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SL Feed Me [UPDATED]

In January 2010 Linden Lab bought a little social website called Avatars United. Everyone i know flocked to it and started up little groups and sharing. By September 2010 Linden Lab closed down Avatars United and not long after…… the SL feed appeared.

I love the SL Feed but it always feels like it’s half way between being closed down by the Lab or being expanded to fully function with Second Life. If the current trend is anything to go by, i would not be surprised if the Lab decide to close SLfeed down now that we can export to third party services such as twitter and Facebork.

There is more support for posting Marketplace items on Twitter and Facebork than there is for Second Life’s own social network page, same goes for destination guide and i expect the same for Experiences once thats out.

I wonder what SLfeed is to Linden Lab? is it perhaps a legacy feature that’s crumbling in the wind of time, causing grumbles every time it acts up and stops posting peoples shared experiences of the grid.

I wonder what SLfeed is to the majority of Second Life’s users, most of who don’t even know the feed exists.

For me it’s still the main place i go if i want to see what my friends have been up to on the grid. It’s where each day i receive this or of a similar message.

“good day good afthermoon, good morning Loki”

 

UPDATE: It fells to me that by buying Avatars United, Linden Lab destroyed something that could have grown to be a pivotal service in the new VR Hype Cycle. Avatars United could have become a popular alternative to Facebook and other Anti-Anonymity services and a service of choice for new Virtual Worlds. Oh well :).

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The Making of my latest Machinima – Achievement

Im known for VR event documenting. I mostly film events that i organise or others organise and edit them into a narrative.

I used to do this with real world events as a hobby and found that documenting in VR owes a lot to real life. People assume because i film inside a computer world that it’s staged or planned, when in fact its all live, chaotic and usually luck that i capture what i do.

This week i made a new Machinima, but as you might have seen it is different to what i have produced in the past. It was a staged, planned video to help show off my new mesh avatar and clothes in a way that i hoped had never been seen in Second Life before.

When you hear the word ‘Machinima’ there is a tendency to think of a certain style, especially from Second Life. I wanted to try and blow that assumption up and do something that was created in Second Life but didn’t look like it was created using second life.

So what do you think, did i achieve my goal?

The Making of ‘Achievement’

I started with a simple idea in my head. I wanted the main character to battle a monster in a Saturday Morning Pokemon style cartoon. From there i sat down and wrote out a quick script and decided after hearing the Drax Radio hour to add a plot point about winning Achievements. Then i storyboarded the whole thing.

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The Storyboard

 

The Story board was very important as it helped visualise how many scenes and animations would be needed. Where scenes would be cut and the camera angles, plus where scripts would be needed for visual FX.

The main character was already available but i needed two others, the monster called ‘GARGHH’ and the annoying ‘Zeb’. Using Blender i created simplistic characters, textured with photoshop and rigged them with Avastar before importing to Second Life. I used a technique i learnt back in 2011 to create an effect known as ‘cell shading’ to produce black lines around 3D models to mimic 2D cartoons.

garrhh

 

zeb

Looking at the storyboard i worked out that i would need at least 20 poses or animations to express the story. I use poser 7 to quickly create animations and poses for import into Second Life.

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I’ve been using poser 7 for years to make animations for Second Life.

 

The actual filming took place in a 30m x 30m box carefully texturing it so that it appeared like a long path going off into the distance.

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Using my trickster skills i positioned the camera at points that made the landscape look much bigger than it was.

 

I was determined not to have any visual FX put on during post production. I wanted it so that all that you see was done within Second Life, not touched up afterwards. So to produce FX such as the ball flash and the monster exploding i scripted prims to change size and spin after hearing a chat command. I think this worked better than i expected.

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Finally i edited the recorded shots in Apple iMovie while adding soundFX and copyright free music. All in all it took me a solid days work to produce and I’m pretty pleased with the result. It looks quite unique and has an energetic punch. It is at least a proof of concept for using virtual worlds for quickly producing anime cartoons perhaps?

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[UPDATED] Exploring the future of my Avatars Shape – part 5 – Loki Avatars

testAlmost a year ago i started a project to make a mesh avatar. I actually finished my own Mesh Avatar around July/August of last year, but since then i have been trying to work out how to make a consumer version that allowed others to customise it easy as well as have clothes for it.

 

Not a classic.

I explored a lot of ways to make a mesh avatar and chose the controversial path of making an avatar that could not wear clothes made for classic SL avatars. It means those who choose to use my Avatar are limited in the choice of clothing. To help with this i’ve decided to create a clothing creation pack for Clothes designers who want to retrofit or build new clothes for the Loki Avatar.

 

Character

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The way i have decided to present the Loki Avatar is as characters. The Smallest Avatar is called the Lilkid, then you have the BigBro followed by The Anime character. I hope to add more characters with more subtle changes to their shapes in future. Some people have already asked for a more skinny kid, or a more muscular teen and since i never really managed to figure out wether fitted mesh was just a myth i will try and supply some variations to the characters in future.

[UPDATE]: The Loki Avatar is partially Fitted Mesh, but once i started shrinking down the classic base avatar, things got weird. Since it’s only partially fitted, such as hands and feet part of the belly i can’t really promote it as fitted mesh.

