Monday, September 23, 2019

Interview with Tealcie Annibles (Tealcie Resident) of SL Regional Search and Rescue.

By Bixyl Shuftan

Recently, Gemma Cleanslate wrote about an exercise of the Second Life Regional Search And Rescue group. They are led by Tealcie Annibles (Tealcie Resident). I recently met up with her at their headquarters in Euryalus. Of the radio stream, besides music there were occasional "weather reports" describing sim lag and other glitches.

I asked Tealcie about how she first found out about Second Life. She told me, "Back in about 2006ish, I heard the buzz and came to have a look.   I had a terrible connection and ancient computer and of the nine or so days I was involved I spent maybe 45 minutes in world and the rest trying to get in.  It was horrid. I forgot all about it until December of 2017. I was in a store doing some Christmas shopping and two young ladies were in the checkout ahead of me and one said 'I don't know how you do it I still can't even find my left shoe.'  And the other laughed and replied, 'Well That's Second Life.'" That got me interested and I came for round two, fell in love and stayed." She had come back because of a casual conversation about it in real life.

"I spent the first week figuring things out," Tealcie continued, "rented a quarter region and learned terraforming and such and then bought a private region. That became too limiting. So I dumped the adult region and came mainland. Here, the story gets good.   I was naive to the ways of this world and immediately albeit inadvertently, ticked off a bunch of people. I ran afoul of my own ambition.  I quickly bought land and built thirteen bases all around the world. My meteoric rise from unknown to omnipresent, combined with some really ugly builds , (laughter) , seemed to get under peoples skin. My error finally dawned on me. So I dumped back down to one base for awhile. I survived a griefing that even Linden Governance called 'epic' , and I stayed low for awhile after that. Then apparently not having learned my lesson I began to build again."

I asked about what could a griefer do that would get attention of the Lindens. She answered, "Oh it was a really cool grief. Imagine your most used item, In this case my logo with white background.  It was everywhere: signs, flags, etc. This grief intercepted the UUID and changed the image to one of the griefers choosing and it only affected me.   Everyone else saw the logo. I saw a woman flipping me off. Linden Lab said it was impossible until I proved it to them by forcing them to enter my account and do some photographic work real time. After that, I have no idea what they did. But within three weeks it was over. I named my mystery griefer The Gaslight Griefer    and I'm somewhat honored to have drawn out such an epic attack."

Tealcie went back to the Search and Rescue group, "All this time since coming mainland the SLR-SAR group has floated along.  It's just a few people having fun." She had founded the group herself, "I just wanted a way to enjoy the things I love with other people   flying, boating, climbing, exploring. I figured create a group and hopefully attract like-minded folks." Since the group's start, "We have hovered around thirty members with varied participation. I try to create fun events and time them so everyone around the real-life globe can attend at a decent hour. I usually bite the bullet with the 2 AM SLT slot  on Sunday morning which works out to about 8 PM down under.  So everyone around the clock can attend and still get to bed for work Monday. It really depends on the scale of the diasater being staged."

I brought up Gemma's article of the train wreck, and asked about other examples. Tealcie listed a few more, "We crashed a 757 into an oil platform out on Gaeta V, punched a DC-9 into a hillside in central Sansara, another harbor fire on Corsica, various ship sinkings around the Blake (Sea). This next weekend should be a hoot.  I'm using the rental region Iridium again but no spoilers on the actual disaster. I have found first responders like the real time call for mutual aid with no heads up. All our events are set to public rez so first responders from any agency have no trouble getting their equipment out."

I asked which exercise was the most challenging to set up. She answered, "Most challenging?  The 757 had (an) airliner, oil platform, and underwater elements.  It was fairly intense in detail. This last build, I had great help from Lale who rocked the train tracks and tunnels and did a great job dangling the cars. This upcoming disaster will be pretty intense as well."

I asked how long does it take to plan an exercise and set one up? Tealcie answered, "Planning is usually just a five minute brainstorming.  Dasha came up with the train wreck we saw last month and it was penciled out in minutes. The build has to be done in two days as the regions are a three day rental. I generally terraform and rough it out Friday evening then do the build Saturday night after work.  We encourage the public to attend and I think one of the best ways to watch the event is to jump into a victim position and cam around while hamming it up awaiting rescue.  Watch, Participate and have fun."

