Ode to VR, a Second Life Machinima

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Today Amelie Marcoud, 1920s Berlin tenant, released a machinima titled ‘Ode to VR: the future of Virtual Reality’, shot in Second Life.

A wonderful video, not to be missed;

Ode to VR: The Future of Virtual Reality from Amelie Marcoud on Vimeo.

(If embedding failed, try clicking this link)

Official Sansar publicity video released

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Today Linden Lab released a new Sansar video, an official sort of smooth trailer/teaser for the general public.

The narrator speaks English, proper British English, which is always a good idea.
And I’m not just saying that because I’m and anglophile.

She describes Sansar as revolutionary and unlike anything the world has ever seen before, I can almost hear my Second Life avatar slamming her fists on the inside of the computer screen shouting “Hey what about this place then?!”.

Check out the video yourself, I’ll share my thoughts below it.

 

The narrator tells us that Sansar will take VR to the next level and that its unprecedented technology will allow everyone to create their own social VR experience and that that is no longer limited to the professionals.
This is true and the best thing about Sansar and SL, it is very good that they put emphasis on this, it is what will lure VR enthousiasts to Sansar.
It is up to the Sansar team to make sure the new users then are not disappointed when they perhaps don’t have the freedom they expected or that they need to spend money first to buy stuff or go learn blender to make things.
I hope easy inworld building tools come to Sansar but will they be there when Sansar goes public?
Anyway, I’ve written about that before.
The narrator tells us there will be easy tools to help us make these experiences and share them with everybody.
And she tells us we can use Sansar to recreate history, well that is me sold!

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She also talks about all the uses Sansar will have, live events, entertainment, education, etc.
But there is one thing I miss in her story; gaming.
At the moment this is one of the biggest uses for VR and you know many gamers will see this video and decide based on it if they want to try Sansar.
Some of these gamers may have youtube channels with millions of viewers but do you think they spotted something in the video that appeals to them?
Granted there may not be many gaming tools in Sansar yet, but I know that there is a cannon shooting thingy and of course you don’t need special tools for roleplaying.
I would have at least mentioned gaming in the list of possibilities and perhaps show a little bit of gaming madness.
So far the options offered seem perhaps a bit high-brow.

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Anyway, the story is sound and appealing.

The visuals are pretty good too and as someone who has been waiting to get into Sansar for ages it is difficult to see if they are also interesting to outsiders because my absorb every bit of new Sansar footage as a sponge.
But I’ll try.

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As someone who has been a hardcore gamer since Pong, I try and imagine what a regular VR gamer thinks of the footage and most of the visuals are quite impressive.
We get a good look at the avatars and they look pretty good although, it really depends on the angle they are being seen in.
In some of the shots they look better than in others and the girl with the black hair looks better made than the boy with the blue and white shirt.
But compared to SL, they are all perhaps still a bit dull.
I reckon some of us can’t wait to stick wings and tails on them.
The avatars we see are of course the basic starter ones but looking at the avatars in this video it seems not many users have done a lot of customizing yet, which makes me wonder if we’re going to get many avatar customization options when Sansar opens, I know we will get those eventually, of course!
But I think it is important to get them in place for the first day as they are so important.

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The creation tools look good, we know them from SL, same sort of idea, the ring around your prim that you use to rotate, move, etc.
They do make it look easy to move stuff around and well, it will be.
Uploading assets looks easier than it is though, most 3d software will make your brain cry.

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Adding lights, special sounds, scripting, it all sounds and looks pretty easy and if new users can indeed easily use these, we’re onto a winner.
It is when people want to actually build things that it becomes a lot more complicated.

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We see a few people putting on their headsets but we don’t see anyone using Sansar on a regular screen, well besides people who are creating and building.
As corny as it might have looked, having people also explore an experience on a desktop and maybe even a tablet or something mobile, might have calmed the people down who somehow keep thinking you’ll need a headset for Sansar.

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The locations all look rather good, Sansar creators have been real busy lately and it looks like there will already be plenty to explore.

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The video ends with a nice close up of a lady wearing a Sansar T-shirt while talking in sync with the narrator.
This may not seem much but for us in SL it is something we can only dream of and in many other VR experiences this is still something quite impressive.
I wish she blinked though.

