#LL Destination Guide hides hidden underground base #SL

Mesh clothes selling well, it’s been a long time coming but I’m sailing Linden Labs economic system and appear to be doing a rather spiffing job of it at the moment.
i am pleased with the outcome and it has boosted my confidence in Second Life..
Thats more than can be said about my in world experience project. I wrote maybe a month ago about how initially my Underground Adventure seemed to be working swimmingly. I had noted also that the visitors suddenly dropped off. Now I’m lucky to get one visitor a day to a place that is listed on the destination guide. And The underground base is not the only one as The John King experience is also listed on the destination guide. Yet Rickety Town centre is still getting an average 30 visitors a day which utterly vexes me. For starters rickety Town is listed as a general non specific destination unlike the other two which are dedicated experiences. Why do people decide more over to visit a place that does not specify an activity over ones that do?
Also Rickety Town is only has 23 Facebook Likes compared to Underground Bases 105, and John Kings 92 likes.
So what gives? why are my two experience based destinations loosing out to the general non specific destination?
Truth is i do not know, i only have assumptions at the time.
Assumption 1: Rickety Town is the first of the 3 destinations you will come across.
Rickety Town appears on the first page of the ‘Adventure & Fantasy’ page. It could simply be a case of laziness to read through the list. The Adventure base is on the first page of the ‘Games’ section which is right at the bottom of the destination guides list.
Assumption 2: People use the built in Destination guide.
By this i mean the Login screens destination guide or the Basic viewer version of destination guide which you will notice does not list the ‘Games’ category at all. So thats hidden my hidden Underground Base game from a large majority of users. My advice is now to make sure you submit your destination to a category that is listed in all versions of the destination guide.
Assumption 3: People like to visit places without knowing what they want to do.
Well in this case maybe i can do something. I could perhaps redevelop Rickety Town centre to better offer the other two destination experiences. Maybe i can heard Rickety Town visitors to the other places.
What ever the cause is for the visitor drop offs, i need to find away to improve it if i am ever to rely on visitors for help in combating the high priced Linden Lab monthly maintenance tier.
Perhaps LL could look at SL destinations and value them as much as they do Marketplace products. Market place products get extras to help promote items, they get buttons to tweet, plunk or facebook items. It’s about time Land owners, in world places got some serious tools for promoting their places?

i realise that perhaps i should maybe look into how to improve things on in world search. There is a challenge here to improve visitors and so let the games begin!.

I have been searching and searching the deep recesses of google sphere and found and interesting blog post on ‘Living in the modem world‘ with highlights of the SLCC keynote from Linden Lab staff about Destination guide. At the bottom is a video and also a slideshow. The team seemed quite focused on helping destinations get out there. Perhaps all i have to do is wait?

The slideshow shows top 10 categories for both on the SL website and inside the viewer.

Mesh & freedom to choose: How mesh is just another choice in #SecondLife ever changing culture #SL

Nat loves his mesh clothes
Some people like mesh clothes because they like how it fits them.
Some do not like mesh cloths because they have not found an item they like yet.
Some like to poke fun at others by pretending to wear mesh clothes but instead are wearing textured prim spheres, and watch and giggle as their friends relog 100 times :-p.
Fact is some people will love Mesh Clothes, and others will not, just like any clothes in SL. There is NO set way of creating and selling any clothes in SL, its a free open environment. There are some favoured ways for designers to create, but it is not a standard.
Mesh clothes, the designs, how they may fit and what sorts of people they may fit is no different from any other types of clothing. If you have a Horse avatar, your going to have a hard time finding a dress that fits. Like wise if you are a child Avatar not every piece of pre-mesh era clothing is going to magically fit and not every item will be modifiable.
Mesh clothing is just another addition to the ever evolving choices in Second Life, and as for SL’s culture, since when has that ever stayed static?

