Drax Files #45: a magnificent man and his flying machines

Arduenn Schwartzmann at home

The latest Drax Files World Makers took to the air – literally and metaphorically – on Monday June 5th, with a look at the world of Arduenn Schwartzmann.

Arduenn is perhaps most famous for his Warbug combat system of fun and quirky aeroplanes, which represent most eras of flying, and can be enjoyed for pleasure or in friendly air combat games (“combat” perhaps isn’t the right term, as it can feel more like a game of tag around the skies). I’m actually a fan of these little planes, which are small enough that they can easily be enjoyed within the confines of a single region, and have flown many over the years, both at Arduenn’s own Warbug HQ, where I’ve frequently been shot down (and also scored a few hits of my own) – although I admit, up until this show aired, it had been about 3 years since I was last there, although I do have a couple of his aircraft stuffed away in my inventory which come out on occasion for fun.

Overflying the Warbug HQ in one of Ardruenn’s rezzable planes (touch the windsock at the airstrip)

But there is more to Arduenn than Warbugs. He’s demonstrated clear insight into Second Life; his commentary, when given, has always been provided thoughtfully and fairly, while he has also been something of a pioneer; not only with his Warbugs, but also in things like trying to develop a means of shooting 360-degree video in SL.  As such, this is a segment which should have a lot to offer.

And indeed, it appears to be ready to deliver from the outset. In the first 90 seconds of the 4 minute 30 piece, we get a potted history of Arduenn’s background as a molecular biologist before swinging fully into his unbridled enthusiasm for the creative scope presented by Second Life and the ‘umble prim. Make no mistake, here is a man who, after a decade in SL, is in no way jaded by the magic and the promise, but who fully embraces it.

Arduenn and his children

Similarly, the final part of the piece, where we see Arduenn with his kids and gain his thoughts on life, creativity and balance, which offers us the expected insight into what attracts someone to SL and and causes them to first glue a couple of prims together. It is the bit in the middle I have problems with. Warbugs are there, and rightly so – and the voice-over gives the images the depth they need. But following it comes a period which tends to come over as pure product placement when we could perhaps be delving into more of what makes Arduenn tick, why he digs into challenges like trying to develop a 360-vedio capture system (particularly as he worked with Drax on this) and get involved in people’s projects; and so, for me, a part of the potential for this segment is lost.

Which is not to say the segment is not enjoyable – it is, and it clearly delivers in making us feel Arduenn’s passion for creativity in second Life, his sense of fun and the glorious light-heartedness of Warbug flying. I would just like to have seen the curtain cast back a little further to explore more of Arduenn’s thoughts about Second Life, content creation and  what, after a decade in world, keeps him engaged in the platform.

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3 thoughts on “Drax Files #45: a magnificent man and his flying machines

  1. Hi Inara thank you for the write up and the fair critique. I wanted to briefly illuminate why I chose to put a sequence of store overview in between the Warbug and the RL sequence: after long deliberation I thought it was very effective to illustrate the “anything goes” [in its most positive sense!] nature of Second Life by showing a selection of wacky creations from Arduenn’s inventory.

    He laid out succinctly at the top of the episode why he “abandoned” his academic career once the creative aspect was “drained” out of it due to administrative overkill. To showcase what Arduenn chooses to spend his time on building is for me such a brilliant metaphor of what it means to be creative: there really is no clearly discernible economic strategy behind his offerings and that makes it so different from – let’s say – Eboni Khan’s entrepreneurial goals [as shown in episode 38].

    I had no intention to frame this as some sort of infommercial [and actually never thought it would be perceived as such] but merely as an illustration of the beauty of making things for no other reason than that it is possible/because we can.

    As you know there are always multiple ways to condense a very long investigation into someone’s “second” life before I even start to narrow it down for the format and yes: there would have been other ways to present it but to be specific: the 360 camera was a team effort that would have been a story by itself and may be told some time.

    Here, I really wanted to tell the tale of intrinsic motivation to make stuff and simply have fun!

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    1. Indeed, hence why I caveat my response to the middle section as perhaps being my expectations more than editorial choices, particularly after such a strong initial 90 seconds.

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      1. ahh Inara the pain of this passion is the choices I have to make what ends up on the cutting room floor…I wish someone would fund a feature length documentary sometimes…

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