BobbekinWorld: building interactive children’s stories in SL

Last week, Dawny Daviau (Sylvia Thevissen in rl) nudged me about a project she’s involved in, and which is being developed by a team led by SL machinima maker Chantal Harvey and the creator of R2D2, Tony Dyson, working under their Netdreamer Publications brand. At the time I made a note of things – and then promptly forgot in the rush to sort-out bits and bobs for Fantasy Faire coverage.

Fortunately, Saffia Widdershins over at Prim Perfect didn’t, and she has a good write-up on the project, which Chantal and Tony call BobbekinWorld.

This is a series of children’s e-books which use advanced animation and combine video, music and still images of cute little characters called Bobbekins. The team use a range of media – including Second Life –  in which to create the stories, with “Toy City” being an actual sim inside SL.

The books are designed to be immersive, fun and have a teaching exercise or theme to the stories, the idea being to make full use of the digital medium to engage children in a visual, interactive style.

Currently, the first book in the series has been developed, and an Indiegogo kickstarter has been set-up to help with financing the project. Some $15,000 is required to bring the project to life. Those donating to the cause receive a range of benefits according to their level of contribution. The indiegogo page includes an excellent Q&A to the project, featuring Tony Dyson. In it, he not only explains why the team believe that e-books are an ideal medium for children, he also explains why the team has turned to Indiegogo rather than presenting the concept to a large publishing house:

Over the last 2 years, we have invested a considerable amount of money and time in this project. It has been very difficult to stay independent. We know that if we sell to the large publishers too early, we will most definitely lose control over matters we find very important and are close to our heart.

The cover of the first BobbekinsWorld e-book, designed by Dawny Daviau (image courtesy of Netdreamer Publications)

We now need to market and develop the full range of e-Books and printed material. At Indiegogo we have the perfect opportunity not only to pre-sell our publications, but to also offer exciting bonuses to families and teachers who share and appreciate our concept.

As a part of the team, Dawny is the Graphics Artist, responsible for designing the cover of the first book in the series. Another long-term SLer, Slim Warrior (or “Slimmie” to her friends – Leo Wolff in RL) is responsible for the music within the books.

In terms of Second Life, the project – as Saffia points out in the headline to her piece – highlights another unique way in which environments such as Second Life can be used to help develop real-world projects.

As well as incorporating the team’s own belief in the digital medium in which to engage young children, the project has received support and input from a panel of advisors, including Dr Tracy Harwood, a National Teacher Fellow and a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, UK, Dr. Phylis Johnson (PhD, Instructional Technology), a professor of media in the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts at Southern Illinois University and Elizabeth Spezia, education services and community engagement manager at WSIU, the public television and radio stations for southern Illinois, who leads the station’s Ready To Learn initiative, which reaches thousands of local children and families each year through media-based learning.

A scene from the first Bobbekins book, using a set created in Second Life (courtesy of Netdreamer Publishing)

Related links

With thanks to Saffia Widdershins, and sincere thanks and an apology (for the late write-up) to Dawny Daviau.

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Fantasy Faire: Magnificent Magnificat

From the Crimson Fields, my journey turned south once more, taking me many leagues into warmer climes, across hill and dale the ar ever warmer, the skies ever brighter, until at last I came to the gardens and palaces of the Relay Royales, and the magnificence of the place they call Magnificat.

Spanning a broad canal from which barges and dhows sailed to and from the great waters beyond, the palace of Magnificat is a wondrous sight, one flanked on either side by other great buildings, some topped by tall spires, all standing before tended gardens and facing the blue waters of the deep canal.

Magnificat
Magnificat

Here, with my journey more than half complete, I was well-received and given leave to stay as long as I wished. The offer was tempting, for the gardens and pools of Magnifcat present restful delights, and the trade which goes on by day and night in many of the great halls is a marvel to see and partake.

So it was, after many long days of travel, I took some rest, walking in the bright sunlight through the gardens and between tall buildings; I let path and stair lead me where they would, sometimes to the side of the great canal, where I would watch the barges sail forth, their holds laden with goods, sometimes to the passages beneath the great palace buildings and to the cooling pools there.

At night the palaces and grounds would be lit with torches and crystals and entertainments and games would take place; further diversions to cause a traveller to tarry, and the gaiety and laughter from which also did much to heal the tired soul and renew the spirit.

Magnificat
Magnificat

I did not meet the Royales during my stay, although I did see them from afar: tall, fair lords and ladies, surrounded by light and adored by their people. Such was the magic of their realm that if truth be told, I could so easily have stayed many months – perhaps forever – but deep in my heart I knew my destiny was not to remain among marbled halls and dancing to sweet musics. My path lay onwards and southward still, before turning East so I might at last complete my long journey and reach the place which called to me from so far away. And while I knew I would not long regret leaving, I did envy those who would remain at so wonderful a place.

