Monday, March 25, 2019

The Yinglet Avatar Release Party

By Bixyl Shuftan

Some might be surprised to learn that not all comics are in the newspaper's "funny pages" or in magazines. Some you can read online. Some are good enough to be in a real life newspaper with good art and clean humor, and some are done by beginners with not much of a plot. Occasionally, an online comic gets something based on it in Second Life. One example was "ZZ Studios" which was a tribute to Eric Schwartz's "Sabrina Online." Another was a rideable mount I once got that was based on those in Tiffany Ross's "Pure", although it could also be considered one of the "Shiave" of her "Cyantian Chronicles" which had more readers.

"Out of Placers" (, or "OOPs" as it's sometimes called for short, is a Fantasy webcomic by an artist known as Valsalia that began in April 2015 in which humans share their world with other intelligent races, including Yinglets. What is a Yinglet? Probably the simplest definition I've come across is "Like the kobolds of D&D, but more comical." They're small furry bipeds that average three to three and a half feet tall (add several inches if the ears are erect), thin arms and legs, large ears and eyes, and a snout with a large single tooth in the front. Although they can speak the same language as humans, the "shelltooth" usually results in a lisp. The majority aren't quite as intelligent as the average human, though there are some exceptions, and they tend to be easily amused and distracted. Most humans in the world see them as pests or amusing distractions themselves. They prefer shellfish for dinner, their large front tooth handy for opening clams and oysters, and are often seen at riverbanks and beaches scavenging for them and anything else that might catch their interest, getting the less than flattering nickname "scavs" from the humans. They have a different sleep cycle, while sleeping fewer hours a day overall will take naps about three to seven times in a 24 hour period.

In the story's world, they are the youngest of the races, having been first recorded by human history there only several generations ago. They also age faster, reaching physical maturity at three years and considered elderly at twenty-five. They also have a severe gender imbalance, with most populations having just one female for every several males (what some guys in real life complain is the ratio of those single and looking in the "Sexual Recession"). So usually females stay in their enclaves. Enclaves are typically led by the dominant female, the matriarch, with those in larger ones having the assistance of the several more competent males or patriarchs. Between their having fewer among their numbers who can think clearly for a while and their being around for only a short time, Yinglet enclaves are not as developed technologically or socially as human settlements. The most advanced ones do so by dealing with and learning from the humans, though this has led to questions by some that this is leading to a weakening of their more traditional ways, as well as some wondering if any human can truly be trusted as so many treat them like pests.

In the online comic, the main character, Kassen Akoll, gets changed from human to Yinglet by some means he and those around him have yet to figure out. But now you can take on the look of these (usually) amusing fuzzballs here in Second Life. But on Saturday March 16, the residents of Second Life had the ability to take on the look of one as Montecito Bay hosted the release party of the Ynglet avatar, by Raphie Jular of Evil Turtle Productions. The avatar is bento rigged, and both male and female chests are included. Two colors are included, and the avatar has bento rigged mesh with bento rigged jaws, ears, tails, and fingers.

Sorry to all the newcomers who are just joining us and are probably wondering WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON! We're hosting the release of Evil Turtle Productions very own Yinglet avatar!

Do you like eating clams? Do you like talking like 'zhis'?! Do you enjoy being a short little cute ball of fluff who's always finding trouble around every corner! Then be sure to pick up this well created little avatar!

The event was held in the Avagora mall well above Montecito Bay, at it's disco dance floor set up in the middle of the place between shops. Dropping by early, some of the staff were already there, having gotten the avie a little early. But as the hour approached, more showed up. And the Yinglets looked pretty small next to the regular-sized furry folk, "normal sized avatars look like freakish giants now!" The maker of the avatar wasn't there at first, "Raphie (the creator) is having a nap because our time zone is crazy." Then he appeared, "Raphie's back (smile)." The avatar's maker waves, "Weh! Okay zhen, I'm a little less half-dead after nap. Hello all." Someone mused, "One of the best things about being a yinglet would be the naps." Raphie agreed, "Oh yes. Nap for an hour, can go ADHD for six again." "Then they can go 'eeeee' again."

