June 12, 2013

Horrible times

Posted in Metaverse, User Experience tagged , , , at 2:22 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

It’s a bit complicated, but through no fault of my own, I was cut from the Internet for a painful period of 41 days. I had rudimentary internet access with my mobile phone, but I only had a subscription up to 1 GB which did not allow me to do much with it and I had to “save” it for the most important things.

At first I felt cognitively challenged. Instant access to nearly any information had become so normal that it is obviously somewhat a cybernetic part of me. And I had routines that depened on the internet. I have no TV (beside internet accessing software), I have no paper magazines anywhere but I’m a person that loves to read. Thankfully I found collections of eBooks later that I did download but was not too interested at the time. The loss of my prefered channels of communication hit me hard, too, leading to (tele)phone several hours a day.

But what really surprised me, was that I got kind of homesick – for my SL Home (and virtual life). It wouldn’t be that surprising if I’d use Second Life as regularly as I did two years ago, but sometimes there where even months I didn’t log in – yet here I was, graving for french riviera inspired place and my virtual body.

My personal relation with Second Life and Open Sim, espacially compared with open game worlds, amazes me over and over again.

Yet finally being able to go online again and catching up with all what has happened in between quickly got awful, too. I had to learn that a Second Life Friend, Wault Faulds (I mentioned him in at least one of my first posts here) had passed away, leaving behind his mourning (SL-)Spouse (whom I consider a Second Life friend, too). The rate of such experiences in Second Life is sadly so much higher, because, understandably, so many health-challenged persons use it. It would be funny if it wasn’t really sad that a world where death has no part in confronts you so much with it.

February 21, 2013

Login2Life now freely available on Youtube

Posted in Games, Metaverse, Second Life, Shows and Films tagged , , , , , , , at 6:22 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

I talked about it earlier on this blog. And here… and here. It was financed and first shown on public German television, so it was blocked to be made freely available until a year after premiere.

November 4, 2012

Torturing beyond prims

Posted in Metaverse tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:45 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

One of the things that fascinates me about Second Life and Open Sim is the amount of immersion I get out of it. The better graphics and customizable avatars of the Elder Scrolls series still do not have the same effect on me. And I’ve written quite an amount of posts about my avatars and how they affect me in reverse.

I think nearly everyone would like to be able to change your flesh avatar more easily. Yet recently I came aross a more then likely fake story of a Chinese man who sued his (now ex-) wife for not telling him that she is “genetically” ugly and thus passing those genes along to their child. He only knew her as beautiful woman, but she did, unbeknown to him, have expensive surgeries costing a lot of dollards in the five digits mark to get there.

Yet what wasin fact real were some photos they used to illustrate the story, misleadingly leaving the source open so that you thought it was the woman in question…

… when it actually were the pictures from a private clinic that show what can be done:
Before:
ImageImage
After:
ImageImage

She actually “only” had two things done: Tightening of the sagging eyelids and a complete remodeling of her chin. (The change in skin complexion I attribute to makeup and lighting) and I don’t think it was as expansive as the operation of the women in the story. But if it was the major part of the cost lies in the modelling of the chin. To do this they have to create an implant that is biocompatible, attaches perfectly to the smaller, “old” one and is formed perfectly. Oh, and there is the big question how they got it in place without a visible scar, but I think there are techniques that do it from inside the mouth, I once had contact with a pioneer of these technique, Douglas Ousterhout. He is also a pioneer of craniofacial surgery which is about the remodeling of the forehead.  I think its pretty obvious were the torture part comes in, operations of these kind are very painful and the healing takes months. But where do the prims come into it?

Well, there is another emerging technology I’m very fascinated with, and that is 3D printing. And while the most you can read about it is about the progress of 3D printing in the home it actually gets more and more used in medicine. while things like “printing” vaccines on the fly or printing complete organs are researched and not that far away, printing bones is actually here and thus we come full circle – theoretically you can design your facial structure (only  parts of the shape in SL terms)  in a 3D program, print them, and have a surgeon implant them. Voila … you can torture meshes (ok not prims) and yourself to edit your face.  With progress in tissue printing one day it might even be possible to print and “apply” a lot more changes, maybe even without the “torturing yourself” part.

