Second Life to have a smashing time with Titmouse

logos © and ™ Linden Lab, Titmouse and Lightbox Expo

On Tuesday, September 8th, Linden lab announced their latest partnership event intended to offer fun for existing users and to encourage those why may not have tried the platform or who have been absence a while to have a go in a party-like environment.

For this latest event – which will take place on Saturday, September 12tth, the Lab has teamed up with animation studio Titmouse Inc., to host the virtual equivalent of the Titmouse Smash Party, to be held in conjunction with the 2020 Lightbox On-line Expo.

Titmouse, Inc., is a North American animation studio operating out of Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver. Since 2000 they have been producing animated television programmes, feature films, music videos, title sequences, commercials, and short films for clients like Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network, Disney, Netflix, Adult Swim and most recently, CBS Television for whom they have been working on the Star Trek: Lower Decks series others. However, for 20 years they also gained a reputation for hosting an annual Smash party.

The party allegedly started as an experiment in catharsis for Titmouse employees, after one of the founders of the company heard about a Japanese restaurant that offered clients an unusual service. To help diners get over the cost of their expensive meal, diners could, let off steamby going to a room in the restaurant and smashing a US $1,000 vase to pieces. True or apocryphal, I’ve no idea – but Titmouse reproduced the idea by setting up a basement room for staff where, if they were feeling stressed or suffering a creative block, they could go down to and smash the living daylights out of anything in the room (except other employees, obviously).

This basic idea took on a life of its own, evolving into an annual event for Titmouse staff, family and friends, with fun, music, noise and at its heart, The Cage, a place where attendees could – you guessed it – smash whatever was tossed / placed inside it to smithereens.

In the 21st century these types of activities are frowned upon. The Smash Party is a night where one can experience the visceral catharsis that our cave-person brain secretly desires without the stigma of our repressed society’s judgement.
Some companies do trust fall retreats. Some do bowling. Some do theme park trips. We, traditionally, have smashed.

– Titmouse owner Chris Prynoski, talking to WNW in 2019

Nothing is safe from The Cage – old toilets, broken (or even working TVs), furniture – anything that doesn’t constitute a serious risk or life or limb – and be placed inside and await its fate.

After 20 years, the real-life Titmouse parties were “retired”, Prynoski and his teams deciding they would rather end on a high and have people talking fondly about past parties, rather than responding to the news of the next party with, “What? Is that really still a thing?” or similar.

However, the company has found new ways of hosting the parties – through VR and now, thanks to Linden Lab, within Second Life.

Anything can (and probably will) happen at this virtual world gathering where participants are invited to smash, bash and crash one of the hottest parties of the year held by independent award-winning animation production company Titmouse.
Attendees of the Lightbox Expo and the Second Life community are invited to attend this year’s festivities, which include a combination of music, art and overall anarchy. At the centre of the event is an interactive smashing cage where attendees can smash objects with a variety of different weapons. You can also meet and take a photo with Titmouse mascot, Mr. Chirps.
Rumour has it that the region is filled with more than a few Easter eggs so don’t be surprised when you encounter everything that is weird and wonderful — all springing from the imagination of the Titmouse team.

– from the official Second Life blog post

Those interested in  finding out more can do so via the official blog post, which includes a link to a FAQ written specifically for those new to Second Life to help them get started and find their way to the event.

Be sure to save the date – Saturday, September 12th, and catch the promo video below as Patch Linden gets an early start on having a smashing time.

 

Splash! a celebration of merlife in Second Life

Splash, Sunday August 16th to August 23rd, 2020

Organised by Elite Equestrian, and running from Sunday, August 16th through Sunday, August 23rd, 2020, is Splash! a special week-long event for merfolk and their friends.

Taking place under the sea, Splash offers music, dance performances, sporting events, stories, raffles, and shopping.

We have a full week of fun events and activities, including noted DJs, spoken word and dance performances, sporting events, shopping, and more!

