Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pure Magic at 7Days

Yesterday Second Life saw the official opening of the 7 Days Magic Bakery, which I visited with high expectations, mostly because Aleister Kronos already blogged this build and wrote:

"I have to say that I think the build quality and approach knock just about every other corporate build into a cocked hat. In large part this is due to the decision by involve3d, the builders, to execute most of the build work outside of Second Life, using Maya. The resulting structures and textures were then uploaded for final placement in the sim. The result is a spectacularly successful marriage of forms and detailed textures - which is my pretentious way of saying: it looks great!"

7Days is one of the brands of Greek Vivartia, a foodconglomerate, which mainly produces packaged dough foods.

The Vivartia Bakery and Confectionery Division (following the absorption of Chipita International S.A.) is active in the production and distribution of standardized foods principally with a flour base. Since the establishment of Chipita in 1973, the Division has experienced steady development with particularly successful products both on the Greek and international markets. Always maintaining faith in quality and constant innovation, the Bakery and Confectionery Division of Vivartia has developed strong market labels such as 7Days, Bake Rolls, Molto & Finetti, which consumers trust on a daily basis.

State-of-the-art technology, constant support and the company’s vision for development all contribute to the dominant position held in all markets where we are active. Beginning with the individually packed croissant in 1990, constant research and development, the company improved and broadened the range of dough based products. Innovative ideas have led to new products such as mini croissants, strudels, tsoureki (brioche) and many others.Aside from sweet snacks, however, savory snacks also constitute an important part of the Division’s line with leading products such as Bake Rolls and Pita Bakes. Finally, the Division is active in the realm of chocolate products and produces the savory snacks par excellence – potato chips and cheese puffs. [Vivartia website]

As I said, the official opening was not ontil yesterday, when at 10 p.m. they hit off with a spectacular launchparty. It's been a while since I've seen a launchparty by a corporate build in Second Life. This alone makes the sim noteworthy. At this point in (media) time most companies flee media attention when it comes to their Second Life presence, either because their presence will justly be criticized as they don't know what they're doing in Second Life, or because the media still does not understand the values of the virtual world. Last month I blogged about CIGNA, an insurance company, with a highly succesfull presence in Second Life, and this is indeed another corporate gem, ready to go into the Best Practises for Companies textbook for Virtual Worlds.

So much for the introduction, let's immerse ourselves in this experience and see what all the fuzz is about. Upon teleporting in I receive a neat Landmark introducing the sim:

"Come play with your food! Meet rebellious robots and maestro bakers! Design, eat and trade your own custom pasties! A rich, whimsical bakery theme park … there's lots to do!"

And indeed, a whole town surrounds the bakery. After landing and walking through the entrance we meet Chef Vivardi on the first corner to start of the background narrative.

Next to the Chef you'll see a small sign. When clicked, the narrative starts. You'll find these points of interaction throughout the sim.

Chef Vivardi comes to life here whose job it is to supply the world with wholesome foods. Without taking any mystery out of your tour, the narrative of the brand – wholesome snacks to fit modern lifestyles – is present without dominating. Most importantly it forms the starting point of the 3D story, framing the entertainment, social aspects and interaction. There are rebellious robots, undeniably adorable machines all around, media textures that add life, and movie-quality voice-overs and music. In my opinion the music just totally makes it all come together. [Linda Zimmerman at Business Communicators of Second Life]

Moving on to the terrace

Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of the sim is the snack factory, towering above the surrounding village at the center of the sim.

Inside the factory you can take place at the production line an produce your own 7Days snack. Start with choosing your flavour, then color, topping, packaging and mood and be on your way with a customized snack. The production line is an excellent piece of scripting.

The idea of depicting a production line in Second Life isn't new, see for instance the blogpost "Second Life Yummy Garden" in which I describe how Ben & Jerry's did about the same over a year ago, which also was a big success in my opinion. Anyway, there's lot's more to see. This is a highly recommended sim. Enjoy your travels.


