Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Avastar cancelled due to success ?

Yesterday the Avastar, one of the leading newsmagazines for the Second Life community said Goodbye World.

VIRTUAL MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

The AvaStar says goodbye

By: Regis Braathens & Leider Stepanov

Dear AvaStar Readers,

It was nearly two years ago that The AvaStar broke new ground in world media by publishing a tabloid newspaper wholly dedicated to the virtual world of Second Life.
The PDF-based newspaper was launched in December 2006 as an experiment in user-generated content and online communities, and was aimed at finding out more about virtual worlds.

Virtual mission

Thousands of residents and readers made the paper their own by helping The AvaStar bring the best stories and the hottest trends to SLers. In doing so, The AvaStar gained a readership of tens of thousands of readers from around the globe, who helped to establish it as the number one tabloid newspaper in metaverse.

The AvaStar has now completed its virtual mission – and would like to thank all its readers for their contribution and support. The experience has been both fascinating and rewarding for The AvaStar and its parent company BILD.de, which will continue to track the development of Second Life and other virtual worlds. With the websites The-AvaStar.com and AvaStar.de soon to go offline, this week we will be taking a look back at some of the best stories and photos that made the pages of The AvaStar over the last 22 months.

Best regards
Regis Braathens and Leider Stepanov and the whole AvaStar team.

I don't get it. It's been a succesfull paper, written by passionate people, or was it driven by a traditional newspaper? Yes, the force behind the AvaStar has been the German Bild.de, but written by passionate people, people with love for the Metaverse and the community on Second Life. Now the parent company pulls the plug. Why? Because it wasn't making a profit?

I mean, mission succesfull. What does that mean? In these days when traditionally printed papers and magazines drop in copies day by day, having to be creative to find means to survive and break even, the AvaStar has quickly found a wide community of readers. They have done what none of the Bild titles have done in Real Life. The rewards is the plug is pulled and the ship is sunk.

How about letting it live on? Crowdsource it, let the residents continue, whatever, but I don't dig a story that says: We'll stop because we've been successful. I must admit, the AvaStar has never been of top quality in depth journalism, but on the whole it was a good read to see what was going on in the community. It has been my primary source of intel on new business builds in Second Life for more than a year.

What's your opinion of the AvaStar and it's saying goodbye?

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Gibson Virtual Guitar Heroes

While browsing through the newsarchives in the business section of the Avastar, a popular magazine on Second Life, I came across an article on Gibson Guitars in Second Life. The article is dated July 19th 2008.

GIBSON guitars launched their new presence in Second Life with a party on Wednesday.

The famous corporation put on a spectacular music show at the event with Bob Welch of the band Fleetwood Mac appearing as Bobwelch Magic.

He was also joined Second Life artists in performing at the party. The land is in the shape of a guitar body and will be used to host a series of concerts in the months to come.

There are also plenty of freebies dotted around the land which includes a diner and various dance areas.



For those who have never heard of Gibson, here's some wiki-knowledge.

The Gibson Guitar Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, USA, is a manufacturer of acoustic and electric guitars. The company's most popular guitar, the Les Paul Standard, is a solid-body electric guitar. Gibson also owns and makes guitars under such brands as Epiphone, Kramer, Valley Arts, Tobias, Steinberger, and Kalamazoo. In addition to guitars, the company makes pianos through its Baldwin unit, Slingerland drums, as well as many accessory items. Company namesake Orville Gibson made mandolins in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the late 1890s. Gibson used the same type of carved, arched tops in archtop acoustic guitars, and by the 1930s was also making flattop acoustic guitars and electric guitars. Charlie Christian, one of the first well-known electric guitarists, helped to popularize Gibson's electric guitars with his use of the ES-150 and ES-200. After being bought by the Norlin corporation in the late 1960s Gibson's quality and fortunes took a steep decline; by 1985 it was within three weeks of going out of business before it was bought by its present owners. Gibson Guitar is a privately held corporation (company stock is not publicly traded on a stock exchange), owned by chief executive officer Henry Juszkiewicz and president David H. (Dave) Berryman. [Wikipedia]

The funny thing is, I'd never registered this as a new build, which is mainly due to Aleister Kronos who blogged the Gibson presence in Second Life as early as February 2008. In early february the island was open to the public, but not finished at that time, which makes it vulnerable to criticism. This also shows in Al's blog:

"It is in part of the grid that has many new sims, and many more in the early stages of construction. This sim is no different. The main feature is a combination of terraforming and object creation that forms the shape of the Les Paul guitar body, complete with strings, controls and pickups. However, it looks like a first cut at the moment - a "build it and see what it looks like" experiment that may be developed into a more fully-fledged version in due course. One side of island has more practical public spaces - an acoustic stage, a diner/dance hall and an electric stage. However, it is immediately obvious when you arrive that the island is quite a way off being ready. There are various odd bits of things dotted about the sim, seemingly is varying stages of test.

