Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The JessicaBelle Aeronautic Projects Airbase

JessicaBelle Dayafter, whom made the news some months ago with the release of her FW190 fighter-bomber, has an airbase. Located on a platform high over the Potomac Center sim, it is open to all, and is fun for either hanging out, target practice, or both.

The platform is made of of four regions: the airport, the ground target field, the sea target field, and a green space which for the moment had just grass and trees. The airport's largest building is the hangar, which houses one of each of her aircraft: the German Focke-Wulf-190 fighter bomber, the American Grumman Wildcat fighter-bomber, and the Junkers Ju 87 G2 Stuka. The FW-190 and Wildcat can strike at ground targets through either bombs or rockets. The Stuka is a "Kanonenvogel" model, equipped to fire either bombs or anti-tank cannons. All fire machine guns, with the Stuka also having a rear-mounted gun. The planes are on sale for 1,000 Lindens each. To see what the plans have to offer, there is a rezzer besides the hangar that allows visitors to "try before you buy."

To test out the airplanes before buying, or target practice in general, there are a number of targets up to demolish. The airfield itself has a nubbier of parked planes which can be fired upon. After their hitpoints reach zero, the explode and are reduced to smoldering wrecks. They self-repair after a few minutes. Outside the airfield is a water area with a couple ships. Blasting them with bombs, rockets, rounds, etc. will result in an explosion followed by the stricken ship sinking. In another corner are fuel tanks and tents. Blowing up the tanks can be fun as the explosion sends the top hurtling in the air, spinning.

There's also a robo-plane, marked with the word "Target" that sits on the ground until touched. Once airborne, it flies around at random, until shot down.

The other building at the airport is the lounge. The building has a pool table people can play at, or get a drink at the nearby bar. There's also a map on the wall showing the various airports of the Second Life Mainland (and there are a *lot* of them). Upstairs is JessicaBelle's office. For fun, there's a "Death Star" that people can press, which releases hordes of buzzing particle TIE fighters.

The JessicaBelle Aeronautic Projects Airbase is located at Rainbows of Hope, Potomac Center (203, 170, 1001).

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Look at Minecraft

So I haven't been around much on SL. Other things have occupied my time for the moment (Google things like Dungeon Crawl and Dungeon Hack for examples). Things such as Minecraft, the game of mining resources and building things.

It's essentially SL in 8-bit, where things are a lot more "basic." When you first start the game, a landscape is generated, and this stretches infinitely in all directions, generating randomly as you walk. The more you walk, the more is generated. The world is made up of blocks of all kinds, each line of blocks being marked as a "layer" (Layer 63 is sea level, 128 is the highest and 0 is bedrock, unbreakable). You wander the procedurally-generated landscape, digging into the dirt and gravel to build yourself a little domain (which can be little or not so little, depending on what you want) and look for resources such as seeds, wheat, iron and coal to make things like torches, dyes for colored wool, iron for tools, and water and lava for basic decoration. Digging deeper into the ground exposes ravines, mines, caves and strongholds, all with basic things to loot (such as chests) and things to destroy (monster spawners).

Along the way you can lure cows and sheep to a "farm" to raise wool and steak (your character does need to eat), build an enchanting table for enchanting items, and build a Nether Portal out of a material called "Obsidian" to explore a procedurally generated "Hell" version of Minecraft. All the while you need to defend yourself for when the monsters come out at night --- zombies, spiders, skeletons with bows, and the deadliest of them all, a walking bomb known as the Creeper. They get close and go off, and boom, you die. When you die your gear remains in-world for five minutes, so if you were hundreds or thousands of blocks away from your place of death and spawn at "home," and you lose a lot of time spent and resources. It can be frustrating.

There's also a feature where you can connect to play multiplayer, and servers exist for creation, combat, and almost all in between. So you can build sprawling pixel art several dozens of layers high, or go hunting for other players' homes/bases dug into the mountainside and try and loot them, fighting in PvP. If you're good, you manage to loot a month or two's worth of real-time efforts in gathering resources like iron, coal and gold (and the more valuable things, such as Lapis Lazuli, Redstone, Obsidian and Diamonds). If you're bad, you don't have the reflexes to take on a bunch of players at once when you're a lone wolf out in the wilderness and you lose up to two real time months or more of gathered resources as your base gets heavily griefed (as mine was recently) in a nine-on-one gang stomp.

Minecraft gave me a new appreciation for the builders of SL (blocks and prims, very similar); I might even get into more building of things in SL now --- and not get my stuff destroyed by players less than half my age!

I'm going to give Minecraft a firm Three Dragon Hoards out of five --- it inspires creativity yet limits you to an 8-bit feel and resources, so you have to get creative on how to use what you do have to the best of its ability. It would have been five but I took one away for the brattiness of some of the players (turns out the server I chose is full of 12 year olds, literally, and I don't want to deal with those kinds of temper tantrums if things go bad for -them-); and I took another one away because of its cost... while a basic version of Minecraft can be played on their website if you sign up, the full version is pretty pricey (at about $30).

Xymbers Slade

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Sea of Aley

What an amazing build I have been visiting in LEA. That is The Linden Endowment of the Arts and is an official Linden Community Partnership program whose purpose is to help new artists, cultivate art in SL, and foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration within the art community. I took that from the wiki.

This is not the first LEA exhibits I have visited but it is certainly one of the most enjoyable. Aley has put all her wonderful underwater foliage, ancient ruin buildings, sunken ships and boats, a volcano, and more down there for you to explore. She has also placed ancient treasure chests that you can plunder for many of her wonderful creations. You will also find Nemo-themed vehicles through out the display.

I am not big on hunts because I get discouraged too quickly, but this one is such fun. You walk among the ruins, the lovely sea plants, and search for the treasure chests. Every time I go there I find something new. There are mermaids, divers, amazing fish and other sea life. I was lucky enough to run into a flying fish, and that fish turned out to be the artist creator of this amazing exhibit.

Aley told me about herself. This is not her first life in Second Life. She has had about five avatars and has left SL several times, but is always drawn back. You may recall Arcadia Asylum, well, that is Aley. Arcadia was her first account and at that time she worked in hobo and grunge. I first saw that work near in the Hobo Railway Infohub, a railway stop in Caletta. I had been there before I realized it was her work. You can still find her early and present works all free at the Library and Museum at .

That is one more thing I learned. Everything Aley makes is free and transferable and she considers it open source. She loves to see others use her creations and even improve on them if that is possible. ”I love the most when people make better stuff from all the junk,” she said. Aley was great fun to talk to. She took me to see the new mer house that she has put in the sea recently. It is cute an delightful.

Regarding her works, she says, “everything in SL is very transitory, but the web saves it all. This account I started a sort of clockwork punk theme then totally sidetracked into aquatics.” She would love to see her aquatic work all over the Second Life seas. It is too bad it cannot be placed in the Blake seas to be admired by all, she told me, “Well I have been trapped in SL for some 7 years now so my only goal is just to litter the grid with my prims. I tried to escape SL 3 times.“

I love it! You really need to visit the spectacular Sea of Aley. When you arrive you will be on land. just jump in and have a great time. She is sharing the sim with her friend Mcarp. I will tell you about that part next (before you jump, in there is one treasure chest on land in the lighthouse).

Gemma Cleanslate