Happy 2013 to all!

All the best for 2013!

Wishing everyone all the very best for 2013. Thank you for taking the time to come read this blog, give feedback and comments, and for all your retweets, replurks, loves and support throughout 2012. It’s has been and is, deeply appreciated.

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Linden Lab’s Dio and Versu websites appear

Update, February 19th, 2014: dio and Versu were discontinued by Linden Lab on February 19th, 2014. Links to their websites, etc have therefore been removed from this article.

Update January 1st, 2013: I finally took a proper look through the Versu FAQ and have provided further information in a new report.
LL logoLinden Lab have slipped out the initial cuts of the Dio and Versu websites. Currently, there is nothing on the corporate website relating to the latest items in the new product line-up from the Lab, although Dio caused a stir early in 2012 when a nascent website bearing the name was accidentally made public.

Neither of the new websites give much away – Versu in particular is rather bland, but both point to the new products potentially approaching a point where they’ll be launched in the near future.

The Versu website placeholder from Linden Research, December 2012
The Versu website placeholder from Linden Research, December 2012

Versu will be the first product to emerge from the Lab directly as a result of their acquisition of LitleText People, also early in 2012, and has previously been described by Rod Humble in a Techcrunch article as, “Procedural interactive storytelling. Basically you set the motives and the behaviors of the individual characters and the plot gets generated as you go, and each time it’s different.”

Techcrunch themselves interpret this as meaning, “The idea here is to tap into collaborative storytelling, something that’s been gaining in popularity in online spheres, as evidenced by the traction social writing startup Wattpad has seen. But with Versu, Linden Lab adds a gaming element to interactive storytelling that essentially allows players to create their own characters which then write themselves. It seems like a smart way to capitalize on the observer tendency that’s turned Second Life players into story watchers.”

The new website, as shown above, currently gives little away, however, this is liable to change as the release / beta / however LL opt to launch, draws closer.

The new Dio website, by contrast, has more in the way of content. This is unsurprising, as it appears that Dio is actually the next product on the runway to follow-on from the launches of Patterns and Creatorverse. However, whether the content is genuine or simply placeholders for testing purposes is unclear, at least to me, as I’m not a Facebook user – and Facebook is required to log-in to the site (if log-ins are indeed open).

Again, in talking to Techcrunch in November, Humble described Dio as, “A web experience called Dio that’s really hard to explain, which I like. It’s sort of like Second Life without the graphics, or Facebook but trying to be more of a creative space.” He goes on, “So it’s a web experience and you create your space, but within the spaces, everyone has their own avatar and avatars carry inventory. The way you navigate from space to space is via doors, and you can make things like a MUSH [multi-user shared hack] or hobby space very easily.”

The new Dio website homepage (click to enlarge)
The new Dio website homepage (click to enlarge)

As noted above, logging-in to the Dio website requires a Facebook account, and even the “request an invite” button leads to the Facebook log-in page. Whether the latter is intentional or not is currently unclear; however, limiting log-in to Facebook may limit Dio’s appeal to SL users, but would obviously open it out to the entire Facebook community, potentially raising its visibility.

Clicking on any of the options on the home page is possible, but again, little is given away as to what they do, or to provide more insight into the site than Humble’s description to Techcrunch.

One of the options ("albums"?) within the Dio website
One of the options (“albums”?) within the Dio website

Some of these options allow you to drill down further, but overall, it is currently hard to see how things link together and how “avatars” and “carrying inventory” fit within the scheme of things. Options then range from games through what appear to be tour guides, to business portfolios, to collaborative projects, discussion groups and personal photo albums, making Dio something of a melting pot of ideas and potential uses.

For those interested / curious about the directions LL is taking vis-a-vis new products, then these two websites are potentially to the two to watch as 2013 unfolds, even if right now, they raise more questions than they answer.

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2012: a year in review Part 2

It’s that time of year again, the closure of 12 months of ups and downs, ins and outs and numerous other goings-on in the so-called metaverse and the galaxy therein with call Second Life. As with previous years, that means it’s time for me to take a look back over the last 12 months as seen through the pages of this blog.

You can read Part 1: January through June, here.

July

August

Viewer release summary 2012: week 52

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information as the week progresses
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.  

Updates for the week ending: 30 December, 2012

  • SL Viewer updates:
      • Release version rolled to 3.4.3.268262 on December 18 – release notes
      • Beta version rolled to 3.4.4.268497 on December 20 – release notes
      • Development rolled to 3.4.5.268612 on December 28
      • Development version of the CHUI project viewer rolled to 3.4.3.268599 on December 27
  • Dolphin rolled to 3.4.8.26933 on December 27 – core updates: code base updated to match latest from LL; new right-click avatar context menu option to take a calling card from an avatar near (adopted from the Starlight skin by Hitomi Tiponi); RLV updated to 2.8.4; bug fix to correctly blurred textures – release notes
  • Niran’s Viewer released version 2.0.6 on December 27 – core updates: revisions to the login screen; ability to disable Fullbright in your world view; motion blurring; updated Space Reflections vode from Tofu Buzzard  – release notes
  • Cool VL updates – three versions for the time being, all updated on December 29:
    • Stable version rolled to 1.26.6.3
    • Legacy version Legacy (v2.6 renderer) rolled to 1.26.4.46
    • Experimental version rolled to 1.26.7.3
    • Release notes
  • Phoenix officially reaches end-of-line on December 31st – read more here
  • Libretto – removed from round-up page due to website being unavailable and client removed from the SL Third-party Viewer Directory.