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Land of the Rising Celts: One to Watch

One of my favorite pasttime (usually late-night) hobby's is tasting whisky. If one thinks whisky, one thinks Scottish and usually ends up with Diageo. Today Diageo is the largest beer, wine and spirits company in the world with dozens of whiskies in it's portfolio, among which the well known "Classic Malt" series. As a lover of this water of life I'm no fan of Diageo though. They have a history. As you can read in Ulf Buxrud's "Lost Distilleries" they have a tradition of mergers and take-overs (under the name of UDV, United Distillers & Vintners and in preceding companies as well), and in the process are responsible for shutting down tons of old and respected distilleries in Scotland over the past 100 years.

Loyal readers of this blog and that of Ambling in Second Life may well be aware of the fact that Diageo has been developing a double sim island in Second Life for some time now. Well, this blog isn't about them. They're still lost in the waters. This blog is about the other whisky sim I've been keeping an eye on since early May (2007): Suntory.

A flashback (summarising previous blog entries):

On may 1 I spotted the Suntory sim at the center of a square of Japanese Sims, but the island wasn't accessible. There was only the logo to show, nothing else. A little later Aleister Kronos doubted it was the right Suntory. For us Europeans all Japanese have similar names and look alike, so there was the option it wasn't the Japanese brewer Suntory. I persisted though as I believed the logo to be of this megasized brewer.

In June the island took shape, but I wasn't really welcome. A few days later the design was torn down and in August I blogged on the new build appearing at the sim. In my opinion it wasn't really corporate anymore, so I started doubting myself.

(see "suntory" label for overview of these posts)

An impression

When returning to the site now, I got prove I was right. This time I took a long stroll through the sim, which in my opinion is aptly themed "Sanctuary"

Upon entering the sim I was placed on a bridge from the busy, crammy Japanese island towards a santuary in the midst of this. Although I've never been able to visit this great culture in Real Life yet, this fits in with my perception of it: Large, stressing techno-savvy cities which open up to sparkling sights of beauty and ancient culture. The feeling I get from this sim is a cross-cultural mix though. It is not what you would perceive as a traditional Japanese sanctuary, but feels like a cross of Japanese and Medieval European tradition and architecture.

On the first platform you'll encounter a sticky wall with shots of the island.

Further on you'll encounter several of the dozens of brands in beverage the company holds or imports, varying from Boss Coffee to Pepsi cola.

Finally I found the way down to the bar, which breathes the atmosphere of a classic "gentlemen's lounge," a place that cries for a good dram. In the bar you'll encounter the whiskies Suntory imports, like the well known Bowmore, Macallan and Glenfiddich, but also their own Suntory brand is present (if only RL pubs would charge these rates!)...

Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I really like this sim. I think it truly is a sanctuary between all the skyscraperish sims surrounding it, breathing ease and relaxation. A perfect atmosphere for a whisky. In itself the build is of an outstanding quality. It is an intricate design and I haven't discovered a single texture out of sync. To me, this sim is more than a brand. It is about a lifestyle.

There's a few points of criticism though. As happens with a lot of sims in Second Life, this one was empty so I couldn't find a tourguide. Most information was illegible to me as it was Japanese. Only the most basic directions were given in English, such as 'Marina', 'Square' and 'Bar' but i really would have liked to know more about the build, the sim and what is going on here.


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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rumsey Maps

VeeJay has asked me to cross-post this from Ambling in Second Life...

The following interesting find, ironically perhaps, came about from some random searching of the Second Life map. You have to be something of a map nerd to spend as much time as I do poring over maps - including the Second Life grid map. So it was an unexpected pleasure to hit upon the 4-sim island of Rumsey Maps.

The island is the Second Life presence for the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. This is an online collection comprising some 17,400 maps (and one I plan to delve into in more depth when the opportunity arises). To quote the website: "[The] Collection was started nearly 20 years ago, and focuses primarily on cartography of the Americas from the 18th and 19th centuries, but also has maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, globes, school geographies, books, maritime charts, and a variety of separate maps, including pocket, wall, children's and manuscript. Digitization of the project began in 1997."

