Archive for the Guides Category

Blue Mars – User Experience Now

Posted in Blue Mars, Guides, How To, Virtual Worlds on September 5, 2009 by luth brodie

The download:
While there are only a few places to visit, you have to download them all prior to starting the program. The first day of open beta that amount is 1.3G. Mildly frustrating now as I download just to take updated screen shots for this post and check out the new UI, its going to get even worse as time goes on.

This is a trade off and I’m not certain what they will do in the future about it. One of the many reasons why SL is more lag invested than your standard MMO is that normally all the assets are optimized and on your computer already. It takes a while to load once you port in; you have to dl the assets of every person around and continue to do so as more people port in. And as we all know after spending enough time in SL and porting around, you have to clear all that information out.

So your download is going to be long, and will only get longer each content update but the trade off is more detailed areas with less lag. The annoying part is in the future when you need hard drive space for cities you don’t like and never want to go to. Another downside of this is that it means it’ll take until the next update for new content to be added, which is unheard of when we are used to the immediate update of SL. Does this mean only cities and not user created content items? Only time will tell.

The Zones:

loading
When you log in you get to the above screen. You click on a floating picture to choose a city. While this isn’t so bad with so few places to go, it’ll get frustrating quickly as more are added.

So, right now you have 5 different cities/zones/whatever you want to call them to explore. 2 of them are games and rather fun for a short time. The other 3 are empty cities, pretty but empty.

Graphics / Avatar / Camera:

The graphics are stunning. The shadows, textures, water, and the way the clothes and hair move are amazing.

You can not change your avatars shape other than the face. Hands down this is probably one of the things I’ve heard about the most. From what I’ve seen from scouring the wiki, there is a high probability that people will be able to make and skin a skeleton in a 3d program and sell it as a package. There is so much more you could do with that way beyond the sliders we have in SL.

So other than all looking like Ruth except for the face (ok the standard av does look better), current hair and clothing options are seriously limited. However you do have some immediate make-up tweaking that isn’t exactly simple. Changing from the horrid purple eye shadow to a more neutral black wasn’t too difficult to figure out.

cosmetics editor

The camera (like general MMOs) is locked to the avatar. Those of us who spend most of our time in SL alt-zooming around will find it extremely tedious to walk everywhere. Who knows if this will be changed in the future?

Shopping / Inventory Awesomeness:

I’m going to kind of gush here for a few mins so just bear with me. Bloody hell this is what has been missing from SL. No more shopping for 3d clothes/shoes/whatever on a 2d box. They are fully rezzed on mannequins where you can actually walk around them to see it all. Since there is only 1 shop that I could find, I’m not certain if this is standard or if the city dev set it up this way – though the shoe shop that is no longer also worked like this.
clothes display

If that isn’t enough for you, you can click on it to bring up a browser of sorts where moving the mouse will rotate it:

No longer do we have to remember the names of items in our inventories. A picture is right there for you:
inventory

Sadly though, there just isn’t much to play with due to the complete lack of content.

Animations:
BM has a built in animation overrider where you can change the walk, idle stance, emotes, dances, and everything else found in the animation menu:
built in ao

Granted the animation editor hasn’t been released so I haven’t been able to play around with much of this yet. The idle stances currently are very annoying and twitchy short loops that are on a much longer timer than SL’s 5 stances. Depending on lots of factors, this is better or worse. For instance, if animating a sway works better in BM and we are able to upload longer anims that aren’t constantly moving we can do some interesting things with this.

Another annoyance is activating an animation or dance as you have to go into the animation menu. Plus the ability to expand the list is non-existent at the current time. Though they do have a scripting language so content fixing this may be in the future.

One thing to note, you can easily shake hands with someone by clicking on them.

Apartment Living:
New to the open beta is the model apartment and being able to play around with moving furniture bits around. It’s pretty simple: just right click to bring up a menu, choose “move”, move your mouse and a highlighted version of it moves, left click to place. To rotate it, you have rotation arrows that you click on. Here is my sound free demo:

In The End:
Like I keep saying, there isn’t much to do right now unless you are a registered dev. Unless you really like walking around empty cities. There are people (sometimes) to chat with, and it’s better now that there is a chat box instead of just the chat bubbles.

The next post will be about content creation. I have it partly typed out, but it’ll be at least a week until I have time to finish it.

