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Showing posts with label Stareyes Galaxy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stareyes Galaxy. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The State of Formal Role Play in SL: The Realm of the Forgotten – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting....

You often see avatars in Second Life (SL) with profiles describing their addiction to “Role Play” (RP). While it might be said that the whole idea of SL is a role-play experience for avatars, to RP enthusiasts, there is a vastly different meaning to the term. Stareyes Galaxy went out of her way to seek an authentic, “formal style” role play experience in Second Life.

In the days before Internet chat rooms, Usenet groups, and multi-user dungeons, role playing was a structured form of group exploration where a game master (GM) or dungeon master (DM) typically led a troupe of well-meaning characters on forays of the unknown in fantasy and science fiction settings. The action was expressed as the players’ verbal description of what they would do in any given situation, as the “campaign” trudged on, with the GM and players deciding on outcomes of the actions (especially combat) by throwing sets of odd-shaped dice on the gaming table. The player characters were represented by elaborately painted pewter figures on the gaming board.  As the players matured, consumption of soft drinks during the RP sessions might transform to cases of beer. Later, these players discovered the wonders of online gaming, and RP became a subculture residing in the Usenet groups on the Internet, typically with an alt.* domain name, and “multi-user dungeons” residing on some obscure university mainframe computers.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Case for Male Mesh Avatars – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

Within the last year, mesh avatars have made a big impact on the visual appearance of Second Life (SL). While the female avatars were first equipped with mesh avatar shapes, mesh male avatars have also become available. Retrofitting one’s avatar with mesh is a major undertaking and causes much consternation among the males in SL. I met with a makeover prospect, “Mr. Jay”, and went out to explore what difficulties males can be faced with when fitting a mesh avatar.

“I started getting these hints that I should improve my avatar,” Mr. Jay told me. “Especially females with mesh avatar shapes seemed to feel out of place if I went somewhere with them in my conventional shape. So I sought for a solution.” Mr. Jay’s girlfriend prospect directed him to “The Shops!”, a shopping experience for “The Mesh Project”. The Shops! is a one-stop-store to mesh up one’s avatar, with full departments for either gender.

Mr. Jay explained his shopping experience: “Obviously I wanted to get quickly up to speed with the mesh shape but the whole process took me about a week to complete.” He said that he had wanted to go the extra mile to get all features, so he got himself “the deluxe” level body and head. The body has 36 skin tone options, but as Mr. Jay fitted on the head, it appeared all white. “I hadn’t known I need to buy a skin for the head as well!” Having bought the skin caused further frustration, as he had chosen the “01” skin which is all white – so his problem seemed to have no solution. While he engaged the customer assistance to replace the “01” skin with a more conventional skin tone, he brooded over the sensibility of the whole endeavor. “I had spent in excess of 10 000 L for the makeover already, so I just had to forge ahead,” he lamented. He ended up buying a “15” skin tone skin for the head, and later, he received the “16” tone skin from The Shops! customer service to replace the “01” skin.

The last parts of the process involved applying a “retrofit fader” tattoo layer to the line separating the body from the neck. “Then it was up to finding the rest of the body parts to go with the mesh body,” Mr. Jay says and smirks. He ended up with a conventional hair from Dura Dura. “The hair base for the hair, again, is a tattoo layer that is not compatible with the face skin tattoo… so I needed to puff up the hair with the re-sizer and move it slightly upward to hide the piebald appearance that is a result of having no visible hair base.”

I returned to The Shops! with Mr. Jay to see what could be done about the process. The panels on the walls of The shops! describe a simplistic 1-2-3 process, but as was obvious with Mr. Jay, the whole ordeal of fitting a mesh avatar is not quite as straightforward. The shopping experience is conducted by use of a heads-up display (HUD) that takes care of your cash balance deducting the purchases until you need to top up the balance. The information that is necessary for purchases is on the panels and on the HUD, but it is not obvious for instance that you need to pay 1000 L for each skin tone option for the skin, when the deluxe body already has 36 skin tones built in. To complete your appearance, you need a set of eyebrows and a hair base as well, each at L 250.
I interviewed Ms. Diorprincess, a live helper / personal shopper at The Shops! on her perception of the mesh avatar market. She has soon worked a year at The Shops! and is well versed on the subject of male mesh avatars.

