Winter Games postponed but facilities open

The SL Winter Games bobsleigh run.
The SL Winter Games bobsleigh run.

As much as it pains me to have to say, the Winter Games are being postponed until December of this year. Initially, they had been postponed one week, due to some extenuating circumstances, but after much deliberation, they’ve been moved back to December. To be completely honest, I might have been too ambitious, with my initial date of mid-March. This being my first major event, I might have tried to rush things a bit. But I must say, people have really rallied around this concept, and we have got some really special things to show you for the Games.

So speaks Drewski Northman in announcing the SL Winter Games, about which I first reported back in January, have been postponed until late 2014.

Personally, I think he’s being a little hard on himself in terms of ambitions; putting together an event in SL is a matter of a finger in the air and hoping the prevailing winds favour you – especially when it’s your first crack at a major event. As such, you can plan for months in advance only to have an eleventh-hour upset, or you can put a hugely successful event together in just a few weeks.

The skyborne curling sheet with a surrounding speed skating practice rink
The skyborne curling practice sheet with a surrounding speed skating practice run

As it is, the Games are only postponed  – not cancelled, which means nothing has been lost. Indeed, for those of us in the northern hemisphere at least, the timing is perhaps more appropriate.

An incredible amount of preparatory work has already gone into the Games and their facilities, which everyone involved in the project should take justifiable pride with. There’s curling, speed skating, bobsleigh and snowboarding venues ready to go alongside (and over!) the existing facilities at Chamonix City.

Trying my hand at speed skating - it's fun!
Trying my hand at speed skating on the practice run – it’s fun!

Everything is open to public use, whether you want to get in a spot of early training for the Games, or if you simply want to brush-up on your winter sports either on your own or with friends. There’s even a practice centre for curling and speed skating, and which includes a figure skating rink as well.

Drewski has some shots of the facilities on the blog post announcement, but I’d thought I’d hop over and grab a few of my own. If you’ve not tried any of the activities on offer, I can thoroughly recommend them.

Sunset at the long run speed skating arena
Sunset at the long run speed skating arena

Even with all the work carried out so far, there is more to come, so while the specific dates for the Games have yet to be confirmed, what’s already on offer should more than whet the appetite. So why not go try them out – and perhaps even Contact Drewski or Marianne McCann in-world about entering a community team!

In the meantime, congrats to Drewski, Marianne and the team on all that they have already created!

Giving curling a go in the arena
Giving curling a go in the main arena

It’s another feast of stories at Storyfest!

storyfest-2014Storyfest 2014 arrives a Bran on Sunday, March 23rd, and with it comes a host of storytellers with tales to delight and enthrall.

This year marks the fourth anniversary for this one-day event, presented by Branwen Arts and Stories Unlimited.

“Stories help us feel connect and unique all at the same time.  They can provide both the questions you want, and the answers you seek,” Says Caledonia Skytower, one of the organisers of the event, “At their very core, they delight and inspire.  There’s a mushroom or a rustic bench waiting for you!”

The even will kick-off at the Story Circle in Bran at 11:00 SLT, and all donations made during the course of the day’s events will benefit War Child North America.

Those participating in the event are (all times SLT):

  • 11:00: Dubhna Rhiadra
  • 11:30: Shandon Loring
  • 12:00 noon: Crap Mariner
  • 12:30: Lycanthia Wolfhunter
Some of those taking part in Storyfest 2014 (top left-bottom right): Lycanthia Wolfhunter, Crap Mariner, Dubhna Rhiadra and Caledonia Skytower, Singh Albatros, Kaikilani, Big Red Coyote
Some of those taking part in Storyfest 2014 (top left-bottom right): Lycanthia Wolfhunter, Crap Mariner, Dubhna Rhiadra and Caledonia Skytower, Singh Albatros, Kaikilani, Big Red Coyote
  • 13:30: Luna Branwen
  • 14:00: Corwyn Allen
  • 14:30: Caledonia Skytower
  • 15:00: BigRed Coyote
  • 15:30: Kaikilani
  • 16:00: Singh Albatros

There will be a break in proceedings at around 13:00 SLT, and do note the schedule is subject to possible last-minute revision.

