Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Unmissable Art for January

By Klaus Bereznyak

Every month is probably a good one for art addicts in Second Life; there's always something going on. For those who want to keep a finger on the pulse and don't mind several group messages a day, groups like "Culture and Fun" keep up well with new exhibits opening and other arty events. It can also be difficult knowing where to start, and the ones shouting the loudest are not always the most satisfying to encounter. Of course, personal taste varies and, while I enjoy finding things that make me sit up and take notice, I am no art critic. For what it's worth, here are just three of my 'unmissables' for this month.

Paula Cloudpainter: "Clouds Meeting Water" at Visions of Beauty

The Visions of Beauty art complex is a good place to start exploring the variety of artists in Second Life. The two buildings contain multiple levels of galleries with different artists in residence and a turnover of exhibitions.

The latest exhibition from Paula Cloudpainter opened earlier this month and features beautiful, light canvases of sky and land.
The pictures are arranged on the open roof of the building, with the sky making a perfect backdrop, so they seem to blend into the distance. Paula's bio states, "My canvases are about transitions. How light changes… how moods change…how the universe moves. Sometimes subtle… other times dramatic… change is happening all around us every moment of every day. My artwork speaks to that idea. Clouds provide a perfect vehicle for that expression."

Paula has been working on these pictures since early 2017, using a variety of mediums, digital and 'real'. She tells me all of her artworks start as watercolors, oil paintings and drawings created in RL. When she brings them inworld, she enjoys the possibilities of there being "no gravity" in SL, so elements can float in the air without wires, or be given a stronger three dimensional aspect. She takes her sketchbooks everywhere and intends to continue "exploring the motifs and possibilities of cloudscapes and landscapes".

"The three square watercolors are from my sketchbooks, where I often make notes about the scene directly on the painting. These sketches often serve as inspiration and reference for larger canvases."
Paula tells me that some of the pictures have stories behind them. "Empty World," A canvas that stands out with the depth of its blues, depicting the world as if from space, was inspired by a song by Second Life musician David Csizer. David then picked out a picture he liked from the selection and wrote a song about it. The two pictures are side by side. Paula is infectiously enthusiastic about how artists in different areas (music, literature, painting) can inspire each other. She is working on a longer series of paintings, all expressing songs by Second Life musicians. 

"I love to share my inner vision of how i see the world and all of the beauty and intricacies around us. From how a cloud formation moves to how light and color dance on the ocean. I love to show viewers a part of the world they might not have otherwise noticed."

Also worth visiting is the adjoining gallery, filled with Paula's figure paintings, including a picture called "Elephant Strut", which was inspired by one of VooDoo Shilton's songs.

Both exhibits will be in place into the summer, and Paula is planning to have an opening of new watercolors and drawings in June.

Pearl Grey; "Berries" at Montara Bridgeworks Gallery

Montara Bridgeworks is an independent gallery, like many maintained on the grid by their owners, for the love of art. These are often tucked away, full of character, and a real pleasure to discover. Pearl Grey runs this exhibition space with a slow rotation of solo shows from various artists, and it's nice to see her own work in this latest exhibit. "Berries" opened in November and runs until the end of January, so you'll need to be quick to catch it.
The visitor notecard offers a poem and describes the exhibition as a 2D digital art meditation incorporating virtual photography. It is the whole effect of the picture series in this setting that is to be enjoyed.

There's a strong thematic element to the work: big canvasses with a bold, earthen palette, depictions of architecture or landscapes and figures, brushed and rounded into softer organic shapes. The natural light and shadow on the two floors of the gallery contributes an atmospheric setting that makes the whole exhibition an immersion, and the furniture invites lingering.
I have been back a few times to sit here, letting the theme of "Berries" work itself in - it was time well spent.