Fantasising about a Second Life Ecosystem #SL

Taking a break from my mesh clothing to write about one of my other favourite subjects ‘Second Life’s Future’. This has become such a fun subject since Rodvik arrived on the scene. 
It was said that Linden Lab would be looking hard into getting on the mobile market. Just how they may plan to do this is fun to speculate.
I’ve already had a go at conceptualising a mobile app for SL. I think it’s generally accepted that you can not have the full SL Grid experience on an Tablet or Smart Phone. A year or so ago i wrote somewhere that if LL were going to do a mobile version of SL then it would need to think outside the SL box and focus on something related to SL that benefits its users.
The Avatar is most important.
Especially now as we head towards a Multi-situated Second Life. What i mean is that right now we have our beloved avatars which we create, learn to customise and grow to cherish, but we are stuck on the Main Grid. If we look at SL another way we could separate the Market place and avatar customisation from the exploring of the Main Grid and list them as two different situations of Second Life. Now we also have the SL Social profiles which are pretty much a third Second Life Situation. Looking at SL this way makes it easier to envision new Second Life situations such as mobile apps.
There have been recent announcements such as ‘Shaker‘ that claim to be like Second Life (but is not), allowing people on Facebook to enter a 3D immersive chatroom bar (more like IMVU perhaps) and discover new Facebook friends while meeting up with same old friends. While i probably won’t use such a thing, i can’t help but wish i could with my SL avatar. And this is where my mind exploded.
Linden Lab could be growing a social pseudonym creative user content driven gaming ecosystem!!!!!! 
The SL Ecosystem
An ecosystem where people can casually engage in socialising in a way thats alternative to Facebook and Google+, using mobile apps that allow you to select an avatar, hook up with friends, perhaps invite friends from Facebook or google via an SL integrated app similar to IMVU or even the much hyped Shaker. This SL social app would not be recognised as having anything to do with the Main Grid or the virtual land of SL, it’s soul purpose would be to gather users and get them socialising in a stand alone situation. 
Maybe these SL mobile social apps can display your actual SL avatar. It would be great if through the social app people could accessories their avatar in app, but I’ve not drank enough coffee yet for my brain to figure how that might be possible given the erratic nature of SL clothing. They would have to categorise items for avatar wearing only and sort our inventory or something major. But marketplace is a part of the SL ecosystem, and maybe SL Social Users can be encouraged to login world, maybe to special customisation areas created specifically for people to customise their avatars for displaying in their SL Social App.
As a stand alone Social Network, how appealing
is SL to people? Could it stand up to the likes of Facebook & Google+,
or would it need to implament Facebook api’s allowing Facebook accounts to
create SL avatars in some way?
The Next area in the SL Ecosystem is the destination guide, it is SUCH an important part of SL i find. Hopefully LL will see sense and start integrating SL guide with SL social profile feeds instead of Facebook. Suddenly we will have a Social feature geared towards sharing ‘loves’ of destination guide pages that will encourage SL Social App users to ‘Get In’ more and explore the other SL Situation ‘The Main Grid’ 
I start to wonder how important the main grid is to casual social users. What do people really think when they get in world? what will people who join SL just to socialise ala Facebook style think of entering a 3D world with their avatar? Is it now simply a large expensive sandbox for creating content? I actually absolutely understand the value of in world immersive spaces, but i’ll be dammed if i can explain it to a new Grid Walker. You either get it or you don’t, but by this time they will already be using SL to socialise wether they enter grid or not. WINNING!
Last but not least you have the content creation situation, and by jove it is VAST. From clothes design, to moving vehicles, roleplaying experiences, gaming and conceptualisation experiments, it’s a 3D creative platform like no other and anyone can access it. As a content creator myself i have found myself starting off with no 3D modelling experience at all, starting with the basics of Primative construction, levelling up to Sculpty Prims before finally ending up working with mesh and understanding Pro 3D modelling terms. Did the SL community teach me how to do 3D modelling, or did it merely encourage me, and which is more important? Market place allows user generated content to be sold for micro payments and it’s possible to charge people to take part in in world experiences. To me this is akin to in game payments on iOS games or Facebook games.
New type of SL content?
recent rumour suggested that LL might be looking into text based user generated gaming. That is so vague to the point of WTF?!?11 but it did make me think, if LL can’t offer your typical SL grid generated 3D content within a Mobile App, perhaps they will work on a new type of content for its dedicated content creators to share or sell on an SL mobile app.
I’d like to think in future my Loki Avatar will leave the grid and given opportunities to socialise and have fun in other forms such as mobile. XD

Escapades Island Anniversary Weekend – 1 whole year of adventure #SL

It has now been a full year since we upgraded Goony Island homestead to Escapades Island full region. And what a year it has been.  To start with we have never had all the plots rented on the island but thanks to the kind passionate followers we have always somehow met the tier costs.

