Friday, July 17, 2020

Bellisseria Update: Working on The Railroad


By Bixyl Shuftan



While attention was on the Second Life Birthday, work on the Bellisseria region continues. This includes the railroad, and rail bridges, rail lines, and the occasional railroad station are being placed by Linden Lab's moles.


 On the map, one can just barely see the rail lines as brown lines. A little easier to see are the light green lines marking places for track to be placed.


The quickest place to find them are at bridge areas, where a rail bridge is next to a road bridge.


 At some places, the moles placed rail, ties, and other objects to help give the impression of a rail line under construction, which it is.


There are occasional stations along the railroad.


I (or rather my alt in this case), was able to rezz a rail car and move along. At one point though, the car got stuck. So I had to go into edit and push it a distance.


While most of the tracks laid down went by community areas, there were some through some more rocky and wooded places.


 It made for some picturesque scenery.


At one point, I found a zip line that led from the top of a hill next to the tracks.


The areas near the track are being filled with Linden Homes, available to Premium account residents, the ones I saw in Victorian and log cabin styles.


But while much track has been laid down and ready to use, there's still more to lay down. On the ground, one can see the green lines marked for future building.


So one can't ride a train across eastern Bellisseria just yet. But eventually it can be done in the future. For now, the moles will still be workin' on the railroad.

Bixyl Shuftan (and Rezzdammit Resident)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Three More SL17B Exhibits


By Bixyl Shuftan


The events may have been over for a week, but the exhibits are still up. And there are a lot of them. One that got my attention was the "Epic Surf Center" at SL17B Stunning (217/33/23).

Epic Surf Center promotes all information related to surfing in Second Life; from surfing regions, surfboards, and swimsuits/wet-suits. There is a wealth of information on surfing, instruction on surfboards, and up-to-date surf-related events in Second Life.

Unlike some exhibits, this one is interactive. The area has a huge pool in the middle, simulating a wave. To surf around, just touch the rezzable surfboard, and one will rezz. Get on it, and ride around for a while. You can also read information about the main location of the center inworld.


Another exhibit that got my attention was from the "Instituto Espanol SL" group's Aztec pyramid build. On the inside, one gets a lesson about Aztech mythology and it's beliefs on life after death.

Mictlan was the Aztec Underworld, ruled by it's Lord and Lady. It was a gloomy place reached by the dead only after wandering for four years beneath the earth, accompanied by a "soul companion", a dog which was customarily cremated with the corpse. 

The journey from the first level to the ninth was difficult, and took four years. But the dead were aided by the psychopomp Xolatol. The dead had to pass many challenges, such as crossing a mountain range where the mountains crashed into each other, a field of wind that blew flesh-scraping knives, and a river of flood with fearsome jaguars.

Getting through one level of this underworld required going through one jungle in which the chests of the souls were typically slashed open by wild animals, and the hearts torn out and eaten by a jaguar. Talk about "eat your heart out."

You can get to the pyramid at SL17B Captivate (101/88/23). There's also a video one can watch (link).


There was another water-themed exhibit that I thought was noteworthy, "Underwater Wonders" at SL17B Astonish (56/225/21)

As the waves gently rise and fall giving the air of calm, what could possibly like beneath? First, take a moment to learn about a few creatures from the sea and then stroll on down to the climate-controlled observation pod. Be sure to grab your free gift while there. Please watch your step on the way out! Actually, take a deep breath! Brought to you by creators Cynimon Catnap & Diamonique Viper on behalf of Vipera!

As mentioned, at one spot are displays to read up about some of the numerous living things in the ocean. There's also a pipe you can go down and port into a couple picturesque undersea area. One has a dance animation for mermaid avatars. Another has a free gift, a face and snorkel, that depending on your avatar may require some tweaking.

