Daily Archives: June 21, 2011

SL8B Feature: Dancing with Dolphins

I love Dolphins, it has to be said. I’ve been a member of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society for years, and have a long-standing dream of one day swimming with dolphins.

Which is why I was irresistibly drawn to the Interactive Dolphin Trick Show at SL8B. This is a stunning example of what can be achieved creatively within Second Life: beautifully sculpted dolphins which will swim of their own accord – but which will also respond to commands, displaying all the charm and skill of rl dolphins as they perform tricks and / or swim through the water with you.

Crissi Yoshikawa

The dolphins – Flipper and Cutie – are the result of a collaboration between Crissi Yoshikawa and Avi Savira, two people literally from opposite sides of the world (one in the UK, the other in Hawaii) who have been brought together through the unique magic of Second Life.

More than just a demonstration of the capabilities of SL as a modelling / scripting medium, the dolphins are a celebration of the friendship that Crissi and Avi have established, as they explained when I met them poolside at SL8B.

“At the time we met, Avi was quite new to SL and had just started to learn to build,” Crissi explained. “Whereas Crissi was making beach items with basic scripts for sale in her Tropical Creations shop,” Avi added. “Crissi then learned to make awesome sculpty textures for low prim sculpted objects,” she continued, “Such as palm trees and seagulls and these very realistic three prim dolphins.”

Avi Savira

“Avi imagined the dolphins becoming much more real and swimming freely in the oceans of SL,” Crissi interjected with a smile, “So she set herself the goal of scripting, and SL began to work its magic!”

Initially the pair came up with a dolphin that randomly free swims around a settable area doing various tricks. Then they added a free-swimming baby dolphin which will also randomly follow her mother. Even so, neither were satisfied, and set themselves the goal of creating a truly interactive dolphin.

Te result is quite possibly one of the most endearing and fun animal creations in Second Life – the dolphin will not only do tricks, but can be fed and ridden as well – and with minimal script overheads. “Crissi tested my scripts with a sledgehammer to get them perfected,” Avi notes with a shy smile. Not only are the dolphins well-scripted, they are incredibly well textured; quite possibly the finest level of detail I’ve yet seen on dolphins in SL. “Crissi made the textures that make them look so real,” Avi states proudly as Crissi moves to put Flipper through his paces.

I watch for the next few minutes as Crissi has Flipper swimming, jumping and standing on his tail,  before I have a go myself. Even as a novice dolphin trainer, I find Flipper only too happy to oblige – although apparently he can be a bit tricky with riders, having a certain penchant for playfully dumping them off his back!

But why dolphins? “I’ve swum with dolphins in Hawaii,” Crissi admits, making me somewhat envious that she gets “swum with dolphins” and “Hawaii” into the same sentence. “I’ve also swum with them once,” Avi states, increasing my envy. “They are so cool,” Crissi continues, “And we wanted to bring that experience to SL, so anyone anywhere could experience it.”

Flipper greets me at SL8B

And it is the ability to ride these dolphins far more than any ability to make them perform tricks that makes them so incredibly attractive, as Avi and Crissi both demonstrated for me as we chatted (I was hardly dressed to jump into the water!).

I’ve yet to fulfil my dream of swimming with dolphins in rl, but at least I know I can now savour it in Second Life, thanks to both Crissi and Avi; two people brought together by the magic of SL, and who have invested their time and creativity to share that magic with the rest of us.

Avi demonstrates some of the dolphin ride options

Notes

The Interactive Dolphin Trick show performs daily at 6:00am, 12:00pm and 6:00pm SLT, and you can see the dolphins and ride them yourself at all other times during SL8B;  find it on SL8B Spectacular. If you want a dolphin or two for yourself, you can find them at Crissi’s shop at Mocis.

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SL Birthdays and Missed Opportunities

(Copyright Linden Lab)

The Second Birthday week is a time of celebration, a time when people can express what SL means to them and promote how it can be used and enjoyed.

Throughout this week, and besides the inevitable parties and the like, we have a range of thought-provoking talks and presentations on a wide range of worthy subjects: disability, education, machinima, art in Second Life. The list is impressive.

Except that something is missing.

Take a look at the Main Auditorium schedule I’ve linked to above and the other major stage (Main and Cake) event pages. You’ll notice that the name “Linden” doesn’t appear once.

I’ve already commented on the lack of any real Linden presence at the SL8B opening, and while that may well be dismissed as grumpiness on my part, there is a bigger issue here.

SL8B represents a marvellous opportunity for LL to reach out to the user community and communicate with us – so where are they?

