Friday, May 1, 2020
By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich)
Last week, my article mentioned a release party for a new mod for the SPACE-A-LOPE at MIDI and Furzona This week, I got to interview the creator of the now released SPACE-A-LOPE, Dr Prawn (badasslobster) (also known as Doc), and pick their brain about their creative processes when working on mods and more.
Cyfir: What got you started in modding and why did you open a Second Life store?
Doc: So modding was a consequence of being held back by the traditional sandboxes. I decided to do what I wanted instead. Early on when I started Second Life, I heard it was an open world full of possibilities. So, I took that to a literal sense. Thus, I made a screaming house fire. Which got me labeled a griefer. But I was laughing, why couldn’t everyone else? As time passed, I wondered how I could make content that kept my childish whims while creating something beautiful and tangible yet inviting to all levels and types of people within Second Life.
Cyfir: How did you come up with the name for your store?
Cyfir: What programs do you use?
Doc: Sai 1.0, Sai 2.0, Z Brush, 3DS Max, Motion Builder as well as Daz for conceptual imagery.
Cyfir: What advice can you give to anyone thinking about starting to mod for Second Life?
Doc: Fear nothing. Do whatever the hell you want to do, and more importantly what you love. Take the raw imagination in your head and put it down on paper no matter what. Don’t be afraid if it doesn’t look perfect, everyone starts somewhere. Be proud that you took those first steps. Make sure to give yourself ample time to complete your commitments while still tending to your mental health and celebrate fiercely when you complete anything.
Cyfir: What was the inspiration for the SPACE-A-LOPE?
Cyfir: Can you walk us through the process of the SPACE-A-LOPE’s creation?
Doc: Before you even model a single polygon, it all starts with a preliminary sketch. I wanted to be done in a reasonable time, so instead of doing my usual massive amount of conceptual art, I googled pictures of Jackalopes and sketched next to them until I found the iteration I loved most. There were even versions with wings! But, at the end of the day a lot of the crazier versions detracted from the simplicity of what Genetic Love’s concepts are. So, I cut back, I knew the horns were the centerpiece, so from there I began color blocking, finding what the right feel for this avatar was going to be. Once I found that, I put some money down on a shading kit, and began my work on the actual mod itself. There were a total of 12 prototypes until I settled on the final pattern that you see on the mod today. From that point, there was a lot of focus on color theory, figuring out which colors would be the most appealing to market. The classic Space-a-lope is very much a carbon copy of my original space dragon, right down to some of the original raw files used. Once all the texture work was done, I coded all the Omega Appliers.
But what a lot of people unfamiliar with being a creator in Second Life don’t know is the insane amount of time that goes into marketing and launch. It’s one thing to make a mod or a creation, and an entirely different beast to make the vendors, and build the gallery. I work hard to ensure even the pictures on the marketplace are flawless. Some of those pictures took hours to get right where we needed them so that we could separate ourselves from other makers as truly professional. When you step into a Genetic Love pop up shop, or go to an event, we want to make sure you feel whisked away to another world, to our Bauhaus so to speak, that the product speaks for itself. I do have the luxury of an excellent team, in fact, the vendors were made by my great friend and MIDI founder Lain Lycoris. My friend Zooks helped with some of our photography, and even my other half Altair Luna Sol modeled the Space-a-lope for the launch so people could better understand what they were investing in. We go so far as to develop each version of the space-a-lope into a fully-fledged character. Zooks and I have an everlasting and passionate love of fighting games and drew deeply on that when it came to building the personality and lore for each version of the Space-a-lope. For example, the “Natural” color of the space-a-lope is named Sparrow. As you will see from the pictures in the gallery he loves to spar, as he is pictured having it out in an old school brawl with “Kala” the classic Space-a-lope. As you will see all the other colors and versions are full of lore and personality. This was truly a labor of love, through and through. In fact, there will be a full bio for each character on the marketplace listings.
Cyfir: Tell us a little bit about your club MIDI.
