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Monday, June 29, 2015

Meeting the Lindens at the SL12B


By Gemma Cleanslate

All the interviews with Lindens at the SL12B at the Dreamatorium have been so enjoyable this week. Each has brought a wonderful  perspective to the thoughts and aspirations for the continued improvement and continued progress in Second Life . I am very encouraged that SL is not going anywhere. Saffia Widdershins with different co-hosts every day did done a remarkable job of interviewing each day and keeping everyone on topic and actually digging into their thoughts. She also took some questions from the audience.  
 
Friday was the pinnacle moment as Astound and Enchantment regions filled up to the max to hear Ebbe Linden. Some who wanted to come in lingered on the edges of Wonderous and cammed in to watch and listen. The crowd was so overwhelming that it took a while to get the voices and cameras synced. As they started, Ebbe was happy to let us know he feels a better comeraderie among the lab and the residents and is happy about that. He spoke of continuing improvements in Second Life. They are working on several new projects besides Sansar: some virtual world games for children, a focus on  cashing out Lindens, and making it safer and easier for residents. 
 
Ebbe enjoys traveling around sl meeting people and talking with them as himself . Virtual Reality  is going to be around a long time and is still being invented in so many ways that Sansar is taking time to be ready to last many years. Second Life has been around 12 years and has a  future. Sansar will be approached to last as many years and longer and is more than a year before it is ready for prime time.

The Lab is working on how to make land less expensive and packages and products for Second Life and other ways to raise revenue. There are so many things going on at the Lab . Ebbe Linden has impressed me as a real leader who is keeping it all going.  I hope you will take the time to watch all the interviews of this past week. All the Lindens who visited at the Dreamatorium had lots to say. Try to watch all the videos . I have heard so many comments that when Sansar arrives the Second Life will become a has been. I have been so encouraged to hear over and over this week that Second Life is not going anywhere. It will continue to develop and be developed. It sounds like Ebbe is willing to do more questions and answers with the residents and committed that to Saffia.  Watch and see!
 

Monday 22nd June – Oz Linden, Engineering Director, Second Life.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPmpchJ6yfM
 
Tuesday 23rd June – Patch Linden, Senior Manager, Product Operations, and Dee Linden, Land Product Specialist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2UD-8ipFRc
 
Wednesday 24th June – Xiola Linden, Lead Community Manager, and Pete Linden, Senior Director, Global Communications at Linden Lab.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf3HN9wywbc

Thursday 25th June – Danger Linden, Sr. Director, Product, Virtual Worlds and Troy Linden, Senior Producer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf3HN9wywbc
 
Friday 26th June - Ebbe Linden, CEO of Linden Lab. 
 
 
 
Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oz Linden at the SL12B


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Monday at 1PM SL time, Oz Linden spoke to an audience at the SL12B Auditorium about his experiences in Second Life. He was interviewed by Saffia Widdershins of "Designing Worlds," and Jessica Lyon, the head of Team Firestorm, Saffia asking most of the questions.

When asked bout what he did before Second Life, Oz answered that he did a number of jobs related to communications and the Internet, hs last job doing "voice-overs" for IP Phone systems. which he called educational, but not as much fun as Second Life. When asked if it was less challenging, Oz remarked "that depends" as with the voice-over, he could just do things with a phone call while with Second Life, not always, "Here I get to do things, people get to create all kinds of crazy ... unpredictable things."

He described his coming to Second Life as he was interested in a fun set of challenges and a fun environment to work in. Asking someone at the Lab if there was anything interesting going on, as it turned out, Linden Lab's Vice President of Engineering was trying to get someone in a certain position at the Lab, and he was hired. He described his role as having "evolved" from there, eventually ending up where he is now, "Mostly I manage what's going on."

When his job was compared to "herding cats," Oz laughed, saying he'd probably have more control over cats, "actually, I have a terrific team." He explained the engineers were there because they wanted to work in Second Life and found the work challenging, "It's a great team to work with."

Jessica commented it must be a challenge balancing new features that work across all platforms. Oz responded, "That's definatley an issue." He commented people sometimes give him ideas that they feel would work well, but it turns out they would only for about five percent of the residents and degrade the expereince for everyone else. When commented that everything done has an impact, Oz answered, "That's certainly true. Anything we do, we can count on some people liking it, many people being indiferent, and some people disliking it." Oz commented the number of complements and complaints was a motivation, "their level of intensity means they care about the product we're working on ... it's no fun to build something no one cares about." Oz was happy to be working on Second Life, and couldn't imagine working on anything else.

Oz mentioned that "We'll be bringing out some terrific nre features and changes that the users are really going to like." Jessica commented from her experiences earlier as a Third Party viewer developer that it could sometimes be hit or miss in what features would be popular for users. She asked Oz if the Lindens get discouraged when they come out with a new feature and the response is flat? Oz answered, "No, I don't think so." He did acknowledge that it could be a challenge for the residents to understand why the Lindens do what they do, "I don't think there have been any ... early in my tenure at he Lab that have been very unpopular, except for those that cause a performance problem."