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Conclusion; I think it is a pretty good public relations video, something to show off to outsiders and future users.
Of course there are also things I would do differently, but I’ve been to film school and have made films & TV so I say that about everything, it is one of the reasons nobody wants to watch movies with me.

And at the very end we get a Beta release date!
Spring 2017

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Which technically means it could be released at any moment between now and June.
I hope I’ve got my new computer by then!

The most important question is; after seeing this, would you like to try Sansar?
Would you as someone who has been in SL for years, as a gamer, as a developer new to VR, as a random housewife, a school teacher, etc.?

Disclaimer; I am in the Sansar program but my computer is too old and I can’t try it, so my article is still written as that of someone who has not yet been in Sansar, because well, I haven’t.
/me cries.

 

If someone vanishes in Second Life

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If you’ve been in Second Life for a while, sooner or later someone you know and/or care about will vanish from your virtual life.
They don’t say goodbye, they don’t leave a note, they don’t cancel their rent, they don’t clear their land, they simply never log on again.

There can be many different reasons for someone to just vanish like that, it could be something as innocent as being stuck somewhere during a holiday without internet and losing their rental and deciding they don’t want to return, maybe their computer breaks and they cant afford a new one or maybe they have gotten themselves into some drama in SL and decide that simply staying away is the best solution.
But it could also be something rather serious, they may be very unwell or even have died.

People sometimes don’t realise how much they mean to their virtual friends and community and have no idea how worried the people they leave behind may be.
And besides friends who will miss them dearly, there are also landowners, sims, shop managers, club managers etc, who are waiting for them to renew their rent or don’t know what to do with their stuff, upcoming events, etc.

So, after yet another person in SL simply vanished, I decided to write this blog with some tips, hoping it may avoid a few of these painful and confusing situations.

Please make sure there are is more than one way for people in SL to get in touch with you.
Get a facebook/twitter/other social media account and share your email address with a few of your friends, this can be an avatar only email address of course.
But also, if you can, find someone in SL you trust enough with some RL information.
Even if it is just one friend.
Having someone in SL who knows how to get in touch with you in RL can avoid so many problems.
And the more this one person knows, the better.
If you trust them enough, befriend them with your RL social media accounts or even agree with a close RL family member or friend that this SL friend can email them as well or befriend them on Facebook, just in case of emergency.
If something bad happens to you, your RL friends will probably leave messages on your RL facebook wall, telling you to get better or writing how sad they are you died.
If a SL friend sees this, they know enough.
If this is not the case, your RL friend or family member will still know what is going on.

And finally put all this in a tab in your profile.
Yes it will take up one of your very few Picks (let us have more Linden Lab!), but it could be worth it.
It would be even better if Linden Lab gave us an extra tab in our profile that you could use to fill in this information.
Of course you can also choose to use the ‘1st life’ tab for this, but most people like using that space to tell a little bit about themselves in RL.

Here is the tab in my profile, as an example.
At the moment it only has one name in it, my friend who also is connected with me via my RL Facebook account, who knows my RL email address, has my RL sister’s information, etc, etc.
I’ll add a few more friends, but I want to check with them first if they are ok with it.
If anything serious would happen to me, or something stupid like dropping my computer in the sea while sailing, my sister would know about it.
And once my SL friends got worried and contacted my sister, they’ know what had happened.
And if things were really serious, my sister also knows what I want to happen to my sims if I have died in a freak sword fighting tin opener accident during one of my RL time travel adventures.

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Of course it is completely up to you how much you explain about why you can’t be online in SL, sometimes it is nobodies business.
But I think you owe it to your virtual friends and landlords to at least know you’re not dead and if you’re planning on returning.

So folks, please remember that even though you may not realise it or underestimate it, there are people in SL who very likely are desperately trying to figure out why you’ve vanished.
Be a pal, give them a way to find out!

Three years of Ebbe Linden

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Three days ago Ebbe Linden was ‘born’, his avatar was activated shortly after his RL counterpart Ebbe Altberg was appointed the new CEO of Linden Lab after the unexpected news of former CEO Rod Humble leaving just a few weeks earlier after having been the CEO for 3 years.