It didn't take long for the place to fill up. And finally at 6PM SL time, "Hello everyone that's here so far! We're just now OFFICIALLY starting things off! Thank you all for showing up early to support the lovley Raphie Jular and their release of the Yinglet avatar!! If you take a look  to the right of the stage there's already a nice little board for you to purchase your own Evil Turtle Productions Yinglet!" Becky greeted, "Welcome everyone! Glad to see you! So the rules are as follows; if you want to join zhe raffle, ya must be here the WHOLE event, no join and run. That's the only rule! so click that raffle ball, floating above the dance floor when it opens!" "If y'all have friends who are fans of yinglets or looking for a really cool avatar, be sure to invite them along!  Raphie put their blood sweat and tears into this wonderful little thing, and I'd absolutely love to see it flourish! ...There's also an event currently on the board for 1,500L! ... The theme is 'Fantasy.' ... And you can 100% spend that on Yinglet and Yinglet accessories! ... But let's be serious, any money they get is going to clams more than likely!" Later in the event, it would get raised to 2069 Lindens.

A number got in character with the characteristic Yinglet lisp, "Zhing!" I'm hearing zhe musics." Becky Nosferatu, in one of the avatars was also giving out buckets of their favorite food, "Who wahts a bucket of claaams?! ... Seriously, who wants clams?" "All zhe clams." Apparently with not that many takers, yet, Becky went in character, "They're clams, so, I'm just gonna keep eating them." Ralphie laughed, "You're gonna get so high drunk," mentioning what happens when the often hungry Yinglets finally manage to stuff themselves on their prized food. "Come to Mont Bay and win lots of clams," someone mused. Becky responded, "I mean, we *are* on zhe bay. Zhey're fresh, okay! Caught zhem myself." Someone joked, "Hmmm...never zhought we'd find a way to 'clam' Becky up, but zhere you go (grin)." Eventually, more buckets were passed around, "Scav life." "*noms on clams*" "... Welcome to zhe Scav Life." "Yinglets' stilt legs and hand-like feet are for walking zhe beach, feeling for clams and oysters in zhe sand, and picking zhem out to eat." "It's not our faults are fur smell like low tide or swamps."

With the Yinglets just a few feet high, it was commented those used to being in very big avatars might find them disorienting, "You know, as disorienting as going from human to yinglet must have been for Kass, can you imagine a massive dragon getting Ying'd?" Jasmine Dawn commented, "Here's my take on the Ying, change to one, go home, can't reach 'nuffin."

Magpie Hyena (VesperBloodwing Parx) had a gift for people attending the party, skins to change the appearance of the Yinglet avie a little, "Raph, I have three skins I can do for this av. I don't have time to set up for selling so, I was thinking about just giving them away." Raphie agreed, "Sure thing Magpie."

Some had a little trouble with dancing. Raphie admitting, "To be honest, Yinglet's won't dance better zhan zhis." Someone else joked, "Friendly warning: Swinging Yings does not mean to zrow zem, as light as zey are. Ying not meant to fly."

Another mused, "Dancing chickenlegs even." Becky commented, "Chicken legged, but far to small to eat! You won't get any meat off these bones." She herself later got hungry, "Be right back, I need another taco." This being the favorite food of the Crux avatars that Montecito Bay is fond of, someone commented,"Seriously, you're going to cruxify your Yinglet at this rate, Becky." Emorald surprised Becky by popping a taco into her mouth, "Ack! Hey! I had zhree dammit!" Emo chuckled, "Eat a fourth one!" Eventually, someone asked, "Becky can I haz some clamz?" Someone responded, "I don't think Becky wants to share her clams, or her tacos."

