T H E W E L L: Infirmos – An #SL horror

Since the last chapter of T H E  W E L L i have constantly had people asking when i would do another. Last Halloween i took a break from creating a horror experience because i was awaiting the Experience Tools. This year is different.

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T H E  W E L L is a horror suspense game. I created the first a few years ago after visiting some haunted houses in Second Life and wondering if it was possible to make an actual scary experience.  The game centres around a vague story about a boy who fell down a well. A team was sent in to rescue him and also went missing.

This third chapter centres around the player waking up in a mental health hospital during a heavy rain storm at night. How they got there is unknown and its up to the player to explore the hospital to learn what they can while also trying to find some way to escape.

The experience is best viewed with advanced lighting and projectors and also with the sound turned up to hear the ghostly whispers.

The experience is located HERE and has a one time fee L$100 pass to enter the Well as many times as you want. 


T H E W E L L : Infirmos Teaser by lokieliot

I chose a hospital theme after visiting mental asylums last halloween in Second Life. After having discussions with friends about how cliche and terrible the use of mental Asylums were at halloween, i decided to try and base a horror experience around a modern mental health hospital away from the cliches. Although i should point out that my depiction of a mental health hospital probably does not accurately portrait actual modern hospitals very well.

Many of annoying problems with creating an immersive experience are gone now. In fact i was able to produce an experience where you only have to click on an object once at the start. The rest of the game is based on your position for things to happen and choices to make. For instance items of importance simply need standing next to in order for information to pop up. Then when you are finished reading you move your avatar for the info to go away and continue your exploration. Hopefully this will be intuitive enough for the user to figure out quickly and just enjoy the experience..

This experience was also created with VR headsets in mind. While i can no longer use an Oculus on my Mac, i am still thinking about it for the future.

Anyways, I hope those who try the experience enjoy it. Have a fun packed halloween weekend!

I just hit 10 years of being a Second Life User

While most people are no doubt going al back to the future i am quietly reflecting on a decade of Second Life existence. 

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Last year i had just finished my mesh body and as such my avatar had a rather significant facelift. Since then all my efforts have been into making clothes for my mesh body so there isn’t much of a change with how i look compared to 2014.

So whats in store for Loki next year? Well we could all be on Sansar, and i’m quite interested to learn how Sansar will handle Avatars. I’ve already been considering how my Loki persona would cross platforms. I use the Loki name in other games but nowhere else has allowed me the freedom to create an avatar like SL. If Sansar allows me to create another Loki Avatar, should i just clone my SL avatar?  i will just have to wait and see because i never actually stepped into Second Life and decided ‘I’m going to look like this’, it kind of slowly happened spur of the moment.

As for Second Life, there is still lots more to do. Im currently working on my first ‘built for XPtools’ experience which i hope will be released next week.

 

‘Social Web’ isn’t all that social, #VR should change that

I’ve been a VR enthusiast for the past 10 years now. I’m one of these crazy people who stuck around in Second Life, so I’m probably biased and hold myself with self important relevance to Virtual Reality.

I have an existence that has such notions as ‘teleportation’ and being ‘Inworld’. I sit down on Sunday evenings and go to ‘meetings’ while not actually moving anywhere and after an hour step away from the computer with memories of the people i had just met and talked to discussing projects and health.

I have used services such as Facebook, Myspace, Google and Twitter, more commonly known as ‘The Social Web’, but i’ve always been confused at why it’s called this as it’s mostly not really all that social. most cases it’s just a notice board. How we started to believe this was socialising is perhaps the biggest marketing scandal of the information age. And we are teaching our kids this lie.

Four years ago i chose not to use Google or Facebook anymore, but i do use twitter, not to socialise, but rather to extend contact with my friends in virtual worlds. The people i interact with in Second Life hold a deeper connection on twitter than others i simply follow. I believe this to be down to the type of extended language we get with virtual worlds and the freedom.

In the past i’ve heard suggestions that watching a live video stream of a friend is equivalent or even greater for face to face socialising than an avatar in a virtual space. But i’d argue that while you gain the sense of body language, you miss out on what i regard as one of the most important aspects of Virtual Worlds. Shared interactive realtime responsive freedom. (Sirrf) 😛

I grew up in the countryside without computers, or the internet or mobile phones. I’m most likely pretentious in thinking that due to my upbringing I’m apparently more suited to empathising with fellow users of virtual worlds, compared to these social web natives of today.

The world had the chance to explore virtual realities and expand their feedback loops, but instead chose to hand over privacy in exchange for shared free notice boards, which slowly chipped away at the ability for kids to empathise with each other.

Don’t go thinking virtual worlds are the same as these glorified notice boards though. If you come to virtual reality with no ability to emphasise with people then thats how you will be in virtual reality. Virtual Worlds even have a word for people who’s actions are probably due to a lack of empathy, ‘griefers’.

I’d even go so far as to postulate that virtual worlds rather than causing a lack of empathy, will help a person build empathy and that over time as VR, AR and ,VW’s improve will expand our ability to communicate in digital spaces. These tools could assist many reach positive levels of mental healthiness that could help in all aspects of life.

