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Brambline
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 Post subject: Second Life
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 1:39 am 
Once in a while we get guildies that say: "My partner and I use WoW to meet and spend time when we're apart". To which I've asked "Have you ever heard of the virtual world called Second Life?". Not that I want to lose our beloved guildies to another game, but knowing all the possibilities SL offers for this particular purpose, I can't help but ask. I've promised many times to introduce Second Life to those who don't know about it, and here it is finally.

What is Second Life? Their own intro video:


Since pictures speak louder than words, let me show you some other fascinating videos from Second Life:

Quit your job and make a living selling virtual stuff!





Explore the Moon!





Go to (or create) a concert of your favourite band!





Give birth!





Dance!





Survive the noobs!





Build your home from a floorplan! (I did and it was fun!)





Build (or visit) a city!





Make something! It's easy!





Make your own clothes!


Of course, the one this guy made in a few minutes looks like crap. But if you really put some time and effort into it and upload some nice textures, you can make any clothing look really frickin' nice like the top hat this lady made:
Image



See your favourite artist perform right before your eyes!





Buy and drive a car! (or just build your own!)






So what is Second Life? In short, it's a virtual world run by Linden Lab. However all of the content (aside the planet we live on) is created by us players. Seriously, every house, city, piece of clothing, object, car, space ship, amusement park, museum you see is created by normal every day players. In one way this is cool because exploration is infinate as you visit places people have created, but it's also sad because when a player quits the game the place they created shuts down and is forever lost too. Not to mention that someone might have built a beautiful castle one day, but the next day when you want to visit it they've replaced it with something else. Anything you create in Second Life you have ownership of and have the right to sell it. For REAL money. And this is part of the whole experience, they actually want you to and give you all the tools to do it. For free!

People can communicate with either textual or audio chat. And when you speak out loud, your character actually tries to lip sync and will move it's arms about expressively which is very cool. If you type in the textual chat your character will simulate writing on a keyboard.

People can move around through various methods. Walking, flying (everyone can fly), teleporting (you can save any location as a teleport bookmark), using in game vehicles, clicking sURLS which are Second Life Urls, so if you find a cool place to visit on the web, click the link and it will automatically open the Second Life client and teleport your character to that location. Handy!

Oh and by the way, Second Life is free to download and free to play!

http://secondlife.com/

So what's the down side? Well for anyone logging on and expecting a game to play, that's not what you're going to get. It's a virtual world and a giant sand box in which players pop in and are free to do what they like. Create, explore, socialize, learn or just be. It doesn't offer any predefined path upon which to go by, there is no-one to tell you what you what to do or where to go. You can't log on for a nice "grinding session", get the day's stress worked out of you and log off, instead you'll log on and feel overwhelmed about where to even start because there's so much. As if there weren't already too many places that need exploring, too many things you'd like to build, too many projects you'd like to fulfill, the in game calendar for public events will make your head spin. At any given time you can do a search on what events are currently ongoing and you'll see that "at 10PM" 5 interesting classes are starting, 4 discos are opening up, 10 various live concerts are starting, 3 interesting talks are beginning, 2 theatre performances, etc etc. There's too much to do! That's one of the reasons I don't spend time in SL anymore, I feel like I'm constantly missing out on something or like I need to be making use of all the creation possibilities. There's so much I should and could be doing it makes my head spin. And once I start a project it really sucks all my time.

As for more concrete downsides. Using the game and moving your character around takes some getting used to. And if you decide to make an avatar of your own self, you feel like you need to be on your best behaviour at all times. But of course there is nothing that's stopping you from making a purely fantasy character. But since it's just 1 character per account you tend to want to "spend" it on being you. I did open a second account at some point though just to do the naughty stuff in SL. *grins* But I do find myself rather logging on with my virtual self. Also, to register - and even though it's free to download and play - they will require your credit card info when you register which is used to prove age. Second Life also has a teenager client for underaged players. However this turns out to be a bonus for adults since we pretty much know that the majority of players in the adult version are in fact adults.