As I've commented before, opening the doors too early is not necessarily a good idea, since you end up with non-reports like this one. I can't really make any fair comment on the sim because it is so incomplete - but that's because I am of a generous disposition. A meaner "me" might treat any open sim as public and hence fair game, and review it accordingly. It is better to get the sim to a state you are happy to consider complete before letting in the hordes."

Well, that was back in February, the island finally opened up in July. We're now a couple of months onward, so I'm a little late to check it out, but I'm curious to see what's out there now. The good this is that upon arrival there were actually quite a number of avatars flying about exploring the sim as well.


One side of the sim has a nice nostalgic American feel to it, it's major roads shaped like guitar necks lined with classic cars and typical American bars. Also Gibson Trolley will transport you if you so desire. Hether and thether you will see giant guitars standing out making it a bit of a jumble, but one the whole I like what I'm seeing.



The main venue is the Gibson store, and the great part about is, it offers you dozens and dozens of virtual Gibson guitars for free! This is merchandising. Lots of companies out there charge you a couple of Linden dollars for a lame t-shirt, this one gives away actually usefull stuff for free. They've understood that you won't make money selling small things, but have invested in building their brand and reputation. You also have the opportunity to win a Real Life Gibson.

"Over two-dozen “high prim” virtual Gibson models will be available throughout the Gibson Island only, allowing Second Life residents to own their dream guitar in this virtual world. The models will include Gibson’s Hound Dog Dobro, Hummingbird, SJ-200, Deluxe Songwriter, J-45, F5G mandolin, ES335 Heritage, 50th Anniversary Commemorative Explorer, Flying V, Les Paul Classic, Slash Inspired By Les Paul, John Lennon Signature Les Paul, Les Paul Robot, Les Paul Supreme, Double Cut Longhorn, SG Diablo, SG Angus Young Signature, SG Standard, and Les Paul Classic models." (Official Gibson website)

In the center of the island you'll find a clutter of things underneath another giant guitar neck with giant strings. One of these areas is the Gibson theatre in which you can view a number of presentation, among which a video about the production process of guitars.


There's a lot more to do and see, but as it is, this post is getting long enough. For a complete overview of stuff to do and see, visit the official Gibson Lifestyle page on Second Life here.

The island is surrounded by other islands, some in the early stages of development. I checked out one, a sim called Epiphony, which is also Gibson owned. I think this points out that Gibson's presence in Second Life has been a success sofar and they are expanding and investing in building a community.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Gibson%20Island/14/229/34

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

French Boulanger could use a Rebake in Second Life

Yesterday I received news that a new company had opened up shop in Second Life. And this time it really is shop, as not merely opening up a presence, but opening up a retail point. Today I went in for a visit. The shop we're talking about is a French Multimedia and Electronics store named Boulanger.

The island is a single, isolated one, not connected to the popular mainland shopping areas, so probably they're not counting on casual passersby noticing the shop while strolling through busy mainland malls where I had expected it to be. When we look at the build, it's of pretty good design and quality, better than that of most mainland stores, but when it comes to sales, it's all about content.

Dancing on the Ceiling

Upon arrival I see the usual jumble outside. Again, it is of good quality, but you'ld expect nothing less from a build which has been done by IBM. However, I was under the impression I came to shop, so I wasn't really dressed up to go racing in VW Beetles, flying helicopters and do a Lionel Ritchie kind of Dancing on the Ceiling. If I was looking for virtual entertainment, I'd probably do it elsewhere (unless they would come up with a very good mixed reality mix, but no festivities were going on)






Let's have a look at the aims of this build.

The French retail company Boulanger announced today the opening of a store in Second Life with development and planning help from IBM Research and Global Business Services. The goal is to complement Boulanger's physical stores and website with an additional distribution channel and additional services. Initially the build allows users to view and interact with Boulanger objects in a familiar context, click to be taken to the purchase page on a website, watch service and repair videos, or talk directly to a maintenance aide.