SLE: Female mesh avatars have been out there a long time already but it has come to my attention that the interest in male mesh avatars has risen in the last  few months. Am I correct?

Diorprincess: Well, yes, because the Male avatar is available just 6 months now, and we provide the only one that looks normal I guess.

SLE: As a personal shopper / helper, you must get a lot of questions from male shoppers. Can you relate to me what concerns the male shoppers have overall? What are the most glaring problems they run to adapting to the mesh avatar?

Diorprincess: The alpha HUD is giving problems at the moment. But they are working on an update. At start males are a bit disoriented, but I noticed the men are very clever.

SLE: When I talked with “Mr. Jay” he said he had a lot of problems with the "1-2-3" concept and didn't realize he had to buy a specific skin, etc. Are these typical problems men run into?

Diorprincess: Well some men don’t understand the concept at all, don't even look, just do and then don't understand what they are doing after all! The “1, 2, 3” concept is easy: 1. Get a body; 2: Get the head; 3: Get the clothes or style up. But most people don't even read [the instructions on the panels].

SLE: How do you see the mesh avatar market, and especially the ratio of female vs. male mesh avatar sales?

Diorprincess: Females spend much much more, also because we need more, like make up and clothes. Men are easy: most wear the same clothes every day. Females are looking good and expect her man to look good also. And the males want mesh too. Mesh is the future!

The final step was to put some weight on the avatar. The Shops! Beta avatars are fitted mesh, meaning they fit on the conventional avatar shapes. Therefore, sliders in the avatar appearance body editing menu can be used to change the shape. Jay fleshed out nicely with some body fat and widening the torso. The Shops! sell also shape styler packages, but these are optional if one knows how to use the sliders in the body edit menu. The head doesn’t seem to change with the edit sliders, though, so one is stuck with the Mesh Project supermodel head shape. As already has been quite prominently evident with how female mesh avatars carry themselves, the fitted mesh is compatible with “physics” of the avatar. With proper discretion, the use of physics on a fitted mesh body can make the avatar movement more fluid and realistic.

Fitting clothes on the mesh avatar is a whole other exercise. Mr. Jay was able to put on a mesh tuxedo by judicious selection of the alpha layers in the alpha editor HUD. “This could really become a problem down the line. Now I have no semi-formal or casual options!” Mr. Jay wailed, before he got the hang of the alpha HUD.

The whole concept of mesh avatars seems to extend the Second Life experience toward the Kurzweilian view of “The Singularity” where the real and the virtual mix effortlessly. The avatar styles may not yet be “real” or “realistic”, as the male shapes seem to be more idealistic Adonis-inspired demigods. The same of course may be said about the female shapes that obviously tend to accentuate the beauty ideals of the fashion and adult entertainment industries. Fully self-editable mesh avatars seem still to be a dream concept, perhaps reserved in the near future for premium purchase for designers. In any case, from Mr. Jay’s experience, it is advisable for any male avatar wishing to go full mesh, to explore the process using the “free” options available at The Shops! first. The decision to shell out over 10 000 L is not to be taken lightly, as it may be that with the resulting wardrobe makeover, the aggregated cost can go over anyone’s budget as the mesh requirement escalates. A further encumbrance may be the load on the computer and the network that mesh seems to demand from the hardware. When you get on the grid, it takes time for your avatar to rez properly, and some parts of it may render before your clothing. The shy guy should be aware of these sometimes embarrassing effects!