The full line-up of events comprises (all times SLT):

Sunday, August 16th

  • 14:00: DJ Elrik Merlin, of Radio Riel, opening with a watery interlude of dance and music.
  • 18:00-19:00: DJ Ktadhn Vesuvino and Caledonia Skytower steer a unique course for a journey of music and poetry, featuring the Sea in all her alluring, fierce glory.

Monday, August 17th

  • 10:00: Undersea Kelpy jumping contest with ribbons, trophies and Elite Equestrian  gift cards for the top six places.

Tuesday, August 18th

  • 12:00 noon; Keply jousting lessons with Duchess Atrasalus of Tamriel Isles, Knight of Dragon’s Lair, member of the Medieval Games Alliance. Wednesday, August 19th, 7 pm SLT

Wednesday, August 19th

  • 19:00: Undersea Kelpy jumping contest with ribbons, trophies and Elite Equestrian  gift cards for the top six places.
Splash, Sunday August 16th to August 23rd, 2020

Thursday, August 20th

  • 12 noon: formal jousting contest.

Friday, August 21st

  • 12:00 noon: DJ Ktahdn provides sea-themed music from various sources. Instrumental and vocal, sailors and swimmers, and maybe even a poem or two. Our course will be adjusted on the fly, as we dance.
  • 18:00: tales of Enchantment from the Sea: Reader Willow Moonfire will read two traditional Celtic legends from Scotland and Ireland, The Soul Cages, and The Seal Catcher and The Selkies.

Saturday, August 22nd

  • 16:00: Idle Rogue’s Guerilla Burlesque appearing life at Splash! with an underwater dance production featuring performances by Aubreya Joszepe, Dax Dover, Gloriana Maertens, Harlequin Lock, Meegan Danitz, and Melina Aurotharius.
  • 17:00-19:00: DJ Caledonia Skytower with a danceable mix of watery tunes.

Sunday, August 23rd

  • Seanchai Library presents an hour of tales spun in the watery depths: mer people, and creatures of myth and legend.
Splash, Sunday August 16th to August 23rd, 2020

In addition, visitors will be able to ride the Kelpy-Go-Round and receive a merfolk gift (with a new every day), try the Kelpy jumping course for themselves (outside of the contest times) or try their hand at the jousting lists, participate in the raffles meet with other merfolk – or for those not familiar with SL’s mer communities – get to know merfolk.

And in case you’re wondering – a Keply for the the event, is a sea horse (but with legs!). There are boards places around the event space that will rez a Keply for visitors to ride – just accept the event experience and follow the instructions. The jumping course is available through a teleport portal to one side of the event space.

The organisers would like to emphasise that while the event is taking place in an adult region, full nudity should be avoided, although topless outfits are permitted.

SLurl Details

  • Splash! (Island of Joy, rated Adult)

Baltimore’s Peale Centre in Second Life

Virtual Peale, Second Life

Saturday, August 15th 2020 marks the start of a new public experience in Second Life when the Virtual Peale formally opens its doors to visitors from both within and beyond the platform.

Virtual Peale is a collaborative project involving The Peale Centre for Baltimore History and Architecture and Linden Lab, and with the support of Virtual Ability Inc. It encompasses an in-world reproduction of the historic Peale Centre building, which will be used to host a range of virtual exhibitions and events that both mark the original building’s foremost roles as both a museum, and its modern day role as a cultural heritage centre for the City of Baltimore.

Some of the images of the Peale building over the decades, located in the Virtual Peale entrance hall

As one of the most historic buildings in Baltimore, the Peale Centre building is a US National Historic Landmark, appearing in the US National Register of Historic Places. It first opened its doors to the public on August 15th, 1814 as the first purpose-built museum building in the United States. It was designed by Robert Cary Long, Baltimore’s first native-born (and self-trained) architect, and  commissioned by Rembrandt Peale, whose father, the artist, inventor, naturalist and politician Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827), had co-founded the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Philadelphia Museum in 1805.

