Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Firestorm Sale

 
By Gemma Cleanslate


Well, this weekend I have a bit of time to do some roaming. Some for Halloween, and some for shopping. I went shopping for a purpose. Firestorm , my favorite viewer is raising money to continue the project. Jessica Lyon, project manager put out this plea.

“It’s been 3 years since our last fund raiser and I really hate asking for help again! Really really! But we do incur significant expenses with server hosting, licensing fees, in world costs etc. Our average yearly operating costs are around $7000. Among other things this includes our KDU license, monthly server hosting fees, region tier costs for our community gateway / new user retention efforts and various in world expenses like paying for performers at events we host for you guys. While we do generate some revenue from the annoying ads on our website, it isn’t quite enough to keep us going. So from time to time we will do a fund raiser like this one to help balance the books for the next year or 3.”


Three years is a long time without such an event so I went over to the sandbox to see what they have. Wow! Gachas may be gone, but the individual items were everywhere. If you need something inexpensive for your inventory go! Items ranged from clothing to furniture, decor for your home,  cars, trucks , camping items , beach decor, and on and on! The prices were great. I spent many lindens and grabbed a bunch of stuff I can use... sometime ... somewhere ...( I hope) .
I almost forgot !! You must take your purchase after you pay.


 I looked for my new Camper Bus  and it was not in my inventory.. then I remembered. I had to go into my account to look for the items I had paid for . Then I had to go back and find them. Thank goodness for the search area ! I was able to find all my items and go back to get them.

I saw a sign saying there will be more items coming .

 
 I recommend you get over there and get some booty!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Firestorm%20Sandbox/72/189/2702

Gemma Cleanslate
 

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Visit to the Viridian Gallery

 
by Anita Kimono


One unique and memorable day, I happened to find myself at Viridian Gallery on Antara, where I was greeted by a huge life-like crab that looked like it was ready to snatch me in its claws. But instead, it greeted me with a bounce, and even a slight smile, as it steadily gazed into my eyes to welcome me.  
 

Viridian Gallery is located on Antara, at Antara (228/7/25). The gallery showcases photos captured by Eyeclectic. Each photo has a story of his own experience and interaction with nature. I was fascinated by the enlarged photos situated throughout the island, merging into the ocean waves. Photos of dandelions, and of sunflowers, and of insects, as ant perched on the tip of his finger.  Real photos used to create an immersive 3D environment that visitors can interact with.  
 

Surrounding the photos are fields of wildflowers with dragonflies and butterflies flying freely through the air. There is even one dragonfly that followed me everywhere. It is drawn to me.
 

There is also a dandelion that you can touch to rez a seed and 'go with the wind' to fly with it through the island. I felt like Mary Poppins. Eyeclectic likes to call it, “Eyemagination Therapy.” Don't forget to make a wish ~

The creator of Viridian Gallery is Jules McWinnie aka Julian Crooks, a program director of design at Harcum College, outside Philadelphia. She is working to bring virtual reality into the design education. Eyeclectic is Ohio-based photographer, John Stone. 

His exhibit in Second Life is called, “The Butterfly Eyeffect: Touch of Light at the Edge of the World.” In first life, Eyeclectic has exhibited in major cities.


His "Empathy from the Empire" exhibit was displayed for visitors in the main lobby of the Empire State Building in NYC. He presented Eyeclectic Photography as Therapy  concepts to an international audience of occupational therapist and magicians in Las Vegas at David Copperfield's 25th Anniversary Project Magic Conference. In Chicago, his photos were exhibited at the Omidyar Network Members Conference.
 

As Jules McWinnie has been quoted, "The focus of the Viridian gallery art space has been to provide a venue for art that focuses on green issues and themes. This show, the Butterfly Eyeffect, has evolved from an exhibit of photographs to something far larger. Fueled by Eye's boundless creativity he has brought a truly beautiful, immersive and spiritual experience to the gallery site - an experience that reflects his deep inner connection to the natural world. It really is astonishing what he's done with the space. I can take no credit. I just gave him free rein and the most remarkable things started to happen."


In another statement from Eyeclectic, “ ‘As everything is connected in the Timeless Science of our
relationship with Nature, what will the world will bee like when we see everything through eyes of
LOVE? More than just photos of insects, "The Butterfly Eyeffect" is a message of Human Evolution,
creating waves around the world, as "Imaginal Cells" cause a Caterpillar to become a Butterfly.’ “
 

Eyeclectic happily offers personal tours to groups and individuals. As he talked about how the photos came about, there is always the underlying theme of respect of nature that allows for inter-species communication. He tells of how often grasshoppers would land on his hand, or even his face. Or a tiny little ant would crawl up to his little finger. Maybe they sense his respect and feel no harm from this human. I find myself during the day watching where I walk so that I would not step on any insects. I became more aware of the birds, insects, any living being, and how they are more than we think...they can sense what kind of people we are. This exhibit had changed my view of how I approached nature.
 

Serendipity is another word that comes to my mind when I view the exhibit. Photos of a young woman with butterfly wings;  a shadow of a hand outstretched over a pond full of plants; a leaf “head”; the sun “crowning” a sunflower; the encounter with the man on the beach; or a sunflower in front of a roller coaster. All these photos are taken at the right moment. The moment is right if you are aware of it.
 