Cheers
Luth

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The SecondLife Cycle

Posted in Guides, Op/Ed with tags , , , on March 6, 2009 by hawksrock

I believe there is a general pattern of experiences and behaviors that many (not all) Second Lifers tend to experience.   I feel like I have been through the entire cycle from beginning through to end, so I am going to share my version of it for you.  Obviously people who find a purpose to the game other than just enjoyment differ from this curve.   For instance designers who make a significant portion of their income or educators using SL as a teaching tool would not follow this pattern.   I do feel though that it does apply to most of us average users.

second-life-cycle

Stage 1)  Fresh off the boat

  • This phase is learning and adapting to a new world
  • Learning to move, talk, currency, how to change clothes, etc
  • Most time is spent just aimlessly wandering the grid
  • Will have one or two friendships with other noobs who are also fresh off orientation island
  • Spends a good portion of time lurking and watching in sex clubs and other fringe areas of the grid

Stage 2)  Gimme some L’s

  • This phase is discovering you need more than the basic tools you are given to navigate the world
  • Realizes you need to buy some things to differentiate yourself from the other noobs
  • Faced with the conundrum of not wanting to spend any money on a free game but realizing that one must have L’s to survive results in latching onto freebie culture, camping, or even asking people for money
  • Wants to begin to dump the old friendships as it becomes readily apparent that he has zero compatibility with them outside of being noobs, and demonstrates a propensity to be clingy around people he deems to be part of the cool crowd
  • Develops a nesting pattern of hanging out at a favorite hangout – be it a club, gaming site, or just public area.   Will set home somewhere away from the public area.
  • Continues to explore sims or chase green dots to find populated sims with something of interest going on
  • Jumps on his first set of poseballs and begins to go after potential dates
  • If you have a good personality you might find an older more experienced player who will teach you things like basic building, how to work camera controls, and how to align prims on your body

Stage 3)  Finding your groove

  • Overall this stage is characterized as the high energy phase
  • You dabble in lots of things like building, scripting, terraforming, machinima, fashion, role-playing, blogging, djing, gaming until you find one that really calls out to you
  • You want to make some money so depending on your skillset  you might try opening a store, working at a club, opening your own club, building for hire, escort, etc
  • You buy a house and decorate it just the way you want after scouring the grid looking through every place you can find
  • You have a regular group of friends who you hang out with
  • Love is in the air, and you find your first real mate who sucks up more and more of your time as you can’t get enough of each other
  • You see nothing but potential and upside and you find yourself putting a lot of hours into SecondLife

Stage 4)  Bigger is better

  • In this phase your wants outpace your needs and resources
  • Although you will always remember your first house with a certain fondness, you realize that you need at least triple that many prims to even breathe.  You add land and prims to accomodate your “basic” needs.
  • Maybe you make the plunge and figure that your store could sell 500 times what it is selling right now if only you had a full sim
  • You hire staff to help you with your projects
  • You decide that just maybe that new person who has been hanging around you a lot lately, is much cooler than your current mate, and you move on to your next relationship.   Maybe this one is it, or maybe it is just the first of many because you find you are addicted to that infatuation stage.
  • You are getting a “name” around your circle of friends so you are respected for your skills and personality.  Many of you misinterpret that circle of friends as representing the entire grid and you start to get deluded visions of SLebrity status
  • You have a tight group of close friends, and lots of acquaintances, so that whenever you roll into your frequent haunts, people know your name
  • The hours you are spending in world peak out at as much time as you can put in based on your RL situation.
  • Why buy just one color/combination when the fatpack is available?

Stage 5)  Reigning it back in

  • Hello reality as it starts to smack you hard against the face
  • You grow a little more cynical after having been the target of X or Y drama around either your ex or someone who has the wrong opinion of you
  • You realize that you are shelling out a lot more money than you are making, and that you can’t afford the amount of tier you are paying.
  • You realize that you are neglecting your RL world, and you start to rethink your priorities
  • Many of your closest friends start to drift out of the world, and you find that your tight knit group is falling apart as people move on
  • You find yourself bored in world now, and you aren’t sure what to do to entertain yourself.
  • You dabble in other games and social media outlets in an attempt to find that source of fun again.
  • As you read posts, and hear about drama, it begins to sound like a repeat of things you have heard and been through before.