IBM says it had two objectives in the build: "develop a community aspect through the 3D universe and propose new services (configuration of kitchen, cooking lessons, guides, etc.) -- while integrating the three complementary distribution channels."

So far retail hasn't really taken off as a use for virtual worlds, particularly with big pricetag items like Boulanger's specialties of "leisure, multimedia and households products." The relatively high barrier to entry for Second Life (I had to download a new version after clicking on the SLURL from the press release) doesn't help much either.

Full story on Virtual World News.

True, I'd been entering Second Life for the past months with an outdated SL client, the version released in march 2008 and had been able to hover around without forced updates uptill now. This due to the fact that the previous latest client had problems with several graphical cards. Fortunately, this latest version worked fine though.

Real Life Replica

When looking at the general build and layout of the island it is very real-life-ish in look and feel, and the last of the above pictures shows a rotating cube displaying the locations of the Real Life Boulanger stores. Time to head on to the main venue.


The frustrating thing was, it had closed doors. I had a hard time finding a way in, which I believe should not be part of the proposed new services. The store itself looked rather empty. Rather than that it was actually empty, it also felt empty.

Let's be honest, the store just opened up. It will take some time to make stuff available through this sales channel, so maybe that issue will be cleared. Nonetheless, I doubt if it will be a profitable saleschannel in the near future. Truth is, Virtual Worlds like Second Life are still a niche market, especially when you only focus on the French speaking world.

Let's get down to business

At one point in the main venue, a gigantic layout of one of their real life stores hovered, and this is where a Business Case could have been made for operating an outfit in a Virtual World.



I would have very much appreciated an island with no social decoration, no immersive experience helicopters and just a naked empty store if it would have been a clear training and R&D site. What I mean is this:

If you build huge real life store with tons of products it takes a massive amount of design and calculation to sort out what the best routes are. Where do you place your products, how wide should the aisles be. How do you position your products. Which ones do you single out and promote to your shoppers.

With IBM's knowledge and expertise to do tracking & tracing in Second Life (see Wimbledon for instance) they could have made the build an experiment in logistics. They could have build a user testsite in which they could track customers to see where they would be going first. To see what the patterns arewhich customers are walking through a store of this size, or what the best logistic routes would be for employees to refill shelves with products from the storage in order to improve planning, logistics and real life sales.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/boulanger3D/203/188/23

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Feelin'Groovy at LoudCrowd

VentureBeat has uncovered Conduit Labs' first project, LoudCrowd, a mix of social networking, virtual worlds, and casual games. Users can create avatars that, for now, seem mostly usable on a dance floor that's part of a rhythm-based casual game. Users dance to earn points that can be used for customization items and earn more when they're chosen by others as partners.





Loudcrowd Preview by Conduit Labs from conduitlabs on Vimeo.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Basic Belgian Business Builds

Up till now I haven't seen much Businesswise activity from the Belgians in Second Life, although there is a pretty active Belgian community present in Second Life, which shows in a pretty large amount of Belgian cities to be recreated in Second Life; We've got several Brussels / Bruxelles sims, Brugge, Gent etcetera. What I'm told though is that most attention still goes to entertainment and mature content.

One of the first Belgian companies to rez was Dutch / Belgian radio station Q-Music (which has already left Second Life again). A second was telecom provider Belgacom and in november 2007 there was the Keytrade bank (which I blogged just before the weekend). When I published the updated version of the RL Brand Directory though, I was prompted with a number of Belgian firms on the grid. Most of these aren't on dedicated sims, so it's no wonder I haven't spotted them.

First of these firms are on the bordering sims Chopin and Beethoven, and are build by Metapartners.

MetaPartners NV currently owns 15 islands in Second Life®, making it the largest sim owner in Belgium: Beethoven, (home to Packaging & Converting Essentials), Grieg (home to MetaPartners itself), Chopin (home to UniPartners) as well as Vivaldi Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, which are the R&D areas of UniPartners. Other islands are Albinoni, Bizet, Bach, Mozart, Verdi, Haydn, Ravel and Brahms.

The companies in question are Packaging & Converting Essentials - which deal in... guess what: Packaging and Converting -

Packaging & Converting Essentials has been using Second Life® for almost a year now as an additional communications tool to its RSS feeds, newsletters and website and has expanded its already global reach to a virtual environment, where residents can read the newsheadlines and access the
website directly.

and the second one, UniPartners, is an IT Service provider.

