Fantasy Faire: my King and Queen of the Fairelands

One of the new features at Fantasy Faire this year is the opportunity to vote for the King and Queen of the Fairelands and their (strictly non-human) Chancellor.  The winners will be crowned at the Fantasy Faire May Day Masked Ball, which will also see their Chancellor announced.

Since the Faire opened, residents have been invited to nominate their favourite characters from the worlds of fantasy whom they would like to see crowned king and queen, or appointed to the role of Chancellor (a role for strictly non-human characters).

The nominations have now closed, and voting for the  top five nominees in each category (King, Queen and Chancellor) is underway.

And the Nominees for King of the Faire are:

FF-KING1-BKWulf FF-KING2-GILGA FF-KING4-HAVELOCK
FF-KING3-LEGOLAS FF-KING5-TYRION

Quite an interesting selection there. Orlando Bloom has a lot going for him, and given I’m a Lord of the Rings aficionado, you might think my vote would be for Legolas. But actually no, I confess that as a character, Legolas has never had that much appeal to me,  and I don’t lose hobbits often enough to need his assistance in tracking them down.

No, I confess that my vote goes to Tyrion Lannister; not because A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones is all the rage right now nor even because Lannisters always pay their debts (a promise I’ve always found to be more threatening than hopeful). Rather, Tyrion is simply one of the most delightfully, honourable rogues yet to walk out of the pages of a book. so he gets my vote, as you’ll always know where you stand with him.

So, on to the nominees for Queen of the Faire:

FF-QUEEN3-AGATHA FF-QUEEN4-GALADRIEL FF-QUEEN2-GRANNY
FF-QUEEN5-MALEFICENT FF-QUEEN1-ZANTA

Once again, you might think that as a LOTR fan, I’d be placing my vote with Galadriel. Had the nominee been Arwen  – or better yet, Lúthien Tinuviel from Tolkien’s Middle Earth, then perhaps that might well have been the case. As it is, the who gets my vote here is the magnificent Maleficent.

And to whom might I give my vote for Chancellor?

FF-CHANC4-GENIE FF-CHANC2-GREEBO  FF-CHANC1-KROSP
FF-CHANC3-TREEBRD FF-CHANC5-VONPINN

Well, this is really hard for me – oh look! Kitties! 🙂 .

To vote for your favourites, visit the kiosks which can be found in one of the beautiful underwater art galleries in Poseidons Abyss. Simply make a donation of your choice to cast your vote (yes, this election is one that can definitely be bought!). Voting will remain open in-world through until the end of the first hour of the May Day Masked Ball.

If you prefer, you can also voting on the web via the RFL Convio page for Fantasy Faire – although you’ll have to hurry; “postal” voting in this way closes at 11:59 SLT on Thursday 30th April. After that, you can still donate – but your vote may not be counted!

For full details on voting, visit the vote registration page of the Fantasy Faire website.

So don’t delay – vote today!

Further Information and Related Links

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The Colder Water: sunset on the lighthouses three

The Colder Water; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr The Colder Water, April 2015 (Flickr) – click any image for full size

One of the most hauntingly beautiful regions is Second Life is due to close its doors today, April 30th, 2015, and there are many in Second Life who will miss it.

As I wrote in August 2014, following my first visit there:

The Colder Water, located on the homestead region of Daydreams, is without a doubt one of the most atmospheric and evocative regions I’ve visited.  Both minimalist in one direction, yet rich in content and imagery in another, Jordan Giant’s design has an immersive attractiveness that is quite breathtaking.

The news of the closure came via a message Jordan posted in Flickr earlier in April, to to which Ziki Questi alerted me. Truth be told, I had hoped to get an article out on the closure a lot earlier than now to give people time to pay a visit. Unfortunately, I’ve been going in several directions are once of late, both SL-wise and in the physical world, and haven’t had the time I would have liked to devote to writing something sooner.

Instead, I offer a new video of The Colder Water, and hope that it helps us all remember the land of Daydreams and the Lighthouses Three.

Thank you, Jordan, for sharing your vision and your creation with us.

SL projects updates week 18/1: server, viewer

UNIA launches at 12:00 noon on Monday, April 27th
MadPea’s UNIA is now open for those of a brave disposition, and uses Experience Keys / Tools

Server Deployments Week 18

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news.

