The Drax Files Radio Hour 11: on the road to VR

radio-hourThe Drax Files Radio Hour 11 heads (back) along the VR road, covering the arrival (in July) of the Oculus SDK-2, which can be pre-ordered now and features an updated headset with low-latency positional head tracking, a price-tag of $350.00 (+ tax and shipping, I presume), and comes with a suggestion from OculusVR that those just wanting to try one out should really wait for the consumer version.

VR is an interesting subject, don’t get me wrong on that score, my doubts about it having quite the impact on SL as is perhaps hoped notwithstanding. But I have to say that two back-to-back episodes of TDFRH on the same subject coming on top of all the other flag-waving on the subject going on just about everywhere, did pushed me towards VR overload. Yes, I appreciate that the main reason for this was the Game Developer’s Conference, which itself was pumped full of VR from Oculus VR, Sony and others,  but VR fatigue is starting to take its toll hereabouts.

Nevertheless, I’ll include the video from Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey, who has some interesting things to say on the Rift and the upcoming SDK 2.

As well as the Rift, there’s mention of Sony’s Morpheus headset for the PS4, and just after the podcast came further news that Microsoft is definitely looking at the VR bandwagon as well, most likely in respect of the Xbox (and the obvious link with Kinect) and which may well be connected with their Project Fortaleza.

Outside of VR, a few other items are touched upon briefly in the show, such as the recent uptick in SL region numbers. While it is far to early to say whether we’re seeing a new trend or merely the usual March uptick is too soon to say.

The SL bikini banner ad campaign (if I can call it that) is poked at as well. It’s proving controversial on a range of blogs and social media. Some have said it’s simply following in the footsteps of IMVU’s advertising, others that it is simply celebrating spring and the approach of summer, while others have called it tacky. To me, and aside from saying, “all of the above”, it again demonstrates a couple of things. The first of these being that LL is again trying to reach a very narrow audience with this style of campaign and in doing so, it is just liable to turn people away from SL as much as attract them. Kudos to Drax for his observation on the lack of diversity evident as well.

My second thought is that it again leads me to the conclusion that the Lab are still utterly failing to harness the potential of the platform to tell its own story. I’ve long argued for the Lab taking a more narrative marketing approach to promoting the platform, and seeing ads like this one just leave me wanting to pull out my soapbox and start over again on the subject. The Lab has an enormous resource at their disposal by which narrative marketing could really work for them (witness Drax’s TDF video series), yet they persist in remaining blind and deaf to the idea.

Maybe I should get the soapbox and drum out again…

This segment of TDFRH was supposed to have included an interview with Richard Goldberg, but this has been pushed back a week, much to my disappointment. I’ve been working alongside Richard since September 2013, and have found him to be insightful and balanced in his views. I was therefore looking forward to him discuss the August ToS changes from a content creator and businessman’s standpoint, particularly as I know he and I very much share the same views.

Emily Short – via UC Santa Cruz IF Storytelling Symposium, 2013

Emily Short also declined to being interviewed specifically about Versu and LL. While this was another interview I was looking forward to, I can’t blame Emily for saying no. She has very eloquently and graciously said all that needs to be said on the matter via her blog and in an interview with Gamasutra. Nevertheless, I do hope she accepts a future invitation to join the show and talk about Interactive Fiction in general; it’s a fascinating genre.

With Richard and Emily absent this episode, and in keeping with the theme of the podcast, Ben Lang from The Road to VR took centre-seat for the main interview, and it’s here that the feeling of VR fatigue really started to kick-in – which is not to say I didn’t listen. Indeed, I found the interview somewhat fascinating, but perhaps not for the reasons one might expect.

Ben makes some interesting points on VR’s potential, should something like the Rift really enter mainstream consumer consciousness, and I certainly don’t nay-say his points, and it was good to hear him precede his comments with “if” a lot of the time – too many commentators seem to think it’s a done deal where the Rift is concerned, and that may not be true, even if VR itself does go on to achieve popular consumer success, which would seem a given over time and as headsets become more ergonomic and portable.

Continue reading “The Drax Files Radio Hour 11: on the road to VR”

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A festival of tales, travels around fairylands and anniversary celebrations

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library SL, together with Storyfest 2014.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday March 23rd,11:00-17:00: Storyfest IV 2014

storyfest-2014Join members of Seanchai Library and storytellers from across Second Life in a special celebration of the spoken at the Story Circle in Bran, in aid of War Child North America. The day of storytelling will feature 30-minutes sets by some of SL’s most well-know storytellers:

  • 11:00: Dubhna Rhiadra
  • 11:30: Shandon Loring
  • 12:00 noon: Crap Mariner
  • 12:30: Lycanthia Wolfhunter
  • 13:00: Break
  • 13:30: Luna Branwen
  • 14:00: Corwyn Allen
  • 14:30: Caledonia Skytower
  • 15:00: BigRed Coyote
  • 15:30: Kaikilani
  • 16:00: Singh Albatros

Monday 24th March, 19:00 – From an Alien Point of View

When humans interact with aliens who are actually alien, we run into the fact that we’re as weird to them as they are to us. This can cause the most remarkable misunderstandings. More thought-provoking sci-fi from the collection of Gyro Muggins.

