Monday, May 30, 2011

LEA Avatar Games

There have always been two fun things I have wanted to build in Second Life.  One is a maze that rezzes differently each time you play.  You run this maze looking for the exit while a massive monster of some sort randomly goes rather quickly through the maze.  Every so often is a little avatar sized hole that you can slip through to another corridor if the monster is behind you.  It is faster than you so if you don't get to the avatar hole in time then it eats you.  I think that would be fun.  The other thing I wanted to make was the Avatar Games.

SLURL http://slurl.com/secondlife/LEA3/237/125/30

     The Avatar Games will have its first competition on Monday June 6th at 4pm SL time.  This is the way it works.  There will be 10 contestants who run each Monday.  They start at the bottom of a hill and essentially have to run to the top with the fastest time they can get.  At the end of the season (which may be around 6 months depending on whether people like this or not) there will be the finals with the top ten runners competing against each other.  Oh and there is an audience who shoot at you as you run the course.  Crap Mariner and Honour McMillan will be the colour commentary for the show similar to the two grumpy old men in the Muppet Show.

There is a second life wiki made for the games which you can see here...  http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_Lab_Official:LEA_Avatar_Art_Games

And if you wish to run the course while being shot at by an audience of computer eccentrics then sign up here... https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEIwMjNzb2IxSHB1M2lKNG1RY3BmMGc6MQ&ndplr=1

What I would love to see though is for competitors to create some kind of interesting persona for their character, as we might also try to film the episodes and interview the winners in a silly manner.  I really don't know how this will turn out and its quite possible that it will just be me shooting Crap Mariner as he runs the course while Honour commentates (possibly while shooting Crap as well).  There are not many rules to the game.  Don't cheat.  Everyone should just press Ctrl and R to run and that's it.  Off you go.  No shields or flying or teleporting or enhanced running if that exists.  We will know if you cheat and Crap will mock you mercilessly for doing so.  Also I have supplied a gun for the games.  It shoots a physical bullet that kind of knocks the runner off course a bit (it has a trampoline script in the bullet).  You have to use this gun to make it fair.  Don't use some gun that shoots nuclear missiles.  Mostly I just don't want people coming to me saying "nobody else was shot by nuclear missile gun, so I demand to run again etc".  Its just a fun community event type thing which should not be taken very seriously at all.  In fact I will tell you now that the winner will likely receive something completely useless at the end of the season.  Unless of course we get sponsors or something then it could be quite good stuff.  But if we don't and its just up to me at the end then you can be assured it will be a terrible prize.  So what else.  ColeMarie Soleil will be arranging with competitors when they are to run and letting them know all the details.  Taralyn Gravois might be introducing the competitors each time with a short bio a la Jeopardy.

Right now the games run well.  We have two sims.  One is just for the person running the course and for the Platform Bastard who shoots at them.  It will also fill up with the physical bullets.  So far the lag is minimal so that's good.  The other sim is just for the audience and I will cap that at 30-40 avatars.  It's going to be somewhat laggy on that side but should still be ok.  Its possible I will have to go down to 20 avatars per event.  These are all things I will discover over time.  A great deal of credit goes to Sasun Steinbeck who has created some very useful scripts for this event.  There is a leaderboard which keeps track of the running times rather than use Crap and his wrist watch.  She helped me create my first SL gun which I have named "The Grand Walloper" and she worked out the timing feature too.  So go sign up and let us shoot you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Search fixed?

I was at a LEA (Linden Endowment for the Arts) meeting last week and we got some good news from Courtney Linden about the use of Mega prims on the new LEA art sandbox we just opened (headed up by Sasun Steinbeck, Solo Mornington, PatriciaAnne Daviau and Dekka Raymaker).  The news was that builders at the sandbox were allowed to use mega prims on the land.  This might not seem like very big  news as megas are used all over second life, but why it is somewhat important is that its a policy by Linden Labs that megas can not be used anywhere on Linden owned land.  The reasons for this are fuzzy but from what I understand they are rumoured to cause lag.  I am not sure I believe that, in fact I think it has more to do with megas originally being a user created hack that slipped in at one point before Linden Labs could close the door on it.  They then became Second Lifes version of rabbits in Australia.  Seems more like stubbornness to me on their part.  I would love to be able to separate the rumours from reality but I just can't seem to get a consistent answer.
     I do know that megas used to create jerky camera movements for the viewer.  I experienced that myself so I know it was true.  I have not noticed that recently though.  The LEA group bitched and complained about the megaprim ban for ages now, and to give credit where its due, Dancoyote Antonelli was perhaps the most vocal in trying to get them accepted.  Now Dan and I don't really get along very well, but I do respect him.  Well sometimes.  Courtney Linden is our liaison and she deserves a great deal of credit for changing the mind of someone somewhere to allow this.  Hopefully this policy will move on to other Linden events such as the second life birthday parties and other events they hold.  Would have been good for Burning Life too.
    So as I was saying, at the meeting Sasun Steinbeck was saying that she found it hard to believe that Linden Labs could not fix the mega prim problem.  I replied that I found it hard to believe that the lab could not fix search.  I am not a programmer by any stretch of the imagination, so I am sure it's more complicated than I give the problem credit for, but really the search function is quite important and it has been broken for far too long.  So I was encouraged to find this post that search has now not only been fixed but also greatly improved.