It didn't take long for a lot of the people there to buy and wear the avatar, "Jesus. The Yinglet group really grew!" "Oh my God the yinglets dancing at the front of the dancefloor are *adorable*!" Raphie grinned, "Thank you, enjoy being a birdrat." Someone pretended to be upset, "How dare you call me a birdrat!  I'm a ratbird!" A third mused, "Anozher birdrat for ze birdrat collection yes." Someone joked about a scene with these and another avatar that was selling well, the Chibi Noodle Dragon, "Imagine a Yinglet sled driven by four Noodles. That is a sugar shock." "I saw ***** and was all 'what is zhat big dragon-cat-zhing?  Oh, is a noodle!'" "Suddenly, for some reason, I'm imagining a Yinglet riding a Chocobo."

Raphie continued to get praise, "Thank you for making them a real thing " "Gotta spread Val's awesome creation!" Raphie responded. "SL real at least! Though I still want a plushie Yinglet at some point." "Oh my God, I want a Yinglet plushie too." Raphie responded, "I believe a plushie skin for the Ying is already in-concept." Someone grinned, "Just barely released and already getting modded." Apparently some had already made adjustments to their Ynglets, Magpie saying, "I am so shocked that there are so many modded yinglets in existence before this avatar even happened. I am sure these yinglet avs will do well." Someone commented, "I've been in a Yinglet avatar for about an hour and I already managed to sell ad space on zhirty percent of my body like a race car!"

Besides myself, a number from the Sunweaver community dropped by Montecito Bay for the party. This included Jasmine, Gil Ottared, Alleara Snoodle, and a few others. Gil mused of the numbers, "Just wait until we get our enclave togezher and start laying eggs."

The contest was won by Iexo Bethune!.

With the party over, people began heading out. "Have a wonderful evening everyone! Thank you Raphie for letting us host your wonderful avatar!" "Yall be safe and good. Don't OD on clams!" Someone responded, "Awwwww! OD'ing on clamz iz de fun part!" Some would say they'd return, "I'll have to come back here, this place is HUGE." Raphie commented, "I will tell (Valsalia) zhe tale of zhe SL Ying takeover, Zhe mighty tale! ...Zhank you all for coming!"

I had been told that in the rush to get the avatar finished by the release party, there were a few bugs in it. But the only person concerned about it at the party seemed to be Raphie himself. They should be ironed out and those who already having brought the avatar getting updates in a week or two. It was also commented that the avatar might have a lasting effect on Montecito Bay, remarking things were crazy enough with the Crux avatars, but with Crux *and* Yinglets, things would be truly insane.

Bixyl Shuftan

Addition: Some time later, Valsalia would message me, "... just gave the article a read. I was really surprised by how much customization has already gone into these, like the bucket-o-clams object (smile). That was a really solid article, and did a great job of both explaining the creature concept and the SL implementation of them. The way people describe these little things is always both fun and valuable for me to read, as it gives me a more solid understanding of the way people are perceiving these little things, and what aspects about them stand out to people the most"

Monday, March 18, 2019

Environmental Art Delivers a Sobering Message at Ecoscape

Environmental Art Delivers a Sobering Message at Ecoscape

by Klaus Bereznyak

EcoScape opened March the 3rd in a dedicated setting at Asmita Duryanjaya's InterstellART sim. Environmental Art installations from 8 Second-Life artists treat a variety of issues from the threat of biosphere collapse to human survival strategies in a polluted future scenario. The exhibits are impactful and informative and well worth experiencing up close.

One of the contributing artists, Elle Thorkveld explained to me how she'd been inspired with the seed of an idea while participating in an online class in Environmental Humanities. She highlighted a rare interview with the artist Gustav Metzger in AnOther magazine which talked of a need for artists to speak up about the issues the earth is facing.

"I mentioned an environmental art exhibit as a possibility for a different venue to Asmita Duranjaya. She liked the idea and offered to host it at her interstellART sim.  I would like to credit Asmita for all the great work she has done refining the concept, curating, organizing and creating installations herself for the exhibit. I have done much less in comparison.

Beyond the initial idea and some support, my contributions have been limited to creating an installation."

In spite of it being a difficult topic and far from cheerful, the project has been well received. It attracted a full sim for the opening event, and the level of interest has been encouraging.