It was about this point that Oz crashed, getting a few chuckles from the audience about the seemingly all powerful Lindens crashing like everyone else. But he soon came back. Oz remarked that this was one thing that he found very challenging, having come from a field "where if you only have 99.999 reliability, your product is junk." Whereas in Second Life, while people complained about the crashes, they were more or less accepted as part of the Second Life experience, "I've always worked in worlds where crashing 1% of the time is disastrous, and here I am in a world where the best crash rates are much higher. It's very challenging." The Lindens themselves, Oz explained, were not taking this acceptance as a reason not to improve the crash rate, "none of us thinks it's okay just because the viewers ... " Someone suggested that the tolerance was because many Second Life residents had memories of the dial-up days of the Internet in which getting on and getting anywhere could sometimes take a while. Oz commented, "That's an interesting theory."

Of the projects he's worked on, Oz felt one of his favorites were the Windlight settings. He commented in the official viewer, the default was to use region settings, "I've got quite a list of things that ought to be part of ... settings." When asked if they could get the light differently at different levels in a sim, such as sunrise on the ground and Midnight in the skybox, Oz didn't think they would be doing that, at least not anytime soon. He stated there were several reasons for that. When asked if the day and night cycle could be made into a 24 hour one instead of about every four hours, Oz answered "Maybe," but he couldn't say when, saying the cycles were currernly "bakes in." He did say it would make things easier for him in some ways, bringing up inworld meetings, "I would like it whenever I hold it to be daytime."

"I run the development team," Oz stated, "beneath and around us is the operations team. They're the ones who really keep it going. We're the ones who change it every now and then." The operations team had to take care of "thousands and thousands" of simulators, "they do an amazing job." He talked about "just the other day" when they were rolling in new software on a rack of servers when there was a "catastrophic failure. ... a whole rack of stuff went down, and Second Life users did not notice." Jessica commented things had changed a lot since the old days when the Grid had to be taken offline when there was an update.

When asked if he used a non-Linden avatar, Oz stated almost all the time he spent inworld was as Oz Linden. He went on to say that employees of Linden Lab besides the Linden avatar also get a premium one, but he had forgotten the password to it. But he did have an ordinary one from "a few years" before he joined the company, "I use that one for testing when I need another avatar." He commented when he started, he seemed to get more anxious responses from the residents than he does now. He wasn't sure if that meant a change in the population, or if residents were more relaxed. He had been going around "as Brad Pitt with a flak jacket," and these days people are generally excited to see him.

When asked about any hobbies, Oz Linden did say that he had tried the Linden Realms game. He had also tried some one the games that the residents had come up with, though didn't say which ones. He did say he didn't have any building skills, adding when he was setting up his account, he handled the appearance part of the process to his son, "make this somewhat like me."

When asked about if there was anything upcoming he was looking forward to, he commented, "I'm going to leave most of the leaking to Ebbe, he seems to enjoy it." He stated there would be some experiences handed out that people should enjoy, though it would take some time. There were also other projects, "genuinely new stuff for Second Life. ... I'm not giving any hints though, we are working with some residents."

When asked if he had anything to do with the new grid in development, Oz commented he has a tendency "to ignore what foes on Project Sansar ... unless it's an all hands company meeting," saying they generally have some announcement about it then.

When asked if he intended to stay in his "current role," Oz commented, "I have no plans to change, I love my current role." He stated he wasn't much of a job hopper, but also, "this one's the most fun I've had in a long time."

Following that were some questions from the audience. These included the new Grid, "We'll see if in the end they manage to outdo everything we have in Second Life." Issues with Windows, such as support for XP discontinued after Microsoft no longer would, and testing Windows 10 for eventually support for that later, as the official viewer was "not officially supporting it just yet." When asked if the official viewer would soon have a 64 bit option,

Oz answered "at some point, I will try to carve out some resources. He did have one bit of advice for residents. He commented better memory for graphics would be better for the Second Life experience than a graphics card. It was at this point Oz crashed again, "You jinxed him Jess."

After Oz came back, he was asked if Linden Lab was working on it's own streaming version of Second Life with SL Go discontinued. Oz answered, "actually when SL go was shutting now, we had some discussions about whether we could pick up a streaming interface." But as one or two more companies seemed to be "making a go at it," they decided to wait and see. It was his observation that although this was intended for tablets, those who used SL Go to improve the performance on older computers, "that was the real loyal audience."

It was soon after that it was time for the discussion to end. "Thank you Oz for joining us," Saffia told him. Oz answered, "It was a lot of fun."

