same internet just as the school and the grocery store are on the same street in real life. So there is no reason, why a school should stay out of Second Life, just because Nike has an island there as well.
    - If you compare Second Life with other virtual worlds it rather compares favourable to most of them, if we are thinking about the needs of educators.

    For a list of similar virtual worlds you may like to take a look at this site. It is no longer updated, but still contains a good overview and some nice material. Some more recent virtual world - like HiPiHi - are not listed, of course.

    If you compare different virtual worlds it becomes apparent that it is quite unusual for them to allow users with a completely free account to create stuff, to give all users access to all features of the world without extra costs and - most notably - that creators retain intellectually property rights to their creations. Add to this the active support of educational projects by Linden Lab and it becomes clear that Second Life isn’t actually a bad choice, by comparison. Before you ask: LL isn’t paying me to say this. Alas. :-)

    Now finding the right virtual environment for your educational purposes will depend on what exactly it is you are looking for. One feature of Second Life that educators are often looking for is the option to have their own server, have complete control power the environment and make sure their students are safe from running into “bad” people or places. Some virtual worlds offer this, for example Active Worlds. But if you are serious about “non-commercial”, you should really try Croquet, an open source multi user vitual reality.

    - You may have reasons to go for a closed environment, but I feel that educators who look for total control over their environment pay a high price: The world of Second Life as it was created by its users can provide a most stimulating learning experience for your students, far beyond anything you can create on your own. By setting up an island in Second Life and encouraging your students to explore it you may cause them to bump into a few things that are not necessarily educational, but you will also give them the chance to visit virtual museums and other educational places set up by others, to be inspired by this beautiful and weird universe and to meet people from all over the world. Just think about the advantages this has for all language education! Native speakers of English, German, French, Japanese etc are only a mouseclick away and usually very much willing to talk to your students and thus help them to improve their language skills.

Thanks to all who attended the event and thanks for the interesting questions.

Topics: education, event | 1 Comment »

OnRez Viewer, First Impression

By admin | Oktober 24, 2007

csi0.jpgI got it!

csi1.jpgWhen you first start up the OnRez Viewer, you will automatically be transported to the CSI Orientation Island. You will be warned that your home location will be changed and that you will have to change it back later. So when you log in, you will not just be introduced to the new browser, but also to the CSI murder mystery game.

To boil it down: I found both fun and refreshing and a wonderfull inspiration that can demonstrate the full potential of Second Life to create immersive and interactive experiences.

No, I didn’t solve my cases yet, I had to come here and blog first, but I am seriously working on the Venus case. :-)

I will probaby write some more on this cute little game later, for now I will stick to the new browser.

csi2.jpgAll in all, it is more evolution than revolution. Most things are remarkably familiar, yet a few features stand out. One of them immediately won my heart, and that is the integration of a webbroswer. This is still far from “HTML on a prim”, but still it makes a big change to the whole experience. Going to a webpage now no longer disrupts your Second Life experience, but just becomes a part of it.

csi3.jpgI can’t say much about the search feature yet, I know it was much anticipated, but at first glance it looks remarkably similar to the official viewer and only more systematic testing or long term use will reveal, if it really is superior to the standard viewer.

Everything feel just a little smoother, faster, more effortless, but I find it difficult to say, if the performance is really that much superior or if I am not rather fooled by the fresh look. It feel a bit like stepping into a new car. It makes you feel good, but if you are honest about it, it is mostly the unmistakable smell of a new car and the shiny finish that gives you this good feeling, not the actual performance.

Befor I will make a final judgement, I will have to drive this baby up and down the roads of SL a bit and wait for the new smell to fade. Still I can’t deny that it just feels good.

Topics: general | No Comments »

CSI:SL - a new era for SL and television?

By admin | Oktober 22, 2007

On Octobre 24th a new episode of CSI:NY will go on air that wills end its audience to Secopnd Life to do soem inevstigation of their own - until the mystery will be solved - on TV again - in February 2008.

What can be expected is a wave of new residents coming in as soon as the episode went on air, obviously even new orientation islands have been set up, just for the purpose to deal with this extra load.

The airing of the epsiode is to coincide with the release of a new alternative SL client form the Electric Sheep company, anounnced as the OnRez Viewer. Details on its features can be found on the OnRez blog.

The browser will be preequipped to help users to investigate and solve the CSI case. Mor interetsing for long time users are additiopnal efatures, like better support for webpages inside the SL Viewer. This should not be confused with “HTML on a prim”, form screenshorts it is obvious that the webpages are displayed in a seperate window inside the viewer, still it is a feature that many users will surely appreciate.

