Sunday, December 26, 2010

Poetry - Christmas Notes to a Once Husband

Pale sun
lights the waning December afternoon,
presents bought, but still unwrapped...

The house is for sale,
by either the bank or the tax man...

Your oldest girl just turned 35...

I know you never liked the season,
in fact, you were Mr. Bah Humbug himself...
we suffered somewhat from that.

My children and I are all together this holiday season,
it has been a long time...

You will be missed by some,
others, not

My hope is, that wherever your soul is
You will at last enjoy this season
of good tidings and good will
and accept it for what it is

Rest in peace my once husband.

Shellie Sands

Monday, December 20, 2010

The “Cataclysm” Continues in Azeroth

This should be my last “Warcraft” article for a while. It’s not every day they make a major update. Though there have been a lot of changes here.

Besides the wolflike Worgen for the Alliance, Goblins are now available as player characters for the Horde side. Small and quick, they are higher in agility and intelligence, have a bonus in attack and casting speed, and those choosing alchemy as a profession start out at 15. From their gadgets, they’re able to do a Rocket Jump and Rocket Barage. And reflecting their background as moneymakers, are able to receive the best discount regardless of faction standing and able to call up access to their banks wherever they are.

The beginning quest chain for the Goblins explains how his/her cartel, the Bildgewater Cartel, got into the Horde. Instead of am unknown, the player starts out as an up and coming businessman/businesswoman on the cartel’s island city of Kazan. As you go about your business, including a ride on a hot rod, Deathwing, the main villain of the game expansion, shows up, and sets off the volcano. You gather your life savings (and then some), in order to get a seat on the Trade Prince’s yacht, but he double crosses you and makes you his slave. However, the ship gets caught in a storm and wrecked. So you get a chance to prove to your fellow Goblins you can be the hero who can get them out of their mess.

The beginning Goblin quest chain is longer than that of the Worgen's, the 100 Quests achievement reached along the way. But it’s packed full of chuckles as you face down funny-looking pygmies, “Oomie goomie goomie!”, who want to sacrifice your friends to their turtle god. Fortunately, you have your Goblin gadgets to get you through, from rocket boots to weed-wackers, but with little to no safety features, there’s always that chance something can go wrong. Along the way, you meet up with a group of Orcs, and everyone decides it’s best to cooperate in order to get off the island. You also run into the most well-known Orc, Warchief Thrall. Players who take up Goblin characters hear from him that he’s placing another Orc in charge of the Horde. This explains why Thrall’s nowhere to be seen in Orgrimmar these days.

But “Cataclysm” is much more than two new races available for play. Flight is now available in the “classic” continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, at least for those Level 60 and over. I’ve heard some wonder if this takes away from some of the experience, but most seem happy with it, the popular gathering places at Ogrimmar and Stormwind filled with flapping mounts as players happily show them off.

You’re going to need your flying license. New areas are now open in these two continents that would otherwise be inaccessible. New quests, monsters, and enemies await. These are more dangerous than previous areas, and your level cap has been raised to 85 to keep up. And with these new levels, new weapons and armor are available. Profession levels have also been raised from 450 to 525, the new rank of proficiency called “Illustrious Grand Master.” And with them, new materials to make high level armor, weapons, potions, etc.

And there’s a new Secondary Profession available, Archeology. Players go around Azeroth digging up artifacts at dig sites recently unearthed by the Cataclysm. After getting the skill from a trainer (the one in Stormwind named Harrison Jones, an obvious take on Indiana Jones), players go to dig sites, and survey them for archeology fragments. A survey site with a red light means you’re far away from your find. A yellow light a fair distance, and a green light means you’re close. One can gather fragments from a site three times, and then it closes while somewhere else on the continent another opens. Four dig sites are open at any one time, and contain artifacts from one of the races, such as Elven or Troll, or fossils.

Once enough fragments are gathered, then can be combined to make artifacts. Your first ones will be common and not worth much, such as common vases and trilobite fossils, . But as you continue to come across artifacts, more valuable ones will appear. Finding fragments will level your Archeology skill for a while, but eventually you level just by combining them into artifacts. But finding the fragments will still get you experience points, which can help out characters that haven’t quite reached Level 80 yet.

While a way to enjoy WoW between questing, some players have their doubts on how valuable this profession is. One guide I came across suggested truly epic items were few and far between. But as a Worgen I saw one Alliance character on a fossilized skeleton mount. A prize from archeology? Maybe.

Another new feature is guild advancement. Guilds can advance with 25 levels of progression, done through the accomplishments of it’s individual players through quests, battleground victories, etc. Each new level brings perks, such as bonus experience from quests and clobbering monsters, faster mount speeds, etc. There are two new Player vs Player battlegrounds, Twin Peaks and Gilneas.

And of course there are the jokes. The Worgen and Goblins have their own special jokes, such as “Since the change, I prefer my meat rare,” and, “When in doubt, blow it up.” Perhaps it’s the perception of this player, but the game designers seem to be getting a little brave on occasion with the humor. One of the female Goblin jokes is a vieled bondage crack, and in one of the lady Worgen jokes, a supposed listener confuses what she actually means by a “bone.” The slightly riskee humor continues to the new quests, in one the player delivering a shipment of crab meat to a lady sailor and being told a subtle STD joke. And it's not just the jokes where the off-color remarks appear. In one of the new low-level quests, the new Orc Warchief insults the Undead queen by calling her a rhymes-with-witch. Blizzard must think their audience is getting older.

Some are probably asking “why just raise the new top level to 85 instead of 90?” Despite being around for several years, World of Warcraft is still successfully at keeping a large audience, and will probably remain so for some time as long as Blizzard continues to be good at giving the players a great game. Someone thought they would keep their lead for at least 20 years. Most likely it won't be that long (in my opinion), but although some people still talk about a potential “WoW killer,” more game developers admit Warcraft will not be going away anytime soon. Instead of being knocked off it’s number one spot by a new hot game, most likely it’s position will be chipped away over time as players’ tastes change and new technical developments allow for stunning new games.

And of course some players would prefer to be in a smaller game where they can meet up with the administrators and content developers, and maybe even contribute to developing in the tools of the game, such as the roleplays and combat RPs in Second Life.

World of Warcraft may be the McDonalds of online games, to paraphrase Eurogamer writer Robert Purchase, but most would prefer to dine elsewhere on occasion as well, and some never get a taste for it to begin with.

Sources: WoWwiki, Eurogamer,net, Massively

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Creative Christmas Hunt

If you’re a creator or builder, or have ever wanted to try your hand at it, you need to check out the Creative Christmas Hunt. The Hunt is going on now through December 22. This Hunt is unique because the prizes are Christmas-themed gifts you can use to create your own special items. Everything comes with full permissions, but you have to agree to not re-sell or give away the item directly. You must use the item to make something, which you are free to give away or sell.

The Hunt starts at Christmas Lane, located at Saint Pierre at (41, 104, 22). Follow the path to hunt for the small green tree that will contain the prize and a landmark for the next location. Nearly 100 stores are participating, which is amazing. Not only will you find a wide variety of items, but you’ll probably visit some locations that are new to you. I know I did.

I liked the textures best, but there are also wreaths, a toy train, trees, ornaments, holly, and many other items. The picture shows me with only a tiny sample of the goodies I have collected. Best of all, many of the participants wrote out directions so you can learn.

There have been a few glitches along the way: stores that were not quite ready or landmarks that didn’t get you to the correct spot. Mandi Blanco, the Hunt coordinator, has been quick to fix things, or at least send out notices to alert participants and offer advice. But the problems have been minor, especially when compared to the valuable prizes and information that has been donated.

Some of the shops have put their trees in easy and obvious spots. Others have been much harder to find. I skipped a few, but I was able to find almost all of the items. A few places give out hints, which is helpful. Usually I think the thrill of the hunt is the most fun, and the prize is secondary. But with the CCH, the prizes are the greatest. It’s a perfect way to learn how to make things without investing a lot of Lindens.

In fact, I think I’ll stop writing and start making things now.

Grey Lupindo

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SL Poetry by Shellie Sands

I curse you!

I loathed you so I left

Now I curse you cause you're dead!