UniPartners NV, with over 80 IT specialists, uses the virtual world as a recruitment area, a meeting place for its own employees, a place for staff meetings, trainings and conferences. In addition to that, UniPartners NV also has a competence and R&D center.

To be honest, I wasn't really impressed when I visited the sims. It's all pretty basic. Here are a few snapshots:




There are a few other Beglian firms I intend to visit, I hope they'll be more like the Keytrade and Belgacom builds than these firms who probably don't have a clue to what the potential of virtual worlds can do for these companies.

SLURL Unipartners: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chopin/128/128/0
SLURL P&CE: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Beethoven/129/127/24

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cantiere SugarMusic

Yesterday I wrote I'd stay out of SL for the Easter holidays, but as the kids are asleep and Mrs. V. is out of the house, I couldn't help myself. Entering SL and skimming the map, I came across a heavy load of Italian sims. One stood out, as it wasn't called Genova, Torino or Milano, but carried the very Italian sounding name (not) "Sugar Music Land". What I could figure from the Italian Sugarmusic website wasn't much, as it was all Italiano. A little digging brought me to the mothercompany, Gruppo Sugarmusic from Spain.

Although it is a Spanish firm, it is a publishing house for Italian music with a wide range of classical publications, but also big names like Andrea Bocelli. A little history:

Sugarmusic was founded with the name Edizioni Suvini Zerboni in 1907. At first specialized in the management of some important Milan theaters, the company then looked to pop music signing some of Italy 's most representative authors. In 1948, when Mr. Paolo Giordani passed away, Mr. Ladislao Sugar became the only owner of Edizioni Suvini Zerboni. Since then, the company business never stopped, achieving one success after the other.

Sugarmusic's current activities mainly focus on scouting young talents and helping them grow: Negramaro, born and bred in the label, have become Italy 's best selling act between 2005 and 2006 and had 9 songs pitched in Alessadro
D'Alatri's movie “La Febbre”.

Sugarmusic, holding of the Sugar Group, proudly administers a 60.000 titles catalogue and its rights acquiring and protection policy is carried on bearing in mind the quick progress of the digital era.

Okay, now let's have a look at the build, which is being performed by the folks of SL Consulting, and looks pretty neat. The build isn't finished yet. I couldn't enter the parcels, but I could fly over at 60 meters. The main venue is a pyramid and several walkways lead to smaller buildings, and a stage.





There were a number of things I couldn't explain. What is the enormous spiralling platform doing there? Another tyhing is that there were I few buildings on the side of the sim that looked totally out of place. As it isn't finished yet, I can't tell which way this sim is going to go, but from a building point of view it looks pretty decent.


SLURL http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sugar%20Music%20Land/128/128/0

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Friday, January 18, 2008

The Last Legion

Today no Second Life for me, but for the first time in ages another night on the couch watching a movie. This time it was The Last Legion, a motion picture about the Goths invading Rome and the child emperor fleeing to Brittanica, seeking the Last Legion; the 9th, stationed at Hadrian's Wall.



It was not a historical accurate movie, but a very entertaining prequel to the Arthur Saga. Probably the most entertaining part to watch was the Indian warrior, Mira (Aishwarya Rai)... Sorry, can't help it.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rezzable EBuddy and looking for VC

Rezzable 2007

One of the big surprises in content development for Second Life in 2007 was new kid on the block Rezzable which launched the Greenies sim in July which has been a top 5 attraction in terms of visitors ever since. Quite a lot of residents and bloggers have been impressed by this build, though many were wondering about the business model as the could see any clear sponsors.

There's no doubt Rezzable injected a lot of money in developing this sim, and the dozen of other places, like the Toxic Gardens, the Cannery and the Black Swan and they've not been very forthcoming about their financing.

First of all, the Rezzable sims are a showcase to get on the serious side of business. Not tampered by marketing agencies or corporate restrictions they have build experiences which showcase their ability. This would be an expensive calling card, but a serious one at that which might be worth a few bucks. Revenues are created in multiple ways though such as goodie shops and in context advertising at the Greenies Home.



When talking to Rezzable founder Jon Himhoff he told me Rezzable was looking for Venture Capital and they're putting together a funding round. Off course I raised an eyebrow. Does Rezzable need funding to maintain the dozens of sims?


[13:45] You: what will be the motivation for the funding round?
[13:45] RightAsRain Rimbaud: ah...That's a good question
[13:46] RightAsRain Rimbaud: In general our existing work doesn't need it

So on the whole it seems the 3 streams of revenues generate enough income to keep up the good work.