  • There was no Main (SLS) deployment on Tuesday, April 28th.
  • On Wednesday, April 29th the three RC channels all received the same sever maintenance package. This comprises Internal server logging changes  and a new flag for llGetObjectDetails()  – OBJECT_LAST_OWNER_ID; plus new data which can be requested  via llGetEnv(). These are:
    • “agent_limit”- get the maximum number of avatars normally allowed on the region (teleport home, and login to last location, are allowed to exceed this).
    • “estate_name”- returns the name of the estate (e,g, “mainland”, “Linden Homes”, “My Happy Estate”, etc. )
    • “region_cpu_ratio”- returns the number of regions per CPU for this region type (i.e. “1” or “4”)
    • “region_product_name” – returns the type of region this is: “Estate / Full Region”, “Mainland / Homestead”, “Estate / Openspace”, “Estate / Full Region – Skill Gaming” etc.
    • “region_product_sku” – returns the region’s product number as a string
    • “region_start_time” – returns the time the region was last (re)started, in llGetUnixTime format
    • “simulator_hostname”  – returns the simhost running this region. Same as llGetSimulatorHostname but without the script delay.

Commenting on the llGetEnv() updates at the simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, April 28th, Simon Linden, who made the updates, said, “these are all pretty simple ones … I went for the easy pickings.  Basically, information we already  sent to the viewer, or was readily available, and thus not a privacy issue.”

He continued, “There was one [further option] for the max number of agents that was in the original list but that one got skipped … not part of a sinister plot but I overloooked it.  want to do some other things with that limit sometime soon as well 🙂 … I’d like to see how the region and viewer performs with bigger numbers. Things go bad with many AVs for a variety of reasons … the server has more updates to send to more people, all wearing more scripts and AOs and HUDS [and] the viewer gets overwhelmed with too many complex avatars and too many textures in the download and graphics pipeline.”

SL Viewer

The Avatar Layer Limits RC viewer updated to version 3.7.29.301305 on April 28th, bringing it to code parity with the current release viewer. This RC allows users to wear up to 60 wearable layers (jackets, shirts, tattoo, alpha, etc.) in any combination – so you can wear 60 tattoo layers with it an nothing else, if you want – rather than being restricted to wearing a maximum of 5 of each type of layer.

Other Items

Online / Offline Indicators

People are noticing that the group chat list (the list of group members in the Group panel), is now much slower to update as people’s status changes (i.e. whether they are on-line or off-line). This is intentional, and comes as a result of the recent improvements made to group chat.

In particular, and as I reported in these pages as work on group chat commenced in 2014, the volume of people logging-in to and out of SL can generate a huge amount of updates for the group chat service (given your status has to be sent to every group of which you’re a member, and to over member of that group who is online to update the group list in their viewer with your new status), meant that more time was being consumed by the group chat servers in handling these update messages than in handling actual messages.  The fix for this problem means there is a natural delay in group list updates, as they are now processed differently to reduce the impact they have on message handling.

However, some people have started noticing that some group chat lists with 20+ members seem to take a very long time to update – times of 5-10 minutes have been mentioned, and this is causing some confusion when seeking things like assistance from group owners / moderators (as they can appear to be logged-in long after they have logged-off). It’s also bee reported that at times the list seems to get stuck with no updates until the group chat itself is closed and re-opened, although this appears to be somewhat intermittent.

Bright Canopy: first user group meeting notes published

Bright CanopyBright Canopy, the planned new streaming service for Second Life and OpenSim, hosted its first user group meeting on Saturday, April 25th.

The meeting drew interested parties and beta testers from SL and OpenSim, and was hosted by Bright Canopy founder, Bill Glover (known in-world as Chaos Priestman). As Bright Canopy will be running on technology provided by Frame (who are putting considerable effort into helping to get the service up-and-running and ensuring it can meet users’ expectations), they were represented at the meeting by Carsten Puls (Carsten at Frame in SL).

Held in text chat to allow those running on SL Go to join the session, the meeting was mainly focus on questions and answers to give people a chance to learn what they wanted to learn about the service, and ran to just over an hour.

The notes from the meeting have now been posted on the Bright Canopy website. Rather than presenting a formal transcript (because some questions were asked a number of times), the meeting notes group questions and answers in to subject groups.

While those interested in potentially moving to Bright Canopy when it does launch should read the notes directly in order to get the most complete picture of things, I’m providing a high-level key point summary below from the major topics discussed (note questions were asked about supporter viewers, please refer to the meeting notes for these):

Chaos Priestman, aka Bill Glover, Bright Canopy’s founder, at the in-world meeting

When will Bright Canopy be ready?