Ray Kurzweil on virtual worlds (1:00:50 to 1:01:25):
Trailer for “The Singularity is Near”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dealing with Quitting Second Life © - Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

There will eventually be the time when any avatar needs to consider quitting Second Life © (SL). There are many reasons to leave, as there are for staying. Stareyes Galaxy quit SL for the time being, but not before she had to write about the experience.
I have only a few conjectures to make as to why people leave SL, since when they leave, generally they just vanish without a trace. Before I left, I met some of my closest friends and discussed the topic. There were some poignant reasons to leave, one of which seems to be breakups in relationships. I know some people who have left due to this, and some have returned. From these, I gather even a year or two may pass before they feel able to return to SL after a tortuous breakup. The emotions associated with separation from an avatar are just as real as those in real life. Curiously, I have also found people who have been found out in RL, having an SL relationship and therefore have needed to quit SL!
“Miss C.” sums her experience up: “Well, it gets under your skin. A trauma normally is the cleanest break and reason to leave and stay away. But many seem to come back after a year or so… is that quitting? but I guess it’s like any habit or activity that is rewarding or fills some need or experience... hard to let go even when reason says it is for the best. It has similarities to addiction but, I feel, it’s more subtle than that as it is a freedom and a behavior and a degree of control one is giving up.”
Stalking is another very disturbing trait that seems to follow on the heels of virtual relationships. I even have heard of stalkers going after the people behind the avatars, in real life. If this happens, even creating alts is too risky, so it seems best to stay out of SL forever.
The death of the real person behind the avatar of course is the ultimate end of us all. Unfortunately, many times there is no way to know. Sometimes, a RL friend of a deceased person sends group notices or contacts friends directly, informing of an avatar’s demise. Some sims have tombstones and memorials for avatars who have left due to the death of the SL account holder.
Aside from the real, everyday life imposing on one’s use of time, requiring avatars to leave SL, one interesting thing, as “Miss C” already noted, popped up: addiction. There are avatars who are so immersed in their SL experience that they neglect their real lives. Horror stories of parents starving children to death while tending to their virtual babies are the most extreme. Other addictions beside the internet-based ones, of course lead to similar results! In order to shed one’s habits there are techniques – alcoholics have their 13-step methods, and so on, some go “cold turkey”.
When I quit, I felt like a drug user without her fix. I felt like something very real was ripped off me. As I said, I returned a few times to say my goodbyes. This did not help at all as I craved to stay on longer than I intended.
Form my personal quitting on SL experience, this is the advice I wish to impart, in ten observations:
1. If you decide to quit, stay firm on that decision. Never look back, and don’t let yourself be talked around on your decision. Believe in your reasons to quit, they must be valid ones.
2. Set yourself a date when you are completely out. Bid your farewells before.
3. Be sure to get valid contact details for people you absolutely need to keep as your friends.
4. Leave a notice of leaving in your profile so you don’t need to go back to do that last bit (like I had to).
5. Examine your position from your RL standpoint. What do you have to replace what role SL had for you? Fill your free time with these people or activities. You may find your need to get back online dissipate sooner than later.
6. If you have professional ties within SL, be sure to part on friendly terms. Inform your employer and associates well ahead of time so they know how to adjust. Donate whatever you can to whom the items, land, and Lindens are owed.
7. Go on your SL account and terminate it, or at least give up your Premier status, in order to not have a financial impact down the line.
8. Do not create alts to go see your old haunts. You will be found out if you start conversing with people, and your craving to get back online is likely to increase, or in the opposite, you only will get bad vibes.
9. Do not worry what others are saying about you when you’re gone. Most likely they will forget about you soon enough. If not, and if this gets out to RL, see observation #10 below.
10. If the reason leading to your quitting involves harassing or criminal activity by an avatar or real-life person, be sure to contact Linden Lab as well as your local authorities. They may in fact be able to help you.

