SL13B: Shared Adventure into Knightmare

On Sunday 12pm slt the doors open for the Second Life community to flood the SL13B regions celebrating thirteen years of the virtual world platform. After Fantasy Faire i chose to make something small… that didn’t go to plan.

Shared Adventures

My exhibit this year focuses on my group of friends in Second Life called the SL Goonies. The group was founded back in 2005 to recapture the nostalgia of childhood adventures, celebrating the spirit of the classic 80s movie ‘The Goonies’ and other magical memories of childhood. The SL13B theme this year is ‘Shared Adventures’ and for the first time i think my exhibit captures the spirit of the theme more than any previous year.

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Dungeons & Knightmares

At SL13B i invite you to try and master the Dungeons under the castle ruins, solving riddles and navigating passages to reach the Crystal at the centre of the dungeon. There is one catch… you can not do it alone. This is an adventure to be shared and so you must bring a friend with you to help each other. There are also guides that will give guidance along the way.

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SL Experience

The exhibit uses the Second Life Experience tools to make a seamless flowing adventure which starts at the entrance tot he dungeon at the top of the ruined castle. Simply click the sign to don the Helmet of justice then enter the doorway.

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TIME TO PARTY!

I hope everyone finds time to check out the adventure and all the many other exhibits at this years SLB community festival. This will be the last Second Life Birthday celebration before Project Sansar appears on the scene and while many scramble over all the new shiny Virtual Reality hype, it’s still nice to see so many groups with so much energy still put into Second Life after 13 years.

Happy Birthday Second Life!

What Second Life means to Loki

Linden Lab invited the users of Second Life to come up with short videos based around the theme ‘What Second Life means to me’

Drax was all like ‘You totally gotta do this’ and i was like ‘ I’m totally to busy making the SL12B exhibit!’. Well now the exhibit is done andSL12B is almost over, i found some time to make a quick video. Created from clips from the past few years and some taken at Sl12B i arranged a little video with a few words on thoughts about why i joined SL and why I’m still there.

Thanks everyone who supports and inspires me and loves all the crazy stuff i do, you are all awesome!

What Second Life means to me – Loki Eliot from Loki Eliot on Vimeo.

Check out other great ‘What Second Life means to me’ videos at the official forum.

Return to Childhood Dreams at #SL12B

This weekend see’s the opening of the annual community led anniversary of all things Second Life. Each year i try and do better than before in showing whats possible do do in SL and each year there is one or two people who say something like “I remember the Childhood Dreams Dome.”

It all started when….
In 2008 i set about building something new for SL5B. It was a collaboration with friends of the Chid Avatar Community to build a large interactive story book. The hope being that it would enlighten people to what the child avatar community was all about.

But a certain american congressman had scared Linden Lab with threats of shutting Second Life down unless SL had better safeguards for real children. Somehow this caused a bizarre situation where i was told i would not be able to take part at SL5B as a child avatar for the child avatars.

“So… they’ve asked me to break it to you that you kids can’t have an exhibit there. and it’s really kills me cause I think you’re realy cool”

Well it all flaired up into massive drama and lots of people complained and Linden Lab did a U-Turn eventually allowing me to do my exhibit as long as i changed the name from Slumberland to Childhood Dreams. The exhibit was well received and many of my friends today remember the exhibit with great fondness.

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Returning to the Dreams Dome
For SL12B i decided to bring back the Childhood Dreams Dome in part because many new friends never got a chance to see it, and also because i was interested to see how i would tackle the project now that i can use Mesh, better scripting and Experience Tools.

Before you simply read and clicked signs to get the story. This time story pops up as you walk around, so there is no clicking needed.

As for rebuilding all the models in mesh rather than prims, some stuff is more detailed and how i originally envisioned them to be. Other stuff is pretty much the same as it was since i didn’t want it to be to different from the original. While the build does not push the limits of Second Life content creation, the new Experience Tools allows the story to take centre stage.

Anyways i hope everyone who visits has a great time. Happy 12th Anniversary Second Life and i look forward to the coming years as there is still plenty to explore and do there.

Visit the Childhood Dreams Dome HD when SL12B opens on sunday 21st June!

Video also on Daily Motion

Second Life, turned up to 11

Since SL10B things have been interesting in that there has been a real focus shift towards Virtual Reality and new platforms,  although it kinda feels Second Life got reluctantly pushed amongst the hip VR crowd… anyways screw all that Oculus VR rubbish. 

It wasn’t until i started playing around with High Fidelity that i realised just how much we take for granted stuff like the mesh importer, the chat set up, the sense of scale and presence in virtual space, Inventory,  how simple SL actually is for what it does and provides. I think as other platforms finally rise, we will suddenly be a lot more appreciative of what those who worked on Second Life achieved… if not, then we should.

