Mysterious house buyers, reincarnated dogs and pirate lords

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.

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

Sunday June 22nd

13:30: Tea-time at Baker Street: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

Tea-time at Baker Street sees Caledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen and Kayden Oconnell open the pages of The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, the final set of twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories first published in the Strand Magazine between October 1921 and April 1927.

This week: The Adventure of the Three Gables

Steve Dixie, a ruffian (and coward) visits 221B Baker Street in an attempt to intimidate Sherlock Holmes. Only things don’t go as planned.

Having received his strange visitor, Holmes quickly deduces that Dixie’s boss, one Barney Stockdale, is involved in a case involving the very place Dixie was ordered to warn Holmes away from: Harrow Weald. Seeing an opportunity, Holmes secures Dixie’s cooperation in matters, before setting out for Harrow Weald.

One there, Holmes meets with a Mrs. Mary Maberley, who has lived at Green Gables for two years in relative peace and seclusion, has been subject to some strange goings-on since her son, an attaché in Rome, died. Despite several houses in the neighbourhood standing empty, Mrs. Maberley has been approached by a man wishing to buy Three Gables and all its furnishings, and is willing to pay well above the market price – and the contract he would have her sign in order to sell the house would prevent her removing anything from it.

Discovering further connections to Barney Stockdale, Holmes sets out to unravel the mystery …

18:00: Magicland Storytime

Join Caledonia Skytower as she reads some Tall Tales at Magicland Park.

Monday June 23th, 19:00: Space Wars

This week, Gyro Muggins reads Fortress Ship and Desert Fox Operation.

Tuesday June 24th, 19:00: A Dog’s Purpose, Continued

Reincarnation can be confusing for a human; reborn into different lives, trying to learn lessons of the past in order to discover one’s purpose … Imagine what it must be like for a dog.

That’s exactly what humourist W. Bruce Cameron has done in his 2010 best seller A Dog’s Purpose. Bailey, pup of a stray, is rather surprised to find himself reborn as a Golden Retriever after being euthanized. It surprises him even more when, after a happy life involving a young boy, a farm and more, Bailey passes from the world … Only to find himself occupying the body of a German shepherd bitch. Thus comes the realisation that he is serving some higher purpose.

The problem is, and as his lives continue, Bailey can’t figure out exactly what that purpose might be…

Travel with Caledonia Skytower and Kayden Oconnell as they continue their journey through Bailey’s heartwarming and funny tale of many lives, a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend; a story in which love never dies, and true friends are always with us.

Wednesday June 25th, 19:00: Tales of Despereaux, Continued

Following-on from Flora and Ulysses, Caledonia Skytower reads from Kate DiCamillo’s first novel to win a prestigious Newbery Award.

The Tales of Despereaux is a story of four parts, each part told from the perspective of a different character. Despereaux Tilling, is a mouse, and the hero of the piece. Born a runt with big ears and eyes, he is an incurable romantic, given to reading tales about knights and princesses. Chiaroscuro is a dungeon rat with an obsession with light, bright things. Miggery Sow is a simply serving girl with an impossible dream.

Together, these three become bound in a tale of dungeons, betrayal, kidnap, redemption and a princess named Pea, as well as a host of other memorable characters.

Thursday June 26th

16:00: Freda in Progress

With Freda Frostbite.

19:00: Legends of the Brethren Court

Shandon Loring takes to the high seas with none other that a young Jack Sparrow, Pirate Lord of the Caribbean Sea, Captain of the Black Pearl, and the youngest Pirate Lord ever admitted into the Brethren Court. With the Shadow Lord seeking to destroy the Brethren Court and it’s down to Jack – sometimes helped, sometimes hindered, by his fellow brethren Pirate Lords – to prevent it.

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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 May-June is Habitat for Humanity: envisioning a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

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SL11BCC: get ready to party

Loki Eliot's Main Stage at SL11BCC
Loki Eliot’s Cake Stage at SL11BCC – click any image for full size

Note: as per my usual policy, this article does not utilise the SL11B Community Celebration banner, indicating it is a personal piece, rather than any “official” communication on the event. 

The SL11B Community Celebrations get underway at midday SLT on Sunday June 22nd, kicking off a week of music, events, partying and more.

This year sees eleven regions (one for each year SL has been open to the public) full of exhibits, event stages, activities and  – shortly after midday – people!

For those wishing to jump to the quick and start enjoying things, here are the key landmarks, up front:

The Welcome Area, Live Stage and DJ Stage can be found in the southwest, northwest and northeast corners of the SL11BCC regions respectively, with the main stage occupying its traditional centre point, spanning half each of the two middle regions in the cluster.