Other downsides are seeing all these cool videos but then logging on, expecting to find everything and just getting a boring and disappointing experience because you're just standing there and don't know how to get to them. Then some weirdo is sending you private messages and people are brushing past you and you can't really walk and all the options in the UI look overwhelming and and... well it takes some time to learn how to use it and where to go.

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Brambline
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:15 am 
Some things I've done in Second Life Part 1: Avatar customization

When you arrive in the game, your character looks pretty crappy, but as you walk around you soon realize that some people look absolutely amazing and it makes you want to learn how to get into hard core customizing too! Here are the ways you can customize in SL:

Your character body - the basics:

- Body and face shape
- Height and weight
- Color of skin, eyes, hair etc usual stuff
- Hairstyle

Your character body - advanced:
- Skin (upload a skin image you made with Photoshop and apply it to your avatar)
- Mesh (upload a 3d mesh of your body shape and completely transform what they are shaped like. Walk around as a donut or pokemon if you feel like it)
- Build your own hair from the 3d "prims" in the game (you'll see a picture of me doing it at the end of this post)

Your characters physical movements:

- Poses (how they stand, how they sit etc)
- Animations (how they walk, how they gesture)
- Integrate a sound file with an animation, for instance record yourself doing a sigh, then upload the file into second life, create an animation of the character sighing and make a "gesture". Then any time you feel like making your character sigh, use the macro and it will play the animation and sigh out your own recording automatically. Incredible huh?

Your character's audio:

- If you choose to, you can speak out loud all the time and your character will physically mimic talking automatically with gestures and lip syncing, nothing needed on your part
- You can record things you say or upload other audio files, for instance if you wanted your character to put on headphones in the game, you could upload a bit of muffled music playing (just have to be careful with copyrights). Or if you wanted your character to make a breaking glass sound whenever they fell down, you could do that

Your character's clothing:
- Shop for and buy clothing made by others
- Get "freebie" clothing (lots of that around) from other players or freebie places
- Create your own clothes by uploading clothing skins you designed in Photoshop
- For more advanced clothing that does not "stick" flat to the body (like say a pair of panties would), you can build objects and color/skin them, then wear the object. (see the cylindar hat video in the first post)

Here's how customizing my character all started back in 2006:


First using the default character tools, I tried my best to make my character look like me the best I could. But as you can see, things were not going well...

Image

As for her body, well mine looks like crap IRL, but while we're in a virtual world, why not "pimp it up" since we can! So I tried to give her a hot body.... But well, this was not the kind of hotness I had in mind:

Image

It was time to get more advanced and try skinning. Making a skin for Second Life is actually pretty easy. You can download the template image on the web and just draw over it with a paint program such as Photoshop:

Image

Then you save the file and upload it into Second Life, applying it to your character. (clothes work the same way btw)

First I tried making myself a face from one of my own photos:

Image

And I also bought some hair from a virtual hair salon and "dressed it" on. Here's my very fist try:

Image

Aaaaarrghghhghhgh ghghhgh my eyes are bleeding!

But I worked on it some more, made adjustments, experimented and finally...

Image

That's more like it! And as for the body, there was no way in hell that I was going to take a photo of my nekkid self and upload that (and like I said there's nothing very pretty to see anyhow!) so I simply painted an imaginary body in Photoshop, uploaded it and "tried it on".

Image

Hey, now we're getting somewhere! In fact I even visited a nudist beach in Second Life just to see if people would react to my completely unique customized body that no-one else in the whole game had. And yeah... I got some attention from the fellers! Just see what a naughty and perverted GM you have!

And how about some hair... Well I'd invested some of my valued in game money in the hair that you see above, but it wasn't quite right. So I decided to build my own hairstyle by building prims and twisting the pieces into curlets. I also uploaded a hair texture to SL and applied that to the locks.

Image

Next I needed to get her dressed. So again, using the free clothing templates, photoshopped over them to make my "dream outfit". Here's the gothic lolita shirt I had googled as reference, and pretty much cut in pieces and pasted over the pattern.

Image

And here's my character wearing it!

Image

Cool huh?

