THE STATE OF PLAY

Experience Permissions are still not here. It’s got to the point where I’m talking to someone who does not use Second Life and I’m explaining what I’ve recently been doing with story telling and HUDS and RPG. They genuinely get excited and suggest ideas that I’ve obviously already thought about but cant implement due to the way SL works. In some cases i could do some of the gameplay elements suggested, but with the experience I’ve gained i’ve learnt that if things are to complex for me to understand then i should not use them.

It was also funny to hear at the mention of the ‘experience permissions’ , “what? That still not out? you was telling me about that years ago”, well yes i was.

I used to run Role Play events in Second Life, it is what got me noticed in New Babbage. That was all by accident really, thanx to Professor Nishi blogging about a painting on my wall that exploded into a four month long unplanned role-play story. Every year after that i did a story adding new story telling mechanics. By the time i did Dark Aether falls my story telling had become a complex system of HUDs, Machinima, clue hunting and monster bashing that had varying levels of accessibility for those new to SL and those who had been in New Babbage for years.

It all got rather complex though and i felt i had hit a limit with what was possible. I got to a point where things stared to break because i was out there pushing the limits. for example HUD embedded shared media video was at the mercy of wether the flash plugin worked with viewer. I found some TPV’s played shared media differently.

So i took break from running Role Play stories for a year, which has turned into two. In that time I’ve been looking at ways to create easy to implement and update story telling mechanics and its not been easy.

health

The Escapades Bashable Project allows you to bash items around the island to get prizes. The HUD’s health metre is reduced by some of the monsters that can be released while bashing.

STORY TELLING

My most successful experiments have been in RPG style HUD caption story telling common in Japanese RPG games. This basically has a HUD with all the story elements inside that hear a command from an object and display the appropriate info. Once you have the HUD on its very simple, the complexity comes from needing the User to attach the HUD and in having the HUD auto update which I’m hoping Experience Permissions will help address. In future i would like people to arrive somewhere agree to playing the game and have the HUD auto attach and detach depending which level they are and updated HUDs will be attached automatically. This would allow me to update and add new stories and character interaction without having to worry about sending everyone new HUDS and telling everyone to get the latest HUDs. Likewise players won’t have to dredge through inventory and make sure they have the latest version of the HUD.

HEALTH/DAMAGE

Another experiment I’ve been working on is Health and Damage. While i’m not really into player on player violence in Second Life i do believe in having consequences to actions and risks. Having a health metre brings to an experience a sense of wariness of ones actions. This does not have to be the Users health in an experience, it could be the health of a machine needed to complete a task. Linden Lab has a health system built into SL but it’s rather limited to land settings. With a HUD its basically a script that starts with the count 100 and every time you are hit or do something wrong that count is reduced until it reaches zero. This is fine for simple health, but if i want to start combining different types of effects that have varying abilities of damage things quickly become more and more complex.

LEVEL UP

Thirdly i’ve tried to get my head around scoring. Keeping scores is like Health and Damage but extremely complex for me and I’ve yet to fully work it out. People play my Bashables game on Escapades and suggest making a levelling up system, with better weapons and build up armour and XP points and I’m like ‘YIKES, HOLD ON!’.  It’s something i really need to sit down and work on as i would love to be able to create a system where if you break lots of barrels on escapees you get rewarded with level up “BARREL BREAKER” and then if you break enough barrels you can make a raft called the “BARREL BITS RAFT” which appears on your HUD as an object you can rez by clicking the HUD and sail around the island. Problem here is keeping track of all the different counts for all the different things and at the moment I’m a bit sceptical on wether this is possible since as soon as you reset the script everything you achieved would disappear.

The goals have always been about making interaction in SL as simple as possible for the user/player, but also to make is as simple and flexible as possible for me to build and expand story elements. There is no point me scripting a highly complex HUD only for me to have to rewrite the whole thing again because i wanted to add one extra character interaction.

Eventually i hope to have a system that i can quickly change and adapt to the unfolding Role play stories. A system that i don’t have to spend hours scripting, but can just copy paste and have autoupdated so that the players don’t notice it’s happened and i can concentrate on telling the stories i want to tell while those experiencing them are free to be immersed.

Still pushing Burning Barrels after 7 years

burn1

Two weeks ago i held the 7th Annual Burning Barrel race in New Babbage regions. New Babbage is a sooty smoggy dirty brassy collection of steampunk regions in Second Life. Notorious for its big laggy builds created by extremely creative mad professors its my second home in Second Life. I explore history and science fiction through creating and roleplaying there.

