As with every Winter holidays in Second Life, Egnog the Troll has returned to Escapades island to give gifts to who ever can locate his secret Grotto.
This is a FREE simple little game to play with friends of by yourself. Just visit the Winter Engineer at the town centre on Escapades island. Click him and he will tell you to find 4 special crystal flowers that you will need in order to open the portal to Egnogs Grotto. There you will find the jolly troll who will either give you a gift or gobble you up!
Eggnog’s Grotto will be available until new year.
The game uses the Experience Tools to give a smooth fun easy experience, just click the engineer, find the flowers and stand next to them to progress through the quest.
Thank you everyone who has been supportive and encouraged me through the year. Have a great winter holiday and i look forward to bringing you more games and experiences in 2016.
Sometimes i think Second Life is getting harder, and in many ways it is. Features come in to open up new possibilities which ad more complexity to creating things in SL. Although perhaps contrary, these complexities once learnt can lead to ease of creation. Thus was the theme of my 2015.
January, February, March
The first quarter of 2015 was spent working on a mesh avatar and clothes for it, finally releasing the avatar in March for free. Since then i have periodically released new clothing the latest being my Parkas which were the quickest item i’ve made at the best quality yet. I think my clothes this year have improved a lot with material mapping , scripting and modelling. It’s just the fitting for old avatars i have issues with.
Right after finishing the Loki Avatar i moved onto to try out some Machinima creating the Achievement video. It was an experiment to how Second Life can look so different from how we have grown to expect SL to look. It was picked up by Draxtor who kindly presented it on his YouTube page.
In April my friend Pokute introduced me to the Xiasumi School Fest which i decided to take part in, mainly because it was way out of my localised area of SL and was a new experience for me.
I created school uniforms and a Retro Arcade Table, the latter of which i had made into a real world replica later in the year.
Almost directly following Xiasumi Fest was Fantasy Faire. I teamed up with the same gang as last year to create props and stories for roleplaying during the event to raise donations for Cancer Research. It’s possibly not realised that there are roleplaying stories going on during Fantasy Faire and not just shopping. I’ve put my name forward as a region creator for Fantasy Faire 2016 as i find it a very immersive festival.
This was the month Oculus announced it was not going to support mac or Linux. Since then i’ve been watching the VR hype from the sidelines while still awaiting for the arrival of motion sensors backed on kickstarter. Things looked quite bleak for me on the VR front as i still struggled to control or create anything in High Fidelity (still can’t). I ended up selling my Oculus DK2 on eBay for twice the price i had bought it for YEAHY!
It was in May i started to read a lot more blog posts about Content Creation and how some mesh avatars are sucking the life out of everyones computers. Linden Lab would later release a project viewer that replaced resource hogging avatars with giant jelly babies.
Escapades Island saw it’s 10th Wickerman. I never imagined when i did the first wickerman in Second Life that we’d still be gathering from around the world to watch it ten years later.
At the 12th Anniversary of Second Life i rebuilt the Childhood Dreams Exhibit i had created for SL5B. It’s kind of strange that there is now nostalgia for stuff i created nearly a decade ago. It was fun balancing the new building techniques with the old making sure it wasn’t so different as to loose the sense of the original. I also used the new XPtools to automatically attach a temp story hud.
During the festivities Draxtor also managed to nag me into taking part in Linden Labs “What Second Life means to me” a series of videos created by users describing their second lives. I was astonished but the response my video got and was very grateful for all the kind words.
In July XP tools was finally officially released. The problem here is that no one really understands what the tools are or what’s so great about it. The benefits it brings to experiences in SL are quickly absorbed into what people expect a game to do. It’s only the creators who know how hard it was to teleport people from one place to another and appreciate the hard work gone into XPtools. I love the XP tools, I’m only just now tapping into its full potential, so please all the Lindens Who worked hard on it, i worship you and am eternally grateful!
In this month i set to work rebuilding my Icarus Class Airship. It had been three years since i last build version 4 and that was after Mesh had just been released. This time i was armed with three years experience, Materials, and better scripting. I also incorporated it with my Battle Balloons game system for epic ship to ship aerial battles. This was also the first project were i used Substance painter, a new software that painted bumps and shiney onto the model surface. While unable to use most of these textures in Second Life it was the point in the year where i started thinking ahead to Linden Labs Project Sansar.
The 5th anniversary of Escapades island saw much silliness and fun as usual. Highlights being the moment everyone in the UK got logged out of Second life for half of the Tea Party. The epic Battleship Battle between The Goonies and the White Lobster Clan. The Battle for the bog of eternal stench when so many physical bullets were rezzed that the entire region slowed down like a scene from the matrix. You can watch the whole weekends activities here on dailymotion.
It was in this month i decided my clothing was terrible, not the actual clothing, but the way i presented them, sold them and named them. This lead me to do a survey which resulted in me making some big changes to how i make, size and present my clothes. These changes will not appear until 2016, although my latest Parkas and Halloween Costumes already have less sizes and include SMB.
