Are you ready for The Interview in Second Life?

madpea-logoMadPea games open the doors on their latest grid-wide mystery puzzle game, The Interview on Sunday, April 3rd. Details on what it is all about have yet to be revealed – but there is a clue in the title, and it involves an organisation called the Goliathus Society. This appears to be a very secret society (one no doubt with a very dark secret!), everyone want to join – and a rare opportunity to be a part of the organisation has arisen.

Ahead of the official opening, the lucky winners the recent Interview Photo Contest and Interview  Writing Contest will have 24 hours access to the game before the doors open to the public, as well as access to the MadPea team for help and support. You can read about the winners and see their entries on the MadPea result pages for the photo contest and the writing contest – and I have to say, the winning entry in the latter makes for entertaining reading 🙂 .

To further whet appetites, Kess Crystal from MadPea e-mails with a short note to say the trailer for The Interview is now out, and I’m embedding it below.

So, if you’ve always wanted to be a part of a secret society, and gain a benefits package (aka prizes) for some of SL’s popular designers,  get ready to take part in the Interview.

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Balance and a Clockwork Skimmer in Second Life

Clockwork Skimmer: Io Bechir
Clockwork Skimmer: Io Bechir

Photographers Io Bechir and Fanny Vermont recently opened their own studio and gallery space in Second Life. Called Clockwork Skimmer, the space has a distinctively steampunk feel to it, and offers a cosy space for both Io and Fanny to display their work.

The lower floor of the space, where visitors arrive, presents the looks and feel of a basement space, with bare brick walls and small windows placed high in the walls, close to the wood ceiling. A rough wooden floor, a bare iron supporting frame for the floor above, and exposed copper pipes complete the basic room décor. Into this Io has added various furnishings – free-standing spotlights, a wine rack, easy chairs and a large leather sofa, before which lays a great big bear rug. “I am a big Steam fan,” Io informed me as we chatted about the design, “I think it’s a nice motif for a gallery space.”

Clockwork Skimmer: Io Bechir
Clockwork Skimmer: Io Bechir

I couldn’t agree more, as the entire effect creates a beautifully intimate space ideal for presenting her work, which has a wonderful ability to project so much to the observer: strength, fragility, vulnerability, beauty, vitality, and more. In all nine of Io’s pieces are displayed here, the casual manner in which they are placed on or against walls or sit on easels very much promoting the feeling one has been invited into her personal work space, rather than attending a formal exhibit.

The upper floor, reached via an open staircase, is home to a more formal exhibition space, which might be imagined as being on the ground floor of the building. It is here that Fanny has her exhibition, entitled Balance. In it, she  presents nine nude images in three sets of three, all in black and white. Each image is exquisitely posed and presented, and as with Io’s pieces, they each individually, and in their collective trios, present a narrative.

Clockwork Skimmer: Fanny Vermont
Clockwork Skimmer: Fanny Vermont

Balance is my second series based on a concept. As the name implies I developed and photographed some of my ideas referring to the theme but still with enough room for personal interpretations,” Fanny notes of the exhibit, “taken in my studio which is not much more than an ample, empty hall. I wanted to be able to use a tele lens and also to get more possibilities where to place the light projector. For six images I used a large, white backdrop with a rather wide dimensioned cove which creates nice results in combination with the spotlight.”

As well as describing he means of creating her images, Fanny also divulges her approach to framing and presenting them in-world in order to preserve their 16:10 aspect ratio. While this may sound a dry description, in actual fact, it is quite the reverse. While the image sets themselves are enthralling as seen, being invited into the complete creative process which brought them from idea to finished displayed piece, draws one deeper into them; so we become less observers and more partners sharing in Fanny’s work.

Clockwork Skimmer: Fanny Vermont
Clockwork Skimmer: Fanny Vermont

I’ve been a fervent admirer of Io’s work since first encountering it, and I’ve become an instant admirer of Fanny’s work as well, as a result of this first expose to it. As such, I’m very much looking forward to future exhibitions at Clockwork Skimmer.