Chakat Northspring of Team Firestorm would later upload a video of the event. As of the writing of this article, no transcript was available.



(Click here if the video fails to play)

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Couple Humorous Stories (2007)


By Bixyl Shuftan

This was my very first article about Second Life, sent as a Reader Submission to Second Life Newspaper in October 2007. The picture is from September 17, 2007, possibly from New York City Block. The stories are a rather amusing incident just after I got my red Luskwood Fox avatar, and another when I dropped in on the New York area.

*  *  *  *  *


Second Life has been full of funny moments. Here's a couple that stick out.


The first relates to my avie. I had started out with the ringtail foxfolk, partly to stand out, and partly as a reflection of my love of science-fiction. A friend gave me some cash to upgrade, but I postponed it for a while, giving some thought on what to upgrade to.

While in a store looking over options, I got the attention of a couple others, "I don't see too many still in their original skin," spoke one. I explained I was thinking over my options. "Well, I'd make a decision soon. The way you are now, people are going to think you're new. With a new avatar, it's going to change how people look at you."


A friend of mine had recently joined Second Life, so the next day I made my decision. I decided to stay a foxfolk, but with my family part redneck, and one of the online sci-fi comics I read it's red foxfolk were traditionally laborers, I got a Luskwood Red Fox avatar.

So did the way people saw me change? Well, the next day while exploring around, a woman walked up to me, and propositioned me! She was a cyberhooker looking for a few bucks.

I've never "paid for it" in real life, sour love life or no, so I politely declined. I guess since I was out of my "baby coat," she assumed I had cash.

A couple coworkers of mine had plenty of tattoos, piercings, odd hair, filed teeth, etc., and managed to find women to marry them. So perhaps it's not hard to imagine that some girls would go for a "foxy guy." ;-)
 

*****

 My second story had something of a somber beginning. It was Tuesday, September 11, the sixth year anniversary of that dreadful day. In SL, I stopped by a memorial to pay my respects. I was going to teleport out for the evening, but recalled a recreation of the Twin Towers next to the "New York City Block" area. So I teleported there to see if there was any memorial there, and landed in the middle of a conversation between two ladies, "Hey, there's a fox on your head." ;-)
 

I greeted them, and they welcomed me into the conversation. It turned out they were both New Yorkers, from Brooklin, and they were in on the design of the place, basing it on their home turf. We discussed 9-11, the ceremonies that day, and a third lady soon joined in.

In the middle of the talk, a guy ported in, and walked up to a couple of the girls. It took a few moments for him to rez, so we thought nothing of it at first. Then below his belt, a certain obviously male extremity appeared.

I wasn't sure what was going on. Was this guy last at a nude beach or somewhere and he forgot? So I typed the first think that came to mind:

"Excuse me, your fly is down."

And the girls burst out laughing. I wasn't sure how the guy would react. He reacted by porting away almost immediately. One girl spoke, "What happened? I didn't see (him fully rez)." We explained to her, and concluded it was some creep who was trying to get his jollies by shocking the girls. But instead got humiliated by my one-liner.

One of the girls and I exchanged friendships, and we've continued to keep in touch.

Guess my cheesy puns are good for something after all.

Bixyl


* * * * *

The first story I continued to look back with chuckles. As it turns out, lots of girls in human avs don't mind a little hair on the chest when it comes to dating. Of the second, It was the owner of New York City Block Cheri Bing I became friends with. And we kept in touch for years until real life would force her off Second Life. As for me, this would be the first of many, many articles I would be writing about Second Life.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Interview with Frets Nirvana


By Bixyl Shuftan

Frets Nirvana is a musician in Second Life best known for the benefits he helps organize at Veterans' Isle every month. Just before the concert in May, I had a chance to interview him and ask him a few questions.

Bixyl Shuftan: "So how did you find out about Second Life?"

Frets Nirvana: "Through a former employee and friend, Von Johin. He was performing in SL, told me about it and helped me get started."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So you had a friend performing here? What did he tell you about it?"

Frets Nirvana: "He basically said it was fun and you could actually make money performing (at that time! Ha-ha!) Anyhow, he had not heard me play before although he had worked for me. When he heard me play ... he said they would love what I do musically in SL ... and encouraged me to perform in SL."

"That was about five years ago now ..... Due to real-life he is no longer performing in SL, but he used to a lot."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did your first few days go here?"

Frets Nirvana: "Well the first performance was great. I performed at his venue and he helped promote it. We had sixty people that night. After that his manager helped promote me and I was off and running ......playing a lot of covers with my own arrangements of other people's tunes."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sixty people, that's pretty good."

Frets Nirvana: "Yeah ...Von was pretty well established at that time, so it helped. After that though ...it was a lot of hard work, and a bit of a struggle. I was not singing at that time ...just doing all instrumental. So it was a harder sell."