As we party into SL11B I’m cautiously optimistic but also incredibly upbeat about whats now possible in SL. In the past few weeks we finally saw an end to project sunshine, which to be honest i can’t tell if its improved things or not since like everything the lab does it was a gradual thing that i never really noticed. I still crash in busy places, and while Avatar faces and skin loads super fast, their mesh clothes seem to have increasing difficulty. But things have improved and you can see this when looking back at old videos.

 

Building, turned up to 11

This time last year the materials feature was just out, and since then i’ve got to grips with Normal Maps and Specular maps, all of these things i knew nothing about until it was added to SL and it really has taken everything i build up a notch. Combing Material mapping, mesh modelling, Alpha masking and Lighting can produce truly amazing results that were never possible before.

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Since SL10B the Material Mapping feature has allowed me to create spaces with incredible atmosphere.

 

Clothing, turned up to 11

I hate fitted Mesh, well… i mean… i hate that i haven’t quite figured it out yet. The Lab didn’t just add mesh import, they designed an interface for importing mesh with lots of considered options with previews. Fitted Mesh is sort of a hack job slapped on, you can’t even preview the fitted aspects of your creations, you just upload and cry as you end up spiky to infinity.

My experience with fitted mesh is a combination of Experimental Avastar, beta Blender and Original Mesh Avatars, so i basically made it as hard as i possibly could to start with. But my first Mesh Avatar is partially fitted which for now is enough for what i want to do and I’m sure by Sl12B Avastar and fitted mesh will mature.

The Combination of Fitted Mesh, Materials and Alpha Masking is also allowing for some fantastic effects and surfaces on clothing to rival AAA games. I’m also considering a step backwards for my clothes. I’m increasingly aware now that not everyone is comfortable being on the bleeding edge of whats possible in SL, so while i work on a mesh avatar with accompanying clothing, i will also make clothing more tuned for use with old default avatars.

I think we are at a point now where Mesh Avatars will really start taking off, and perhaps we’ll see a competitive battle for users and supporters while working around the limitations of the base avatars everything is built on.

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Other than loosing quite a bit of weight, my avatar is starting o look increasingly detailed thanks again to material mapping, making pictures from 2007 look 2D rather than 3D.

 

Experiences , turned up to 11

Im still waiting for the Experience Tools being released. I’ve read a few blogs recently saying Linden Lab will announce a Beta next month, but i simply don’t believe that, it’s all just an elaborate tease as they know how much i want the experience tools.

If it was true, i would be able to Ask you for permission to be god when you arrive at Escapades Island, then i could attach a HUD to you that would give you a stick and a mission to complete and off you go. Meet a troll who asks you a question, get the question wrong and i can animate you as you are swallowed by the troll and teleported inside the trolls tummy where you meet a Goblin who asks you to help him escaped the troll.

It’s all a combination of HUD story telling, teleporting, attachments and animating all of which i can can do now, just need to assign all the parts to ONE experience which you can give permission to. Really it’s all a matter of trust, will you trust a boy called Loki to animate, teleport and attach things to you :-p

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There are some amazing experiences in Second Life already , the Experience Permissions will simply make them easier and more immersive to use. If you haven’t tried this epic viking ride at Folkvang at Lexicolo region, check it out!

 

Ignoring the VR Hype, turned up to 11

So regardless of the news of SecondSecondLife, HyFy, FaceBookWorld, Oculus and born again VR evangelists, Second life this year is emerging from its dark ages into a time of enlightenment. More stability and the maturing of features & tools are allowing us to create some stunning works and new experiences.  I don’t want to speculate about how awesome things will be in future, things are already awesome, and getting better each day… or each month at least. In regards to how Linden Lab will compete with other platforms, the other platforms don’t have us users backing them… did i say backing, i meant standing behind the Lab with sticks shouting “FIX THIS , FIX THAT, WHY DID YOU ADD USERNAMES!????”

Anyways, Happy 11th anniversary Second Life, it’s changed how i view the world and the infinite variety of people living on it and allowed me to share my dreams in so many creative ways.

 

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SL10B – Aftermath

First a big thank you to all the volunteers who brought SL10B together, a marvellous job. Sim performance seemed better than ever before due in part to the great shared knowledge of the organisers and the Exhibitors. On the opening day i hardly experienced any lag and was kind of disappointed that i would not experience any matrix moments.

I unfortunately did not get to see everyones exhibits this year and i only managed to film tiny moments from two of the main stages due to ongoing problems currently with the Viewer. The live shows gave me that great festival feeling that only avatar presence can get from the interwebs. Having Lindimoo beautifully sing and dedicate Puff the Magic Dragon to my Behemoth Project was a highlight.