It was touch and go at various points with so many of us having unexpected troubles real world to deal with loved ones and economy. It makes the Island and what it represents for those proud few who through it all find comfort with each other on Escapades. Thank you all those who comforted me and encouraged me.

Anyway, to celebrate Escapades First whole year on the ever changing grid we had 3 days of spiffing events and here are the highlights 🙂

Day One

The Mad Hatters Tea Party.
Kicking off the weekend was a magical Tea Party where everyone came suitably dressed with Crazy Hats

The Tea Party takes place on a floating platform
with spinning clocks and blocks floating above…
Definitely MAD
Nat shows off the latest in Mesh Clothing
Goony Adventure to the Wastelands.
Next the Goonies Gathered at the Club House to go on a special Anniversary Adventure. Originally it had been planned to go visit the Sunrise Region the original sim island that the Goonies was founded on 5 years ago. Unfortunately i discovered it had since been turned into a GOR RP sim, so no chance of us Virtual Kids going there!!
Instead we went to Wastelands
The Goonies kit up for a desert adventure
Boarding the Icarus we venture across the swamps…
Back on land we pull out our buggies and… erm.. ride on lawnmowers
Everest drives into a hole much to the dismay or Christan
Wastelands is full of little surprises to explore!
Deep in the canyon the Goonies rope together some rafts
Then when it’s time to go we inflate a hot air balloon to fly us out and back home.
Goonies Late Night Movie Night
After such a long day some of us then gathered in Everests basement to watch the classic Labyrinth on a big screen. Watching it and chatting to my friends about the moments we were watching i realised, you can’t do that on faceboook. Socialising experience on the net.
Day Two

Escapades Got Talent
Day two saw Gadget, Yti, Nat and Old Mr Doomdale take up the roles of judges as residents of Second Life performed, games, dancing, tricks, singing and telling jokes. gadget and Nat were very fair in their reviewing of the performances, as was Yti once she could stop laughing at Mr Doomsdale. Hopefully no one was too hurt by Mr Doomdales blunt scathing reviews. Also i think there was a mix up between interloper and antelopes.
Judges Listen to Yti’s performance
Mr Doomdale shuffles uncomfortably on the spot
Onlookers watch the show’s antics unfold
Felix demonstrates his amazing mind controlling abilities
on Loki by making him dance in sync!
Felix shows amazing drawing talent
Tepic plays the flute
Rai and Myrtil watch with interest and amazement (they really do!)
Goony Beach Party
After the Talent Show it was straight over to Hawkins Bay for the Goony Beach party where members of the gang discussed many topics, mostly Mesh and how no one  could not see Nat’s amazing new Mesh Clothes. Gadget Played the first hour while Loki stepped up to play music in the second our.

Battle in the Sky
Right near the end of the Beach Party an object fell from the sky. Closer inspection revealed it to be a broken Search Droid commonly used by the Evil Grand Master to locate things he wants to steal.
The Goonies rewired the Droid to discover a message. “Last Pirate Robot located, send Lizard men, Cubes and Giant worms to retrieve it!’
Well soon the Gang was aboard the Icarus Airship and heading up to the famous abandoned floating Sky Platform, home of the Pirate Robot. Upon arriving the Goonies were met by a massive hoard of Gelatinous Cubes and other monsters ready to do battle…
Tepic fends off a gruesome lizard man
JImmy and Myrtil stand their ground to protect the Robot Pirate
Nat battles a Giant worm!
Christian searches the woods for left over Gelatinous Cubes
Day Three

