Friday, June 26, 2015

The Girls Who Can’t Do Math – Relay Wizards for Spunky Speed Build

By DrFran Babcock

The excellent residents at Builders Brewery have been generous in offering their sim so that the Relay Wizards for Spunky could hold a week of events to raise money for the American Cancer Society. We have a silent auction, a few dances, and the week will culminate in a huge dance that really going to be a pajama party.

Anhayla Lycia is our master builder and a veteran of numerous Speed Builds. She and I set out to create a Speed Build for our week of events. The event was held on Wednesday, June 24, 2015.

What Is Speed Build?

You have missed out on one of the best uses of Second Life if you have never attended or competed in a Speed Build. Contestant arrange themselves on prim platforms and as the event starts they are given a theme. The build begins, and goes on for a specified time after which the builds are judged (usually by the audience), and prizes are awarded based on the votes. Different contests have different rules, but the format is generally the same.

For our Speed Build we decided that all prims had to be original and that sadly no mesh could be used because it could not be created on the spot. We did allow sculpts provided they were created by the person competing.

Our Math

Anhayla and I are creatives, which often, but not always, implies less skill with numbers. We decided on very generous prizes for the winners of the contest: 2000L for the winner, 1000L for second place, and 500L for third place, for a total of 3500L in prizes. We each contributed that money.

Our plan was to have contestants “buy” a build platform from a Relay for Life vendor in order to participate in the Speed Build. By this time you are starting to see the potential for problems, which is that we would have to have a lot of entries to break even. To make a profit, even more entries would be required.

The Event

On the evening of the event we had already spammed Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google+, the Builders Brewery, Relay for Life Volunteers, and Thinkerer Melvilles entertainment groups.  At the start of the contest we had six very enthusiastic builders, and a large audience of residents in the seats usually used by the Show and Tell event (Sundays at 1PM SL).

In my opinion, building events such as classes and contests, showcase on the best features of Second Life—you can build and build and create here, and your results are immediately visible and usable. Prims may be old technology, but they are still a wonder.

The theme for the builders was: The Future is Now. You may know that this is the same as the theme of the 2015 Relay for Life in Second Life. Anhayla told the builders they had 50 minutes to build, and we began the competition.

The audience seemed to be delighted with the activity and cheered on their favorite builders. When time was up the audience walked around the builds and noted their favorites. They instant messaged their choices to Anhayla who tallied them up, and the winners were announced:

First Prize: Trixie Seomun for her steampunk gears turning the globe

Second Prize: Toxic Darkmatter for her computer with a hand coming out of it.
Third Prize: Anthony (ADudeNamed Anthony)

The other contestants in the contest were cuddly waffle (Barry’s Coffee Shop), A Rose by another name (bellarosamaria) for her sky balloon, and Thickbrick Sleaford (Futuristic skyscraper).  

The Results

Thanks to ADudeNamed Anthony for donating his winnings back to the Relay For Life team kiosk. Aside from that, we lost money on this event. However, it was the most fun I have had in SL in a long time, and Blue Myanamoto (another Relay Wizards for Spunky team member) and I are considering asking Builders Brewery if we can turn this into a regular event. Speed Builds are fun.

Please see the photos for the work of these accomplished builders. Bellarosamaria showed up almost an hour early, and although a newer builder, she gave it her all.

Thanks to Builders Brewery for allowing us to use their land.

Thanks, Doc

DrFran Babcock

Monday, June 22, 2015

SL12B : First Impressions

by DrFran Babcock

This is the first SL Birthday that I have ever attended without reading everything I could find before entering. I usually have a build as well, that allows me early entry, and the ability to preview everything, and to know what is going on from lurking on the group builder chat.

This year I am so busy with First Life that I entered the sims on Press Day, and had the “kid in the candy shop” feel of seeing a vast world for the first time. I had no preconceived notions, no advance plans to see any particular build (beside SLNewser, cough, cough), and I got to wander around, and look at whatever shiny thing caught my eye. Thus, what follows is very much based on the few builds I saw after I landed, and teleported around randomly.