Sanjeewa Kumara and Sujeewa Kumari at InterstellART

Asmita Duranjaya's sim-spanning art complex, InterstellART, is dotted with galleries dedicated to the work of single artists, representing a fascinating crossection of styles and approaches. There are galleries above and below, joined by skywalks and gantries and navigated via a system of teleports that I find easier to use than trying to fly about.
This exhibition at the SanSujee Gallery represents the work of two real-life artists from Sri Lanka that Asmita has obtained permission to show inworld. The 20 works on display demonstrate the very distinctive work of this couple alongside one another: Sanjeewa's radiant and colorful paintings counterbalancing Sujeewa's stonewashed, earthier work. Both invite the visitor to contemplate mythological symbolism with a surrealist, dreamlike quality.

Informative notecards on each artist can be obtained by clicking on the sign at the entrance to the gallery. They describe how both artists have used traditional imagery from their own and other cultures in their work, creating something that feels accessible from both eastern and western perspectives. Both artists have had formal training in their homeland and abroad in the Netherlands. 

I found the huge canvasses immediately appealing for their colors, shapes and composition, and recognised the common language of dreams in the content of the pictures.

This exhibition has been running since October 2017 and is still open and well worth visiting.


Klaus Bereznyak

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: The "Tyrah and the Magical Glytches" Game

By Bixyl Shuftan

Second Life isn't a "game" in itself, although people call it one for simplicity as "virtual world" can confuse a few people. Still, one can play games in it, and over the years people have come up with many from inword versions of chess to fencing games, to jousting, to combat roleplays like New Bastogne and Aria Clash, to fishing games like 7Seas, and many more.

For a time, Linden Lab was content to leave the game making to others. Then it began making some of it's own. First came "Linden Realms." Then came "The Cornfield." Following that were "Paleoquest," and "New Horizons." These two gaming adventures had plots, a reoccurring supporting character, Magellan Linden, and a villain.

Then in September 2017, Linden Lab announced "Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches." The plot is a sequel to the events of "Horizons." Magellan is dead, and following a funeral for him given by his former assistant Punkee and Tyrah, the girl held hostage in "Horizons," a new threat emerges. Ruth, the original avatar, appears. Furious at being all but forgotten, Ruth decides to take advantage of Magellan's absence by unleashing magical creatures called "glytches" to interfere and mess with the Grid. Not good at catching things, Punkee decides to rely on his former boss's old tactic: get the residents to help.

The object of the game is to capture these glytches in the various places in Second Life they are. To start playing the game, head to Portal Park, Portal Park 01 (175/118/52), and find the doorway named "Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches." Going through, you end up in the village of Hartyshire. In front of where you appear are displays of the two videos for the game, one explaining the plot and the other on how to play the game. Beyond that are a number of buildings in a circle, around a fountain and statue of Tyrah. What you will need to do first is head to the Gem Apothecary. There, you will find several things. But for beginners the most important one is the starter kit on the counter in front of the door. This contains three items, the game HUD, the starting weapon glass jar, and a notecard explaining more about these and the game. Add both the HUD and the weapon to play the game.

The HUD has several buttons/interfaces. The top left one returns you to Hartyshire. The center left button takes you to the wiki webpage of the game. The top right button gives you the option to mute the HUD's sound effects. The center left button takes you to a location where glytches are, and is the button you will be using the most in the game. On the bottom is a button to display the map of the sim, which shows you where the glytches are, and tells you if you've caught one, swung your weapon and missed, and if you've caught your limit. On the far right is the gem counter, displaying how many blue, pink, and green gems you have. Get 100 green gems, and they're exchanged for a pink one. 100 pink gems will be exchanged for a blue.

There are many kinds of glitches, the names of which you'll see in the Gem Apothecary back in Hartyshire. Among them are the cloudlike Flumpies, the Frosties which look like ice and snow. the Gardeners that look like plants, the Shamaniacs that look like teddy bears from the circus, the Naughties that look like red imps. the Primsies that look like people made from wood blocks, the Keirapillars that look like a cross between cats and caterpillars, and many more. There are three varieties of each. Each that I've come across, many of which are distinctive to one kind, "Mommy, where do prims come from?" "Click on that link, it'll be fun. What can go wrong?" "Miya, miya, you can't catch me." "Leave me alone!"

To go glytch hunting, press the "Next Location" button on your HUD. You will then be teleported to a sim where three glytches are. Many of the sims are Linden-owned or managed, such as Linden Relams or Bay City. But Linden Lab is also inviting the owners of privately owned sims to take part, so you'll come across some of them. Some places I was at had tall grass which can hide glytches until you walk too close and your hunt turns into their ambush.