Rezzable Ebuddy

Last month I saw the sculptures made by Lightwaves appear on the SLexchange as well, at serious prices (ranging L$ 9K -35K, or US $ 30 - 130) and to support this Rezzable opened a new sim last week, the Ebuddy Sandbox which also shows and sells the sculptures you can find in the Rezzable sims. Here are some snapshots:



Rezzable is going to push this sim (and thus their complete works) hard with real world promotion as well such as an Art Gallery in London and a print magazine.


Rezzeble 2008

To get back to the funding, what is Rezzable upto that needs a serious financial injection? In general you can state that there is a serious difference between gameworlds such as World of Warcraft and social worlds such as Second Life when it comes to user activity. Capturing the resident's attention has been hard for all MDC's in 2007, resulting in a number of corporations to be dissappointed in Second Life as a medium.

The basic premises is that social worlds need more of a storyline which led Millions of Us to redo the Scioncity sim and Electric Sheep Company to experiment with converging media with CSI:NY in the last months of 2007. One of the underlying concepts in Rezzables development has been to create immersive experiences (such as the Greenies Home) all along. A second element has been pushing for a storyline at the Toxic gardens, which has been build as a big decorum and is accompanied by a small story outline.



Rezzable has massive plans for 2008 to expand on this interactivity:

We have a massive idea for content play and we will launch this in SL, but...it is a virtual world play across many platforms in the future and also 3D web in general. Rezzable is still very committed to SL. Our main focus here is more interactivity, so we are workin on lots of simple, fun games with web databases."

"We think it is a major play for establishing 3D web content and user engagement. Virtual worlds are still very new. Once there are a few more credible platforms running--which we think is a 2008 thing--main issue is what will engage users and we feel it is quality content. Quality content can be defined as visually stunning, interactive and immersive. It is not porno, gambling, camping, real estate speculation. We see a lot of opportunity for
real-world cross-overs. Stay tuned, lot of new stuff coming in 2008."

Since they're still putting together the funding round, which is supposed to bring in about 3.5m USD, Jon couldn't disclose much more, but I'll be paying close attention to this as I think one of the keys to generating traffic will be in serious content play.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Imagine Life Sweeter

I'm a regular citizen of Second Life; I'm handsome and smart ;) No really, I am. In real life I'm in my 30's and I work in the IT industry. The massive arms and broad shoulders of my virtual alter ego have gone in real life, its mass dropped a feet or two, just over the waist. Like many geeks and gamers I spend too much time sitting behind my computer, being immersed and drinking coffee or cola to stay awake. Eating too much pizza and working out too little. I'm probably the ideal person to talk to when you work at Splenda which deals in artificial sweeteners. And so they do. They have immersed in Second Life.

Their virtual setup is oh so sweet to look at, it's candy colored and cartoonesk like Ben and Jerry's, just a tad softer. Splenda hired Millions of Us to work up this virtual presentation and there are a few nice details.

I like the details on the cafe best, which is an overturned coffee-cup. It took a few second before I realized the terras in front of it resembled a pool of coffee flowing out of the cup. It's these little details that makes MoU one of the big names around - when it comes to building.



By themselves, each part of the island is carefully shaped. There are a number of things that go for entertainment, such as the milkshake-slide and the Lemon Ferris Wheel.



Finally, there's the current Second Life meme-thingP: a contest [sorry closed as of november 30] to draw in the crowds. The good thing about it is that it does work about it, and Spleda set up a splendid site to support it.


The bad thing about it is that it's Dozens of Them. As far as corporate sites go, there still isn't much variation in the set up. There's the cafe, the auditorium, the infostand and a fun gimmick, a slide through a milkshake straw, but no interactive display of its core business.

This setup would have had an impact when it had a storyline, interaction with the visitors, not about Splenda branding, but about its business: Keep your avvy healthy and fit.

For instance: Create a virtual game in which your avatar can replay his daily routine, log it, calculate the calories consumed and burned and extrapolate that to adjust the avatar size (aging, weight, disease).

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Splenda/128/128/0

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

CSI (5) The Aftermath

It's saturday night. Just a few days ago we were all watching the grid with great anticipation to see what would be the outcome of the first CSI:NY goes Second Life show. There's many blogs out that that voice an opinion, but I'd pick out Ambling in Second Life over almost any other blog.

Here's Aleister's views:




As the hubbub starts to subside on the whole CSI:NY thing, I thought I would record some of the stuff that’s been rattling around in my head over the last few days.