Stage 6)  Minimal maintenance

  • Bare basic interaction
  • You find that you only log in to check IM’s or to attend select events that your friend is hosting
  • You move onto other games/social networks
  • Any of your remaining friends are added to things like Messenger or Plurk as a means of keeping up to date with them
  • You find that when  you do log into SL, you don’t have people im’ing you
  • You watch as the new stars rise up to take the stage from you, and realize that you are fading out of the limelight and that if you walk into a club, it would be a shock if someone knows who you are
  • You find that when you do log in, it is only to accomplish some sort of purpose or action (ie I need a pic for this blog post, or I saw this on the feed and I really want to buy it – even though no one will probably ever see me wear it.)

What stage are you in?

Translating Bases for the Aussie’s

Posted in Guides, Parody with tags , , , on February 12, 2009 by hawksrock

So earlier I was teasing one of my aussie friends about hitting a certain base on her date with a boyfriend last night, and it came up that she had never heard of the American term for scoring bases.    In my quest to continue to bridge the gap between the diverse cultures out there, I consulted my guide to Aussie lingo as found here, and took a pass at converting the bases over.

First base:  Keeping the wowser from throwing a wobbly by only landing a pash.

Second base:  Give it a burl at her bikkies inside her grundies.

Third base:  Get a captain cook at his chook

Home run:  Crack a fat with his doodle while having a naughty but be sure to use a Franger

Thank you for taking time to further the power of the metaphor across country borders and linguistics.   This PSA was brought to you by your SL Revolution staff.

The 419

Posted in Guides, Real Life, SLove & Romance, Virtual Worlds with tags , , , , on February 3, 2009 by Prad

[10:39] Imas Cammer: Hey baby! How was your day today? x

[10:40] Gull Libel: It was tiring, sweetie… but I’m glad to be home and on SL with you 🙂

[10:40] Gull Libel: And how are you, sweets?

[10:41] Imas Cammer: Hmmm… I have an RL problem. 😦

[10:42] Gull Libel: Oh, what’s up?

[10:42] Imas Cammer: You remember how I told you a few months back that my father died a few years ago, and that my mom still lives in Nigeria?

[10:43] Gull Libel: I remember, baby. You’ve had it rough 😦

[10:44] Imas Cammer: Yeah 😦 Well, you remember when you told me how it’s good for people to help people less fortunate than themselves?

[10:45] Gull Libel: I remember baby… and I’d do anything to help you 🙂

[10:46] Imas Cammer: 🙂

[10:46] Imas Cammer: When my dad left the bank he ran, he left quite a lot of money in a bank account in Nigeria, but my mom says she can’t touch it unless she gets some help… we’d be happy to share some of it with you if you can…

Imagine the ‘419 scam in Second Life, but instead of some suspect email landing straight into your junk folder, it’s an avatar. One which somebody has put work into and made to look pretty, and they start up a relationship with someone, grooming them over several weeks or months until a trust develops between them.

Men are naturally protective of their women. Women instantly want to rush to the aid of their men.

And the scammers aren’t always after your money.. sometimes, information is just as valuable to them.

[07:21] Imas Cammer: I really feel a strong connection with you, baby – I’d love to call you sometime. What’s your phone number?

[21:32] Imas Cammer: Your SL name is nice, but I was wondering today what your real name is, baby?

[16:01] Imas Cammer: I found something beautiful in a store today and I’d love to send it you for your birthday, baby! What’s your address?

It’s only a matter of time before the scammers hit Second Life, if they haven’t already.

Keep your wits about you.

The Business of SL™

Posted in Guides, Op/Ed, Satire, SL® Business, SL® Fashion on January 30, 2009 by luth brodie

Last week I came across a plurk about sometimes wishing they weren’t a business owner in SL™ so they could voice their opinions.

The funny thing is is that it goes against what creativity is at the core: expressing ones thoughts, opinions and feelings. The need one feels to express themselves doesn’t stop at whatever art form they are into. And typically the more creative a person is, the more opinionated they are. That opinion also tends to drift away from conventional thinking probably because most creatives view the world a bit differently. In many cases, certifiable is a good description. There really is a thin line between madness and genius.

Yet SL™ business people have the fear of mad fashionistas hell bent on destroying their business by any means possible. The sad fact is that it’s not entirely unjustifiable. Step out of line and there will be people waiting to push you off the pedestal you most likely never knew you were on. They will tell you, blog it, and tell their friends.