The exhibits are stationed in a desert environment. Visitors can use teleport stations to get around or walk over the dunes on foot. There is information available in notecards at each station as well as in a dedicated information area, where a book about the show and some comfy chairs are free to pick up and take home.

Asmita, in a notecard, outlines the overarching intent of the exhibition:

"As artists we can neither influence necessary political decisions (except of voting for the parties and politicians, who care), nor reverse some negative developments of the industrial growth.
But we can warn, issue a statement beside trying our best in personal life to behave ecologically responsible."

I asked Elle what she thought artists can do about environmental problems:

"I think that they can raise awareness of the problems through presenting aspects in their work.  Artists have the freedom to look at issues in imaginative ways which I think can raise the public's consciousness of issues. They might even offer new solutions."

Some of the stations make use of the virtual environment to immerse the viewer in alternative visions of the future.

June Clavenham's "Overpopulation" features a city burned out and ruined, embedded with interactive media stations and leading to a brightly painted garden that could represent a better future.

Our choice is also emphasised in Duna Gant's "You Decide" and Alosio Congrejo's "To Be or Not to Be."

The diversity of approaches artists have taken to the subject is worth appreciating, both in their choice of issues and the techniques used to create their installations.

Melodie Heart has collaborated with Erico Lecker in creating "Armageddon in the Biosphere" to highlight the frightening consequences of the destruction of insect life through pollution, habitat changes, overuse of pesticides, and global warming.

It must have been challenging for artists to zoom in from all the possible environmental issues they could underline.

Elle Thorkveld's contribution, "No Ark in Sight", calls our attention to rising oceal levels and the plight of polar bears with imagery that melts together arctic scenes and open ocean, demonstrating the transition. She explained why she chose the bears:

"I like bears in general and I think polar bears, being so specifically adapted to an environment that is being dramatically impacted by climate change are sort of a canary in the coal mine for all animals and the mass extinction going on. They are beautiful animals, it is very sad."

The beauty of trees and the artists' evident love for them is poignantly presented by Lalie Sorbet on an island with cutout organic forms and by Asmita Duryanjaya in her tree-hugging trail.

Asmita's trail invites the visitor to ponder a series of quotes in a short pilgrimage and homage to trees, then to go and hug a tree in RL.

Overlooking the exhibit, Asmita has also composited an inspiring build with a focus on survival strategies, using mesh creations by Silas Merlin. It asks what kinds of alternative technologies humans might need to survive after a catastrophe.

All the contributring artists have more permanent exhibiting areas on the main part of the InterstellART sim, which can be reached by teleport from the landing area.

This exhibition is a bold foray into the ways virtual art can be used to inform, confront and offer some answers while emphasizing the worrying state of the planet. The challenge of using a virtual world to create a uniquely immersive branch of environmental art has been creatively entertained by the participants, and Asmita has done a great work in initiating and assembling the experience for Second life avatars. The exhibit remains open for visiting, and it has only been possible to mention a few of the details.

It seems fitting to end with an afterthought that Elle Thorkveld offered in our discussion:

"We have a focus on finding new life in the solar system, as a great search, yet we are participating in mass extinction of thousands of living species right here on our own planet. It is ironic and rather sad, we humans are strange creatures.  I think simply shifting our attitudes towards other species, to respect them and see that they too have a right to exist, live and raise their families, to be treated with kindness, would help greatly.  As Asmita said in her installation, Hug a tree."

Gustav Metzger: "We Must Become Idealists or Die" -
About the Environmental Art Movement -

Klaus Bereznyak

Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Look At The Chibi Noodle Dragon Avatar

By Bixyl Shuftan

While some people stick with one avatar all the time, many people I know have a small collection of them. While usually in one appearance, they'll change to something else for a contest, a roleplay, or just for a little fun. So once in a while, when friends keep talking about a certain avatar, many are inclined to get one. Some months ago, a number of people were going after a three-headed feral canine called the "Hellhound." This month, there's a new "must have" avatar" the Chibi Noodle Dragon.