You left me with the fallout, the expense, the children to deal with

I hope you are in a better place and

I hope there is someone wherever you are

to welcome you

and love you

But LET them love you!

Shed those negative thoughts, feelings

let the negative things in your body float away

Give it up!

RIP William

Shellie Sands

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gaming Hall Owner Says Linden Lab is Banning “Autoplay” Feature

I was contacted by a friend this week, whom had gotten into the Zyngo business. He told me he had a “huge” story concerning gaming in Second Life, “in a nut shell, Zyngo went to an online configuration and now LL is using said online config info with the consent of the maker to bust game places that have not updated to the new rules. ... nasty story really. ... big customers of Zyngo have been forced to take off autoplay as they are high profile. Low profile places have not gotten notice, not made changes yet. As a nasty side effect of the online configuration, unintended but not surprising, the owner of the licence server can ’out’ people who have not turned off auto or done what LL has said to do, and is ratting out the little guys to save big customers and also earn brownie points with LL.”

He later wrote some more information on a notecard. While I don’t usually post anonymous comments, I know the person well enough to know he is sincere in his observations and comments.

Big game halls are going under quickly after LL handed down a ban on auto play (where the game will place the numbers for you), and the devil/angel feature, ( I will touch on this later).

One big hall owner selling off their games was quoted "it is just not worth it, the hassle, players do not play Zyngo (one of SL's most popular games) without autoplay" . Many other games are in operation in SL, and many need to be adjusted, this is all to boost the skill component of the games played for money in world. Game halls wishing to sell Zyngo in this current market can expect to get just 500L a game, this is a transfer no copy game with a license, new they are 2400L.

With all the updates and changes, warnings from the creator group of Zyngo have been coming fast and furious, this has added to the paranoia as this game uses an online configuration where anyone with web privileges can see/change your settings, and trust me in this environment you do NOT want Big Brother watching you.

Now for what LL is doing about the skill element, I personally do not think it is a bad thing, however it does stand to reason that not just the devil has to go but ANY free points that do not have a skill component directly attached to them, (you could have a game where 400% of your score comes from a random symbol, with no player action attached), these points currently come in many forms.

2X,3X or any other X: This is a hidden symbol that is randomly uncovered , it normally doubles your points but it can do much more, with no intentional skill attached, yes a player is trying to uncover a number and the side effect is the 2X, but the player is not skillfully or knowingly uncovering that symbol, the random 2X is just as decisive to the game as angels and devils and currently the way most games are set up, it is a total accident when you get it.

Diamonds/Angels: Any free points that take no action on the players part, these are NOT legal by any skill game standard. These types of points influence the main skill component of the game. Bonus rounds: Some games at the end you have a bonus round, in most cases this is just a random click on the players part and it totally decides the outcome, if these points in any way are used to decide the skill component, again they are not lawful by any set of skill game rules I can find.

Thanks for your time.

Sorry I wish I could pen my name to this piece but Big Brother really
IS watching.

He told me when word of this goes around, he may take a hit in the short run, but should avoid trouble if Linden Labs reverses its ban.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bryn Oh’s “Standby”

Virtual artist Bryn Oh recently completed the third part of her “Rabbicorn” story: “Standby.” Like "The Rabicorn" last year, it is made up of a series of displays of sculptures, each with a poem describing it’s part of the story.

“Standby is the third and final part to the Rabbicorn story,” Bryn wrote in a notecard,”I strongly suggest you watch these two machinima if you are unfamiliar with the story. Better yet would be to go through the builds themselves. I have put both the Rabbicorn story and the Daughter of Gears physical builds on Immersiva, (202, 146, 1151). I have also written up both on my blog where you can watch the machinima if you prefer to do it that way.”

Also in the notecard, Bryn Oh described herself as “a metaverse artist who is meant to exist only online. She is a concept, a pixel character who inhabits the virtual world of Second Life. The idea is to see if a virtual identity can succeed within the real world of flesh and blood artists.” Her blog describes the real-life artist as a Toronto oil painter.

I went to the location of the Standby exhibit, the entrance leading to an abandoned theater. Getting past that, I ran into the introduction of Standby, and found Bryn there, chatting with a few friends who came by. “The whole presentation is fantastic,” she was told, “Thank you for putting it together. I loved it very much.” She turned to me after some time with her friends, “This is my final part to the story,” she told me. I asked her if she planned this while doing the earlier Rabbicorn story, or did it come after? “No,” she told me, “this was all planned a few years ago when I did the ‘Daughter of Gears.’ “ She explained building all of the displays, “took about two months and ... 14,996 prims. The poems took a few months as well ... This is a special build for me. I wanted to be sure it was exactly how I wanted it.”

“Artistically, it is the most advanced,” Bryn explained, “and uses most of the unique traits of Second Life as an art medium. The scope of it is far more than anything i have done before. It began in 2008, where most of my builds are generally one-offs, though they are connected to this story but satelite builds.”

The story, through the exhibits, describes the Daughter of Gears and the Rabicorn, the best of friends, going out to to explore. Each one has a teleport to the next., progressing the story. The final scenes are a touching show of friendship.

.: I fell in love one afternoon
.: and wrote your name on a white balloon
.: I set it free to fly above
.: and dreamt it was a flying dove

Well-detailed, the exhibition can only be described as must-see by those interested in the art scene in Second Life.

"Standby" is located at IBM Exhibit A at (210, 209, 20). You can first check the Youtube trailer Here.

Bryn O's blog is located here:

Bixyl Shuftan

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Real Memories Brought to Virtual Life

A swirling vortex of textures, colors and shapes danced before him, teasing him with a semblance of order and familiarity, before morphing once again into a jumbled mass of code in search of form. “Still rezzing,” a familiar voice reassured him, “give it a minute.”

Slowly, the spectrum of visualizations began making sense. First a house…then a yard…a dog in the backyard slowly came into focus. “I hate this lag!” He shouted, but did not type. Something though became oddly familiar to him; the station wagon in the driveway, the open wheat field across the street, standing sentinel between the neighborhood and the major interstate visible a half mile away. Then, like an unprepared boxer taking one full force to the gut, it hit him. He spoke underneath his breath, not sure who he was asking, “I’m home?”

“I know this house. It’…home.” His voiced trailed off. He’s sat unmoving – stunned - as if having seen and felt a ghost of a long dead friend brushing past him, disbelieving with his mind what was obvious to his eyes. The entire neighborhood – the one he grew up in - slowly materializing in front of him, with the clarity and detail of a high-resolution perfectly preserved digital image, but with life, movement and increasing emotion.

His boyhood friends, calling his name, riding their bikes in the street in front of the lower-middle class home in which he, his younger brother and three sisters grew up. Details long ago forgotten appeared exactly as he had once known them to be; the untrimmed hedge in front of his bedroom window, the large red-painted wooden fence at the side of the house that he would often rappel from; the shed, rusty and near collapse in the backyard slowly squeaking at the suggestion of each lovely summer’s breeze, and the majestic Pecan tree, towering over the home of his childhood - exactly…exactly, as it was years ago. “But, it’s impossible,” he whispers. “Welcome home, John. It’s good to see you again,” his older sister’s comforting voice again came through his earphones. He shuddered with emotion.


She continued to sob violently in front of her laptop screen. A torrent of salty tears spilling across her face. Her husband rushed across the room towards her, expecting to find some horrific detail in an email from her sister, or something so utterly and globally tragic in the news that would cause this kind of devastating emotional reaction from his wife. He wasn’t expecting what he saw on her screen. He stared…in disbelief. Seconds passed, then he uttered, “Turn it off.” “Baby, just turn it off…”

“No! Don’t touch it!” her shaking voice shattering the stillness of their quiet evening, enough to wake the children. “It’s her!” “Oh my God, Allen…it’s Mom.” He saw it too, frozen at the sight of the frighteningly accurate and lifelike image of her mother, dead now 5 years, but…alive now, on the computer screen and looking directly at them. Shifting her gaze, as if with consciousness from her daughter to her son-in-law, and then back again; she stared past the computer screen, fixing her gaze upon her daughter. Her mother’s eyes now – as they always were - full of life, joy, glistening, blinking, looking with seemingly genuine emotion at her daughter, who continued to weep. “Jeannine… it’s me, Princess. It’s me…” the avatar whispered.