 

TOTALLY FREE

 

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I want users to have the opportunity to try the avatar and see if the system works for them, so all the Loki Avatars are available for FREE, FOR EVER.

 

SKNpods & paks.

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But of course if you want to be able to change the colour and textures of your Loki Avatar, then you will need to purchase the SKNpod. This unlocks premium customisation features.

 

The First Step.

This is just the beginning. The Loki Avatar is basically the consumer version of the mesh body i use for my own avatar and i will be constantly working to create new clothes and accessories while also striving to improve my own look. This then gets offered to all those who are using the Loki Avatar characters.

 

The Next Step.

The Loki Avatar has only been available for a week and already there is a list of improvements that will come later in the year, such as better more precise SKNpod features, New Characters and more. Future clothing planned are School uniforms, new Bib overalls and socks. There are also a few other kids clothing designers who have grabbed the Clothes Creations kit so look out for the Loki Avatar Logo.

 

Thanx.

I’d like to thank everyone who encouraged me in this the longest single project I’ve worked on so far in Second Life. To those who gave me honest feedback and to those who kept me going on the numerous occasions i wanted to bin the whole thing :-p. The Loki Avatar and the solutions i built for it will not be to everyones tastes, but to those who pick it up, figure it out and use it, i hope it helps you achieve and express your second Childhood here in virtual space.

If you’d like to learn more about the features of the Loki Avatar then head over to the official Loki Avatars Website

I’ll finish this post with a short Machinima i created using the Loki Avatar Anime character.

My latest clothes are more like toys :-) #SL

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Just before Christmas i released a new Hoody, Pyjamas and Snowpants as the start of my new V4 Clothing range. Since then i have been working hard on getting the T-Shirt and Jeans ready for release ahead of my Mesh Avatar project, and now they are.

I’m really pleased with the T-Shirts and Jeans and worked hard to get them to fit regular classic kid, women and also adult men avatars. Thanks to all those who helped model for my shaping. The main difference with these new Shirts and Jeans is you can click them for extra options.  They are no longer just simple clothes, they are in fact toys to be played with. The Jeans can be set to sag, the shirts can be set to be either long or short sleeved. Hoodies can be set to be zipped or unzipped, with hoods up or down. With material mapping the clothes are scripted to know when you are in water and change to appear wet before drying out in the sun.

As i make more clothes over the coming months i hope to create unique clothes that offer fun features that will enhance the fun in your Second Life. To see the new Clothing Features of the V4 Range in action watch the short video below :) then check out the FREE demos on Marketplace and see for yourself! – DEMO SHIRTDEMO JEANS.

 

Also for for those who have been long time Loki Mesh fans, i have set up an SLfeed Thread for people to list their favourite past T-Shirt designs. I will then ad them to the production list to be converted to the New V4 T-Shirts.

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What if Linden Lab did Hardware?

Its a question i’ve thought about a few times over the years because there is no shortage of examples where Hardware has tried to be part of Second Life.

Back in 2008, the days when Xbox Connect was all the giddy rage, there was a video of a Mitch Kapor showing research into plugging SL up to Kinect.

Experiments to get Leap Motion working with SL

And of course the new swanky VR Prophet Oculus.

In all these cases it’s been a matter of adding ‘Support’ to these devices. Usually the hardware hasn’t been able to find it’s feet and disappears or replaced by new ones. I’m often left with just a glimpse of their potential usage in Second Life.

What if Linden Lab had created a hardware devision when on the crest of the forgotten previous VR hype cycle could they have invented the Oculus, or the Leap Motion, or the Prio-VR suit? What things could they have developed to expand Second Life or incorporate with their New Thing?

1. Input device: A lot of sensor tech that works with hand gestures can be ‘WOW’ but when used in a Virtual Space, tend to be a bit ‘MEH’. This idea of moving your arm or hands out to move quickly becomes lame when your arm starts to ache. Actually most ideas like this turn out to be lame. I still can’t find a practice intuitive use for my Leap Motion.

2. Oculus Killer: Not 3Dhead. The thing with a lot of Oculus demos right now is they are simple spaces, bare minimum options. Thats not a bad thing since everything in a total 360 VR world has to be as simple and intuitive as possible. Eventually though you will be able to reach out and touch things in VR with preciseness and clarity, and at that point the complicated options such as building and customising and organising and reading will be comfortable. Maybe Linden Labs New Thing will do away with a lot of that info clutter, or maybe Linden Lab could make goggles similar to Microsoft’s hololens that augment the ‘New Thing’ beyond the monitor?

3. NFC Kit: Not everything Linden Lab does has to be about VR, What if Linden Lab released their own ‘Build Yourself Near field communication’ Kit. NFC chips are used in Skylander and Disney Infinity Toys where you can place them on a special stand and they appear in the video games on screen. Imagine being able to program your own chips that can be placed in personal objects that effect your Virtual Experience. Add a chip to your coffee mug so when you place it next to your computer your avatar also drinks coffee. Your real world self would have even more of a connection with your avatar and virtual space.