A little more tee in Second Life

Angel Manor: always an amazing visit and for those trying SL golf for the first time, an excellent introduction to the game?

Caitlyn and I have been dabbling on-and-off with golfing in Second Life. Our preferred base of operations has been the AERO golf club, simply because it is so relatively quiet (see Teeing off in Second Life for more). However, there are many places in SL where a round or two can be enjoyed. So many, in fact, that there are doubtless favourites for many who enjoy the sport  – just as those coming into it for the first time might feel a little overwhelmed. Not just by the breadth of choice, but also by the prospect of trying to get around an entire 18 holes.

Of course, you can always break your round down over a couple of sessions: find a course and do the first nine, say, then come back and complete the back nine another day. Or, if that doesn’t appeal, you can always try a smaller course – such as the one at Angel Manor. Here, on the south side of Kaya Angel’s magnificent 12-region estate centred on his stunning manor house, can be found a delightful 6- hole course which can serve as an excellent introduction to SL golf.

Set within Angel Manor Park, the course covers just over half a region, and can be played using most golf systems. Two systems are provided at the tee for the first hole: Fa Nyak’s basic system of club and HUD (provided free and works for about a day), and the CrowleyCorp Elite golf system. The latter can be purchased outright from the vendor boards, or “rented” for L$10 per 16 hours (real-time).

One of the six fairways at Angel Manor Park

Fa Nayak’s system is more than adequate for more casual golf play in SL: everything is HUD-driven, with three basic clubs provided: driver, wedge and putter. The CrowleyCorp system is more sophisticated: HUD-driven again, it provides a set of 12 clubs: driver, 3 woods (1, 3, 5), five irons (5-9), a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and a putter. In addition, the HUD provides options for adjusting the club size for a better fit with different height avatars, a range of camera options, a built-in power meter, a spinner for adjusting backspin on the ball,  and an animation suite (tee-up, walk to ball, drop ball, holster / unholster club from bag, if used).

Which of the two systems you play with is a matter of choice: Fa’s is the simpler of the two, and avoids the need to have to worry about fiddle-farting with options and settings – useful if you are just starting out. The CrowleyCorp system offers a more “realistic” approach to play, although with respect to the Angel Manor course, it probably really doesn’t come into its own, the holes all being relatively short par 2 or par 3 affairs with few obstacles which have to be worked around.

Both systems also offer the same basic play: select your club – such as the driver (which will also tee you up) –  then checking the particle wind indicator and noting the ball’s direction of flight as indicated by the arrow marker overlaying your ball. The LEFT / RIGHT cursor keys can be used to adjust the latter, and to compensate for winds cutting across the ball’s line-of-flight (headwinds and tail winds are handled through the power of your stroke).

The Fa Nayak HUD (l) offers the essentials for good game play without overwhelming the novice. The CC Elite HUD (C) offers a broader range of clubs (on the right) and additional gameplay and animation options. Selection of wood, iron or wedge opens a further sub-menu of options (r), requiring a greater degree of familiarity with the function of the various clubs

When your shot is aligned, it is then a case of pressing and holding the LEFT mouse button and monitoring the power behind your swing. This is indicated by the power meter on the CrowleyCorp HUD, or in-world with the Fa Nayak system, which uses a hovertext indicator. Judge the amount of power to put into a swing takes practice – and be wary of holding the mouse button down too long as the power meter reaches full strength (when needed), as this can over-drive your swing and lead to unexpected results. Then, note where your ball falls, may way for your companion players, before continuing down the fairway and to the green, selecting your clubs as required by each stroke.

Given their relatively short par lengths, the six holes at Angel Manor can be completely pretty easily, avoiding a round from becoming too drawn-out. As noted the obstacles are pretty limited, but it is still possible to get into the odd spot of bother which can make things fun. But, as a gentle introduction to golf in SL, the compact size of this course makes it pretty ideal – while the choice of systems available for play gives newcomers a good feel of what to expect on other courses.

Both systems use essentially the same approach to play, including swing direction indicators. note my camera is deliberately slewed to take this picture, and is not representative of gameplay camera positioning

Nor is this the only fun to be had in Angel Manor Park. Sitting in the middle of this little 6-hole course is a clay pigeon shooting system. Free-to-play, this is a qualification-based game: each round comprises 40 clays, with a minimum number which must be hit each round (e.g. 10 in the first), to progress to the next round. At the same time, the frequency and number of clays released each time increases, and the angles of release can become more and more divergent.

I’ve played this type of game in SL before (in fact, a really old, and no longer functional system is buried in my boxed inventory). Some require the payment of a basic fee to play, others are free – the Angel Manor system, created by Abramelin Wolfe – is free to play. Just get a shotgun from the board and touch the trap to start a round and go to Mouselook to shoot (left-click). My one minor niggle with this system is the gun has unlimited ammo: hitting the clays is a matter of blasting away as fast as possible, rather than making shots count in the knowledge you have to “reload” every 2 shots. But – it’s still fun to play.