Bixyl Shuftan: "About what point did you include singing?"

Frets Nirvana: "I also tried doing a duo with a female singer. That was going well ... unitl (laughter) she bumped me and went on her own. Kind of the story of my musical life with singers."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oops, what happened after that?"

Frets Nirvana: "I strated singing about six months after I entered Second Life. I had never sang lead vocal before ...just backup. But I figured out that I needed to sing if I was to have more success in SL, and well ... I just jumped in and worked on it and went for it. (laughter) Hopefully not offending anyone. Along with my guitar playing it is something that I have worked on a good bit. Although I will probably never be a love song singer."

"Kind of like everything for me in life ....I just make a decision that I am going to go for something, and work hard at it and do it."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What did audiences think at first?"

Frets Nirvana: "Well ...(laughter) nobody left due to singing to my knowledge. And they seemed to like it, and my crowd and bookings grew ... so guess it was a good decision."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles a bit

Frets Nirvana: "But of course ...guitar picking has always been the feature."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "when did the idea first come to you about doing bennefit events for veterans?"

Frets Nirvana: "That idea came about the same time ... about six months after starting performing in Second Life.  I saw all the activity forRelay for Life, and some other causes, and thought 'gee, why not for vets?' If not for them we could not be doing any kind of benefit for other causes .... or for that matter Second Life ... huh, trying living in Syria or Iran!"

"So, I took the initiative, and started it. Take note,I am not a vet. I just feel strongly about what they do and how they sacrifice, and how they should be supported. ESPECIALLY in today's world.

Bixyl Shuftan nods again, "How did the veterans respond to your idea?"

Frets Nirvana: "Well, once I figured out who to get in contact with, they responded well and jumped right in. Some of the original people involved are no longer in SL much, but it has kept on going. Dahlea Milena is a BIG part of that at this time. She has been sooo helpful and supportive."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "I recall the events were first at Patriot Island for Wounded Warriors"

Frets Nirvana: "In general though ....it all had to picked up by the bootstraps at first of course .... And yes, until last fall, all were for Wounde Warriors Project. I switched allegiance to Homes For Our Troops at that time. one main reason, lack of support by WWP. I won't go into that any further. They still do good work but HFOT is much more supportive and I feel that the percentage of dollars that actually help Vets is higher with HFOT."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What was the most successful of these events?"

Frets Nirvana: "Mmmm ,,,, well it is really hard to say on that. It varies really, and so far I have not really found a definite 'this is the best.' But I can say this soemtimes we have raised as much as 300,000 Linden for vets in one month. I keep trying to keep the trend going up."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "I wasn't familiar with Homes For Our Troops before. Where did you hear about them?"

Frets Nirvana: "I found HFOT on the web. I was searching for an organization that would be more supportive, and I talked to a lot of them. Amazingly, many did not want to get involved, and I have some theories on that (government!). But HFOT jumped right in and said yes."

"I hope we can honor that support with soem excellent donations going to HFOT. They do great work."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds great. Did they have someone who was familiar with Second Life?"

Frets Nirvana: "No, they were not familiar with Second Life. I had to educate them on it. But they were open right away to hearing about it. Others seemed to resist.""We have sent over $45000 to help veterans through WWP and HFOT in the last five years."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Forty-five thousand dollars, that's pretty impressive."

Frets Nirvana: "I would like to do that in one year! An then increase it from there (laughter)."LOL

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh heh ... Have any of the veterans made an effort to involve another charity?"

Frets Nirvana: "Yet ... on an aside, Relay for Life states they $250,0000 in one year, so why not for vets? Not that RFL is not a good cause."

"Not aware of vets trying for another charity. But if they do,good for them. But I know what I went through getting this set up, a lot of work."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What other benefits for veterans in Second Life have you heard of?"

Frets Nirvana: "Well ....I haven't really ...."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Just one time performances and nothing else on a regular basis?"

Frets Nirvana: "Usually .... Since I have been involved in this for some time now, if someone wants to do something for vets they will contact me, and I give them donation kiosks etc. .... there are others who do benefits, but they will use our donation kiosks etc."

"So if that is what you mean, there are venues here and there that do things, but not on a regular basis like our monthly benefit. But I WELCOME that big time. Our vets need all the help we can get. RFL does not, collects $250,000 with one benefit! (laughter) But I don't have the time to organize what they do."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "Besides the charity events, can you tell me what else goes on at Veterans Isle?"

Frets Nirvana: "As far as Veteran's Isle .... candidly you would have to talk with Dahlea about that."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "Did you have any plans for special events soon?"