Across the globe, people are having very similar, emotionally charged experiences. The catalyst: The new Memory Augmented Reality Module (M.A.R.M.), which became available in the U.S. just one week ago. Available only through licensed online virtual communities, including SL, the units and related software sell for approximately $1,500 U.S. per unit. The experiences promised and delivered have been nothing short of stunning, surpassing the hype and advertising, pushing demand far beyond the ability to manufacture the units and creating a backlog estimated to reach at least 6 months into the future.

The advances in what is now commonly referred to as “mind mapping,” via the science of Neuroinformatics, has finally bridged the divide between human brain memory, processes and analytical thinking and the technology utilized to structure and operate virtual and augmented realities. The first consumer driven application, M.A.R.M., despite the surrounding ethical controversy, has been nothing short of a cataclysmic event in the evolution of the human brain and its fusion with today’s technology.

Linden Lab, the pioneer in this newly christened M.A.R.M. technology, has been beta testing the software and equipment for nearly 2 years. While all publicly released findings of the clinical trials demonstrate the technology as being “safe” for the general population, the emotional impact and experiences being reported by some of its users appears to have been grossly underestimated, and the duration of the emotional side effects, misjudged. Sales of the units were recently halted due to reports from across the county of users experiencing anxiety disorders, generalized depression and conditions replicating PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). These reports notwithstanding, demand for the units continues to grow almost exponentially, with backorders in the tens of thousands.

The most recent and tragic incident involved Seattle, WA resident, Nora Taylor, a 38 year old mother of three, who after completing the 24-hour mind mapping base-line process, began to utilize the M.A.R.M. device to recreate her childhood environments, friends and family. These simulations being made possible by importing the memory data mined, cataloged and translated into readable code into the SL data base, where a personalized region was then created based on these inputs.

The ensuing 36 hours for Nora Taylor can only be described as heartrending, as she rekindled old friendships, and reunited with relatives long since deceased, “losing herself,” as described by her husband, Jeff Taylor, “within the virtual recreation of her past life.” Upon returning from a business trip, finding their children uncared for and unfed, and his wife in a coma-like nirvana, Jeff promptly phoned 911 for emergency assistance. While the children have since fully recovered, sadly Nora Taylor died 2 days later while suffering from psychiatrically-induced catatonia.

Dr. Alred Russo with the National Institute of Mental Health, NIHM, stated that in extreme cases, involving already unstable, highly emotional or hypersensitive individuals, a real danger may in fact exist. “The virtual recreation of past real-life environments, and the sight of highly detailed recreations (avatars) of friends and family created via the improved 3-D imagery of SL, can be overpoweringly real, particularly when combined with the strength of real life memories and emotions.” He goes on, “The users’ brain can become so overwhelmed with sensory and emotional stimuli, that this virtual world and real life can become indistinguishable.”

Sales of M.A.R.M. products are expected to resume by next week – albeit with revised warnings and cautions. M.A.R.M. software and hardware may be purchased directly from Linden Lab, the official vendor of the M.A.R.M. Experience © in Second Life.

Latest version of Mind Mapping Hardware, M.A.R.M. ©

FoxM Ember

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SL Poetry - Intimate Moments and Thoughts of Us

A time to lay together
when comfort envelops us
like a soft, warm blanket.
The times are few and far between
but we relish them
like good food or fine wine.

Such hope laced with
such joy laced with
The joy courts uncertainty,
The fear carries sorrow.

And one day
The dam will break,
and every hope, dream and fear I have
will go crashing downstream
as rapids over jagged rock
magnificent in their freedom
and the truth will be revealed.

Shellie Sands

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reader Submitted: If Shakespeare Did Second Life

All the grid’s a stage,
And all the avatars merely players:
They have they logins and their crashes;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the island,
Begging for help all creatures around
And then the very first teleport, with Linden skin
And plasteline hair, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to camp, and then the lover,
Dancing like Astaire, with a freebe plant
Worn to his mistress’ glory. Then a trader
Full of strange oaths and all dressed in gold,
Jealous in profit, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the empty mall. And then the shop owner.
In a high prim suit with custom-made skin,
With eyes severe and shape of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the low prim avatar, like noob
With no overrider and no group tag on side
His youthfull HUD, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shape, and his big manly voice
Turning again towards newbe simple chat
And mistakes in his type. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second ALT and mere oblivion
Sans land, sans friends, sans groups, sans everything

Jacek Shuftan

Sunday, October 10, 2010

SL Poetry - Life Cycle

the old tall oak
stands firm in its roots
it has stood there for many years
wind blows, rustling its leaves

still green leaves
splashed against
a perfect cerulean sky
on an october afternoon
an idyllic scene

it welcomes the birds that come
and perch on its branches
each day

the birds convene
they chatter back and forth
the tree smiles
it loves them like children

and the birds have had their meeting
they fly of in a gathered flock
as though children of the wind

And the tree smiles once again
and bids them farewell ...for today

They will be back tomorrow
and the cycle will repeat

Shellie Sands

Saturday, October 9, 2010

SL Viewers: What's the Deal, What do I Use, and Why

I was recently asked which Second Life viewers am I using. I decided to answer that in a note since it's sorta a long answer and it turned into an article.

I use two different computers when on Secondlife or other 3d platforms like ReactionGrid. They are both Windows based systems. One is a desktop HP with an AMD processor that was bought in 2006 but has upgraded hardware and many software tweaks to personalize and speed up processing. It has an NVidia graphics (9600) card and a Soundblaster Live sound card as well as 4 gigs of memory. My laptop is a Toshiba Satellite that I hook up to 32" monitor. The processor is about a year old and it has no extras but 2 gigs of memory. The laptop is what I use most for 3d platforms due to the processor being newer, which cuts down on lag

Everyone has their priorities when seeking a viewer. Gamers look for fast rezzing and stability as well as those little extra features that tickle their fancy. Builders and designers look for features beyond the norm but my main focus when reviewing is what the average user is looking for and that's fast rezzing and stability (crashes). Many do not realize that a computer's processor is what matters in order to have the best online experience with any 3d platform, not a video card (unless you're a gamer) but the processor. The more updated it is, the better your experience because you won't lag, you can take advantage of many viewer features and your graphics will leave you in awe.

I will not substitute stability and fast rezzing for anything else. If a viewer does not offer a step up process for rezzing, I know to lower, then gradually increase my distance for faster rezzing. I'm typically on high or ultra viewing but also lower it for rezzing when first entering a sim.

I use Snowglobe for shopping, riding my chopper and sometimes exploring because it's the fastest rezzing & most stable viewer. I use my Mystitools radar when viewer does not offer one like Snowglobe but a few sims disable or make radar scanning sleep due to lag contribution, which is a minor deficit with Snowglobe.

Snowglobe viewer

Ascent is one of my favorite viewers for clubbing because it has built in radar and the combined features of many viewers, yet is not as fast in rezzing as Snowglobe, if it was I'd stick with Ascent as my favorite viewer because it has all the features I want and more. Ascent Viewer

Imprudence and Phoenix, I use just to keep updated on their development and sometimes for building/teraforming, depending on my needs at the time. I do notice that both are slow at rezzing more than Snowglobe, especially with other avatars. I have to speed up avatar rezzing by switching my groups tag (this really works) but it still takes longer with Imprudence. I do notice that Phoenix is a little better than Imprudence with rezzing. A few of these new viewers share the previous Emerald viewer code but with small code changes like GUI.