That Electric Sheep is adding this feature is less of a surprise, if you know that they are also running one of the bigger and more successful Second Life online shops, onrez.com (formerly known as SL Boutique). A better integartion of their shop with the SL Viewer is clearly one of the goals they are working on.

Judging by the quality of the services and products that Electric Sheep released so far, the new Viewer is surely something every SL user will want to check out.

Topics: general | No Comments »

A Trip into Music

By admin | Oktober 20, 2007

pangaea6.jpgPangaea is all about music.

pangaea2.jpgThe currently featured artist is Herbie Hancock, if you visit Pangaea until early December you should check out the exhibition in the townhall and the video available at the theater. Yes, it is also a shameless advertisement for his latest album. But who cares in the end? The man is a living legend after all. I was told he also has an avatar and that he even got it, before he was asked to get one for PR. Nice.

pangaea3.jpgThere is another exhibition you may want to see. I have to admit that I didn’t know Maria Malibran before I first visited it. She lived in the early 19th century and is credited as “the first diva”. You may wonder, why they put the exhibition inside a truck, but the reason is simple: The truck (and its content) is the replication of a mobile exhibition that is currently touring RL. Europe, to be precise. (If you are interested, the touradtes and more about the exhibition can be found on this webpage.) If you can’t make it to any of the RL spots, Pangea Island may be an interesting alternative. I missed the real life thing by two weeks, all else I would have loved to compare the RL with the virtual exhibition. Neither the exhibition on Hancock nor on Mailbran are big, but I fould both fun to visit, especially as the last one introduced me to a person and phenomenon so far unknown to me.

pangaea4.jpgAn educational project in a more strict sense that is currently on display on Pangaea Island is the stage design project of the Joanneum, where students of Media and Interactivedesign first build a stage design in Second Life, then reproduced it in real life to use it for a performance that was mixing First and Second Life elements. Pictures and a video of the project as well as the original stage design are on display.

pangaea7.jpgThere is more to see on the island, I found it a nice place to explore. It has beautiful beaches, nice clubs that were sadly empty whenever I visted and strange and beutiful places - real or imagined - that are dear to my heart. When I walked up the Via Appia to find the House of the Rising Sun it felt like an inner landscape suddenly materialized right in front of my eyes, a strange and beautiful experience.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Pangaea/111/135/27

Topics: places | No Comments »

The virtual world that started it all

By admin | Oktober 13, 2007

swclogolong.jpg

Well, at least for me.

Let me apologize before I start, this will be kind of lengthy.

oldcombine1.jpgSome time in spring 1998 I came across a website that was offering a free online game, browser based and set in the Star Wars universe. It promissed the option to play your own character in the world of Star Wars, together with others from around the world. I was a big Star Wars fan back then and roleplaying in the Star Wars universe had become an addiction by then. So this site was the best thing that could ever happen to me, even more so as I had not been aware or expected that something like this even existed on the net. So I created my character. I can still remember the pure excitement when the words “You are now inside the barrack on the planet Coruscant” appeared on my screen. This excitement was not in any way diminished by the fact that it was just one sentence on the screen. There was no graphical user interface, actually there was mostly nothing. Not even anything I could do at this point. So what was I so excited about? What made me tingle all over was that I was now existing in a virtual universe. I had read about virtual online worlds, but never encountered any. I was using a Mac, which made most games inaccessible to me, I was on a 28.8 modem and I still paid $2 for every minute of my online time, so extensive online gaming or graphically heavy applications were completely out of the question. Yet here I was, a virtual recruit in a virtual barrack.

Most of the actual gameplay happend through the exchange of emails, partially over the mailinglistst that existed and that every new player was automatically subscribed to when he joined, depending on which group he decided to join. So I contacted my group and was hoping for an assignment.

The next thing that happened was that the game went offline.

By now I know that all the administrators went MIA. But some of the players were unwilling to let the game die. With the help of one of the remaining assistants they set up a new game that was launched in December 1998 as the Star Wars Combine. In the beginning, it was just a hand full of mailinglists, but within weeks a client was released, so that old and new players could sign up and create their characters anew.

This was nine years ago, so if I would care to tell everything in detail this would become indeed a very, very lengthy article. Within weeks my character made a remarkable career, making her the personnel officer of the Imperial Navy. Just as fast this game became one of my favourite hobbies.

icis_travel.jpgSo it came as a shock when the old client was replaced with a new one - but one written in VisualBasic and thus placing the whole game out of reach for me and all other Mac users.