Frets Nirvana: "Well, we have one event a month that I organize,last Sunday each month. That is about all the time that I have to be able to organize an event. But I definitely welcome anyone who wants to put something together for HFOT. ... this months benefit, May 31. Then the next one will be June 28 .... etc. Always last Sunday of each month from 5-9 PM at Veteran's Isle. That way we have at least one benefit, and hopefully establish a schedule that people put on their calendar."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "Were there any venues that you performed at which had benefits of their own?

Frets Nirvana: "Not on a regular basis .... thinking about it, I cannot highlight any that I perform at that have benefits for vets. But I would welcome that."

Bixyl Shuftan checks the time, "Was there anything else that you wanted to mention?"

Frets Nirvana: "Just that I encourage people to take the time out of their busy lives and think about the needs of our wounded veterans ....and help as they can. And if anyone wants to sponsor an event for HFOT, contact me."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Thank you for your time and good luck."

It was then that we parted ways. Shortly afterward, Frets messaged me about one more detail, "Here are a couple more names that have been very supportive.  Jardasius Ecksol, Checkers Firelight and Vicktoreeia Resident. They are the primary ones that come to mind that sponsor events other than our monthly benefit. They do a lot with motorcycle clubs in Second Life. If you do mention other people, please make sure to mention them."

Shortly after this interview, the May 31st benefit on Veterans Isle took place. It was a success, raising 200,000 Lindens. Frets is still doing well at what he does. The next fundraiser there is Sunday June 28. Before then, he can be found performing at a few venues across the Grid.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Eternal Knights Motorcycle Club


By Leona Kitty

It is time to break the misconception! So we have all heard about Biker clubs and some of us have even followed the hit series Sons of Anarchy which, while exciting, did not help to promote a very good image. But today I went on a fun journey with one of my longest and closest friends in Second Life, Savage Sykes.

Savage is the Sergeant at Arms for the Eternal Knights Motorcycle Club. Now, I have to admit, he has spoken to me on several occasions about the MC and I never really knew what it was all about. This afternoon he brought me over to the sim where I had the pleasure of meeting the President and Vice President, Grizzly Nightfire and Callie Brune. They spoke with me about the MC. Eternal Knights was formed over 2 years ago after "Grizz" had spent time in a few MCs and never really fully agreed with how things were done. He wanted to bring something new to an MC. He believes in complete fairness, meaning everyone in the club, including himself follows the rules at all times and are all treated with respect and he is big on structure in the club. They, unlike other MCs are very family oriented and when they gave me a run down of some of the activities they did I was blown away!

I had always assumed being a part of an MC was riding around in a circle on a dirt track and being bored the rest of the time. Not only was their on sim track amazing, the activities presented were as well. They have things such as bowling, boxing, fishing, obstacle course, gun range (which by the way no guns are allowed on sim aside from the gun range), a games area and so much more! The sim was set up with a swamp type setting and one of the things I enjoyed the most was that their offices were not bunched together but located across the sim and even some off of the ride track.

It was very obvious that this MC lives up to their motto, "Be strong enough to stand alone, be yourself enough to stand apart, but, be wise enough to stand together when the time comes". They really do come across as a family. They keep a calendar with all upcoming activities and rides.

One of my favorite things I found out today while visiting is that the Eternal Knights focus a great deal on charities. They are currently supporting Homes for our troops which you can find more information on this at http://www.hfotusa.org/. They have hosted concerts, carnivals, bike auctions, all of which were donated for the cause as well as live singers donating their time as well. Recently, during their 2 year anniversary they collected over $400 USD for charity!

So, how does one become a part of such a great club? Well, the first step is to speak with a Recruiter. They will give you the bylaws and expectations. For about 2-3 weeks you are termed "Supporter" while you get to know everyone in the club. After this time the officers will take a vote to make you a Prospect. Once this happens you will continue to focus on getting to know the members as well as put together an event. After this you will take a test in the council room and at the next weekly meeting they will vote to see if you will be patched in. There are several different ranks in the MC, each of which holding a good deal of responsibilities, and over time as they open you are able to apply for these and again, be voted in.

I could go on and on with the information I learned today but instead, I highly encourage you to check them out! You can contact Alyssia Steamer or Willow Rexen for more information.

Leona Kitty

Monday, June 1, 2015

SLife and Times: When Exploring Becomes a Pain in the Neck


by Ozymandius (0zymandi Resident)

After being warmly received by Star Raven who kindly took the time to show me around the immense multi tiered sim of INSILICO, I was looking forward to my next assignment. I had never been to the MadPea sim and was curious to find out more about the gaming company so I sent an IM to Kiana Writer, the founder of MadPea, requesting an interview. A day went by and I received no response until K’ess (Kess Crystal), who I can only assume is the press liaison for MadPea sent me a message explaining that Kiana Writer was too busy to return my IM but she was willing to answer my questions. This message had been left while I was offline, so I replied only to receive the following message… "(busy response): The Resident you messaged has activated Firestorm viewer's 'autorespond mode' which means they have requested not to be disturbed.  Your message will still be shown in their IM panel for later viewing.”
 