There was a bit of drama over some exhibits appearing to be ‘blatant’ adverts for SL Business. Now I’m more forgiving as long as their presentation is a nice example of whats possible in SL. In a way we are all advertising what we do, some are just more subtle than others. I did notice for the first time quite a few exhibits that were either exactly the same as last year or changed a little bit from last year. I don’t know whether the exhibitors had no time to do anything original or were simply lazy, but as a visitor seeing something you saw last year gave an impression of no progress. I tended to think ‘hmm saw that last year, so i don’t need to see it again’. It’s got to a point where some commentators are calling for the Volunteer Organisers to be more strict in future, but i feels thats going to far.

The message about repeat exhibits should be aimed at the exhibitors, and if they want to persist in boring the visitors with the same thing every year then its their call.

Exhibits aside i was truly amazed at the stages this year. Their is something very glastonbury about how they take on a theme of their own and add to the magic of the event. You can look back and say ‘remember that stage that was on the back of a giant turtle when listening to live acoustic shows, and the dance stage under the rocket in a an old power station  chimney.

 

 

The Behemoth

I set out to make something never before seen in Second Life that used every ounce of skills id learnt since last year and expressed my love for Linden Lab, the Second Life Platform and all thats inspired me in my life…. so nothing to hard this year :-p

Actually it was not to hard. Over the past year I’ve been slowly building up a series of scripting systems that would help me with story telling and interactivity. Ive been practising more and more with Blender and learning the tricks and workarounds to making efficient low land impact mesh. So when it came to SL10B there was nothing new to be learnt, i just had imagine it and then build it.

Thanks to Draxtor Despres i actually got quite a head start since it had been planned to feature the Behemoth on the Rod Humble Episode of the Drax Files. The distinctive animated look of the Behemoth unfortunately looked out of place from everything else seen in the episode so both Drax and i decided to cut it from the show.

Building the Behemoth was a test in balancing Landimpact, LOD and Size. All three effect each other, removing from one adds to another. On the final day of building i was looking for where i could shave land impact so that i could add pecking birds on the fountain. Took me half an hour to finally squeeze them in, so important they were to finishing off the whole look and feel.

I always aim to create HUDs that are as simple as possible to use. For the Behemoth i created the most simple HUD yet. Through Listen commands activated by touch the HUD hears a special keyword and moves a Mesh plane display up into your view showing a texture devoted to what ever you clicked. It also positions your camera view to focus on characters or views, then waits for your permission via clicking an arrow to move on to the next part of the story. This is the closest i think to how RPG games tell stories and was recognisable and easy to use for the majority of people who visited the behemoth. Of course there were some who still found issues with the HUD but they still enjoyed walking up the Behemoth.

The overall size of the Behemoth came in exactly on the parcels land impact allowance of 269. You maybe surprised to know that half of that was the cell shading black line effect used to make it look like a Studio Ghibli creation.

 

The People Love the Behemoth.

I got more feed back and comments about the Behemoth than any other SLB Exhibit and it’s really supercharged me for the year ahead. It’s really great to know so many are enjoying the things i create. Here are a few things people have said about the Behemoth.

“The Behemoth was the most fun I’ve had a a SL#B, what a clever and adorable metaphor. Back in 1995 I longed to see this very thing of the Internet, nicely done”

“someone’s seen labyrinth too much”

“The Behemoth is epic. Easily my favorite exhibit in SL10B. Please accept this complimentary jar of Awesomesauce.”

“I visited the Behemoth yesterday, fairy early on without too much lag. It was an incredible experience with a wonderful message. Thank you Loki for all your outstanding contributions to the ‘Behemoth’.”

“This is the exhibit I kept taking my friends to see. Well done”

“Love your build at sl10b it’s by far my favorite xD”

“i have just seen your exhibit at SL10 and it is fantastic!  I dont mean to sound like i am nitpicking, it’s really just a question – is it pronounced “be-oh-moth” or something else?

“when i look at his face, i think he should be called “George” or something haha :-)”

“I have just visit your build on SL10B and I loved it! Thank you for the lovely enjoyment! ^^”

“Hallo Loki, I just wanted to let you know that The Behemoth is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my five years on SL.  Thank you so much for your contributions to SL and I hope you keep up the awesome work, I’m really hoping to see so much more from you now. \> 3</”

Not only did i get great feedback i was delighted to see so many snapshots taken. It seems standing on top of the Behemoths head people could not resist taking a snapshot of themselves 🙂

The Behemoth maybe gone, probably for ever, but there is no shortage of ideas in my head and with the lab still to bring out new tools for easier interactivity there is plenty more to come from me. Thank you for your support, i love what i do thanks to all of you.