And where does Tealcie and the group get their ideas for their drills? She responded, "Well, the ideas come from lots of people and places.  I take the ideas, mix in some pure evil like booby traps, landslides, explosions and just have a blast, pun intended. I try to give the first responder community a challenging, but winnable fight. These events are really about the community not SLR-SAR.  We put them on for everyone to come together and represent their home groups and work together doing what they love. The more different tags I see the happier I am." I asked if any of the ideas came from movies and television. She answered, "More from the real lives of people who have witnessed tragedies.  The commuter train wreck was something close to home for Dasha.  And yes some media stories of disasters ignite ideas as well. I try to tailor the events to our community strengths too.  The SLIAFF member agencies are all well equipped for fires fought from air, land and sea so there is always a fire element. My people enjoy technical rescues and heavy extraction situations. SAREMSUK group are extreme flying and airborne specialists and frankly Sophie and her SAR EMS UK group are the bar we wish to reach someday. There is a vibrant first responder community here in SL and I'm the new kid on the block just trying to do my part for that community."

Recalling some people can be stickers for realism, I asked how difficult were the helicopters to fly. Tealcie answered,  "Well, there are three basic levels of helicopters in Second Life. The first level are extremely simple to fly. The middle level are a little more difficult and offer a bit of realism. Then there are the SA helicopters. Kelly Shergood and her team construct very realistic expert level helicopters. I lack the skill required to fly the SA helis into rescues yet, but there are many who would not fly anything else.  SAREMSUK for instance use the SA built Sikorsky 92  to great effect." How much practice do those need? Tealcle told me quite a bit, "Practice, patience, and possibly even expert instruction.  They are the pinnacle of Second Life Helicopters. Several of my members have the requisite skills.  Lia and Alma both totally rock the SA helis. As for learning SL Helicopters I start people on the middle tier and can generally have a student flying in 10-15 minutes. I do it that way so people don't give up by being defeated by the expert level helis. Get the basics down, then move up a step.

"And there is so much to learn along the way that doesn't involve flying. The EMS gear in Second Life is phenomenal. Also you need to swim, climb, be injured, scuba, drive, and operate equipment. First responding is one of the more intense pursuits in SL. Fortunately we are blessed with creators who 'get it' and build amazing gear and vehicles. ... I have several builders I contract with and I am slowly bringing responder gear to the community filling niches where gear is needed.   That's not at all easy since there is already so much here.  But as I find things missing, I get my builders working on the items. Like our operational Jaws of life-esque cutter and pry tools. They are designed to aid in roleplay at extraction scenes."

As the interview drew to a close, I asked Tealcie what else she had to say. She answered, "I'd like to see the community grow.  And I hope my no tag required events promoting pride in whatever group you represent, helps along those lines.   There are still some groups who demand you belong to no other groups to belong to theirs.  It seems exclusionary.   I say I don't care what group or groups you belong to you don't have to join mine to play.  Jump right in.  Represent whoever and have fun. I got that philosophy from SLIAFF and the way they run their mutual aid responses.   Numerous agencies respond and work with a common purpose.  I am trying to spread that wisdom across the entire first responder community. I wish I could take credit for the idealism but I'm just repeating what I have learned here from people with double-digit SL ages who learned themselves through trial and error.

"I'd like to add that SLR-SAR is an open group and free to join.  You do not have to leave your current group to join us and you are free to leave and return to your hearts content.  But the main thing is you don't have to join the group at all to participate so be sure to watch your frequencies Sunday the 22nd for that mutual aid call and come have some fun."

And with that, the interview came to a close. A few days later on Sunday September 22, the SL Regional Search And Rescue was one of the two groups that took part in a large exercise in Iridium. And this was a disaster of epic scale, an ocean liner that collided with an oil rig resulting in fires and the potential of a massive explosion. Tealcie tool part as one of the injured. But the rescuers were well equipped. Despite a mishap or two due to lag, the exercise went well. Cleanup was soon after, so what was left were screenshots and memories to talk about with one another and friends. And of course they would soon be planning for the next disaster.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, September 9, 2019

Interview With Umber (Vermillia Urnestone)

By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich Resident)

Umber (also known as Vermillia Urnestone) is a talented Second Life mod maker. She makes mods for multiple avatars, many of which are based on popular characters from series such as Pokemon and Digimon. I’ve known her since she first started her store in Fox Haven so I had to take the opportunity to interview her for the Second Life Newser.

Q: What got you started in creating things for Second Life?

A: I think the first thing I ever actually made in Second Life was a mod of my fursona on the Curious Felis avatar. It wasn't pretty! But it got me interested in working with textures. Then when I started taking 3D animation classes in college, I started experimenting with mesh. I figured, "Why not sell these things?" And MOOPA Inc. was born. We started as a little hole-in-the-wall store back when Fox Haven was still around, and I never expected to go this far with it.