The following day I received a message from K’ess, stating that she would drop me a notecard. I checked my inventory from time to time but found no notecard from Kiana, K’ess or anyone else from MadPea so I sent a message to K’ess explaining I had not received a notecard. The following day I received a notecard from K’ess outlining the fact that, over the last 8 years, MadPea produced over 60 different puzzles, adventures, hunts and games and they were currently promoting a Horror Survival Game called “UNIA”.
 
According to the notecard; "players find themselves abandoned in a small town where a number of people have gone missing...players find themselves having to solve puzzles, crack codes, fight monsters and survive booby traps in order to solve the mystery and escape their fate." UNIA launched on the 27th April, after 2 years of development, and has already had over 1000 players.
 
After reading the notecard I sent an IM to K’ess requesting the opportunity to photograph the sim where the game takes place. She was kind enough to send me a teleport to the starting point but explained I would not be able to enter the sim where the game was taking place. The starting point looked to be a junk yard in the middle of a dustbowl town and while the ambience of the sim intoxicating there didn’t seem to be much reason for the lag or the three crashes I experienced while trying to photograph a few signs, some rusting cars and a couple of turkey vultures flying over head. Finally I decided to adjust my graphics settings to try and reduce the lag when I began to received multiple notification from someone named “Lareda”. It was then I realized that a 2 month old vampire was trying to bite me.

“Hi Lareda,” I typed. "I'm writing a review of this sim for the SL Newser, are you trying to bite me?"
 
“ops ..if u dont want u can dont agree” She replied.
 
Clearly her command of the English language was not one of her strong suits, but she was a cute little blood sucker so I engaged her in a side interview and asked her how long she had been a vampire.
 
“yes.” She replied.
 
Perhaps she was from Eastern Europe.
 
“Why did you become a vampire?” I continued to interview her as a way of distracting myself from my growing disinterest in the sim.
 
“i like vampires.” Lareda replied with the kind of insight one might expect from a two month old vampire.
 
Then I began to think, maybe she’s a plant. Not like a plant because plants can survive without brain activity, but a plant like, maybe she is part of the MadPea game and I should let her bite me in order to gain entry into the other sim. What genius! After all this would explain the MadPea catch phrase; “Release the monster within”
 
“u know bloodlines?” She asked.
 
“No I never heard of them.” I replied.
 
“They are my clan, I take u to there.” She said.
 
This is it! This is the true brilliance of MadPea, they lull you into a false sense of security with a barren, lag filled environment then send a cute little vampire to lead you into the horror that awaits. So I eagerly accepted Lareda's teleport and soon found myself deep within the bowels of the Bloodline home sim.
 
With the regional wind light setting this is a dark and murky world full of daunting shadows and foreboding passages but if you readjust your sun direction to noon and it could easily pass for Disney Land. The bright light also helps to spot the night crawlers and it was then I was able to get a better look at Lareda’s clan who, aside from their pointy teeth, reminded me a lot of how my own middle class family would get together in a suburban park for a Sunday afternoon barbecue.

They were sweet, not very hospitable as they didn’t offer me anything to eat, not that I would have accepted, I’m a vegetarian, but sweet and affable folks all the same. As for Lareda, I was beginning to fall for that barely literate child of the damned and, now that I had met her family, it was time to think long and hard about what our next move would be.
 
“so u want be vampire?” She asked.
 
“That depends,” I hesitated. "Will becoming a vampire get in the way of my career as a Second Life photo journalist?” I tried to get my avatar to look her avatar directly in the eye when I typed this but our AOs were not in sync. This seemed a tragic metaphor for our relationship. We were crazy for each other but we were from two different worlds and our professions, me as a seeker of truth and knowledge and her as a destroyer of souls, had us moving in two different directions. Maybe that was the sign. That and the pentagram carved into the chest of her pot smoking skater cousin.
 
“Well Lareda,” I said with much regret. “It’s time for me to go.”
 
She sent me a friend request. Maybe she felt what I was feeling, maybe she was holding on to the desperate possibility of a future together, or maybe she was still trying to bite me. Who knows?
 
As for my review of MadPea’s latest game UNIA, I don’t really have one. The Gold Pea Game Pass costs 1000 Lindens ... Lareda bites for free.
 
 Ozymandius
 

Friday, May 29, 2015

News and Commentary: Avatar Trouble at the Basilique Linden Meet-Up


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Thursday May 14, Linden Lab had their "Inworld Meetup," in which a number of Lindens would show up at a certain time and space and answer questions the best they could. Before the meeting, Xiloa Linden posted in the Linden blog about a thread where residents could suggest where the meeting could be held. Early in the thread, Canary Beck suggested her place, Basilique, at the Our Island sim, "I would love to help you host a meeting here if you like." A few others seconded the idea, and so Xiola chose it as the place.