I eventually got so excited by this that I started making lingerie, which I hand painted in Photoshop and started to sell on SL:

Image
Image
Image

And once you put something up for sale in Second Life, it stays there forever and ever and ever. So all you need to do is make it once and when people buy it, they're actually buying a copy of it. I've had these lingerie sets up for sale for many years now and a constant small dribble of money comes in. Back in the day I was even running my own boutique, renting space from a popular shopping mall. Here I am with a customer who just bought the red set and was trying it on for the first time. She was very pleased!

Image

But how about walks and poses? The default versions really really suck in Second Life and are completely unnatural. See how stiffly me and my customer are standing in the above picture? Well THAT is a the default standing position my friends. Awful! You stand around like a stick. (you'll see more of what I mean from some of the earlier videos) Something had to be done!

I tried some of the freebie poses and animations that are floating around the game but they just weren't "me" or how I envisioned my character. So using a bit of software, I created poses (and later uploaded and added to my character).

Image

I have not gone as far to make animations yet, and so far I've only used the freebie "model walks" and other animations you can get in SL, but maybe some day.

And now to see my character - after skinning, posing, hairstyling, clothing - all by my hand - here she is "in action". Here she is dancing at a disco using one of the freebie dancing animations. (unfortunately the framerate is horrid because I had a slow machine at the time so video capture was awful, but it looked good in game!)



On the weekend I'll make a post about how I made my own apartment in Second Life and other stuff I've built.


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Lyrael

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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:03 am 
First reactions:

- Brambline, it seems like you manage to be pro at everything you engage in... How the hell can you do that?!

- Even though I have never been particularly thrilled by the concept of Second Life as it is now, I cannot but think at how open "alternative world" environment like this will look in 20-30 years, and how much wider will be our interaction with them. I wonder if we will become less interested in real life, at that point...

- It should probably be wise to learn a little more about 3D modelling. One day it may well become a rich source of revenue!

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Pryderic
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 12:22 pm 
I've had a couple of glances at this and it does look quite interesting. My computer time is relatively limited and with so much Wow stuff I'm doing at the moment I wouldnt have a great deal of time for it but perhaps. A little scary having to give your CC details for proof of age but as long as nothing gets charged to it...

Anyway, if I get really bored at 5am over the weekend and not playing wow :P...

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Lahu
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 5:14 pm 
Looks amazing Bram, well done! Hey the devs should give you a little something for the good publicity you gave them. :mrgreen: The only thing that has put me off from the game is that you have to pay real currency to "advance" in it. It's not a level playing field like WoW where everybody pays the same subscription amount (with the exception of some vanity pets and the possible upcoming (and optional) RealID grouping system about which the player base is raging so hard now). Also, the concept is a bit scary (in the sense that it's basically offered as an alternative to RL almost) although as a WoW player I guess I can't complain too much. :wink: Maybe one day when I may find myself with a fair amount of money and time I'll check it out. As for the moment: money's OK, time is not. :P

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Nikina
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:52 pm 
i love how you are so talented with customisation bram :D i just do not have the patience or knowledge to create anything graphically! although i play wow, i never really understand the appeal of second life and the cost that goes with it, but each to their own i guess. a friend of mine plays that and another virtual game similair (rls?) and he loves them. but a quick question, can you make money from those games creating clothes etc?

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Damkina
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 6:49 am 
Nevermind that my brain almost imploded over the fact that I didn't understand how to get my neat free clothes unplacked until I actually sat down and saw a tutorial and that I haven't got a creative bone in my body which makes most of this second life a bit intimmidating to me. But, and it's a big but, I really love the fact there's live music in-game. I'll definifty go back to listen to more of that. Concerts is something I've missed since moving from the city. So thanks for making this thread Brambline :D


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Brambline
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 1:13 am 
Lyrael: Pfffft... I am just too geeky for my own good. *grins* And apart from my kids - I don't have a life! I am really looking forward to seeing how virtual worlds are too. I'm sure amazing. Hell Second Life amazes me already now despite it's clunkyness. As for being less interested in real life at that point... no doubt. I can think of times where I even felt that way with the MMOs I played. At least back when they were all new and amazing to me. As for 3D modelling, well in Second Life you don't have to know anything at all about 3d modelling to make something. The in game tools for creation are really easy for anyone to use (despite how daunting they may have looked in those videos) but believe me, it's easy! And the process of handling those objects is completely different from using the real 3d software like Max or Maya.