  • Bright Canopy is in closed beta,  right now. The plan is to move to an invitation-only pre-launch as soon as possible, to allow for more widespread testing; when this happens depends on getting a few more technical issues dealt with and sorting management and billing issues

How does it work?

  • Bright Canopy is like SL Go, but accessed via a web browser. Initially, for the pre-launch this will be Chrome, but support for other browsers will be there for the launch. Essentially, if your device can run a modern browser and is capable of viewing a streamed video, you should be good to go
  • Bright Canopy will provide the service, Frame will managed the underlying technology and Groove will provide support assistance

Accessibility and performance

  • Bright Canopy will initially be hosted in the USA. However, Frame utilises Amazon WAS G2 servers, so the aim is to support Bright Canopy as widely as possible. Frame already utilises Amazon data centres in Ireland, Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore, as well as both the east and west coasts of the USA
  • There may still be legal restrictions that prevent people in some countries from using the service (as we the case with Germany and SL Go); these will be looked into
  • In terms of connectivity, a bandwidth of at least 3 Mbps is required and latency of under 100 ms

Price and Payment Options

  • Pricing is not currently available. The idea is to make the service as cost-effective as possible while obviously meeting the costs involved in supplying the service
  • Stripe is being used for back-end payment processing
  • Payment options will initially be credit card and bitcoin for the pre-launch. linden dollars will be added after pre-launch, and PayPal may be offered as well.

For the rest, as noted above, please refer to the Bright Canopy blog.

If you have any questions on the service, please be sure to ask them on the Bright Canopy blog, not here, so that they can be fully addressed.

Fantasy Faire: celebrate Sir Terry Patchett’s life and work

The celebrated author Sir Terry Pratchett series, passed away in March 2015.  Perhaps most famous for his Discworld series of some 40 volumes, he was a much-loved figure in the world of fantasy, and April 28th would have marked his 67th birthday. It is therefore fitting that in honour of his life and works, Fantasy Faire has declared that April 28th, 2015 will be Pratchett Day.

A whole series of events at the Faire’s LitFest in Sylvan of Spells will mark the occasion, and visitors to the Faire are encouraged to dress as their favourite Terry Pratchett characters – and even adopt their personas! For those seeking to commemorate Sir Terry a little more quietly, there will be copies of his trademark black fedora on offer for people to wear.

ff15_pratchett_poster-resized

Events at the LitFest start at 10:00 SLT, and continue throughout the day, comprising:

  • 10:00 – 11:00: Share your favourite Pratchett extract! Bring your favourite quotes or longer extracts to share with other Pratchett friends – and join the  discussion. Moderated by Judi Newall.
  • 12:00 – 13:00: Who is your favourite Terry Pratchett character? Come and talk about your favourite Pratchett character – Vetinari or Granny Weatherwax? Samuel Vimes or Nanny Ogg? Susan or Death? Or do you love a character who appeared in just one novel? Moderated by Judi Newall.
  • 14:00 – 15:00: What is your favourite Terry Pratchett novel? A discussion for Terry Pratchett fans. Which is your favourite novel, and why? Come along and share your favourites! Moderated by Judi Newall.
  • Note that unfortunately, the Poetry Slam originally planned as a part of the day’s events has been cancelled.
Wear your fedora and celebrate Pratchett Day at Fantasy Faire!
Wear your fedora and celebrate Pratchett Day at Fantasy Faire!

For those who do opt to dress as a Pratchett character or those on the look-out for Pratchett characters, there is an informal photo contest being run. Simply take a snap of yourself in your Pratchett costume while in the Fairelands – or take a shot of someone you see in the Fairelands in a Pratchett costume – and post it to the Fantasy Faire Flickr group (please indicate if it is a selfie or a shot of someone else, and include the fact it is a snap for the Pratchett Character Photo contest in the description).

The entries most in the spirit of Sir Terry’s writing and characters, as judged by the Faire team  will be featured in the Fantasy Faire blog, and the overall winner, as selected by the Faire team, will receive a special prize.

There will also be additional events to commemorate Sir Terry as well:

  • Wednesday, 29th April, 10:00 – 11:00 Reaper Man Live Reading: Caledonia Skytower and Dubhna Rhiadra in a duet presentation of selected passages from Terry Pratchett’s 1991 Reaper Man, the 11th book in the Discworld series
  • Thursday, 30th April, 18:00 – 20:00 Good Omens Discussion: Aoife Lorefield leads a discussion on Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s book Good Omens.