These are all impressive builds – and kudos to their respective builders: Kazuhiro Aridian (DJ Stage), Aki Shichiroji (Live Stage), Loki Eliot (Main Stage) and Donpatchy Dagostino (Welcome Area, with the time capsule display below it).

Pygar Bu designed the SL11BCC Auditorium, located in SL11B Facilitate, which is a further eye-catching build.

Kaz
Kaz Aridian’s stunning DJ Stage

Given the theme for this year’s event: The Empires of the Future are the Empires of the Mind, all three stages have a decidedly futuristic / sci-fi feel to them. When visiting Kaz Aridian as he was working on the DJ Stage, for example, I felt I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Luke Skywalker passing by on his way fix a Moisture Vaporator on the orders of his Uncle Owen. Not that the stage is in any way directly modelled on Star Wars, it’s actually an entirely unique build; it’s just that it put me in that general mindset as I chatted with Kaz.

Aki’s Live stage also left me with an impression of other-worldliness. In the centre is a huge metallic head-and-shoulders statue of a gigantic helmeted figure, hands held outward and palms up to form the stage area. Around this are tall structures with a slightly industrial aspect around them, somehow suggestive of a city on a distant world.

Aki
Aki’s brilliant Live Stage – the giant robot android literally has performers in the palms of its hands

However, there is no mistaking the inspiration for Loki’s Main Stage (calling it the “Cake Stage” this year somehow doesn’t seem to do it justice): dominating the SL11BCC regions sits none other than Tron’s MCP.

It’s an astonishing tour de force of mesh, materials and more – this is one where you’re going to want to enable ALM in your viewer if you can (remember, you don’t also need to enable shadows as well, so the performance hit shouldn’t be too great – allowing for the numbers of people there and your GPU!). It’s also worth having a little play with your windlight settings as well, as the entire build can look even more astonishing under various lighting conditions.

Elevated information highways span the width of the SL11B regions, their arrow-straight lines leading directly into the huge cylinder of the Main Stage as ribbons of data twirl and twist in the air around it.  Step into the Great cylinder and more awaits, as lights play across material surfaces, the central round stage glittering in reflected light. Make sure you look up as well; there’s a remarkable light / data show going on overhead – complete with suspended platforms over the main dance area for the more intrepid dancers. Keep an eye out, as well, for the hidden gifts. After all, a Program isn’t anything without his  / her Identity Disk …

I admit to loving the imagery Loki’s Main Stage evokes when seeing it; so much so that I couldn’t resist having a little fun … :).

If I could insert my Identity Disk into the data stream, would my user get my message? - Having a little fun at Loki's Main Stage
If I could insert my Identity Disk into the data stream, would my User get my message? – Having a little fun at Loki’s Cake Stage

The full list of performances throughout the week can be found in the main SL11BCC performance schedule, together with details of events at the Auditorium. Direct links to the schedules for each stage and the Auditorium are as follows:

You can also find a list of exhibitors at SL11BCC starting here (use the menu to display exhibitors by SL11B region). Oh, and don’t forget the Big Hunt taking place throughout the celebrations.

Should you feel in need of a break from all the hustle and bustle and dancing, many of the individual exhibits in the regions offer places to sit, rest, and contemplate. So too, does the SL11BCC Auditorium, which sits amidst trees and flowers and features winding paths, water and, of course, plenty of seating for the events which will be staged here. In this, Pygar’s design strongly counterpoints the general “busy-ness” of the rest of the regions, forming something of an oasis within the crowds, so to speak.

The SL11B CC Auditorium by Pygar Bu
A part of the SL11B CC Auditorium by Pygar Bu

While 11 regions may well sound a lot smaller than the previous SLB events, it doesn’t mean there is necessarily less to see in terms of creativity and diversity of exhibit builds. I’ve barely had a chance to scratch the surface of things (and I’ve been sort-of helping-out “backstage”, so have had many opportunities to drop in on the regions!). I will say, however, that I’ve already found one or two personal favourites, and  – time allowing – I hope that over the coming days I can bring you shots of the builds I’ve particularly liked, and why they appealed to me.

So, with things ready for the off from midday on the 22nd, and running through until Sunday June 29th (although the regions will be around after that date, just without any performances, etc.), it only leaves me to wish Second Life a happy 11th anniversary, and to leave you with a brilliant preview video by Pallina60 Loon.