Imprudence Viewer

Phoenix Viewer

As for other viewers, I used them for review/article purposes only and they have not impressed me. There is a new viewer out called The Dolphin Viewer, which is based on Snowglobe 1.5 source. It contains many fixes and enhancements for explorers they claim but I have yet to review this one but will soon. Dolphin Viewer info here

I'll restate that I do not trust any developer ever associated with the recently ceased Emerald project because I know their history and I'm not referring to the recent Emerald Gate but things before that, except for LordGregGreg Back. He had started his own project with the Emergence Viewer and I'm not sure what's up with that project but it seems kinda dead. I do suggest not using a viewer that isn't updated periodically. Greg has recently teamed up (again) with previous Emerald developers after having left them in the past due to creative differences, legalities and abuse (he stood up for himself and users, then resigned). I do wonder about the current Phoenix team (ex emerald + new developers) because their credibility is shot to say the least. If you want to risk your computer and your privacy then use Phoenix. The risk is much less now that the development team "should" be working with full disclosure (transparency). Linden Labs waited too long and gave them too much opportunity before they disqualified Emerald and the team, so I really don't trust Linden Labs in regards to monitoring 3rd party viewers. Linden Labs is accountable by US law to keep it's users safe from privacy invasion and infiltration but they've proven they take that too lightly in the past. Emergence Viewer

There is a viewer that is impresive and that's Kirstens, which is a high end viewer meant to be used for in dept photography and Machinima. It requires more computer resources than any other viewer and a technical savy user. If you can handle this viewer, I suggest you go for it but keep in mind, if you are not the above average user, stay away from it but it's well worth it if you can. The graphics alone will blow you away. Kirstens Viewer

I wish all the viewers had integrated multi media like LL viewer 2.0 for many reasons, that offer numerous benefits for advertising, education and avatar appearance. I am looking forward to the release of Snowstorm, which is a open source project with LL. It's sort of an upgrade of Snowglobe, which was the first open source project between LL and open source developers but with a GUI we are used to. Snowstorm will have features integrated from other favorite viewers as well as new additions and hopefully multi-media. Snowstorm viewer Wiki page

(important) I just manually updated my viewers. Keep in mind that most don't have automatic updates and with all the new viewers out and LL constant updates, I suggest checking for viewer updates at least twice monthly. Check your viewer's version and the web sites current downloadable version.

My favorites are in this order:

1. Snowglobe

2. Ascent

3. Phoenix

3. Kirstens

4. Imprudence

5. LL Viewer2.0

SammanthaS Nightfire

Friday, October 8, 2010

Amaretto Horses

I was out looking for a park the other day when I found myself in the middle of a herd of horses. They were near the path leading to Artis Natur, located at Reveleations (121/156/29). I must have arrived at dinner time because the horses were all whinnying and restless. When I spotted their owner, Freyja Nemeth, I decided to postpone my hike in order to talk to her.

Freyja Nemeth and her partner, Ran Garrigus, have been raising Amaretto horses for about 3 weeks. The Amaretto horses have only been available for about a month, so Nemeth and Garrigus have gotten in on the ground floor of this newest addition to breedable SL animals. Between them they own about 22 horses.

Prior to raising horses, Nemeth raised Ozimal bunnies. The horses, she explained, are more complex, and serious breeders keep track of bloodlines and traits in order to try to breed more exotic horses. “Each horse has two genes for each trait,” she said, “so once you start breeding them, that's when you can get out rare coats that sell for lots of money. For example, a starter horse might be a golden Palomino. Some hidden traits are coats like Red Arabians or Silver/Black Mustangs. And they can also get special eyes like Diamond or Opal or upright or long manes instead of normal manes.”

The Amaretto horses vary widely in price. If purchased as a pack of 1 male and 3 females, the cost is about $3000L. At the auction houses or from private sellers, the cost can range from as low as $200L to as high $80,000L. Rare stallions have been known to cause bidding wars at the auctions, she said.

Her dapple grey, “Prosperina”, was a special limited edition horse and very pretty. Nemeth also has a foal who was born with aquamarine eyes, another special trait. The foal was just hours old when I saw her, but she’ll be mature in 7 days and be able to breed in about 4 months.

The horses can also be ridden, and Nemeth assured me they were gentle. She hopped up on “Branwen” to show me how the horses move. Because they are worn, they can be ridden in any location, which is a plus. Like RL horses, however, these SL horses must be fed and cared for on a regular basis. If they aren’t cared for and fed, they can get sick, which means vet bills, medicine, etc. Horse food costs about $200L/month. Saddles, bridles, and other accessories are also available.

The horses were fascinating, so I decided to visit a couple of auction houses. The first, Herdy's Auction Barn, located at Nantes (56, 117, 23), was packed with residents and horses. I just missed the live auction, but there were silent auctions going on continually. Owners place their horses in the stalls that line the barn, set a minimum bid, and wait for auction fever to hit. "Beck", a silver Arabian female had almost 3 hours remaining on her auction. A resident named A. Lupindo (a distant cousin maybe?) had bid $10,000L, but he or she had been outbid. When I left, the high bid was $12,500L.

At Red Barn Horses, located at Lighthouse Oasis (196, 121, 301), horses filled a couple of barns and row and after row of outside corrals. Auctions are held every morning there. Signs were posted to explain the rules and how the auctions work, which was helpful.

For more information about Amaretto horses, check out But if horses and bunnies aren’t your thing, just wait. The rumor around SL is that kittens are one the way.

Grey Lupindo

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SL Fiction: Walk Into the Water

He walked toward their beach house, the one he and Deborah had worked so hard to get. It was still hard to believe, after all the years of work, of saving and planning that they had finally made their dream a reality. The house on the beach, the 42 foot schooner moored to the dock, everything was perfect. Deborah, his true love and wife of 19 years, by his side, fulfilling everything he could have ever desired in a partner. He had never before been this content with his life. “Surfing,” he though to himself, “I think I’ll go surfing today.”

The sounds of the waves licking at the pier were in perfect sync with the gulls singing overhead. The breeze, out of the west, was soft and gentle on his face. He loved the smell of the salty air, it reminded him of family vacations at the coast when he was a child. But the coast where he and his parents would trek to during the hot Texas summers was nothing like this. Here, the sand wasn’t gray, but white, and delicate and pristine; the water not the sea green of the gulf, but a beautiful azure blue ocean, clear and crystalline.

He scooped his feet through the soft clean sand as he walked, relishing the sensations. He wanted the passing of time to freeze at this very moment, to seal and preserve forever this feeling, this moment, this wonderful sense of contentment. He would be happy to live in this moment and in this place for the rest of his life. “Heaven…this must be what Heaven is like,” he mused.

“Dad?” it was his daughter.

“Good Morning, Princess!”

Heather was almost 15 now, and had been begging to start driving lessons this summer, but the thought of her behind the wheel terrified him. In fact, the thought of driving period – had become unnerving to him. Maybe it was old age creeping in, or the increasingly dimming memory of hectic city driving, exchanged now for their life here on the island, where walking, biking and sailing were the only needed modes of transportation. The thought of Heather going away to college, and having to drive the treacherous highways, cars and trucks recklessly flying by and at her at breakneck speeds…he shivered.

“Princess, I’ve been thinking…about the driving lessons. I think, maybe, we should wait a little bit…maybe another year before…”

“Mom!” she shouted. “Why do we always have to remind him? Every time! It’s getting old.”

“Dad, walk into the water with me.” She waded out into the ocean defiantly, and then suddenly dropped under the surface.

“Heather!” He ran in, small explosions of foamy water flying out from under his feet, until she popped back up.

“Heather, that’s not funny! You scared the heck out of me.” They walked slowly back to shore, his arm wrapped around her shoulder.

“Dad, look.” she spoke softly now.

“What?” a smile returning to his face.

“Your pants, your shoes, your socks…see? See them? Geez.”

“Hey, I like these pants! And these are the shoes that…” he stopped.

“Dry? I’m…dry. But…”

Deborah’s voice broke into the growing awkward silence, “It’s the software glitch, Honey, we should have it fixed soon, I told you that already. You need to be patient, and stop shutting down at night like I told you. Now go get ready for school and let me talk with you dad.”

Deborah was now beside him, looking amazing. She always looked amazing. She was wearing a yellow sundress and sandals, and like the sun itself, radiated warmth and beauty from her hair, her eyes, her fingers. She was gorgeous, her long auburn hair waving gently with the ocean breeze. She rarely wore makeup or jewelry; she didn’t need it, and he loved that about her.

Still, after 19 years, there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t remind himself how lucky he was to have won her heart. He could have easily become one of those sad middle-aged men he used to see on business trips; unhappy with their spouse, pitifully and always unsuccessfully seeking illicit happiness with a waitress or a stranger in hotel lounges. They reminded him of desperate salmon, fighting the ruthless currents of time and reality, looking for a one night spawn.