As I didn’t want to drop the game, I offered that I could try to write a client for Mac, if I were given the needed specifications. I wasn’t sure, if I would be able to do it. I had enjoyed programming on my old C64 that I had bought during my last year in school, but had mostly stopped coding since I had entered university. So I had used my computer as nothing but a better typewriter for a good ten years. Since I had switched from Atari to Mac and started to explore the internet I had stated to learn HTML and this had whetted my appetite, but still this was something much bigger. I choose to go for RealBasic for the task. I guess “Basic” made it sound familiar, also it was supposed to be similar to Visual Basic and even allowing the conversion of projects from Visual Basic to RealBasic with relative ease. Just that the coder of the VisualBasic client refused to hand over his code. So converting it was not an option and I had to work from scratches. The client would call a PHP script on the server and this script would read and write to a mySQL database. I had a documentation for all existing PHP scripts and now had to build the frontend for the user.

icismac.jpgTo make a long story short, I got it done. As I couldn’t even run the other client on my computer, the Mac version looked considerably different from the Windows version. Less graphically advanced for sure, but I was proud that it offered a few extra features that the Windows version would not have, like allowing the user to log activities to a file on his hard drive or to save game data as a text file. How I designed the client was partially reflecting my own game experience that was largely shaped by doing administrative work for one of the largest groups in the game - the Galactic Empire. Had I been a trader, some features would probably have been different.

The game still had a strong emphasis on roleplaying, if I had to descrieb what it was all about, I would have said “Being your character in a Star Wars universe”. Note that it is “a” Star Wars universe, not “the” Star Wars universe. Early on it had been decided that we would play in the universe as seen in the famous movies of George Lucas, but that all characters and all activities would be ours. In our universe Darth Vader never existed and every single character, including the emperor or the leader of the rebellion was played by a player, which set the whole game strikingly apart from commercial games using the Star Wars theme. So we had a universe created and shaped by its players. If you came to this blog, because you are into Second Life, this will ring a bell. Well, we came first, LL only came later. ;-)

Yet this explains why I felt so strongly drawn to Second Life several years later: It seemed to follow the same philosophy and its creators seemed to dream the same dream, only on a much, much larger scale.

poster11.jpgFor various reasons the Combine later opted for a webbased inteface instead of a separate client. I stoped playing for roughly half a year to join the developers team for this third generation game engine that was given the codename “Darkness”. After a year in total, Darkness was released and is the interface/game engine we still use today. Eventually I stoped playing completely to become a full time administrator, leading the developers team for about a year from spring 2004 to spring 2005.

descenttoplanet.jpgIf I say “full time administrator” this may be misleading. Actually no one working for the Combine gets any financial compensation for his or her work, everyone on the team is a volunteer. The non-commercial nature of the project has several interesting implications. Actually the whole project could ot even exist, if it were any different. This starts with legal implications. Of course the whole game is a blatant infringement of copyrights. We were lucky that the proper copyright holders decided to allow us to continue, exactly because we were not making any profit from it. Probably they were also somewhat impressed by our work, so there was obviously no concern that we may damage the reputation of their trade mark (i.e. Star Wars). Actually they expressed some concern that we could be competition to Lucas Arts own “Star Wars Galaxies” MMORPG that was about to be launched when we were approached by the copyright holders. This was probably the biggest compliment we ever received. Here was a fan project, run by a handful of amateurs on a zero budget, there was a multi million dollar project by one of the most reputable game studios around. And they were concerned, if we may be competition to their game. Wow!

Another implication is how the game is financed. If we run it on a zero budget, who pays the server? The game was started before the dot com bubble burst. The original plan was to make money by placing adds on the website. The concept was never dropped, today we still get soem money in through adds and it helps us to keep the game up and running. But when there was an abrupt stop to the internet boom, our revenues from advertisement dropped dramatically. At that point the game administration decided to ask players for donations, and ever since we allow players to donate we have never been out of money, allowing us not only to keep the game up, but also make upgrades to our server hardware or otherwise upgrade our service (e.g. by having our own IRC server).

Last but not least, we do not have to be commercially successful. Or better: We only have to be so to the point where our players donate enough money to keep the game going. There is no need to maximise profit or to cover large costs. This means we can go for all kind of things that would be too unconventional, too risky or just not adding enough real benefit for a commercial game. The game implements game concepts that hardly any commercial game dares to offer, like permanent death of characters. It can be used as a test case for concepts, techonologies or research and over the years several academic research projects ranging from term papers to master thesises have been done connected to the Star Wars Combine.

