The 1920s Berlin Project celebrates its 7th anniversary!

Our 1920s Berlin Project is about to celebrate its 7th anniversary!
Check out the 7 days of celebrations we’ve got planned;

The 1920s Berlin Project

In January 2007 I first joined Second Life, I looked around for a bit, didn’t see anything I liked, didn’t like what I saw and left after a few days.
In February 2009 I decided to run Second Life again, simply to test the ability of my then new computer.
And minutes before I decided that Second Life was not for me and would leave for ever (again) I found the ‘search’ option, tried a few search terms that appealed to me and found the first sim I actually liked; a surreal vintage bar called ‘Flashmans’.
There I suddenly realised that I everything I saw was made by users just like me and that maybe I could create something myself.
And I was doomed lost hooked.
The rest is, as they call it, history.

Within weeks I started working on The 1920s Berlin Project and on May the 30th 2009 I…

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Bring your Second Life into real life with Augmented Reality


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Ever thought about meeting a SL avatar face to face in your RL living room?
Or see your SL house appear in front of you on the drive outside your RL home?
Or perhaps work on a SL dress in your RL workshop?
Thanks to Augmented Reality this is now becoming a possibility and it is only the beginning.

James Reichert has been working with Virtual and Augmented reality for years and early on experimented with Kinect, 3D tv and even building his own virtual surroundings for presentations. During his research he discovered Second Life, joined as Illiastra Ascendent, explored this virtual world, created something, sold something and, like the rest of us, was doomed hooked.

Recently James started experimenting with the Microsoft Hololens in combination with Second Life and his very first tests are already very promising and exciting.

Look for instance at this video he made, showing a SL-like avatar with a dress he designed.

He is looking at her through the Hololens, an Augmented Reality device that does not only show you a virtual object in reality but it also manages to lock it in a specific location so it stays there while you move around.

Right now you can see the avatar or furniture or whatever object you’ve created, as if it is with you in your real life, you can walk around it, see it from all angles.


But it won’t be long till you can do more than just watch, can you imagine actually building something virtual in real life?
Standing in front of an avatar wearing  your dress that you then lengthen, shorten and re-texture, right there and then. But even if you’re not a creator, wouldn’t it just be fun to see your own avatar standing in your RL room? Or even have another avatar visiting you in RL and chatting with you…

And on another level, a building James made in ‘Chief Architect’, which is not that different from what we’re used to in Second Life, is, lets call it ‘rezzed’ in a parking lot. Allowing us to look around it but even go inside and check out the details.

As someone who has created lots of buildings in Second Life, I’d love to walk around them in VR and AR, and looking at the future again, imagine being able to actually build this way or at least change the wallpaper while walking around your parking lot.
I can’t wait.

James says;

These modern HMDs aren’t VR, they are merely the conduits– the summoning circles– through which our avatars will finally be unleashed upon the waking world. The neo-VR industry built them thinking it would get them into the metaverse… they never considered what would come out.


James’ bumper sticker

James will be a guest on the Draxfiles Radio Hour soon and we’ll talk more about his experiments and the future possibilities of this technology.

show #116: hifi revisited

The latest Drax Files Radio Hour episode!

the drax files radio hour [with jo yardley]

show #116 show #116

fresh off of announcing public beta at svvr 2016 we discuss philip rosedale’s new world high fidelity vis-a-vis project sansar.

that and the usual banter and 1920’s berlin subliminal ads…


and find below additional audio/visual linkage for further reading/marveling at:

  • svvr 2016 keynotes:
  • drax fave at svvr = noitom’s project alice [which he experienced with malia probst]

malia probst and drax in project alice malia probst and drax in project alice

  • wargaming promotional video is actually pretty darn the best 360 video we have seen so far:
  • and the making of is probably even more interesting!

a tank veteran on cardboard a tank veteran on cardboard

  • a vid from last year shows how vr could make us more caring for the planet?

sl13b sl13b

  • music break: flicka da wrist = freddy krueger makes fun of a rap video makes fun of second life?
  • vrchat – cooler than drax thought [interview…

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Ebbe Altberg speaks about Sansar and shows footage


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Recently Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, was a speaker at the Collision Conference.

During his talk he showed a video about Sansar and a few screenshots were shared online before, also on my blog here.

Just now, minutes ago, Collision uploaded a video of Ebbe’s contribution.
It doesn’t actually show Ebbe talking but the images he used in his presentation.
And of course we’re all sad we can’t see Ebbe and judge whatever he was wearing (anything but a vintage 3 piece suit is acceptable) it is also quite nice because it means we get to see the Sansar video in great detail, in stead of just on a screen behind Ebbe.

