Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tiny Empires

About a month or so ago, I was pointed at the in-game game known as Tiny Empires. It's a simple turn-based hud game where you, in the role of lord and liege, need to gain land and gold (usually for a lord and liege that you're sworn to). The more gold and land you gain, the higher in rank you achieve.

You start as a Wanderer, and can advance all the way up to Queen or King of your own kingdom. As of this writing, I was a few acres of land shy of Prince; I've got a LONG way to go before I make King --- I have a gold amount in the hundreds of thousands; most of the Queens of the kingdom I am in are well into the millions and -make- millions per turn.

The first thing that I saw upon playing is that in order for you to get subjects of your own (or to swear yourself to a liege), you need to find a player who also has the hud attached --- all subjects and lieges in the game are other residents of Second Life. Then you stand near them and when a turn passes, the opportunity comes up to become their liege or subject (depending on rank). This can be good if you're social and hang out in a lot of social areas (where there might be many people playing at once, but if you're a social recluse like myself, you might have trouble finding a liege or subjects. Fortunately, there is a Tiny Empires Recruiters group you can join in order to look for other players.

The game has a trial period, after which you'll have to pay 800 $L to get the full version. For another 600 $L after that, you can upgrade to the Federation version, which offers a LOT more options (The Alchemist, a Festival every now and then, the ability to form Alliances with other players, and the Path to Royalty among them). You'd need to upgrade to the full version first before buying the Federation version, however.

During the game, the hud often will pose a "vote", or an event will happen that gives you gold (a "gold windfall"). So far there aren't any events that I've seen that drain gold (except if you bet wrong on someone during a festival). If your vote is in the majority, the Emperor will give you an amount of gold (and sometimes a kitten, I guess he's a cat person). Gold gained seems to be in proportion to the amount of land you hold; the more land you have, the richer you get.

Sometimes the Trader will show up (again, price of his item is based on land), and other times the Alchemist will show up ("The moon shimmers with a red glow") so if you somehow earned an item known as a Gold Bar, you can trade it to the Alchemist for a potion of some kind. Some potions grant gold windfalls, others protect you from "sabotage" (where another player damages your land and you lose up to about six or seven acres, and it can rebound against you!), and still other potions could get you more land the next time your Liege grants a land tract to all of their subjects under them.

After playing it for a month, I've found it's addicting enough for me to keep playing because I ended up in a group with a lot of nice people in it --- you can meet a lot of new friends this way. There are not a lot of events or variations of the vote, so you'll see a lot (and I mean a LOT) of the same stuff. It's also exponential --- the more you buy land, the more expensive the next acre of land is and the more expensive other things are as well. At the time I write this, an acre of land costs me 537,000 gold and the next one will be even more expensive. I think this game has the serious potential for improvement if the Emperor (Ultralite Soleil, the man behind it all) finds time to code in more features into the hud.

One thing made me think. What's to stop someone from making a lot of alts and using those as subjects and allies, padding someone's gold and land stash? I asked Ultralite Soleil this, and he basically said "Nothing's stopping people from doing that, but it ruins the spirit of the game." I like his honesty about that; rather than fight a losing battle against billions of alts, admit it's a problem and that if people want to do it that way, then fine. :)

I'm going to give the game Four Dragon Hoards out of five. It's fun enough to keep playing even if it is a bit on the repeating side. You can find it at the Kitster sim (149,42,53) and the $L cost is well worth it. There is also Tiny Empires 3000, which is essentially Tiny Empires in a space theme instead of medieval one.

Xymbers Slade

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monarch Motorcars - Drive One Home Today!

In an impressive showroom with glistening white and black tiles, an inviting red carpet and the latest luxury motorcars, you will find Yorba Naidoo. Dressed in his best business suit, he will introduce you to everything your heart desires in a quality automobile.

Packard was America's Rolls Royce, beginning in the 1900's. Naidoo fell in love with the line after attending a car show as a child. "It was all about quality and that's what I have tried to be inspired by ... or as much as 32 prims per car will allow me," he joked.

He joined Second Life two years ago, wandering around the many communities until he met Monica Weir of Weir's Way Commerce. She took him under her wing and taught him how to build. JonyBlade Codesmith, with The Guided Tour Company, does his scripts.