The Peale building functioned as a museum from 1814 through to 1829, becoming famous for its exhibitions of natural history, militaria and selections of art by some of history’s most renowned painters from around the world, together with works by members of the extended Peale family, most of whom – including Rembrandt Peale – were accomplished artists in their own right. In 1816 the museum made history by becoming the first gas-lit building in Baltimore, Rembrandt following the example of his brother Rubens, Rubens, who had installed similar lighting in the family’s Philadelphia Museum. Doing so allowed Rembrandt to gain the backing needed to establish the Gas Light Company of Baltimore, the first commercial gas light company in America, and this in turn resulted in Baltimore becoming the first US city to be illuminated by gas street lights.

One of the ground floor rooms of Virtual Peale with (l) a drawing of Rembrandt and Rubens Peale demonstrating gas-powered lighting, and (r) The Artist in His Museum, a self-portrait by C.W. Peale painted in 1822, the original now hanging in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

In 1829/30, the museum relocated, and the Peale Building became Baltimore’s City Hall through until 1877. In 1878 it became the location of the first public high school for African Americans in the city, prior to passing into commercial use from 1879 through until 1929. Following an extensive rebuilding programme, in 1930 the building returned to its roots as Municipal Museum of the City of Baltimore, although it was referred to simply as “The Peale Museum”. It continued in this role through until 1997, gaining considerable recognition over the years for its collection of Peale portraits, its annual art and photography events and for several exhibitions combining the history and architecture of Baltimore, such as the nationally acclaimed Rowhouse: a Baltimore Style of Living, a celebration of Baltimore’s distinctive row houses.

Today, the building forms the nucleus of The Peale Centre for Baltimore History and Architecture, and is in the midst of renovations to restore it to its former glory. Once completed, this work will allow it to function as a historic heritage centre / place of learning through the 21st century, including enabling local cultural communities to share their authentic stories of the city both through live performance and on-line.

Another of the ground floor exhibition spaces within Virtual Peale. Note that many of the items throughout the museum are interactive – left-click them for information to be displayed in local chat

To mark the 206th anniversary of the building first opening to the public, the Virtual Peale will similarly be opening its doors within Second Life on what has become known as Founder’s Day for the building. Through it, visitors from across Second Life and beyond will be able to learn about it and the Peale family and participate in special virtual exhibitions.

Developed from a 3D model of the Peale Museum building originally created by the Imaging Research Centre at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) for the university’s Visualising Early Baltimore project, the Virtual Peale reproduces the original’s historic frontage and includes a virtual take on the Peale gardens. Inside, the building presents aspects of the physical Peale Centre’s interior, with exhibition spaces that help tell the building’s story and the work of the Peale family as artists, curators, inventors, and naturalists. The one departure from the original floor plans is the long entrance hall leading to the main lobby area, which is used to present photographs of the original Peale building throughout its history.

The Virtual Peale Garden

For the first exhibition, Virtual Peale presents Redefine/ABLE: Challenging Accessibility, marking the 30th anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Originally developed by students from the University of Maryland (UMD), to be presented as a cross-platform, multi-site exhibit utilising both the UMD’s College Park campus and the Carroll Mansion Museum in Baltimore, thanks to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Redefine/ABLE has been re-imagined as an immersive Second Life experience. It is designed to address diversity, inclusion and ableism, and seeks to engage audiences about the successes and challenges of persons with disabilities in Maryland and beyond.

Developed with a grant from Maryland Humanities, and with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Maryland Historic Trust, and with the active support and advice of Virtual Ability, Inc., Redefine/ABLE can be found in the Virtual Peale’s second floor Picture Gallery – actually a teleport that leads to a separate platform than is automatically activated on climbing the stairs and “entering” the exhibition space.