Doc: So, I should clarify I don’t own it, that would be Serra / RaishiFox, with the help of Lain Lycoris. Rather, I got into MIDI long ago and was lucky to find a home on staff. I was DJ’ing at the ARK, but I felt like I didn’t have much of an audience, or rather one that was into my abstract music. But one day, I was offered a job with MIDI before it had even opened yet. I was unsure at first, but I had nothing to lose, so one teleport later and I quit immediately with the ARK and went full time at MIDI. It was the first time that I found home. I felt understood and accepted for who I was, and was allowed full creative expression as an artist, without any of the traditional and archaic club rules that prevent a lot of talent from blooming.
Cyfir: What do you have in mind for upcoming projects for your store?
Doc: First things first. I’m going to create a brand new, open source shade kit for the Second Life body, as well as Omega compliant bodies. The reason why I’m working on that first, is that most of the shade kits you see on the marketplace now are incredibly restricting. Also, I had a really horrible personal experience with the shade kit I purchased recently. I think it’s unfair the stranglehold that some of these creators have had on the marketplace, and the “Boys club” that some of this has become. So it’s my goal to make this open source, and community driven! So, anyone can go ahead and add any component, remove anything they want from the shade kit and put it into their own projects. And the best part is, it’s free, because I believe everyone should have freedom of creative expression without barriers.
After that is completed, the Genetic Love team and I will begin work on the SunF**** project. It will be in keeping with our current theme of mythical creatures. It is a nod to my current fursona, and a nod to one of my favorite bands, Swans, who has a song of the same name, which describes the creature in question. We are extremely excited to share this with all of you!
Cyfir: What would you say is most rewarding about making stuff for people in Second Life?
Doc: What’s the most rewarding part is seeing people get excited or fall in love with our products. Genetic Love is truly its own entity and different from many other stores. We are mod and creator friendly by design, which has really done a lot to make people go nuts for things that we make. Even better seeing what people do with our mods when they begin to sell. The way they make unique and original characters for themselves to live their best life. It brings me so much joy to help give them that. Another thing I absolutely love is when people take a species we have created, and make yet another new species from it, like a blossoming family tree! It’s truly the heart of what Genetic Love hopes to share.
Cyfir: Is there anything else you would like to plug?
Doc: Shout out to all the pears! Zooks, Art, my right-hand man and brother. Lain, my mentor. Altair / Infidailia, my loving partner for helping translate my nonsense, and keeping me sane, without her, this interview would’ve had far more profanity and broken desks. Shoutout to Xii from Apricot Paws! Shoutout to all the people who support us, and this project for over six years now! Of course, shoutout to MobianAngel for keeping me together, and being an amazing advisor and friend. (Checkout their YouTube! Smash that like button!) Finally, thank YOU Cyfir for this interview, I hope we get to do this again soon.
Doc, OUT *Drops Mic*
You can find Doc’s store here: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/148126
All SpaceAlope mods can be found here: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Geneticloves-SpaceAlope-Natrual/19456334
Friday, April 17, 2020
By Gemma Cleanslate
One of the offshoots from the VWBPE that I finally got to see will still be in the world of Second Life so you will be able to take a look at this marvelous display of the creative mind of artists at work.
Asmita Duranjaya, a well known artist and owner of InterstellART put out a call to artists to create for a collaboration to be called, “ 'MindScape', and it will be related to brain research and to all, what can refer to the human mind, how to develop, inspire and care for or manipulate it. 15 artists will create either a 2D or a 3D work referring to the topic by adding his or her idea, be it more realistic-physical or more mental or philosophical abstract. I provide on my sim the environment for presenting the artwork and am also one of the active artists. The 3D area is a moon landscape, where the 50-prim-installations are presented."
Fifteen artists answered the call with both 3d and 2d displaying their own inner vision of the brain activity and care. At the entrance to the 3d part of the installation one can pick up a notecard that introduces all the artists and their biographies . You can also find a tp to the 2d gallery there and when you arrive tour the 2d exhibit and also take a look at all the past works of Asmita which are on that level .
I toured the entire 3d exhibition at her InterstellART with Asmita and several other visitors on the day for VWBPE members and friends . It is so eclectic in the expressions represented, but so interesting to see the brain research and care that each could see as necessary to brain health and happiness.
I had to go back to take a second and third look at each to try to discover what they see. It is like poetry , so individual in thought. These pieces are not static but most of them moving .