My first reaction when I read all the hullabaloo coming out of the Virtual Worlds Conference was: “Meh.” However, folks with a far keener interest and knowledge of the entertainment and media industry were at pains to assure me that this was groundbreaking stuff, and that is was “game changing.” I thought I should wait and see. The impression given was that this represented a real leap forward in the pursuit of convergent media, and is the way of the Future. To quote Mr Zuiker, proud owner of the CSI franchise: “What’s the future of television? It is as follows: TV, online, mobile, and gaming.”

As for Linden Lab, CEO Phil Rosedale’s take, as quoted at Ugotrade was: “I think it is a great project. We don’t look for traffic for Second Life in general we more look for opportunities to present Second Life to people in a more obvious way to people who don’t understand it, or haven’t experienced it.”

So… a major leap in convergent media – and good exposure for Linden Lab.What could possibly go wrong?



The big risk we all knew about was grid overload, but so far (touch wood) this has not happened, in part because the invasion of newcomers simply has not happened on anything like the anticipated scale.

However, what I think has gone wrong is, frankly, the whole shebang. What I’ve noted, rather than a magical blending and blurring of the lines between reality and virtuality, is simply the co-opting of Second Life to act as a games
platform. A role for which it is particularly inappropriate – and for which CSI has no need, since such platforms exist already. Now, I’m not trying to be precious about SL here. In the whole wide metaverse there is clearly a large need for entertainment and, indeed, for gaming. But to be blunt, Second Life cannot offer the level of gameplay that seasoned gamers have good reason to expect.

And this leads to my next point. TV is an illusion, where it is necessary to tweak reality (and in this case, virtuality) in the interests of entertainment. CSI was not out to make a documentary about Second Life, and was bound to present it in a way designed to extract the maximum entertainment value. And this has led to 2 basic lies. First, that the Second Life virtual world is smooth, fast and beautifully detailed. This would be fine if newcomers weren’t then invited to come and try it out. The gulf between the TV version and the horribly laggy, grey, slow-rezzing virtuality cannot, to my mind, be called
“good exposure for Second Life”. The second lie is that Second Life is a sleazy game, populated by players. This lie was not necessary to the plot, and is the one with which I have the single biggest issue.

In common with many of the readers of this blog, I spend a great deal of time in Real Life extolling the features and benefits of Second Life and virtual worlds in general. Through this one piece of unnecessary scripting I feel like I’ve been thrown back a year in my own evangelising efforts; back to the days of: “Second Life? It’s just a game isn’t it? Full of sleazeballs and geeks.”
Again, how this view of Second Life can be viewed as “good exposure” I am at a loss to explain. This might also explain the less-than-impressive uptake of new accounts.

On a lighter note – I was tempted to call this piece: CISCO:NY. As I have mentioned previously, the grossly over-the-top “Ciscofication” was – to me at least – a complete turn-off.

I think Linden Lab have done themselves no favours here. It is not true that “all publicity is good publicity.” I am dismayed at the short-termism shown by Linden in going along with this farrago. Also, in handing over the source of the viewer to Electric Sheep we have the interesting situation where the open source code has been re-skinned, a few neat, new features added, and the whole thing seemingly locked up again as a proprietary product. Well that’s what I think.

So what did I get wrong?


The ciscofication maybe was a bit over the top, but here in Europe with tv stations like the BBC and public broadcasting companies in the Netherlands we do have a slightly different opinion of such blunt advertising. But seriously,



There's several blogs that have been negative over the amount of traffic generated by the CSI show. Well, it was aired in different timezones, people came in in several runs. And in the days after. True enough, these 16 million viewers didn't push the SL headcount from 9 to 10 million overnight, but it's too early to tell. There's a lot of speculation on how many came in. Prokovy Neva states (on the first timezone run):



"But the numbers of people on those sims, for the three
hours I watched them before, during, and after the CSINY show, couldn't have beat 5,000 concomittant, and no more than 20,000 max total arrivals. In fact, it's probably far lower."


For exact numbers we either have to wait for CSI or the Electric Sheep Company to come with traffic stats and onRez viewer downloads and compare them to next weeks' Headcount by Tareru Nino. I do believe though that the average number of concurrent logins is higher these days. I'm not saying it was a smashing success. The massive number of islands, the fuzz upfront made us expect a lot. Again, too early to tell. There may well be ROI's made, but not sure which. I hope it'll continue though. Haven't had time to start solving the murder yet, but I for one like the concept. Me liking something isn't a guarantee that it'll make you millions though.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

CSI (4) The Show

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CSI (3): Flying High

The CSY-NY virtual scene has been set up on a 4 sim base, 2 orientation sims (east and west) and two crimescene sims (north and south). This setup is repeated about a 100 times to be able to hold all these CSI addicts coming in tonight.