The Redefine/ABLE exhibition in Virtual Peale, featuring interactive panels

By using the space in this way, with teleports connecting exhibits with the main building, it will be possible to expand Virtual Peale’s internal layout to offer additional gallery spaces. Some of these will reflect and expand on exhibitions that can also be found in the physical world, whilst others will be inspired by the Peale’s programming and partners, allowing the Peale in Second Life to become a creative hybrid of physical and imaginary museum spaces.

It has been thrilling to develop this new experience of the country’s oldest museum building in Second Life. Thanks to the amazing work of Linden Lab and Virtual Ability, Inc., we are now able to welcome a huge new community to the Peale, and share its rich history as well as the authentic stories and creativity of Baltimore with the largest and oldest virtual world on the Internet.

– Dr. Nancy Proctor, Executive Director of the Peale Centre

In addition to providing input and advice on hosting the Redefine/ABLE exhibition, Virtual Ability has also played a key role in developing Virtual Peale: most of the interior detailing has been put together by Eme Capalini of Virtual Ability, and she also spent time developing a “Mastodon Hunt” to help celebrate the ties the museum and C.W. Peale have to the unearthing of the first mastodon skeleton to be found in the United States that went on to become the focal point of the museum’s opening exhibition and the subject of C.W. Peale’s 1086 painting, Exhuming the First American Mastodon (a reproduction of which can also be found inside the Virtual Peale building).  Further, Virtual Ability are assisting The Peale Centre in helping members of the public sign-up and join Second Life for this opening event.

The Redefine/ABLE exhibition in Virtual Peale

Also included in the Virtual Peale build is the StoryTelling Studio. As noted above, a major part of The Peale Centre for Baltimore History and Architecture is to keep alive authentic stories about the City of Baltimore through live performance and on-line events, and the Storytelling Studio is a part of this, together with a partnership the centre has with Libraries without Borders. It is also something the Peale Centre wants to extend into Second Life.

So, if you are a resident of Baltimore and / or have a story connected to Baltimore and its history you’d like to share, the Peale Centre would like to hear from you. contact them by dropping your details and story via note card into the mail box inside Virtual Peale, or if you prefer, you can use the Peale Centre’s Add A Story page, or reach out of project members through the Peale’s in-world group or e-mail them at info-at-thepealecenter.org.

You can learn more about Virtual Peale and the work of the Peale Centre via the Lab Gab video below.

Virtual Peale Opening Event

As a part of the opening, Virtual Peale will host three events on Saturday, August 15th, 2020 (all times SLT):

  • 08:00: a tour of Virtual Peale, hosted by David London, the Peale’s Chief Experience Officer.
  • 09:00: a panel discussion, Accessibility and Inclusion in Physical and Virtual Spaces, featuring George Ciscle, Curator-in-Residence Emeritus at Maryland Institute College of Art; Alice Kreuger, founder of Virtual Ability, Inc.; Monica Rhodes, Director of Resource Management, the National Park Foundation; and Dr. Jeremy Wells, Associate Professor in the Historic Preservation program in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland.
  • 10:30 (approx): a further tour of the Virtual Peale and open Q&A session with representatives from The Peale Centre and Virtual Ability.

The opening will also be live streamed on You Tube.

SLurl and Links

Note the SLurl below will only be available when Virtual Peale opens on Saturday, August 15th, 2020.

Gen Con in Second Life: let the games begin!

The Indiana Convention Centre reproduced in Second Life as a part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience

Thursday, July 30th saw the opening of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience presented by VRazeTheBar, a four-day in-world event packed with activities being run as a part of Gen Con Online 2020 – and there is still time for Second Life gamers interested in table-top, computer, role-play and other games to sign-up and join in.