I love the theme What Dreams May Come, because it allows all the exhibitors to unleash their creativity—something they seem to do regardless of the theme. Below are two exhibits that exemplify the best the best of this world of wonder and intelligence.

Asmita’s Dream by Asmita Duranjaya (

I was drawn to this parcel as I flew around SL12B because of the bright pink and magenta patterns and turrets. I landed in a whirl of fractals and dance balls. Asmita is a Second Life™ artist who has exhibited at a lot of venues in world, including the Linden Endowment for the Arts:

The build in SL12B is very pink, and full of fractals. My very first build at Burning Life in 2006—which was called Burning Life back then, and not Burn—was made of walls covered with fractals, so I was drawn to it from the start.

There is no great, deep message here. This is a place to come and enjoy, and the dance balls make it clear that we are meant to have fun in this pink paradise. I hope you will come and do just that.

The Stuff of Dreams – iSkye Silverweb ( )

For the most part, when you wander SL12B you have no idea who has created the plots you are visiting. I use the inspect tool in the viewer. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the giant green bed to which I was drawn had been built by iSkye Silverweb. I know iSkye for her tireless work with Gentle Heron and Virtual Ability, and have noted that as time has passed she has developed into a competent and creative builder.

What I really liked about this build was that it had been well thought out with the theme in mind. It had a completeness to it that was probably attributable to the use of color, and the scale of the objects. The giant bed is more than pretty; it’s fun. You can jump on it all you want and your mom won’t tell you to stop. Here are iSkye’s words about the exhibit, taken from the notecard on her parcel.

        This world teems with life, with variety, with possibilities. There is so much to do and see and experience that one person cannot possibly do it all in just one lifetime. The world is just too big. But we can dream, and some of our dreams can actually come to pass. Wishes we had when we were young, but as we got older they became less important to us. Then we have other dreams to pursue... Life is about things we imagine, that become real. Have you ever rested on a hill watching clouds go by, lost in daydreams? Perhaps your dreams talk to you at night, in the moments between waking and sleeping? Life is constant change, always seeking...something. Our wishes and hopes may change, but the magic stays with us. Our lives can be the stuff of dreams.

The display is cut into two diagonally, with the bed on one side, and a dark green forest with candles on the other. It is meditative and speaks to the hope of dreams. I spoke briefly with iSkye and she was eager to answer any questions I had, but it seemed to me that her creation had said it all.

Come to SL12B

SL12B will be running all week with exhibits, interview shows, music, comedy and the final realization that, as iSkye asserts: “…the magic stays with us.”

DrFran Babcock

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ocho Tango

By Ozymandus

Digital Art - Cammino e Vivo Capovolto , Blossom Land (121, 123, 25) also known as "Ocho Tango" is a visually compelling sim that combines the surreal elegance of Salvador Dali with the dark horror of Francisco Goya. Death surrounds you in this abstract world as silent stone titans rise up from a misty swamp, their bodies pierced with arrows, their limbs twisted with despair as they hold the shattered remains of fallen lovers.
When I first arrived at Ocho Tango the sim offered the option of automatically adjusting the wind light settings and, for those of you who are visiting Ocho Tango for the first time I recommend you click "yes" as the sim designer clearly had a strong vision of how he wanted the environment to be experienced. However, for those of you traveling to the sim to create your own photographic masterpieces, don't be afraid to play around with the ambient color setting or the reflective quality of the water.
After wandering around the sim I found that Ocho Tango attracts people of different nationalities. Russian, Japanese, Italian, German and French explorers all seemed to congregate in a countryside cantina, resting on a hill over looking the colossal works of art. It is here the explorers of the sim chat and dance tangos to a romantic soundscape that includes songs by Astor Piazzolla, Julio Iglasias, Caro Emerald and Bajofondo.
"This is a wonderful place!" DonDMarco from St. Petersberg, Russia declared. "Beautiful scenery, music and aura!"