Tuesday March 25th, 19:00: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

FairylandFaery Maven Pralou reads from Catherynne M. Valente’s tale about twelve-year-old September. Living in Omaha, she has a very ordinary life until her father goes to war and her mother goes. leaving her at home on her own.

One day, she is visited by a Green Wind who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland, where the new Marquess, of about the same age as September, is unpredictable and fickle.

This Green Wind tells September that only she can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t, then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. And so begins an extraordinary adventure, which sees September travelling through Fairyland, accompanied by a book-loving dragon, and a boy named Saturday …

Wednesday March 26th, 19:00: Tír na nÓg

Tir-Na-nogTír na nÓg (“Land of the Young”) is, in Irish folklore and mythology, one of the names of the “otherworld”, in part a supernatural realm of everlasting youth, beauty, health, abundance and joy. It is also the title of the first volume of Marni L.B. Troop’s The Heart of Ireland Journals.

In looks, the Faerie are folk little different to humans, other than their pointed ears, although they are vastly different in other ways, and Casey is a princess among them.

She is horrified when a stranger from Iberia arrives on the shores of Ireland, home of the Faerie, believing them to be the gods of his people, but the kings of the Faerie respond to his overtures by having him slaughtered.

Thus the Faerie kings bring down the vengeance of the Iberian people upon their own folk, and war comes to their land. Caught in the middle, and herself in love with an Iberian called Amergin, Casey tries to find a way to bring peace between the two peoples so that they might live together. Unfortunately for her and her beloved, things do not go as she had hoped.

Join Caledonia as she continues reading this intriguing faerie tale.

Thursday March 27th

16:00: First Nation Tales

Caledonia Skytower and Dubhna Rhiadra sit down to bring us more native tales from the first peoples of the North American continent.

Drawing on  number of sources and resources, Cale and Dubna have, over the years, drawn together collections of stories and legends from across a number of First Nation tribes, including the Zuni, Omaha, Paiute, and Hopi as well as legends from Kwaikutlsome in Western Canada. Some of these stories have been published, others of which have come from the long tradition of the spoken word, with archetypal tales handed down through successive generations.

“We have everything from Raven stealing the moon, to how Winter and Summer came to be, and the Creation of Corn,” Cale says of the stories. “The thing I like about them, is the imagery and the “themes” are almost Aesopian. They are all lesson/moral/cautionary tales.”

Join Cale and Dubhna as they delve into this treasure chest of tales and legends.

19:00: Seanchai Library’s Sixth Anniversary Celebration

Join staff and members and supports of Seanchai Library SL as they come together to celebrate the Library’s sixth anniversary.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for March and April is Project Children: building true and lasting peace in Northern Ireland one child at a time.

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Derry and Bear: Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

poster-1bDerry McMahon and Bear Silvershade are a couple I first got to know via the Seanchai Library SL. As well as being skilled with the spoken word, both reading and acting, they’re also skilled photographers, albeit with very different styles.

Where Derry’s work is full of vibrant colour, Bear focuses on monochromatic / greyscale images of Second Life. While Bear most often tends to centre on the landscape as a whole, Derry draws in more closely into focal points for her images, although this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule for either of them. Thus, they contrast yet complement one another in their work.

As noted photographers, they have shared exhibit space in SL in the past, but Bright Lights, Dark Shadows, which opened on Saturday March 22nd, at the Timamoon Arts gallery, is rather special, as Bear explains:

This isn’t the first time I have exhibited with my partner Derry, but it is the first time we have done so on this scale and purposefully setting out to contrast our very different styles.

Although our styles differ in the extreme, many of the images in this show were taken at the same time on the same sim as we explored Second Life together.

Bright Lights, Dark Shadows
Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

That many of the pieces were taken within the same region and the same time, such is the difference in their approach to composition that it is not always immediately obvious – something Bear himself notes. However, this further serves to underline the character of their respective work. Individually, the pieces selected for this exhibition each tell a story of their own; when presented together like this, the two styles combine much like different voices in a chorus; both playing off one another and amplifying the other, all the time fusing into a harmony of light and colour, and grey and white.

Bright Lights, Dark Shadows
Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

Pieces in the exhibition are simply but effectively displayed over the two floors of the gallery, with plenty of room to wander and admire, or to sit and contemplate. The latter is appropriate, given Bear states his goal with his imagery is “to create an emotional response from the viewer – if one of my images make you cry, laugh or just think, I’ve done my job.” Derry, meanwhile focuses on trying to make her images look as real a possible, stating, “I love it when someone asks if the picture was taken in real life.” Given both of these goals, there is much to admire here, and having space to sit down and study encourages one to tarry and give all of the pictures their due attention.

Bright Lights, Dark Shadows
Bright Lights, Dark Shadows

This is an evocative display by two talented photographers, and one I have no hesitation in recommending to people to go and see. To Derry and Bear themselves, I’d like to say just this: congrats on a marvellous exhibition and happy “double rezday” to you both 🙂 .

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