I’ve previously covered Gen Con and the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience in these pages, starting with Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”, but in brief:

  • Gen Con is the largest tabletop-game convention in North America, by both attendance and number of events. In 2019, almost 70,000 people attended the event, held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Gen Con has moved its activities on-line for 2020 across a range of platforms.
  • So that attendees can enjoy some of the same atmosphere of gathering together, attending social events, participating in games, etc., solution provider VRazeTheBar, with the support of Linden Lab, has created a 4-region, multi-level event environment within Second Life: the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience.
Discover the history of Gen Con in the Gen Con Museum within VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience
Gen Con is a very special experience, that’s what keeps people coming back. It was important for us to recreate, as much as possible, the magic that happens when 70,000 gamers take over down-town Indianapolis every year. So, we have built some of their favourite haunts, including Union Station, around the Convention Centre as a starting point that Gen Con veterans will immediately recognize. From there we take off and have created completely new virtual worlds where the imagination can soar.

– VRazeTheBar Cofounder and Creative Director Alesia Clardy (AlesiaPM in Second Life)

A table-top game within the Science Fiction gaming zone of VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience
In VRazeTheBar’s virtual Gen Con experience, users will find many of the details that fans love: food trucks and the traditional Saturday night dance as well as a free official Gen Con virtual t-shirt. But more than anything else, it’s really about the games. The game masters have embraced the virtual platform to make some awesomely rich, detailed environments for interactive game play.

VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience Press Release

The event kicked-off at 09:00 SLT on Thursday, July 30th, and will run through until Sunday, August 2nd – the same dates as Gen Con Online 2020, allowing Gen Con regulars to attend events both in-world and those Gen Con is hosting on other on-line platforms. The opening event featured Patch Linden, Linden Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations as a special guest to not Linden Lab’s assistance in making the event possible.

The activities planned for Gen Con in Second Life as are as varied as those found at the convention in the physical world, and to help attendees feel more at home, part of the event space features a recreation of down-town Indianapolis, where the Indiana Convention Centre, the focal point for Gen Con in the physical world, has been recreated, together with the Union Station, used for social gathering – as it will be in-world, and locations such as Georgia Street, with its lines of food wagons and street restaurants frequented by attendees.

Patch Linden And RCArchitect (VRazeTheBar’s Ron Clifton) at the opening event

The four levels for the event are:

  • Ground level: presentation area and historical.
  • 500m: modern / present day down-town Indianapolis.
  • 1000m: apocalyptic level – the ruins of down-town Indianapolis for Zombie hunting.
  • 1500m: game play environments.
We are hosting a large variety of table-top games and we also are offering periods where people can roam around on their own or with friends, to explore on foot, horseback, or flying. We even have virtual dragon rides. In addition, we will also have some live presentations and panel discussions with industry gaming experts.

– VRazeTheBar Cofounder and Creative Director Alesia Clardy (AlesiaPM in Second Life)

A full list of in-world activities can be found on the event website. In addition, for those registered for Gen Can who cannot get in-world, events at the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience will be live streamed courtesy of event partner isiLive.

As I’ve previously noted in covering VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience (see Gen Con: sneaking a peek in Second Life) gaming activities will taken place across a 4-region group of settings located at 1,500m above ground level and feature a mix of table-top, role-play and other gaming activities.

If you’d like to join Gen Con in Second Life – and there is still room in a number of the events – registration is free. You’ll need to do so via the official Gen Con website. As I noted in my Sneak Peek article, access to the game areas will be controlled to prevent them becoming overloaded, but otherwise attendees are free to wander, sign-up for activities and even organise their own on-the-fly games.

Gen Con Online is very much an experiment for Gen Con – as shifting to on-line mediums is proving to be for a lot of events around the world. However, for VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience it is something more: a proof of concept that virtual world spaces can be used as a part of a physical world event’s activities. As a proof-of-concept, there have been a couple of minor hiccups – sadly, Gen Con exhibitors have been unable to join the in-world event this year, but otherwise everything is ready to receive attendees.

It was important for us to have a stable reliable on-line platform to create this virtual Gen Con experience. This year is basically a small-scale proof-of-concept experience, but the Linden Lab infrastructure we have chosen will allow us to scale up quickly as demand unfolds.