At this early hour there were quite a few people walking around already and it took a little while before our gray selves colored up and we could proudly fly our virtual colors again. This doesn't bode too well for later today, after the show.






Here's the Crimescene:





















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CSI (1) D-Day for Second Life

It's october 24th, which means D-Day for Second Life stability. Today's the day that CSI New York will immerse into Second Life. Among the Second Life establishment the hour of truth brings about mixed feelings.



Everyone with a media background is looking forward to this event with great anticipation and anxiety. By putting Second Life (and virtual worlds in general) right in the spotlight of the world's largest (US$ 6billion) television show, bringing it to the homes of 16 million people at once today is a day that could potentially change the future of both the entertainment and the virtual world industry.



Everyone with a background in testing, infrastructure and risk management is looking forward to this event, while holding their breath or saying their prayers (except risk managers don't pray, they'd have fall-back scenario's) questioning if Second Life is ready to perform today. A normal will see about 45K concurrent logins. What if an additional 25K out of the 16 million viewers decides to check out Second Life within the hour after the show has ended?

As usual, the early bird catches the worm. Here's part of Aleister's thoughts on tonights moment of truth:

There's not much to say about this really. In my view, it is an interesting experiment but the lack of maturity and stability of virtual worlds like Second Life means this is happening far too early. Perhaps in another 12-18 months.

We will see.As I don't follow the show, or have any interest in it, I am not best positioned to judge the merits or otherwise of the gameplay - which looks fairly
straightforward to my eye. I have to say that the in-yer-face shameless promotion of Cisco I find particularly jarring. But then, I like to be seduced by advertising, not beaten about the head with it.


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Sunday, October 21, 2007

New York and Virtual Entertainment - it's a Meme Thing

Every so often I pick up on a common theme running across Second Life. In the past it's included "German cities" and "virtual recruitment". These themes or memes (as I prefer to misuse the term), though no doubt long in the conceptualising, seem to burst forth in a spookily synchronous fashion at a number of locations. Perhaps the hottest meme of Autumn 2007 is also the most complex that I've seen to date: New York and Virtual Entertainment.


Within the space of only a few weeks, 2 of Second Life's major construction and consulting companies - Electric Sheep Company (ESC) and Millions of Us(MOU) - will have launched 3 different models of New York to vie for your attention. Furthermore, each of these is tied in with the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry.


So let's consider the options:


New York #1

First up, we have ESC's "I Am Legend" site, designed to tie in with a movie of the same name, that is due for release by Warner Bros in mid-December. The movie trailer suggests to me a remake of the old Charlton Heston sci-fi classic(?) "The Omega Man," though it seems both are derived from a 1954 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson. In the new movie, Will Smith plays the last surviving human in New York following the release of a rather nasty man-made virus. His only companion is his faithful pooch. Unfortunately for him, the city is also populated by mutants, who are not that keen on him having the run of the town. It's a classic "man vs mutant" tale.


As part of the marketing for the movie, ESC and Warner Bros have launched the biggest (movie tie-in) game yet seen in Second Life. It has its own orientation zone for newcomers, together with a game orientation zone where you can opt to play human, dog, mutant or mutant mutt. You should then undergo a set of training exercises before you reach the bridge that takes you over into the game zone of New York itself. Being a self-confessed coward I made my excuses and left at this point. No SLURL for this - but if you use MAP SEARCH and look for "IAL" you won't go far wrong. Oh... nice textures by the way... if a bit laggy.





New York #2


Next, and also from ESC comes the interworld game / programme / entertainment behemoth of CSI:NY. This was blasted all over the recent Virtual Worlds 2007 Conference, and launches in Second Life on 24th October. Bookies are still taking bets on the exact moment that the grid will crash. In an Omega Man kind of way, I may be the only person left on the planet who has not seen, and is not particularly interested in, CSI:NY. However, this is ground-breaking stuff for virtual worlds, where the linear narrative of the Real Life TV show intermingles with the gameplay and narrative in Second Life to produce some kind of Ultimedia extravaganza.


If you want a more complete story about this, you are best off popping along to Ugotrade, which has reams of top notch info for you.