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Waiting for the hurricane in Second Life

Asphyxiation Point; Inara Pey, March 2016, on Flickr Asphyxiation Point – click any image for full size

I first wrote about Asphyxiation Point, the free-form role-play region, back in February of 2016, after being invited to explore the region by one of region’s Admins and a prime mover in the region’s development, Charles Newton Kuluk (kuluk). At the time I noted that the town is host to a range of activities,most of which are reported through the associated website, and Thursday, March 31st through to Sunday April 3rd inclusive will see the town engage in one of those activities, as it faces the ravages of a hurricane.

“Hurricane is one of the most visually striking events in Second Life,” Charles said in his invitation. “I would like to invite you to Asphyxiation Point to view the event in person and hopefully capture it through your lens.”

Asphyxiation Point; Inara Pey, March 2016, on Flickr Asphyxiation Point

The storm is intended to unfold – as storms in the physical world so often do – over a period of days, rising to a peak, then ebbing away. As such, the time frame for the event is currently as follows:

Thursday, March 31st 2016 – The Rain: It starts with rain, materials-enabled rain in this case, which allows local lighting to be reflected in the water on the ground and in the splashes of raindrops when you have the Advanced Lighting Model active. The rain is region-wide, but playing with different windlights and time settings in the viewer can create some interesting results, particularly at night.

Friday, April 1st 2016 – The Wind: As Friday arrives, so does the wind, driving the rain and pushing against the trees, whilst lightning flickers across the sky, followed by thunder’s inevitable booming, as the townsfolk batten down and prepare for the hurricane’s anger.

Asphyxiation Point; Inara Pey, March 2016, on Flickr Asphyxiation Point – materials bring the rain to life

Saturday April 2nd 2016 – Hurricane: the storm proper strikes,  the sea rages, flooding much of the town, breaching defences around noon SLT and rising steadily through until 18:00 SLT.

Sunday April 3rd 2016 – The waters recede:  the storm has passed, and with nature’s fury abated, the waters slowly recede through the early morning hours (SLT), leaving some debris left in its wake as the people of Asphyxiation Point clean-up and return to normal life.

As noted in Charles’ invitation, visitors are encouraged to drop into the region over the course of the storm and take photos as events unfold. All the folk at Asphyxiation Point ask is that those taking pictures consider sharing them on the Asphyxiation Point Flickr group, to help record the event for posterity.

Asphyxiation Point; Inara Pey, March 2016, on Flickr Asphyxiation Point

Should you visit to see the storm for yourself, do keep in mind that Asphyxiation Point is a free-form role-play environment in which most of the residents interact “in character” in open chat conversation. Visitors are welcome to give it a go as well; however, if you are approached in local chat by someone wanting to role-play, but would prefer not to, just IM them to let them know you are visiting and / or taking photos.

As we’re talking storms, I’ll wrap this piece with a little musical interlude from Chris de Burgh.

Additional Links

30/31: art and shopping in Second Life

3031Commencing at midnight on the 30th / 31st March 2016 is a new arts-focused shopping event offering the chance for people to discover art, galleries and more across Second Life.

Managed and run by Windlight Magazine, 30/31 will be a bi-monthly event, this first round will run from midnight on the 30th/31st March through until midnight on April 6th/7th, and is sponsored by Chop Zuey Couture Jewellery.

In all twenty artists, galleries and brands are participating in this inaugural round of the event, and their details and URLs can be found below.

Each of them is offering one or more items for sale as a price with either 30 or 31 in it  – hence the event name. So items might be L$31, L$131, L$230, and so on.  The items offered as part of the event are indicated by the 30/31 logo (above right) being display along side them.

30 / 31: Chop Zuey Couture Jewellery's "I got your number"
30 / 31: Chop Zuey Couture Jewellery’s “I got your number”

To mark this inaugural round of 30/31 Chop Zuey Couture Jewellery owner, Belle Roussel, has created a special edition I got your number 30/31 edition necklace and earrings set shown above).