– VRazeTheBar Cofounder and Solution Architect, Ron Clifton

Georgia Street and the Convention Centre in-world

To find out more about about VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience and Gen Con Online, please follow the links below. And when you get in-world, don’t forget to accept the event experience and receive / obtain the teleport HUD for direct access to the various in-world regions (there are also bicycle, horse and dragon ride rezzers available on the different levels (bikes on down town level, horses on the gaming level, dragons awaiting discovery!). You can also find out more by visiting the links below – including the in-world public Welcome Centre for the event.

Related Links and SLurl Information

Second Life’s STÖMOL: a review

From STÖMOL

Warning: if you have not seen STÖMOL, be aware this article does contain spoilers! So if you don’t want your experience spoiled, I suggest you click this link and catch it before you read any further!

Friday, July 24th, 2020 saw the official public première of STÖMOL, a feature-length science fiction machinima filmed entirely in Second Life. Written, directed, edited and produced by Huckleberry Hax, the film also stars Hax in the titular role of Epi Stömol, a private investigator / hunter, with Caitlin Tobias as Waarheid (and who also serves as the film’s assistant director and publicist), Ylva as Verity Certain, Boudicca Amat as Istinito Tatsache, Anthony Wesburn as Adevaru, and Mich Michabo as The Quill.

Set some 40 years into the future, the film combines elements of the graphic novel with those of noir-style films to unfold a tale framed by the search for two missing coders, and which folds into itself questions on the nature of truth and reality in a world impacted by climate change and the control of conglomerates.

On the surface, the story appears straightforward enough: attractive, mysterious woman hires PI / Hunter to locate her missing adopted son. Along the way, the PI encounters another hunter, Waarheid, who is looking for her missing niece – and both boy and girl appear to be two halves of the same puzzle: coders called The Eye and The Quill respectively, who could unlock both the reason for the climate catastrophe impacting the Earth – and also could hold the keys to both reality and our perception of the truth.

“It is an intimate thing to kill someone, especially when you get to see them taking you in with their eyes in that final second of life, knowing it was you who has just taken everything from them. There is nothing you can see that come even close to seeing that” – Epi Stömol. Screen caps from STÖMOL.

Agreeing to seek the girl if Waarheid attempts to locate the boy, Stömol sets about his task, a shadowy, helmeted figure tracking his movements. Whether he is aware of this or not isn’t clear, but Stömol does find the girl – and has an initial encounter with the helmeted figure in the process. Opting not to inform Waarheid of his find, ostensibly to prevent her from ending her search for the boy, Stömol has a further encounter with the mysterious helmeted one, confirming him to be Adevaru. Attempting to strike a deal, Adevaru reveals the true value of the two coders – giving Stömol  pause for thought.

Keeping to the bargain, Waarheid, informs Stömol she has located the boy, who is being held against his will. A rescue attempt is made, only to apparently fail, a kidnapper escaping with the boy. This set the film up for a sharp plot twist that is genuinely surprising and unexpected, in the process moving us to the final denouement, which in turn brings the story full circle to connect neatly with the opening sequence.

All very easy to follow. However, this simple sounding narrative actually lies within a much more complex story, one that might be summed up in asking the question just what is truth?

Waarheid. Screen cap from STÖMOL.

This is exactly what Stömol does as the film opens, mulling over both that and the nature of reality.

Stamp your feet on the ground; down three fingers of whiskey; put a cigarette in your mouth and light it. Is any one of these things real? Is any one of these things “the truth”? Or is truth just a story we create so that things seem to make sense? The line that joins the dots up into a picture that we can understand. We think each dot can only lead to one other; but what if every dot leads to a thousand others, and a million different pictures can be drawn?

– Epi Stömol

Presented in terms of the action that follows these ruminations – the dispatch of an unknown individual carrying an automatic weapon – it’s easy to simply view Stömol’s words as merely reflective of that action; indeed, with a nice slight of narrative, we’re encouraged to do so; but the fact is with this opening statement the film’s focal point is set – and, again, indirectly, a hint is given about Stömol himself.