Eyeclectic plans to expand over the whole Antara region, and hopefully be sustainable for all to come and visit and have their visions of nature forever changed. If you have  environmentally conscious art and/or ideas to help make Antara an educational entertaining experience, please let Eyeclectic know.
 

So come and explore this beautiful exhibit. Meditate on the messages of each picture, while learning about phenology (cycles in nature), and symbiosis (interaction between different lifeforms). Ride an owl, be carried away by a dandelion seed,  or sit on the fastest slugs you've ever seen and race your friends to find the treasure chest offering gifts from the Infinite Peace Garden to share with the world.
 

As María Concepción Pomar Rosselló, a university professor in Spain says, “I'm going to do my best to share it with my students. I'm sure they will all be extremely interested in the philosophy and message of this work, to love all kinds of things, to trust the universe, life, God, and living in peace.”
 

For private tours, or if interested in any of the photos for personal or educational use, please contact Eyeclectic at Eyeclectic@aol.com. Visit Eyeclectic.net and follow @InfinitePeaceGarden on Instagram.

Anita Kimono 

Editor's Note: This is the last article of Anita Kimono/Kayly Iali, whose work with Second Life art has led to her getting a real-life job involving the arts. We at the Newser wish her the best of luck.
 

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Gacha Ban From Two Owners' Points of View

 
By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sept 1, the selling of items through gacha machines was no longer permitted in Second Life. It was about a month earlier that the upcoming ban was announced. It was probably one of Linden Lab's most controversial moves in it's history. It was certainly it's most controversial one since the move to Cloud servers. There were no shortage of comments about it. Most were from fans of gachas and their detractors. Not so many were those with the most to lose: those merchants and content creators whom were using gacha machines to sell their items.

The Newser reached out to some. We had some responses, the two with the most to say being Nams (Nama Gearz) of the Gacha Guild, and Keira Raindale (KeiraLans Resident).

Nams commented on Discord "I could say a few things since I've been making gachas for a few years now.

"I can easily say the ban won't affect me all that much. I've been gradually making less and less gachas over the past year or so, mostly because I believe they've run their course, and I've seen an increase in profits after focusing on regular release items. Since gachas have so much production time involved with them due to all the varied items you have to make for the set, it really just makes more sense to focus all that time and energy into a regular release. A regular release with fuller features and copy/mod permissions seems to beat out the gimmick of gachas in the long run and I can make regular release items for 2 events in the time I can make a gacha set. The only way now the ban will effect me is having to rebox all of my past gachas for resale, but that can be done over time so it's not a huge worry.

"Business aside, I will miss the fun of gachas. Playing them actually was fun for me and my friends, to throw a few Lindens into a machine just to see what you get or giving extras to friends. Going "Look what I got!" roaming around with friends at events will always be a special memory and I am sad that this aspect of gachas is going away."

The Gacha Guild team had earlier made a public statement on it's website, saying the event would change to "straightforward, regular sales."

Another seller who did business through gachas was Keira Raindale (KeiraLans Resident), who I heard about through Prokofy Neva. Contacting her, she thanked me for paying attention to the issues, and sent me some notecards.


As some of you already know, gacha will be banned from SL since September,1...

https://community.secondlife.com/blogs/entry/8586-policy-change-regarding-gacha/

I am really trying to cope with this news and to figure out what to do next, but right now I feel very lost.

Most of my income came from gacha and I seriously doubt that I'll be able to cover my SL and RL expenses with regular releases only...

My C|M collections never get as much sales as gacha sets (even when they have 10+ items in). It's not about quality, time and effort. I can spend 60+ hours on a highly detailed project, and it will never bring as much money as a gacha set made in a week...

As you might notice, I don't make a lot of gachas these days.  Arcade covered my fullsim rent + other fees, and an extra set every other month helped me to maintain my modest middle class lifestyle here in Russia. 

In order to make this money without gachas I'd have to create 10-15 new releases a month - that's unrealistic, and I will be burnout in just a few weeks.

I do love gacha both as a creator and a shopper, I think 2/3 of the stuff I've ever bought were from gacha machines, and it really feels like one of the last things I actually enjoyed in SL is soon to be gone.

Maybe it's a sign for me to move on and finally do something else outside of SL.
I'm not closing Raindale just yet, and have no such plans in the next few months! But if it turns into a hobby without any real profit - I'll have no choice but to minimize my time here.

The most confusing part for me - is what to do with existing gacha sets.

There is no way I could possibly re-package hundreds of items into individual products, make new pictures, replace note-cards etc... it would be a huge waste of time and prim space (especially since I'll most likely have to move to a cheaper sim with less prims)

She had decided on the following:

I will make copy+ full-sets for gachas that are currently in main-store - after September,1

I will have to completely retire (remove from store) most of the older machines in the Outlet area.

I will try to hand-pick the best prizes from all the sets and re-package them into copy+ releases - it will take some time and there is no guarantee that a certain product will ever be for sale again individually.

I will still exchange all the prizes purchased earlier (or from re-sellers) to copy+ on request
*yes, re-selling gacha prizes is still going to be legal



While the gachas were still allowed, she put hers on 25L a purchase, 'let's enjoy our final days of "risky gambling' and 'lucrative business' (grin)."

Of how much she would charge in the future, she had this to say:


All of ex-gacha sets will be priced as my normal copy+ products at this time:

25-50L$ for a small deco piece
75-150L$ for a simple piece of furniture in 1 colour
250-350L$ for PG animated furniture with  colour change HUD/menu
350-450L$ for adult furniture with  colour change HUD/menu
250-499L$ for builds (sheds, gazebos, cabins and cottages)

I'm afraid I will have to raise prices eventually, to survive in a new market, but only for the future products.