And not much later he stumbled into my bar in 1920s Berlin to be entertained with 1920s Swedish music, the best Schnaps in VR and pretty frauleins (und herren) making eyes at him.
He looked much younger then.

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A lot has happened in the last 3 years, Second Life has improved significantly, tier (per prim) has gone down, the tech has improved, we’ve experimented with headsets with mixed results, the hamsters in the wheels that keep the LL servers running have been given fresh straw, Lindens have been released back into the wild and we learned about the brand new world they have been building.

Of course some of these things were set in motion before Ebbe joined the club but a lot changed under his watch and an interesting and exciting future awaits us.

Generally it seems that most people in SL are quite happy with our current captain on the bridge and personally I must admit I think he is doing a cracking job and I’m happy it is him in charge at this, I think, very important time for VR.

One thing Ebbe completely messed up… is his profile.
Really Mr. Linden, after 3 years your profile is still empty, you should fill it up with nonsense quotes, ridiculous disclaimers, an up to date profile picture and your favourite picks, you know, like that 1920s Berlin sim….

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Seriously though, what do you think, has Ebbe done a good job?
Are you happy or unhappy with him as CEO?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Linden Lab amongst tech companies who filed immigration legal brief opposing Trump

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After a public statement of disapproval regarding Donald Trump’s immigration policies, Linden Lab is now on the list of 127 Tech companies who have signed a legal brief.

The so called amicus brief argues that Trump’s immigration order is illegal and mentions the important contributions immigrants have made to the tech economy.
It also mentions that the policies will make it harder and more expensive to hire new employees from abroad or to do business there because of travel restrictions.
In short, it is bad for business.

Some of the other companies on the list are Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Twitter, Paypal, Ebay, Tesla and SpaceX.

If I understood correctly, the legal background of an amicus brief is that it is an official way of supporting a lawsuit without being a party to it.
Although of course this might still change if the companies decide to step up their involvement.
But it’s a bit complicated and it has been years since I’ve dated a lawyer.

News was first reported by Bloomberg, you can read their story here.

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1920s Berlin machinima reaches 20.000 views

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Last March Pepa Cometa, well known machinima maker, made a wonderful video in my 1920s Berlin project.
It was so popular that it didnt take long to get over  10.000 views and it had even been shown on a very popular German television program!

Recently it has gotten some attention again and was shared on Italian and Russian websites, which made the view counter jump up again and just now it reached 20.000 on Vimeo alone!

That is quite impressive for a video that isn’t about trolling, people having babies or doing the hanky panky.

I’ve written before about how I think we need to make more Music Videos made in Second Life because I think they are an excellent bit of publicity for our virtual world.
And this video has proven that point.

20.000 views, that is a great excuse… for another view!

Enjoy!

Linden Lab versus Trump

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Much to my delight, Linden Lab released a statement regarding Trump’s Immigration policy yesterday;

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LINDEN LAB STATEMENT ON TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON IMMIGRATION

2017-02-02 00:00:00 UTC

We at Linden Lab are extremely disappointed in and adamantly opposed to Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. We reject racism, intolerance, and xenophobia.

We are proud to include immigrants among our leadership, colleagues, and customers, as well as our families, friends, and communities. We value diversity, compassion, and understanding, and we are proud that our products enable people to come together and form meaningful connections regardless of differences in their offline lives.

Trump’s order is counter to what we value and antithetical to American ideals. We join the many voices calling on the US government to remove this restriction as quickly as possible and to refrain from imposing additional barriers that threaten opportunities for immigrants, under-represented minorities, and women.

Well done Linden Lab.

New SL feature; Place Pages

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Linden Lab just announced that they are rolling out yet another feature for Second Life, one I’m very excited about and have been, in parts, suggesting for a while; Place Pages.

They basically give every region and parcel in Second Life a page on the Second Life website where you can find out more information about them.

It is a bit like the information page you see when you use search inworld before you teleport to that sim, but bigger & better.
And all you have to do to visit these pages is click ‘visit this location’ and the teleport window in SL opens.
No more visiting the, if I may say so, confusing map first.