Actually I see one of my latest projects as something like such a test case, explorative work with potential for the game itself, but also far beyond the game.

party4.jpgI recently set up a plot of land for the Star Wars Combine in Second Life. There is very little about it that makes it exceptional. It is intended to let people know about the game, to give players the option to meet and socialise - much as they already do on IRC. But what I am really excited about is the fact that players of the Star Wars Combine can now link their account with their avatar in Second Life. There isn’t much this is actually good for so far. Players can now donate to the Combine in L$, that’s basically it. Yet it reminds me of the one sentence appearing on my screen many years ago and about my excitement about stepping into a new world. Small as this first step is, we just linked two virtual worlds. You can do something in Second Life, and it will affect the database of the Star Wars Combine. Now this isn’t really different from what you do when you pay money into or take money out of your account at SLExchange. Yet this lacks the quality of linking two virtual universes. The lack of privacy in Second Life prevents this, all else it would be possible to build a game interface for the Star Wars Combine in Second Life. I am careful as there were so many proclaimed “firsts” in Second Life, and many of them were not really firsts, but so far I do not know of any other MMORPG or virtual universe that is linked to and can be accessed through Second Life. So we may be a first. Maybe not. But I can feel a special, tingeling sensation that tells me that this is something new and interesting.

donations.jpg

URL: http://www.swcombine.com
SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/NineInchNerds/201/225/22

Topics: VR | No Comments »

A look at other virtual worlds: Gaia Online

By admin | Oktober 13, 2007

gaia7.jpgThere was a threat in one of the IMVU forums that actually directed me to this one. The question was “Do you know other places like IMVU?”. I was surprised how little answers were posted there, it looks a lot like most people select their prefered world for one reason or the other and stick to it, only rarely exploring alternatives.

Gaia Online is somewhat unusual, as it is advertised more than a community than a virual world from the beginning and that it is clearly advertised as a place for teens. It is not restricted to adults, but the target group is clearly 13+. I didn’t allow this to scare me away, I once owned a pet at Neo Pets, and if you have done that, it takes more than some cute, cuddly, anime style avatars to scare you away.

The next interesting feature: Gaia Online runs in your browser. And it even worked with Safari on my Mac! This is a big plus, most virtual worlds score low on this, Second Life is so far the only one I found that offers a client for Mac.

The next interesting feature: You will gain in game money (”gold”) for surfing, staying in world, making postings etc. For Second Lifers: It’s like a built in camping feature. The biggest advantage compared to camping in SL: You get it for doing something instead of doing nothing.

When I joined there were 44,000 something people online - roughly as much as you can find in Second Life at peak time.

gaia3.jpgThe next thing that made my time as a new user enjoyable were quests that are offered by NPCs. The first quests introduce you to key features of Gaia Online, like buying stuff or customizing your avatar.

While I was trying to get a feel for Gaia Online I kept asking myself: “What is it?” - Is its a website, a community, a networking site, a virtual world? Does it even matter? The blending of virtual world and more tarditional internet community elements is clearly typical for Gaia Online. It should be noted that it is clearly less immersive and with the 2D interface it remidned me a lot of The Palace in some respects. Gaia does not offer its users the option to become designers themselves, so your creativety in custumizing your avatar or your home is limited to buying and using premade stuff, which also makes it a little more Web 1.0 by comparison.

gaia10.jpgWhat made Gaia Online fun was a nice balance of community and single player features. I found it easy enough to find other people to hang out and chat with, but also enjoyed spending time with little quests or customizing my own place, once I got my own house.

It is a most interesting experience to see so many similar, yet very distinct incarnations of the virtual community/reality/world idea in such a short time. By comparison Gaia so far stood out as a very friendly and very casual place. I also found it easy to use. It didn’t bother me that it was aiming at kids, different from IMVU I found that this theme was clearly set and implemented in a way that made it easy for me to adapt to it. It made me feel like it is okay to be a kid there, no matter your real age. If you join chats or read the message boards you will run into some adult discussions and crude humour, like on any other place in the web, especially if the people who hang out there realy are teenagers, but the oversexed atmosphere that irritated me at IMVU is largely absent.

gaia4.jpgI still don’t know, if Gaia realy belongs here, but I found it fascinatingly different and I have to say that simply the size impressed me. Recently Gaia Online broke the 100k mark for highest number of users online. Without any of the servers breaking a sweat. :-)

Gaia also got a new layout recently, so some of the screenshots are already outdated, but the general look is still the same and as much as I liked the general look and feel of the place I dstill didn’t want to create a new account just to have up to date picturs.