I ran these observations through with a fellow journalist and psychologist DoctorKaren Kanto who wished to add this: “Remember what was good in SL and bring it to bear in your RL, to enhance the RL experience. Let go of the SL negatives, they may be unimportant.” I think this was wery well put, as I have tried to make my avatar display the best of me in SL. Now, having had the experience, I might improve my real life persona, based on my SL learnings.
As for me, why I quit: time just ran out on me. When I joined SL, I was in a fortunate position at my Real Life work, allowing me to explore virtual worlds and interaction paradigms of virtuality. Getting online on SL was as natural as having breakfast. I took unnecessary liberties as well, maybe spending a bit too much on SL than my work warranted. Then again, there were times when exploring virtuality was a better use of my time than just idling along on my work PC. Since the beginning of this year things changed and instead of writing for SLE, I have real-life writing assignments that I have to honor which are likely to advance my RL standing as well.

I wish everyone the best in their first and Second Lives. I am already missing my friends and acquaintances in Second Life. Who knows, maybe we will meet again.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Knitting in the Spring – A Poem by Stareyes Galaxy

I’m knitting for an angel,
A little white cardigan.
Adding short sparkly threads she’ll adore.

You are sitting beside me
Knitting needle’s length apart
Your thumb never leaving the remote.

Intently watching the screen,
Flipping through channels has stopped:
An off-road pickup speeds through the woods.

Its track a rut in the mud,
The image blurred by action;
Someone’s gotta yank the steering wheel.

I see the little angel,
In her new white cardigan,
Running after her first Easter Eggs.

I set my knitting aside,
And look at you in the eyes.

I see the sparkle: Spring has returned.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Parallel Universes Part III: Cloud Party – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

I had an account in Cloud Party when it first started about two years ago. I remember going over there and getting excited about learning to build mesh items on Blender, and then importing these over. That joy was short-lived, however, as it became evident that with the hardware at my disposal, mesh creation was out of the question. At that beta stage, avatars in Cloud Party were also very elementary, and although the navigation was not overly difficult, it still had a learning curve. Things got rapidly better, and at its later stages, Cloud Party was a serious contender for content delivery, quality 3-D graphics and art, as well as becoming a platform for socializing in virtual worlds.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Interview with Singer and Pianist Xara Fiasco – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting…

I was invited to see a live show at Lacy’s one fine morning, and was delighted to hear Xara Fiasco’s beautiful songbird-like voice, accompanied by her piano. After she finished her one-hour set, we agreed on an interview.

Star: Hello again! Still wired from the show?
Xara Fiasco: Hiya, yeah, still pretty pumped!

Star: Okay! Obviously you didn't learn the piano on SL. How long have you been playing?
Xara Fiasco:
I’ve been playing piano since I was 7.

Star: At the concert, it was clear that you can take a tune and put it through a blender, and make it your own. How do you accomplish this?

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Goes on in Jazz Clubs Stays in Jazz Clubs – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

Sara and Magika Dancing

Clubs in Second Life © (SL) are the main platform for avatars’ entertainment. Over the years, unique categories of clubs have evolved, and Jazz Clubs in particular have taken off in a direction that might not be obvious to the uninitiated. 

Jazz, as a genre of music, might be dismissed as esoteric and difficult, and some avatars might shun Jazz Clubs for that reason. To those that might want to explore Jazz Clubs as a vehicle for socializing, it may be intimidating to end up somewhere full of dancing couples and virtually nonexistent local chat interaction. Stareyes Galaxy dressed up to the tees and went to some clubs to see what the phenomenon really is about.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Doing It Right the Classical Way: Magnus Brody DJs to the Tunes of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Beyond, at Highlands – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

Hearing about a DJ doing classical repertoire might make you go “What? Come again?” 
Magnus Brody has a steady DJ gig at the Highlands sim doing just that – playing classical music. Stareyes Galaxy met with him one afternoon, asking the same question, and a few more besides.