Terry Pratchett would doubtless have loved Fantasy Faire, both for all that it represents, and for the way it becomes a melting pot, bring people from across the grid and around the world together in their love of all things fantasy and the power of imagination.

Certainly, he was not unfamiliar with Second Life; as many will remember, he came in-world in October 2009, when he gave a Q&A session, mostly about his (then) new book, Nation, but which also covered other topics as well – including his thoughts on Second Life, and whether he’d come back. At the time, he thought the graphics let the platform down – and I think that’s something we’d all agree upon. But would he feel the same today? With mesh, materials, improvements to the viewer’s rendering capabilities and more, the Second Life we see today as exemplified by Fantasy Faire, is quite unlike anything that could be achieved in 2009 – and I think Sir Terry would have loved explore the realms of the Fairelands.

Terry Pratchett, October 2009; by Gellan Gelnelg on Flickr Terry Pratchett, October 2009; by Gellan Gelnelg on Flickr

For those who missed Sir Terry’s in-world visit, Ciaran Laval has an abridged transcript of the event available on his website.

Further Information and Related Links

 

MadPea’s UNIA: “it’s here!”

UNIA launches at 12:00 noon on Monday, April 27th
MadPea’s UNIA is now open for those of a brave disposition

MadPea’s UNIA has been two years in development, which is an incredibly long period by Second Life standards. So long has it been, that given all the setbacks, Queen Pea Kiana Writer herself wondered if UNIA might ever see the light of day, as the game about a living nightmare started to look as if it wanted to be a living nightmare.

But all good things come to those who persevere, and despite fate once again stepping in to force a final week’s delay on the original planned launch when as one of the key members of the MadPea team was taken in to hospital (they are fine now), the gates to UNIA are now officially OPEN!

The nightmare begins as you wake up in a barn ... somewhere ...
The nightmare begins as you wake up in a barn … somewhere …

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing some of the development of the game over the last two years, including touring some of the locations, but I don’t want to get into too many specifics on things in terms of gameplay; you can find a prologue in the MadPea blog, and the UNIA website provides you with all you need to know about how to play, and which also gives its own introduction to the game – you’ll be directed to UNIA website when you first arrive at the game’s starting point.

However, in summary, you are the principal character caught in an unfolding story played across multiple locations spread over the two UNIA regions. The story starts on the edge of the strange little town of Molimo, where your car unexpectedly decided to ruin what was otherwise a good day by wrapping itself around a roadside billboard. Things get worse when, as you attempt to find some assistance, someone kidnaps you, plunging you into a nightmare world through which you must travel if you are to survive and understand what is going on…

One you enter UNIA, quite where you are at any given time is for you to work out ...
One you enter UNIA, quite where you are at any given time is for you to work out … (image courtesy of MadPea)

Gameplay is a mixture of point-and-click interaction with objects and NPCs, and first-person (Mouselook) combat, making for quite a mix. Your progress is monitored by your HUD, as is your health, and items and weapons you obtain along they way are also recorded and held ready for use within it. HUDs are available to buy at the start point, and will cost L$400, L$750 or L$1,000, depending on the extra weapon lock pick and shields you opt to purchase with your HUD. All three options come with at least one UNIA uniform made by Damien Fate. Keep in mind as well, that the HUD not only enables gameplay, but also prevents you from cheating. Take it off while in the UNIA regions for example, and you die; attempt to teleport or fly, and you die.

The combat element of the game comes when fending off the less-than-friendly monsters you’ll encounter at various points along the way. Surviving such attacks is a mixture of ensuring you are properly armed, be it with a rake or other implement / weapon you obtain along the way, or by being suitably fleet of foot and doing a runner. Should you have the misfortune of dying, you can be restored by walking into the light – but it does come at a cost.

Nevermore, nevermore, nevermore ... UNIA touches on many things - including Poe - to add atmosphere ...
Nevermore, nevermore, nevermore … UNIA touches on many things – including Poe – to add atmosphere …

There is much to be found and collected as you progress through the game – and gathering items, surviving attacks, etc., all accumulate points (recorded by your HUD) which can later be traded for prizes (totals are also logged on the UNIA leader board on the website). As such, the various locations in which you find yourself require careful exploration – the items you may need will not reveal themselves to you until you are physically close to them, and some may animate your avatar – so don’t be surprised if this happens.

Be warned – exploring in this way also means you are vulnerable to attack from the aforementioned nasties, so always be on your guard! And remember, even the most innocuous object you find lying around and can pick up might have a use at some point…

Continue reading “MadPea’s UNIA: “it’s here!””