About Storyfest SL

StoryFest Events produces four annual festival events on the Second Life grid: StoryFest (March), Bard on the Virtual Beach (August), BOOFest (October), and The Dickens Project (December).

Kitely launches hypergrid market and a new logo

kitely-logoIn August 2013, I covered the opening of the Kitely Marketplace, having previously reported on its development in January 2013 when it was first announce, and again in May 2013, when it opened to merchants.

In developing the Marketplace, the Kitely team of Ilan Tochner and Oren Horvitz always had the goal of making it possible for merchants to not only sell into Kitely itself, but also into other hypergrid-enabled grids, using a special Export permission flag which can be set by merchants. At the start of March 2014, they took a major step towards this with the opening of the Market Hypergrid Delivery Beta Test.

On March 21st, Kitely announced that the Kitely Market Hypergrid Delivery is now open to all.

The blog post provides guidelines and instructions on using Kitely Market to purchase  goods from the Kitely Market for delivery to hypergrid-enabled destinations, and I don’t propose to repeat things here. By default, the Market offers delivery to the top five (by use) hypergrid capable grids of Craft, GermanGrid, Littlefield, Metropolis, and OSgrid, and more are promised should they prove popular among purchasers. I also understand that delivery to other grids supporting hyerpgrid can be manually configured using the Market’s built-in Grid Manager – all that is needed is the grid’s loginURI.

Customers browsing the Kitely Market can now opt to have goods delivered to other hypergrid-enabled destinations – providing the creator has set the Export permissions flag (thus preventing goods from moving between grids against the creator’s wishes) – image courtesy of Kitely Market, click for full size

Items specifically set for delivery to other grids by their creator can be located using the Export option on the Permissions search filter (lower left corner of the each Market page).

Alongside of the hypergrid delivery capability, Kitely have enhanced their merchant tools to assist with the new capability, as the blog post explains:

We’ve made it easy for merchants to test that their products work correctly in other grids. It has always been possible to use the “Test delivery” link in the Edit Product page in order to deliver the product to the merchant’s avatar in Kitely. This feature has now been extended to deliver to other grids as well. The way this works is that you go to the Shopping Cart page, and select a grid and an avatar. You don’t actually have to buy anything; just enter that information. Then return to the Edit Product page, and click “Test delivery”. The product will be delivered to the “foreign” avatar that was selected in the Shopping Cart instead of to your Kitely avatar.

Another feature for merchants is that in the Sales History, merchants can see which grid each sale was delivered to, because foreign avatars appear along with their grid: e.g., “Jane Vespa @ OSGrid”.

Also, sales reports themselves can now be downloaded as a CSV file, providing improved historical context for merchants as they track sales long-term.

Additional hypergrid-enabled grids can be added via the Market’s Grid Manager

Implementing hypergrid delivery in the Kitely Market is innovative and interesting. Many creators in walled garden grids avoid OpenSim out of fear of content ripping – not that content ripping isn’t a problem in walled garden grids, either. Some OpenSim grids (like Kitely) proactively take steps to reduce the risk inherent in “easy” content ripping (such as by limiting OAR exports to those items created by the exporter themselves). Even so, the fear is there, so it will be interesting to see how many take advantage of the opportunity to sell into multiple environments from a single point. Certainly, the option has been seen as attractive enough to well-known SL creator Lilith Heart of Heart Botanicals fame, who has already opened a store on Kitely Market.

It will also be interesting to see how this new capability within Kitely Market affects the overall OpenSim economy. On the positive side, it means that merchants wishing to extend their reach into new markets (grids) can do so from a single, powerful point, and Kitely’s own pricing structure makes it fairly competitive for them to do so, including the use of the free access Kitely Merchant Sandbox, if required. Through it, merchants can reach multiple channels and also have a good degree of control over where and how their products are used (with some obvious caveats). For those used to only dealing with one market – such as SL – this could open the door to building channels to markets outside of the walled garden environments, such as those grids with a specific focus  / purpose, such as education or business.