Not surprisingly, the island is full of maps. Indeed, the main ground plan of the island consists of one large map, with valleys and hills contoured in 3D. Floating above these are a couple of globes - one terrestrial, one celestial - with phantom surfaces. Inside each is a giant orrery, where you can take a seat for a leisurely view of the globes' inner surfaces.

Elsewhere there is a richly textured modernist building where you can find out more information, and pick up some nice freebies - including orreries and a variety of globes. There's also a small, comfortable seating area and a meeting room. Outside there's a large map where you can place your own map pin, with up to 140 characters of text.

The one big downside of the site - indeed, the only downside in my view - is that the size and number of map textures means that lag was a huge problem for me. OK, I was using Windlight, but even with the settings turned down it was taking an age to display anything. In fact, it only started to make much sense when I'd been there fully 15 minutes. As you will see from the pictures, there seems to be a lot of "map eggs" - but these, in fact, serve to provide some infrastructure, as the 3D terrain is overlaid on top of them.

I can't find any reference to the Second Life island on the Rumsey website, so I do not know if it is officially open yet. But if you like maps - or just want to see somewhere a bit different - I can recommend the trip. Oh... and that map of the UK? The map pin is very(!) roughly where I live.

UPDATE 8th Feb'08: I've been having a bit of a think about those "map eggs" and it has dawned on me that they're actually sculpted prims, but seen in there half-rezzed state. Give them long enough and they will finally snap into chunks of contoured map. Just thought I should clarify that one!

UPDATE 9th Feb '08 (VJ): Well, I have to replace that Flickr embedding with real piccies.

UPDATE 9th Feb '08 (AK): In the meantime here is a link to the Flickr set.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rezzable Detox

From the makers of the Greenies Home comes a second immersive experience, the Toxic Gardens. Today I received a preview of the new sim produced by another team of excellent builders, among which Botany Black.

It won't be long until this new sim will be open for public, though it needs a little detoxing before it happens. I was killed on the spot several times by oozing tendrils, steaming locomotives and heavily mutated killer wasps;

"Toxic waters: The toxic waters, upon touching your skin, begin to cause a numbness that covers your entire body. As it spreads, you find it hard to stay upright, and eventually fall to the ground, and then into sleep..."


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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Second Life Yummy Garden

Just once in a while you meet that occasional mouthwatering venue in Second Life. In response to my Brand Directory listing Gwen Kronsage tipped this venue in Second Life. While walking around in this virtual garden of delights I noticed quite a steady stream of visitors from every corner of the world.

This yummy garden is brought to us by Ben & Jerry's, the masters of icecream. Although BJ's must have got almost the same all-american image as the big M it's actually owned by Unilever, a Dutch multinational with over 400 well known brands.

The main venue holds a very colorfull factory, Ben & Jerry's First Environmental Factory with several dairy pastures and games. Upon entering the factory you'll get a floor plan and an overview of B&J's history.

The factory is a fun experience as you walk through the complete production process:

  1. Mix Making
  2. Flavouring
  3. Greenhouse
  4. Packaging
  5. Freezing

As an extra service there's the Ben & Jerrys orientation island, which is also in this übersweet candy-color style. A nice detail would have been to create a cream-topped hairdo, but maybe that would be too much for Second Life rookies.


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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rezzable Debut: The Greenies

A long long time ago it was a case of syncronicity as Aleister Kronos wondered wtf Rezzable was when he spotted them on the Second Life map, just as I was befriending the founder through Linked-In without knowing he was of Rezzable.

Today I got a preview of their first big sim release, and it ROCKS!

Here's the story:

"The Greenies are on the Grid! They are somewhat lost in SL, but forgot to try to find their way home. Just some kooky little aliens, enjoying whatever they discover in the metaverse.

The Greenies Home was based on the work of one of SL's most talented and prolific artist, Lightwaves. Rezzable Productions has taken the initial ideas of the Greenies and developed this exciting, top-quality entertainment area.