Up at the 2d art gallery on another visit I toured the lovely display of the many artists who participated in that part of the exhibit . Memories , dreams , thoughts, good and perhaps bad are depicted in the portraits there.
Stories may be congured up in one’s own mind when viewing all the exhibits . It is definitely worth several visits to experience what each artist may have been thinking when working on their own part of it all. Asmita told me that the exhibit will remain in place for several more months so take your time there. It may be good therapy in these days to meditate on the pieces . I am not an artist, but am an audience of appreciation of the creativity of those who are. That is why I love to visit installations such as this. To begin the tour enter here .
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich)
Nams (Nama Gearz) is the owner of Static and the Gacha Guild. Just before the Gacha Guild started, I had a chance to send them a few interview questions. Unfortunately, they were so (understandably) busy that they just got back to me with the answers recently. Fortunately, it’s still a good interview and they were able to send answers that were pertinent to the upcoming Halloween event this Fall as well as some new information about her store.
Nams: In the very beginning the main founders got together and started this event because there were all these great events centered around human avatars and there were basically none at all for the furry community. Since there were none, we made one! .GG. has blossomed so much in the past few years, more than we'd ever expected! We're not JUST a furry event though, even though we have our roots in that community.
Cyfir: What’s new at Gacha Guild this time around?
Nams: Unfortunately since I just now had time to respond because of all the craziness in the world lately, the spring round of .GG. is basically over. BUT I can say the next event will be a spoooky carnival theme and will be just as awesome as last year's Halloween event!
Cyfir: It must be challenging to put on such a big event with so many avatars trying to get in on opening day.
How do you and your team meet those challenges and what makes it worth it to you?
Nams: Oh man, it's a lagfest if you don't do things just right, but we're so thankful that the event is popular enough to have this problem. lol The off-sim shopping area helps a whole lot, so we're trying new ways to make that convenient for everyone. We try our best to make script time on the event sim as low as possible too and remind visitors to wear event friendly avatars. But honestly, what makes it worth it is seeing all those crazy avatars and people enjoying themselves.
Cyfir: Who all is involved in making the Gacha Guild happen?
Nams: It's definitely a group effort to get these events rolling, especially for Hallows. Much of the building and advertisement I'm in charge of, and Xuxu (Xulael Resident) helps out with a lot of the building as well. Scripting makes the magic happen, so Argon (Lazer Frog) and Skyler (firefox22771 Resident) get a lot of the credit for making the event function, and making all of my crazy build ideas work out. And the true heroines are Catloaf (Katyjlol Resident) and Sunny (Usada Izumi), the blogger / creator recruiting dream team! Bringing in the talented creators and bloggers that make this event truly special~
Cyfir: Being a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, I’m digging the theme for this Spring’s event. What are your favorite Studio Ghibli movies?
Nams: Spirited Away is at the top! But my second would totally have to be Howl's Moving Castle.
Cyfir: What Gacha Guild products are you personally excited about this year?
Nams: Before .GG. Spirited Festival started up, I was totally stoked to see what cool avatar accessories we'd see around. Clothing is also a thing I like to look around for. Since you said "this year" I'm gonna go ahead and say, I'm looking forward to absolutely everything in Hallows. I can't wait to see those Halloween horrors!
Cyfir: What’s new from Static?
Cyfir: What would you say inspires your products the most?
Nams: Honestly, I only make things that I'd personally like to wear. If I wouldn't wear it, why should anyone else? And if I'm totally into the project, the heart I put into it shows.
Cyfir: Can you describe your creative process when working on things for your store?
Nams: Sometimes an idea just pops into my head and I can just go crazy on it. When I'm a little stuck and searching for ideas, I hit up pinterest pretty hard for inspiration. It's an amazing resource. Once I'm totally stoked on an idea I have, I'll just jump into modeling it and not really stop until it's done. I really try to consider the user most though during the creation process and how I can make it the most convenient and easy to use, so a lot of thinking goes into some of these projects before I even hop into a 3D program.
Cyfir: Anything else you would like to add or plug?