Not only will there be orientation zones and game sims, but to make life easier for newcomers to Second Life, the Sheep are also launching their own, browser-based viewer: OnRez. Personally, I might give CSI:NY a miss - but I'm looking forward to trying the new viewer. For many of us this might solve some of issues we have with the standard Second Life viewer. A number of my colleagues, for example, are unable to run SL on their work-supplied laptops owing to issues of memory and, more often, graphics driver compatibility. This might be the solution.


New York #3

The third version of New York comes courtesy of MOU. This is a virtual version of 7 square blocks of the Upper East Side, and has been built as a tie-in with "Gossip Girls" on behalf Warner Brothers and the CW Network. This is described as a teen drama, based on a novel series of the same name. An article in wikipedia describes it thus: "Gossip Girl revolves around the lives of socialite young adults growing up on New York's Upper East Side who attend elite academic institutions while dealing with sex, drugs, and other teenage issues." Yeah...well... whatever.



The show first aired in the USA on 19th September, 2007 - followed a day later by its launch in Second Life. In a blog post dated 20th September, MOU boss, Reuben Steiger, said: "[soon] we will start a very interesting social game that will take place in the city." More recently MOU announced The Gossip mobile, a heads up display that lets you to see the style, coolness rating and status of the people around you. Here's a video tutorial if you find this to be this season's must-have accessory. Hmmm...


So there you go... 3 New Yorks for you to explore, play in and reach your own conclusions.


First posted at Ambling in Second Life.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

VeeJay @ San Jose Conference

Real Life has been very stressfull and very very busy this last month. Since there's Mrs. V and the Kids to keep in touch with I haven't really had time to dig into Second Life, let alone blog it.

Sorry folks.

The good news is, I'm getting back up to speed, starting with visiting the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo next week in San Jose, California. I'm really looking forward to it, especially since I've got an appointment with a Linden Lab employee on tuesday.


On wednesday and thursday you'd probably be able to catch me on these tracks:

Wednesday (10th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment --Economics of Virtual Worlds
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- ROI How the rules are changing
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- Entertainment in Virtual Worlds - It's Not Games. it's Not TV. It's....
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Applications that Work

Thursday (11th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment -- The Future of VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Best practises for employees in VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Creating a user community
  • Business Strategy & Investment -- Finance in a VW

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Get your Divers licence in SL

Whilst trying to get some new Dutch sims in front of my camera I stumbled into Diveworld, close to Dutch content creators DNB Media. Suspecting a tie in I went in, and immersed in front of a PADI office. And guess what, my wife's work is just next to a PADI diving center.



However, PADI isn't Dutch, it's everywhere, it's the Professional Association of Diving Instructors is the world's largest recreational diving membership and diver training organization founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erikson.



It's HQ is based in California and all over the world you will find Diving Centers using the PADI method. PADI is the way the world learns to dive.



Their main venue - at least, the place where you immerse - is a 2-storied infocenter with instruction movies on diving, telling you what the gear is all about and links to the e-learning pages on the PADI website.






But off course, diving isn't about instruction, especially not in Second Life where you can dive without using all that cumbersome equipment. It's time to get out to the beach!




This is what diving is about:



It's not the real thing, but it looks good.

The sim isn't completely finished yet, and this beautiful reef is just a few yards wide yet. I'm curious to see how PADI is going to use this virtual venue in educational and promotional ways.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Dive%20World/120/112/60

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

MiniVille

For those of you that find Second Life or any other Metaverse a bit overwhelming, here's Miniville. It's French though, so I had a hard time figuring out what you can and cannot do on this site.
It lets you create a nice little village by the sea.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Kula Chess

"It's time to wage war! Get on your battlesuits, cry havoc and prepare for battle..."

No this time it's not about an MMORPG or a virtual Star Trek roleplay sim but it's good ole battle chess gone virtual. However, in this game you don't move the pieces, you are one of them. Put on a pawn suit, a bisshop or knight's suit and walk onto the grid and be immersed inside the game of chess...

If you're in for a game, then TP to Kula:

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Q is good for you...

...were the words spoken to me by the sim robot-greeter.
This Dutch / Belgian sim looks a bit chaotic with a thousand an one things to do. There's the Q-Music dance club, the Q-Music radio station, rental appartments and a funpark with pool, dodgem cars and a Ferris wheel. Certainly there's enough to provide entertainment for visitors.


Nice detail are the neon palm trees that are spread throughout the sim.

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