The downside to this is the it might make it that much harder for smaller grids to attract content creators directly, and thus users – who tend to look for the content first. Grids may well also lose out on opportunities to lease virtual land to merchants, as they’ll potentially have little need for in-world stores. However, it’s fair to say that Kitely Market could actually help grids attract users: if it is seen that a grid actively embraces the Kitely Market and its growing numbers of merchants, then the could leverage that fact in attracting new users, as the lack of visible in-world merchants is negated by the ability for merchants to reach the grid via the Kitely Market, particularly if said grids also take steps to ring-fence what can be exported via the likes of OAR files.

New Logo and OpenSim Core Group Invitation

Oren Hurvitz

Alongside the Hypergrid Delivery launch, Kitely unveiled their new logo (seen in thumbnail at the top left of this article), and have included a few notes on making it easier for people to get started on Kitely included the blog post.

And in a modest footnote to the piece, Oren Hurvitz, Kitely’s co-founder, reveals that he has been invited to join the OpenSim Core Group of developers. The invitation is in recognition of Oren’s ongoing contributions to OpenSim on behalf of Kitely, and is very well deserved; my congratulations to him.

The Freedom Project: Thank you ceremony and exhibition

The Freedom Project FINAL 26 Aug, 2013

Launched on Sunday September 1st, 2013, the Freedom Project is a joint undertaking by the University of Western Australia,  Virtual Ability Inc., and the Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses.

A 2D and 3D art and film event, the project extended an open invitation to artists suffering from a disability or chronic illness, or associated with those suffering from either, to demonstrate how virtual life has enabled them to engage in activities and interact with others in ways which may not be possible in the real world.

iSkye Speechless Freedom
The Freedom Project: iSkye Silverweb – Speechless Freedom

I reported on the project at its launch, and again as submissions came in, and the organisers have now announced the formal opening of the public exhibition part of the project. This will  commence with a special Thank You Ceremony, to be held on Sunday March 23rd, at 17:00 SLT.

The ceremony is to thank all the artists, filmmakers, and writers for contributing their works and of themselves, as well as to thank the many individuals, groups and organisations who made the project possible. An open invitation is extended to anyone wishing to attend the ceremony, and for them to visit and experience all of the submissions to the project.

Roiben Sweetwater: Alice and The Many Sodes
The Freedom Project: Roiben Sweetwater – Alice (l) and The Many Sodes

Entries to the project comprise 2D and 3D art, text, and machinima, featuring individual and collaborative pieces, all with their own stories to tell. The pieces on display provide some very powerful statements, and viewing of the complete exhibition is highly recommended.

About Virtual Ability

Many disabilities in the real world can be a barrier to entry into the digital as well. People may have difficulties in dealing with the keyboard due to illness or disability; others many be reliant upon voice recognition software, and so on. Virtual Ability, Inc. helps people with these kind of challenges get into and become successful in virtual worlds like Second Life.

From an individual skills assessment undertaken during a unique intake process, Virtual Ability inc., are able to refer clients for help with assistive hardware and software as appropriate, and provide customised training and orientation. Once clients are in-world, Virtual Ability Inc., helps them integrate into the virtual society, and provides an ongoing community of support.  The community offers members information, encouragement, training, companionship, referrals to other online resources and groups, ways to contribute back to the community, and ways to have fun.

The organisation runs a number of in-world centres, which can be read about on their website.

The Freedom Project: Xia Firethorn - My Body is a Cage
The Freedom Project: Xia Firethorn – My Body is a Cage

About the Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses

The Centre for ME/CFS and Other Invisible Illnesses provides resources, support and guided relaxation sessions, for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome, and other invisible illnesses.  They host general and research discussions once a week on Mondays at 18:00 SLT, and guided relaxation sessions every day, twice a day, at 08:00 and 20:00 SLT, in the Centre to help people manage their illness.  This Centre is open to all, and all are welcome, including anyone with an illness, their families and carers to meet here and help each other. The Centre is located in Curtin University in Second Life.

Related Links

With thanks to Gentle Heron for the reminder, and Jayjay Zifanwe.