The Greenies home is good fun, built to maximize the SL user experience. We have focused on exploration, fun activities and giving SL residents plenty of room to goof around! We hope you enjoy!"

The tour starts underground, be sure to get the fantastic freebee jetpack, jetboots and helmet.

Enter the supersized world of the Greenies

And Enjoy!
The sim has a great look and feel, with a taste eye for detail and texture. The scene made me feel like I was inside one of the sims from Tad William's Otherland. If this is Rezzable's first release, I sure want to see their next.


  • Original Greenies Scene pieces by Lightwaves
  • Concepts, support and general Greenness: Edgware Marker
  • Sim Build Lead Creator and Kookiest Av in the known Metaverse: Pavig Lok
  • Sim Build Super Creator and Artist of highest order (and part time otter): LittleToe Bartlett
  • Project Management and typical unreasonableness: RightAsRain Rimbaud
  • Merchandise Designers: Crash Prefect, Ameshin Yossarian, Rebel Hope
  • Greenies Logo Design: Ayona Boa
  • Merchandise Manager: Lokum Shilova

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Intel Inside

I wasn't really planning on doing a long post, since it's past bedtime here in the Netherlands. Yet I really had to do this one. I've already mentioned the Intel island yesterday and I just have to show some more pics.

The island is created by Millions of Us, who've done several gigs for Intel. This one is one I particularly like. Intel's USP is of course the Dual Core processor. This "Core" theme is worked out very nicely in this sim in an almost Jules Verne kind of journey to the center of the earth.
Basically the sim is build up by levels:
0 Surface
-1 Conference
-2 Main Stage
-3 Core

The last picture is one taken inside the conference area which seems completely lost, but attractive in its own bombastic sense.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Princeton - a Preview

This post first appeared at 3pointD... but here you get full set of pictures.

The number of universities entering the virtual world of Second Life never ceases to amaze me. One that I have been keeping an eye on for some time is Princeton. It has been closed to casual strollers while construction proceeds, but following a bit of string-pulling, I was able to get an advance preview earlier this week. I have only one small problem: the amount of information I now have is so huge it is going to take all of my ingenuity -- and there’s precious little of that -- to prune it down to the bare essentials. The sim will not formally open to the public until the next academic year, but much of the work is now complete.

Incidentally, aware that I over-use the term "iconic" I have opted in this post to go with "signature" instead. Time will tell whether this is a sensible move.

My tour guide was the charming and ridiculously well-informed (not to mention often downright hilarious) Persis Trilling, who, apart from heading up the Princeton in-house IT education support services, is something of an expert on the History of Architecture and is overseeing the build in Second Life.

There is a strong architectural spine running at 45 degrees across the island, along which several of Princeton’s signature buildings are situated. On arrival you find yourself facing a simulation of Nassau Hall. The original was, at the time of its completion in 1756, the largest stone building in the colonies. However, a couple of fires in the 19th century put paid to that, and the building now standing -- and reflected in this Second Life build -- dates from the 1850’s, though the college continued to tinker with it for many years. Clearly some compromises have to be made when looking to reproduce buildings in Second Life, and in the case of Nassau Hall there is a great simplification of the interior -- with 2 large rooms set up for seminar groups of around a dozen participants, and what appears to be a debating chamber. The texturing of the building, indeed, of all the buildings in this sim, is excellent.

Behind you as you arrive is a simulation of Chancellor Green Student Center, which was originally the college library building and dates from the 1870s. It reeks of Victorian Gothic. Inside is a library (surprise!), which the college plans to build into a Second Life-based online resource, together with a couple of informal meeting rooms that would house around 6 people.