The speech itself is good but not much is said that we didn’t know yet.

In short he talks about how big VR is going to be and that users will not just be consumers but also participants.
He explains that Linden Lab has a lot of experience and calls Second Life the biggest virtual world to date.
I am not sure if it is if you’d also count other computer generated worlds we know from some games, but I wouldn’t be surprised and I am of course sure that it is the oldest and biggest user generated online virtual world.
Either way, you can’t remind people too often of this as it seems that the wheel keeps being reinvented.
For instance, just the other day I stumbled upon something called ‘Hypatia‘ by a company called Timefire who claim that they’re building the first Virtual Reality City….
A ridiculous claim of course.

Ebbe talks about how SL is being used for business meetings, helping people who suffer from PTSD, people dealing with phobias, he mentions the lovely Fran who has Parkinson’s but finds much joy from Second Life, as seen in the wonderful Drax Files episode you can see by clicking here.

He talks about Education, the over 500 institutions that use SL (would have been more without the Tier fiasco of a few years back I reckon) for their lessons.

Ebbe talks a bit about the current state of VR, the headsets are coming, expensive but prices are coming down rapidly and of course an Oculus headset is cheaper than a similar VR rig would have cost a few years ago.

The next subject is the democratisation of a medium and that Project Sansar will make it possible for everyone and anyone to create and share.
He explains that most of us do not know how to actually create, just like in RL we live in a world where most of the things around us are made by others.
It always worries me a bit when that is mentioned because I keep wondering if Sansar will have easy building tools.
Being able to build whatever you want in SL, even if it isn’t easy, is one of the best things about SL and I think it is essential for Sansar as well.
Then again, I assume that most SL users are not creators.

Linden Lab has been working on Sansar for 2 and a half years now, a big investment but luckily SL is still “kicking off a lot of money” for them.
There are 75 people working on Sansar.

One of the creations made in the alpha stage of Sansar is a co-project between the Sorbonne University and the Ministry of Antiquities of Egypt, which shows laser scanned 3D models (of 50 million polygons!) of tombs and historical locations which the Sansar team then decreased to 40 thousand polygons and uploaded.
Which is very exciting but it does raise the question; why didn’t they build and upload it themselves in Sansar?
Either way, now anyone, anywhere could explore these tombs in Sansar (once it opens to the public).
A great example of a wonderful educational display.

Next we get some actual Sansar Video footage, the first we’ve seen since that very short video on a screen behind Ebbe at another conference.

First we see someone (Jason) using controllers and a headset (vive) to ‘create’, but what he is really doing is just moving things about and Ebbe says that you don’t really need to know how to actually create those objects, which worries me a bit again.
Because I want to create those objects and Blender isn’t easy.
Nevertheless, it looks cool and very much like I’d imagine it would be, we’re doing our SL moving about of stuff, but with controllers and a headset, even though we of course don’t NEED those for Sansar.

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Next we get a smooth video which has been edited and comes with flash music showing quite a few very interesting and I must admit, impressive shots.
Skip to 12:38 if you want to see the footage.

We see a wonderful museum of the Partially excavated Ancient Greek (IV-III B.C.) villa Ortli in Crimea (did they use this model?) which looks very good and contrary to what I thought to see first time; the shadows do fall nicely over the ruins in stead of ignoring them.

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The Egyptian ruins look nice, but very much like a 3d scanned model, which of course it is.
Nevertheless as a history addict with many connections in the world of archeology, I’ve seen this kind of thing before, but it becomes interesting when we see an avatar walking out of the tomb, into the light.
We’ve got working shadows and someone who isn’t walking with the dreaded SL duckwalk.

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She then walks across a winter landscape with wonderful mountains, snow everywhere and a bright sun above.

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Then we move on to the cinema that we’ve seen pictures of before.
It is wonderfully retro Art Deco and I for one would love to go visit it soon.
The film playing is the new ‘Captain America; Civil war’ film, if I am not mistaken.
Let’s assume they were watching the trailer… for copyright’s sake😉

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Then we find ourselves in some sort of post apocalyptic Mad Max kind of landscape, with more walking avatars and a working kind of cable car system.

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We then see someone diving into the sea, but if you look closely you see some sort of platform in the middle, so I think that what we’re actually seeing is a place where you as an avatar can enjoy a 360° video.

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More apocalyptic stuff with a nice windlight setting.

