UWA art and machinima challenge: show how you Pursue (the) Impossible

Image courtesy of UWA

Image courtesy of UWA

On Saturday August 1st, 2015, the University of Western Australia (UWA) announced the opening of their 2015 Grand Art and MachinimUWA Challenges. Jointly entitled Pursue Impossible, between them, they feature an opening prize pool in excess of L$400,000.

The Challenges are sponsored by Tom Papas & SciFi Film Festival, Reign Congrejo & BOSL, LaPiscean Liberty & SL Artist, AviewTV, Pixel Bits, Virtlantis, Phillip Vought, Carolyn Steele & York University (Canada), Taralyn Gravois, UWA Marketing & Communications, as well as the UWA Virtual Worlds Project.

Pursue Impossible invites entrants to consider what their “impossible” might be. Is it the goal they have achieved or which they’ve seen achieved by their loved ones, friends, family  or heroes achieved and which has sought to inspire them? What have they overcome which they once thought to be impossible? How do virtual environments empower people to visualise, create and push the boundaries of the possible? What are those things we deem to be impossible, but which we may still pursue and conquer as individuals or collectively? What are the impossibilities of the mind or heart or soul? Do we see the seemingly impossible and try to overcome it, or do we allow it to overpower us?

Jayjay

Jay Jay Jegathesan (Jayjay Zifanwee in SL), discusses Second Life and the achievements it has brought in a special video marking the launch of the UWA’s new brand, which is reflected in the new Grand Art and Machinima Challenge

“Those who pursue what may at first seem impossible are the ones who keep the world turning,” UWA’s Jayjay Zifanwe, Manager of the School of Physics at the university states of the theme. “What if Ghandhi did not believe he could overcome the impossible for his country? What if Dr Fiona Wood did not believe in second skin for burn victims? What if Professor Barry Marshall did not believe in himself and use himself as a human guinea pig for the benefit of mankind?”

The theme is also a reflection of a new brand launched by UWA in May 2015, which featured Jayjay’s work in developing a UWA presence in Second Life, and which is promoted by the university in video which may help get entrants to the Challenge thinking as well.

Please refer to the official UWA blog post for the major rules and considerations in entering the Challenge, and to find out about the prizes in the art and machinima categories. However, in summary:

  • Each category (art and machinima) currently has a prize pool of L$195,000, with a L$50,000 first place prize, and 11 prizes overall
  • Entrants are free to submit entries to either the art or the machinima categories, or to both if they wish
  • Art entry notes:
    • Art entries are limited to one per entrant, should preferably by submitted with COPY permissions, and must not exceed 150 LI, and must be free from any copyright issues – if third-party content is used in an entry, permission must and been sought and granted from the creator for its inclusion in the Challenge
    • Sounds, lighting, particle effects, etc., should be scripted to turn off when not in use. You may be asked to provide a revised entry if it is too intrusive or interferes with the display of other works
    • Exceptionally large or complex builds will be placed on platforms above the gallery with a teleport (TP) device and poster on the gallery floor and a return TP on the platform. You may provide a TP object and/or poster (no more than 2 LI) or we can place one for you. TP objects should be set to copy/mod and given to FreeWee Ling to add scripts and to place
  • Machinima entry notes:
    • There is no limit to the number of machinima pieces an entrant might submit; and while not a “hard” rule, machinima entries should preferably be no more than 4 minutes and 30 seconds in length, although this is not a “hard” rule
    • All submitted machinima must be made specifically for this challenge, and must include “For The University of Western Australia’s MachinimUWA VIII: Pursue Impossible” in the opening credits
    • Machinima entries do not have to be filmed within the UWA’s Second Life regions, but there will be a special prize available for a film which starts at the Winthrop Clock Tower and Reflection Pond, the starting pond for the UWA’s own Pursue Impossible video (above)
  • All entries to the challenge should be able to be interpreted by the casual viewer as representative of the theme.If the link is difficult to ascertain within a piece of art, it should be referenced in a note card accompanying the work; if it is difficult to ascertain in a video, it should be referenced in the notes accompanying the film on the web.
Never Say Never - Love Trasncends Borders, by Sharni Azalee, the 2014 Transcending Borders 3D Art Challenge Grand Prize winner - will you be this year's winner?