I made some approximate calculations on a few gacha sets and it looks like copy+ fullpacks will be around 900-1500L$ without any discounts applied. The final price/discount amount will be different for every set depending on their value.

Most collections will be available only in "fullset" and "rare" versions (no individual common prizes separately)

Few collections will be repackaged and set for sale with all individual prizes available to purchase separately (right now Wonderbell, Riverbreak and Millcreek are on that list due to popular demand)

A few prizes will be individually set as a small copy+ collection/mini pack (Moonleaf boat-sofas, Applemore couches and poufs, Meadowbloom arbours and swings - the list will extend based on your requests)


A third notecard was presumably made later on, "I received an overwhelming amount of questions, opinions, suggestions and just sweet messages from many of you! I think I should share some of it with the folks who have the same thoughts/solutions/concerns, but decided not to contact me for some reasons (cheers to all the introverts out-there ♥)."


• First of all, there is a popular opinion that if we put our gacha items in regular vendors, we'll have the same profit (or more). Sadly this is not true! Most profit comes from gacha re-sellers. Regular customer spends a few hundreds L$, regular re-seller invests a few thousands in a good gacha set. As a result I get a lot of sales during event, re-sellers get even more profit on a longer distance and customers can choose to have fun and pay a little for a random item or pay more for specific product. In my opinion (as an avid gacha player, ex gacha re-seller and soon to be ex gacha creator) It was a good and fair system for everyone.

I simply don't feel comfortable to charge 2000L$ for a house and up to 5000L$ for a full set as re-sellers do. So without re-sellers my revenue will automatically shrink down to 50% or less, even if all the same people will buy all the new products directly from me.

• I'm glad that creators are trying to find some new and exciting ways of shopping to replace gacha! Normal shopping is boring :D Unfortunately new systems that were introduced so far didn't inspire me as a customer, therefor I'm not going to implement them as merchant (I'm talking about those conveyor style vendors)

• I will also pass on simply drugging all the products to multi-vendors, or put that hover-text script inside old gacha machines. I have standards :D
Last year I re-packaged every single product just so they all have updated LM and NC inside! I think, that things like correct note-cards, individual pictures, nice packaging and overall aesthetics are super important - call me silly for that XD

• I will try to put for sale as many individual products as possible considering prim limit and general demand. You can always ask me to put a certain item for sale - many people already did - I'm very flexible about those things!

• I very much like the idea of collectibles - as transferable products available for a limited time or in a limited amount of copies. You can re-sell, trade, gift them to a friend and so on. All the things we loved about gacha minus the fun of getting a random prize. I'll try to make first collection in September and we'll see how it goes. I will also exchange them to copy+ on demand (normally less than 5% of my gacha players requested an exchange, so I see no point in making copy+ vendor at the first place)
I hope you'll also like this idea of having more exclusive and limited products + it will help re-sellers to stay in the market after gachas are gone.

Though we need to find a balance between re-sellers quickly getting all the copies and sell them for insane prices - and customers getting so many copies, that collectibles are no longer so special and exclusive.

 I'm not sure how to make it fun, fair and exciting for everyone, let me know if you have any thoughts!

Keira did add on a personal note, "Quite a lot of people contacted me with their concerns about my financial well-being, advices and suggestions  - it's so very nice of you - but I can assure you there is nothing to worry about. ... Even though I had the most terrible RL summer with a few family members having serious health issues - I'm still a debt free home owner in a country where minimal wage is 185 US$/month and average salary is around 600 US$/month! There are plenty of ways for me to make money as a 3D artist (actually much more money than I make in SL) - I'll be fine :D In the worst case scenario I'll wipe out the dust from my useless degree in Liberal Arts and get a RL job.

"For the past few years I was privileged to make a living by designing things that I love on the platform that I like - now it's over and I have to find other sources of income in or out of SL. That's OK, I see it as a new beginning. You should have much more sympathy to gacha-creators and re-sellers from more expensive countries, with a mortgage, small children, no free health-care and so on. They are the ones who will struggle the most in this situation!

"Still I'm very grateful for all the support, kind words and wishes!"

Dropping by Keira's place again, a quick look showed plenty of items for sale, but there was a choice at some vendors of either the rare item only, or the full set for a larger price. For now, she's still in business.

These are just two stories out of many among the gacha merchants. If anyone else out there has a story, either another merchant or a friend/favorite customer of one, please feel free to share it.

Bixyl Shuftan
 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Montecito Bay's Roller Club

 
By Bixyl Shuftan

Montecito Bay has changed much over the years. Originally designed with a mid-20th Cenutry feel, since then most of the sim has come to resemble a futuristic city. But recently, one place from a bygone time opened up there: the Roller Club. On Wednesday August 4, Moff (MoffettMephit Resident) announced it's opening.

It's time to get your skate on! Tonight, 7pm SLT, the Roller Club is officially opened! Come by for music, fun and of course, skating! Rental skates are available if you don't have your own!

Dropping by, there was a small but active crowd. Moff, in a skunk avie wearing a "Frankie Says Relax" t-shirt, was playing the music as "Super Rockin Magic" DJ Moff. Others were listening to the music, with one ottergirl, Emmy, skating around. The skates were available on a counter to the right of the entrace (walking in), with three choices available: white, black, and tan. Next to that was a currently unoccupied DJ booth and three inactive tip jars - Moff was playing tunes on the house. There were a few posters on the wall, and a Pac-Man arcade game.