The third major building along the spine is Alexander Hall. Following some hiccups with construction of the simulation, this has been taken on by CJ Carnot of New Media Consortium and is currently being reworked, but even the version I saw was most impressive. Again, as with the other buildings, the texturing brings out a great sense of physical presence. The actual building, built in 1892, was designed (and still serves) as a convocation hall for commencement exercises and other large gatherings. It therefore made sense to preserve this function in Second Life. This is where concerts and many meetings will be held. [Given the current state of reconstuction, I don't have any good pictures of this building]

Off to one side of this trio of signature Princeton buildings lies another jewel -- but this time there is no Real World counterpart. The Art Gallery is the work of Canadian master-builder Scope Cleaver, and anyone who knows his work will spot the style immediately. Persis was full of praise for the way in which Mr. Cleaver has gone about fulfilling his brief: "If Chancellor Green is about Ruskin's seven lamps, Scope’s building has them in spades too. He is just using a different architectural vocabulary.The sense of craft; of expression of essential human qualities and the emotive use of light and space is a lot like the more modest drama of Chancellor Green." She went on: "It's a very nice build, and I think reflects well on the existing major buildings -- each one perfectly modern in its day, in fact, forward-looking. I showed him a lot of spaces that I admired. He did not copy anyone but respected an element of each design. I told him what I liked about each -- so a little Carlo Scarpa; a little Gehry; a little James Stirling."

So what is the aim of the Princeton island? Is it just an architectural display? The current aim is to offer classroom sessions and writing seminars for the Schools of Architecture and Visual Arts. There is also a human behaviour experiment being designed for the island. They will also be offering performances, "cocktail parties" and conferences, recognizing that in Second Life an island needs people if it is to be of any value. As for information, the plan is to offer a rich set of resources, including RSS feeds, podcasts and vodcasts. There is already a shop offering free Princeton shirts (the closest I'm ever likely to having one!) and a number of training notecards for would-be builders.

There is more on this island that I have not covered -- for example, the Prospect Garden,
and the debating society buildings -- but hopefully this gives you a feel for what to expect in September, when we may all get a chance to visit. Thanks to Persis for giving me far more information than I could ever hope to include in this posting, and for being such a gracious host.

Al Kronos appears by kind permission of Ambling in Second Life.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Virtual Tourism: Chichén Itzá

Today's Things to Do outing is a trip to virtual Mexico, commissioned by the Mexican Tourist board and opened up yesterday. The Sim's landingpoint is a platform on the New Wonders of the World election, and it's website new 7 wonders is also a good point for some basic background on the build.

Chichén Itzá, the most famous Mayan temple city, served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Its various structures - the pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, and the Playing Field of the Prisoners – can still be seen today and are demonstrative of an extraordinary commitment to architectural space and composition. The pyramid itself was the last, and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples.

And a great temple it is. Usually I take pictures with the time set at noon to get clear and bright images, but somehow this build made me use the sunset timing (from the recently released Firstlight viewer), giving the sim a somewhat romantic or mysterious feel.
The text in typeface courier below are descriptions from the notecards available on the island.
It was common practice in Mesoamerican cities to periodically build larger and bigger temple pyramids atop older ones, and this is one such example. Archaeologists discovered a doorway at the base of the north stairway that leads to a tunnel, from which one can climb the steps of the earlier version of El Castillo inside the current one up to the top room where you can see religious Jaguar Throne, carved of stone and painted red with jade spots. The design of the older pyramid inside is said to be a lunar calendar, with the newer pyramid being a solar calendar.

The Temple of the Warriors was built by the end of 800 A.D. It is located on the eastern plaza of the central plain of Chichen Itza. The Temple of the Warriors is flanked by 1000 carved columns depicting fallen warriors. Near the Warriors is a large plaza surrounded by pillars called "The Great Market."
Vendor stands featuring replications of ancient Mayan artifacts and traditional Mexican goods thrived near the base of the pyramid.

Cenote (say-NO-tay) is the Spanish equivalent of the Yucatecan Mayan word for a water-filled, limestone sinkhole. In Mexico's northern Yucatan Peninsula, where there are few lakes or streams, cenotes provided a stable supply of water for the ancient Maya people who settled there. The great city of Chichen Itza was built around a cluster of these natural wells, including the one known as the “Sacred Cenote.”