Never Say Never – Love Transcends Borders, by Sharni Azalee, the arts category Grand Prize winner in the 2014 Grand Art and MachinimUWA Challenge – will you be this year’s winner?

Art submissions should be made via the art entry receiver at the UWA Art Challenge Platform in Second Life, accompanied by a note card which includes your name, city, name of artwork and a description of artwork.

Machinima entries should be uploaded to any publicly accessible location, preferably  YouTube or Vimeo, and the details of the entry (name, creator, location, etc.) supplied to Jayjay Zifanwe and LaPiscean Liberty in-world or by e-mailing the details to Jayjay (jayjayaustralia@hotmail.com).

The closing date for entries is midnight SLT, on October 31st, 2015. Winners will be announced in December 2015.

When entering, do please note that as with all the UWA’s public programmes, an entry may not be accepted if it is deemed to be excessively abusive, violent, offensive, bullying, harmful, insulting, or contains inappropriate material or excessively foul language. Depictions of explicit sexual activity, as well as material deemed offensive based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation are not appropriate for the Challenge, and may be rejected. Final decisions in these matters will be made by the UWA Cultural Precinct.

As with the UWA’s Grand Challenges, there will also be a set of audience participation prizes available. The pool for this currently stands at L$15,000 apiece for the two categories (art and machinima), and I’ll have more details on how you can enter this aspect of the challenge in due course.

Above: Tutsy Navarathna’s Grand prize winner in the Machinima category 2014 Grand Art and MachinimUWA Challenge

Over the last few years, it has been a delight and pleasure for me, through these pages, to help showcase the UWA’s work benefiting the arts in Second Life. Entries to their Challenges a special arts programmes have always been of an incredible standard, and I’ve enjoyed viewing them as a both a member of the public and more recently as a member of the judging panel. It is in this latter capacity that I’m looking forward to seeing the diversity of entries submitted in both categories this year, and would like to offer all those who do enter, the very best of luck!

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Upcoming changes to land damage in Second Life

secondlifeAs previously reported in these pages, in April the Lab made some changes to the behaviour of Damage settings on land. At the time, the changes caused a certain amount of confusion in the way they limited people’s abilities to set Damage compared to previous behaviour.

As a result, a number of bugs were filed against the changes, including BUG-9098BUG-9253 and particularly BUG-9422, prompting the Lab to acknowledge there are issues, and promise to look into matters to see if anything could be done to improve things.

As a result of this, the Lab has now come up with a proposal on how Damage can be managed at both the region and the parcel level (there are no plans to offer Damage settings at the estate level) in order to provide region and parcel holders the greatest flexibility on how Damage can be managed on their land, as identified in the various use cases offered through the bug reports.

One of the issues resulting for the April changes to Damage: if the Allow Damage option is disabled at the region level, it could no longer be set at the parcel level - click to enlarge (image courtesy of Whirly Fizzle)

One of the issues resulting for the April changes to Damage: if the Allow Damage option is disabled at the region level, it could no longer be set at the parcel level – click to enlarge (image courtesy of Whirly Fizzle)

The proposal was unveiled by Oz and Grumpity Linden at the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, July 31st, and the detailed discussion of the changes can be heard via the meeting’s video (11:16 through 19:16). However, in essence, it is being proposed that:

  • The current Region / Estate > Region > Allow Damage function will remain, and is set to off by default – so damage will be disabled at the region level by default
  • A new setting, Allow Parcel to Override Damage will be added to  Region / Estate > Region, which will allow parcel owners within a region to set Damage for their land, even if it is disabled at the region level via Allow Damage. This will be set to on by default
  • The About Land > Options > Safe (No  Damage) option will be unchecked by default – so Damage will by default be on at the parcel level by default.