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Six Years: a video

I celebrated six years of continuous presence in Second Life in November 2012. To mark the event, I started to put together a little video – but have only just got round to finishing it this last week. It’s probably best viewed within this page, as my limited image resolution (1440×900) doesn’t scale very well after being processed by the video editing software, and not all the places I wanted to remember in the video are still available / open for me to go back to and image at a much higher resolution.

Anyway, it’s a small celebration and I hope you like it.

Update: Following advice from a friend on YouTube, I’ve tweaked things slightly, and uploaded a video based on adjusted rendering settings. Hopefully, it should be a little better, quality-wise.

Where a Dark Moon offers a garden of delight

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

Dark Moon, a Homestead region owned by Nepherses Amat, is both enchanting and something of a mystery – and well deserving of your time to explore.

The theme of the region is prone to change over time – Nepherses has no fewer than nine images of the region in its various forms, covering her time of occupancy from 2009 through to today – and each iteration brings something new and unusual to see and share.

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

You’ll need to set aside time when visiting, as there is much to see here, both above and below ground. The region is a fabulous mix of caves, tunnels and hidden comforts as well as a rich garden of flowers and trees and the home of a carnival and circus.

Your journey through and around the region starts at the main teleport point, and the entrance to the caves. You may want to dress appropriately, as it is a little wet ;-). While you can opt to skip the caves entirely and hop up above to the gardens (if you cheat and use fly override, that is), doing so would be a mistake, as the caves themselves are an adventure of discovery – and invite the imagination to make up adventures as you investigate them.

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

Wandering through the tunnels, it’s hard not to picture yourself in an Indiana Jones-esque adventure, seeking a lost treasure; or perhaps you’re involved in some great spy mystery, exploring the hidden lair of your arch-nemesis.  Whatever your mood of adventure, you’ll come across many strange delights as you explore – places to dance with a loved one or sit and chat with a companion, an unlikely study complete with bookcases and deep, comfortable armchairs, works of art and more, all carefully placed to guide you along your way.

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

Some routes will lead you out of the caves at ground level (or near to it), offering you the chance to explore the waterfront, crossing over bridges and perhaps taking a rest amidst a small ruin. But (at least so far as I can tell), only one route will lead you up to the gardens topside, and that you’ll have to seek out for yourself, no clues here! Just be prepared for a bit of a physical climb…!

Colour is used to great effect throughout Dark Moon, and you’ll need to be running in deferred mode in order to fully appreciate it, especially when underground. Even up in the garden, once you reach it, things are best seen with lighting and shadows active to really see the care with which the region has been developed.

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

If the caves are a blend of adventure and discovery, then the garden above them is a mix of fantasy, colour and mystery with a splash of surrealism. Under a lowering sky – perfect for the region, so make sure you accept the windlight settings if prompted – sits a rich sea of colourful flowers and blossom-filled trees admidst which sits a carnival / circus, complete with big top and posing elephants. To reach them, you walk under carved arches around which thick vines curl, both the arches and vines creating an almost elven feel to the path beneath them.

Here sits a Ferris wheel, reached by climbing stone stairs and available to ride, standing like some kind of sentinel above the surrounding garden and the sea beyond. From it you can see the carousel, also waiting to be ridden, while between the two sits the tall form of the big top. Here, in the dimness of the tent you can dance amidst Meeroos and watched over by elephants, or make yourself a part of the Greatest Show on Earth.

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

It is around the big top and carousel that new stories suggest themselves and add to the mystery of the place. The ticket master as the carousel may well where clown’s paint, but not all clowns are funny, while inside the big top things seem a little run-down, as if better days have come and gone. Or perhaps it is just the artistry of the selected windlight and the overly bright eyes of the Meeroos giving wing to my imagination.

But that is what makes Dark Moon so appealing; the very fact that it does stir the imagination so and prompt one to create stories as one explores. And for those who choose to visit the region with a close friend or lover, Dark Moon is equally appealing, with the aforementioned places to dance, rides to share and nooks and places to while away the hours.

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

If you love exploring Second Life and/or enjoy SL photography, or simply like to find new places where you can sit for a time on your own or with a friend, then I cannot recommend Dark Moon highly enough. It is a magical garden of delight atop meandering caves of wonder. Altogether a superb visit – just please do respect the privacy of the house up in the gardens, and don’t forget the donations sign down at the main teleport point!

Dark Moon
Dark Moon

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