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And finally we see the Golden Gate bridge, which we’ve also seen before but this time without the flying crafts but a lady walking across it.

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If you want to see any of these screenshots a little larger, check them out here on my Flickr account.

According to Ebbe all of what we saw was created with no engineer involved.

He ends with announcing that applications for Project Sansar are now open and the world will be available to everyone later this year.

He concludes with saying that VR will impact almost everything and Project Sansar will allow anyone to create, share, monetise and socialise within  these VR experiences.

You can see the entire video here;


ESA report; 40% of US gamers likely to buy VR headset within next year


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Every year The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) publishes a report called ‘Essential facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry’.
In it they share some of their facts, figures and findings on computer gaming in the USA.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 21.18.34

It is quite interesting to read and made easy for us modern folks by rather nice ‘infographics’ and easy to understand charts.

For those of us who are involved with virtual worlds, VR in general and gaming, pretty much everything in it is interesting but I’ll share a few details in particular just because they relate to me.
And for the record, I’m a 43 year old resident and creator of the virtual reality world Second Life and have been a gamer since ‘Pong’.

In the US women are 41% of all gamers, still the minority.
I think that the main reason women are still behind on the men is because they are still catching up.
When I was a little girl gaming was a bit more of a boys thing, that never stopped me, I was always one of those girls who did whatever she wanted, who played war with the kids next door, set stuff on fire, fell out of trees and got into fights.
But I am glad that the number of women gamers is going up.

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48% of the most frequent gamers play social games.
This might be a good bit of info for Ebbe to mention in a next interview, Second Life and Sansar could, I guess, be seen as “social games” and being part of something that is almost half the entire game market sounds good.

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This one is very interesting.
40% of all US gamers say they will likely purchase “VR” within the next year.
This is of course a silly state ment as you can’t really buy VR, so they obviously mean VR headsets.
There are about 117 million households in the US, 63% of these are home to at least one person who plays video games regularly (3 hours or more per week).
That means that roughly 23.5 million people in the US alone are planning to purchase a VR headset.
There are still some people out there who are sceptical and think all this will be a phase and that VR will fail again, but everything seems to be pointing in the opposite direction.
Disclaimer; I can’t do math.

If you want to read the entire report you can find it by clicking here.


show #114: ebbe (svvr 2016 part1)

Drax & Ebbe at SVVR

the drax files radio hour [with jo yardley]

show #114 show #114

svvr 2016 – the third installment of this conference – is concluding as this show goes to air: three days of the newest vr gear in the expo hall plus panels and talks about immersive storytelling, 360 video best practices and a fireside chat with palmer luckey.

what more do you want?

well, if you are a drax files fan you want linden lab ceo ebbe altberg give you a bit more info on the just announced invite for creatots to project sansar. and that is what we have today – a brief chat in the hallway about what we can expect from this next generation virtual world.

all the other hours of interviews conducted with vr luminaries and product pitch-men/women = you have to wait another week.

here is ebbe:

and as indicated: all the other stuff – infinadeck, project alice, drax talking to timoni west from…

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New Project Sansar Screenshots


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At the Collision conference Ebbe Altberg (CEO of Linden Lab) had a presentation which included some short images of Project Sansar.

The video is not yet online so if you’ve missed it, you’ll have to wait.
The Collision team will put the video online but it may take a few weeks.

Luckily for us all, Maddy Gynoid was on standby, watched the live stream and took a few screenshots.
With his permission I share them here, you can also visit his personal blog to read the actual article he wrote in German by clicking this link.


This first picture shows us a science fiction type of post apocalyptic world.
It looks wonderful but perhaps most interesting about this screenshot are the buttons, or lack thereof!
We only see a few small buttons at the right of the screen, their function we can only guess, but let’s take a closer look;


This next picture got me very excited as it shows a theme I love; archeology.
I’d love to dig up some virtual ruins.
But it is also interesting to note that the shadows, clearly from some sort of grid or skylight above, doesn’t seem to work on part of the ruim that is sticking out.

Sansar_@_Collision_01Another wonderful picture, as a history addict, it makes me very happy to see subjects such as these, I can’t wait to go explore some ancient locations like these.
Interesting detail is the bit at the top of the passage there, looks like the 3D scanner didn’t quite get that corner scanned properly.

Sansar_@_Collision_02The last picture here shows someone building within Sansar with an Oculus and the Oculus controllers.
It looks interesting and I for one look forward to building within world while using a VR headset… as soon as I can afford one that is.
From the screenshot we can’t conclude that much, can we actually build inworld like this or is it just a matter of moving bits around that we’ve bought on marketplace or build in Blender or Maya?

