Fantasy Faire felt really good

My work there is done, but the virtual world Fantasy Faire 2018 in Second Life is still open for another extended week, so if you haven’t visited yet do find some time this week.

On Saturday i spent over an hour just discussing with my friends Nat and Strifeclaw about how the roleplaying went, how the Bazaar Dungeon was received and how sad it’ll be as it always is when the fairylands disappear for another year. 

Fantasy Faire 2018 - The Bazaar Dungeon

I really do enjoy building for this fundraising virtual festival. The challenges of creating something original to experience, presenting a space for merchants to sell items while also providing a place to get immersed and role-play. Unlike most fairs in Second Life you are just shopping, but FantasyFaire has become so much more.

Watching the variety of avatars come through the dungeons was my favourite aspect for me. From Vader Kittens discovering hidden treasure chests to finding a giant dragon sleeping in a room full of gold coins, i was constantly delighted by who turned up.

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I want to thank everyone who joined the Magpies Role-play group during the week and to Strifeclaw organising. When people carry on in character long after i’ve logged out to go sleep then i know we’re on to something. That some of the story elements were only discovered hours after scheduled events by those who could not make it earlier gave much more life to the family atmosphere of the Magpies. We write the story and schedule the events but at the end of the day its those who role-play that bring it to life, so thanks everyone, this year was an amazing atmosphere.

 

Oh look another subtle phoenix image.

I also want to thank everyone who sent me kind words about the Bazaar Dungeon. I was surprised at the amount of comments i got from complete strangers and im so pleased it was enjoyed so much. To everyone that messaged me about how i did the mirror effect in the well of souls, i promise to make a blog post about it soon :-p

Finally like to say thanks to everyone who donated to the kiosks and bought the RP kits, all of which goes to Relay for Life.

To finish off this post i’ve embedded the video i made of the 2018 fairelands. If you still haven’t walked around them all yet, THERE IS STILL TIME!

Highlights Of FantasyFaire 2018

CALLING ALL KID AVATARS THIS IS #FANTASYFAIRE2018

At fantasy Faire there is a role-play group for Kid Avatars and ANY kid avatars can join the gang to role-play a story as it unfolds over the coming week.

This year the group will be playing the Magpies, a bunch of michevious street kids who pick a pocket or two. They live amongst a busy bazaar market deep underground in what was once a prison but now is known as the Bazaar Dungeon.

All through the Fantasy Faire week there will be role-play events to help the story evolve while helping raise funds for ‘relay for life’.

To take part in the Fantasy Faire Magpies role-play week…

• Simply turn up at the Magpies Nest at Fantasy Faire SLURL HERE! Fantasy Faire officially opens 9am SLT on Thursday April 19th.

• There is a Role-play starter Kit that includes Magpie cloak, gloves and hat to help you become a magpie. (all proceeds of which goes to Relay for Life)

• There is an event board with a schedule of times that encounters or music events will take place.

• Have fun and explore the rest of Fantasy Faire as one of the Magpies!

For more information check the Fantasy Faire Magpies page.

 

The event schedule. The first main encounter starts on Saturday 21st allowing plenty of time to get into a character and explore you Magpies home.

Peak Nostalgia in a Virtual World

I have faint memories of an open desert landscape. Somewhere in the centre i am sat with new friends i had recently made, i don’t remember their names, i cant remember if all these years later they are still my friends, lost amongst my contacts lists. We were all dressed as pirates and pretending to be drinking and smoking, an act of rebellion against adulthood, it felt great being in a care free gang, like those kids in that film i once watched, the Goonies.

And thats where it all started 2006 in the virtual world of Second Life, my road of nostalgia in virtual reality. I created a group called the SL Goonies and for a while it seemed to bring similar minded people together to reminisce about those things in our past that made our childhoods beam with warmth, and here in Second Life we could actually revisit, replicate and hang out in that warmth. 

And that’s how it was for many years. I thought we were the only ones doing the nostalgia thing, but then it went mainstream and like most things excessive has become a somewhat negative thing. Today nostalgia is used to break through to your inner child to either sell you stuff or worst convince you everything was better in the past to the point where nostalgia is seen as a hurdle stopping us from moving forward and an attempt to turn the clock back. Nostalgia is also increasingly being seen as lazy reuse of old ideas and that to be nostalgic is to lack originality. 

People who see my avatar, see what i build, and they see all the things i’ve dragged into Virtual Reality with me, i positively beam with the nostalgic things i celebrate and this has lead to people remembering me when they’ve watched Stranger things or read Ready Player One.

I’ve been using Virtual Worlds for so long now that i’m nostalgic of the the first time i was nostalgic in virtual reality. I will always be nostalgic, i’ll always mine those inspirations for my future art, but right now, post the Ready Player One movie, the mainstream idea of Nostalgia feels like something has peaked.

