I’m Eleven

No not the girl from stranger things, though with a shaved head my avatar does look a lot like her. No, i mean of course that my Second Life Avatar is now eleven years old after celebrating his 11th Rez Day. 

From last year my avatar has not changed much at all. Usually i add one or two improvements but this year i haven’t changed anything. I did test the new Bento avatar features, but decided to wait until the tools are truly finished before staring on a new mesh avatar, plus im locked out of the Beta Grid.


So what else has been going on?

Well we are not in Sansar yet, which is what i predicted on my last rez day. Instead i put all my efforts into Second Life content starting with my clothes which i made compatible with more kid avatars. I also rebuilt my store before redeveloping the Goodocks Pirate area on Escapades Island. I still have yet to rebuild some other Sculpty builds on Escapades, perhaps in 2017 i’ll get round to it.

In April i started work on Echtra for Fantasy Faire which i really enjoyed doing, that was followed up quickly with SL13B Dungeons and Nightmares experience.

It was in May that i changed permanently from using the official Second Life Viewer to Firestorm due to corrupt old system prefs that lead to me changing the name of my hard drive, which lead to Cache issues. At the same time some bugs were uncovered in the official mac viewer that caused a massive delay in texture picker opening and moving objects on screen. This lead to me needing to log into beta grid to test out a reorganised texture folder, but found i can’t log into the Beta grid… and thats where we currently are in that tale. I’ve got used to Firestorm now though, not the user interface, i’m used to the higher frame rate. When ever i log in using the official mac viewer i instantly realise and go ‘Oops, wrong viewer again’.

As i head into my 12th year in SL i wish i could do more stuff faster, but I’ve hit the technical limits so many times now that i’m kind of starting to sit back and relax. The New Babbage Chronicles will take up most of my time for the next 6 months and the Bento avatar i hope to play with in the new year. If Sansar turns out to be super simple to use maybe ill find time for that too, but i need a new computer first which might get announced this week XD.

So heres to another year in Virtual Worlds! 🙂


What if reality has replicated what we experienced in Second Life six years ago?

What if the boundaries separating the physical world and cyberspace have became so blurred that griefers, trolls and ‘drama of the individualised self’ has projected back into reality?

What did Second Life residents do when faced with trolling hate and grey goo (self replicating objects)? They put up ban lines and sought more controls to manage people on their land. Some users started Abuse Reporting other people for mildly irritating issues.

What happened relatively recently in reality when extremists and haters randomly started dealing out abuse, death and carnage? People sought to close boarders and get more control on managing people. Ok, i’ve  generalised the worlds extremist issues, and i can’t really compare digital trolling with murder.

Maybe Second Life as it is now is a glimpse of realities future? The users all know Second Life has the ability to be open and free yet most choose to lock down their places or only let those vetted to have the privilege of rezzing stuff, while curiously celebrating how creatively free and open Second Life is.

Perhaps Sansar will represent a future world where the choice to be free is removed completely, instead given only to those privileged?



What i want from #VR Software phase

Zuckerberg announced at Connect3 that the next phase of VR is software. 

I am interested in seeing what developers come up with although i found Oculus demos of legless avatars sharing spaces together not all that inspiring. You will have to forgive me for not finding it exciting and new. You are welcome to dismiss my virtual worldisms due to me being a user of a flat screen based Virtual World, but i to am enthusiastic about what immersive VR will do. I’m just aware that some of what is being touted as ‘break throughs’ are actually simply old virtual world paradigms but with goggles on, and i find that rather boring. Just yesterday i read a techcrunch article headline ‘Facebook invents “Virtual Reality Emoji” gestures’ , the function for which seemed no different from the animated gestures i’ve been using in Second Life for 10 years to help convey emotion to others in virtual space.

There were some concepts i was enthusiastic about, for example Oculus Rooms. Your personal VR space from which to receive guests, choose games and other VR media to experience. I mainly liked this demo as it hinted the start of moving away from the 2D menu UI, although menus still did appear to select other experiences.



A 2D UI of buttons and lists is a good way to navigate currently in Second Life because your experience is viewing a display, but in an immersive VR virtual world i’d like to hope that we’ll move away from lists and overlays. I’d like to imagine a day when going into VR is similar to going into your own thoughts. I’d like spaces , experiences or places to be things i can pick up in my own personal space, stored on a shelf like a collection of old toys or ornaments. My favourite games represented by something specific to that game, such as a statue or a hat, maybe wearing the hat takes me to the game. Or a place created and shared with friends, represented by a simple rock, but that rock brings to mind the memories of experiences I’ve already had there with friends. This is the kind of stuff i want to see being explored, that stuff excites me about VR because that for me its the next step.


#VR is as much about hardware as it is software.

I’ve heard a lot in the past few years how the future is all about the software, it’s the era of the app. But in the worlds of VR it’s still very much about the Hardware.

Within the virtual realms of Second Life i remember a few attempts to expand the experience via hardware. The most successful for me was the 3D space navigator mouse without which i find Second Lifes navigation cumbersome and i panic. Other hardware experiments were the Xbox Kinnect, 3d cameras and more recently leapmotion and even the oculus rift. But these experience never made it into the official viewer.

I do wonder how Project Sansar will tackle the topic of VR hardware though. For VR to immerse you there is a lot of different types of hardware on offer. The most obvious being the goggles, but there is also lots of work being made on gloves to experience touch, mocap suits to transport your real movements into VR. Cameras that transpose your facial expressions and spacial sensory devices to track you in a room. There is bound to be more as this technology space is explored with furious capitalist incentives.


Manaus VR Gloves, just one of the many trying to add touch to your VR experience

I imagine its easier just to make a game for one of the three main VR platforms, OculusVR, SteamVR and PlayStationVR, rather than make your own VR Platform? and as a creator i’d expect these VR start ups making gloves to supply SDKs that can be used in Unity and Unreal game engines to take advantage of the new ideas. But i doubt you’d be allowed to do that with Project Sansar.

So what will Project Sansar be? is it to be another VR Platform? How will Linden Lab tackle the continuously growing VR peripherals industry with Sansar? Will they be the first to try support everything or wait years for the one VR glove to rule them all to emerge?


Painting the Stranger Escapades Poster

Some might find this of interest, so thought i would share some steps in the process i used to create the Stranger Escapades Poster.

It was inspired by Kyle Lambert‘s Drew Struzan style poster to the tv show Stranger Things that i am quite obviously crazy about at the moment.


While Kyle didn’t use iPad Pro exclusively to create his poster, i wanted to see if i could do my own poster for the Escapades Anniversary weekend just using Procreate with Apple Pencil. The Poster would feature my closest Second Life friends in front of recognisable landmarks from the virtual world Island of adventure in Second Life.

Composition planning stage

Composition planning stage


Penciling in over blue sketched work


More pencilling, you can see sometimes i don’t follow my original sketch


After blocking in colours i then start blendshading. To a 3D artists this is like baking ambient occlusion.


Adding the background which will define how the whole thing comes together.


Finally, i cheat by adding water colour and paint splatter texture layers to emulate a Struzan painting style. Also start adding highlighting.

It was fun seeing what i could do with Procreate on iPad Pro, and while i tried to emulate Drew Struzan, my own style unfortunately still shines through. But in some ways thats fine 🙂 I still am amazed at how well the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil combines what’s swift and simple about drawing/painting on paper with the powerful tools of digital picture editing.


Final Poster