Sun, sand and Shakespeare – it’s Bard on the Virtual Beach 2013!

Bard 2013 PosterSunday August 25th will see the third annual Bard on the Virtual Beach festival take place on Nowhereville Beach in Second Life.

Bard on the Virtual Beach, brought to SL by Storyfests SL and Stories Unlimited, is a celebration of the works of William Shakespeare in an informal beachfront setting – a kind of sun, sand and sonnets, you might say.

On hand for the event, which kicks-off at noon SLT on August 25th, will be some of the finest voices in Second Life, all there (with their avatars!) to bring you some of the finest moments from the works of the world’s greatest playwright, complete with a couple of special interpretations!

The schedule, as it currently stands, is given below. Please do be aware that the order of events is subject to change, particularly should real life intrude, so please keep an eye on the Storyfest SL website for updates and for the final time slots.

  • Scenes from Romeo and Juliet: with Basilique Performing Arts (on stream with music and dance)
  • Scenes from The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act II, Scene 1) and King John (Act II, Scene 1):  with Ada Radius and Avajean Westland
  • Sonnet Break!:  with Freda Frostbite
  • “The Duke of Bridgewater presents his interpretation of Hamlet’s Soliloquyfrom Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn:  with BigRed Coyote
  • Hamlet (Act III, Scene 3): with Caledonia Skytower and Em Jannings
  • The Merchant of Venice (Act I, Scene 2):  with Ada Radius and Avajean Westland
  • The Merchant of Venice (Act I, Scene 3): with Yunus Nyn of TALIA and friend (In Spanish, English translation provided)
  • Titus Andronicus (Act III, Scene 1): with Kayden Oconnell
  • Sonnet Break!:  with TBA
  • As You Like It (Act 3, Scene 2): with Bhelanna Blaze and Roderic Unplugged
  • Macbeth (Act I, Scene 7): with Gyro Muggins
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act II, Scene 1):  with Ada Radius and Avajean Westland
  • Scenes from Much Ado About Nothing “How Two Wayward Wits Fall in Love”:  with Caledonia Skytower and Kayden Oconnell
  • Selection from The Tempest (TBA): with Crap Mariner.
Bard on the Virtual Beach 2013 – August 25th

Bard on the Virtual Beach takes place in an informal setting, with minimal sets and props, in a partial reproduction of the Globe Theatre. The audience is invited to sit on the benches or on the sand and enjoy the passage of an afternoon in good company. The festival is free to all, but gratuities will be accepted on behalf of the event’s beneficiary, War Child North America.

War Child strives to empower children and young people to flourish within their communities and overcome the challenges of living with, and recovering from, conflict. To achieve this, War Child works collaboratively with those communities to increase access to education, overcome the obstacles of poverty and create a protective environment for the rights of children and youth.  The ultimate goal of War Child is that someday we will live in a world where no child knows war.

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Oculus Share: discover and explore games & experiences using Oculus Rift

Wired UK carries an article announcing the launch of a new service from the creators of Oculus Rift.

Oculus Share, launched in a beta mode on August 20th 2013, is described as “a platform to enable users to discover games and experiences which use the technology” and is initially aimed at those with the Oculus Rift development kit. However, plans will see the service transition into a fully fledged marketplace for for heaset-ready games, applications and experiences; a move which will likely coincide with the official launch of Oculus Rift as a consumer product some time in 2014.

Oculus Share beta (Image courtesy of Oculus Rift)
Oculus Share beta (Image courtesy of Oculus Rift)

A blog post issued by Oculus Rift provides a description of the intended use of the service in this first iteration:

Oculus Share (or simply, Share) is the first of many steps we’re taking to build the best virtual reality platform. With Share, you can host Oculus-ready games and experiences that you’ve created, browse and download content from other developers, rate experiences on quality and VR comfort level, provide feedback to devs on what you enjoyed (and what you didn’t), and tip fellow developers for their work in cash, should you feel so inclined.

Experimentation, iteration, and actual playtesting are at the heart of pushing virtual reality forward. One of the main goals in building Share was to help developers on all these fronts by creating a centralized community portal for Oculus content. And while it’s simply a sharing service today, over the coming months we’ll work toward making Share an incredible marketplace for Oculus-ready games, experiences, and applications.

The service offers six categories under which items can be uploaded / shared: Full Game, Demo, Experience, Alpha, Beta and Mod, with a further sub-class of genre for items: Action / Adventure, Casual, Exploration, Puzzle, Simulation, Sports, and Strategy. As might be expected with the initial launch, content is currently light, but will doubtless grow as word spreads. For now the Demo category is the most heavily populated section, featuring a number of Oculus Rift’s own commissioned demonstrations, such as the Tuscany World from Fenix Fire.

Applications, mods and games are each featured on a page of their own, some with screen caps, others with a video (or both), together with a description, system requirements and set-up instructions – think Steam or Desura for the Rift, and you get the idea.

Within the current set of uploads there are intriguing hints at how additional technologies might be used with the headset. In the Trial of the Rift Drifter, for example, head gestures can be used for communications, while in another demo, the potential for eye movement to be used for in-game object control is outlined.

The content categories are currently focused on games, which is not surprising, given that is perhaps where the most interest with the technology lies. However, it would be nice to see a couple of non-game categories added to the service to cater for the likes of virtual environments (such as SL, OpenSim and others looking into the technology) and for real-world applications (medical, engineering, research, training, etc., simulations – although it might be argued that the Simulation genre is the catch-all for these; not ideal, but it is there).

Oculus Rift are currently vetting all submissions to Share in order to prevent the upload of offensive or malicious content. As a result, they do warn that items submitted to the service might take a while to appear, and ask for patience from those making submissions. As a beta service, Share is also liable to some teething problems as well – Wired UK reports it was down for maintenance just a few hours after launch – so again, patience may well be the order for the day for those wanting to make use of Share, as things are bedded-in and improved.

The potential for the platform is clear. By launching a service of their own, rather than relying on portals such as Desura and Steam, etc., Oculus Rift are presenting a “one stop shop” through which Rift developers and users can both promote and discover products specific to the headset without either necessarily having to use or peruse multiple web stores. As such, it will be interesting to see how Share grows in the months leading up to the commercial launch of the headset – and beyond.

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