It’s a Steampunk town built by a collection of enthusiasts and when i first arrived seven years ago i wanted to do something that brought us all together socially and thats how the Burning Barrel Race began. The Race is based loosely on an old tradition from a small village in England called Hatherleigh where in the autumn they would light tar barrels and roll them down the hill street. These days health and safety and property insurance make such a thing impossible.

Since the first Barrel Race in New Babbage the event has grown and even featured on New World Notes. More people take part and as Second Life becomes more stable the event gets shorter because people are able to control their avatars and barrels better. It’s more of a marathon than a race. It’s the taking part and getting your barrel to the finish line thats important, not who comes first.

The other aspect of The Burning Barrel Race that i think makes New Babbage residents so excited about it every year is that after seven years, its become a tradition shared by those in the Babbage community of SL. A shared experience that gives a real sense of shared atmosphere and as more people join in the more i think about expanding the event to be longer and make a real evening pout of it.

This years Barrel Race almost did not get filmed due to My Sl viewer screwing up. Luckily the awesome SuperSuz came to the rescue and filmed some of it. So please enjoy the short video of this years Great Burning Barrel Race 2013 and come join in next years event!

THE WELL 2: Aftermath & Stats

Well_product_groperSo Halloween is now long gone and tv adverts are in full festive overkill leading up to Capitalist day. THE WELL experience will be up for two more weeks if you would like to check it out again and drag friends along with you.

While the well was received much better than last year, troubles with the destination guide had a dramatic effect on the amount of visitors it had. In a way this may have meant better experiences for those who visited but it does highlight an unfair aspect of discovery in SL.

Due to the ease of use this year compared to last year, visits seemed to convert into players a lot more even though the price for entrance was L$100 compared to L$20 last year.

Last year THE WELL had in comparison 5100 visits. This years THE WELL 2 reached just 1325 visits in the same time frame. This is possibly due to the rather rocky visibility on Destination guide.

I rushed through nights to get the experience done before Halloween night and achieved this. I then sent it to be ‘considered’ for the destinations guide. It took five days before it was finally added, unfortunately after Halloween, but by use of SLfeed, twitter and friends, there had already been some interest. By the time THE WELL2 was put in the DG visits had slowed to just 17 a day before shooting up to 67 then hitting this years record of 108 which is meagre compared to last years record of 556.

thewell2Stats

Chart showing the daily counts of people Visiting & Playing THE WELL

The problem was that even though it had been added to Destination Guide it had mysteriously been placed down in the rank of places under destinations that had already been on the DG for weeks. It only took a couple days before THE WELL dropped off the landing zone of the DG meaning you had to browse the categories to find it.

A week later the experience was moved from ‘Haunted’ to ‘Rides & Mazes’ where the visits dropped to that comparable with promoting just through SLfeed and Twitter. In fact in the last three days visits have risen to figures close to when it was first placed on the DG. The only thing i had done was re-announce via SLfeed and twitter that there was still two weeks before i remove the experience and release a new video promo.

The destination guide is a very powerful tool for bringing visitors to your destination or experience, but how its used to promote your destination is at the mercy of the editor. Some are saying THE WELL was unfairly demoted while other believe there simply is to much to be curated and promoted these days.

http://telly.com/1EM2UKG

I don’t think i will be doing another THE WELL next year. Thats not to say those who visited THE WELL didn’t have a great time, here are just a selection of quotes…

The experience was amazing and so much fun. I’ve never experienced anything like it in SL, great job!!! My only criticism is that the story wasn’t too clear, I didn’t understand the choices or rather, how to make the right choice. I’m looking to more fun experiences.

 

it was amazing lil hard at first However i had a good time it being my first time here hi5 to me giggles i sure did enjoyed it.

 

Design wise it was great, good use of normal and specular maps. However it was rather short, the sanity meter didnt see much use, as the little shadows move quite slowly. The story is rather confusing/non existing. All in all a nice little adventure with good visuals.

 

Loki I must admit your monster creeped me out.. again.. this year. As ii noticed it was not necesary to click the stuff for the experience, i disabled the UI (ctrl alt f1) witch made the game even more immersive!

 

Really enjoyed it I’d have to say I did not experience anything quite like it. I saw the extra textures and lighting, but while roaming the main hallways had to turn that off to keep my sanity. Two of the choices I was not quite sure why they were the correct ones. The voice acting was top notch as was the whole experience. Excellent job!

 

Just freaking amazing, Loki. You you outdid yourself again. Worth far more than the entrance fee just for the experience. Admittedly I had to keep turning off Advanced Lighting so I could walk like a sober person, but I’d turn it on when I was safe to see the amazing textures. At some point I gave up trying to memorize routes to get back to rooms. A few token way markers might be nice. Certainly a 9.99 out of 10 stars. Thanks, Loki!

