Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Xymbers' Avatar Reviews: The DreamCrawler Dragon

By Xymbers Slade

Waltzing about the social islands one afternoon I ran into a mesh dragon that looked remarkably like a Seawolf, and I went "Oh, did Seawolf update their dragons to mesh?" -- well, they didn't; this dragon is by DreamCrawler, and at a hefty pricetag of $4700L (!), you're going to have to decide for yourself whether the price is worth the avatar. According to the 50-some positive reviews for the various breeds of this particular dragon (for each breed), I'd say the avatar creator is making quite a lot of $L.

This dragon follows the rest of the DreamCrawler line of avatars; you buy the dragon and get a few "soul gems" that determine its color (buying a dragon gets three gems, each with a different base texture that goes over the dragon mesh). You wear the dragon (itself a solid black blob until you pop in a soul gem), wear the variety of horns (several types) or ear fins (one type) you like, then wear a soul gem and boom, the dragon mesh is colored. This dragon currently has three styles: "Nocte" (mostly reds, oranges and blacks, making me think of volcanic dragons), "Voluptas" (Purples and blues that make me think ice or crystal), and "Marenostrum" (blues and whites mostly, ice drakes).

I grabbed myself a Nocte, popped in a soul gem and went to wander some sims. The animations on it are exceptionally well done and I got a lot of compliments on it. If anyone whined, it was about how the claws appeared "clipped" instead of full-on claws, but you can only do so much with mesh and that's just a minor thing. Flying is good, and every so often the animation has the dragon doing a little mid-air flip if you're hovering idle somewhere. The dragon does not come with a saddle but I think with a little bit of work one could be modified to work with the dragon. The breath weapon is customizable, with three different breaths (fire, frost, or poison gas), and the colors of the breath weapon are editable (one color for starting particles, one for ending particles).

It's not without its flaws. The hud has an expressions tab that has the names of the expressions in a tiny, almost unreadable font that almost requires the hud be resized, especially if someone has bad eyesight (on the plus side, my experience was that dreamcrawler avatar huds are slow to respond... not so with this one). When in flight, the head bobs and weaves, meaning you're not getting a direct line from your breath weapon, but a spray/blast all over the place like a firehose. There's no talkjaw, but this seems to be a theme with mesh objects, so I can let that slide. If you want more colors you have to buy more soul gems, and last I checked, extra color schemes were $999L each for a pack of 3. That's expensive when the easier way would be to add a colorchange hud like the mesh dinosaurs of Prehistorica... which would allow for individual customization of various parts of the dragon rather than just layering over one color scheme.

If anything, the real "flaw" is its price. I do not think any avatar with the current level of SL-tech is worth nearly $5000L. A well made dragon like the dragon from Spider Productions is half that (and has options for biped or quad when the Dreamcrawler is just a quad), and this DreamCrawler dragon certainly fits the definition of well-made. That's really the only reason (other than the "blurry" low rez hud, or at least it was blurry to me) that it gets Four Dragon Hoards out of five. If you can afford it, great, because you won't be unimpressed by it. If you can't afford it, there are cheaper just as good mesh dragons out there.

The Dreamcrawler dragon can be found on the Marketplace (here).

Friday, December 26, 2014

Interview With Lestat Zalivstok, Owner of the Winter Ice Rock Fest and Rebel Yells Concerts Sims

By Wesley Regenbogen

Wesley Regenbogen: Hello there Lestat
Lestat Zalivstok: Hello Wesley
Wesley Regenbogen: Who created the Winter Ice Rock Fest sim, more precisely the Rebel Yells Concerts sim?
Lestat Zalivstok: The sim has been created and decorated by myself and GuiltyAngel Rhapsody another owner, we are also owner of the Tribute band Rebel Yell Concerts, the N.1 Tribute band in SL with over 3000 members in group, and that's why the name of the sim is Rebel Yell Concerts.
Wesley Regenbogen: When was the sim created ?
Lestat Zalivstok: Me and GuiltyAngel are owners since a year and a half together with Monia63 Dirval.
Wesley Regenbogen: The place is Christmas themed. Who came up with the idea to create a Christmas themed sim anyway ?
 Lestat Zalivstok: This sim is a multi-event sim and (we will) change this environment following the major festivities. On Christmas is Christmas and winter themed, yes. The idea came to all of us owners so me Guilty and Monia.
Wesley Regenbogen: Did you also do all of the decorative things in the sim ?
Lestat Zalivstok: Yes myself and GG (Guilty) personally decorated the whole sim. Our goal was to have a photorealistic sim so we spent a lot to have the best trees the best looking ice textures the best houses and chalets etc. etc.
Wesley Regenbogen: Is the sim available all the time, or are there times when it's not available for Second Life Residents?
Lestat Zalivstok: All the time available and it appears on the SL Destination Guide
Wesley Regenbogen: Are there any other events taking place in the near future or what concerts are taking place in the upcoming weeks?

