Friday, November 26, 2010

52 of 52 1/2 - Shamen Gallery reopens!

Really no reason for a gallery to be indoors -  This is SL after all!

Back in July, I wrote about the closing of Shamen Galleries.  That was a rather sad happening.  So more the happy was I when Rune IM'ed me and told me about his plan to reopen for himself.  He kindly asked me over to check out the place before the official opening on Sunday, November 28th (at 10:00 am SLT).

I arrived meeting him and Tegan Jenvieve chatting around in voice while playing backgammon.  Now, for some reason, I am trying to force myselves to get familiar with Viewer 2, and doing voice there was a first-time.  I spent several minutes trying to find out how to activate voice, only to conclude that there is no way to deactivate it.  And the button has moved to the lower left, and stopped being a "hold down while you talk" kind of toggle.  If you want to do voice, just click on Speak, the green light is lit, and you just talk.  I had to admit the whole thing worked pretty smoothly, and it is a nice experience talking to people you meet.  I do feel, however, that doing voice makes me loose some of the immersion.  Voice becomes the main line of communication, and the avatar reduced to a kind of puppet.  But in a lot of situations thats quite OK. 

After telling me about his vision for the gallery, Rune called a nice turtle to show me around the lawn.

Anje Aichi has a nice series of female avatars - they kind of display some emotions and life that are very unusual in my experience.

Sandralee Palianta had some RL (almost) nudes (of herselves, if her profile picture tells the truth...).

He plans to have several exhibits where the visitor can participate in the art.  There will be a permanent exhibit along with themed ones.  The first theme is erotica, and this one will be open for the rest of the year. 

One of Shamen Galleries great strength was the connections Rune and Cierra had with a lot of artists in SL.  They allays seemed to be able to get both well-known and exciting new artists for their shows.  It is a pleasure to see that Rune have not lost that network.

Fuschia is doing erotic art - thats new!  

When I looked at them I thought "gee, these gives me sensations down my spine, whoever made those?", and when I did an Edit it was no real surprise that it was her.  One of SL's greatest artists, she makes great art in all the different expressions she explores.

Also on show is some of the work she has done togheter with Tegan.  A must-see.  Tegan is the director of the new Shamen Galleries btw. 

Bobbi Laval is a new artist for me, but I hope it will not be the last time I see her work.

There are lot of different artists' work around - and that's a big strength to this place.

I have always loved black rooms in SL, having built a few of them myself.  Rune has made one too, and again Fuschia blows my breath away with her sculpture "forbidden fruit":

The fruit of passion burning violet

After the tour it was nice for a sore-foot avatar to just sit down and relax for a while.  I'm glad the SL community still have people like Rune and Tegan, artists and hopefully a lot of visitors:-)  All people with a genuine love of life, beauty and art that makes this such a unique place to be.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

50 of 52 - Aristocratic Rezday and Blogger Pessimism

 When the Ladies and Gents in Winterfell get together to celebrate a 5-year rez day, it's rare to spot an ARC below 2000. 

There are a lot of negative blog coverage about SL and LL these days.  The lab goes through all the typical pains any upstart business settling down does, and that is bound to create frustrations amongst a lot of their customers.  This, in combination with a more mature OpenSim technology, has led to a certain exodus from Second Life to other worlds.

But it's actually just a certain.  The statistics in HyperGrid Business shows that the total growth in virtual worlds is more than 10 times larger than the decline in SL regions.  1605 regions increase in OpenSim based worlds versus 137 lost from SL.

A sim is not a sim, as Ener loves to say, but even so these numbers indicate that virtual world usage is rising. And for those of us that loves these fairytale places thats a good sign!

The single most interesting strategic decision that Linden Lab will need to make during the next few years is weather to embrace or resist the OpenSim ecosystem.  There are several interesting options available for them.  They can choose to work with a few major OpenSim Grids to allow hypergrid and asset transfer to and from SL.  They can themselves offer lower-cost OpenSim based regions integrated with Second Life.  Or, at the extreme end, they can try to convert the Second Life world to OpenSim.  True, that would be a huge project, probably too huge, but it all depends on the will.

From the IT world, an example comes to my mind. 

IBM, faced with the growth of the free Linux operating system and the Java language, both competing with their proprietary systems, have chosen to embrace and offer these technologies as an alternative to their own.  And it seems they are having great success with both lines.

So I think thats the middle ground that the Lab ought to run for: Work with and extend the OpenSim product.  Offer OpenSim Grids with the competitive edge of being able to interact with the Second Life grid.  And perhaps do that together with some OS grid operators.

Ladies and Gentleman, a toast for the future of virtual worlds:-)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

49 of 52 - Stacking Prims

Victorian outfit for a Victorian Castle Builder

SL's model of payment for server space is the use of Prims.  The price of a Prim vary, as do the amount of land you get for each prim.  In a normal SIM, prims and land are tied together with the constant of 2,295 sqm/Prim.  This is actually a fairly high value compared to the real world, and it limits the level of 3D detail that can be recreated virtually.  As I am writing this, I am looking at the bookshelf in my living room (a home-made 28 prim piece LOL) that contains at least 400 prims worth of books and CD's. And there are lots of other stuff in here that would require lots of prims to recreate truly.  Even being a bit conservative, this 32 sqm room contains at least 1000 prims, requiring the constant of just 0,032 sqm/prim.  Thats two orders of magnitude better resolution than SL, and if it where to be matched would require each sim to hold 2 million prims instead of 15.000....  Virtual worlds still have a long way to go!

To cover up this loss of details, builders commonly paints what should have been individual prims onto a surface; that is a complete bookshelf with books is just 1 prim with 2 different textures: Front and sides.

The same things happens with prefab houses.  Builders draws windows and other details on textures.  This looks nice from a distance, but close by you notice the lack of true 3D windowposts and the like.  Also, most prefabs I have seen using this technique has a kind of "blurry" feel. 

Anyway, building my own homes I prefer to build using discrete prims.  So, in my castle-in-spe, the thin glass window prims are truly recessed into the thick stone walls.  And since all the windows uses the same texture, and all the walls are using the same texture, the viewer can render the outside walls of the castle loading just 2 different textures, even if the layout of the walls vary.  This leads to faster rezzing.  

Meshes might change all this, allowing us to create true 3D details without using prims.  However, it seems that the lab will still count "equivalent prims" - that is one mesh object will count as several prims.  Noone knows these rules yet, but I do hope they do not "punish" detailed 3D design too much.  If they do, we will still get prefabs with painted windows, and that would really be a vaste of this new technolog.

But I think stacking prims will still be the most engaging way to  build!

48 of 52 - Writers block

So after 48 weeks, I have failed.  One complete week and no posting on the blog.  My only comfort is that earlier this year I have actually posted more than once a week. 

SL is kind of depressing sometimes.  Friends disappears.  Old places vanishes. 

But new people and fantastic creations surfaces too, so I guess the future is not all that bad.