"the reason for the popularity of the sim, I think that regardless of nationality, culture and religion is something that brings people together, it's music, dance, around the world there are many fans of tango, I'm one of them"  His compatriot, Confessa, explained.

Colin Mohindi from France echoed this sentiment; "I like its old feeling perfume, its style from past, it is original place, and dances are nice"

Kamilla Vayandar of Italy agrees; "I love this sim, I decorated mine in the same way, but most of all i love the atmosphere, and the music ... it reminds me of a lost ballroom in Patagonia"
My own impression of Ocho Tango is that it is a place where time stands still and visitors can escape into a simpler world where the sway of dry grass mirrors the movements of the dancers as they linger in a lazy embrace. Content to simply, exist the sentiment of the day seems to be “C’est la vie!” as one gazes out onto a marsh of crumbling statues until the eye is slowly drawn to a murder of crows, circling over the body of a decapitated woman, whose head has been severed, not by the sword or the guillotine, but by a tool as common as a garden shovel. 
Blossom Land (121, 123, 25)


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Real Life Businesses in Second Life (2008)

Second Life was much more in the public eye than it is now, seen as the darling of the tech media, and attracting attention among those whom would ordinarily dismiss such things as "geeky." It was to the point real life businesses wondered if they could use Second Life as a means to make money. I myself saw numerous companies such as Circuit City, Manpower, IBM, and many others here. Among these were car companies. In March 2008, James and Dana decided to take a look at the virtual cars these companies were putting on the market here. This article was originally published March 28 2008.

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Recently James and I set out to look at the real businesses in our virtual world, mainly looking at the car industry. We are all aware of the hype surrounding a new RL business coming into SL, and lately, more often pulling out of Second Life, Mercedes are the latest to announce their departure after Pontiac.

My honest opinion? Considering I am a non driver in RL I had a great deal of fun! Zipping around the tracks trying out the huge loop-the-loop on Nissan island, finding the code to get your own free car or answering the challenge of Mazda, jump the gap and keep the car :) (It took James 3 tries LOL)

From what we saw Nissan have certainly got the right idea of how to show their product to its best advantage with plenty of information and a lot of fun activities which had kept people coming to the sim even though there were no staff on hand at any time we visited, there were still avatars having fun. The only disappointment was the boxy look of the virtual model, with sculpties nowadays a better model could be constructed although the internal detail was good. Mazda also was populated and set in beautiful surroundings too. The Mazda Hakaze was also one of the best built representations we saw, although, only having a simple drive script it may have limited real drivers enjoyment.

Peugeot disappointingly were actually selling their models rather than giving them away and we were quickly bored, very much set out as a RL showroom - yes there was a road but if you wanted to see it you had to get a bike since you couldn't Rez your car to get around. All in all a disappointment they obviously had spent no time in SL and had no idea how to best use it to sell their product.

How should Real businesses set about using Second Life? Well I am no marketing expert but if you don't make it fun and give people something to do then you are unlikely to succeed. You need to provide the information in a fun and interesting way, I believe Nissan have seen the possibilities the best out of the ones we visited, closely followed by Mazda.

To an extent it's the same as browsing the Internet for information on cars, BUT its much more fun and relaxed, Why go to a stuffy showroom if you can walk on a tropical beach and and enjoy the looks of your new car at sunset?

Can Second Life be used to sell real products? I believe it can if it is done in the right way. Just don't take us all for suckers and give us some real info to go with the free models!


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Real life companies more often than not found Second Life a confusing place. It didn't help that most didn't try to recruit local talent, but try and learn and do things on their own. As James and Dana wrote, the results were often disappointing for Second Life residents and real life companies themselves as they didn't get the results they desired. Eventually, the car companies would move on, leaving the Second Life auto market to local talent.