Sorrow and rain in Second Life

Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs (Flickr) – click any image for full size

Sorrow is the name of an atmospheric region designed by The Lollipop Kids, led by Voshie Paine. This is a place with a tragic back story (as told by the introductory note card), something which is perhaps reflected by the sombre, rain-heavy skies with their scudding, grey clouds.

This was, we are told, once a happy estate, built on money and handed down through the generations until tragedy came upon the last of the family line. Not anything supernatural, you understand – this isn’t a story purely confined to the Halloween season – but events sufficient to cast a pall over the region and give rise to the name by which it is known.

Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs (Flickr)

Visitors arrive at the edge of one of the two larger island making up the region, and are greeted by a heavy downpour. The rain is so dense it turns the lightning into irregular flickering of great sheets which briefly illuminate different parts of the surroundings, revealing a broad expanse of water behind the landing area and, through the dimming rain, the dark outline of another landmass on the far side.

Before the visitor lies a pathway, offering a route to the steady lights of a nearby house just visible through the rain and trees. Here can be found comforting shelter from the rain in what I assume is the cosy home of the family who were once employed as servants on the estate. Just inside the door sits a samovar, offers piping tea to warm the insides after the rain, and food is offered in the little conservatory kitchen.

Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs (Flickr)

Beyond the house and further around the sweep of the island, sits a barn where horses graze and sheep give out the occasional plaintive bleat, as if commenting on the persistent rain. From here, more details of the island across the water can be seen, sometimes limned by the flash of lightning reflected in countless raindrops to form another bright sheet of light across the sky. However, if you want to cross the water, you’ll have to follow the shore you are on back to where a grey boat sits at the end of a small dock (sit in the middle of the boat to row it across the water).

The second island marks the location of the estate’s main house and is, if anything, riven with even more rain. Another track leads up through trees tall and aged, some so old they appear to be dying, to the main house. Or what remains of it. No longer in its prime and cleared aged, it moulders slowly, decaying from the inside out, the memories of the tragic events that transpired here now its only occupants.

Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr Sorrow, Paper Dinosaurs (Flickr)

The final island in the region is by far the smallest. It also requires the row-boat to reach it, and is the location of a little encampment, brazier bravely trying to fight off the rain and heat a tall pot of coffee – although I think the pot of stew cooking alongside it might be a little watery to the taste!

As noted, Sorrow offers an atmospheric place to explore, although the volume of rain might impact viewer performance, so some graphics tweaking might be required. However, the atmospheric beauty of the region cannot be denied, the rain and windlight settings combining to give a very real feel of walking through a heavy rain storm on a dark night.  The back story also adds a further layer to explorations, making Sorrow a more than worthwhile destination for those who enjoy exploring SL and taking pictures.

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The Drax Files 33: visiting the past through Second Life

Hauptmann Weydert (aka Cyberpiper
Hauptmann Weydert (aka Cyberpiper Roelefs in SL and Pit Vinandy in the physical world), the driving force behind the virtual Luxembourg work, sharing time in-world at Fort Thüngen with his daughter (image: The Drax Files World Makers)

I admit to having something of a personal bias towards The Drax Files World Makers episode #33, which premiered on Friday, October 30th, as it focuses on the work of Hauptmann Weydert (Weydert – also known as Cyberpiper Roelefs within Second Life and Pit Vinandy in the physical world) and his team and their work with the 1867 Project, which recreations elements of the City of Luxembourg as they were at a pivotal point in its history in the 19th century.

I had the pleasure of visiting Fort Thüngen, which forms a part of the project, and then touring  The Virtual Pfaffenthal alongside Hauptmann Weydert (looking resplendent in his period uniform), as we discussed the project in July 2015  – see my article Luxembourg 1867: exploring virtual history in Second Life. So to witness almost first hand through this video just how faithful a reproduction the 1867 Project presents, and gain a greater insight into the Project’s collaboration with Luxembourg City History Museum, comes as an absolute pleasure.

The Virtual Pfaffenthal; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrThe Virtual Pfaffenthal, (Flickr)

Second Life and environments like it have always been recognised as having a powerful role to play in both education and historical recreation, and this is once again brought home in this segment of the World Maker’s series. In it, viewers are invited to explore the immersive, educational and creative powers inherent in the platform and to catch a glimpse of a fascinating period in European history as well, one which is in turn being shared with the general public in that city through the collaboration with City History Museum.

