Lab issues 2018 snowball fight challenge

Credit: Danni Ravinelli, via Linden Lab

Coming slightly later this year is the Lab’s annual snowball fight challenge. The challenge was issued in a brief blog post with the invitation:

Come one – come all to the Snowball Arena for a friendly ice battle of epic proportions! This Snowball Showdown means you’re free to pelt your fellow Second Life Residents and Lindens with a bevy of sparkling snowballs! But the Lindens and your fellow Residents get to return fire with their own avalanche of snow-arsenal.

The event itself will take place between 11:00-13:00 SLT on Friday, December 21st at – where else? – the Snowball Arena in Winter Wonderland.

As with previous years, Winter Wonderland is a 5-region experience which, for those who haven’t visited, includes the 2-region snowball fight arena, a winter snow track for snowboard and snow mobile racing, a skating ring, a Ferris wheel, and spaces to walk. The best place to start explorations is the Village of Light, where the Lindens tend to place a seasonal gift.

Weapons can be obtained at the entrances to the Snowball Arena – walk through the Village of Light and climb the steps up into the hills behind the village. Snowball guns can be collected at the vendors around the Snowball Arena.

Collect your weapons at the vendors in the Snowball Arena. If you are Premium, you can use your Premium Member’s Token or HUD to claim the Premium-only Snow Zooka weapon (outlines in red on the HUD and in the vendor, above)

For those who are Premium members and who haven’t participated in the snowball fight before, don’t forget you can use your Premium Member’s Token or HUD you can claim additional Snow Zooka weapon. If you don’t have the Token HUD, you can can claim them by picking up the latest Premium gift, the Winter Cabin from any of the Premium Gift Kiosks. You can find out more about the Winter Cabin via the Lab’s gift blog post.

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Seeing out 2018 at Nitroglobus Roof in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Natalia and Moni

“I’m not promoting it heavily,” Dido Haas informed me, as we met at the end-of-2018 exhibition she is curating at her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. “I had another exhibition planned, but it didn’t go ahead. So I’ll just place some pictures on Facebook, Flickr and the SL group.”

Which is not to say that the current exhibition is simply a fill-in; rather it stands in part as a retrospective of some of the memorable exhibitions Nitroglobus has hosted through 2018. It also offers the chance to appreciate Dido’s own work, and that of David, aka “Mr. Haas” or silence (jemapelSilence) that speak to their growing relationship.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido and David

Dido has a marvellous eye for art; as such Nitroglobus features a series of outstanding exhibitions each year – something that keeps me going back every month or so. As such, selecting artists and pieces for any kind of retrospective is going to be a challenge, but Dido nevertheless presents a considered series of pieces featuring  Monique Beebe (who I confess is one of my favourite artists when it comes to narrative avatar studies), from her exhibition Changing Moods. Alongside of it is a piece by Natalia Serenade, as featured in her evocative exhibition, The Colour of Unspoken Words (read here for more).

Cold Frog, who presented Fading in January, can also be found, as can Nevereux, with a piece from Out of Here, and Cat Boucher, who appeared at the gallery in August with Hypnopompia. Between and around these are images by Dido and David.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Nevereux

The latter are very intimate pieces, some which might be regarded as NSFW, but which are all richly evocative for the story they tell. The pictures by Dido also act as a possible lead-in to the permanent exhibition of her own work, which can be found n the gallery’s second hall, and reached via an interconnecting tunnel. I’ve always found Dido’s work wonderfully expressive and deeply personal, and thoroughly commend a walk through the tunnel to her display space if you have not previously done so during a visit to Nitroglobus.

While unplanned, the selection of art offered here also perhaps serves a further purpose: to whet our appetites for the exhibitions Dido will bring to us in 2019.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido

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Lab takes an end-of-year look at Second Life

On Wednesday, December 19th, Linden Lab offered a look back at 2018 and something of a look ahead to 2019. There’s actually been a lot going on, although it is surprising to note that some of the bigger deliveries / anticipated deliveries actually first started to surface in 2017, when I reviewed / previewed them.