To make such a page your parcel and/or region needs to have “Show in search” activated in the land setting.
Go to https://places.secondlife.com/places to see a list of all these pages and click “my places” to see a list of your sims that you can make a page for.
The rest is self-explanatory.

And rather exciting; you can use 360 degrees photos and even stream LIVE via youtube from inworld!

But it gets better.
Place pages right now is still in the Beta testing phase, so it will get better and how we are going to use these could influence what will happen next with them.
Linden Lab promises future improvements and features, such as an event calendar!

I’ve written before (click here to read) about making more use of ‘my-sl’ profiles and perhaps creating pages for groups in SL.
Finding a way to allow us to stop using Social Media for all these things and start using the official SL website more for this.
Giving us online events calendars for our sims is a huge step towards this.

I hope that in the future the Place Pages for communities will include perhaps also a forum or place where people can chat with each other, an online photo album (or widget that allows us to show our Flickr pictures there),  contact options that allow you to chat directly with admins and managers or at least send them a message, etc.

But above all; an events calendar.
Right now we have to send reminders, have a Facebook calendar, google calendar, etc.
I’d love to have a calendar for a sim that shows you right away ALL the events in that sim, region, all parcels in that region or just selected parcels in that region but that also gives you the option to subscribe to this calendar so you get IM’s when these events are about to begin.
And please, also the option for us to create recurring events so we don’t have to create a new calendar event for those daily or weekly events.

Can you think of more improvements and additions?
Let Linden Lab know, you can follow their forum post by clicking here and file a Jira about bugs or for your ideas and suggestions.

Either way, I’m getting busy making pages for all my parcels and sims!
Starting with this one for 1920s Berlin.

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Sansar Dollar introduced

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Hot on the heels of the youtube video news a few websites have already published articles on this latest footage but also on Sansar in general.
It looks like Linden Lab played their cards right and kickstarted the publicity in advance of the announcement, making sure a few websites got their interviews ready.

These articles also included new screenshots and interesting news.

A website called Tom’s Hardware announced that Linden Lab introduced the Sansar Dollar today, the currency for Sansar.
Or the S$, I assume.
The creators who have been allowed to take part in the preview can start buying them now and use them to sell and buy things on the Sansar Marketplace.

In an interview Ebbe also says that they will continue to allow new users in throughout the first quarter of 2017.
Which probably means that the official opening in January was a bit too optimistic.

Ebbe also explains that they want to do things differently with Sansar, the hosting fees (tier) will be much lower and that Linden Lab will in stead try and make more money on the G.D.P.
So LL is changing from High property tax and almost no consumption tax in Second Life to lower property tax and higher consumption tax.
Ebbe has explained this before but some people still seem to think we’ll get high tier in Sansar.

You can read the entire article by clicking here, there are also new screenshots.

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Sansar Youtube channel opens with impressive new video

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Today the official Sansar youtube channel was officially opened with a brand new video made by Draxtor Despres.

The video shows Loz Hyde (of Meshworx fame) who was invited to join Sansar before its official opening and who has been working on a location he calls The Grand Hall.
And grand it is!

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I’ve seen probably all the Sansar footage Linden Lab released, what was leaked here and there and all the screenshots I could find but to be honest, so far most of it didn’t look that different from what you could see in Second Life.

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But with this video, for me at least, this all changes.
What we see is stunning.
The building is not new, not specifically made for Sansar, it also exists in Second Life
This means that we can actually go inworld to check it out and then compare it to what it looks like in Sansar.
You can find the building inworld by clicking here for a slurl.
I think it looks a lot better in Sansar, the light, the textures, the reflections, the effects, it is all absolutely amazing.
Of course much of that is thanks to the talents of Mr. Hyde, but you can see that the technology of Sansar is clearly superior to that of Second Life and pretty much any virtual world out there at the moment.

I’m the first to admit I’m a little behind on what is going on in the gaming world (the joys of owning a MacBook) but I would even say that the way Sansar looks in this video comes very close to the kind of big commercial games people are playing today.

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In short, for a first official Sansar video, they’ve done rather well and placed something online that is rather impressive.

Drax told me this is the first of a series of Sansar videos he’s making so watch this space.

You can see the video here;