Lestat Zalivstok: We have concerts on monthly bases here brought by our company Rebel Yell Concerts, the latest ones was last Sunday Bonjovi and Iron Maiden tributes... We will have more shows on January, including one for the 3rd Rebel Yell birthday in the weekend 9/10/11, probably a Depeche Mode tribut, and more during that month not yet scheduled
Wesley Regenbogen: What makes your place special, what features does it have that no other places have?
Lestat Zalivstok: A very unique photorealistic look. It looks a real village, no fake textures or fake trees. The nature is 100% realistic and so is the rest of the landscape and buildings... Moreover it has basically almost all the winter sports available here, skating, sledding, etc. (We have) a real mountain built, or better say terraformed, by Guiltyangel Rhapsody, where you ski just like in real-life. And we are the one and only sim featuring a very good looking and realistic ski rail which brings you to the ski mountain.
The skating is very realistic too. You can skate using your own hud, or you can use one of the 4-tour on skates that makes you go around the huge skating rink in couple or single.

Wesley Regenbogen: Thank you for this short interview. I wish you the best of luck with the concerts and the sim in whole.
Lestat Zalivstok: Thanx a lot.

Wesley Regenbogen

Monday, December 15, 2014

Xymbers' Avatar Reviews

By Xymbers Slade

It's been a long time since I went avatar hunting (or really, anything hunting since there's really nothing in SL I need at this point), but I'd heard of two locations with mesh avatars that sounded popular, and so I decided I'd check them out. The first location is The 5th Wolf, a place with a couple of mesh avatars and some clothes for the (non-mesh) 1st Act werewolf avatar. 5th Wolf has two avatars, a wolf and a minotaur, so I bought them both (at $2000L a pop) and decided to have myself a look.

First, the Wolf. It comes with two types, "Beast" and "Normal", which don't seem to be different at all except one might be a little bit larger than the other and might be better working or something depending on the AO used. Said wolf does NOT come with its own animation override. It also puts you into a very wide stance when you first wear it, which made me go "???" and tilt my head for a minute or two. While it has no AO of its own, the notecard suggests the "Vista Animations Beast Ao-vo1" (L$ 399 according to the notecard). It is RARE that you don't see anyone include animations in their work these days, but according to Karolline Khandr, the creator, "I don't know anyone who does animations." We can only be good at what we know (smile). The other big negative to this wolf is that there is no talkjaw... the mouth doesn't move. They're working on it, from what I've been told.

On the good side, the mesh looks awesome. Probably one of the best meshes I've seen yet, very detailed without looking like someone just painted a picture onto and over a blob of a mesh and called it good. Still, the programming "feels clunky" when I move without an AO, and the HUD was a bit slow to respond in some places. To be honest, at 2000 $L, with no AO and a lack of a talkjaw, it does feel unfinished (or underfinished). So I can't give it the best rating. I want to give it 4 Dragon Hoards out of five... but I just can't. This one gets 3 Dragon Hoards out of five, and that's pushing it.

The other avatar is the "Ukko Minotaur." It comes with two different forms, one with hair and attachments, and one without. It also comes in two sizes (big and slightly less big). It took me a little bit to figure out, especially since the box I purchased was of an old version and it had yet to update. There's still no AO or talkjaw on this one, but it does have an option to remove the horns (especially since some of its costumes, sold separately, come with another set of horns). There's options for skin coloring (four different variables), horn coloring (three) and eye color (four) and here the effort shows; it's as if the creator learned from whatever mistakes or whatever they ran into when creating the wolf. I'm going to give the Ukko Minotaur a good 4 Dragon Hoards out of Five.

Finally we have the last of the avatars I'm reviewing today, the mesh KOT Centaur. I pulled out my dark elf shaman avatar, strapped her into the equine body, and...