Escapades Treasure Hunt
A Treasure Chest appeared on the stage at Rickety Town Centre. Inside was part of a map and clue to find the next part. Each leading closer to the actual Treasure.
Pirate Party at the John King Tavern
Pirates, Privateers, Highway Men, Scum, Villanry and Unicorns all turned up at the Famous John King Tavern for a Pirate Themed party. It did not take long at all though before it turned into a massive Tavern Brawl.
The Tavern is packed with scum and Villans
Lot of people got knocked out by flying chairs
Pirate Ship to Ship Battle
It started off as an attempt to have Island to Island ship to ship battles, but Alfehm Island is only an openspaces sim and does not have enough spare for two pirate ships to sail through it. So the battle was confined to the edges of Escapades Island, unless you think like Terry Gilliam then the ships can sail over land and through trees.
Nat took some excellent pictures of the Ship to Ship chasing.
Gadget and nat watch in puzzlement as Loki’s ship heads inland through trees.
So the weekend of events is finally over. I hope everyone enjoyed the events and went away with some fun memories of the weekend. It’s been a hard year, but there has been a lot of fun had, just look at the past blog posts and you will see that not only is Second Life improving but we are also continuing to think up new fun stuff to do and experience!
Here is to year two of Escapades island of Adventure!

Return of the Loki Kid Avatar Clothing range – #SLMesh #SL

When i first arrived in SL i made my name like others by opening a shop with t-shirt designs. 
Back then i was one of only a few designing clothes and accessories for Boy Avatars, niche market at the time.

Since then the Kid Avatar market flooded, and the in world shopping Market has died and i have moved onto other much harder projects. 🙂

But with the arrival of MESH i see an opportunity again for a niche market in Kid Avatar clothing, or clothing in general.

One of the things i hated most about making clothes, especially for Kid Avatars was how the ‘Avatar mesh’ would scrunch and deform making clothing pretty scrunchy and unclear. I became frustrated at doing nice designs on t-Shirts only to see them ruined when finally worn by a small avatar.

Mesh has removed this issue and I’m excited at the prospect of finally creating nice clear t-Shirts, Jeans and what ever else i decide. Gone also are the annoying fat chests and spiky shoulder blades that were the bane of many Child Avatars, because you can make a mesh shirt the slim shape you want and hide the ugly avatar mesh with an Alpha Layer.

I used Phoenix Viewer to download my Avatars shape and imported into blender,
this greatly improved fitting of mesh clothing.
you can import a mesh object into photoshop easy in order to texture it.

Another benefit of Mesh Clothing is rigging and Weighting. This means you can make the clothing move with the movement of your avatar. A pair of jeans will bend at the knee. The Shirt Sleeves will bend with the arm. It means we get more realistic natural looking clothing options.

The Shirt, Jeans and Backpack are all less than 1 prim each
making your avatar easier for your computer to render and
the sim to maintain. This is how lag will hopefully reduce in future.

A really fun experiment was with the backpack. The backpack is rigged to move with your avatars back, so you don’t get the pack sticking out when you bend forward and the straps are modelled to fit snugly on the shoulders.

Below is a video example. I hope to start selling a new Range of Clothes in my store and on marketplace very soon.

The drawback of course is that you can only see Mesh with the Official LL Viewer3. So until the Third Party Viewers get mesh many of my long time friends will only see me as a blob.

Also i’ll say that making Mesh clothing has been the hardest of the new Mesh features to grasp. It’s easy to create and rig a whole avatar costume, but to create single items of clothing that can be worn in conjunction with each other was a real difficult mind numbing endeavour. Weighting the 3D models so that they did not poke through each other is probably and impossible task.

TIP: Thanks to my friend Nat who helped me test the clothes, clothes designers need to make different clothes for the different Avatar genders. This is because they are different, especially in the Shoulder regions. A shirt on a male avatar that rests well on the shoulders will appear high up above the shoulders on a female avatar. So you need to first adjust the clothing to fit a male avatar shape, then adjust a second shirt for a female shape.