 http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Test-Out-New-Search-Delivering-More-Relevant-Faster-Results/ba-p/891823

I am not a huge fan of the Linden Labs sucks at everything bloggers out there, so these are just a few positive things I wanted to share.

This video below has nothing whatsoever to do with this post.  I just find it funny.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Catching up on a few things..


The BOSL Awards 2011 from Metaverse TV on Vimeo.

I did a post about the Best of Second Life awards a few weeks back and never actually said who won the awards so here they are.  The BOSL awards are unique in that they bring together a bunch of subgroups who never really interact with each other.  There are many different worlds within second life that often thrive without even the knowledge of other groups.  For example I know the artists and somewhat the architects of second life yet I know virtually nothing about models or home furnishings.  The event was a lighthearted affair hosted by Editorial Clarity and Persia Bravin who both did a wonderful job.
     The event is quite long 1:30 min, so I have put the times down for each category.  Now if you are searching for say some nice animations, then just pop over to 29:10 and you will see the nominees and winner there.  I am so very helpful.
Best shoe design 13:05
best SL architect 14:50
best jewellery design 19:10
best skin designer 21:45
best home furnishings 23:40
best poses 26:13
best animations 29:10
best hair designer 31:42
best photographer 33:50
best original artist 36:12
best original project 40:05
best live entertainer 44:48
best new model 48:45
best male top model 50:53
best female top model 54:35
best overall sim 56:28
best fashion accessories 1:06:28
best new fashion designer 1:09:02
best male fashion designer 1:10:44
best female fashion designer 1:12:40
lifetime achievement award 1:15:35
avatar of the year award 1:24:30

And the next thing to catch up on is the opening of the LEA Art Sandbox.  Chantal Harvey did a great machinima of the opening fun.  The LEA sandbox is being run by Sasun Steinbeck, Solo Mornington and the wonderful PatriciaAnne Daviau.  Both Solo and Patti have extensive sandbox experience with Solo being moderator of Artnation sandbox and Patti running IBM Sandbox for years.

Here is the SLURL http://slurl.com/secondlife/LEA5/122/129/24

Monday, May 16, 2011

My avatar and Me

 About two years ago I was contacted by Rob Danton in Second Life to see if I would like to be commissioned to build work for a Dutch movie called My avatar and Me.  The film will be available for VOD at www.constellation.tv in June.  It has been nominated for best documentary at film festivals in L├╝beck, Germany, and Krakow, Poland, and selected to festivals in Amsterdam, Cleveland, Ireland, Spain and Denmark. Also, it has been televised at ZDF and ARTE a.o.   Here is the website to see more. http://myavatarandme.com/

By going to the website you will no doubt instantly recognize Second Life as being a big part of the movie.

The Danish documentary-fantasy “My Avatar and Me” is going to be shown at a special live-event, hosted from Copenhagen, Denmark.

From Grand Theatre both the film and a Q&A afterwards with female lead Helena Kirkorianwill be cinecasted to 12 cinemas in Denmark and to Second Life.  I look forward to watching it.  I think I make a cameo in the movie too, but I can't remember.