30/31 offers an excellent opportunity to combine shopping with art, and offers a balanced mix of galleries and stores to visit, as well as presenting people with a great way to familiarise themselves with the work of artists they might not have previously come across.

30/31: Jarla Capalini's studio
30/31: Jarla Capalini’s gallery

Participating Artists, Galleries and Brands

30/31: Epic Chromatic
30/31: Epic Chromatic

SL project updates 16 13/1: Aditi inventory, invisiprims

[G]aio; Inara Pey, March 2016, on Flickr [G]aioblog post

Server Deployments Week #13

There are no scheduled deployments or restarts planned for the week. The next deployment should occur in week #14 (week commencing Monday, April 4th, when the release candidate channels should receive a server maintenance package containing some (as yet)  unspecified fixes.

SL Viewer

The Project Bento viewer, containing the new avatar skeleton extensions, updated on Tuesday March 29th to version 5.0.0.313150. The remaining viewer channels remain unchanged from the end of week #12:

  • Current Release version: 4.0.2.312269, dated March 17th – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer
  • Release candidate cohorts:
    • HTTP updates and Vivox RC viewer, version 4.0.3.312816, dated March 23rd – probably the next viewer in line to be promoted to the de facto release status
    • Quick Graphics RC viewer, version 4.0.2.312297, dated March 11th – possibly to go through a further update (tests were being carried out with  the Avatar Complexity settings in week #12)
  • Project viewers:
    • Oculus Rift project viewer updated to version 3.7.18.295296 on October 13, 2015 – Oculus Rift DK2 support (download and release notes)
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Aditi Inventory Problems

As noted in part #2 of my last project update, there are issues with the new Aditi inventory syncing mechanism.

One issue is that items created on Aditi following one inventory syncing process will disappear from inventory when logging into Aditi following the next inventory syncing run (see BUG-11651).

This is likely the result of the viewer using the same cache, regardless of the grid you log-in to. The current fix is therefore to clear the viewer cache completely or to delete the inventory .gz files from your cache folder), and then log back into Aditi.

However, this approach in turn causes an issue of its own.

When logging back into Agni (the main grid) after clearing cache as described above, the Aditi assets will appear to be listed in your Agni inventory. However, any attempt to rez or wear or share the assets from Aditi will result in an error message, because the assets themselves are not physically part of your Agni inventory. Again, the solution is to clear cache  / remove the inventory .gz files from your viewer cache and re-log into Agni.

Also noted in the JIRA is this issue results in some very odd duplication of Calling Cards on Aditi.

The Solution

The desired fix is to have different inventory caches for each grid visited, and as noted in the JIRA report, this is how the Lab intends to proceed.

Invisiprims

As noted in the part #3 of my last project update, there is a new issue with invisiprims, which sees any object, worn or in-world, using the texture UUIDs associated with them rendered at a solid grey or black surface or object, regardless of whether ALM is enabled in the viewer or not. Prior to this issue occurring, the result of a change made in the current release viewer (version 4.0.2.312269), invisiprims would either mask whatever was behind them with ALM off, or simply be ignored if the viewer was running with ALM enabled.

The new invisiprim issue is that regradless of whether a viewer is running with ALM disabled (l) or enabled (r), worn or in-world objects using them now appear either solid grey or black (click image for full size, if required)
The new invisiprim issue is that regardless of whether a viewer is running with ALM disabled (l) or enabled (r), worn or in-world objects using them now appear either solid grey or black (click image for full size, if required)

As having grey surfaces and objects appearing on avatars in in-world (remembering that there is a lot of old, No Mod content in-world which makes extensive use of invisiprims and their associated textures, and this approach makes them look very unsightly to anyone viewing them), the suggestion has been put forward that the viewer should be modified to simply ignore the invisiprim texture UUIDs or treat them simply as “normal” transparent textures regardless of whether or not ALM is enabled in the viewer, and a fix has been submitted to the Lab to achieve this.