The immersive power of the platform is marvellously presented through footage filmed in the physical world which has been carefully matched with footage filmed in-world. These differing scenes are then beautifully transitioned between, carrying the viewer seamlessly from one to the other, visually conveying the richness of content and opportunity within the virtual in a manner no amount of narrative could convey. Kudos to Drax for both the filming in Luxembourg and the editing.

The creative power of the platform is beautifully encompassed in just 25 seconds starting at the 1:50 mark, when Pit provides a simple description of the various options for design and building, both in-world and through external tools, as he works on a part of the fort in-world.

Continue reading “The Drax Files 33: visiting the past through Second Life”

Of dreams and nightmares in Second Life

Broad Street Gallery, Crestwick Island
Broad Street Art Gallery, Crestwick Island

…Of Dreams and Nightmares is the title of the current art exhibition being held at the Broad Street Art Gallery, Crestwick Island.  As the title might suggest, the exhibition takes its theme from the time of year, and features the work of artists  .kiki, Cipherscape, Burk Bode, Senna Coronet, Harbor Galaxy, MM, Isa Messioptra, Mich Michabo, Maloe Vansant, William Weaver and Robin the Femboy Wonder.

Each artist presents a single piece in keeping with the theme, resulting in a rich diversity of images, which fully encompass dreaming, dreams, and nightmares, with touches of the surreal and of the erotic.

... Of Dreams and Nightmares, Broad Street Gallery, Crestwick Island
… Of Dreams and Nightmares, Broad Street Art Gallery, Crestwick Island

As with Not Yet Dark, which I reviewed back in July 2015, this is an incredibly charged exhibit ideally suited to the gallery’s cosy confines. Each piece carries its own story, some of which are quite complex and can be interpreted a number of ways, while others speak directly to our the fears we may escape during the day, but can loom large at night or in our sleep.

Take Harbor Galaxy’s Anxiety at 3:00am for example, which binds together a hint of a personal nightmare and a reference to the 3:00am myth, both of which speak to us subconsciously as we look at the piece. Alongside it, Maloe Vansant’s What Lies Beneath offers a similar duality:  the hidden things haunting our subconscious which come out as we sleep, and a reference, perhaps, to the fear that follows us from childhood that something nasty is lurking beneath us, under the bed.

... Od Dreams and Nightmares, Broad Street Gallery, Crestwick Island
… Od Dreams and Nightmares, Broad Street Art Gallery, Crestwick Island

But these aren’t all dark images; Senna Coronet offers a vision of the power of words to carry us away to dreams and imaginings that are neither dark nor threatening in her piece, Lines On a Page Carried Me Away. William Weaver, meanwhile, presents an altogether different view on the nature of dreams (or should that be fantasies?) in his Awakenings (do be sure to catch Isa Messioptra’s little take on this piece which sits just side the gallery’s door; it again offers a clever dual take on things).

All told, another superb exhibition, with all of the pieces available free of charge to visitors. Should you drop in to see them, do please consider a small donation at the door to help with covering the costs of running both the gallery and Crestwick Island.

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2015 OpenSimulator Conference registrations open

On Thursday, October 29th, I received an e-mail announcing that registrations for the 2015 OpenSimulator Community Conference are open.

Attendance is free, but for those wishing to donate to the supporting this and future conferences, there are a number of options to do so, ranging from $10.00 USD through to $200.00 USD, all of which offer various benefits to purchasers. For the full range of ticket options and their respective benefits, and to book your place at the conference, please visit the conference ticket page.

The 2015 conference will be a one day affair, taking place on Saturday, December 5th. Nevertheless, it will present a full programme of dynamic short presentations and panels that spotlight the best of the OpenSimulator platform and community that will take place virtually on the conference grid.

The OpenSimulator Community conference 2014 (image: the OpenSimulator Community Conference)
The OpenSimulator Community conference 2014 (image: the OpenSimulator Community Conference)

In addition, the organisers are inviting the OpenSimulator Community to host community and social events, scheduled for dates leading up to the conference in the days leading up to the conference and immediately following its closing on Saturday, December 5th at 17:00 PST, and again on Sunday, December 6th.

Those interested in hosting a social event should register their interest via the Community Event Sing-up page.

If you wish to give a presentation or talk at the conference, please register your interest via the Call for Proposals page, but note that all proposals must be received no later that 11:59 PST on Saturday, October 31st.

Volunteers for the event can also sign-up via the Call for Volunteers page.

The 2013 conference arena
The 2013 conference arena

About the Conference

The OpenSimulator Community Conference is an annual conference that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software. The conference is a joint production by Core Developers of OpenSimulator and AvaCon, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces.  The conference features a day of presentations, panels, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

Lab announces “Creepy Crawl” destinations

secondlifeOn Wednesday, October 28th, Xiola Linden blogged about the routine of the 2015 Halloween Creepy Crawl  / meet-up, and invited residents to get their costumes ready.