So what did I do for this?  Well I will post the synopsis of the movie at the bottom but the main character essentially quests for love and the Long Now Orrey.  I built the orrey for the movie.  You may have seen it in the past if you have come to Immersiva on occasion.  I actually have a machinima which focuses on it so I will put that here as well as a picture.  Also its for sale at my shop if you are interested. (It's 1100 prims though!)
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Immersiva/202/148/1152
I really should promote my gallery more where I sell things.  Did I ever tell you about my first store in Second Life?  It was hidden off on a sim called Danvers State Hospital.  To find it people had to solve a series of riddles and find clues on other sims.  Then to finish it off, if they did eventually find Danvers I had put a large prim over the front door with a picture of an empty room on it.  So if they just looked from outside it seemed like just and empty room, but if they walked in anyway the store would appear.  Seriously, you are supposed to make it as easy as possible for people to find your store I would imagine, yet here I was hiding it in a sim with low traffic and forcing people to spend days figuring out how to get there.  Terrible business plan.  However Hamlet Au from NWN called it brilliant in 2008, which suggests that we should never team up and go into business together.  http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2008/11/brilliant-metav.html



Anyway I really just want to congratulate everyone involved with the production.  Its a huge achievement to do something of this scale.  Not just for the first life divisions but also for the Second Life people involved such as Kean Kelly, Aki Shichiroji, Rob Danton, Dizzy Banjo and Angrybeth Shortbread.  Have a look at the full credit list to see the SL avatars who helped.  Its in the cast section on the website here.. http://www.myavatarandme.com/fullcredits.pdf

Mikkel Stolt - is a troubled and unsuccessful documentary filmmaker, who decides to create a new identity, and join the pioneers and settlers in the virtual world “Second Life” on the other side of his computer screen. He chooses the name Mike Proud for his “avatar” and starts off with a typical off-the-shelf standard body.
Shortly after his arrival, a mysterious and influential woman named Helena picks him up and takes him under her wing. Helena gives Mike a complete makeover, and turns him into a sophisticated avatar, equipped with all the animations he needs to interact with the most advanced users of Second Life.
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Mikkel is very attracted to Helena, and extremely curious to find out more about her, but she refuses to meet him in real life and her true identity remains a mystery.
Helena introduces Mike to Rob, a professional filmmaker who works for BBC in his real life. They become friends and decide to go into business together. The business thrives as Helena uses her in-world influence to pave the way for Mike’s career.
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Mike truly enjoys his new status as a popular member of the Second Life jet set, but Mikkel’s real life is gradually falling apart. He is spending more and more time in front of the computer screen, bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived and out of touch with reality. When his long time girlfriend decides to break up their relationship, it doesn’t really affect him. All he can think about is his virtual career, and Helena, who has become more important to him than his real-life family and friends.
When Helena suddenly departs from Second Life, Mike’s virtual world starts to fall apart. The moment she terminates her Second Life account, Mikkel knows that he has thirty days to watch everything he has accomplished in the virtual world literally vanish forever.
The painful experience of losing his business empire and the love of his “second life” sets Mikkel on a different path, and gradually the gates to a much larger reality start to open.
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His search for Helena brings him to a mysterious Island named Akasha, where he finds the gateway to a parallel world inhabited by mysterious light-beings. The light-beings promise him that he will be re-united with his lost love, but first he needs to carry out a mission, which includes a journey to the Mountain of the Long Now in Nevada, USA, where the legendary computer scientist Danny Hillis is building a monumental mechanical clock - designed to keep time for the next 10.000 years.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Anna's Many Murders






Anna's Many Murders will open at 9am SL time Saturday May 7th.
http://www.slurl.com/secondlife/Bryn%20Oh/217/161/200

A few months ago a land baron by the name of Syn Short did something quite remarkable. She named a sim Bryn Oh and gave it to me. Syn in an interesting character who has shown me that it's quite difficult to believe anything you read. I keep hearing about land woes yet here she is buying up dozens of sims at a time and profiting. Anyway, she doesn't want recognition so I won't go on about her here. Syn gave me a sim two or three months ago and I have just finished a build for it called Anna's Many Murders. For the last few years I had put a great deal of time into the Rabbicorn Story trilogy which had an overall melancholy storyline which was quite close to me. From an art perspective, I find the nature of Second Life or virtual worlds to have the ability to create great depths of emotion. That to me is one of it's greatest strengths as an art medium, so to ignore that ability is folly. When I stepped back from creating Standby at IBM, I really wanted to take a break from, what is to me, a emotional way to create. So that is what Anna's Many Murders is. It's a bit strange, a bit disturbing and with a bit of blue humour. It's essentially about a girl who watches everyone around her slowly add apps and gadgets to themselves until they cease to become human.

Anna tired of body apps
that people used
to fill their gaps.
So with a touch
of profound sadness,
Anna embraced
what we'd call madness.