By all means, don't just stop at these exhibits. There are many more fun ones to explore. You have until Sunday July 12 to do so before they fade away into memory.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, June 15, 2020

RFL: Settlers of Hope And Fiona Fei's Ribbon Hunt


By Bixyl Shuftan


The theme of this year's Relay season was "Game On, Cancer." And at the Relay track this year, the camps often had a tribute to a game. Several of the camps had builds inspired by Monopoly, such as the Sunbeamers. And some had actual games such as the Second Life Cheerleading Squad's playable game inspired by Donkey Kong. Two I came across offered prizes for completing games. One was in RFL Encourage: "Settlers of Hope."


Sandie Loxingly told me that the game had been made by her Relay Team "Seekers of Hope." It was based off the board game "Settlers of Catan."


 I would come back later with an alt.  In this SL game, a player had to purchase the HUD for 100L.


 As one goes down the track, one clicks on the people next to the signs to get a resource. You only get one good per station. There's also several games on the track, such as this Bejeweled spinoff.


Usually you get the same kind of good as the station. But sometimes a different one will appear. If you prefer the usual kind, click on the person again once or twice again.


Besides the game, there was a little scenery to explore.


At the end of the course, click on the chest at the end to get a prize. What you get depends on what combination of the six resources you have. For instance, one of each will get you a "Gamer Signs Fatpack." But there are others. Trying a combination not mentioned in the notecard, what I got was a token prize. Oh well, next time.

Oh, and Sandie told me one can get an online version of "The Settlers of Catan" for free on Steam (link).

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/RFL%20Encourage/194/113/22


Of the sims, RFL Courage was a unique one, as it was designed by an artist.


Fiona Fei (Fionafei Resident) had designed the exhibit.


One place was meant to say "Pencil and paper games," which certainly described the sim.


Much of the place looked like landscape covered in various scribbling and simple games on paper.


But the place wasn't just scenery. There was also the "Black Ribbon Hunt."


 Clicking on the sign, one would get the first clue, and would find the eight others by finding the eight black ribbons in the sim.


 There were several tiny critters in the sim, that when clicked on would say something, occasionally offering a clue to finding a ribbon.


Some of the ribbons were clearly in plain sight, though others took me a while to find.


 A few of the ribbons had little gifts, such as this overhead, "Game on, Cancer!" (those in furry avatars, don't wear but add).



For getting all of the ribbons, the player gets a tiny "Toontoons" avatar. It seems to be one at random from a couple dozen, in my case getting a female panda.


There are of course more games in the rest of the sims, and a lot to explore. While some people have picked up their camps, there's plenty to look over. But not for long. Eventually the sims will be gone, so look around while you can.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, May 1, 2020

Genetic Love Interview


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.

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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?

Doc: Genetic Love’s name came from an old project that got revived for a time, but didn’t make it in the end, although now it shares the same name as my upcoming comic. So, I put it into the mod store. I have a deep and enthralling love of science and genetics, so why not change the DNA of your avatar?

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?

Doc: Last year I moved to Texas to join the moon of my life. After leaving New York and regaining some creativity, I became fascinated with lore of the south. So, what better than the crazy legend of the Jackalope. As for the space part, that came in because of my history with Genetic Love. My first mod was the Space Dragon, which lore wise are exactly what they sound like. Your traditional dragon, but with exotic colors and love of fiestas!

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*

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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

Cyfir

Friday, April 17, 2020

Mindscape


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 . 

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Nice%20Atoll/185/142/3685

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Interview with Nams of Static and the Gacha Guild


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.

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Cyfir: What inspired you and the other founders to start the Gacha Guild?

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?

Nams: I am in the midst of a rebranding of sorts. Re-working my logo, working on a new in-world shop design and overhauling my advertisements. It's a huge job to get all these things updated, but it's gonna be totally worth it.

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.

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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 .


Cyfir

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Look At The VWBPE Grounds


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 .

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/VWBPE%20Gateway%20Pyxis/100/128/23

Gemma Cleanslate