Q: What have been the challenges of getting started and creating mods in Second Life?

A: The first time you ever look at a texture map for mesh, the first thing that comes to mind is "What am I looking at???" and that was my exact reaction. My first mods were very messy and minimal in what I actually did with them. Over time, though, it gets easier to understand how textures and UVs work.

Q: Is there any advice that you would give to new or experienced mod makers?

A: I've found that the most efficient way to texture for mesh is through trial and error and being able to preview your changes as you work. The Edit menu has an option for "local" textures - absolutely use it! This will save you a LOT of L$. I can't tell you how many times I have to test the seams of texture maps to understand exactly where they match up. That's just part of being a texture artist.

Q: You mention in your profile that you have social anxiety, which I do too. For those who may also suffer from this, do you have any suggestions for how to deal with it and still run a store or otherwise have a public image?

A: I think the idea of seeing customers so happy and satisfied with my work is a big part of what helps me work past that social anxiety. Do I still get anxious when I get a PM from someone who's mad or someone who found a major issue with a product and needs help? Sure I do, but those are few and far between and the idea that my brand is recognizable and loved by so many people helps me keep going! I guess my advice is to consider your limits when it comes to anxiety and not push yourself too hard. Put your stuff out there, but if you need some time away, then do it. Take a deep breath and take your time responding to messages.

Q: What are the inspirations for your work?

A: As can be seen in my current selection of mods, I've been really inspired by franchises like Pokemon and Digimon. I've seen it as a fun challenge to try to recreate these things using a premade avatar and my own (limited) mesh skills. Sometimes I just have a vision in my head and say "Yeah, I need to make that real." When it comes to clothing, it's just a matter of "I want this kind of outfit for my kobold avatar, let's make it."

Q: What have been you favorite mods to work on?

A: I think my favorite one that I made so far was the dinosaur mod for kobold. I love dinosaurs, man. That was also the first mod that I actually used specular maps for, after learning how to make them for a set of clothing me and my rigging partner had finished.

Q: How did you come up with the name for your store?

A: It's based on a really, really stupid inside joke started by a coworker at a club I used to host at quite a few years ago. My avatar glitched while changing outfits and I was a mix between a koopa and a cow. My nickname for the remainder of my time working there was "Moopa.” Fast forward to making my store. I needed to think of a name on the dot, and, inspired by the store DERP, I came up with the goofy store name of MOOPA Inc. and now I'm stuck with it! Hahaha!

Q: Are you currently working on any new products?

A: Right now, the only projects in progress are for the upcoming Gacha Guild Halloween event. Unfortunately, production of new clothing and mods has slowed dramatically since I graduated college. I've been busy with a part time job as well as commission work. I absolutely want to create more, and plan on releasing more mods in the near future. However, the future of our clothing line is currently unsure, as my rigging partner may no longer be able to keep working with us. I myself am unable to rig.

Q: What has been your favorite aspects of mod making and being part of the Second Life community?

A: My favorite part of mod making is just bringing my ideas to life and then watching others take that creation and make even more diverse and amazing things out of it with outfits and shapes and other moddable parts. As for the community itself, I just love how it feels like home. It's comforting and allows for and inspires so much creativity. I love seeing what other people do with all the possibilities on here.

Thanks for having me be a part of this. I hope anything I've said here has helped anyone even a little bit. Hahaha!


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Interview With Sugar Paw / Casio Microline (Casio2000)

By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich Resident)

Casio Microline (also known as Sugar Paw) has been part of the Second Life community for over eight years. In that time, she’s been a valuable asset to the scripting and building scene and served as an admin and sim owner. Ever generous and kind, she helps communities, stores, and other creators with her skills. It’s no wonder that she’s well known and respected throughout the Second Life community. I had a chance to interview her this weekend and pick her brain for the Second Life Newser.

Q: What got you started in scripting and building for Second Life?

A: I got into Linden World in 2002 and was so fascinated with how this virtual world works with it’s physics which were more than the simple interaction you get from most of the other games that are limited and not simulating a world but rather just being an action point of interest. I found it interesting till Linden Labs had announced a new and improved product called Second Life. I had joined Second Life in 2003 after the announcement of L$ but as I continued in it's community on through 2005-2006 new features were introduced with more options and tools for building during that time. There were places that we were able to learn basic scripting and builds, and from then on, I have seen lots of users building art and homes with just basic prims. From my experiences of being in the community for so long, it gave me the idea and impression that this world can improve more with it’s contents and it would be my favorite playground. I had been inspired to continue building and scripting as part of showing my ways of arts and fun to the community as they also share their experiences of their own. Therefore, as a builder, it would always be inspiring to build and continue pushing the limits of quality and creating more for the community.