I’m not talking about glad-handing or getting involved in in-depth discussions about who, what, when, where, how and why; rather I’m talking about getting up on stage and giving an overview of what is coming down the road, things like:

  • What is happening with Viewer 2?
  • What is Mesh going to look like?  (Given many haven’t see the results from the Beta Grid)
  • What is happening around service improvements like Group chat and server-side lag issues?

These don’t have to be massive Q&A sessions (and can be set-up from the outset as such), but the opportunity to inform, particularly given LL’s reticence to actually consistently use its own “communications platform”, isn’t one to be sneezed at.

Again, I know that LL do turn out in force at SLCC year-in-year-out and talk about these very things but the fact is however you look at it, the SLCC audience is pretty closed-off. Even with videos of the presentations being streamed live & available for viewing after the fact, it’s fair to say that SLCC doesn’t quite have the reach or immediacy that SL itself potentially has.

In short, by not turning up at SL8B Linden Lab is again missing an opportunity for positive engagement with its users on a global scale. Lets face it – I can make it to SL*B events a bloody sight easier than I can make SLCC – and I think it fair to say that the majority of people who are involved in SL are in the same boat as me in this.

It’s not only a missed opportunity, it’s also somewhat ironic. It is not that log ago (a year, in fact), that Linden Lab were loudly touting Second Life as the tool for virtual meetings, and that given it now has media on a prim and other goodies, it makes a excellent tool with which to bring together people from geographically disparate locations and communicate with them.

So why on Earth isn’t the Lab using it’s platform to this end at an event  people want to attend (and are attending in droves) to actually get out there and be seen and to talk and engage?

SL8B Main Stage 3:00pm SLT 23rd June – Move over, Dean and Frank?

As it stands, the only Linden presence in any official capacity this year seems to be Kim (who, with due respect, was gone in the blink of an eye) and Rodvik. Hardly a massive tunr-out.

And, with the greatest of love and respect to him – Rodvik is someone I genuinely admire enormously – I do have concerns with his appearance.

You see, he’s due on the Main Stage at 3:00pm SLT on the 23rd June. But that is also the time FedoraJones Popstar is due on stage,  which leaves me wondering if Rodvik’s appearance won’t actually be a quick duet before his is whisked off stage…

SL8B is a great opportunity for celebration; but it is also an outstanding opportunity for LL to be seen to be communicating and showing an interest in the platform, rather than hovering off to one side. And in this latter regards, they have once again failed to understand the medium at their fingertips.

SL8B Day 1 My Highlights

Here are my personal highlights from the first day of SL8B.

Bears!

Winter Ventura’s Bears

The Lindens aren’t the only ones producing celebratory bears: Winter Ventura has been making them since 2009, covering major celebrations and holidays from around the world. It was a delight to learn she has them all at SL8B, including her newest editions – one of which has a particular link to some of my more … eclectic … interests. Can you guess which one?

Winter’s newest bears, one of which especially appeals to me!

Roller coaster

The NYHealthscape roller coaster – the ride still turfs you into the water when you get back to the station, but less violently than I experienced; and it is worth it for the ride. Just don’t forget there is a serious side to the exhibit.

Grace O’Clock

Grace O’Clock

Ever Grace-ful

I finished what had been a lightweight visit to SL8B due to other commitments in the only way possible: listening to Grace McDunnough for a wonderful session of Grace O’Clock.

Grace is one of those amazing talents that bring so much to Second Life; her music is, like her blog, thought provoking and immensely enjoyable. Truth be told, I get to hear her all too rarely (although I’m a keen follower of Phasing Grace. Seeing her at SL8B, therefore, was the perfect way to round-out a day that had been so very mixed, with a definite high note.

As usual Grace presented a range of songs that were both entertaining and strongly emotive, drawing-in her audience for a solid hour, during which time I was able to introduce my friend CS to her music, and catch sight of a few familiar names also attending the set.

Handyman: Mr. Crap Mariner

Also in attendance was the inimitable and incorrigible Mr. Carp Mariner – himself one of those aforementioned talents, whom I still love for bringing us the Death of Vinnie Linden – a deliciously clever parody.

As one might suspect, Crap was in something of a satirical  / mischievous mood, appearing in a part of his own exhibit at SL8B. Having watched Game of Thrones earlier this evening, I couldn’t help but dub him the Hand of Second Life. And now I’ve seen the hand, I will have to find his entire exhibit – look for pictures here!

But in the meantime, back to Grace. If you’d like to know more about Grace’s music, take a look (and a listen) at her music website. All-in-all couldn’t have asked for a better end to the day other than by spending an hour listening to her.