Note: This post was written from a perspective that some might assume is a bit cynical. This technology is developed for people who actually need reconstructive surgery and not to make bodies more customizable, but not only does one come inevitable with the other I think the need for beauty and youth makes a strong financial background for the implementation of technology like that. To use an  analogy: If mobile phones were only capable of emergency calls, they would not be as common as they are now, and the chance you have someone near you with one in case of emergency would be very low.

February 13, 2012

In remembrence of Lego

Posted in Metaverse, User Experience tagged , , , , at 6:36 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

No the company is not dead, but what it once was (no its not me in the photo, but its similar to the peaces I had as a child).

Imagine Linden Lab would make two Grids.First they woudl gradually make SL more of a typcical MMORPG. Every Avatar comes with some basic weapons from the start and there is a lot to shoot, depending on the current lizenced movie franchise you have to fight Dark Wizards, Evil Pirates, Lucnans or whatever. You still can built everything but better make it fortresses and weapons, because conflict is everywhere. Their am only view female Avatars to select from, all highly sexualized, and most females you see in the (now really a) game are Bots who act as plotdevice, like being a hostage to be freed.

While certainly there are people who would like that, a lot of people would wander away, don’t you think?

Thats when Lindenlab decides they need a second grid for those people, who obviously have different needs. The second grid brings a lot back, like the ability to built clothes that are not armour and houses that are not fortresses. But again they don’t allow the freedom that once was. Marketing has said that those others love pastellcolors, so buldingcomponents are more broad and themed. No Prims anymore, only detailed meshes, so the basic “sweet” theme stays constant.

Do you think, that would be a good idea? Well, Lego did:

What once was a real life Version of what Second Life is for Kids, Build everything, be immersed in it (I think thats a difference between the age groups), and was a toy boys and girls could enjoy, and Alberto Knox once asked young philosophie apprentice Sophie:
“Why is Lego the most ingenious toy in the world?”

Well children who read Sophies world today might not understand the question and its implication, especially if they are, like Sophie, girls who nowadays get to see only a Barbie knockoff with a Lego label.

Why do people think its neccesary to have _only_ genderdivided toys? What happened here was that Lego started a marketing for only those people they thought of the biggest group of customers they assumed they had, which than came a selffulfilling prophecy until they asked how they could regain the other group, and thought, with even more specialiced stuff.

The sets are not even marketed as a group of peaces anymore, and as I read in a comment to a similar article, a father can’t get his son to built anything other than whats pictured on the box, its what he wished, not the parts.

In other words, there is nothing left that once made Lego the most ingenious toy in the world, I’m sorry, Alberto Knox. And Sophies World is a lot a shorter read this days, when in it ends with Sophia giving Alberto blank stares.

Let a real expert make the last words:

December 22, 2011

IBMs technology predictions and virtual worlds

Posted in Hypergrid, Metaverse, Second Life, User Experience tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 2:18 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

IBM recently published five technology predictions for the next five years and they do this regularly, so five years ago there have been some, too.

And one of that was the idea, that 3D Internet (with the example of Second Life) becomes as common, as the 2D version. Maybe this was even the start of the mediahype around Second Life.

At an article of MSN News from the time you can read the one point about it:

‘• The 3-D Internet: Pohle said this technology is “about translating the user experience on the Internet from being almost a replication of a piece of paper – a Web ‘page’ – to almost a three-dimensional experience on the Internet.” Basically, a virtual world a la Second Life, with open borders.

IBM has been experimenting with virtual environments for locales ranging from Eternal Egypt and Russia’s Hermitage Museum (open now) to China’s Forbidden City (due in 2008). Just this month, the company announced a deal with Circuit City for an experiment in Second Life retailing.

As the 3-D Internet develops, IBM says it will be aiming for the integration of virtual environments into a seamless whole.

“Instead of separate islands of virtual worlds, where you cannot cross over from one to the other in a consistent way, IBM’s vision is to allow your virtual personal to cross over from one world to another, much in the same way you can go from one page to another on the Internet without losing any consistence, enabling all sorts of new applications of the technology,” the company says in a 3-D Internet fact sheet.

Pohle said “we’re not sure where this is going to lead, but the experience you get going to a 3-D site is a very different experience from what you get using the traditional Internet or a messaging tool.”‘

Other articles often emphasized the idea to experience Real Life products in such a world and then being able to purchase them there, even todays reviews in context of the new predictions.