“Software glitch…Deb, What are you talking about?” he chuckled, waiting for the joke.

“John, the upgrades should be available within a month or two, until then I’ll keep trying to make sure Heather doesn’t shut down at night unless…oh, wow, this is…” there was a disquieting despair creeping into her words. “I hate to keep having to tell you.”

“Tell me what? Deb, what is it?” his brow furrowed by his sincere confusion.

“John, once the upgrades come, you’ll be able to remember everything from the previous sessions. It’s just that, for now I have to tell you every…”

“Sessions? Deb, what’s going on? Where did Heather go? Tell me what?!” His frustration always seemed to reach a new high each time she went through this. It concerned her that it was beginning to turn to anger. She didn’t want Heather to see him like this, to spoil her memories of him.

“Heather had to sign out, she’ll be late for school again. She’ll be back online later.” she sighed.

“Deb…I don’t understand…”

“John…Baby, try to remember…the accident.”

“Accident?” his voice trembled.

“Yes, Baby. Six months ago. Try to remember, John. I hate this. They said that the AI interface-software-patch-thingy would fix this. What a waste of money. I should have just waited for the upgrade, but they said the patch would allow you uninterrupted access to the MARM data, without rebooting, but…

“Wait! MARM? The ‘MARM’ data? That was the mind and memory mapping program we did together in June. I…I remember. Memory, augmented…reality…module. MARM, that’s right isn’t it?”

“Good, baby. Yes, that’s right. That’s good. We did the baseline mind mapping together, the whole family. John…do you remember…the accident?” she waited.

“Rain,” he felt the blood drain from his face. “It was raining and I was late. The meeting in Portland,” his mind raced backwards. “I…I wanted to drive instead of flying. But…oh…” he felt sick. “God…please help me.”

“It’s OK, John. It’s over now.”

“No! I remember now, spinning out of control and…the truck, the semi…it was just there, in front of me, barreling at…me. Then…” he stopped as his mind replayed the sound of metal twisting, steel scraping against steel, glass shattering. He heard himself screaming, and then, the sickening smell of gasoline, of smoke, of intolerable heat, singeing his nostrils. He started to weep.

“I know baby. I know it’s hard, John, but it’s over now.”

“But,” he looked over his body; his perfect body, without scar, without blemish. He was lean and muscular and…perfect. “But, I…”

“John, your mind mapping data…your thoughts, your memories, your emotions…the essence of who you were…you’re still here. We created this sim, Heather and I, from the data you uploaded, so we could be together, and…”

“Were? I…I’m…” he stopped himself from saying the inevitable. Then silence. She knew it usually took him about 30 seconds from this point. She waited.

“I died? I’m dead? God, please help me…I died. This isn’t real? This isn’t real.”

“Baby, it is real. It is you. Don’t lose control, don’t let go of that thought, stay with me. John, everything that made you a person, everything that made you who you were is still here. You’re here. We can still be together.” she tried to reassure him, but she didn’t know what “being together” meant anymore.

“But, Deb, it’s not real, this isn’t real - none of it. The beach, our home…it’s…what is it…a simulation? This is all virtual…I’m not real…I’m…a program? I’m a damn software program?!”

“No. John it’s more than that, a lot more.”

“Dear God…help me.” his plea was desperate and sincere. Then, as if in answer, there was a sound, a cry…a baby.

“John, I’m so sorry, but I have to run. I have to get the baby ready, and my small group meeting at church is in 20 minutes, then I’m supposed to run over to see your mom, and..”

“Baby…our baby?”

“John, I can’t do this again now. We’ll talk later, ok? I’ll be home about three-thirty. We’ll do something fun. Hang gliding or dancing at that weird Jazz club you like.”

“But…we had our baby? I don’t…”

“John, I have to shut down the computer again. I’m so sorry, but the cleaning people will be here today, and I don’t want the computer on when they’re around. So, I need to shut down, ok?”

“Wait. Shut down? What happens when you shut down?” he felt all of his breath being sucked out of him, gasping for air, for clarity, for…hope. He was terrified.

“Nothing happens, Baby. Just sleep. Go to sleep, and we’ll be together before you know it.”

“Deborah…I love you.” he heard his voice crack under the strain.

“I love you too, John. I miss you so much.”

“But, I’m right here…right?”

“Sleep, Baby,” she whispered.

The tears started to flow down her face now, the salty pools already blurring her vision of him. She forced herself to reach for the mouse. She’d already learned to do it quickly. Not to listen at this point, to go into autopilot. She clicked START, SHUT DOWN. Open programs began to close, the sequence would only take 30 seconds.

“God, please help me,” he whispered. He closed his eyes and began to pray.

By FoxM Ember

Originaly printed in Second Life Newspaper

Saturday, September 25, 2010

SL Fiction: The MARM Mind-Mapping Software

News Journal: The advances in what is now commonly referred to as “mind mapping,” via the science of Neuroinformatics, has finally bridged the divide between human brain memory, processes and analytical thinking and thetechnology utilized to structure and operate virtual and augmented realities. The first consumer driven application, M.A.R.M., despite the surrounding ethical controversy, has been nothing short of a cataclysmic event in the evolution of the human brain and its fusion with today’s technology.

LL, the pioneer in this... newly christened M.A.R.M. technology, has been beta testing the software and equipment for nearly 2 years. While all publically released findings of the clinical trials demonstrate the technology as being “safe” for the general population, the emotional impact and experiences being reported by some of its users appears to have been grossly underestimated, and the duration of the emotional side effects, misjudged. Sales of the units were recently halted due to reports from across the county of users experiencing anxiety disorders, generalized depression and conditions replicating PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). These reports notwithstanding, demand for the units continues to grow almost exponentially, with backorders in the tens of thousands.

The most recent and tragic incident involved Seattle, WA resident, Nora Taylor, a 38 year old mother of three, who after completing the 24-hour mind mapping base-line process, began to utilize the M.A.R.M. device to recreate her childhood environments, friends and family. These simulations being made possible by importing the memory data mined, cataloged and translated into readable code into the SL data base, where a personalized region was then created based on these inputs.

The ensuing 36 hours for Nora Taylor can only be described as heartrending, as she rekindled old friendships, and reunited with relatives long since deceased, “losing herself,” as described by her husband, Jeff Taylor, “within the virtual recreation of her past life.” Upon returning from a business trip, finding their children uncared for and unfed, and his wife in a coma-like nirvana, Jeff promptly phoned 911 for emergency assistance. While the children have since fully recovered, sadly Nora Taylor died 2 days later while suffering from psychiatrically-induced catatonia.

Dr. Alred Russo with the National Institute of Mental Health, NIHM, stated that in extreme cases, involving already unstable, highly emotional or hypersensitive individuals, a real danger may in fact exist. “The virtual recreation of past real-life environments, and the sight of highly detailed recreations (avatars) of friends and family created via the improved 3-D imagery of SL, can be overpoweringly real, particularly when combined with the strength of real life memories and emotions.” He goes on, “The users’ brain can become so overwhelmed with sensory and emotional stimuli, that this virtual world and real life can become indistinguishable.”

Sales of M.A.R.M. products are expected to resume by next week – albeit with revised warnings and cautions. M.A.R.M. software and hardware may be purchased directly from LL, the official vendor of the M.A.R.M. Experience © in SL.

Latest version of Mind Mapping Hardware, M.A.R.M. ©

FoxM Ember
Originally posted in SL Newspaper

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Not-So Peachy Mess over Xanadu

I recently heard about a mess involving a couple places I did articles on when I worked for Second Life Newspaper last year. Flashdust Lamington, the head of Peach Fuzz Studios, had made a lengthy rant on the Peach Fuzz forum that had gotten quite a bit of attention, several residents in SL bringing it to my attention. Flashdust was going on the attack on two people he accused of ripping him off, Cindy Babii of ZZ Studios, and RECoyote Mindes whom had once co-owned a club styled after the one in the movie Xanadu, which he called “Perri’s Xanadu,” after his partner and other co-owner of the place.

To begin with, I first heard of Peach Fuzz in Fall 2009 when I saw an ad for it placed at Club Cutlass. One of the avatars in the linked Youtube looked like the “Zig Zag” avatar someone wore, not long earlier making a single appearance at Cutlass. Someone, either the person in the avatar or someone else, talked about it part of a new adult films production in Second Life. Whether or not the name “Peach Fuzz” was used, I don’t know.