"Quality is in the eye of the beholder. I would say, once I had built these models in the early fall of this year, I felt like I had accomplished something I could be proud of and they started selling well," he explained, while adjusting his tie. He admits that patience isn't one of his strongest traits, but you wouldn't know it when you see the exceptional detail of his models.

Beginning with a picture of the actual automobile, he will start the building process and change the car as he goes along. The first model in his line was The Black Monarch Imperial Limousine V12. It's a sleek ride that's the cat's meow. "It took one month of hard work," stated Naidoo, "It's the flagship of the Monarch DVG Brand. "Some parts, like a real life car maker, only have to be made once. Otherwise I rebuild to suit."

Monarch Motorcars' main showroom, located on the sim Mobilis has been in business for two months. A second location has been established in Chicago. It's straight down the street from the jazz club. His line features a handsome variety of roadsters to limousines, for the working man to the collector. You'll be sitting pretty when you pull up to your favorite club. The line includes a Monarch Imperial Cabriolet Limousine, a Wedding Town Car, 500HS Roadster, Town and Country Station Wagon, even a taxi cab for the working man.

The motorcars are precisely designed, textured and scripted to enhance your driving experience here in Chicago. Getting married and looking for that special car to drive to your honeymoon? Then check out the luxurious Monarch Imperial with a rich white and beige interior, a texture change option "Just Married" sign and the Wedding March as an option. Seats three, all four doors open and the wheels spin when you drive.

The Monarch Snow Tracker and Police Cruiser are his newer models. One look at the fine craftsmanship of the luxury or practical working car and you'll know you made the right choice in selecting a Monarch.

"Building cars is my passion and seeing other people enjoy them is a huge thrill," he said with smile.

By Netera Landar

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ready to Mezmerize! A Preview of SL8B

The place is massive!! The magic is there . The builds are magnificent. The sims are named appropriately: Stupendous, Mesmerize, Stunning, Pizzazz to name a few. Each one is filled with builds that you will absolutely love. I spent some time talking to some of the builders about their creations.

I met Master Kaos and Cherub Spectre, builders of Octoverville's display. Miss Cherub told me, “We are sponsoring the SL8B MegaHunt. Octoberville was the creators of the 1st scavenger hunt in SL, so this build is based around that and includes the SL8B MegaHunt. This sign behind me portrays how anyone can 'make it' in Second Life, as we were only a couple weeks old when we built our first Octoberville and it was featured in the Second Opinion, the LL Newsletter, which you can see the archived version on that prim back there. Torley Linden was very nice to dig that up for me.” Be sure to stop over there and visit the exhibit in Magnificent and look in all the sims for hunt items

I ran into a tiny, Morton Wheels, standing in front of his motor shop in the Impressive sim. Maymay Matova, another of the builders said this is “A place where you get an impression of biker life in Second Life. Sit beside our campfire and don´t forget to grab our free SL8B biker boots and cap! Check our landmarks to biker sims, grab your bike, ride on the streets and feel like easy rider. Isn´t this like magic? ” Morton morphed from a tiny to his biker self. You can find their pictures on the poster in the front of the exhibit in case they are not around when you visit. There will be lots of entertainment listed in the events both sl8b arranged or on the parcels.

Next I met Dagoth Graves in front of his Entertainment place. “ I will be having a few Draco live performers here doing small shows throughout the SL8 event, Bruce Scrabblebat, Jody Mubble (Y-Factor), StevenJaimz Hunniton, CelticMaidenWarrior Lancaster and a few others,” he told me. Look for his place in Impresssive.

There are so many wonderful places and freebies. I took a lovely pod tour which informed me about some of the exhibitors and what was going on in that area. Look for it. It will open on Monday as you know and I warn you to come low prim and as unscripted as you can. Have a wonderful time! I will be reporting on more goings on as the week progresses. Look for me in the sims. I will be a greeter and wearing a snail avatar and I will look for you too!