Everyone is nostalgic about something, wether it’s the 80s, the 60s what ever time you picked up influences. it’s a part of unlocking and understanding what makes you who you are, and last time i looked, self actualisation is still seen as a great thing to achieve. 

Loki Avatar 3.0 – Part 8: Sprint to the finish

This is my first blog post of 2018 and we are already in March! I think in my previous blog post i said i hoped to get the Loki Avatar 3.0 out before Christmas. Well i ended up full of cold viruses which took me out of action, but to be fair im not sure i’d have got the new avatar out to market even if i was fully conscious!

So Avastar continues to improve (break my work). Its currently on version 2.3.2 but i’ve decided that from here on i’ll stick to an old version 2.1.6 since any version of the plugin after that seems to destroy everything. This does have an unfortunate effect on other creators who may wish to make clothes from my Avatar Base mesh file. They would need to make sure they have an archived version of Avastar rather than it’s latest update. Doing this reminds me a bit of projects created with Unity3D where you have to install different versions of Unity for different types of projects for compatibility issues.

 

Character Building

With my copy of Avastar locked down with 2.1.6 i moved on with the consumer version beta testing. My testers have been brilliant in finding such strange anomolies as Butt Wings and Neck cliffs. I have been working to make skin changing as easy as possible with this Mesh Avatar and with the help of my beta testers we’ve come up with SKN Boxes that you attach and select skin tones from instantly being the result on your avatar. it’s hoped that users will find it easy to create their own SKN Boxes to transfer customised textures to the Avatar.

Along side the Beta Testing i also went ahead with creating the first wave of character face shapes. Offering a range of ethnicities these characters are called Walt’ Arturo, Koji and Sam. These ‘PRO’ versions of the avatar will be offered for sale alongside the free version which has been renamed to ‘Ruthus’. Combined with the SKN Boxes and the fitted mesh avatar edit sliders these characters should be as customisable as classic avatars… in theory :-p

Walt

Arturo

Koji

Sam

Some have commented suggestions that my characters look a bit pixar. I guess thats a good thing as it potentially avoids the uncanny valley?

 

Harnessing the power of bento

With the first wave characters pretty much completed i’m now moving onto a basic clothing line as well as other features that take advantage of the Bento Skeleton. One such feature is the typing OA that makes your avatars mouth move as you speak.

 

I finally got my hands on a Perception Neuron mocap system and have been experimenting with capturing animations that could be used in my bento accessories and upcoming features such as Animesh.

First few experiments showed promise while also throwing up issues with thumbs and slipped sensors. I hope to create some kool gestures as well as adding nifty little animations to things like pulling up socks or lifting your coat hood up, unbuttons a shirt or other things related to customising your clothing.

 

It’s almost time… to do more work

It has been a year since i started working on this Loki Avatar 3.0 Project and its been a loooong painstaking process. But we are close to release now with work turning to fine tuning, creating clothes and accessories, getting documentation in order to help instruct users how to use the features. I also have to look at rebuilding my inworld shop, remove old clothing from Marketplace and create promotional material. The avatar side of things maybe finished but there is still alot of work to do :-p

My hopes for Second Life and other things in 2018

Last year i left 2016 rather optimistic for 2017 and wrote a list of things i’d hope to do this year. I said i would take a step back and get more involved in things. As it turned out many of those things did not happen, but thats not because i decided not to, but because 2017 was a year of constant unexpected delays.

And to finish the year i have had a cold, headaches, blocked nose and a sore throat all through the holidays delaying even the little final things i wanted to do. So i’m now hoping that as the new year approaches this dam cold will finally die along with 2017.

So here is my list of things i hope to achieve in 2018…

 

1. Start to truly experiment with VR.

At the forefront on the theme of delays during 2017 was VR. Last January the only VR headset i had was the PSVR and boy was i having fun with such amazing experiences as Resident Evil and Farpoint. But I’m far from mainstream when it comes to VR, i’m a Second Life user, i dream of getting down and dirty with creativity in VR. There were many factors in 2017 that didn’t allow me to just jump into VR, for one i am a Mac user, another was price of hardware. Slowly and surely Apple added VR support to new Macs and VR Headsets finally cut costs so that by the end of 2017 i finally have the set up and am looking at 2018 as the year i get to, as Star Lord would say ‘Build some crazy shit’.

I plan to start by creating a sort of VR workshop in Unity3D that is mapped to may actual real studio but not looking exactly like my room, a workshop full of stuff that i love, a place where i can tinker on VR gadgets and characters. From there i might be able to export my experiments to High Fidelity or Sansar.