First, there's a demo you can get. The demo disappears if taken outside the sim, and only shows the mesh color on one side of it while you're exploring the coats. After getting the real thing, I found the avatar itself has 16 coat options, from black to seal to palomino to Pinkie Pie Pink. The skins are bought with "tokens" you can buy on the marketplace, but I didn't see such option or thing there and could freely cycle through the coats at whim. So I do not know if this is an idea that was abandoned mid-stride, or if the HUD I have somehow has access to all of the skins. You begin with the "Seal" skin (a dark brown) and get one token to start (I bought a "Rocky Mountain Black" skin with it); extra tokens supposedly cost $350 on the marketplace.

The notecard suggests that you should "always detatch the av via the hud" or it causes AO conflicts. I've never heard or seen something like that happen and I didn't have it happen to me when I switched avatars and back, so that is a plus (or maybe I don't use enough AOs... heh). The one glaring problem I DID have is that the arms lock whenever you click on something, freezing in the point animation and requiring a detatchment of the equine body or even a relog to reset. And even then, the arms seem to be "locked" in place. If you type and have the typing animation on, the arms will freeze mid-type when you're done. I had an extra AO from elsewhere I could use to reset the arms' position, but your mileage will vary. Is it a good mesh with good movement animations and clopping sounds while you're moving? Yes. Is it worth $2000L with a glaring "bug" like the arms locking? No. Thus, four dragon Hoards out of Five.

The 5th Wolf and the Ukko Minotaur can be found at the Waterton Commerce sim (57,224,2300) and the KOT Stables can be found at the The Triquetra sim (223,103,23).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Firestorm: A First Look at a Third-Party Viewer for Second Life

By Wesley Regenbogen
Many new users usually use the Second Life Viewer from Linden Lab after they signed up. I myself used it for many, many, many years used the standard Second Life Viewer from Linden Lab. But a few days ago, I downloaded and installed FireStorm Viewer. This is the most popular of the alternative, or third-party, viewers.
The installation process is painless (read : very easy) and the first time you run it, you get a login screen like you had with the Second Life Viewer, but there’s a difference, you can change the mode of FireStorm Viewer. You can go into : FireStorm, Phoenix, Viewer 3, Hybrid and Latency. I have only tested two modes: FireStorm and Phoenix mode. Both work smoothly.
The Standard Viewer uses the “Pie menu”, like it was used in older Second Life Viewers. Personally, I turned that option off, because I didn’t like the “Pie menu” that much. But you can leave it turned on, if you wish, of course. It’s a user preference thing, you know.
You can also choose other worlds to view as well : InWorldz and many others, which I don’t really know about. But we are on Second Life, so I suggest to leave it set for here. Once logged in into Second Life you will notice the HUD of the Viewer is totally different if you're used to the Linden Lab Second Life Viewer. But don’t panic or be afraid, you will get used to it sooner or later.
You will see buttons at the bottom of your screen, you can change them if you wish with things you use the most. At the left of those buttons, you will see a field to type in your text in Nearby Chat. But you can also click the text balloon icon and chat from there, it will open a small window called “Nearby Chat’.
So, you see FireStorm Viewer has much more ways to use different features.
At the left of your screen you will see an icon : if you click that it will open the “Destinations” windows where you can choose from the list to view other places.
As mentioned earlier, there are buttons at the bottom of the Viewer screen ( here’s a little explaination of the icons. I will only review the most used by most residents ) :
  • The “briefcase” icon, will open your inventory.
  • The “Search” icon, will open Second Life Search.
  • The “map” icon will give you a map according to where you are in Second Life now
  • The “minimap” icon, will show a minimap of the surrounding areas you are currently in.
  • The “People” icon, will allow you to view who of your friends is online and which residents are nearby and also you can access your groups here.
  • The “eye” icon, let’s you control the camera options and adjust the camera around your avatar.
  • The “microphone” icon, will let you speak with your microphone in-world.
  • The “headphones” icon, will let you hear voices nearby and let you morph your voice and things like that.
  • The “Facebook” icon, obviously let’s you share things on Facebook.

You are able to change the icons that you want to be placed at the bottom of the GUI.

In my personal opinion, this is much better than Linden Lab’s Second Life Viewer. More options, more privacy protection and more customizable.

More information about FireStorm Viewer can be found at :
If you decide to use this Viewer, have fun with it !
Wesley Regenbogen