But how should that work? The key element for the user of 3D worlds to become immersed are mirrorneurons. You see something and it is set in context with previous experiences which then am felt again, as if they were part of the action.

Lets have a look at one project that tried exactly that. The now gone motorcompany Pontiac tried it with their car “Solstice” and the result was this car, which is still wide spread as a freebie:
2006 Pontiac Solstice

Its a very good work for its time, which in Second Life terms is actually from another age completly, and Pontiac spent quite some money in that built, yet its only an oversimplified model of the design. You could not really  judge the looks from it, if you compare it with a good ol`2D photography of the actual product:

2006 Pontiac Solstice

But when you have seen the Solstice, you can see it in the 3D Version. It even gets worse when think of actually touching the car or how it feels sitting in it. Can you judge it by seeing how your Avatar fits in? No, you won’t, with the exception that you once sat in the car and renember that while your minds alligns your experiences with that of your avatar.
And let alone the drive scripts, in Second Life those are far from a realistic driving experiencing let alone one that represents the car. In simulation games like Forza this is actually a feature. Yet even the best simulation can’t simulate the sense that rallydriver Walter Röhrl once called “Popometer” (could be translated to buttsensor), an amalagan of all sensoric impulses. I actually made the experience that good RL drivers often suck in games, because the lack of the “Popometer” leaves them somewhat blind.

So the 3D Pontiac Solstice can’t tell you anything, and somehow you only really can experience it as an Solstice, if you had at least one RL-testdrive with the car, completely turning around the idea of presenting products in a 3D world to test them there.

So if you, as a potential buyer, want to buy a product, your still left with 2D photos and information sheets and a real life experienced testdrive (our testseating on a couch, e.g.) while 3D only has shortcomings, at least as long as there is no metaverse available with the simulationquality of the (movie-)Matrix.

Its quite similar with other tasks. You can write your emails in Second Life or OpenSim, or even do quite some more “work” of that kind in case its available as online application with the option of viewing websites inworld, but why should you, when the very desktop or notebook you use to access the virtual world is by far better suited for the task. Information is often presented in 2D because another dimension adds no value to it.

So what is really missing to make 3D internet is a killer application, something everyone needs to do and that is (almost) only possible in an immersive, shared, 3D envirenment.

I was suggested to me that learning and meetings / presentations could be that, but in my opinion it fails on the fact that you have to be already immersed into a virtual world, before it becomes beneficial, lacking the easy access that is needed to make it into a killer application. Another area, where 3D Internet can be very beneficial is the health sector, yet it is to hope that we are never in a situation where nearly everyone needs this.

I really don’t see how 3D Internet would ever be as common as the 2D Internet, and I don’t think it will ever reach a high penetration, while often those who found their use of it, like me, hold it very dearly.

Yet one prediction of IBM came true, that there will be a more indipendent approach and that virtual worlds would be not really seperated anymore. This technology is here with Open Simulator and the Hypergrid.

October 29, 2011

Interlude

Posted in Metaverse, Second Life at 6:00 pm by SarahAndrea Royce

After the presentation of MetaLes current installation by Maddy Gynoid, I visited the sim, and I like to share that moment of joy and beauty

October 22, 2011

Login 2 Life Screening

Posted in Metaverse at 3:46 am by SarahAndrea Royce

Today there was a Screening of Login 2 Life on Ability Island. I was there and enjoyed it a lot, so I made a Machinima about it:

You still have Saturday and Sunday, to view Login 2 Life on the ZDF Mediathek

October 19, 2011

Long time no see?

Posted in Metaverse at 7:42 am by SarahAndrea Royce

Actually at first I was pretty busy with my “Fachwerkhaus” on my homegrown grid and then really took a month or so off from virtual worlds. And then it took I while for me to get to blogging again.

First of all I want to point readers to the fantastic documentation Login 2 Live, you can watch it here the next view days (don’t mind the german subtitles, its mostly spoken english) Just click on the banner:

and you can find a great review on Inara Peys blog.

Don’t get it wrong. Its about people not so much about Second Life or World of Warcraft themself.
Some more posts will soon follow.

July 10, 2011

World Builder

Posted in Metaverse at 12:34 pm by SarahAndrea Royce