URL: http://www.gaiaonline.com/

Topics: VR | 1 Comment »

Education place of the day: WWF Conservation Island

By admin | September 5, 2007

wwf1.jpgThe WWF recently opened its own island in SL and I decided to pay it a visit. The island is extremely beautiful and it is simply fun to explore. There is a very nice forest, animals can be found throughout the island and ambient sounds creates the right atmosphere. You will also find a number of freebies when searching the island. I will not list what can be found where, just explore for yourself.

wwf2.jpgWherever you go you will find signs you can click on that will direct you to further information on ecology, sustainability and preservation of natural resources. More in world information on some of these topics can be found in the small village. There you can also find a statue of a giant panda (the WWF’s mascot) where you can donate to the WWF.

Events are planned for the stage you can find near the seaside, one of the few things that tell you that this place is still rather new and is still a bit under constuction.

The only small detail that I didn’t like much was the fact that you were usually directed to the WWF website for more information instead of giving them in world. This could still be improved.

wwf3.jpgMost important, this is a truly beautiful place, one I would show to people to demonstrate the beauty of Second Life. This is well enough documented by the fact that I took way more pictures than I could put into this. Hopefully many people will go there, just to enjoy the landscape - and learn a few thing about sustainbility while they are there. A great way to package a topic that is often seen as difficult and rather unpleasent by many.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/WWF/135/198/27

Topics: education, places | No Comments »

A look at other virtual worlds: There

By admin | August 19, 2007

there3.jpg“There” is even more peculiar about your hard- and software. Just Windows won’t do. It will only run on IE. Even Firefox will produce a message that this browser is not supported. This alone made me a little sceptical, usually it would be a reason for me to not use “There”. I don’t like it, if someone treis to push a specific plattform or software on me.

there1.jpgThe next thing that I didn’t like, at least at first, were the looks and the graphics. It looked and felt like a cheap rip off of Second Life. I am not sure, how fair or unfair this assessment is, it may look different to someone who isn’t a long time Second Life user, but this is how I honestly felt. I saw green hills and sandy beaches, but I missed the fine detailes in terrain texture I am used to from Second Life, I missed the ripples on the water and the sunlight reflecting on them.

There is actually an easy way to recognize Second Life users in “There”: If you see someone jumping a lot without an apparent reason, he or she is probably a regular Second Life user. In “There” rightclicking will make your avatar jump. And rightclicking on things is something I do instinctively by now, it has become Second Nature ™.

It took me a while to find out how to move around, find places, interact with things. It’s the same for every virtual world, even every place you got to: You have to learn the ropes. Doing this repeatedly helps, I noticed how I approached this a lot more efficient than I did when I joined Second Life two years ago.

there7.jpgWhat I was missing most was a fast an easy way to customize my avatar. In “There” you have to go to a spa to have your look changed. When I first read about this, I liked the idea, but when I was in world it lost its appeal and I was missing the option to easily and inexpensively change my look.

Just as for IMVU - and most virtual worlds, as it seems - you have to get developer status before you can create stuff. I tried to find out how difficult this is and how much it would eventually cost, but I didn’t find out all the details yet, so I will have something to write in another article about “There” once I do find out.

there6.jpgNow there were a few things I did like about “There” once I started to explore. It took me a little time to get used how “There” will open new windowes when you want to purchase something, for example, but in the end, I rather liked it. It gives “There” a very different look and feel fromn Second Life, way less immersive, rather another window on your desktop than a world you are in. Yet it had some appeal to me at the same time, as I could easily use my working habits from other appications and the internet to “There”. Usually I will switch between my word processor, different websites and two or three messengers at any time I am at a computer. “There” is just another window that will easily intergrate with what I alerady have running and make it easier to use it on the side while having a chat on ICQ at the same time. It is possible to do something similar with Second LIfe by making it run in a really small window, but I rarely do so. And you can not place windows outside the mian viewer. Wouldn’t it be handy, if you could place the chat window outside the main viewer? You could then adjust the size of the chat window and the viewer however you need it for what you are doing right now. And the chat window would stop obstructing your view, if you move around.

there5.jpgThe clubs or buildings I vitied in “There” I liked a lot better than the landscape, they often felt more cozy than they do on Second Life, so I can see why some people may prefer “There”.

In general I didn’t find it easier or harder to use. I paid some attention to this details, as someone mentioned on the educator’s list a while ago that “There” would be easier to use. At least for the basic functions you need as a beginner - moving around, finding people and places, chatting and interacting with things - it makes littel difference, at least to me. As mentioned above, it becomes more difficult, if you want to create stuff.

So much for my first impressions of “There”.

URL: http://there.com

Topics: VR | 1 Comment »

Interview on Phlow.net

By admin | August 9, 2007

This is again for those of my readers who can also read German. I gave an interview to Phlow.net that you may enjoy reading.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Topics: general | No Comments »

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