Over time, others dropped in. At one point, Moff announced, "By the way folks, I found the real-life model for this rink!" He then put up the weblink to the Dreamland Margate Roller Disco in Margate, Great Britain, "Clearly a place Moff must visit one day!" Twocoin commented, "Oh look at that-that. Even has the name of Moff's favorite skate song on wall!" "Yes it do!"

At one point, Moff joined Emmy in skating around. Moff was doing just fine. Emmy usually did well, but once in a while took a tumble. But the ottergirl didn't let the occasional stumble stop her. She got up, dusted herself off, and resumed.

Eventually came Nine o' clock, and the scheduled end of the event. But after the planned last tune, Moff wasn't quite ready to call it quits, "Would anyone complain if I played just, one more song?" He then grinned, "Cuz this last song is about Moff." He then started playing "Don't Cha" by The Pussycat Dolls, "... hot like Moff ... " Emmy responded with giggles. And finally the song ended, "That's all I got for tonight," Moff told the crowd, "So! Thank y'all for coming to this soft-open! I will fix the booths and - " Then Emmy placed a chocolate on his nose. Moff reacted by crossing his eyes, "....uh...uhhhhh uhhhhhhhhh ..." He then flipped it into his mouth, "Oh Emm Gee!" Emmy giggled again, "Hehehehe!"

"Anyhoo," the Dj finally announced, "thank y'all for coming out tonight. Great seeing ya. Magic Moff is gonna sneak on out for the evening. Y'all have a great night!"

The Roller Club would once again have an event on Wednesday August 11 at 7PM. Join the Montecito Bay group to keep notified of events.

Bixyl Shuftan
 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Mobile App for Second Life Approved by Apple

 
By Bixyl Shuftan

At the Web User Group Meeting moderated by Keira Linden on July 7, Keira had some details on several issues. But the most notable one was about Linden Lab's mobile app for Second Life. She announced that it had been approved by Apple for it's App Store. It wasn't currently in the store as the Lab wants to add a few things before it gets posted. It will just be the iOS version as Android still needs more work.

The app is just a chat app only with no 3D view, for now. For now, one can only directly IM others with it, though group chat should be available later. One can search names on the app, but it can't access notecards (or anything else in inventory). Keira Linden thought it would be particuarly useful for Second Life merchants to keep in touch with customers away from their computers.

Keira Linden brought it up around 10:45 in the video made of the event by Pantera Polnocy, "I can give you a little info on the mobile app. We do have a version that we submitted to the App Store and did get approved, which was great because we've been having issues with approval. That has all been solved. But it's not yet in the App Store. We have a few more features that we want to put into it before we actually post it up on the App Store. And for those of you who maybe don't know about the app, the mobile app ... we are working on an iOS only mobile app right now. Android is kinda on the heels of that, but we need to get the iOS one out first. We have a little more work to do before we can do Android. And it is only a chat app. It's just a companion app for Second Life where you can keep in touch and chat with people inworld without actually being logged in. So we are working furiously, trying to get the next set of features into it before we actually put it onto the App Store. And I think that is the bulk of what we've been working on for the last 30 days.

When asked it's concurrency, Keira answered, "For the app, we don't have very many people with it now. There's maybe 40 or 50 people who have it. So we don't really have concurrency numbers on it. We haven't done widespread testing on it yet. We didn't have any trouble when we all jumped on with it. But we'll be taking a look at it before we post it obviously. Basicaly what you do is your presence is logged into one of our mobile regions. So you're kind of inworld, kind of not. It's not on a region anyone else can get to. As long as there is space on those regions, which we make sure there is, there won't be any problem.

When asked if the Lab had "any plans for a full mobile viewer with 3D view, Keira's reply was, "For the mobile viewer with 3D view, that's going to be down the road, if we do get there. We have talked about that in the past. It's going to take a lot of work. I know we have some other full 3D viewers out there, mobile viewers out there, and everybody's really anxious to get one. and I would love to have one as well. But it is going to take quite a bit of work, and it is something that we have on our road map. But it is way down the line."

When asked "Is a contained environment the norm going forward past beta, Kiera had the answer, "Yes it is, the contained environment is what we're going to be looking at, going forward."

When Keira was asked, "Why can't I use the app at my SL home," her answere was, "So we don't want you out in public because griefers like to do weird things to people. That would have introduced more complexity in trying to decide 'Are you on desktop or are you on mobile?' when you're on, whereever your home region is. So we just have a set of mobile-only regions that, as I was saying, unless you are on the mobile app, you won't be able to get to them. It was just a little easier to do it that way. Obviously, if we go 3D, that's going to change. But for now, that's what we're sticking with.

When asked about "localized chat on the app, ie inworld chat outside of IM," Keira's answer was "No, there's not. It's only IM at this point and time. We're going to be introducing group chat. But there's not going to be any local chat within those regions. Group chat I think is a couple of releases down, we're actually going through the road map and deciding which features are going to go where. Group chat is going to be a priority. Right now, it's just individual. it's just direct IM. We'll have group chat, and then we can take a look at adding, creating a chat room, grabbing two or three friends and putting them into a room."