I had seen Magnus do his classical gig a few times, once with a movie theme. While the audience at these gigs was not abundant, it was all the more enthusiastic.  I arranged an interview with him, to see what it was about, and met him at his residence, the Brody Castle, at the Highlands sim that also boasts the Loch Ness Inn, a famous Scottish club run by Lauraclaire Benelli.

Magnus Brody in real life (RL) was a part-time community radio broadcaster since 1990 in London, U. K. In 2001 he moved to Scotland, and later joined Second Life © (SL) when it was still a budding phenomenon.

Interview with Magnus Brody

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lag is a B*tch, and Then You Crash – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

More often than not, in a social situation on Second Life© (SL), either you experience lag, or hear someone complain about it. Even in instant messages on SL, lag sometimes makes words get mangled and out of context, and sometimes what you say disappears completely.

What is lag and what causes it? How can you minimize lag? Stareyes Galaxy got on SL to find out.

Linden Lab (LL) maintains a web page for the “minimum requirements” to run Second Life, and looking at that page, both the hardware platform and the network connection have a profound effect on how you are able to utilize the capabilities of SL.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Zooby Babies Establish Charity Collection- Stareyes Galaxy reporting…

Earlier in October, a real-life (RL) news story came to light exposing an alleged child-abuse and neglect case in Tulsa, OK, U.S.A. 

A RL couple had nearly starved to death their 3-year-old baby spending all their time online. 
Apparently this couple had a Zooby Baby in Second Life © (SL) and when Zooby 
Babies learned of the incident, the owners, Malyssa Black and Christian Mercer 
reacted and set up a charity donation in-world for the Alliance for Children’s Rights.

Visit Zoobyville and help us bring awareness to others in the fight against child abuse

Friday, November 1, 2013

Parallel Universes Part I: IMVU – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

IMVU boasts 100 million accounts and the concurrent logins are at 50 000 level. The company itself is based in the Silicon Valley and they have backing from several well-known venture capital investors. The target demographic for the community is the 18-24 year-old bracket. On sign-up, personal data is required, so some content will be locked for underage users. The minimum sign-up age is 13.
Doing interviews on Second Life (SL) I often have found people who have transferred their online existence from IMVU over to SL. For these new avatars entering SL, the openness and the variety found here is often bewildering but liberating at the same time. I decided to set up an account on IMVU and see what that world is all about, and how the experience compares with SL.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lumiya: The Second Life© viewer for Android devices – Stareyes Galaxy reporting ....

Aside from the usual way of connecting to Second Life © (SL) on a personal computer, applications are available for connecting on the grid via mobile devices. SL Enquirer has previously reported on Pocket Metaverse for the iOS; now we will look into the Android OS and the Lumiya application. Stareyes Galaxy got herself the application and went out to test it on SL.

There are many times in life when I might want to stay in touch with my SL friends while having no access to a computer. Often, in public places, WiFi is available for free and sitting down with a cup of coffee having a chat with friends could easily be done with a mobile phone.

Lumiya is an authorized third-party viewer (TPV) for mobile Android devices. The TPV list for Android includes two other viewers as well, “LittleSight” and “Mobile Grid Client” but Lumiya seems to be more prevalent than the other two among Android users.  Lumiya can be found in the “Google Play” store and it costs USD 3.46 to download. The client is 5.20 Mb in memory, so it is really a light weight application.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Abyss Earth Sciences and Marine Life Observatory – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

Imagine you were intrigued by a documentary in your youth and seeked a career that would allow you to advance a field of science similar to what was presented in that favorite show you saw years ago.

Yan Lauria has been able to do just that, having seen the Jean-Jacques Cousteau ocean exploration documentaries in his childhood. He is now working as a project manager at JAMSTEC, “Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology”. He is also the main force behind Abyss Observatory, the oceanographic earth science sim on Second Life © (SL). Stareyes Galaxy had the opportunity to interview him and take a tour of the sim.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Science Circle in Second life (C) – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

There are many clubs in Second Life © (SL), and one of the choicest is the Science Circle. It was established by Chantal (nymf.hathaway) as a forum for discussing top-of-the-line science topics using interactivity of SL as the main feature of the framework.