So, if you’re looking for a gentle introduction to SL golf located within a eye-catching environment (and one of the grid’s most famous and stunning destinations) – and which offers something “extra” in the way of fun (blasting clays out of the sky), Angel Manor park could be just the ticket. And don’t forget – there is the manor and its public grounds awaiting exploration as well!

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Sansar Bust A Move (Feb 2018) release

Female dancing in Sansar Desktop mode – part of the Bust a Move release

The Sansar release for February 2018, called “Bust  A Move” was deployed on Thursday March 1st. This release builds on some capabilities added in recent Sansar releases, as well as adding some new capabilities. to the mix, notably for experience creators, but also to help improve with user-user engagement.

The release notes provide full information on the new features, updates, documentation changes and resolved / known issues within the release. The following is a general overview of the update’s key changes.

Initial Notes

  • As with Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
  • One launching the client the first time, following update, the log-in splash screen’s Remember Me option will be unchecked, and needed to be re-checked for log-in information to be correctly retained by the client.
  • Changes to the avatar system (e.g. avatar emotes) means that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the LookBook (Avatar App).

Experience Access Controls

The new means of controlling who can access an experience have been introduced with the Bust a Move release:

  • Only Me: only the creator can access the experience.
  • Guest List: only those defined on an access list will be able to see the experience in their Atlas, and access it, regardless of whether or not they are on your Friends list.
  • Ban List: maintain a list of individuals specifically banned from accessing an experience (they will not see it listed in their Atlas).

These options work alongside the existing options of making an experience open to anyone, or limiting access to only those people on your Friends list, and are set when publishing an experience.

The default published status for an experience is to have to open to everyone, and with only the ban list active (if used). To change this:

  • Either edit the experience and select the Publish option or from the My Experiences list, click on the Publishing Options buttons for the experience you with to update.
  • Make sure the Publishing Options > Who Can Visit tab is open (if not already selected).
  • Use the top drop down (Everyone, Only the Following, Only Me) to set the initial level of access to the experience.
  • Selecting Only the Following allows you to limit access to an experience to friends and / or a guest list (both can be set together).
The updated experience access controls mean you can now define access to an experience by both your friends list and / or a guest list, according to your preference of using one / the other / both in combination.
  • Note that any experience you have set to access by friends only and / or a guest list will appear in your Atlas with a yellow icon in the top right corner of their Atlas image.

Creating either a Guest List or a Ban List comprises the same basic steps:

  • Click on the required Edit List button. This opens the list, which will display the names of anyone already added.
  • Click the Add button to add further avatar names / avatar IDs (no “@” required for the latter) and click Search.
  • Click the correct name in the list box (if more than one) to highlight it, and then click Add Selected to add them to your list.
  • Repeat for each new name; click Done when finished, to return to your updated list.
  • Click Save to save the list.
Adding people to a guest or ban list both follow the same basic steps

Names can be removed at any time by clicking on any name in a list to highlight it, then clicking the Remove button – note that no confirmation is required.

Bookmark Favourite Experiences

Users can now bookmark experiences for display in a Favourites tab within both the Client and web Atlas. To add an experience to your list of favourites:

  • Display the information page for the experience in either the Client or web Atlas.
  • Click on the heart icon to add the experience to your list of favourites. The icon will turn a solid white, indicating you have added it to your favourites, and the Favourite count for the experience will increment by one.
  • To remove an experience from your Favourites, display the information page for the experience and click the heart icon again. It will no longer appear solid white, indicating the experience has been removed from your favourites, and the Favourite count for the experience will decrease by one by one.
You can add any visible experience in the Atlas to your list of favourites by clicking the heart icon in the experience description page (arrowed). This will also increment the number of favourites for the experience (circled, lower left corner)

Avatar Emotes

Using the “/clap” animation / gesture / emote. Courtesy of Linden Lab.

A rudimentary set of “avatar emotes” (that’s basic animations to you and me) have been added for Desktop mode with this release.

Triggered by nearby chat commands, three basic animations are provided:

  • /clap – Causes your avatar to clap its hands for a few seconds.
  • /dance – Causes your avatar to perform a short dance.
  • /thumbsup – Causes your avatar to give a “thumbs up” gesture.

The dance animation perhaps leaves the most to be desired, bringing to mind as it does visions of the hoary old “dad dancing at a wedding” visual gags. The clapping is (for me) the most effective, and the thumbs-up sitting between the two.

The Lab has indicated that more sophisticated means of animating avatars will be coming down the pipe, so regard these options as just a first step along the way towards more expressive avatars.

Chat Improvements

It is now possible to access the chat app from experience load screens and the Atlas, allowing conversations to continue more broadly across Sansar.

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