What I also wanted to do with this build is experiment. I have created a windlight for Anna's which is very dark and placed the build at the cloud layer in the sky. With the sky setting the clouds turn into mist. Under normal sky settings the clouds are just annoying. So if you find you wish to use a different sky setting then you might like to turn off the clouds. To do so go to advanced-rendering-types-clouds. This will uncheck them. Or just press Ctrl-Alt-Shift and - at once. But yes the build is dark and I am trying out illuminating areas with ambient light features.
There is a nice new feature in this build though for Phoenix and Imprudence viewer users. At the start where you arrive you can click a sign to get a variety of things including a windlight file called Anna's Many Murders.wl. It will go to your notecard area in your inventory. If you double click this it will automatically change the sky for you. One of the greatest obstacles to using windlight in the past was trying to convince people to plug it all in and save it. But to not use windlight for me the artist, is tantamount to ignoring a huge part of my artists studio. It all depends on the artists focus though. For me it is essential yet for another artist is may not even be considered nor desired. One day regions will (hopefully) automatically set the windlight for you, but until then this is a very quick and painless way for Phoenix users to try out an artwork that also incorporates windlight.
So turn up your ambient sound (even make sure it is on as it was off by default on a recent Phoenix viewer install) Make the room dark that houses your computer. If it is a big bright room then you will have a hard time seeing anything due to the contrast. The idea is to create an environment where you feel a little bit lost, a little like you can't quite see properly. It's what I think is a way to further devellop Immersiva. To create Immersiva you have to capture the full attention of the viewer. By challenging your vision of the environment I believe your mind will focus more on the monitor and narrative. That is another reason to darken the room you are in. No distractions. It's a test though so please feel free to give me your opinion. The whole idea in the end is for me to learn what works and what doesn't.
Another thing I have incorporated into this build is the use of Kirstens Viewer. Kirstens is the best graphical viewer for Second Life. It has wonderful shadows and things like depth of field. If you have a good computer I would suggest you try installing it just to play with. Below I have written out particular settings for using Kirstens with Anna's Many Murders. I have tried to keep them fairly low so as not to tax your computer too much. My computer is not top of the line but it runs these settings ok.
If you really don't want to do any of this it looks fine on the regions default which is night.

slurl.com/secondlife/Bryn%20Oh/67/208/186




First you will need to go to http://www.kirstensviewer.com/
and download the viewer under downloads at the top.

You will need a pretty good computer for this...

At top right under S21 go to preferences and then graphics.

Set quality and speed to max.
All shaders should have a checkmark.
If you have a great computer then put on shadows.
Water reflections can be minimal but all static objects is better.

under Avatar rendering click avatar impostors and hardware skinning.
Draw distance 80 - 150 is fine.
max avatar 12
max particle 5120
post process quality 9
terrain texture 9
shadow quality 2.2

Mesh detail
objects 12.125
flexi prims 0.8
trees 1
avatars 8
terrain 13
sky 152

under advanced
click local lights and use default stuff above.

under textures
click animate textures, anisotropic filtering, water mip maps
deferred alpha mask.
Terrain detail - high
texture memory 512

shadows is up to you if you use them.
perf-hardware
click use far clip, disable vsync, use full control gama,
disable VBO, enable OpenGL. Antialising 2x or higher.

Global illumination
click box and use default.

Misc
This is fun if you want to try it. But can be confusing.
click toggle DOF effect
camera FOV 95
cameraFNumber 83
Camera focal length 596
camera aspect ratio 2.91
DOF focus transition time 4.67

This is depth of field. It will blur everything except what you are looking at. Point using your mouse at the thing you wish to focus on and it will come into focus.

Under sound and media make sure ambient sound is not muted.

This is one way but fool around to find out what works best for you.

Windlight
"Anna's Many Murders" - Bryn Oh

Under Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Blue Horizon
R=0.15
G=0.09
B=0.10
I=0.15
Haze Horizon = 0.17

Blue Density
R=0.09
G=0.10
B=0.07
I=0.10
Haze Density = 4
Density Multiplier = 0.21
Distance Multiplier = 23
Max Altitude = 322


Under Lighting

Lighting Sun/Moon colour
R=0.22
G=0.18
B=0.20
I=0.22

Ambient
R=0.07
G=0.03
B=0.00
I=0.07

Sun Glow
focus = 0.00
size = 1.0
scene gamma 0.74
star brightness = 0
Sun/Moon position = 1
East angle = 32

Under Clouds tab

Clouds

Cloud colour
R=0.61
G=0.54
B=0.56
I=0.61


Cloud density
X=0.45
Y=0.55
D=0.06

Cloud coverage = 0.64
Cloud scale = 0.18

Cloud detail
X=0.54
Y= 0.48
D= 0.04

Cloud scroll x = 2.99
Cloud scroll y = 0.51


Now click new and save it as "Anna's Many Murders"