SL projects update 25/2: Experience Keys (Tools) overview and beta information

Update Wednesday July 9th: Dolphin Linden also attended the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday July 8th, where he further discussed the Experience Keys (Tools) project. As that discussion covered some of the information given here, I have provided a further update on the additional information provided by Dolphin at that meeting, to serve as a companion piece to this report. Please do ensure you read that article as a follow-up to this one.

During the TPV Developer Meeting on Friday JUne 20th, Linden Lab gave advanced notice to third-party viewer developers that the long-awaited Experience Tools project will be entering a beta phase in the near future – possibly within the next month.

Dolphin Linden is one of the people working on the Experience Tools / Keys
Dolphin Linden is one of the people working on the Experience Tools / Keys

The notice came via Troy and Dolphin Linden, two of the key players from the Lab working on the project,  who between them gave an overview of what it is and how it should work, and answered questions from TPV developers.

There has been considerable interest in this project at Simulator User Group and Server Beta User Group meetings over the last several months, particularly as mention of the tools has been made in various RC deployment release notes, and the fact that they are currently on the Magnum RC. However, until the June 20th meeting, the Lab has remained tight-lipped on the matter.

The notes which follow were taken from an audio recording I made of the meeting, and the salient extracts from that audio are included at the end of this article (see also North’s video recording of the meeting). I’ll have a summary of the TPV Dev meeting itself available soon.

What Are Experience Keys?

Experience Tools is essentially a new means of providing a set of “blanket” permissions against a range of actions which might be taken on an avatar participating in a defined activity (e.g. allowing the avatar to be animated, teleported, have items attached, etc., in accordance with the requirements of the activity).  The idea is that rather than having to constantly give permission for objects, etc., to act on your avatar while participating in an immersive activity, you give a single OK at the start of your participation, and then no longer be distracted by additional dialogue requests. The permissions within the Experience Tools comprise:

  • PERMISSION_TAKE_CONTROLS
  • PERMISSION_TRIGGER_ANIMATION
  • PERMISSION_ATTACH
  • PERMISSION_TRACK_CAMERA
  • PERMISSION_CONTROL_CAMERA
  • PERMISSION_TELEPORT

Note that permissions such as DEBIT (i.e. take money from your L$ account) are explicitly excluded from the Experience Tools, and must still go the normal route of requesting permission from the user.

What is an “Experience”?

An “experience” in this context can be almost any immersive / interactive environment within SL where the user needs to provide permissions for objects, etc., to interact with their avatar. A list of examples of experiences might include:

  • A game or puzzle or hunt or quest which requires the use of a HUD and / or which requires certain items are attached to an avatar
  • An amusement park where every ride requires the user gives explicit permissions to every ride they take
  • A tour of an art or historical installation which utilises multiple teleports and / or the use of HUDs.

As noted above, within an experience, the user only needs to give permission to scripts and objects to interact with their avatar once, when they agree to participate in the experience.

Linden Realms, launched back in late 2011, was something of a precursor to Experience Tools, inasmuch as by entering a Linden Realm game area, players gave implicit permission for certain actions to be carried out on their avatars – HUD attachment, teleporting – without the need to explicitly allow each activity within the game. The difference between it and Experience Tools, is that with the latter, users must still  explicitly give that initial permission for objects, etc., within the experience to interact with their avatar.

Linden Realms, launched in 2011, was an initial release of what were to become known as the Advanced Creator Tools, the forerunner of the upcoming experience keys / permissions
Linden Realms, launched in 2011, was something of a precursor of what has evolved into Experience Tools / Keys

During the initial deployment, experiences using the Experience Tools will be restricted to running at the region / estate level for private islands / estates and parcel level for mainland. They will require white listing by the land owner in order to run. However, it is possible that the capabilities will be extended in the future to allow grid-wide experiences to be created (e.g. a grid-wide hunt involving multiple regions / mainland parcels). When / if implemented, this will mean:

  • Private estates / regions with access restrictions will have an additional level of access which will allow anyone participating in a grid-wide experience running on that estate / region to access it. However, should they revoke the experience permissions while on such an estate / region, they will be teleported away in accordance with the estate’s / region’s access controls
  • If a user opts not to take part in a grid-wide experience at one location, their refusal to do so applies to all locations running the same experience (so they do not have to keep refusing to participate when travelling around the grid).

See How it Will Work, below, for further information on allowing / refusing experiences and revoking permissions.

Continue reading “SL projects update 25/2: Experience Keys (Tools) overview and beta information”