October also saw Lindens Labs new Media Plugin Project Valhalla announced which allows HTML5 video and even WebGL to be displayed on a prim. Very excited by this but have yet to find time to try it out. My New Babbage Chronicles story used to use a HUD that displayed Videos telling a story. That of course broke. I plan to revisit the Chronicles and repackage them using XPtools and the new Media Plugin in 2016.
I also turned 10.
Finally got round to creating something specifically for the new XPtools. T H E W E L L : Infirmos saw users return to the well but only after exploring the mysteriously empty mental health centre. I wanted to do a scary halloween experience that was not a cliche mental asylum and tried to make something that was the most simple to use. In some ways i achieved my aims, and other ways i failed, but it was an interesting project that many said they really enjoyed.
The Burning Barrel Race in New Babbage did not disappoint. There was a wonderful festival feel to it this year as people walked along with and encouraged people to push the burning barrels. As an incentive to finish the route the residents had to get their barrels to the end in order to set alight the effigy of Morgawr.
Linden Lab announces Project Bento which will add almost 80 more bones to the Avatar Skeleton allowing for rigged wings, tails, fingers and facial expressions. Im far to deep into the christmas spirit to even look at this yet.
I managed to get some new clothes and items out before christmas and I’m actually feeling quite positive about most things. There is a new star wars film out, my clothing work flow seems to be good and thanks to 2015 I’m all set for another exciting year of creativity in Second Life. Next year is set to be more epic than this one and looking back 2015 was actually quite epic.
Hope everyone had an awesome time in 2015, see you in 2016!
It’s been just over a month now since i opened the 3rd chapter in the Well horror series, so how was it received and what did learn this time?
While i managed to finish and open Infirmos two days before halloween, it was not placed on the destination guide until the following week. How much this post halloween addition effected visitor count i won’t know, but simply being added to the destination guide as usual showed a massive surge in visitors. The power of the destination guide is undeniable and the way some friends find their places rejected while other destinations currently lead to empty regions, makes me wonder if Linden Lab could improve things in this area of discovery.
I try to count visitors at various parts of the experience in order to cage the difficulty. How many people are interested, How difficult is it to enter and how difficult is it to get through. I placed a counter at the start and the end but forgot to place a counter at a key point to know how may actually got into the experience. Because of this i was unable to cage how many after using the hud actually ended up down the well.
Up to this point Infirmos has had just over 2300 visitors, thats up from the previous chapter and of those only just over 185 made it to the end. Thats surprisingly low completion rate. I don’t know if people found the game to hard, or they got bored, or crashed. It’s possible that people gave up because there were no clues to what lay ahead rather than being to difficult. Some people raced through the whole thing in ten minutes while others spent over two hours (Watch Draxtor loose his mind).
Things i think i got right and wrong
• No buttons: In previous HUDS when a dialogue pop up appeared you had to click an icon button to get rid of it and progress with the experience. I realised when people read these things they tend not to move, so decided to have the pop up vanish only when the avatar moves. This meant you never needed to click anything inworld while down the well.
• Location based events: Instead of having the user click objects to uncover secrets, i used co-ordinates based events. The HUD is constantly checking its position and comparing it with a list of co-ordinates. If the avatar is with a specified distance with a location it will trigger the appropriate event. This is not a sensor ping. It again allows users to trigger events by where they stand and not need to click anything inworld. Unfortunately i may have made some locations hard to trigger unless you were stood right on top of them.
• Mouse Look: Making the experience so you did not need to click on objects meant the experience should have been good for people who use mouse look and VR Headsets. Unfortunately some of the key story elements relied on Camera positioning which you can not see while in mouse look. Thats something i need to work around or keep in mind in future.
• XPtools: Using the new XPtools features allowed me to set up the most easy starting point I’ve ever done yet. It consisted of three buttons, 1.Joins you to the experience, 2. payed for a pass and 3. attached a hud to start the experience. While this was the easiest yet, some people still found it hard to cope with. Some had trouble abandoning their ideas of how SL works, looking for a HUD in their inventory when intact they already were wearing it in temp form. Some had no idea what an experience was and why they needed to join it. Some thought they had to join a group. In future i would like merge all three buttons into one, but I’m not yet sure thats possible with LSL limitations.
• It’s too hard/ It’s to easy: As with the previous two chapters people equally complained it was too hard or to easy. Perhaps i should have a way for people to choose to have a walk through or extra clues as an option. Sometime people don’t want the fuss of puzzle solving, they prefer to experience the story if there is one. It’s something i’ll consider next year.
This is just a few of the comments i had about Infirmos.
“Scary but a lot of fun at the same time! So cool xD”
“Just had a blast, on this little adventure with a couple of friends best part was the cave. <3.”
“The way the sets changed was inspired, thanks very much for sharing this Loki.”
“Didn’t get any further than the first blue door, got tp’d back and forth. Explored every single room, got bored and left.”
“I really enjoyed this spooky mystery maze. I would love to have more of these in SL. I first tried this on my laptop but it’s not good enough to experience the graphics and effects of this “game”, so I switched to my computer that is more powerful and can handle ultra graphics and was able to experience the whole thing all the way through to the end. Yay for me! If you have a group, I’ll be joining it because I want to experience more of these!”