To begin with, the avatar is made by NutBusterz, which in the past has made a variety of products, including some cheeky ones. One friend called the product their effort to make something cute and innocent. The main place to get one is at the Gacha Guild Spring in Dew Drop. There are other good avatars there, such as the "Curious Critters" avatars by XuXu (Xulael Resident). If you want the Chibi Noodle Avatar, it can be found close to Dew Drop (112/116/1738). You'll have to walk to it as teleporting to the Gacha Guild, you'll end up at the entry area.

Getting the avatar is usually simple enough, paying just 100 Lindens into the vendor. But it has been known to break, which requires messaging someone to fix it. You then get not the avatar, but a voucher for one. This is non-copyable, but can be given to someone like other items in gachas. To get the avatar, you don't open the voucher, which could break it. You "add" it to your avatar, then click on it. It will appear on you looking like a small and cute dragon in your arms. Clicking on that will get you the avatar.

Like other gacha avatars, some varieties are less common than others. The common ones are the "Natural," "Thawny," "Spotted," and "Noir." Uncommon are the "Piebald" and "Runic." There are two rare ones with pronounced horns. The most rare is the "Koi," which is fishtailed. The vouchers can be traded, and the rare and ultrarare ones can fetch some good money (or you could give one to a noodle fan among your circle of friends and make them really happy).

Even if you're not a dragon fan, you'll probably think of the noodle dragon as cute and adorable. While not quite as small as most tiny avatars and much larger than a petite, it's still small. It's natural expression is to smile. It makes cute noises, especially when getting belly rubs, and it's various animations add to it's cuteness.

Moving around is much like a regular avatar, though you're usually on all fours. There is a HUD that allows you to look asleep, mad, sad, etc. There are also nine body animations, such as sitting down, rubbing a whisker, rolled over on the back, hugging, dancing on the ground, dancing on the back legs. One animation has the noodle dragon offering an egg (the Koi offers caviar). If touched, the person touching gets a copy of the egg. It can be hatched into a pet dragon that can be held. I read there is a swimming HUD, but haven't tried it out yet.

There's a number of accessories available for the chibi noodle dragon. Only a few are made by NutBusterz. Many can be found at the Gacha Guild Spring, such as hoodies and other outfits, teacups with various phrases of which adding it to the avatar gets it to drink it (the ultra-rare in the gacha is a coffee machine). There are also armors available. The avatar is also modifiable, and there are skins out for it. Someone passed me a copyable "death breath" attachment, so some of the mods are being passed around for free. There's also a large number of accessories available on Marketplace.

The avatar is Bento, so some older viewers may not be able to see it properly. The other problem is that to some, gachas can be quite addictive. "Betcha can't stop at just one," one might say. And indeed many can't. So watch your spending.

In just a short time, the Chibi Noodle Avatar has become quite popular in some circles. At some events, I've seen close to a dozen of them. To make matters more interesting, a Noodle Dragon themed sim has sprung up. Called "Noodle Kingdom," it's on the sim on the map appropriately named "Cute." The sim has some Asian-themed structures up. But there are also some definitely non-Asian places such as a Subway-themed restaurant. The sim is fairly new, with shops moving in. So there will likely be changes in the days and weeks after this article.

So what's the future for the Chibi Noodle Dragon? As there have been "must-have" avatars before, one can easily dismiss them as another fad that after a short time in the spotlight fades into the background. But that someone was willing to put down enough cash to get a noodle dragon themed sim is evidence that some are willing to bet money that the demand for the avatars and their products will be around for a while.

I've heard comparisons to the pony avatars, which eight years after their introduction still have a strong following. Unlike the ponies however, the Noodle Dragons don't have stories to help backup roleplay in the fandom. But as the stories the pony sims base their RP off of are from cartoons aimed at young and teenage girls and young women, it's fair to say the dragons have greater appeal to guys.

While nothing is certain, it's a good bet the Chibi Noodle Dragons will have a following for some time to come.

Bixyl Shuftan