LL launch “New year, New You” competition, Facebook-style

Back in January 2012 the Lab ran a “New Year, New You” makeover photo competition with some L$5000 on offer to the first prize winner, and which I reported on at the time (and if they ran it again in 2013, I missed it!).

This year, they’re doing it again, as a blog post on Thursday January 2nd announces.

The "New Year, New You" 2013 competition poster, courtesy of Linden Lab
The “New Year, New You” 2013 competition poster, courtesy of Linden Lab

On offer this time around is a “Grand prize” of L$10,000, together with a “First prize” of L$5,000, and L$3,000 and L$1,000 going to the second and third prizes respectively, and the deadline for entries is 10:00 SLT February 10, 2014.

However, there is something of a controversial twist this year: people must log-in via a Facebook account in order to enter.

Possibly in light of the issues surrounding the 2012 competition, which saw people have problems trying to upload their photos to the competition pages, the 2014 event is being hosted over at Votigo, (and is visible from within Facebook). However, if you want to do more than just look at the entries and read the competition rules either via Votigo or via Facebook, you’ll have to log-in via Facebook. Additionally, those entering the competition are also required to “Like” the Second Life Facebook page if they have not already done so.

Whether the Facebook log-in requirement will extend to voting as well, remains to be seen (voting has yet to open), although I suspect it may.

The competition is hosted on Votigo, and requires a Facebook log-in to enter / vote
The competition is hosted on Votigo, and requires a Facebook log-in to enter / vote

Given Facebook’s past record vis-a-vis the use of avatar accounts, etc., within their pages, and the general apathy of SL users towards Facebook as a whole, this is liable to be seen as something of a controversial step by the Lab. It has already lead to some criticism on my.secondlife.com, where questions have also been raised on LL’s ability to police the voting process to ensure fair play.

For my part, while I can perhaps see something of a promotional value involved in leveraging Facebook as the vehicle for the competition, I can’t help but feel disappointment that the Lab are (again) running a competition which would appear to be exclusive (in the bad sense of the word), rather than being more inclusive of its broader user base.

In the meantime, and for those not put-off by the Facebook element and who opt to enter, I can only say: good luck!

Profile feeds direct messaging: Lab confirms “turned off”

On Christmas Day I picked-up on comments that the direct messaging capabilities of the profile feeds had apparently been disabled. I heard things by way of Ciaran Laval, who pointed me towards a thread on the forums.

While one poster – Bondboy Dagger – commented on the thread that LL’s support had indicated  the capability had been discontinued, I was a little cautious in stating this to be the case because my.secondlife.com has been subject to more than a few problems of late – as many of us who still are unable to post snapshots to our feeds can testify.

As news spread, so did the speculation that it may be down to scammers abusing the system with offers of cheap rates for buying L$.

In my original article, I promised to drop Pete Linden, the Lab’s Director of Global Communications a line and ask him for an official comment – although as I explained at the time, it would be unlikely that any answer would be forthcoming until the new year as Pete was out-of-the-office enjoying a well-earned break (and I actually forgot to send the mail at the time – it was left stranded in my DRAFTS folder *cough*).

Anyway, Pete is back in the office today, and did drop me a short reply to my question about the service being discontinued on account of misuse, which reads in full:

Hi Inara,

On this inquiry, I can confirm that yes, as a result of a rise in abuse of the system, we have turned off the direct message function on My.SecondLife.com profiles.

Best,
Peter

So there you have it. The capability has indeed been disabled. Whether it might be re-enabled in the future remains to be seen.

My thanks again to Pete for his reply.

Patterns Future: substance editing and creation, scripting, custom characters and more

LL logoUpdate, October 9th, 2014: Linden Lab announced that development work on Patterns has been discontinued.

Patterns, the PC / Mac Minecraft-esque sandbox building game / application / creative environment from Linden Lab, had originally been aiming for an “official release” of Version 1 around the end of 2013, after a 15-month gestation period as a “Genesis” product, in which much feedback and involvement from Patterns users has been encouraged.

As it stands, the formal release has yet to be made – the latest version being 0.05a – but that shouldn’t be taken to mean Patterns hasn’t been going anywhere over the course of the year. A small (Or what appears small, it could easily be much larger) and very enthusiastic community has developed around it, and the back-and-forth between the Lab’s devs and that community appears to have been lively – including a series of livesteam events, one of which I reported upon back in October (which was the last time I stuck my nose into Patterns).

While the official release has yet to come, November and December did see something of a flurry of activity around Patterns, with videos reviewing some of the progress through the year, as well as some significant updates and news on the future; all of which suggests that perhaps things are now being pushed closer to the point where Patterns gets that all-important “official” release.

As it has been a while since I last covered Patterns. this piece is aimed at rounding-up everything, and may not come entirely as news to everyone, so bear with me as I play catch-up.

The Future

The major news on the future of Patterns initially came on November 27th, 2013, when the Lab issued a letter outlining some of their plans for 2014. While the “first release” was referenced, no actual date as to when this might be was given. However, what was mentioned made interesting reading:

  • The introduction of a Substance Editor to modify the existing surface and other substances (clay, copper, moonstone, etc.), and to create your own substances for use in-game
  • A character creator to customise / create basic Patterns characters
  • A LUA-based scripting system which will “access to script APIs that control game variables such as lighting values and the pull of gravity”
  • The promise that “even more functionality will come from the ability to author moving platforms and control behaviour in support of a variety of gameplay types.”

To help illustrate these new features, happyhappygaming, an Admin for the Patterns wiki managed by Curse, produced a little video.

Substance Arrival

This news was followed in December by two releases of Patterns – 0.05 and 0.05a – which introduced the Patterns Substance Editor referred to the “state of the game” letter.

Ther Patterns standalone Substance Editor
The Patterns standalone Substance Editor

The Substance Editor allows users to create new surface and other substances for use within Patterns either by using the existing substances or completely from scratch. It appears as a new option after logging-in to any version of Patterns from 0.05 upwards, and is actually a separate application to Patterns itself – clicking on the link in the Patterns start-up menu will ask you to confirm you wish to quit and close Patterns and launch the editor.

Once launched, the editor allows you to edit or define a substance, change its properties, such as whether it will crumble or not if a character tries to harvest it, how fast it will crumble, how durable it is as a building substance, what behaviour it has (“bouncy”, “slippy”, etc.), and so on. The editor also allows you to define the diffuse (texture) and normal map for a substance.

The use of an additional tool such as Photoshop or GIMP will likely be required for any modification of existing substances which requires changes to the diffuse and normal maps, but this isn’t actually a huge hardship.

Happyhappygaming has produced a video introducing the basics of the editor, including the use of GIMP for texture modifications, with the promise of more to follow.

An interesting aspect of this is that it appears as though  – like Patterns custom worlds – substance packs created by users can be shared within the Cosmos for others to use and further modify and re-share.

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