Pryderic: Second Life is run by Linden Labs and the game has been around for many years. They are dealing with the exchange of real currency to Linden dollars and vica versa on a daily basis. Their credibility is top notch and so are their security systems. To be honest I'd be more wary of giving Blizzard my credit information. Many huge corporations and even governments are involved with Second Life. For instance CNN and Nokia have their own islands and cities there. And many countries are running virtual embassies as well. So they've really got to be on their game. It's a pretty safe bet :).

Lahu: You said that one has to invest real money to "advance" in Second Life. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The game is free, there are no monthly fees (unless you own land), the in game tools for creating and scripting are free to use. There are tons of freebie textures, sound files etc in the game that even Linden Lab gives away free so folks can dive right into creating stuff. The only thing that "costs" is your time and effort :-). There is absolutely nothing that is forcing you to shop at the boutiques people set up. They sell clothes they made themselves. Don't feel like dishing out dough? Make your own! Or else use the freebies floating around. And it's true what you say that it is certainly not a levelling game like WoW. Far from it. One person's idea of "advancing" in Second Life could be completely different from someone elses. For instance a young woman might "level" by working on beautifying her avatar. While a business man could care less about how his avatar works and instead looks into investments. For instance there was this one lady Anshe Chung, who starting buying virtual land. She bought, rented, sold and eventually became a millionaire. A REAL LIFE millionaire. She was even on the cover of Business Week!

Image



I don't know, this game just blows my mind sometimes :-).

Nikina:
Customizing is really easy if you have Photoshop. You don't need to be a Photoshop guru if you settle for something more simple than what I was making. The whole point, the beauty of it all is making your character one of a kind, completely unique. After customizing something yourself, there is not a single person in the whole game that looks like you. Sometimes I go to events there just to gawk at the huge variety of people. Some folks have pretty amazing imaginations. I'll just settle with looking at least vaguely similar to what I look like IRL.

And yes you can make money making clothes. You don't have to own a virtual shop to sell them either, there are websites you can sell them on, also integrated right into the second life official site. Like I said earlier, I made those three pieces of lingerie years ago and they've been steadilly selling over the years bringing in little dribbles of money. In total I've made maybe a couple of hundred of dollars from those. But the one's who invest a lot of time and effort make thousands every month, to the point of quitting their RL jobs. It's amazing.

Damkina: oh you went to the concerts in SL? Maybe some time we can go together. And I'd be happy to help you (or any of you) with the customization bit. Hell if folks are interested enough I'd be happy to make a very easy 1-2-3 tutorial with screenies on what to do.

_________________
SWTOR:
Empire: Brambline [GM], Mitisa
Republic: Lulai [GM], Shalestina, Saphireena

WoW:
Horde: Brambline [GM], Jezaline, Brula, Gruzie, Bita
Alliance: Lulai [GM], Shalestina, Felunia, Ferocia, Belaguine, Saphireena, Grunilla, Mitisa, Fasha, Ferabine



Lahu
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 9:40 am 
As always a nice detailed reply Bram, thanks :) Well sure I understand that nobody is obliged to dish out any real money in the game itself. But fact is still that the game currency is real currency, and that's what scares me a bit. At the same time it's a very interesting phenomenon that justifies PhD degrees written about it (and there probably are a few) :)

PS I think you got a nice Sharon Stone thing going there Bram ;)

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Damkina
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 Post subject: Re: Second Life
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 12:36 pm 
Sure Brambline. My username is Koltari in second life. I found some neat places with live music with friendly hosts. Not all performers are equally good though but there are some gems.

Have to say I enjoy exploring user created areas as well. Here's a pic of my avatar at a medival/fantasy forest. I had to dress for the occastion as it had a dresscode. :D
Image


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