The Event will take place between 10:00 and 15:00 SLT on Friday, October 30th, and will be moving through a number of selected venues. Xiola’s post reads in part:

 “What is the Creepy Crawl?” you may ask. It’s a scary-good in-world event where Lindens and Residents get dressed up in their best Halloween costumes and roam from spooky spot to spooky spot for music, dancing, and celebrating! It’s going to be a bit like a ‘pub crawl’ without the need for taxi fare.

Costumes are strongly encouraged for this event – some come out and show off your best. I am still deciding between 4 different costume choices I’ve put together and may have to wear all 4 at some point during the crawl. It’s a good thing we’ll have 5 hours to run amok and have fantastical fun. Just keep in mind that this event is for General and Moderate audiences when perfecting your look.

Bay City Halloween Maze - starting point for the Creepy Crawl
Bay City Halloween Maze – starting point for the Creepy Crawl

Things will start at 10:00 SLT at the Bay City Halloween Maze, which I also blogged about earlier in the month. From here, things will progress as follows (all times SLT, all locations rated Moderate unless indicated):

The final destination will be the Haunted Halloween Tour (Portal Parks rated G), which the Crawl should reach at around 14:30 SLT, and will give people a chance to try out the 2015 version of the Lab’s Halloween ride, which I’ve also reviewed for those interested.

The Haunted Halloween Tour 2015 forms the final stopping off point for the Creepy Crawl
The Haunted Halloween Tour 2015 forms the final stopping off point for the Creepy Crawl

So, if you’re up for some suitably spooky fun with friends and Lab staff, dig out a costume or two and be sure to drop in on one or more of the venues listed for the tour.

Firestorm ready to launch Gateway; MadPea join as partners

The Firestorm Gateway: partnering with MadPea Games
The Firestorm Gateway: partnering with MadPea Games

I recently covered the soon-to-be-launched Lab trail progamme which will see a new set of community gateways active within Second life and geared towards helping incoming new users get to grips with the platform more positively, and help them to start to engage in activities, thus hopefully improving the chances that they’ll “stick”.

The Firestorm team are one of the groups invited by the Lab to be a part of this new trial programme, and as I reported earlier in October, they will be launching their Gateway on Saturday, October 31st with a special party followed by a month-long Spooky Nights hunt which will take place across the five core regions of the Firestorm Gateway.

What I couldn’t reveal in that article, but am able to now, is that MadPea Games have agreed to partner with Firestorm to help get new users engaged in Second life.

madpea-logo
A number of MadPea games will be available in the Firestorm Gateway regions

In a press release on October 28th, MadPea confirm they are providing Firestorm with a number of their vintage games which income new users will be invited to play free-of-charge, in order to present them with even more opportunities to learn about and engage in Second life.

Commenting on the partnership, Kiana Writer, CEO and Queen Pea of MadPea Games says, “We are all very excited about the opportunity of working with Jessica and her team and waving the flag for what is achievable for user-created content on the grid. There’s a huge learning curve when you enter SL for the first time and we believe Firestorm, along with their partners, are best placed to help guide new users through that arc.”

Jessica Lyon, speaking for the Firestorm team, said: “We are super excited to announce that we’ve formed a mutually beneficial partnership with MadPea Productions! Essentially MadPea will install some of their older games as free play in our environments, and in exchange new residents will learn about MadPea Games to become potential new customers. MadPea will also then be able to send their new users to our installations to learn how to play MadPea games.”

The Firestorm Halloween Party stage area
The Firestorm Halloween Party stage area

The Firestorm Halloween Party will kick-off at 13:00 SLT with a series of live performances running through until 16:00, when things will switch over the DJs, and the Spooky Nights Halloween Hunt will launch.

Topping the bill for the party are:

  • 13:00 SLT – Mankind Tracer
  • 14:00 SLT – Nance Brody
  • 15:00 SLT – The Changhigh Trinity Sisters Fireshow
  • 14:00 SLT onwards – DJ Quad

Over 150 well-known Second Life merchants have contributed to the hunt, and you can read a list of participating creators on the Firestorm post on the party, and also catch photos of some of the prizes on offer.

Four landing points will be in operation for the party, as follows:

For further information on the party and the Firestorm Gateway, please refer to the Firestorm blog post, or to find out more on the Gateway and the new Gateway programme, please refer to the articles in this blog.

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