The sim is impressively detailed and a lot of attention has been put to make the landscape look natural. The trees are among the best I've seen in Second Life. Again, I'm impressed, there was just so much to see and explore, much more than I've written and shown in this post. I'd suggest you'd better check it out yourself.

Two members of the Things to Do group immediately decided to don the Mayan Princess and Mayan Warrior outfits which were really cool freebees.

Finally, we knew the Mayab's were an advanced culture, but we didn't know they had HDtv as well.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Comcast plugged in SL

The cable guys have immersed in Second Life as Comcast, alledgedly one of the largest providers of cable services in the US have opened up their island in Second Life. It's an opening we bloggers have been waiting for for several months.

At first look it seems like a chemical-fun factory, largely due to the first building in view, a pharmacy. The enormous racetrack which covers most of the sim would fit in that picture. However, after a little discussion we thought the blue pipes might represent a cable streaming fun into our homes..

However, according to Millions of Us, builders to this site, it's inline with the comcastic! tv ads where they were playing on the idea of a Mad Science Lab where Liquid Faster was created, a sort of 1950's shlocky sci-fi typecast shot in a sci fi lab with vats of bubbly goo.

The racetrack caused problems though, as we (Aleister and Me) were unable to rez the jets to enter the tubes (so I looked a little foolish on the tiny version). The live cannonball and jetpacks were easier to control, though the jetski's will give rise to some severe drunk flying.

Sofar there has been no promotion, on the clients request, so the softlaunch period will return some feedback that will lead to tweaks before a major launch to create a lasting experience, or as one of the builders said;

"Comcast are really interested in supporting folks online with efforts like this park - basically, and please understand this is me paraphrasing --offering fun content for folks"

The focuspoint has been on creating the experience, with a subtle touch of branding, and experience there is. Refreshing to see such a circus. And an experience it is as nearly the complete staff of Millions of Us enjoyed the sim's rides in the past few weeks.

For the record though, the build is not completely finished yet.


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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A closer look at Amazon

A little while ago I blogged on the great Amazon build. Today it was on the Things To Do list and we received a personal tour guided by Amazon's Webservices resident guru Jeff Barr.

He told us how it all began: "Last year I got an SL account and started to attend all sorts of events. After attending a NASA launch with live video, I started to get the crazy idea that I could actually do part of my job from within SL. People looked at me like I was crazy. But I persisted, and gave some talks last year on Info Island and at other places. The response was awesome and told me that I wasn't crazy. I proposed to my management the design and construction of this island. They thought it was a good idea, and now, here we are."
This time I got round to asking a few more indepth questions (ahum), like how Amazon teamed up with Joshua Culdesac from Virtuool, a freelance French builder.
Jeffronius Batra: "VeeJay, this is a great story. I bought a little plot of land in Athabasca. Shortly after I started building, this wolf started to hang out nearby. We started chatting and he showed me some of what he was building. I was very impressed with his skills and we became good friends. I shared with him my vision for what we could build here, and it turned out that he was in the process of making a career change to become a full-time SL builder. He's based in Bordeaux, France and has a background in building 3D objects as a hobby, by the way. When I had approval to start building, I wrote a spec and asked him to submit a proposal, and the result is what you see here. He did an amazing job of taking my ideas and turning them into something even better than the vague pictures in my head. We never once talked on the phone during the build phase. I didn't even meet him in person until last month. All in all the process worked out very well and I am quite happy with the results. I wanted to make this place look like it had been buried for hundreds of years and then rediscovered."

This story is off course one hell of an example how inworld collaboration can work out. From idea to end product without ever meeting once
We toured the sim then and saw a very imaginative auditorium, probably one of the most original ones I've seen so far and we toured the Amazon again in the boats I blogged on in my previews posting on Amazon. This time, even the boats caused havoc as one actualla sank!

Virtually Shipwrecked !!!