2017 was the year the new VR Virtual World of Sansar finally opened up and i did explore and try to use it, but with no mac support i’ve turned my attention now to Unity to experiment in VR. Second Life is still the best Virtual World out there where all my friends still are and i’m able to do far more interesting stuff than i currently can in Sansar. For instance i cant even make my own avatar in Sansar yet.

 

2. Release the Bento Avatar & rebuild my clothing empire!

In 2015 linden Lab announced their new Bento Avatar system. Two years later and i still haven’t released my first bento Avatar. This is all because of the Blender Plugin ‘Avastar’ which took over a year to develop but while i moan about how long it took and how many sleepless nights it caused me in 2017 i have to explain that this plug in is amazing, and as complex as it is, it actually makes the creation of Bento avatars much easier. It lead me to realise just how un-friendly Second Life has become to some creatives.

So early in 2018 i hope to finally release my Bento Kid avatar. There are still a few beta testing and adjustments needed on the Basic Free Ruthus version, plus i need to create some custom ethnicities and skin textures for the planned Pro versions.  Then of course i hope to spend 2018 getting back to making clothes using my new toy Substance Painter.

 

3. Be a part of Fantasy Faire again.

Last year i just helped with the Roleplaying side of things at Fantasy Faire which was great fun until my nephew gave me a horrible cold to battle through. This year i would like to be a region builder for Fantasy Faire again. I learnt a lot about how the faire works in 2015 and would love to contribute something very different to the faire possibly utilising the new Animesh feature if Linden Lab somehow get that finished before April (yeh right).  I’ve yet to ask if they need any more region builders.

 

4.  Tell more Tales, organise more Roleplays

This was on my list last year and really will probably be on the list every year. Strip me of all my tools and what you’ll have is a story teller. At the start of 2017 i was fully committed to creating a New Babbage Chronicles Story Game. I was creating multiple illustrations and writing pages and pages of plot only to suddenly stop as preparations for Fantasy Faire and the need to try and stop my clothing business from collapsing by working on a Bento Avatar took precedence. Then as Avastar development went beyond its predicted release date and other events came along the Babbage Chronicles started to collect dust.

That’s not to say i didn’t create any story experiences this year. Fantasy Faires tale of stone frogs and malicious bards was a joy to help bring to life and The final chapter of  T H E  W E L L  seemed to entertain and freak out those who played it. There was also the Escapades Anniversary revealing of the Founders Tale.  I’m still not sure when i will return to working on Babbage Chronicles but the hope is that once the Loki Bento Avatar is released i can get back to doing other things, Babbage Chronicles possibly being one of them.

 

5. Rebuild Escapades Island.

Half way through 2017 i had this really odd feeling. I’d been to see the long awaited Sansar and i had explored the immersive realms of VR, and Linden Lab made tier cuts plus added more prims to Second Life Regions.  I had logged into Second Life and was standing at the memorial stone for my old friend Sven Homewood looking out over Escapades Island. i was considering all that i had learnt in in creating things in Second Life, what works, what does not work so well, and what i had hoped to do on the island and what i now know is not possible on the platform. I began to think about Escapades Island relevance.

Now that i know what second life can do, perhaps i should rethink what the island is for those who live here, and perhaps try to simplify its themes encoring the residents to contribute to it’s mysteries and bring a synergy to the whole island.

I plan to create a presentation of plans and concepts for this rethinking of Escapades Island early in the year in order to get the residents on board since without them the island would certainly not exist.

 

6. Become a 3D Printer Nerd

In 2017 i randomly backed a Kickstarter for a 3D Printer that actually turned out to be mega awesome indeed. The Dagoma Neva printer will hopefully path the way to 3D printing models that i then plan to paint old school style.

 

I’ve experimented printing temples, Fidget Spinners and star wars snow flake decorations but next year i want to do some proper action figure prints. Thats why for Christmas i got lots of paints and grey colour filament. I love this whole idea of creating something thats ends up being both digital and physical. Printing out my Loki Bento avatar as an action figure would be just amazing to do.

 

Things i did not accomplish in 2017

I wasn’t on the Drax files, but im pretty irrelevant to his show now he’s moved to Sansar :-p (i’m kidding!)

I hoped to get into 3D Scanning during 2017, but while the Bevil3D Scanner turned out to be a complete waist of time i did experiment with Photogrammetry, the process of using many photos to calculate 3D volume. The results of which i used to create parts of T H E  W E L L  experience and who knows, might get used for the rethink of Escapades Island.

I also did not get my PrioVR Mocap suit which was a kickstarter thats 3 years lates. I keep getting promises that i’m next for shipment, but if it’s to arrive it wont be until 2018 now.

 

Happy New Year

2017 felt like a right sludgy year where one step after another seemed to take forever. My hope is that 2018 will be the year where the giant rusty cogs of progress start to move again and i get to do some really exciting things in Second Life as well as other platforms. Hope everyone has a great new year 🙂