Nams: I normally wouldn't plug events that aren't my own in something like this BUT I'd like to get Fantasy Faire as much attention as it can. I'm in this event coming up on April 23rd, and proceeds for some of the items I'm selling are going directly to Relay for Life! Fantasy Faire is also huge, with nearly a dozen sims (or maybe more than that!), each decorated differently. It's really a sight to behold. It's a great time just roaming around and I hope people check it out. Here's their site to stay updated! https://fantasyfairesl.wordfress.com.
Nams’ store can be found in Second Life at Caisteal (221/85/32) and on MarketPlace here. Information about the Gacha Guild can be found at https://gachaguild.com . Nams Tumblr, Flickr, and Ko-fi can be accessed at https://telepotato.cat, https://www.flickr.com/photos/namacat, and https://ko-fi.com/telepotato .
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
by Gemma Cleanslate
I had my first peek at the new site of the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education. My mouth is still agape at the build! I don’t know how the participants are going to be able to just sit and listen and react with the lectures, workshops, and discussions. This year it is a wildly different venue than any other year in Second Life. If you are not familiar with the event check it out here and perhaps come visit March 26 through 28. https://www.vwbpe.org/ Look at the program to see what is going on each day.
I have been volunteering as a greeter for several years so I was lucky to get an overview on Saturday on the various sites that will be available to presenters, participants, and the other many visitors to the program. Bluebarker Lowtide escorted us on a tour around the universe of the site. There will be a convenient hud for all at the Gateway along with a swag bag.
Sponsors and members have some marvelous exhibits all of which seem to have their own floating island . The hud will take you to each. Some are interactive and look for gifts . Loads of information on virtual education is available at the exhibits.
Draxtor Despres had many participants as he filmed Sunday hi-lighting an overview . There was a huge pre-party in the social area which is very popular with attendees and presenters in off times. We also had a videoing of the building activity of some awesome and also basic builders at the social site that was great fun and demonstrated what Second Life is all about , This video will be on the official Second Life you tube channel Wednesday to wet your appetite for the event .
Make sure you visit the social area and look for the freebies section there . Have a talk with the Emobot too . He needs to tell you his woes. If you visit once I think you will visit again and if looking for something new to do come along and attend one of the programs that sparks your interest.
Here is the Gateway, say hi if you find me there .
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
By Bixyl Shuftan
Longtime readers know about Arcadia Asylum. These freebie stores, or libraries as they're officially called, have extensive collections of goods that can be picked up for free. A few days ago, a new one opened. This one was quite litterally down the street of the Newser office, in the HV Community sim. Like the others, Prof. Grey (BrianL61 Landar) is the builder and owner.
"Opened the doors yesterday (February 29)," Prof. Grey told me, "Full line library, including YadNi's Junkyard and Freebie Folly." The Sunweaver library's items are on three separate floors. The middle or ground floor has the works of Aley aka Arcadia. The lower or basement floor has the Freebie Folly items. The top floor, also accessible by the railroad line, is where the items that were part of YadNi's Junkyard are. The Junkyard had been one of Second Life's most popular freebie centers until it's closure in July 2015. Freebie Folly was a freebie store in Skidz, but it, "suddenly went vacant. The land still bears the Freebie Folly name, but it's a empty shop now." After attempts to contact the owner, Arcadia started displaying her free items.
The number of items packed in the place is truly massive. "This locations tops out at 9487 free items," Prof. Grey told me, "The only other location to match this is Anilis." Most of the items are not shown individually, but are in vendors that can be browsed with left/right arrows on the bottom. One can find avatars, vehicles, homes, furniture, plants, ships, boats, clothing, and much, much more. While some of the items are simple compared to what's available today, others are of decent quality. But in either case, one can't argue with the price.
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
5: Isil Designs - Beth Delaunay
From furniture, buildings, building kits, streets and lights, this mostly sci-fi themed store has it all. It also helps that their work is absolutely gorgeous and well textured and takes full advantage of advanced lighting. I’ve used their products for years and I would recommend them for anyone who is looking for quality sci-fi themed stuff.