Keira was asked if the others in the IM region could be seen, and she answered, "You do not see the list of people in the region. Nope."  

Then the question was, "How can anyone find each other on this, without already knowing a contact?" Keira responded, "So, the idea behind just having the chat app was, our main precident was for merchants to be able to keep in touch with their customers. So if you have a customer IM you, and you're not online, you have the option for it to it your app as opposed to going to email. So you can then jump in and direct chat with that customer through the mobile app instead of having to log inworld to talk to them. So you'll have your friends list, you'll have (your) group list. It's not meant to be able to find new people to chat. It's meant for you to be able to chat with people you already know. And you'll actually be able to search. So if you know somebody's name, if you know the name of someone you want to go find, you will be able to search it, search for their name, and find them that way."

"I get it," the Linden was told, "but it seems casual chat with new people would seem interesting." Keira responded, "That might be something we can impliment down the road."

When asked if people could see notecards in the app, Keria answered no, "Right now, you're not going to be able to see a notecard in the mobile app, because you don't see your inventory right now. Inventory is a whole other bucket of worms that we are going to need to tackle at some point. It would be cool, yeah, to be able to pull notecards up, yeah."

Discussion on the app concluded at about 19:00 in Panthera's video. There were other subjects covered, such as new Welcome Islands for new residents. But for most, it's the mobile app, which has long been in development, that will be of the most interest.


To view the video, (Click Here)

Hat tip: Daniel Voyager, Inara Pey

Bixyl Shuftan
 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

"The Mouse," The SL18B Gift Car

 
By Bixyl Shuftan

There's a number of freebies being offered at the SL18B, between the gift shop at the SLB sims and the free items at the Shop and Hop. One item I've heard in SL group chatter a few times is a little yellow car that's been described as cute, "The Mouse." In a Flicker page shown to me, there was a picture, a description, and a SURL.

777 Motors' Gift for Second Life's 18th Birthday!
🐭 MOUSE Car - Fully scripted and super cute! ❤
You can get them here for completely free:


The vehicle is available at the "Shop and Hop" area in the Poppy sim at (152/30/53). Heading there, the 777 Motors shop,  there's an example of the car, and a picture. This little two-door car would be considered a "subcompact" in real-life, and would be a poor fit for taller and larger avatars. Besides it's size, it has a couple round ears on top, and a tail on the back bumper, making it look even more mouselike.

Clicking on the picture gets you the car in your inventory, listed as "[777] Mouse-lite [SL18B Gift]". It comes already unboxed and can be rezzed on your land or places that will allow it, such as rezz zones on Bellisseria. The two doors are openable, as is the trunk. It has a detailed dashboard, with steering wheel, gas and break pedals, a speedometer, a radio (nonfuctional), etc. To ride it, right-click on it and select "ride." Clicking on the back will bring up options, such as shifting the gear up or down, honking the horn, pulling the parking break, and others.

Taking it for a drive in my home area, the main road of the Sunweaver community, I didn't find it too difficult in first gear, though I had to slow down when making 90 turns. I then decided to give it another test: the streets of Bellisseria. I found a car rezz area at Red Hook (112/178/32), and took it for a spin. It handled fairly well, though on the arch bridges that rose up in the air some, I had to put the car into third gear to make the climb. It handled the sim crossings mostly well. I probably could have gone to the northeast end of Bellisserisa if I had enough time (and my lag wasn't getting worse the longer I was online, car or no car).

I recommend getting the Mouse. It handles well, a smaller avatar won't look undersized behind the wheel, it has a certain charm, and of course one can't argue with the price: completely free. It is unknown if the car will still be available, free or otherwise, after the Shop and Hop ends on July 1.

Hat tip: Prudence (PrudenceAnton Resident)

Bixyl Shuftan
 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Interview With Bryn Oh

 *
By Anita Kimono

Bryn Oh is an artist who uses the virtual world of Second Life to create what she calls Immersivist art. The viewers not only see her art but participates and travels through her spaces that she creates. Visiting one of Bryn Oh’s exhibits is like walking through a virtual book, sometimes I pass a few “pages” but realized I have to turn back to see what I had missed or I had to “reread a couple of paragraphs” to get what was being said.

Bryn Oh has been in Second Life for 14 years and yet is able to retain her Second Life identity even in real life virtual exhibits internationally. Her virtual art has appeared in museums, movies, TV and Vogue Magazine twice (Italy and India). She was awarded several grants from the Ontario Arts Council in Canada to produce virtual reality exhibitions.

The following is an interview with Bryn Oh as she describes her concepts and thoughts of combining real life art with virtual world to create a new expression.

1.  What kind of artist are you? And what medium do you work in? How would you describe your art?

I began as an oil painter and moved into virtual art such as I create in Second Life and other virtual spaces.  My virtual art is what I call Immersivist art, meaning that its focus is on creating an experience whereby the viewer forgets the real world around them for a period as they become immersed in my artwork.  The techniques and tools used in a virtual space, especially one with VR, allow for a very powerful experience where the viewer is an active participant to the artwork rather than a passive observer.  The use of ambient sound, identity, colour theory, composition, interaction, narrative and other elements all combine to create an Immersivist artwork.

2.  What is your process? Do you work from photos? Do you work from life? How do you approach your art?

All my art in Second Life is a continuous story which began in 2008 with a build called Condo's in Heaven.   That work got me thinking of the idea of immersion as a type of movement or school of thought.  There were the Impressionists, Cubists, Surrealists, Modernists and so on... and I daydreamed of being an Immersivist.  Each new work is a chapter in the ongoing story and they are based on my life almost like a diary.  I take things I see in society or technology and combine it with parts of my life and then shape it into a story. 