About this time, I was approached by someone else who frequented Cutlass, RECoyote Mindes. He wanted a mention of his partner’s science-fiction/fantasy writings, Spectral Shadows, in Second Life Newspaper. I explained that we could, but we’d prefer if it was combined with something they did in Second Life.

And so, we did an advertorial of Perri and REC’s Xanadu club. REC and Perri mentioned Peach Fuzz at one point:

Perri and RECoyote told of another club Xanadu, but with a much different atmosphere than theirs. “Some of our old employees were also with a group called Peach Fuzz that makes SL videos” Perri explained, “They liked the idea of building a more close to the movie Xanadu as a set for their films. We helped them find the building on SLX, and they built a true replica of the movie disco.” RECoyote explained this other Xanadu was more detailed, “but they are thinking of the free yiff of the 70s, not the love of music that the movie did.” Perri explained, “Peach Fuzz is pretty much an X-rated business, and strictly Furry. Our Xanadu is PG and created with the general Second Life population in mind.”

I had seen the Peach Fuzz Xanadu only twice. Once when the place was alone, and another about the time I was writing the advertorial when he sent me a TP to there. He and Perri were there, along with a few avs whom I assumed were regulars. The two clubs did seem to have much the same building structure with some changes here and there. The few others there seemed a bit flirty with one another, which did seem to suggest a friskier audience than Perri’s Xanadu.

With the advertorial done, all seemed well. A little publicity for a nice little club and a writer, and a little cash for Second Life Newspaper, which had not recovered from the financial hit from the collapse of one of it’s main sponsors. REC and Perri and I became friends. Then the paper got an email from Flashdust Lamington, the head of Peach Fuzz. He complained that REC and Perri were not telling the truth, that they were ripping him off and that Peach Fuzz had absolutely no connection with them. We discussed what to do, the advert taken down for a couple days. I suggested putting it back up, but with the part Flashdust complained about edited.

But the point seemed to be moot. Not long afterwards, Perri’s Xanadu shut it’s doors. This was not a big surprise, the crowds had been small and its main audience from the Sunweaver Estate had a number of clubs to chose from. But I liked the place with it’s ‘70s music. Not too many places specializing in that. It was sad to see it go. Maybe if he had more funds available for advertising, they could have gotten a larger audience. Having to put a dream aside, even a small one, is not a pleasant experience, so I didn’t pry into why they closed it.

Months went by, and the issue was forgotten. Then in May 2010, I was contacted again by Flashdust Lamington. He had found out about the article on ZZ Studios, and complained, saying the article was not true. I met up briefly with him and his partner Opius Oddfellow, discussed a few things, including the possibility of an advertorial. I had no intention of making an attack ad, especially on a place liked by some of the people I knew. But I had given their competitor some publicity, so maybe I should offer them a chance to have their say.

When we met again a few weeks later, Second Life Newspaper had closed down, and I had only recently started up Second Life Newser. I was still feeling a bit uncertain about my paper’s future as Flashdust, Opius, and their secretary dropped in. Flashdust seemed most concerned with what he told were vicious rumors being spread about him, and that I was more than willing to give him a chance to answer.

But he also had the desire to bring up a couple people and places. One was Cindy Babii and ZZ Studios. The other was RECoyote and Perri’s Xanadu. He wanted it heard that his club had absolutely nothing to do with Perri’s Xanadu, whether it was still open or not. He claimed to have gotten the plans for the Pan Pacific Auditorium by contacting CBS and Peach Fuzz created it’s Xanadu club, and separate WKRP adult area on their own.

Peach Fuzz’s Xanadu was packed away, he told me, as they wanted to concentrate on making their big film. He also told me REC had made a post on his Furaffinity page about it. He didn’t see it as simply trying to attract an audience that was too modest to go to a place owned by an adult entertainment company, but an effort to steal customers. He also was less than thrilled to see the article about Perri Xanadu’s closing, thinking people might confuse the two.

I told him I had a problem with writing what he wanted about him for two reasons. One was that I knew Rec. Two, I also thought going into attack mode over this would accomplish nothing but make him look bad. I suggested he simply say he had no relation with any other “Club Xanadu,” but he just told me he’d drop the matter. We talked more, I told him I’d write something up on the rumors soon, and we parted on a cordial note.

We emailed each other a couple times, Flashdust saying he was getting ready for a con. And then no more messages from him. With some big news hitting Second Life at the time, the layoffs of numbers of Lindens, Philip Linden’s return as CEO, Second Life’s Seventh Birthday, etc, I was busy with this influx of news stories. In July, I finally emailed him again. He gave a brief response, saying he’d get with me soon about what to write.

Then in August, a couple friends alerted me to the Peach Fuzz forum, in the words of one, “Hey Bix, somebody’s pissed off at you.” She sent me a link to a post, “Yup! It’s time to clear things up.” Flashdust gave his own rendition of events concerning both his competitor Cindy Babii and ZZ Studios and RECoyote Mindes and Perri’s Xanadu. Flashdust basically called REC a thief whom was trying to piggyback on his success, and complained about it getting publicity in Second Life Newspaper, “Seriously, I’m gonna give those guys SUCH a pinch!” ... “... THE NERVE”

But the worst was yet to come. One of the friends who alerted me to this mess told me about a talk with Nydia Tungsten in which one of her “Angels” group, Jian Alcott, had been harassed by someone from Peach Fuzz. I soon went to Nydia, who told me what happened, “Flashdust is an ass. He had one of his goons or an alt come to Xanadu and try to intimidate Jian. ... Flash dust's crony came in telling Jian how she is going to be sued RL and lose everything, yadda yadda, because she was working for this Xanadu when the real one was going to open AFTER he offers her a job to work for them. ... stalked her. They knew she wasn't high in the chain there and waited until she was alone.”

“Blast him, bring out this smear campaign he has been pulling.”

Talking to RECoyote, he passed me a couple notecards of what happened, the person approaching Jian claiming to be a private investigator, “yep i was watching 4 u.” When RECoyote confronted the person, the “private investigator” claimed that Flash was the only one who could own a Xanadu club, “he has that name copyrighted and u stole his building.” I later talked to Jian, whom confirmed the story, though felt the one who was really harassed was Rec, “Rec didn't deserve any of what he got from those creeps.”

Talking to Ranchan Weidman, she told me, “Rec had been planning a club called ‘Xanadu’ a long time ago, ever since I had Afterburner on the Pacific Waters sim before it turned to a homestead sim. Rec was the one that brought the intan couples dance balls to my attention as well. And Rec had his club open way before even the first announcement of the (Peach Fuzz) Xanadu that, for records sake, was getting a free ride on rent, up in what was Cape Suzette.”

It’s one thing to make angry rants in an Internet forum. Going on Second Life and waiting until someone is alone and then harassing them is something else. Why stoop to this bullying? No one owns the exclusive rights to Xanadu on Second Life (or the new Pan Pacific Auditorium building that recently opened).

Exactly why Flashdust escalated his rivalry with Perri’s Xanadu like this, I don’t know. It may have helped him in the short run by driving a competitor to shut down. But surely he must have realized sooner or later word would leak out and be heard by others, including people working for him, including two certain artists?

As for Peach Fuzz and ZZ Studios, that is another story, one of which I’d prefer to talk to a couple people before writing about that.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 17, 2010

SL Poetry: Revelations

I know now clearly

the difference between sex
and love

Souls rediscovering each other
the other half to our own
hearts beating together
arms and bodies embracing
like two perfectly carved puzzle pieces
made to interlock
designed to complete one whole

I am at a loss to describe perfection;
it is unfamiliar to me.

and as the reconnection moves forward
our love continues to grow and blossom
our hearts grin wider and wider
and our souls smile their wisdom...
they know they are home.

Shellie Sands

Friday, September 3, 2010

SL Poetry - Pandora's Box

One has to wonder
why certain events unfold
at the time points in our lives
that they do.

A chance encounter online
opened an unexpected
Pandora's Box,
erasing away years of time

This Pandora's Box released
great joy, love and passion,
comfort and trust
the likes of which had not previously come to pass .