What no one ever says is that it’s impossible to do. There is a heap of historical personal missions of business destructions that prove it. The amount that they will reach is really only a fraction of the residents. Even if it may be the vocal minority and seem like the end of the world as you know it. On the bright side, chances are that someone who’s never heard of you goes to your shop to check you out and may secretly buy products knowing as we all do that this will blow over soon. I can’t think of one example of this ever working. Can you?

Perhaps the opinion fear has to do with the idea that anything written out seems to change it from an opinion to a fact in people’s minds. That somehow saying I ❤ toast means that everyone should ❤ toast and if you don’t, you suck. And then someone somewhere will get butthurt over hurting their cereal’s feelings. When in fact all I’m saying is that I personally prefer toast.

But even not running around with your mouth flapping in the wind will save you. Actions can have the same effect. Take this week’s instance of certain hair creators adding in a script to protect from the rampant content theft. Granted it wasn’t well thought out, but the reaction was still pretty fierce.

It’s as if, in certain circles, the perception of our personalities is far more important than the quality of the items themselves. How many times have you read a review or seen a store suggested based solely on the level of niceness and/or coolness of the creator?

Coolness? You’ve got to be kidding me. We are geeks who sit at the computer for 20 hours a day. And everyone has the ability to be nice. Even serial killers.

Code of Conduct of SL™ Content Creation:

  • Be a person who is approachable and likable, but with out flaws, opinions (at least unfavourable ones) and don’t make mistakes. But don’t be too perfect or else they will hate you.
  • Never have a bad day/week/month/year. Everyone must think your life is all roses. Let anything slip and you are too emo. But again, don’t be perfect because they hate that.
  • Be sociable or else you will be a snob, but too much and you are labelled an attention seeker.
  • Your products are awesome – you made them of course – and you want everyone else to think so. However, talk them up too much and you are conceited. Be too humble and it seems fake or that you have low self esteem.
  • Never copy anything from RL or SL™ unless certain people like you, even if that SL™ “copy” happens to be using the same source photo. However, if you find yourself in the middle of that shit storm, just wait it out. They will be blogging you again in your next release or two.
  • Be professional but don’t let anyone believe you are here just for the money.
  • Have integrity, but never lay it out on the off chance you may change your opinion. You are not allowed to have opinions, let alone change them.
  • Never let on that the level of niceness you are is just an act to relieve them of their L$.
  • Don’t do anything someone somewhere might perceive badly.

The problem at the core of all those rules is that each magical line you must not cross is different for everyone. As a bonus with SL™, it changes frequently and without notice. You will never please them all. One person’s likable is another’s annoyance.

The only person you will ever be able to please is yourself. Be how you are comfortable being and understand that the majority of SL™ really doesn’t care about whatever shit is stirred up this week.

SL from an MMORPG View (for Lowbies)

Posted in Fun & Games, Guides, Op/Ed, Parody, Satire on January 21, 2009 by Orchid

As a gamer, I couldn’t see the point of SecondLife when I first joined.  I had a lot of questions like:

  • Where’s the PvP?
  • Where’s the XP bar?
  • What do I need to do to get items?

Some people may laugh at these questions – but I’d bet any gamer would ask that of a ‘game’ that has a worldwide player base and economy.  The lack of levels really astonished me.   Laugh all you want, but for the longest time (and even now for the most part) I find little appeal in a ‘game’ that mocks the normality of real life.

Shopping, dancing, finding a mate, cheating on said mate, poppin’ out babies:  all this was too close to life.  Yes, even though it is called SecondLife in a very literal way – I still never caught on fully.  In a world which has potential to be anything … why is it the same thing to so many people?

Some of us have a need to gain ‘rank’ or level.  I have devised my own MMORPG type outlook of SL.  Though much time has passed since many of us had real fun while logged in – I feel that if everyone just added some silly (and a lot less crazy) there would be far far fewer blog posts about having the ‘SL Blues’.

Level 1

You start your journey in a crowded village of low level characters.  You can of course power level (aka Skip Orientation Island) past level one – and many do.  Go ahead.  You’ll gain plenty of XP in level two that you have no need for the petty quests in level one.

Level 2: The Awakening

At this point you have learned to walk around and probably even interact with all the strange mobs (players) which spawn randomly (TP and land on your damn head) here and there.  At this low level you still don’t have the ability to rez (build) most likely so its best if you just observe and ask questions.  Gaining knowledge (inventory crap that will tide you over until around level 5) is the biggest XP earner at this level.

