A walk through Harrowdale


I recently had the opportunity to wander through the village and woods of Harrowdale, a new RP region currently under construction in SL. If I’m honest, my time there comprised two visits, each of them shorter than I’d have liked, thanks to RL tapping me on the shoulder or keeping me afk while there.

The region is the work of Arica Storaro, also known as the Blogging Elf, and features medieval fantasy role-play based on the Forgotten Realms. For those familiar with the latter, Harrowdale lies in the Dalelands on the west coast of the Dragonreach both north of Sembia and south-east of Cormanthor. The time frame for role-play is Tarsakh, the Year of Blue Fire, 1385 DR, two months after the Spellplague hit the realms.


A wooded land, Harrowdale is home to a large-ish village, an old, run-down port, and a fortified encampment, all linked by paths and trails, and a few more points of interest besides. A river splits the region in two, the village occupying most of one side of the watery divide, which is spanned by a single wooden bridge. New arrivals appear near the centre of the region at a crossroads, presenting a good opportunity to start wandering and meet the locals – some of whom, it has to be said, may not be friendly once the region opens for role-play!

The village would appear to offer several opportunities for RP employment, with a large tavern and several other places of business to keep people busy. Similarly, the encampment ringed by a protective cheval de frise offers another focal-point. It is apparently a refuge for the homeless, the pointed spars of the fence intended to help ward-off the bandits who roam the woods and may well be based at the old port. Elsewhere are cottages hidden in the woods, and a mystical-looking ruined tower, where torches are kept lit and a large glowing crystal lay nestled at its base.


There’s already a small community forming (several of whom had the pleasure of me landing on their heads during my second visit!), and Arica hopes it’ll grow as news spreads once the region is open. That is planned for the weekend of 5th / 6th October, which will see the region’s dress code / race code strictly enforced – suitable period / fantasy wear only, and only races common to the Forgotten Realms (e.g. humans, drow, elves, orcs, tiefling, dwarves, wizards, etc). Until that time, however, the region is open to casual visitors, whom I can attest will receive a warm and friendly greeting from the locals!


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Lab announces IndieCade nominees and official selections Desura distribution

LL logoOn Wednesday October 2nd Linden Lab announced it would be offering all nominees and official selections at the IndeCade International Festival of Independent Games, “an agreement for global distribution, without any listing fees, via Desura, a leading digital distribution service for independent games.”

The offer is open to all developers of games aimed at the PC, Mac or Linux platforms nominated / selected for the event, which is due to be held in Los Angeles on October 5th and 6th. In addition, all qualifying nominees and official selections opting to take up the offer “will also automatically be a part of Desura’s new partner program and will be supported with promotional advertising, courtesy of Linden Lab.”

An estimated 21 of the 36 nominees in this year’s IndieCade festival qualify for the offer.

The announcement came via an official press release, posted to both the Lab’s corporate website and on the Desura website. The press release reads in part:

SAN FRANCISCO – October 2, 2013 – Linden Lab® and IndieCade have announced a special prize for the IndieCade 2013 Festival, held October 5-6 in Los Angeles: for the first time, all nominated and official selection PC/Mac/Linux games will be offered an agreement for global distribution, without any listing fees, via Desura, a leading digital distribution service for independent games.

Additionally, IndieCade nominees and official selections that choose to take advantage of the distribution offer will also automatically be a part of Desura’s new partner program and will be supported with promotional advertising, courtesy of Linden Lab.

Desura has a large catalogue of successful commercial games as well as free titles. IndieCade-nominated free games are eligible for this offer and will be also extended the opportunity to participate in a forthcoming promotional initiative.

“We’re a proud supporter of IndieCade and its mission,” said Rod Humble, CEO of Linden Lab. “Celebrating and supporting independent developers is a goal Desura shares with IndieCade, and we’re happy to be able to award distribution and promotion to all nominated and official selection games at this year’s event.”

Desura puts the best games, mods, and downloadable content from developers at gamers’ fingertips, ready to buy and play. The free Desura application can serve and patch games, mods, and add-ons directly for customers around the world. Developers and publishers can share news, images, videos, and other content through their profiles, while every member of the Desura community can post comments, submit reviews, and upload screenshots from their own playing experiences. Desura also demystifies user-made mods and add-ons for games by making them as easy to find and install or update as professional titles.

indiecadeIndieCade is an international juried festival of independent games, and is often referred to as “the video game industry’s Sundance Festival”. At IndieCade, independent video game developers are selected to screen and promote their work at the annual IndieCade festival and showcase events.

The link-up between Linden Lab and IndieCade would appear to be a logical step, given that the Lab has recently acquired the Desura digital distribution platform, which has been a sponsor of the event, and that Will Wright serves on both the Board of Directors of Linden Lab and on IndieCade’s Board of Advisors.

The move is clearly aimed at strengthening Desura’s market status and positioning as a front-runner in the global distribution of independent games and mods. It also potentially raises Linden Lab’s profile among independent game developers.

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WD Project Sci-Fi launches with L$230,000+ in prizes for machinima entries

If you had the power to choose to make a film in any time or place in the Universe – when or where would you choose? Another planet or perhaps another time or reality on Earth? Filmmakers, Animators and Machinimographers’ will have 30 days in November, to write, shoot, edit, produce and upload their creative masterpieces.