You came and breathed new life into me
at a time when I thought
there was nothing left to inhale.

Stunned by our reaction to each other,
thinking about what we might have had,
could have been...
but it was not our time.
We moved on through our separate lives
almost not remembering,
yet never completely forgetting

Fate, however, has chosen our time
quite mysteriously.
The obstacles seem insurmountable,
the terrain rugged and unexplored.

Patience and determination,
love and trust
These must be our guides
if we are to arrive at the place
that fate has chosen for us.
The journey begins...

Shellie Sands

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reader Submitted: Review of SL 3rd Party Viewers

Emeraldgate and the latest LL 2.0 viewer issues with rendering has caused me to search for new viewers to use. I looked among Second Life's third party viewers, located in their directory at to seek out a potential quality viewers. to seek out a potential quality viewers. The list is vast but I wanted a one that was graphical for the average computer user, so that left me with Imprudence, Snowglobe and Kirsten's.

From the regular user's perspective, Emerald is the favorite and is still used by some. But from those in the know, its dead for many reasons. And so the search continues in finding a similar quality viewer that may measure up. The latest news is that the Emerald team claims to have updated their viewer, but it is still not in compliance, nor approved by Linden Labs as of yet. There are avatars walking around Second Life with only their prims visible and no body texture. It's a well known texture glitch with Emerald and LL Viewer 2.0, that has contributed to this quest.

In reviewing the third party viewers last week, I could only log into two. The first viewer I tested was Imprudence, which was updated in June 2010. The developers web site can be found here at

I installed and logged on Imprudence (Blog: and found it to be okay, but it reminded me so much of Second Life's original viewer in speed and GUI with no extra features. I've always tolerated Linden Lab viewers but never really liked them. Rendering was not fast, and sometimes slow, I found it to be average and not up to my standards of rendering or features. Viewer features are listed here: . I most likely will not continue to use Imprudence.

I then downloaded and tried to use Kirsten's Viewer but due to my 'average' computer specs (I'm actually a web developer and my comp is built for graphics & coding), I could not even log on to this viewer to review it. Kirsten's viewer is an alternative comparable to Linden Lab's viewer 2.0. and made for advanced users. I'm technically inclined but got no where with this viewer. :(

Kirsten's site is located at: - It's a hybrid viewer based on a mixture of snowglobe and render-pipeline aimed specifically at high end users, film makers and photography. "It has a custom graphical interface and makes use of selective patches , shadows and advanced lighting, Post-processing and other elements for the more technically minded and creative individual." I guess, I won't be using Kirsten's viewer.

I then installed the Snowglobe viewer, which is a project of Linden Labs and open source developers. Here's the wiki page:

I was very impressed with its super fast rendering, even faster than Emerald. The graphics quality on both an XP Operating system, Vista and win 7 is unsurpassed. It never crashed on me, and yet I jumped from sim to sim with no render issues or anything else. Its features are average, but the quality in itself makes me really like this one. I think I'll stick with Snowglobe until I find something better.

On August 16, 2010 Linden Labs announced on their blog that they are working on a new development project called 'Snowstorm', a new viewer that will import desirable patches and features from Snowglobe and other Third Party Viewers.

Read more from the blog Here.

SamanthaS Nightfire

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mad about Hats

Do you love hats? I do, but a long time ago was not wearing many on SL. Then I came across Mad about Hats.

Chigadee London is the owner and multitalented designer of chapeaus and clothing that is found nowhere else on SL. My Chapeau is of one the the Princess Di's collection and I invite you to come and try on all the demos available. The bogie hats and, well just all kinds of intricately-made chapeaus will bring a smile to your heart. Ms. London has freebies and hat hair for men and women and is really outstanding at an almost-free price. I find it amazing.

Explore the shop and see her partner’s collection of pleasures you must see to appreciate. Chigadee also has the best eyelashes I have found in SL. By the way if you love red they way I do, well feast your eyes on Di's red and Shopia Lorens' Red Hot Mama. Yeah, that Bree's big deal let me tell you. I come a prancing when I wear that. A flash of a smile and swishin of a skirt, a giggle and a wiggle. See ya all there.

I am always searching for something.

Breezes Babii

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ninja Combat System Developer Working on “First True Second Life MMO System”

Recently, I was contacted by Bioblaze Payne. Bioblaze was the head of the design team that created the “Ninja Combat System: Version 2,” or NCS2 as it was more commonly called. Bioblaze has still been at work, building a new ninja village, and a new system.

“We are still doing some works on Iwagakure Village,” Bioblaze told me “The Hotsprings, Bathhouse, Nightclub(Dock) Area, Caverns, and some of the School are done. The Foundry, City, Undercity, Sewer, Kage Building, Welcoming Area, and a few small things still need to be finished. The Marketplace is basically half-finished.”

“Since the introduction of new ‘Functions’ and Mesh-importing on the Beta servers, we reevaluated NCS2. Silicon Plunkett a long time friend of mine, joined up with me to create the first ‘*true*’ Secondlife MMO System. It seamlessly combines both, ‘combat system`s meters, and attacks,’ along with in-depth "roleplay" things such as mining, farming, and trading These can help you produce weaponry, projectiles, potions, which in turn you can sell on the Local Market of the game. (This) generates you a form of Currency, which will be interchangeable with the Linden dollar. For now, we are opening it up with a base creation system: Mining -> Smelting -> Smithing -> Forging.”

“We also have implemented a Full Food System. Characters have to eat you know? Something that a lot of people take for granted.” Bioblaze explained the food system was done by Satu Moreau, “Sushi, snacks, cups of ramen, the works. Once we see the Mining system going well, we will be opening up a ‘Food Creation’ system. Same basics like mining, which you will gather ingredients, some of which you can buy in a local ‘RP/CS’ Store, and some which you can grow yourself.”

“But the interesting thing is it will be implemented within actual restaurants. So your character can go in and work a few hours as a chef, making dishes. As long as someone eats it, you gain EXP in your profession. When the plate is done you`ll get a small bonus. Ingredients will have taste effects, sweet, sour, moist, soggy, etc etc., which you will have to combine correctly to produce meals. You can burn the food, over spice it, make it just about anyway you can in real-life. The more complex the meals, the harder and longer they take to cook, but the more experience you will gain in the long run. Same with any Smithing product.”

“This is just some of the things we have planned. Dynamic Hud Generation System, and Dynamic Auto Weaponry/Attachment Changer are some of the other things.” Bioblaze explained Silicon Plunket was playing a big part in the projects, and had become the co-owner of NCS2 Systems. Bioblaze and I came across Silicon while he was Away-From-Keyboard. Noticing some numbers with minus signs briefly floating over his head, -6, -20, etc., I asked Bioblaze. He answered, “He’s using the new system for showing EXP gains, damage losses, and level ups. Well, more like testing it (laughter). ... (I am) sending DMG commands to see if it works well.” Bioblaze explained the system had “flood protection to keep too much damage from being inflicted all at once and ending a fight almost instantly, “So you can’t get 600 and more DMG in a split-second.”

Bioblaze showed off some of Iwagakure Village, starting at the Iwagakure School of Arts, “When you start in this game, since it’s a ninja-based game, you start as a student. You have to attend classes, and by attending those classes, you get equipment. You get Jutsus, weaponry, and more. We also have the option to allow people to just skip the Student level, going directly to Genin. But by doing that, they don’t get anything free, except for the HUD.”

Bioblaze had also written some backstory for the game, the world as the characters knowing it coming to be in the years following the end of five centuries of constant warfare, “Since we want this to be a real MMO, we are striving for as much depth as possible, in both the storyline and the game mechanics. The actual backstory was created by us, the NCS2 team.”

Bioblaze showed off the “nightclub” of the village, at the docks “Second Life is played by adults. ... To say that a bar or tavern exists in a game, but a strip joint or a nightclub does not, it doesn’t seem realistic.” Before one makes plans for a wild time there, Bioblaze stated no nudity was permitted, and there were sets of rules for parties, “but it’s still a nightclub.” There will be liquor, such as saki, available, though characters whom indulge will have trouble, “we do have drunk effects, have to make our stuff realistic. If you’re drinking, your jutsus will be slower, your taijutsu will be sloppier. You may even fall over or a jutsu can backfire. That is, unless your using ‘Drunken Fist Style.’ Then the more you drink the faster and more insane your attacks, of course (laughter).”