Region designed by: Alia Baroque

Sponsored by:  Fallen Gods Inc; featuring: Evie’s Closet; Lilith’s Den; Living the FantaSea; MacMoragh & Muse; House of Rfyre; Wasabi Pills; and with themed stores: Frippery; Balderdash; Ankle Biter; Yabusaka; Musa; Skinthesis; Sax Shepherd Designs; Decadent Courtesan; Heartistic; Gwen’s Hearth; Forest Feast.

Total raised to date:: L$5,170,614 (approx: $20,682 USD).

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SL project reports week 17 (2): COF corruption and SSB/A

At the Open-source Dev meeting on Wednesday April 25th, Whirly Fizzle raised a concern on the status of JIRA SVC-7653, which relates to Current Outfit Folder (COF) corruptions leading to an avatar being unable to log-in to Second Life which may have an impact on the forthcoming Server-side Baking / Appearance switch-over.

The problem was first publicly reported by AngusGraham Ceawlin in February 2012, and at the time became of the focus of a campaign to Free Angus. After a total of some 63 days unable to log-in and with the (particular) support of Whirly herself and Nicky Dasmijn, Paspund Resident and Izzy Linden, Agnus was indeed freed. However the problem has become a matter of concern again because SVC-7653 remains marked as “unresolved”, and a workaround developed for it looks set to be “broken” when SSB/A goes live.

The "Free Angus campaign poster" produced by Sparkles Alchemi and used in a number of blog posts in early 2012 to highlight Angus' situation
The “Free Angus campaign poster” produced by Sparkles Alchemi and used in a number of blog posts in early 2012 to highlight Angus’ situation

The COF Corruption Issue

When this particular issue occurs, the user has no clear indication that there has been an inventory corruption specific to the Current Outfit Folder. There are only tell-tale clues, which Whirly Fizzle documented (on behalf of Kitty Barnett) as being:

  • Only one account is affected
  • A crash or timeout disconnect will occur at log-in, usually around “Downloading clothing…”
  • The affected account will crash/disconnect on any V3-based viewer or a viewer that uses COF
  • A clean install, cache clear, replacing outfit on a non-COF viewer will not fix the problem
  • The associated viewer logs will usually show:

INFO: newview/llappearancemgr.cpp(1998):LLAppearanceMgr::updateAppearanceFromCOF : starting

Generally (but not always) followed by numerous warnings:

WARNING: newview/llappearancemgr.cpp(2891) : WearablesOrderComparator::operator(): Warning # 0: either item1 or item2 is NULL

Followed by a crash or a timeout.

The Workaround

While LL’s support staff do have scripts to deal with various inventory corruptions and issues, under current rules, they will only run these scripts for Premium accounts. While it may be possible to get further assistance from the Lab if you’re not a Premium account holder, it is certainly going to take a good deal longer to gain assistance. As a result, Kitty Barnett developed a workaround for non-Premium members, which Whirly included in her comments on SVC-7653:

  • Use a viewer which does not have COF support and log-in to SL. Currently, Imprudence is possibly the most easily obtainable such viewer
  • Replace outfit with a Library avatar. Thus must be a complete outfit change (every layer / attachment)
  • Log out of the viewer
  • Launch a TPV which uses the VerifyInitialWearables debug setting (such as Catznip, Exodus, or Firestorm – note that the official viewer does not have this setting)
  • At the log-in splash screen:
    • Go to the top menu bar and select Me/Viewer > Preferences > Advanced and tick Show Advanced Menu
    • From the top menu bar, go to Debug > Debug settings > VerifyInitialWearables and set it to TRUE
  • Login to SL.

This should result in a message being sent to the server by the viewer using the VerifyInitialWearables which will result in the COF corruption being “fixed” and the avatar being able to log-in successfully to SL. A change of outfit should then verify that all is well.

The Workaround and SSB

Tests carried out by TPV developers have shown that the VerifyInitialWearables message sent by the viewer is ignored by the SSB/A servers. This has resulted in concern that unless the Lab have developed a resolution for this issue,  anyone encountering it once SSB/A is “live” will not be able to utilise the documented workaround, and they’ll effectively be unable to log-in to Second Life unless they are a Premium member (or upgrade).

The matter has apparently been brought to the attention of the SSB/A team (led by Nyx Linden), who have been engaged in a wide range of inventory updates and associated work, “More than they hoped would be needed,” as Oz linden put it at the Open-source Dev meeting. But whether or not their work extends to fixing this particular problem is unclear. SVC-7653 remains “unresolved” but inactive – so it is perhaps possible a fix has been developed internally by the Lab without SVC-7653 being updated. However, until greater clarification is given, this is likely to be a subject of note at User Group meetings which deal with SSB/A matters.

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