Actually, we were all kinda amazed that it could happen, even Jeff who certainly knew of no premeditated scripted intend to sink us. Anyway, our clothes dries quickly and we moved on.
The sim is filled to the brim with places to stimulate the 240,000 people Amazon Webservice development community using their S3 (Amazon's storage service) and EC2 (their compute cloud) in various ways related to SL. Linden Labs is also using the S3 as building block for their client. This morning saw their first tech meeting with about 20 developers present.
Finally it seems like Amazon turns out to be one of the places to watch when it comes to rallying the community, potentially more so than IBM or Intel for that matter.

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Inworld Companies 1: The Avastar

In the past weeks we've seen a number of Real Life media companies trying to establish a foothold in the virtual world of Second Life (Channel 4 and Skynews). Now it is time to take a closer look at a new media corp that has immersed from within Second Life: The Avastar.

Lately the Avastar is gaining popularity over older Metaverse newspapers, such as the Second Life Herald or the Metaverse Messenger largely due to it's gossipy, colorful appearance. The sim is no different, it's slick, futuristic and right on the spot.

The sim is build up by several hovering globes, possibly representing the different virtual worlds notion. The design is low on textures, but with a lot more subtility than the German Designs I've blogged. Here it's functional, adding to the overal futuristic impression. Several press rooms, info rooms are set up along the outer rim.

Last but not least on the main Globe, at its core there is a conference room and at the summit a very nice bar to end a night of heavy talking with a good virtual cocktail.

Finally, the other two globes host a luxury pool for exlusive parties and a talkshow set up.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Real Life Cities 5: Salzburg

Upon entering the virtual representation of Salzburg I ended at the side of the sim, showing a row of houses build next to a little stream. I intended to fly to one of the landmarks to start shooting snapshops and start bloggin, but this is as good a point as any to start.

The city of Salzburg is one of Austria's best known towns, and
"... is on the banks of the Salzach river, at the northern boundary of the Alps. The mountains to Salzburg's south contrast with the rolling plains to the north. The closest alpine peak – the 1972 m Untersberg – is only a few kilometers from the city center. The Altstadt, or "old town", is dominated by its baroque towers and churches and the massive Festung Hohensalzburg"

Well, the Wikipedia entry is in line with the sim's build. The little stream I started near is the Salzach and the castle Hohen Salzburg is dominating the far end. On the other end of the sim, across the town, snowcovered mountains rise, hosting one of Austria's most touristic attractions: Skiing and Snowboarding ramps.

One of the good things of this sim is the festivity calendar, giving a good overview of ongoing and special events. The town is primarily dominated by the Salzburg Cathedral
"The Salzburg Cathedral (German: Salzburger Dom) is a 17th century baroque cathedral in the city of Salzburg, dedicated to Saint Rupert of Salzburg. It is the site of Mozart's baptism."

Throughout the sim statues can be found, and though they are part of Salzburgs RL view, these could have been left out. Like most trees and other statues in Second Life it's made of two texturized prims with a lot of tranparancy, but it is hard to get a good view of this. A suggestion would be to try and replace them with sculpted prims, a feature added in last weeks release.

Finally, as with most real life cities in Second Life, there's a lot of shopping to be done. Aside from the cathedral, the rest of the old town is set up as shopping center.

A short wrap up:
+ The sim represents most of Salzburg's best known features
+ A lot of events are organised in the sim, as well as hosting a number of ongoing events.
- The statues are too 2D and should be replaced with sculpties as soon as possible.
- The build is quite crude, especially the castle.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Real Life Cities 4: Paris 1900

As I blogged about the new real life cities coming to SL I mentioned that I'd forgotten to blog Paris, so it's high-time to correct that omission. Browsing through my snapshots I noticed I also forgot to snapshot the Moulin Rouge, so I decided to go back, which was a good thing. The first thing I noticed was that it is expanding. I now noticed it is a 4-sim build, with the humoungous Eiffel Tower spread over all of them, neatly joint in the corners.