This element of “truth” being at the core of the film is revealed in other subtle ways as well. Take the names of the principal players Stömol encounters: Verity Certain (itself a play on words), Istinito Tatache, Waarheid – all are words for “truth” and / or the state or quality of being true in their language of origin (English, Croatian and Dutch). Even Adevaru would appear to be a play on Adevărul, Romanian for truth. Similarly, The Eye and The Quill are not randomly chosen names for the two missing coders: the eye is the organ that sees the truth, whilst the quill is the tool by which the truth can be recorded.

It is this layering of elements in which STÖMOL is lifted above being a”simple” tale (although it can still be enjoyed as such), giving it more of a novel-like feel. Similarly, the broader production values evident in the film also help to present it as more of a motion picture than a machinima. Good use is made of framing – over-the-shoulder shots, cutaways, close-ups, all provide depth to STÖMOL.

There are subtleties in approach that give the film added richness. As noted, the twist towards the end of the story is presented in a manner that is so entirely unexpected, I doubt anyone could see it coming. There are also ambiguities scattered throughout that add a certain edge to Stömol. Take the outcome of the rescue attempt: did it really fail, or did Stömol allow the kidnapper to escape with the boy so he might remove Waarheid as a potential rival and thus leaving open his path to having sole control over the Quill and the Eye? And what of the comment about making a gift to the man killed in the opening sequence, is not a new light on this cast within the film’s ending and Stömol’s comments about controlling the truth through The Quill and The Eye?

An encounter with Adevaru. Screen cap from STÖMOL.

However, it would be remiss to say STÖMOL is not without its warts. Whilst relatively few, they do jar when they happen – such as the fight scene with Täuschung (another clever name – this time meaning “deception” or “to deceive”; a shame it didn’t go anywhere). It appears to have been included because it had been shot before the core of the story had been settled, and the fight couldn’t be readily re-filmed to better fit the narrative. Thus we’re left with a character that pops up and dies without saying a word and without serving any other purpose than to facilitate a fight.

The narration can also be unsettling. Delivered without cadence, it is peppered with unnatural pauses in delivery that can grate to the point of spoiling enjoyment. A case in point: early in the film Stömol walks the streets in a 4½-minute segment during which he delivers less than a minute of voice-over in total. This is painfully drawn out across the 4½-minutes with clumsy, mid-statement pauses up to 20 seconds in length. It’s a sequence that could have been edited to around 90-100 seconds without losing any of its dramatic edge whilst facilitating a far more fluid narrative delivery.

Elsewhere, the film offers ome nice hat-tips to its major sci-fi influences: Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. These range from the obvious – the use of Zee9’s Drune designs  (Bladerunner) plus the atmospheric effects (aka Blade Runner 2049) – through the the more subtle: watching the robotic major domo march into Verity Certain’s pool area ahead of Stömol, I couldn’t help but think of Sebastian’s robotic playmates greeting him on his homecoming. Stömol’s use of a noodle bar also sits as a nod towards Deckhard in Blade Runner.

Overall, STÖMOL is a creditable first outing into feature-length filming in Second Life. Yes it has some faults – name me a film that doesn’t, and technique can always be polished. Certainly, the warts don’t prevent the film from packing a satisfying punch at the end whilst achieving what it sets out to do: entertain.

Oh – and when watching, make sure you do so through the credits: there’s an MCU-style tag scene that offers a hint of what might come in the future.

Here’s the link for the film again.

Gen Con: sneaking a peek in Second Life

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience Welcome Centre, reproducing the Indiana Convention Centre entrance, which is replicated in full within the event regions

It’s now just a week before GenCon 2020 opens its on-line and virtual doors to gamers. The largest tabletop-game convention in North America by both attendance (almost 70,000 in 2019) and number of events, Gen Con features everything from traditional pen-and-paper games to computer games by way of role-playing games, miniature war games, strategy games, board and card games, to live-action role-play – and more.