As soon as the video is online I’ll probably share it here and let’s see what else we can learn from that.


Linden Lab opens applications for Project Sansar


Today Linden Lab opened up the applications for their new virtual world; Project Sansar.

Besides the occasional image and a tiny video, still very little is known about PS but I think that many Second Life users are very keen to go and have a look.

I quote from the press release;

SAN FRANCISCO – April 26, 2016 – Linden Lab®, the creators of Second Life®, today announced that applications have opened for an upcoming “Creator Preview” for Project SansarTM, the new platform for user-created social VR experiences. Interested 3D content creators can now apply at and accepted applicants will begin to receive invitations later this summer.

Slated for general availability at the end of 2016, Project Sansar will democratize virtual reality as a creative medium. It will empower people to easily create, share, and ultimately monetize their own interactive social experiences that can be enjoyed in VR with head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as via PCs and, later, mobile devices. The platform enables professional-level quality and performance with exceptional visual fidelity, 3D audio, and physics simulation, while also solving the complex engineering challenges that have previously limited creating and publishing social VR experiences to just sophisticated professionals.

“Creating social VR experiences is too hard and expensive today, and that limits the value and growth of this incredible new medium,” said Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO. “Creating your own VR experience shouldn’t require an engineering team, and Project Sansar will make that possible. Over the past few months, a small number of creators have already made an impressive variety of awesome social VR experiences with Project Sansar, from virtual versions of real-world locations to fantasy worlds and stylized game-like environments, and more. We’ll soon be ready for many more creators to join Project Sansar, and we can’t wait to see what people will create.”

I myself am cautiously excited about PS and really want to get inside and see what my options are, will I be able to recreate 1920s Berlin there or get started on 1940s London or will PS just not be suitable and will I have to stay behind in Second Life?

Only one way to find out!
So I signed up right away and hope to be let in when they open the backdoor.

The website where you sign up looks very smooth, that Project Sansar logo looks very professional.
The name has been trademarked, someone has spend time designing the logo, there is a website… almost as if they are sticking with that name…

Are you going to sign up and if so, what are you planning on trying in PS?


1920s Berlin machinima shown on German TV


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National TV station ZDF in Germany today showed part of the 1920s Berlin machinima made by Pepa Cometa.

The show, called ‘Volle Kanne‘, is a sort of morning talkshow with a short item about the interesting things they found online.

The machinima Pepa Cometa made and put online 3 weeks ago has had over 13 thousand views so far and has impressed many people.

It is great that it now reaches an even larger audience in Germany, as quite a large percentage of SL users are German.

You should be able to watch the item by clicking here, Berlin is mentioned around 1:00.

Thank you for the heads up Maddy!

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First look at Facebook’s Social VR


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When Facebook bought Oculus Rift, people laughed or got angry, wondering what kind of VR nightmare would be the result of such a match.
How would they combine social media and VR?
And could it one day become a threat to Second Life?

Yesterday at the Facebook developers conference a very impressive demonstration was given that showed some of what they have in mind.

See the video here, uploaded by UploadVR (click to  visit).


To me it looks like a lot of fun, a sophisticated and even creative toy but not much more, not yet anyway.
But it shows a lot of potential.

At the moment we have avatars that are only hands and heads in a static, not moving 360° location.
But of course it will only be a matter of time before we can have these experiences in moving and fully interactive 3D locations and with complete and more realistic avatars.

I think I will enjoy this, I can see myself meeting my sister, mother or aunty this way while they are far away.
But with one click a then easily available and cheap 3D camera we can be with each other in the same location.

So will it threaten SL and Sansar?
Yes and no.
It looks like Social VR is going to work and be fun and for lots of people it will be more than enough, it will offer them a VR experience that is easy to use, they’ll enjoy and that will be all they need.
With many improvements and new options coming in the future in a way, it is competition for SL and Sansar.

But as long as they do not give us the amazing and unique freedom to create what we want and be what we want to be that we’re enjoying in Second Life and expecting in Sansar, Linden Lab doesn’t have to worry.


Here is a closer look at the actual VR footage, uploaded by Road to VR (click to visit).

Social VR is going to lower the threshold for millions of people who right now are not (yet) interested in VR, it will be their first experience and maybe it will make them want to see more, experience more… create more?

The golden ticket remains the absolute freedom SL is offering us now, that is what makes it unique.
In short; until I can build 1920s Berlin in Facebook’s Social VR, I won’t be leaving SL.



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