Lab launches resident-focused Second Life promotional videos

secondlifeOn July 20th, 2015, Linden Lab issued two new Second Life  promotional videos on their official YouTube channel.

Both are entitled Second Life – The Largest-Ever 3D Virtual World Created By Users, and combine footage shot by the Lab (some of which has been seen in past promotional videos) with footage from Draxtor Despres’ outstanding World Makers series.

There’s nothing actually new in this per se; the Lab combined their own footage with some from World Makers in their December 2013 promotional pieces, which I reviewed here.

However, what makes these different is that overlaying the video footage are a series of audio clips taken from the World Makers series (and possibly elsewhere), featuring Second Life users talking directly about the platform.

Thus, unlike the purely music-based videos before them, these offer a very user-centric look at Second Life which makes them compelling viewing, and perhaps the best promotional videos yet produced for the platform.

At a minute in length, the first video can afford to offer a more visual lead-in, with a series of clips from around SL. It can also obviously offer more audio content, and I have to say that the inclusion of a clip of Zachh Barkley talking about his own attraction to SL is particularly effective in adding depth to the piece.

The second video, just 30 seconds in length, offers a more defined view of Second Life ideally suited to the shorter attention span, but which is no less compelling or effective than the longer version.

I’ve long been an advocate of the Lab collaborating with users to produce suitable promotional material for Second Life, both by working with machinima makers and using the creative talents of users themselves.

While these videos move in a somewhat different direction to the one I imagined when writing on the subject, they are nevertheless a move entirely in the right direction. Both showcase Second Life beautifully and in a manner that really speaks to the audience. As such, I hope we’ll see them used widely in promotional campaigns – and see more pieces of a similar nature in the future.

Kudos to the Lab and all involved in their production.

A Lick of science fiction in Second Life

The McFly Project; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrThe McFly Project, July 2015 (Flickr) – click any image for full size

I’ve visited Oyster Bay, the demonstration region for Lick Sim Designs, several times; however, for various reasons I’ve never managed to actually blog about it. So when I saw Sera Bellic, Lick’s proprietor and chief designer, had once again re-worked the region, and this time with something of a science fiction leaning, I decided to put matters right and not only visit and take photos, but this time actually write about my time there.

Like all of Sera’s designs, The McFly Project is a marvellously photogenic, immersive environment which once again demonstrates her talent for region design. It’s also a place very much of two parts, although they are intertwined, perhaps in ways beyond that suggested by the region’s Destination Guide description: Step into the past and explore what once was, and find your way to the future.

The McFly Project; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrThe McFly Project, July 2015 (Flickr)

“That past” comes in the form of an old fun fair, a place gradually being reclaimed by nature. The big top tent is fading, the Ferris wheel and carousels are broken and overgrown,  signs are fading while weeds are taking over the ticket booth. Everywhere you look, it is clear that nature is slowly reclaiming everything.

Or almost everything; overhead, humming quietly are a number of automated drones. They appear to be keeping an eye on things, roaming back and forth slowly, sometimes circling, sometimes dipping towards the ground before rising again, their presence the first hint of the more sci-fi nature of this place.

The McFly Project; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrThe McFly Project, July 2015 (Flickr)

From the big top, a dirt path (with helpful arrows) will lead you through the dilapidated fairground to the distant cliffs.  Here sits the entrance to a cave leading underground, guarded by an R2 unit in as much a distressed condition as the fun fair.

The cave will take you underground and to caverns deep and – well, if not exactly dungeons old, then certainly to places that should be explored fully, and which build up more of the sci-fi side of the region’s design. Follow directions here carefully to make sure you get to see everything – especially when finding your way back out.

Assuming you follow the right path (it’s not hard 🙂 ), you’ll arrive at the future: a watery environment complete with fantastic structures, bordered by a greensward to one side, and overlooked by cliff side houses as more of the automated drones hover and flit overhead.

The McFly Project; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrThe McFly Project, July 2015 (Flickr)

One of the buildings here will likely be familiar to any sci-fi fan who has seen 2013’s Oblivion, although it occupies a position very different to that seen in the film. Small platforms dot the water while teleport pads offer one means of getting around, boat rezzers another.

While The McFly Project’s description suggests you are visiting times past and times future (hence the name: think Marty McFly), there is nevertheless a narrative running through the design, starting at the big top and finishing at this idyllic-looking waterside living.

For me, that narrative, complete with distant echoes of Oblivion throughout, suggested that far from being a vision of the future, the seemingly perfect high tech environment, protected by high cliffs and tumbling waterfalls, is actually “the present” for those living there. The fun fair, meanwhile, is a part of their past, shattered by some kind of catastrophe which may even now present a threat, perhaps physical or perhaps biological. Why else would there be drones patrolling and monitoring it, and why else would there be a weapons cache in the caverns, and decontamination units both there and on the platform where one emerges from that subterranean world?

The McFly Project; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrThe McFly Project, July 2015 (Flickr)

The McFly Project is offered with recommended windlight settings, and I do suggest adopting the one for the trip through the caverns to “the future”, as it is ideal for both settings.  Also make sure you have local sounds on, and do take the time to touch things as you explore; the region is awash with interactive elements literally from the moment you arrive (click the silver star on landing point platform), together with numerous places to sit and rest.

Sera tends to change the region’s design every 2 – 3 months; so as The McFly Project has only recently opened, it is liable to be around for a while yet. Even so, I wouldn’t put of playing a visit too long, just in case; if you love exploring region builds, this isn’t one to miss.

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