4: Candle and Cauldron - November Nighthearth
As a practicing Wiccan, I’ve loved the quality C and C products. Unfortunately, there’s currently no MarketPlace to link to because they are currently on hiatus. For details on why, you can read their FaceBook post here. I really hope they decide to come back refreshed and enjoy what they’ve created for us in the community again. What I’m trying to say is, please come back
3: Lab Rats - Rick Xerx
Full Disclosure Again: This is my boyfriend. I may have a little bias, but he’s on this list because he’s helped me so much in pulling off custom texture work that I’ve needed done, most notably for my catseye feet paws for my black and purple DSD Fennec. They just wouldn’t have lined up with the rest of the avatar’s texture any other way but I wanted to use them with the Signature Gianni body.
2: TOXIC-X - Sugar Paw (AKA Casio)
Full Disclosure: She’s my Second Life sister, but she does a lot of coding magic for the Second Life community behind the scenes and absolutely deserves to be on this list. I’ve treasured everything she’s ever made for me and I use products from her store daily.
1: Dark Spot Designs - Oken
My fursona may be a demon, but I’ve mostly always come back to the Dark Spot Designs purple and black fennec for my Second Life identity. There’s just something about the head and ear shape that resonate with me. I got to meet Oken and DJ for the release party of the DSD Fennec 3.0 which I still wear today.
So who are your favorite creators? Which products in Second Life do you like the most? Sound off in the comments and let’s give some Second Life creators the recognition they deserve.
Update: After sending in the article, I found out Candle and Cauldron announced, "Due to popular request the in-world and MP stores will remain open, though support will be limited."
Monday, January 27, 2020
By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich)
I recently happened upon a club that impressed me so much that I applied. Not only was I impressed with the design of the club and the lighting effects, I was also impressed with how friendly and inviting everyone was. I could tell that this was a passion project, so I had to also interview Game Wylder who is the club’s owner.
You can find the club here.
Cyfir: Can you tell us about the history of the club.
Cyfir: Why did you decide to bring the club back?
Game: When I first joined Second Life, I spent a few months figuring out what I wanted to do. I eventually stumbled upon Furzona. I don’t know what, but something enraptured me. It could have been the lights, the people, or the club itself, but something made me want to stay.
I eventually became a DJ at Furzona, and started out as a playlist DJ, just having stupid fun, but over time, I developed my skills and taught myself how to mix. Eventually, I found myself being promoted to Host Manager, and then eventually a Director.
About five years ago, the club went on hiatus, as the previous owner wasn’t able to dedicate any more of his time or money to keeping the club open. Around this time, I was already on a hiatus myself.
When I came back a year or so later, now about three years ago, things had changed in SL. Many clubs were focused around adult content, and the quality of music had died down. I spent some time club hopping, and resided to hang around a few clubs that somewhat reminded me of Furzona, but just left more to be desired.
Around this time, I suffered a house fire, and while no one was hurt, and everyone was safe, I became displaced while the house was being rebuilt. During this time, I had cut all ties to Second Life, as I wanted to focus on my own personal life.
After a bit of a rocky road in real life, I eventually got things settled down. One day I decided to log back onto Second Life in almost three years, and revisited the old hangouts that were still around. During this week though, I noticed that the problems we had before only got worse, with there being places where people just go afk and poseball. It didn’t sit well with me.
Him and I just started talking logistics for a bit, and eventually, we decided to reach out to some old team members, we immediately got a yes from them, and once we had a handful of people, I reached out to the old owner, to see if we were allowed to use the Furzona name, and we got approval. At that point, there was no turning back, we decided to bring back Furzona for good.
Cyfir: What can patrons look forward to when visiting Club Furzona?
Game: We designed the new Furzona with some key features in mind. While music would be our number one priority, we understand the landscape of clubs has changed in Second Life. We decided to focus on making an awesome place to hang out as well as a place to listen to music.
While designing the new club, we pulled inspiration from many places, including our old club designs. In homage to an old design, we stuck with a Red vs Blue theme, with the left half of the club being Red, and the right half being Blue. This creates a visual distinction between the two sides, and allows us to be a bit more creative with our space.
Additional inspiration sources come from other real life venues, like the Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia, and Radio City Music Hall in New York.
If you ever go to Radio City Music Hall, you’ll notice how the entire ceiling tapers down towards the stage. This not only looks amazing, but has a purpose, attributing to the acoustics of the venue, while providing a feeling of grandeur. We decided to replicate this in our own fashion, by tapering the ceiling down towards the stage itself.