Each virtual artwork takes about six months to create beginning with the writing of the story, then sketches in pen and ink or oil paintings, combined with building models in Zbrush (a digital tool to create high resolution models for animation.)Slowly I will plan out the composition of the virtual space so that the visitor will have freedom to explore but also naturally will follow the narrative.  I will add elements that help shape the mood subconsciously such as colour and ambient sound, shapes and so forth.   For example,a rounded shape is comforting to the eye whereby a shape with edges and angles like a triangle can subconsciously create anxiety or discomfort. Colour and sound naturally work the same.  

3.  Did you have any formal training in art? If so, what university? If not did you take workshops or learned from books?

Yes, I attended the Ontario College of Art and Design also known as OCAD university and focused on fine art drawing and painting.  After that I went to Seneca College for Softimage XSIComputer Animation then the Toronto School of Art for Zbrush.

4.  What is your earliest experience with art that you remembered that mark your path into becoming an artist? Who influenced you to be an artist? A family member, a teacher?  

Coming from Canada my first medium was building in snow. Watching my mom paint as a child got me interested in art as I loved the smell of oils and turpentine in her studio and seeing her canvas slowly emerge into places. My first experience with art was when I was just a child in school.  I did a drawing in class one day not knowing it was part of a large art competition across many schools in Canada.  Somehow my drawing was picked as the winner for my school which was shocking to me as I didn't know I had entered in a competition.  I was then informed that I would be taking a long bus trip to a location where all the winners of each school would attend a day of art training. It was my first experience of realizing I had some artistic talent.  

The event that encouraged me to become an artist was when I was at Carleton University studying Psychology and a friend asked me one day, “Why do you come home from classes every day and go in your room and paint?  You love painting more than your classes! Why didn't you go to art school?” I thought about it and decided they were right. My passion was art and not psychology. So,I decided to apply to Canada’s top art school and if I was accepted then I would drop out of university and go there. I was accepted.

5.  What artists in real-life and Second Life have affected you?

Early on I was very interested in the pen and ink drawings of John Tenniel and George Cruikshank as well as the shadowy paintings of Georges de La Tour.  Later it was Gustav Klimtfor his beauty, Van Gogh for the brush strokes and colour, Edvard Munch for his ability to paint mood and feeling, and Swoon and Banksy for expanding the way I saw art and concepts/messages. 

In Second Life, Light Waves/Starax showed me a new way to see the second life space with his work,“Greenies”(which was a comical giant room where avatars ended up being the size of a mouse). I liked the traditional artistic look of AM Radio’s works as well as the experimental minimal artwork of Selavy Oh. Also,the work, “Petrovsky Flux” by BlottoEpsilon and Cutea Benelli, used the unique traits of the virtual space.  I look at Second Life as a medium for art and I try to determine what makes it unique over other art mediums like painting, sculpture or cinema.  I enjoy artwork that sees the virtual space as a unique medium and does not attempt to make things that mimic "real life" art from galleries and museums.  I like to see things that can exist here but could not in real life where we are hampered by weather, gravity etc.

6.  What is your reason to exhibit in Second Life? and what is your experience had been? Any positive or negative. And has exhibiting in SL affected your real-life art?

When I was in art school,we would learn the history of art.  We would read about art movements like Cubism or Surrealism, Impressionism etc.   Often with a movement they are named years later and the very first artists working in the concepts are remembered and shape it.  For me, while painting, I thought to myself that my paintings were not doing anything new in art, but I possibly had the chance to be a part of something new and very rare in second life or virtual spaces.  I daydreamed of what I daydreamed of what we do here as being a new movement and I took the chance to try to be one of the first to focus on it as a medium.  Time will tell if I made the right decision but chances are rare in life and I wanted to make sure I didn't let it pass.

There is always positive and negative, sometimes there is drama with Second Life artists, but I do my best to ignore it and focus on what I want to achieve in a positive way.  And yes,exhibiting in Second Lifehas affected my real-life art.Originally when I came to Second Life,I would bring my painting ideas to the virtual space, and now I bring my virtual space ideas to painting and drawing sometimes.

7.  Do you have your own galleries? Do you exhibit in other galleries? What art related projects do you usually do in SL?

I don't tend to exhibit in traditional Second Life gallery spaces very often anymore unless it’s for a cause like Relay for Life, Missing Children, Toys for Hospital Children, etc.  On very rare occasions a curator will convince me to exhibit but generally that is due to their enthusiasm which rubs off on me :). My work is not about standalone single sculptures. They are just components to larger conceptual artworks.   What my focus is on in art is not really shown by placing individual sculptures around a room that resembles a real-life gallery space.  My machinima do a better job showing what I do but again they are a rigid artwork which doesn't allow the viewer to walk around a virtual space with freedom of choice.  My machinima force the viewer to follow the path of my camera and each time they watch it it is the same, the viewer is a passive observer to what I show them but my artwork is about being an active participant to the artwork, where the viewer is not separate to the art but in it and part of it.  Where they decide which way to walk or if they want to peek under a desk to find ahidden message.

8.  What advice would you give to artists who is interested in exhibiting in Second Life?

I would say to think about what you are most passionate about and focus on that.  Create a body of work on that topic and be patient.  