Traditionally held over four days in down town Indianapolis, Indiana, where it is focused on the Indiana Convention Centre, Gen Con has – like so many other large scale gatherings – been forced to change tack for 2020, courtesy of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and as I noted in Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”, for 2020 Gen Con will be taking place on-line across a number of platforms – and it will also be going virtual with a presence within Second Life.

Called VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience, the Second Life event is being developed by solution provider VRazeTheBar, who are in working closely with Gen Con to ensure the convention is fully and strongly represented in-world.

Given it is both a week since my first report on the event and just a week from opening, event organisers Alesia Clardy (AleisaPM in-world) and Ron Clifton (RCArchitect in-world), respectively VRrazeTheBar’s Creative Director and Technology Lead, allowed me to hop back and see how things are coming along.

We’ve made some minor changes since we last chatted. The Welcome Centre will now be remaining in its own location on Mainland, rather than moving here, and will remain open for folk who are not registered for the event, or who misplace where they are supposed to be. We’ll have guides there to provide assistance to visitors throughout the four days of the event. Second Life users will also be able to visit it for information on registering for the event and then getting to the main event regions.

– Alesia Clardy (AleisaPM in-world), VRazeTheBar

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience: the Fantasy games area
Taking place over the four days of Thursday, July 30th through Sunday August 2nd, VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience features a full schedule of activities for gamers and attendees spread across four regions collectively divided into themed areas defined by altitude, with levels on the ground, at 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m.

The latter is devoted to gaming areas, the level split between sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, medieval, and renaissance areas built around a central arrival, greeting area.

We’ll be running the games here. some will be open to whoever wants to play, others will be lead by our Second Life event Games Masters (SLeGMs). When an SLeGM activity is in progress, access will be restricted to the registered players and the GM and Host. When not in use for a specific game, attendees will be free to wander through through and explore – we even have some horse rezzers for those wishing to try their hand at riding in SL!

– Alesia discussing the 1500m level at the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience: a table-top game in the Medieval area

Meanwhile, at the 500m level, is a reproduction of down town Indianapolis, a place where those who regularly attend Gen Con in the physical world can feel at home, relax and generally socialise. The build includes a reproductions of the convention centre that is the focal-point for the physical world event, and the Union Station, where social activities take place.

To help people get in the mood for the main event, the VRazeTheBar will be hosting a pre-convention dance for registered attendees on Friday, July 24th, between 17:00 and 19:00 SLT. It will take place in the Union Station building in-world,  and fancy dress is encouraged with prizes for the best costume / best look. The event will also be live streamed as a part of GenCon Online’s pre-event activities.

Getting around so large an environment could be confusing for those unfamiliar with Second Life, so the VRazeTheBar team have utilised Second Life Experience keys to establish easy, HUD-based teleporting. Arrivals within the regions will receive an invite to join the experience and receive the HUD, which will be auto-removed when they leave / log-off, as per any other experience, and replaced automatically on their return.

Part of the VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience: a part of the Sci-Fi area (the “Inara Pyramid”! – no, nothing to do with me, rather part of a link to the TV series Firefly

As I noted last time around, attendance at the event requires registration through the Gen Con website – and this includes Second Life users. Registration is mostly free, although there is a nominal US $2.00 fee for some special events, mandated as a part of Gen Con Online’s registration requirements. Whilst visiting VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience, attendees will have the opportunity of picking up an in-world Gen Con tee shirt, a backpack and other goodies.

I’ll have a further update on things, including details of the opening event and the special guest who will be attending ahead of the opening next week. In the meantime, once again my thanks to Alesia and Ron for their time and attention.

However, if you’d like to learn more before then, tune-in to Lab Gab at 11:00am SLT on Friday, July 24rh, when Strawberry Linden will be chatting to Alesia and Ron – read more here. Or, if you prefer, hop over the the Welcome Centre!

Links and SLurl