The description of the area was a nice one, "A lovely town on the shore of a northern Italian lake. Walk the square and waterfront piers, relax in the bars or cafe, or row around the lake. Meet new people that also aim for immersiveness and accuracy in a friendly setting." There was a webpage with more info at http://bit.ly/thebasilique .

I arrived late at the meeting, near the end. So all I caught from it were a few questions about the SS Galaxy that went unanswered. As the place was pretty packed, I imagine it wasn't easy for the Lindens to keep track of them all. Before long, Xiola Linden told everyone, "Thank you all for continuing to populate this place with awesome things and looks and builds and personalities!"

But not everything was awesome. Shortly after my arrival, I got an IM.

Miss Ford (julietford): Hi Bixyl, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)

What the hey?

In my over eight years in Second Life, only three times have I been asked to leave a sim because of my appearace. And two of them were probably from the same location, once a friend inviting me to a club (Frank's Place), and getting told to ditch my foxlike appearance or leave (I was halfway to the door when apparently someone decided I wasn't moving fast enough and booted me out). There were a couple other times with an astrisk, once a friend inviting me to a beach, then fifteen minutes later suggesting that we both head somewhere else as someone IMed her furred avatars weren't welcome, and once when I took part in a "Bid Me Human," and being told to avoid another beach where human avatars were unwelcome. While others whom prefered furred avatars have complained about being rudely thrown out of places, it's my personal experience it's pretty rare.

So I responded matter of factly.

Bixyl Shuftan: Um, this is the avatar I use for journalism. I only use what you're asking for activities like RFL "Bid Me Bald."

Miss Ford then responded.

Miss Ford (julietford): That's alright. You don't say.  I heard other people use what I am asking for activities like RFL Bid you Bald too.


So Miss Ford was an avatar with a greeter script and an AI to give responses based on statements to her. A bot. I would later find her tucked away in a bakery. Anyway, I was determined to stay, and I noticed other nonhuman avatars around. So apparently we weren't being given the boot. But before long, other people began IMing be about the problem. Nydia Tungsten, who was there, sent me the conversation she had with the bot.


Miss Ford (julietford): Hi Nydia, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)
Nydia Tungsten: even if it is a Linden meet up?
Miss Ford (julietford): Yes, even that.
Nydia Tungsten: you will boot me for my choice of Avitar?
Miss Ford (julietford): What makes you say that I will boot you for your choice of Avitar.
Nydia Tungsten: only human avatars are permitted here
Miss Ford (julietford): What about the other ones?
Nydia Tungsten: those were your words to me LOL
Miss Ford (julietford): All of them? I'm glad you find this amusing.
Nydia Tungsten: one moment while I try and find a human AVI
Miss Ford (julietford): One what?


DrFran Babcock was also there, along with her furry bat friend Areal Loonie. She got the okay for this bit of IM chat to be published.


Areal Loonie: I'm being asked to leave because of my avatar
JulietFord: Hi Areal, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)
Areal Loonie: are you saying that I have to leave because of my avatar?
JulietFord: Yes, that's what I mean, isn't it clear?


It wasn't just furries who were having problems. Talun Resident, a tiny, told me about problems he had observed, "I went human, and for the brief time before I crashed (there) were several being asked to leave, they were protesting in open chat ... strict dress code/avatar rules." He told me of one friend whom had trouble, "Arabella went early to scope the place out I believe, ended up ejected and banned, furry. And (in the) early part of the meeting, they started asking people to leave." In the case of Arabella, "they meant it, ejected and banned, (an) hour or so before the event. I sent an alt to look, cos I is tiny." Talun did say this wasn't the first time he'd been given a rude reception, "I once got asked to leave an adult sim. Wrong sort of 'beaver.' (laughter)"

Arabella had posted in Xiola Linden's thread, "I have been just been ejected from the region and banned. The sim owners have a humans-only rule, and refuse to suspend it for the meeting. I have seen several Lindens with non-human avatars, as well as there being a large number of furry residents. And they seemed to be saying it's your fault for picking the venue." I sent Arabella an IM, but as of the writing of this article have yet to receive a response.

Before long, I went back to Basilique. With the meeting over, would I be tossed out, or would the people around be civil? I soon came across a small gathering of locals, mostly human, but with one domestic cat (what furries sometimes call a feral) among them, presumably talking about the meeting, just as one was saying, "and no one wanted to detach their (penises) and such." Another mused, "Well sis, it's a part of themselves." A third went "(name) didn't care to be (name) the eunuch." After a few chuckles, one noticed me and greeted me in a friendly manner, "Hi Bixyl! (smile)" Others joined in the friendly greetings as well. At least these locals didn't have a problem with furries.