Asked during the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, March 29th, if the Lab had reached a decision on adopting the fix, Simon Linden said, “We were talking about it earlier … nobody wants to do anything to break content; so we have the hole-in-the-water use, which is nice for boats and such.”

Oz Linden then added, “We’re going to do some testing of alternatives… so I guess the answer is that we don’t have a final decision yet.”

A visit to the 18th Century in Second Life

Rocca Sorrentina
Rocca Sorrentina

I was drawn to Rocca Sorrentina after seeing it featured in a recent Destination Guide highlights blog post from the Lab. Described as an immersive education experiment operated by Brown University, the region presents an 18th Century period setting, offering visitors the opportunity to interactively learn about the period through art, information note cards, exhibitions, events and even via casual role-play with the island’s residents (although it is emphasised the latter is not a primary function of the region).

The initial landing point is located at altitude. Here visitors can learn about Rocca Sorrentina (a fictional rocky island located in the Bay of Naples), both in terms of its own “history” and the broader terms of both the project and the period in which it is set. A note card giver alongside the landing point offers a wealth of information across multiple note cards, including useful visitor information, rules regarding period role-play and use of the region, and on the various displays to be found here.

Rocca Sorrentina
Rocca Sorrentina

Opening off of the landing area are three exhibition areas. These currently feature in turn, an exhibition of the art of Pietro Fabris, a history of tarot, and a history of the Kingdom of Naples during the late 18th century. All are informative, with the last in particular providing considerable insight into 18th Century life and culture.

Also to be found on the wall of the arrival hall (and in the note cards offered by the information giver) is a map of the island. This is worth noting / studying, as there is a lot to be found once you’ve teleported down to ground level.

RS-11-1_001
Rocca Sorrentina

On teleporting down, visitors find themselves at the island’s busy docks. Ships are alongside, anchored just offshore or heading out under full sail into the Bay of Naples (which connects Rocca Sorrentina with the estate of the Duché de Coeur – which I haven’t actually re-visited for well over four years!). Just off the main island are the smaller Harbour Master’s island and the fortified Lighthouse Island.

Once ashore, there are several routes of exploration: along the quayside to the lower town, or up the ramped path towards the villa, passing the vineyards on one side, and then turning to cross the Great Lawn to the upper town and its church, or by following the ramped path directly up to the villa itself.

Rocca Sorrentina
Rocca Sorrentina

The latter is modelled on the Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana (also known as La Rotonda, Villa Rotonda, Villa Capra or Villa Almerico), near Vicenza in northern Italy. Called the Villa Vesuviana, and designed by CapabilityTodd Elswitt, who was also responsible for building the original Rocca Sorrentina, this grand house perfectly captures the imposing form of La Rotonda and presenting similarly commanding views of its surroundings, whilst its interior decor also draws directly on that from its physical world inspiration.

Below the Villa sit the Cascade water feature and a small amphitheatre, and nestled between them, ruins which appear to date back to the time the island was used by the Byzantine Greeks. Just across from the Cascade, an area of excavation reveals more antiquities have been discovered.

Rocca Sorrentina
Rocca Sorrentina
Rocca Sorrentina
Rocca Sorrentina

When exploring the island, it is worth remembering a couple of points. The first is that while large parts of Rocca Sorrentina are open to the public, there are private apartments to be found here as well, which are available for rent by residents (the rental offices being up at the arrival point). These are indicated by signs outside (Residenza Privata), and visitors are asked to respect the privacy of those renting them.

The second is that while there is no formalised role-play on the island, residents can engage in free-form role-play, and visitors are invited to join in if they so wish. Those who do are asked to indicate as much by dressing in 18th century period costume (there are some free costumes available at the landing point).

Rocca Sorrentina
Rocca Sorrentina

With its public programmes and exhibits focused on the history and ideas of the Age of Enlightenment and the era of the Grand Tour, and presenting unique opportunities to experience the baroque, rococo and neo-classical styles of the period, Rocca Sorrentina makes for a fascinating and educational visit. My only regret is that it has taken me five years to discover it and engage upon my own Grand Tour!

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