9. Do you have links that you would like to provide for people to view your works?

https://www.patreon.com/brynoh https://www.youtube.com/c/BrynOh/featured

https://www.instagram.com/bryn_oh/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/BrynOhh/  https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryn_oh/

Bryn Oh’s Second Life exhibits and store:

Hand by Bryn Oh - http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bryn%20Oh/44/211/22

Singularity of Kumiko - http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Immersivist/16/100/21

Immersiva by Bryn Oh and Store - https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Immersiva/18/111/24

Photos from Bryn Oh

Anita Kimono
 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Red Rocket Cola

  
By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sunday May 23, Montecito Bay held a release party not for an avatar, but a brand of Second Life vending machine: "Red Rocket Cola."

We're having a unique party on Sunday! An awesome beach party with a special guest, Red Rocket Cola, bringing you some ground-shattering Vending Machines for sale at the event! These neat little objects allow you to choose your cola of choice, drink it, and throw it away! It's a fun addition to literally every walk of life in SL, and we're happy to raffle off a few of the vending machines through out the beach party! Come join us for awesome summer tunes and a chance at one of these awesome soda vendors!

The party itself was a hit with about fifty people attending at the skybox above the Bay. It was a beach area with a walkway of planks leading to the party area. To the left were displays of information about Red Rocket Cola, and a couple of the machines up for people to use, as well as a pile of "twelve pack" boxes people could also get drinks from. The boxes and one of the machines gave out cans. The other machine gave out larger cups of drinks, and slushies - slightly frozen soda. Besides Red Rocket Cola, there were five other brands of soda: Kiwi, Popping Cherry, Limmy, and two with rather odd names: "People Like Grapes" and a blue raspberry soda named "Blue Balls." For those outside English-speaking countries, the name of the last one can also be a slang term for the feelings of a frustrated guy after he's told to expect a very enjoyable time with a lady and then gets told it's not happening.

Also to the left, there was a table of free goodies from hats, pins, earphones, MP3 players, toothbrushes (appropriate for a sugary soda company), mousepads, and more. On the other side were three game booths with games one might find at a carnival from popping balloons with darts to squirting thirsty slimes with the right kind of soda to ring toss to knocking down cups with balls. Up ahead was DJ "Magic" Moff whom was playing to the large crows, who cheered, "EPIC SET MOFF!!!" The white Crux DJ smiled, "Magic Moff aims to please." In the middle of the crowd was a huskygirl wearing a Red Rocket Cola-themed swinsuit, baseball cap, and headphones and had a plate full of sodas ready for anyone to take. This was Eliwood407 Resident, the person behind the soda dispenser.

I would message Eliwood, whom was pleased to talk about the soda machines, "I would love to! You flatter me." Of where the idea came from, "The idea started when we needed a vending machine, but most of the vending machines on SecondLife had knockoff brands on it, or simply sent a item to your inventory you then attach, we thought we could make it more intractable!"

Of it's development, "Oh the development was rough. Fun but rough! Once we had the original machine working, we added more and more flavors. So I had to redesign parts of the touch screen multiple times. Testing the machine was not a  breeze either. Since you can drop the cups, and other players can pick it up, we had to make sure at no point the script would fail or shout an error. But eventually we ended up with a solid machine that could do soda and slushies! Then we used that code to make a simpler can vending machine, and then we used that code to make an even simpler 12-pack box! But I think the worst part was the SecondLife server to cloud update. Suddenly the machine would not work reliably anymore because of bugs that thankfully have now been fixed, after we found a way around them. ... Yeah it was devastating. All it took was a simple bug; scripts would 'wake up' two seconds after being rezzed, made it very complicated."

I went ahead and asked about the "Blue Balls" soda, asking how could it be advertised? Eliwood responded, "That's a thinker! 'You won't get blue balled with the flavor of Blueballs Blue Raspberry!' I need to hire more consultants and marketers for that flavor name!"

So what new flavors were coming in the future? Eliwood answered, "Oh for sure, I keep getting great suggestions, so there is no lack of ideas. I also think a energy drink variant of the current flavors may be neat! A friend of mine is also pushing me to make a sister brand of sparkling milk in a can. I've never had it and it sounds weird, but apparently it's big in Japan! ... Yeah it sounds weird right?"

Of future plans for Red Rocket, "Aside from the new flavors, I definitely want to make more dispensers. Perhaps ice cream may be something I want to focus on, and definitely food related items. That still feels like a big missing piece to the puzzle. But in the meantime, between working on bigger projects, I like to make silly small stuff that usually end up in the goodiebags! If I feel like making headphones, or a oldschool mp3 player, I make neat Red Rocket Cola texture for it and add it to the goodiebag. I think building up a brand people like is just as important as the products themselves!

"I just hope that word spreads and the brand becomes something great! I really enjoy seeing people wearing the brand and enjoying it! I want it to become something bigger than just me and my ideas. I think something fun people share on SL is most important, because in the end we made these machines for fun, and it should stay that way."