I met Chantal and her second-in-command, Jes (jes.cobalt) at the Science Circle Library, which is a donation from a Russian mathematics professor.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Story of Miss S.: How She Lost Everything on SL and Won it Back – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting ....

One hears horror stories of people getting the short end of the deal on Second Life™ (SL) many times. You wouldn't think it happens to seasoned SL veterans until you hear of one, especially someone who’s closer to you than just a casual acquaintance. This is the story of “Miss S.” who lost her life savings as well as her firstborn. By prudent record-keeping, she was able to win her assets back, and is now happily reunited with “J,” her baby boy. Here’s how it all happened.

Miss S. says she was looking for a family, a long-time aspiration of hers on SL. She met a gentleman who subsequently changed partners, and became friends with her new “mom”. She in turn had a son whom she introduced to Miss S. They hit off so well that Miss S. and the “son” partnered in August.  Miss S. tells: “We clicked together and he was so sweet person. I heard his voice once or twice, but never heard the mom and the son talking on same moment. We talked on Skype.”

Beach Etiquette in Second Life (C) - Stareyes Galaxy Reporting

One of the great features of Second Life © (SL) is that no matter what the real life (RL) weather, you can pack a rucksack and go to the beach.

At the many beaches of SL, it is possible to relax, swim, do watersports, and socialize with friends or previously unknown avatars. Beaches come in all categories, “G”, “M”, and “A”, and it may be confusing as to what is expected of a beach visitor at locations tagged with one category or the other. Stareyes Galaxy trekked some of the beach resorts to find out what the beach etiquette is and how it is observed in SL.

I started with beaches that advertise clothed-only policies. Kona Beach one beautiful location with surfboarding and big waves in the sea set as a curved beach. I met Glowdiamond, an ardent sunbather and asked her a few questions.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What is Second Life™ All About? – Stareyes Galaxy reporting ...

We all have our reasons for being on Second Life ™ (SL). Some of us are online 24/7, some less frequently, interacting with other avatars, or sitting quietly in a cozy corner listening to music. Stareyes Galaxy chatted with avatars from all around the globe asking the deceptively simple question. “What is SL all about?”

One of the first avatars I talked with was from Egypt. “Second Life has a special meaning for us Egyptians,” she said – and then it really dawned on me what that is. Ancient Egyptians preserved the bodies of the deceased for their journey to the great beyond. Second Life today of course is concurrent with our real lives (RLs), and The Second Life Enquirer regularly runs features on the parallelisms between SL and RL. I went to clubs and other popular spots to get answers, and here is what I was able to find out.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Virtual Ability, Inc. – an Interview with Gentle Heron- Stareyes Galaxy Reporting...

Virtual Ability, Inc. is a non-profit organization helping disabled people in Second Life ©. Gentle Heron is the Chairman of the Board of Virtual Ability, running things both on the real Life (RL) and Second Life (SL) side. 
As Virtual Ability is about to launch one of their two main annual conferences, Stareyes Galaxy had an opportunity to have a chat with Gentle, about Virtual Ability and the life of people with disabilities on SL.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Real-life 3D printing of Second Life © Designs – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting…

Three-dimensional (3D) printing of small objects at home has become a popular hobby for wannabe designers, and this shows also in the new technology “hype” statistics.

Anything from decorative and hard-to-find spare parts to the constituent parts of the printer itself can be manufactured using mesh designs and an export file for the printer in question. Second Life © (SL) is also a viable platform for viewing the designs before printing them in 3D, and now also designs made for SL can be printed in glorious 3D for real-life (RL) use. Stareyes Galaxy discussed the technology and real-life examples of SL jewelry with Joja Dhara and Maxi Gossamer.