Thus, under this approach, and by default, parcel owners can still have Damage enabled if they wish, while the region owner can have it disabled in order to make places like public areas safe from unintentional Damage, for example.

However, region owners will be able to retain overall control for setting Damage on a region by unchecking Allow Parcel to Override Damage. This will cause the entire region to obey whatever is set via Allow Damage, and the Safe (No Damage) option in About Land > Options will be disabled / greyed-out for all parcels, preventing parcel holders from changing it.

In addition, further changes will be made to the viewer so that it will only display Damage icons in regions / parcels where Damage is enabled.

Currently, there are no times scales for when these changes (which will involve updates to both the simulator code and to the viewer) might be implemented; the idea at the moment is to gain feedback on the proposal as it stands. Furthermore, the Lab is still examining how they might ensure that any current settings for Damage people have on their land are correctly preserved when any changes are eventually rolled-out (although it is likely some people may have to manually readjust the Damage settings on their land once changes have been made, even with the best efforts on the Lab’s part to avoid this).

Once the changes have been finalised and time tabled for implementation, the Lab will hopefully communicate them ahead of release via a blog post / announcement and through the viewer’s MOTD. I’ll also be covering the changes when they are ready to be deployed.

VMM: RC viewer updated, Magic Box / XStreet shut down dates

secondlifeUpdate: The Lab has confirmed automated migration of all Direct Delivery items has now been completed, and the current plan is for the new RC viewer mentioned in this article to be promoted to the de-facto release viewer in week #32 (week commencing Monday, August 3rd).

The auto-migration of Direct Delivery items to VMM has been proceeding for a week, and mostly seems to be going smoothly.

However, the VMM code for the viewer has yet to reach a release status, primarily due to the VMM viewer release candidate having suffered from an elevated crash rate when compared to the current release viewer.

As a result, on July 29th, the Lab to issued a new version of the release candidate, version 3.8.2.303891. This does not contain any changes to VMM functionality, but is intended to reduce the RC viewer’s crash rate. Assuming it achieves the aim, it should mean the VMM viewer is once again back in the running for promotion to release status alongside the other RC viewers currently in the release channel.

End of Magic Box Support

Also on July 29th, the Lab issued a blog post announcing the ending of Marketplace support for Magic Boxes and the final shut down of XStreet.

In the blog post, Merchants using Magic Boxes for item deliveries are advised that they have until Monday, August 17th, 2015 to manually migrate those items to use the viewer-Managed Marketplace. After that date, Magic Boxes will no longer be listed on the Marketplace.

Essentially, manual migration involves moving the item into the Marketplace Listing panel, where the required folder hierarchy will be created, and then associating that item with an existing listing on the Marketplace. This is done by copying / pasting the listing reference number (that’s the number at the end of the item’s URL displayed in a browser’s address bar) from the Marketplace and pasting it into the Associate Listing option of the Marketplace Listing panel.

VMM includes an option to manually associate existing MP listings with VMM items in your inventory, which will help ease part of the the migration process for those concerned over automated migration paths

Manual migration in VMM involves moving the item into the Marketplace Listing panel, where the required folder hierarchy will be created, and then associating that item with an existing listing on the Marketplace, by copying / pasting the listing reference number using the Associate Listing option in the Marketplace Listing panel.

Once items in the Marketplace Listing folder have been associated in this way, and a check for errors run, in-world Magic Boxes can be deleted (just make sure everything you want to manually migrate has in fact had its listing associated with a  VMM item first!).

You can also learn about manual migration in the fourth part of the Lab’s VMM video tutorial series, which I’ve also embedded at the end of this article.

XStreet Shut Down

Following the cessation of Magic Box support on the Marketplace, XStreet, (which I think may still be in part used with Magic Boxes), will remain available through until Thursday, August 27th, after which it will finally be shut down. Presumably, this is to give any merchants who missed the August 17th deadline time to complete any remaining manual migration of Magic Box items & re-list them on the Marketplace.

Summary and Migration Video

So, once again the dates:

  • Magic Boxes will stop working on August 17, 2015, and will no longer appear on the Marketplace
  • Xstreet will be finally shut down on August 27, 2015.