Level 3 – Quest Taking

Perhaps by now you have seen other NPCs (people you see standing around but never talk directly to you for whatever reason) but have decided that you need more interaction.  A quest is what you need.  You find a crowded city (club) and make your way to the keep (dance floor).  Though things are quite hectic in this new environment, you are gaining a lot of stats:

  • Charisma (adding people to your friends list)
  • Intelligence (learning about SL and some tips and tricks)
  • Weapon Skill (building/interacting with items)
  • Group Buff (finding out that animations are cause for groups to gather)
  • Armor Bonus (people will likely give you stuff that’s way better than what you have)
  • Guild Invites (likely random group invitations to places you’ll never visit again)

Level 4 – Crafting

The time has come that you choose a profession in SL.  You can’t just be a freeloading hippie!  You have to actually do something.  Whether you decide upon escorting or buying land to make it into tiny boxes to sell for ridiculous prices (Unlock Title:  Glarin’ Baron) you will find your calling.  Crafting is a fine art and with all art comes ridicule.  Don’t listen to those haters.  Rock that shit.  If you accomplish quest titled:  I Am Not My Avatar you may lose favor with some citizens but you gain influence for your high level armor which comes later.  Patience, grasshopper.

Level 5 – Ganking Lowbies

By this point the XP has slowed down compared to the previous 4 levels and now you are desperate to find new quests (new shit to do) but are having a hard time of it.  Now is when you travel to the Great Deserts of the land (sandboxes) and learn the ways of the Gyprims (combination of gypsy and prim).  You watch them build and converse while eagerly awaiting them to go AFK.  Once you are sure they are no longer there, quickly lay a ranger trap (hollow cube) to snare them.  Congratulations!  You have earned the title:  Snap that Trap for snaring 1 Great Desert Citizen and 98234xp!

Level 6 – PvE and PvP

You’ve spent considerable time in this strange world.  You’ve collard someone’s mom and bought yourself prim genitalia.  Now you’re ready for a little PvP (SL Relationship).  This level, though it seems short and easy – ends up in a small scale war which can lead to a huge mob raid (bringing friends into your breakup) which might cause you to have to respec (delete everyone from your list and start again).  Respecing is expensive so do not do this often.  Every time you respec it causes you to gain xp much much slower.

That’s all for the lowbie levels (the first year or so) of SecondLife.  This is seriously how the XP grind and leveling would go if there were ‘real’ levels in SL.  Though these levels are imaginary – no veteran SLer gains enlightenment without going through these lowbie levels.  Nobody.

SLebrity

Posted in Guides, SecondLife® with tags , , on January 21, 2009 by Prad

The term “SLebrity” is the single most stupidest piece of SL lingo around – it suggests a person who is notable or “famous” within the metaverse, although not usually in the wider world.

I cringed when a magazine recently decided I was the Male SLebrity of 2008 – I fear it to be a title which automatically makes a lot of people hate you without ever meeting you. I’d rather people met me before they learnt to hate me – at least then you have a reason for it.

I’m all for people doing notable things – someone who creates fantastic clothing or stunning architecture is fully deserving of a “SLebrity” status. But I prefer to live in a world where people are admired for the work they do to enhance the metaversal experience for us all, rather than who they hang out with and who they know.

There’s a pretty notable circle of SL users who form a small segment of the metaverse – and they tend to all know each other. It tends to be all the same faces – designers, photographers, bloggers, magazine staff, Plurkers and Twitterites. You see the same faces again and again, and you can probably total them up to a thousand or so residents.

The thing is this – the only people who are aware of the SLebritism are within this circle of a thousand or so users. Which is significantly small when you consider that Second Life’s concurrency will consist of several tens of thousands of users.

And the vast majority of these users will never read a blog or an SL magazine. They don’t care for social networking tools, and they don’t care who designs their clothes until they want a refund. They certainly don’t give a damn about “SLebritism”.

So at the end of it, SLebrity status only really covers a very tiny proportion of SL users, and it’s really nothing that great to crave or want. I’ve seen numerous people who are “tag alongs” and are doing all they can to build/boost/protect their precious reputations. They really grasp at what this tiny proportion of the grid seems to think of them as though it’s their path to glory and fame.

Get a grip on yourself.