Gemma Cleanslate

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Bergons: Second Life's Newest Pet Dragon

While out visiting Caledon the other day, one of the residents got into a huuuuuuuuuuuge dragon, larger than even the Seawolves I've written about before (not much bigger, but it WAS bigger). It looked like something out of the Isle of Wyrms (same visual feel at first glance, anyway), and after engaging the avatar's owner in some dialogue and doing an object profile to see who made it, headed to the EQuality and Teagan sims to have myself a look.

What I found were the Bregons, which are small breedables of the same kind of breedable thing that everyone seems to be into these days. I knew there were horses and rabbits out by various makers, it was only logical that the fire-spewing beasts of lore were not far behind. I've never understood the thrill of having breedables, as they're usually physical objects that aren't (in my opinion) animated very well and lag down the sim that they're on. Then again, I fell for the My Little Pony craze earlier, so it's pot calling kettle black. :)

The Bregons are listed as being able to grow from hatchling to breedable. All you need to start is an egg and some "food", both purchasable from the sim the Bregons are sold. After clicking on the egg, it hatches after a given amount of time (I have not experimented with it) into a female or male with a 50/50 chance of either. As long as the "food" is close by, the dragon will continue to grow from hatchling, to baby, to youth, to adult, to breedable. As the Bregons I saw roaming the sim were all the static, moving-in-spurts-poorly-animated variety (Four-legged non-avatars are not SL's specialty, it's the same reason I have yet to see centaurs done well) and I remembered from my early days in SL how much I didn't like what breedable dragons there were at the time, I was not interested in them too much.

The notecard I got for the Bregons says that it takes 12 hours after a dragon hatches (with "food nearby) to become a Baby. Babies come in 135 different random skins, 115 different eye textures, 34 spike textures (with 4 main different shapes), and 60 different wing textures. All generated randomly, therefore the chance to get the same one is very low. I went down the notecard and it looks like there are various "types" of Bregons: A, B, H, and J (with sub-types A+, B+,H+, J+, A++,B++,J++, H++, and 6 queens). What followed was a lengthy list of what happens when you cross one breed with another, which made me think of some kind of genetics chart listing -all- possibilities. Well-thought out, at any rate.

After the baby hatches, it takes 5 days to turn a baby dragon to a youth. Then another 10 days after that, from youth to adult. After that, -75- days to go from Adult to Rideable and Eternal (20% chance; Eternals don't die). The food bowls only last fifteen days, meaning you need to buy more in order to make sure the dragon grows to full size. They stop growing if they run out of food (I don't know if they can die, but I did not test them out on my own as I am not going to spend all that time waiting for them to grow).

With timers like that, I am wondering why one would go through all the patience required to get their very own breedable dragon, when there are already many breedable avatars out there (both the Seawolves and Spider Productions dragon avatars have rezzable saddles, for example). I asked the sim owner (ED Exodus), and he said "The whole point of doing them was for fun really, but I was shocked how huge the breedable market is in SL and how fast it grows. I agree with you that getting an av dragon that you can ride will be much cheaper, but I can say 90% of the people buying Bregons are not looking at them as a rideable dragon... more than just a way to do business and money."

The Bregons also have a "breeder" (which I think is sold separately, as I didn't stick around long enough to check), which naturally requires a male and a female Bregon to be close to each other in-world in order to "breed" and produce a new egg. The Bregons are labeled to be transfer, from eggs to full grown rideables, so that is definitely an unusual way to start up a business breeding different eggs and trying to catch them all, so to speak.

While camming around the sim I came across a Staff of Jewels. Apparently if you have the staff (500L) rezzed, the dragons generate points toward free Bregons products and merchandise. I could see an idea like that being very beneficial to several other businesses. I also came across a series of one-time-use jewels (100L per Jewel) that enable you to change the look and appearance of all Bregons in its radius in various ways (different jewels for wings, spikes, etc). Naturally, a hud of some kind would be easier, but sims ain't going to support themselves on their own! ;)

I'm going to give this a guarded Four Dragon Hoards out of five. This guy obviously put in a LOT of work to make these two sims work into a bustling business (he did say he was surprised by the way the breedables took off in SL). He is obviously Doing Something Right. Breedables in general are not my thing, but if you're into the breedables, then visiting the EQuality and Teagan sims, where these things are sold, might be something to check out.

Xymbers Slade