Drugs are also available, sort of, “I consider tobacco a drug.” There will be cigarettes and cigars available, “Since a lot of Fire Jutsus are so simple, such as Fireballs, I wanted to create something new, something different, something that was interesting enough but not insane. So we produced Ash Jutsus, a meld between Fire and Earth, by funneling Chakra into your ‘smoke,’ you can generate huge clouds of Ash/Smoke which can be used to combine jutsus and many many other things. ... a lot of players whom have the habit would love to ‘Smoke’ (laughter).

“ We do have other drugs, but they are ninja-based, Soldier Pill, Plasma Pill, Food Pill, Enhanced Smoke, and others. Enhanced Smoke is a hallucinogen more or less, causing effects almost like drunkenness but closer to ‘stoned’ if you were a pothead. You’re slower it’s hard to charge your chakra, and it causes your screen to shift and change ever so often. Much like a Genjutsu but without the use of Chakra, and can not be broken. You have to take an antidote or heal.”

Bioblaze showed off the public bathhouse, “One side ladies, one side the men. Basic roleplay area, but it gives a place for relaxing and chitchatting with friends. Also, the water here heals you two to three times faster than just sitting down.” There was also a hotsprings that worked similar, but on stamina instead of health.

The last places shown were the quarry and foundry, the latter which wasn’t complete yet. The quarry, Bioblaze explained, has a “small market area for people selling their wares of ore and metal. In the storyline of our world, this place is one of the biggest mining villages. ... We will have hundreds of ore places here, this will be a busy area. Ore here can be mined and sold to the village, or can be taken to the forge and made into bars, rods, ingots, etc. Those in turn can be made into shuriken, kunai, etc. Ore can also be sold in the marketplace.” Just about everything in the game, he stated, would be sellable, “besides jutsu styles.”

Besides copper, iron, and other metals, there would also be a small amount of “chakra metal, which is a special metal that absorbs chakara. You can imbue your weapons with special properties by applying this metal to them. It takes your primary and secondary chakara types. Say you mined fifty pounds of ore. After you identify it as chakara ore, you process it. Once processed, it is turned into refined chakara ore. This allows you to choose from either your primary or secondary skills, and apply stat bonuses to it. So if you wanted an extremely powerful ‘Katel - Fire Chakra metal,’ an extremely powerful Fire Ninja would have had to make it, and sold it onto the market, else there wouldn’t be one. When you want refined ore, and want to apply a skill to it, it requires both that skill and chakra control. In order to produce good metal. Someone with 20 points in Earth and 5 Points in Chakara Control making a ‘ Dotel - Earth Chakara Metal’ would give a small 2-3 % boost in damage or resistance. With someone with 200 points in Earth and 150 points in Chakara Control, you would have a 20 to 50 % boost.”

Bioblaze hoped that the games players would have a sense of community, wanting people to think more of what others needed than just making money or becoming more powerful, “I think a lot of people forget that the community is what gets things done. Instead of relying just on themselves, they can rely on each other.” This way, he felt, more players could concentrate on just what they were good at, “more miners, more smiths, that means more ore and more and better weapons.”

Bioblaze commented he had a lot of things lined up, but too many to explain. He did say there was an alpha version of the new combat system being tested, and it would be released, for free, once the village was finished.

Following Bioblaze, I talked with a few others on his team. The lead GM of Iwagakure is Chibiusa Pinklady, “Part of what I do is see what people like, and what they want from the village. ... try to fill in the holes between the ideas, and refine what other people really want.” Her most interesting challenge, she thought, were the people, her first big job making sure there were “enough role players that are capable of leading the traditional 3-man teams ... When looking for talented people, you can't merely send out a notice and expect them to jump into your lap. Sometimes you get lucky, but I've discovered word of mouth to really be the best tool for that. And as with any large group, you find a number of different types, all that have their own interests in taking the position.” She will soon be starting classes for players new to the village, “what will really get the community churning will be new arrivals.”

Karasu Nakatani is the leader of the Hyuuga Clan, and described by Bioblaze as one of the main backstory contributors. Asked to describe his role, Karasu answered, “ I would go with ‘Writer.’ I am, like the entire team, doing my own share of work, where I am personally skilled at.” He has been writing up much of the backstory of the roleplay, but talks with others involved before completing parts, “At times it can require one talk to people about lack ofs and the such, but ... with everyone working together, it goes pretty smoothly.”

Karasu has had a few years of storywriting experience, putting tales to pen since his teens. As the leader of the Hyuuga Clan, he’s been writing it’s backstory, after talking with other players involved. The clan acts as “a sort of special task force for Iwagakure.” It also represents the royalty of the village.

TokenBlack Guyot was called one of the lead Administrators by Bioblaze, but in his words, “I couldn't think of any official title short of GM. I'm one of the folks that concentrate on creating and maintaining the paraRP aspects of the sim. Right now, that means setting up a balanced system as far as what people can and cannot do.” He was bringing in “some old contacts” ito the roleplay “to build a solid RP base. Once we have that, the roleplay itself will be on its way to becoming self-sufficient, ... attracting visitors who will then want to become apart of our world.”

He was also working on the backstory of “the Eight Gates.” TokenBlack explained, “In the RP, every person has what is called a Chakra Circulatory System,” much like the blood circulatory system, “but instead of blood it circulates chakra. The Eight Celestial Divination Gates are just that, different gates that once a person grasps the understanding of, can be opened and allow them to receive a boost of power and speed as a result of the surge of chakra being released by the 'opening' of the gate. However, taking advantage of such is forbidden because of the damage it can do to a person. Should someone go beyond what their body can handle they can tear their muscles to bits. As you go from each gate, located in different parts of the body you receive more power. But as a result, risk your life on an even higher percentage the farther down you go. Releasing the eighth is a guaranteed death, it being located in the heart. While you obtain god-like power, once it stops you stop, for good.”

Players will be able to collect the book in chapters across the roleplay area, “With each chapter, you will learn something about each gate. ... to complete the book, you have to find all ten. but through doing specific things one will be able to find them. But even with reading the book, it will take guts to actually avoid the warnings within the book itself and go about doing it.” The book describes “where within your body you can find the gate, and what one experienced upon opening it,” except of course for the eighth one, which is described by a witness.

TokenBlack also made a notecard for new players, “to give a bit of a headstart and clear any initial confusion. ... Should anyone want information on the sim in general, or how they can be an active part of things feel free to throw me an IM. There's something for everyone, and if there isn't already their input can bring it about.”

Then there was the builder of the village, Numberofthebeast Angelus. He had been building in Second Life “since Day One when I was rezzed back in 2004. It all began with ships , sci-fi spaceships.” He showed off his first real build, the Spirit Thorn starship, “Building in general is a passion of mine.” He explained that Bioblaze had found about him through a friend, “Bio asked me to work form him here after he saw my skill as a builder.”

The part of the Village that gets the most complements? “Everyone seems to like the cave system under the monastery. They’re always telling me they get lost so easy. ... Better carry a torch or a lantern.” The cave system has also been the most challenging for him to build as he keeps finding a prim out of place or a phantom wall as he keeps building and checking his work, “There are many secret passages and rooms crawl spaces and deck throughout the city, and I’m adding more every day. Some passages ways only the most skilled acrobat will find. Others you will just stumble upon as you get missions from the Clan lords. You just don't know what you'll find around the next corner. Could be anything from a treasure chest, to an enraged animal that you have unwittingly cornered.” Number thinks he’s about three quarters done, but there could be still more.

Another place that gets good reviews is a bar on the loading docks, No Mast, “It’s called No Mast because I used the mast from the ship to stabilize that area.” More recently, he’s been doing additional work on the Foundry.

“I’m always busy every day. My motto is ‘Make something new every day,’ but I’m happy to take breaks and help out my customers. I’d like to thank the NCS2 Team for giving me the opportunity to show the village I’m building to the world of Second Life.”

Iwagakure Village is located at Hinode Shima (150, 175, 1896)

Bixyl Shuftan