Of the Linden meet-up, one local told me he had also joined in at the tail end. Another told me the event had taken her by surprise, "I was wondering why there were so many people around outside." Someone joked, "We were going to have a Linden toss, but decided it (was) best not to." She later commented more seriously, "It's hard to have anything really happen with so many people, and so little time to plan. ... I liken it to the Rolling Stones turning up to play a small club. The whole town comes unglued."

I brought up the forum thread in which the sim had been chosen to be the place for the Linden meet-up. The locals acted positively, "So everyone voted Basilique? How freakin awesome." "Thats great." I then mentioned, "There was one thing at the tail end of the forum thread though, someone saying she got booted." One looked at me surprised, "Booted?" Another responded after reading it, "Well they clearly weren't booted for not being human." A third told me, "Two people were booted out of well over a hundred. ... I don't think that is why they were ejected." A fourth, "What did they do? I didn't get it."

I asked the third person for her opinion why this someone had been booted. Her answer was, "They were just being rude and difficult. And at that point, you really do not have time to be nice about it. There was 104 at one time. But that doesn't count all the unique visitors either. And trust me when I say, Becky is slow to boot, not like me. (smile)." She told me she had enough administrator powers to boot someone if she felt it was needed. The feline mused, "Dammit I didn't know ... I've always been very very nice to you, haven't I ... ?" It seems this admin didn't think the "humans only" rule was worth enforcing.

Of the bot that was giving people the message that irked people, the admin told me, "The bot just states the rules for the sim ... but they cannot differentiate who is a furry or a tiny." Another local asked "Does Basilique discourage furries?" The admin answered, "Yes, and no kids. But like anywhere, exceptions are made. ... There was a wolf-man kind of guy here. He didn't get kicked." The feline commented, "I think the rules were suspended while the event (took place) Bixyl. I saw loads of anthro in the streets." I asked, "So either they were (booted) because of bad behavior or by accident?" "Bad behavior," the admin told me.

The conversation went on for a little longer before I bade everyone farewell and walked out. As I headed to the pier, the feline IMed me that my reception next time might not be so friendly, saying furries were not usually allowed, saying "rules are rules" and that the owner told him herself they weren't allowed. I would then send a message to the owner, Canary Beck, about the problem. She would answer later than night, and when I tried to explain she asked me to send her any questions via a notecard. I did, including one asking her to explain the reason why the place didn't allow nonhuman avatars. I would get no response from Canary.

I would return a few days later. There was no attempt to give me the boot. I didn't hear the bot message me either. Was there a change of policy? Maybe not, as there were signs around that nonhuman avatars were discouraged. I then logged in with an alt. After a few minutes came the bot message. Walking about as the alt, there were a couple of avatars who logged out when I got near, but no one complained. Dropping by the bar where a couple people were, two people were willing to talk to me.

Going about the sim, it was nicely detailed and done, with lots of fine details such as shopping stands and the peirs. There was one thing I noticed. In one corner of the sim, there was a club building where ban lines appeared when I approached. Was this the one place that was truly exclusive of non-human avatars? I didn't try to join as I was maxed out with groups, so I could only speculate.

My investigation was less than conclusive. I have yet to get Arabella's answer to the admin saying only those causing trouble were booted, but it's looking like a case of one's word against the other. With Canary not talking, it seems nonhuman visitors are okay on the sim when she's not around. When she is, I can only guess. Perhaps nonhumans are discouraged rather than truly prohibited. It's still enough to annoy many furs whom keep telling me they're tired of people questioning their choice of avatar to the point entering a room that suddenly goes quiet, they see as being given the silent treatment. Other furred folk just tale it in stride, feeling life, or Second Life, is just too precious to let people get them down for long.

On Basilique's webpage, I found a link to Canary Beck's own blog. I didn't see anything about why she would want only human avatars at Basilique. But there was one post in which she brought up a Zogby poll asking 3500 people, apparently not users of Second Life, if they would make their avatar the same as in real life, similar but enhanced, or dramatically different. Only 15% in the poll picked "dramatically different." Her own response, "Looking at this chart, something doesn’t really square, does it? ... Unless I’m reading this wrong, this chart would suggest that at least 6/10 of us are actually perfect super-models in the non-virtual world too! Do beautiful people just happen to love Second Life? Or, are we saying one thing while doing another?" Her own poll at the end of the blog post had over 50% saying they looked "dramatically different."

No Canary, something really doesn't square.

Bixyl Shuftan

*Addition* The resident who IMed me after I finished my conversation with the group later requested that I spell out two lines of his dialogue more fully, saying my description sounded misleading, "be aware for next time, furries not allowed here usually (smile)" "This is how I go about reporting. I'm not called 'fox news' for nothing." "(grin) yeah I know, but rules are rules ... I'm a lion usually, but the owner told me nicely it wasn't allowed."