The party went on for a while, Moff playing tunes for a while after the scheduled end. And once he finally stepped down, people continued to talk about goings on such as the Fantasy Faire's Jail and Bail, "That's a lot of people on one simulator." There was also talk about old Second Life games. And there was some joking around about a possible new flavor of soda, "Red Rocket Rainbow Blast." "Red Rocket Rainbow Blast will send you to space and beyond." "Taste the rainbow, but it's better than skittles." People also played the games some, including me. A few were joking around with the soda squirter game, turning the gun around to the crowd. "You are gonna get us all sticky," Eliwood chuckled. As it turned out, the scores were also worth points that meant a prize depending on how high you got. The top prizes were solid gold soda cups, with the second highest being pet slimes. "Weird afterparty." "Best afterparty!"

The beach area (with the games removed) should be up for a little while at Montecito Bay (43/157/902), for those wanting to see, or for those wanting to learn more and buy one of the drink machines. They're also available on Marketplace  (cans) (cups) (boxes). They should soon be available in other places as well.

So for the latest in carbonated beverage machines in Second Life, there's Red Rocket Cola.

Bixyl Shuftan
 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A Personal Change: Updating My Avatar

  
By Bixyl Shuftan

Probably the most personal of things here in Second Life is one's avatar. Some never change. Some are always changing and never seem to have a favorite appearance. Me? While I occasionally change for a contest or event like a holiday, I keep going back to my main appearance, that of my fox avatar. But until recently, it was the first avatar I ever bought here in the virtual world.

When I first came here to Second Life, I arrived in my starter ringtail. When I started coming on regularly in summer 2007, I thought about for weeks what to change to. Eventually, I decided on the Red Luskwood Fox. The only change was replacing the stiff tail for a flexible one. I would eventually get other avatars, as changing to something else for a little while was fun. But as stated before, I would always switch back to the Lusk Fox. 

Time went on and the years went by. Occasionally I would be told the old Lusk was dated and asked me to change. The ears were stiff. The mouth didn't move when I chatted. But I didn't see any other avatar that was particularly appealing enough to change to. I had also heard Luskwood had plans to eventually update their fox avie much the same as their feline ones. Another reason to wait. But due to problems behind the scenes, that was delayed. Eventually I would add a camera and a couple friends made press tags for my hat. But over a decade later, I was still wearing the same avatar from 2007 as my main one. "Maybe someday," I told others whom asked me to change. I just didn't see another fox avatar that I thought was a good replacement to the one I already had.

Eventually, another avatar started looking more and more like a possibility.

Dark Spot Designs caught my attention a few years ago when they discounted the prices for their Fennec avatars to a third of what they were, which came in handy for some "Best in (color)" events, and when I was a certain color for a week after my Relay team reached a milestone. Eventually, I began thinking more and more about their Fox. Finally, I decided to go ahead and get one, the DSD Orange Fox, figuring if it didn't work I could always continue to stick with the Lusk as my main appearance.

It did take a little getting used to, but I came to the conclusion this was the one. 

So why this one particular avatar design and no others? I can't put my finger on it other than to say it just seemed more right. None of the other people among my closer group of friends has a red or orange DSD, though one lady among my closer ones does have a silver one. So maybe this reflects a desire to be unique while having something in common with someone I identify closely with.

There are a number of differences between the two avatars. The older one was simpler, in both appearance and complexity.  The Luskwood avatar is 66K in avatar complexity. The newer DSD is 167K. This is an increase of close to 150%. The newer one has sharper details in places. While the Lusk had red head hair and a smile, the DSD has orange hair with whiter ends, and a more neutral expression, with less white in the eyes and larger pupils. So it looks a little like it reflects a little about me getting older and grayer in real life. It might also give some the impression I've gotten a little less happy and more weary over time. I've had a few friends whom over the years have gone from happy most of the time to periods of sadness and tiredness. While I consider myself in good spirits most of the time, not sure what others would say.

Both avatars are customizable, and I can get both to my preferred height (with the fox avatar) of 5'1". I could go a bit shorter by shortening the legs, but I don't wish too. With the DSD, the ears are flexible, and if I need to wear a helmet can fold them.  The hands are slightly larger. The newer avatar also lacks the chest fluff the Lusk has, so I no longer have to keep undone a couple buttons near the top of my shirt. Among the bigger differences are the legs. The DSD's lower legs and feet are digigrade, walking about on the lower feet, while the Luskwood is plantigrade, walking on heels. This is closer to the foxfolk of the Cyantian comics that helped inspire my choice of avatar in 2007. 

And then there's the clothing. It looks like the DSD can handle my outfits. There is one detail. Because it's digigrade, pants get cut off at the knees.  That may cause a complication at some high end parties, though maybe a longer overcoat would help.

The reactions among others have been mostly positive, mostly. One lady I hadn't met in a while that I've known for years exclaimed along the lines of, "I can't believe it! You actually upgraded to a new fox avatar!" More often were calmer compliments saying it looked good. A couple friends commented they missed the old Lusk some. The majority didn't say much of anything.

So what does this mean for the older Lusk avie? While it won't be used as much, it's not going to be truly mothballed. As the Luskwood is lower complexity, I may use it sometimes in a crowded sim or one with obviously plenty of lag, or if logging in and the textures have trouble loading. More importantly, Luskwood is still in business. While they haven't updated their avatars lately, they're still around to fix things. DSD as far as I know has gone out of business. The avatar is still up for sale on Marketplace and a few places on the Grid, but is no longer being updated. So if the scripts start to break due to viewer and grid updates, the company isn't around to fix them. If too many break, that means having to give up the avatar. But this is unlikely anytime soon.

So after having the same avatar for thirteen years, finally I made the change.
 
Bixyl Shuftan