“This waas a great experience. My friend and I did it and it was scary and fun. Please keep these coming. Well worth the money spent. I suggest to anyone thinking of doing this, jump in heads first and watch out for the shadows lol….”
It took me a month to build Infirmos and i made enough from it to almost justify that work. The more i make these things the easier it’s getting and the time spent building comes down. Trying to balance the work lowed with what you expect to get back can be tough and its hard to see big groups of people getting the returns of all their efforts in SL doing this. Of course i could leave it up now for as long as people keep visiting it, but a Regions prim count is precious and eventually ill need to remove it to replace with something new.
And there will be new things. 2015 has been an interesting year and 2016 should be even more fun as i start applying what i’ve learnt to new adventures. #FantasyFaire
I’ve been reading quite a few blog posts about what Project Sansar will be, and so far none of them align with my own thoughts.
When listening to the tiny bits of info shared by the Lab i try to have an open view that Project Sansar might not be anything like Second Life. Perhaps being nothing like Second Life is a good thing for the Lab, after all Project Sansar is supposed to be a bold step into the current VR buzz zone so a lot of what Second Life does might not be of interest in Project Sansar.
I think a lot of people are possibly so fixed in the SL way of doing things that they can’t envision an alternative. Second Life works for second life because thats how it’s evolved and thats how its users grew to enjoy it. Maybe because of this we assume Project Sansar will port many of the same ideas over to Sansar but be ‘better’ .
The problem with this idea for me is that i have not seen any evidence yet technically that Project Sansar will be anything like Second Life, so what works in Second Life maybe not suitable for Project Sansar.
I also think we assume the only people who will use Project Sansar is the aging SL user base. Linden Lab have actually sort of successfully proven they can create a new product with it’s own user base. When Patterns was closed down i think there was quite a large community that cried out and fell silent. Linden Lab also made DIO which had no point to it what so ever. My point being is that Project Sansar may end up building it’s own user base regardless of wether Second Life Users love or hate it.
The way i have been monitoring the evolving picture of Sansar is by comparing with other platforms and services, and my views change with every tid-bit i hear. For me what to expect from Project Sansar depends on what Project Sansar will offer to do and this still isn’t entirely clear yet. Things like communities, avatars, experiences and content creation are all things Second Life does, yes, but so do countless other platforms out there. STEAM does all those things, Youtube does to if you think about it?
There are also a lot of services that do all those features outside of Second Life. Why build in a feature when someone is already offering something better that can be used in conjunction with your platform? Consider how many use Facebook and twitter to chat to friends outside second Life even though Second Life has it’s own SLfeed. High Fidelity Alpha had a small chat feature but they removed it suggesting users create their own or use an outside client. Also consider that there are now services that will build you characters to be used in game engines, it’s not a big step to allowing these same characters to be used as avatars if the platform allows it.
Nailing down exactly what Sansar will do will give us some clue to then speculate how features might work by comparing with other similar platforms, don’t be surprised if the similar platform isn’t Second Life, but don’t be scared either because it’s highly unlikely in my personal view that Second Life will change in any significant way with it’s current users.
I missed LabChat because i kept crashing out but i caught the whole thing on Drax’s Radio hour and things are becoming more clear about how Sansar will manifest. Here are some of things Ebbe CEO of Linden Lab said that i found most interesting.
Experiences not Islands.
One of the major things that’s happening with Sansar seems to be changing definitions that we are used to in Second Life. Second Life is a virtual world made up of lots of islands, but in Sansar Linden Lab keep referring to experiences. It will be interesting to see if the Lab actually does away with the concept of land and ownership of it. Perhaps we will see experiences in Sansar using as much land as is needed for the experience?
Not a connected grid… but it could be.
There was an interesting segment where they discussed the Map Metaphor used in Second Life. Since the very beginning we have looked at the SL grid as one big land ‘ The Grid’ where in some instances you can walk from one island to another and on and on if you are on the mainland. It would appear Sansar will not be like this. There will not be one big map showing your position on the grid and every experience will be separate from each other unless their creators collaborate to join those experiences.
Your avatar might be different in every experience.
This might be a real controversial for many SL users. As i understood Ebbe’s words, it will be up to the creators of these experiences how you will look. You could look different from one experience to another. Ebbe described a situation where you visit a space experience and should be offered appropriate attire. Optimistic people might hope Ebbe means just clothing will change and that your chosen avatar will stay the same from experience to experience. I don’t believe this will be the case.
It would crap all over the dreams some are having over a new awesome ultra customisable avatar in Sansar. But also it would put pressure on experience designers to offer playable characters, so i have to wonder if i understood him correctly. Having experience specific Avatars would suggest experience specific inventories too and that leads me to suppose that each experience would be like how we SL users see as Grids.
Sounds like a lot of work
Suddenly creating an Experience on Sansar looks like a huge project to undertake. Not only would i be in charge of how it looks graphically, i’d be in charge of how my visitors look, and what they collect, i’d be managing my own little mini grid. In a way it feels like linden Lab decided ‘We’ve had to deal with all this user crap for years, now you can in Sansar’ :-p Until i get to be in Sansar myself i’ll speculate all day what it’ll be like.