If you ever go to the Franklin Music Hall (previously known as The Electric Factory), you’ll note that it has that warehouse club vibe. They utilize the dark interior to enhance the lighting effects performers use, as well as projection displays to enhance the theme of Benjamin Franklin, and the lightning bolt. Towards the back of the venue, they have plenty of seating area, with bars on both the bottom and top floors. We took inspiration from this venue to design a more ergonomic layout, allowing people to relax in the back, while still being part of the action.
This brings me to the lounges, which we took inspiration from previous iterations of Furzona. In every iteration, we always had an Ice Lounge, that would act as a separate area to chill and relax out of the way. In the Red vs Blue iteration, we had a Red and Blue lounge, which people loved. The Red lounge would always be where people went to have fun and talk on voice, while the blue lounge was more of a relaxed and cuddle kind of place. So, we’ve decided to bring that back, with the Red room acting as more of a gaming room, and the Blue room remaining the same, as a place to relax.
However, we’ve done something different for this iteration of the club. About 500 meters above, outside of voice and chat range of the club, we have The Mainframe. It’s a place where people can go to relax, that is completely out of range of chat and voice, allowing them to still relax and enjoy the music, without having to leave the club.
Cyfir: What does Furzona offer that other clubs may not?
With that being said, what we pride ourselves on is our featured Live DJ’s, who actually mix music live on the air to make a custom set experience. Furzona has also always been known for our light shows during these sets, allowing DJ’s to sync the lasers up with the music itself. In the old days, this was done with prims, and made it difficult to navigate a camera around, but this time we’ve upgraded our display to be mesh, which means it doesn’t interfere with moving your camera around.
Combine this, with the attention to detail that we’ve been keen on, and we’ve made a club that really works well to use the advanced lighting models of the Second Life engine to provide a really amazing looking experience, while at the same time, making sure that older machines don’t miss out on the cool effects we’ve done.
Additionally, the sim we’re on gets restarted every week, ensuring that our sim is running at peak performance each week. We want all people to be able to enjoy this club, no matter what hardware they may have in their computer.
Cyfir: Who all helped make the comeback possible?
I’ve told my team that no idea is a bad idea, and just needs to be tested to see if it fits. With this process, we’ve tried hundreds of different ideas, and gave each one a chance. The ideas that worked are what we stuck with, slowly building upon one another to create a cohesive feel to the whole club.
Cyfir: What have been the challenges of re-opening the club?
Game: The biggest challenge we’ve faced is bringing people back. All of us have had changes happen in our lives, making it difficult for us to dedicate more time to this project, but that’s where the passion drives us forward. While we don’t have all the time in the world to build this place, we’ve put our resources together, and within 15 days, we had a club ready to open.
We still are looking for more people to join, as most of our DJ’s and other staff members have drifted away. If anyone is interested, they can go to http://apply.furzona.club,
Additionally, we had roles that we simply never had before, such as a Vendor Manager, and Host Manager. These jobs used to be handled by the General Managers, but I decided to open those up as we were restructuring things.
Cyfir: How did you overcome those challenges?
Cyfir: You also run a MarketPlace store. What products can users look forward to finding there?
Game: I sell a lot of gestures and little accessories I've made back in the day. They’re really cheap, and available for everyone. One of my favorite items is the kindred mask that I give out for free, but my absolute favorite is the leaf umbrella that I worked on. I made the umbrella without any references, and absolutely no knowledge of texturing, and yet it turned out great!
Cyfir: What is your favorite part of being part of this community?
Game: The Furry community is an interesting one to say the least. It’s one of those communities that is made fun of in the public eye for being different, but I like that: being different. Normal is boring, weird is fun. I have met so many creative people within this community, and while I don’t fully consider myself to be part of it, I really appreciate the love and attention people have put into it.
Full disclosure: I now work at Furzona. While I haven’t had the time to settle in to my role yet, I should have more free time in the future. As I’ve written about in past articles, I’ve struggled to find a community to call home since leaving communities that I’ve been a part of in the past. This may end up being my new home.