As always i listen to what people say. How people react and experience THE WELL is as much interesting as learning how to script and build this stuff. Some people zipped through the caves in just minutes saying “dude this was to queasy and quick” while others ended up lost down there for hours saying “dude its to hard!”, which just goes to show the extremes to which users experience the same things. The same goes for the story, some people said “Dude i total understood the story it is SOOO deep” while others were like “Dude there was no story!”.

I especially liked how people sought out meanings to rationalise their choices. The choices were random, one takes you forward to the inevitable end, one takes you a step back and a third choice would send you on a parallel course. It was possible that you could choose wrong for ever and be lost down the well for ever. While some claimed to understand this metaphorical hokum others seemed to feel cheated of narrative. And i bet they did not like Prometheus either :-p In the end I’m the story teller and its up to me what you know is going on 🙂

There were some great Blog Posts promoting it for me with which i give heart felt thanks.

http://sl-playinstinct.blogspot.be/2013/11/lokis-well-sollicitus-second-life-as.html

http://wurfi.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/the-well-sollicitus-second-life-destination/

http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/going-down-the-well/

http://poultryreport.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-well.html

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2013/11/horror-adventure-game-second-life.html

 

If you haven’t visited THE WELL yet, you have two more weeks to do so. Thank you everyone who enjoyed THE WELL and took the time to message me about it.


The Well: Sollicitus

The sequel to last year’s experiment in fear returns in The Well: Sollicitus. A team of scientists investigate a strange well to uncover what happened to the young boy who vanished and the rescue team that went missing searching for him. Get the HUD and try to complete the labyrinth of tunnels, avoiding gruesome monsters and terrifying shadows.

Visit in Second Life

“SL: an experiment in self managing society” an exaggeration?

Im supposed to me working on new clothes and setting up a set list for my DJ show later today but instead i found myself building a new book in iPhoto presenting snapshots of my work and adventures in Second Life. This is to be a coffee table book for family members to browse at christmas during the traditional get together. Fed up am i of being asked what i do only to then have a condescending chuckle in reply to my explanation.

Not only do i show full page snapshots of second life i also have a written explanation at the beginning of every chapter trying to explain what Second Life is and what i get out of it.

After writing these i was suddenly worried wether i’ve made Second Life sound to extravagant in its purpose. Do i really feel this way about Second Life, is it really what i describe it as?

Connecting, sharing, cultural fusion, one world. In the past to be connected to the world meant being wealthy enough to get on a fuel consuming jet plane and physically moving around the planet.

The forefathers of the internet age believed connecting ordinary people to each other through computers would bring a self managing society able to bring stability to humanity without the corruption of power.

While overall this ideal has been pushed aside by capitalism’s insatiable greed, pockets still exist within the connected world exploring the possibilities of a self managing society. Second Life is one such pocket.

Second Life allows an open shared environment for anyone from around the world to meet share and experience ideas. Through art, history and fantasy people are exploring what it means to be human together on earth. Through comparing culture, histories and differences, collaborating to create something new to be shared by all.

Maybe i do believe this but just forget due to the day to day content creation cycle that plays a big part in keeping things going. Maybe this is a reason so many great minds are getting bored of SL? They see the capitalist ideas seeping into Second Life changing the direction of of the platform and decide this is not the experiment they fell in love with.

Am i crazy to think pockets of communities such as the Second Life Platform could give clues to a society post capitalist collapse? Maybe Second Life was such an experiment, if so has it failed? Has it always been about the investors getting their monies worth, or are the platforms many troubles due to a lack of interest to make big bucks?

 

Can Second Life again be revolutionary in the eyes of the media?

In reply to my previous post on thoughts about second life, that old chestnut of ‘talking about SL to friends with blank faces’ popped up.

Since the hype bubble burst SL has been playing catch up with the rest of the mobile social network lead tech world. The shift in using low spec mobile devices, notebooks and tablets has probably left many to experience SL at it’s worst. Would be interesting to know what percent of hard core Second Life users are using the latest hardware configurations and buy computers with Second Life specifically in mind.

There was a time everyone on the planet knew about SL, chances are they still remember the name and chuckle at the retro nostalgia of it all. For SL to be new in the eyes of the media, it would need to do something NEW and REVOLUTIONARY, even though SL is still quite revolutionary.

If Second life became suddenly easy and accessible to everyone even on tablets and mobiles, would that rekindle media interest?.

If Second Life repurposed the idea of easy creation with prims so that you could share and export them to be 3D printed, would that be something new?

When Oculus rift is released and people can use it with Second Life to explore thousands of virtual spaces, will that matter?

If Second Life branched off to offer singular game engine service that used SL created content to build spaces shared on Desura, would that be a big enough revolution in how games are made?