Q: How did you come up with the name for your store?

A: In 2012, I had created a club sponsored by a few friends called Mirco Heaven. After that, in 2013, I had made my own club called "Toxic-Illusion.” After that same year, we had continued on and merged both clubs to be one and named it "Toxic-X Club and Lounge.” When I started building mods and put them to the test on marketplace in October of 2013, I just thought that having the product brand as the club would be easy to remember. My first product was an animated tattoo mod for the VRPS Sergals.

Q: What resources did you use/currently use to build up your scripting/building skills?

A: In 2009 I found a book called "Scripting Your World: The Official Guide to Second Life® Scripting By Dana” The book was used by me as a guild to understand more about scripting. The programs I use to create textures and plan are GIMP, Photoshop, and Blender. I also use tools and plug-ins supported from Second Life Wiki pages. For most updates and future knowledge, I read up and ask in the Second Life Community Forum.

Q: Sandboxes are a valuable resource for creators in Second Life and you seem to frequent many of them. Can you suggest any good sandboxes for those just starting out?

A: I would think of in-world sandbox as a place to present some ideas including taking notes of ideas that others saw as you progress. Some of the sandboxes are peaceful and quite empty and some could be crowded with users and can be annoying. It depends on what you are working on or if you are just hanging out. Each sandbox has a different community type. I would choose a few for different concepts depending on what you are looking to do. Most of the time I would build on my private parcel/sim or at my home. The best way to look up a sandbox is to just use the search and the "Places" tab and type "Sandbox.” If I was looking for a place that welcomes furries, I would search for "Furry" also. It also depends on the rating of the sandbox which content (General, Moderated and Adult) is allowed. Also, I would recommend reading the rules and guides of that region. There are six sandboxs I hang around or work in currently and those are Sudden Stop Sandbox, Sandbox Mirificatio (Premium), Fluffy Sandbox, MAGE Sandbox, Aldora Sandbox, and Pixel Hills Sandbox.

Q: What do you think brings success in the creative world of Second Life?

A: Having lots of friends and getting random ideas leads to knowing what needs to be produced. Some of my ideas are just for fun and some might be interesting to put on the market. Most success from creators in Second Life come from builders who mostly follow their dreams and enjoy creative builds. The phrase I would always tell myself when it comes to building and being creative is "Keep on moving and never give up!" because the failing of a build gives me the knowledge of the mistakes I made. I would continue on building to avoid and improve from the mistakes I made.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for those who want to learn how to script or build but may feel intimidated in learning to do so?

A: The first suggestion is to have fun with the build and be creative. Find resources like books or the Second Life Wiki where there are references of the tools, samples, and functions. If you’re stuck with any builds and can't find a solution, it would be best to try asking around places like sandboxes or friends that has experiences with builds. If all this fails, there are in-world learning centers which anyone can apply to at Builders Brewery.

Q: What have been your favorite projects to script and build for?

A: Mostly I would love building random things just for fun. Some of the items can be funny or cute and some may be useful in roleplay and effects. Most of the common builds I enjoy is making random fun toys, attachments, and decorative objects as long as others enjoy the creative ideas.

Q: Can you talk about what else you've done besides scripting and building in Second Life, such as admin work?

A: The most common things I would do aside from building is just hanging out with friends and family. Other than that I sim-hop (explore the world) and find random people to talk to. Some random conversations are interesting and some places can be fun to explore. Mostly, in the end, I like making more friends. Aside from this, I would volunteer by moderating groups and advise region club administrators or managers.

Q: Can you talk about any projects that you're currently working on?

A: There are a few. The main projects are creating HUDs, a roleplay system, tools for Ravenlock Pokemon sim, and other project commissions for a few creators as part of their tools for their products.

Q: Are you open to any scripting or building work for those who might be interested?

A: I am open to new ideas and new challenges to build or script for. I mostly do simple scripts just for fun but any scripts or works that take time would have a cost. Any projects involving weapons and violence would be a no.

Q: What keeps you scripting and building and being so generous and helping the Second Life community?

A: Enjoying making examples of creative possibilities in Second Life experiences. I would always enjoy seeing others having a good time as I enjoy watching them. I don't believe that being harsh or rude to any simple question solves anything so ask away and I will respond as much as I can.