And the Lab’s tutorial video on manual migration of listings to VMM:

Lab VMM Resources

Experiencing PaleoQuest, the Lab’s latest adventure in Second Life

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrPaleoQuest, July 2015 (Flickr) – click any image for full size

The Lab has launched the latest in their series of adventures for residents as a further demonstration of Experience Keys / Tools. Entitled PaleoQuest, it can be accessed from the Portal Parks, and following the announcement, I trotted along to give it a try, along with a few friends and some of the folk from the Lab and the LDPW.

As the title suggests, the adventure revolves around dinosaurs and parks … but also features time portals, moles, Magellan Linden and  … Doctor Talpa! The adventure comes with a back story, which I’m not going to explain; I’m going to leave that to the official video:

Once you’ve reached a Portal Park, follow the PaleoQuest footpath to the portal itself. Here, you must explicitly join the adventure and assign certain permissions to it (displayed in a dialogue box). These permissions allow the adventure to act on your avatar (teleporting you, proving you with items, etc.) without you constantly having to accept them via further dialogue boxes.

When you have agreed to join the adventure, walk into the light and you’ll be transported to the Visitor Centre, your starting point. As you do so, a game HUD will be attached to your screen – don’t remove it, as you’ll need it to proceed. It will automatically be removed from your screen when you leave PaleoQuest (and all the permissions you have granted will be automatically revoked as well – all part of the Experience Keys system).

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrPaleoQuest, July 2015 (Flickr)

The HUD is a combination communications unit – you’ll receive text instructions through it, and hear them on occasion from Magellan -, progress indicator and score keeper. How to it is explained in a tutorial video. Both it and the back story video can be watched at the Visitor Centre as well as on You Tube directly. As well as providing you with instructions (also available in note card form), the Visitor Centre is also the place where you can redeem the goodies you’ve collected along the way for prizes.

Beyond the Visitor Centre are the 5 individual quest zones, reached via the monorail system. Each of these zones involves you in two activities; the first is to undertake a specific task which must be completed in order to help thwart Dr. Talpa. These must be completed in order – you cannot do one, then skip one and go to the next. The second activity involves you collecting “common and rare items” for Magellan (he’s always been one to get others to do the work for him!). These are the aforementioned goodies which can be redeemed for your rewards.

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrPaleoQuest, July 2015 (Flickr)

The five main tasks are fiendish, while the secondary task of collecting items Magellan will name for you isn’t easy either. There may well be rewards to be had when you’ve gathered them and got them back to the Visitor Centre, but as with the main task, there’s also a fair amount of death to be found along the way. Well, lots of death, actually, and in a variety of ways, all of them coupled with the chance of losing the goodies you’ve accrued.

This being SL, however, none of the deaths you may (that’s spelt w-i-l-l) suffer are permanent. Should rocks, darts, toxic water, evil creatures or other Unpleasantness get you, like Doctor Who, you will regenerate in a flash.

I’m not going to spoil the adventure by going into specifics of any of the quests; suffice it to say that this being a time mix-up, dinos won’t be the only things you encounter. There’s ancient Egyptians, pirates and more. What I will is that PaleoQuest is a lot of fun. Oodles of it, in fact.

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on Flickr“Watch the birdie…” – PaleoQuest, July 2015 (Flickr)

Congrats to Patch, Shaman, Michael, the moles and all who worked on the project; it’s been worth the wait ever since Patch mentioned it at the SL12B “Meet the Lindens” event, and it really does deliver up fun by the bucket load. Or have I already said that?

Don’t take my word for it, however – go see for yourself. You’ll probably come across Whirly still trying to get across Nessie’s rocks ;). (Me? I took a leaf from Magellan’s book. I sat down had a drink or six and watched everyone else!)

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrWhirly gets into the spirit of things – and makes an enticing snack for Nessie! – PaleoQuest, July 2015 (Flickr)

Oh, and do make sure you have the music stream enabled when visiting. Someone did a pretty awesome job there as well.

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