On your HUD map, you'll see the glytches' locations marked with tiny red circles. To capture one, go up to it in mouselook, then left-click your mouse to use your weapon on it. The glytches don't seem to notice you until you're almost right next to them, even if you're in front of them. Still, I try to sneak up behind them by habit before pressing the button. If successful, the critter is caught, appearing in a cage. You're awarded a small number of green gems and the game will ask you to accept the captured glytch into your inventory. Do so quickly before you lose it.

Unfortunately, you have a good chance of missing. This invariably alerts the glytch who will then get away, but usually not before casting a spell on you. These can be just annoying such as being compelled to cluck and strut like a chicken, being made to listen to a horrible cell phone ringtone, and others. Some involve the weather turning on you, such as being sucked up in a tornado or a blast of cold wind knocking you down. Some turn the tables on you and put a cage on you or have a UFO abduct you. Some are hurtful such as having a tree fall on you or a bus drive by and hit you. And some are downright nasty such as being set on fire or being enveloped in a deadly toxic mist.

If you have enough gems, you'll be able to upgrade your weapon. Head to the Gem Apothecary, and to the right of the door when entering, you'll see the weapon upgrade platform. Get on and you'll get a chance to upgrade to a glytch net if you have a glass jar and 75 green gems. Still better weapons require more. The platinum flyswatter will set you back 75 pink gems, and the glytch gun will need 15 blue gems. Next to the weapons upgrade is the lost HUD vendor where if you happen to lose the HUD you can get a new one.

Besides upgrading your weapon, you can trade your gems for gifts. To your left when entering the Gem Apothecary is the "Gem Lottery." Here, there are three platforms, one for exchanging a green gem for a common prize, another for exchanging a pink gem for a rare prize, and a third for exchanging blue gems for epic prizes. As the name "lottery" implies, what you get is determined at random in these three categories. Common prizes include balloons and alien shoulder pets. Rare prizes include jewelry and hats and holdable pet dinosaurs. Epic prizes include ridable dinosaur pets, vehicles, and dinosaur avatars.

The other building you can enter in Hartyshire is the gift shop. Here, you can get free items such as cups and commemorative t-shirts. To your left upon entering is the "Hatchery." To use this, you need to have gotten the SL14B gift avatar during the event. Add the egg from the avatar to your inventory, then touch the hatchery. You then get what hatches from the egg, which you need to accept. What your gift will be is a glytch avatar called a Revwyn. The avatar comes with a small HUD that will allow you to make four sounds. You can go on the hunt in the avatar if you like, but the glytches will attack you just the same. Since the game's release, I have seen *exactly one* other one besides mine. So it's fair to say you'll have a rare avatar.

There are also three portals to bonus areas. The one on the left of the three is The Forest of Gathering, in which players can capture glytches, including possible rare and epic ones. You need to pay a blue gem to get in. The one in the middle is The Sanctuary of Wind. There are no glytches here, just gems you can collect. But you still need to overcome and avoid obstacles. You need to pay three blue gems to play this area. The third area is The Rusty Cauldron. This giant tavern area us available only to Premium players. Here one collect gems and capture glytches. Among the possible prizes here are glytch avatars, which unless you have the egg from the SL14B is the only known way you can get one.

As mentioned before, once you capture a glytch and accept it, it's yours to keep. They can be worn like shoulder pets, and when clicked on will make a noise.

How entertaining is it? I've had fun playing it, the the glytch attacks can be funny, even if they're on me. The bonus levels could use less of a fee in my opinion, though it's a small minus in an overall great game.

That's the rundown on the Glytch game from Linden Lab. If any players have a story about the one that almost got away, or a particularly hilarious spell attack, please let the Newser know. Happy Hunting.

Bixyl Shuftan

Editor's Note: Although I planned to do this review just after the announcement, a friend of the paper told us he'd do a reader submission on it. But events on his side of the computer intervened, and kept him from doing so. Sorry about the delay.