I’ll be taking a look through the major changes to Second Life myself in an upcoming blog post, so won’t delve too deeply into things here.

Unsurprisingly, Animesh is featured front-and-centre for the year’s delivery – although it’ll be early 2019 before we really start to see the impact this project has on the grid as a whole; many creators have yet to really embrace it, although there were certainly a lot of creative ideas put forward at the Content Creation User Group meetings.

The Lab’s post also focuses on the changes made to land pricing in SL – arguably the biggest set of changes in 2018. It’s fair to say  that overall, the response to changes both Mainland and Private regions has been positive. In fact, it could be one – and I emphasise one, because there are others – of the reasons people might be spending less: with limited disposal income, people may have diverted some of their Second life spending away from buying things and into premium memberships and  / or land.

For me, the big projects through 2018 and 2019 have been, and remain, the Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) and the attempt to move Second Life to the cloud. The latter is hard to judge, as it is very much a behind-the-scenes move that has yet to really have an impact on the user-facing side of the platform. however, I fully expect we’ll be hearing more about it in 2019.

EEP, on the other hand, is something I think will help revolutionise the look of Second Life – even if not quite to the extent some may hope. As such, I’m actually more excited about this than Animesh (and have had great fun playing with EEP whilst it has been in beta testing).

In particular, it will finally bring environment control down to the parcel level, as well as allowing different environment settings at different altitudes. These two capabilities have, until EEP, been dependent on purely viewer-side support and limited to the use of the likes of Firestorm. With these capabilities now moving server-side, everyone gets to benefit from them, regardless of the viewer they’re using, and region / parcel holders finally get the opportunity to have users see their regions and locations as they desire (allow for people retaining the ability to override, viewer-side), and without having to request they change their viewer settings manually, or having to worry about whether or not the windlight they are using is generally available.

Again, EEP won’t be appearing fully until 2019, but the Lab’s blog post includes a nice little preview video by Silas Merlin that I’m taking the liberty of reproducing here.

For me, the most interesting part of the Lab’s blog post comes at the end, starting with a chart showing average concurrency over the last two years. It shows levels to be relatively stable.

Of course, there might be a temptation to offer contrasts between this chart and others that report more in the way of averages over shorter periods – such as those found on the Firestorm log-in screen or via infographics such as those shown on Tateru Nino’s stats pages (which appear to be recording again after having problems earlier in the year). However, given there is no actual benchmark for the Lab’s chart, such comparisons would be somewhat off-base; the chart isn’t designed to show averages or daily high-lows. It simply shows a 730-day period in which the peak daily log-ins (I would assume) have remained pretty constant, despite all the claims of falling numbers.

The Lab’s two-year concurrency chart

The flipside of this of course, is that equally, it’s hard to really judge such a broad trend like as this, simply because it is likely taken from one data point, be it peak daily log-ins or something else. For example: if it is tracking just peak log-ins, what were the daily minimums? How long per day were the peak periods? have there been any changes in this over the two years?

A more interesting stat is that for the amount of USD cashed-out. Put at $65 million, this is only $2 million less than that quoted for 2017, and still above the US $60 million for 2016. As such, it stands at odds with claims that the Second Life economy has been in some kind of slump during at least the second half of 2018, suggesting that things have been relatively stable overall. Which is not to say that some merchants haven’t seen a downturn in sales; but these could be the result of people shifting their spending habits more that not spending their money – see my comment re land, above.

The final two listings on the Marketplace and the Destination Guide make for interesting reading, but little more – although the fact that men’s apparel comes in 10th on the Marketplace  while women’s comes in second might be an interesting topic to plumb. Is it simply because there are fewer creators focusing on menswear, or is it a combination of fewer creators and male Second Life users perhaps being less driven by the demands of fashion?

As noted, I’ll have more on the technical and other updates to Second Life in an upcoming article, and for now will leave you to read the Lab’s summation in peace 🙂 .