So reads the opening piece for the WD Project Sci-Fi challenge. As noted, filmmakers, animators and machinima makers are invited to spend 30 days from the 1st November 2013 through until the end of the month writing, shooting, editing and producing a sci-fi short, with a total of $10,000 Aus. in prize money for the winners.

Entrants must make a short film between 5 and 10 minutes for live action and a promo piece of between 30-60 seconds. Machinima must be between 3 and 10 minutes in length, promo piece optional and no longer than 30 seconds.

To ensure no-one gets a head-start in things, all films submitted must be on one of four colour themes – “everyday life”, “the environment”, “network/connections” and “speed and technology”. Entrants are asked to nominate two of the themes as the potential subject for their film as a part of the registration process. One of their nominated themes will then be allocated to them by the organisers at the start of the competition on November 1st, 2013.

Calling Machinima Makers

As noted above, Project Sci-Fi is open to machinima makers. This section of the competition is being sponsored by the University of Western Australia, and has $1,500 Aus. (L$230,000) on offer as part of the main competition prize pool, with $750 Aus going to the 1st prize winner.

In addition, further prizes are on offer for machinima featuring the UWA Centum created by West Australian Artist, Len Zuks and brought into Second Life by FreeWee Ling. The Centum does not have to be filmed in situ, copies may be taken for use in filming anywhere in Second Life.

The UWA Centrum
The UWA Centrum, Second life – right-click to obtain a copy for filming

Essential Points for Machinima Entries

  • Entry length to be between 3 to 10 minutes
  • If entering a promo – maximum length to be 30 seconds
  • All entries are to be made specifically for the ‘WD Project SciFi’ Competition
  • Entrants must register before the 1st of  November & nominate 2 of the listed themes (see below for how they might be interpreted)
  • Prizes for machinima will be awarded as follows: 1st prize: $750 Aus (+WD prizes); 2nd prize: $300 Aus; 3rd prize: $150 Aus; 4th and 5th prize: $100 Aus
  • Entrants can also win any of the overall prizes, including the $,3000 Aus first prize
  • Further prizes for the inclusion of the UWA Centrum in machinima entries.

Continue reading “WD Project Sci-Fi launches with L$230,000+ in prizes for machinima entries”

Keeping in shape in InWorldz

There has been a lot in the blogsphere over the last twelve months about virtual world and matters of health.

For example, there’s Fran Seranade (Fran Swenson in SL) and the benefits she’s personally experienced in using Second Life as a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease which has led to Donna Davis of the University of Oregon and Tom Boellstorff, an anthropology professor at UC Irvine researching the matter in-world.  Virtual Ability has a long history of helping people with disabilities make full use of SL for the betterment of their real lives, and the Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses is based in Second Life. There have also been numerous projects involving medical workers, such as the research performed by a team at the Imperial College London to improve patient management skills among surgical residents at hospitals.

Now over on InWorldz, the team there have taken things a step further – literally and figuratively – with an app which allows you to exercise at home while still exploring InWorldz.

InWorldz InShape is currently available for Android devices, although iOS / Windows versions are promised for the future. It essentially gathers data on your real-world exercising when using a treadmill, stationary exercise bike or elliptical bike / trainer, and translates it to in-world movement. Thus, people using it can explore in-world regions with their avatar which exercising, and even compete against one another.

InWorldz InShape: spend time in-world while exercising at home
InWorldz InShape: spend time in-world while exercising at home

The app and idea are still very much beta, but already InWorldz residents have built a park where those with the app can go for walks / runs / rides, and there are plans to start weekly exercise sessions, allowing users to meet in-world and go through a routine together on a “group treadmill” while also exercising at home. The InWorldz team also hope that residents will build race tracks, walks and so on to make use of the app and offer further opportunities for combining fitness training with in-world activities with friends, making it easy to keep fit together.

InWorldz InShape in action: a walk in the park in-world (left) while exercising at home (r)
InWorldz InShape in action: a walk in the park in-world (left) while exercising at home (r)

An InWorldz beta programme for the app has been launched, and the InWorldz team are looking for people to join them in trying it out. Those wishing to sign-up will need to have an InWorldz account and meet the following requirements:

  • Be in good enough physical health to start or participate in a light exercise programme (consulte your doctor if you have any concerns)
  • have enough time to participate in testing once a week, during the weekend, for about 45 minutes
  • own or have access to an android powered phone (Android 2.3.3 or later)
  • own or have access to: An exercise bike, elliptical, or treadmill and a computer or tablet that can run a viewer (/Lumiya) connected to the InWorldz Grid.

Those meeting these criteria can register their interest at the InWorldz website.

A demo video has been produced, hosted by InWorldz’s own Tranquility Dexler, which provides an in-depth look at the app in use.

This looks like a very practical and fun application for a virtual world environment, and could potentially see a lot of new opportunities for competitive undertakings in-world or bring a whole new dimension to something like the RFL track walks for people – again, providing due care is taken with RL fitness condition.

I’m keen to sign-up myself, but I don’t have the requisite exercise equipment. I wonder if they’ll ever be able to include a rowing machine and a lake to paddle across …?

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All images courtesy of InWorldz.