My point is though, that the world is awash with so called ’Social Web’ but to my mind Second Life is the only place where i’ve truly felt i’ve socialised with real people in digital space.

This post was inspired by thought i had after reading a recent article by Reuben Steiger

Valhalla – the new ‘media on a prim’ Viewer

This is a big deal and this time it’s not a feature that only creators will notice the benefits of, its one that the whole of the SL user base will be able to use.

Linden Lab have released a project viewer with a new Media plugin that updates the ability for anyone to place a URL on an object’s surface to display media. In the past we’ve been sort of held back from using this feature. I once used it in a game to show cut scenes for a story but it was unreliable and for more than two years mac users haven’t been able to watch youtube videos in SL.

Valhalla changes all that by using Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF). This boosts what can be displayed on an object. Suddenly we have full HTML5 and WebGL support and the dreams of web applications on a prim are going to be achievable… again.

Valhalla is still a project viewer so there will of course be bugs to fix but my brief experiments have been exciting fun.

 

Things you could do with the new Valhalla update.

These are just a few things i tried today with the project viewer.

Play web based video games on an inworld arcade machine: I loaded up the Internet Arcade archive and played R-Type, played a fan made flash version of sonic and Doom. In all cases these games ran really well visually, but Sl does not hand over controls well to the browser meaning some games are unplayable.

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Run a Virtual World in A Virtual World: I decided to try out GoJiyo, a new browser based virtual World. It took a while to load and was a little sticky. The controls of course did not hand over, but its still a virtual world within a virtual world!

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Browse 3DModels: Im a big fan of Sketchfab as a place to showcase some of my 3D work in a browser. I can see myself using the service to store models i can then use in game HUDS in Second Life as items collected to examine for clues. You could also have 3D wall paintings in you virtual space that people can interact with.

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Watching Live Streaming: For many this was already possible, but for me as a mac user it was broke. In the past i have watched the Eurovision song contest on a big screen in Second Life with friends from all over Europe. That was until the plugin broke. So i will be excited to finally watch it along with my friends inworld next year thanks to the Valhalla update.
 
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There will be a lot more use cases for the Valhalla CEF update once people start experimenting. I remember once trying to build a web application that connected many places in Sl together via a menu vendor. It ended up crashing so much it was unreliable. It will be interesting to see what kind of SL specific web applications people might build.
 

 
One demo i tried was the WebGL rippling water Demo which Draxtor Filmed in retro handheld cam fashion. So is this WebGL in second life, can we say that? It was interesting to see that you could display graphical features that Second Life itself is unable to do.

Check out the Valhalla Project viewer HERE

Survey Results, Costumes & my first SMB clothes.

So a few weeks ago i wrote about how hard i still found it to create clothes in SL for my niche market of Kid Avatars. I decided to create a survey to try and make sense of what was going on and some of the results were quite surprising.

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It’s apparent that the old fashioned word of mouth and landmark sharing is still the best way to spread word. I was also quite surprised to see so many stumbled upon my store via the mini stores in world.

 

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It was also interesting to see a majority of users prefer to buy inworld than from marketplace.

 

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So a large amount of users, the majority in fact felt my clothes fit ‘well enough’ but not ‘very well’. Does this mean a majority of users put up with clothes that don’t quite fit? is this something SL users have grown to put up with or is this just my terrible fitting clothing?

 

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This possibly reflects Second Life as a whole. While we seem to get a few new users entering the Kid community the majority of users are already here. Creating for new users is a bit of a waste of time and perhaps risky if such efforts hurt long time users.

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This was the most important question of all. Support established Mesh Avatars is great and surprisingly equal with Classic, Toddleedoo and SMB avatars all wanting to be supported.

 

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The New Halloween Costumes with SMB support.

So with the survey results in mind i set out to create new costumes for halloween replacing the old V2 costumes from three years ago. These costumes of course come packed with the usual V4 features of built in menus for swapping between textures and the wet mode that makes your clothes appear wet in water.

But the biggest change is that i no longer supply a size for adult males or breast versions for females. The survey suggested not enough people were using them to make the time and effort worth while making them. Instead i created a new shape specifically for SMB avatars.

SMB or ‘Super Mesh Bros’ was one of the first mesh child avatars shapes to appear on the SL market and now has a rather large following. The SMB shape is a modified version of the SL classic shape which means that Classic kid avatars and SMB avatars can use the same clothes. So with the addition of SMB and the removal of Adult male and female shapes, each Costume pack will come with only three sizes.

• Loki Avatar – Big Bro

• Loki Avatar – lil kid

• SMB/Classic avatars

How well these costumes and the new sizes are received will determine wether i enact the same changes to my other V4 Clothing range.

 

Looking forward.

The survey gave me a clearer picture of how the Kid Avatar community is using mesh avatars and what they want to see from me in future. I would also like to make clothes for another kid Mesh Avatar called Toddleedoo, but so far have been unsuccessful in getting base shapes to work from.

Creating an avatar is more complex than ever, but I’m confident that i can support the majority of my community.