Technically this is a very hard thing to do, builds overlapping sim borders usually need to be quadruppaly reinforced to ensure you're not falling through at the edges. The other thing I noticed was that a sim called "Champs Elysees" is added... Seems like they're expanding.

The first thing I saw when entering the sim was a lot of ground. It took a while for the textures to stream, and then I saw I was at the metro station. The build here is a little primitive. I walked up the stairs, leaving the metro station and walked into the "Moulin Rouge", the fabled Parisian nightclub from the early 1900's.

Since it spreads four sims, the Eiffel Tower needs quite a bit of time to render, as well as the rest of the sim, though the build is a lot less detailed than that of Venice, at times even a bit crude. The sims top attraction is the parachute dive from the top of the Eiffel tower, but there are a number of nice shops to be found as well, especially on the Champs Elysees extention, which end in Paris' dreaded roundabout at l'Arc the Triomphe.

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Real Life Cities 3: Venice

Today I got back just in time to visit the Venice opening party at Venice island. After typing Venice into the map I TP'd in... and went down the drain immediately. The teleport ended in a closed cellar, filled with water. There was barely room for me to keep my head above water and breathe...

At first I thought it would be a grand entry, like at Paris 1900 (which I forgot to blog, so soon to come), where the TP hub is set in an underground /metro station. But it wasn't. It was just a cellar, and no way out. People above my head were talking Italian so I couldn't make sense.

I TP'd to the neigbouring Veneto sim and flew back in. The Venice sim takes quite a while in rendering, needing loads of custom textures to stream to the client, but it's worth it. The sim is filled with small piazza's and palazzio's that show some of the grandeur of this fabled merchant city of old. Some of the texturing is absolutely beautiful, but in some places it looks a bit too 2D.

The San Marco, the bridges and canals are all very recognisable, just a bit "condensed" at times, as Aleister put it when we discussed it. Hether and tether you'll find some shops and other signs that look a little out of place, and from a commercial point of view I doubt they'll be succesful, being hard to find in the sim. But maybe Italians are used to that.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Sprouting Tufts

This post originally appeared at Ambling in Second Life.

Tufts University, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, have an island in Second Life. I picked up a notecard, which I will now quote from liberally:
  • "This Second Life island is an experimental studio environment for the course 'Physical Planning & Design.' The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the fundamental ideas and tools in the work of planning and designing the built environment. As a capstone project for the course, we are developing a physical plan and design for vacant land surrounding the Forest Hills MBTA Train Station. On this island, you will find a 1/2 scale model of the Forest Hills site. We will use the Second Life environment to both conceive our plan and then to present our ideas. We will make a final presentation of our ideas on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 9AM ET. The public is welcome to join us here in Second Life for the presentation."
So I'm a few weeks late then. Ho hum.

The build is not dramatic (though it is interesting to see half-scale, I'm not used to that in SL) - but then that is not its purpose. Rather, it shows yet another means of innovating using 3D environments. I wonder whether they found that SL helped?

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Marvelling at Mirai

While looking around the Japanes block I noticed a sim called 'Mirai' at the very heart of the sim. I surely expected a company sim there, and the first building that appeared looked as lighthouse with an extended warehouse that had some crates next to it.

However, towering above was a marvellous palace, or so it seemed. I assumed it to be a great private mansion, but I did a little search on the Wikipedia and learned that Mirai was Japanese for 'Future', but also the name of an electronics corp. So there's the possibility that this too is a business sim.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Sony BMG

The Electric Sheep Company brings (well... brought a while ago) another big brand into Second Life. This time it's Sony BMG that's being immersed by the ESCapists. This time I'm impressed. The architecture is great and is slowly straying away from RL gravity rules.

The grand opening was October 19th, 2006 and featured a simulcast event with Ben Folds. Aside from the usual freebees (which in this case are about L$ 100) you can download music here as well.
The only problem with this sim is, is that it's called Media. It took me a while to find it. It certainly doesn't show right off that it's a Sony BMG thingy.

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New Architecture for Sun

Here's a short update on the Sun Pavilion I blogged about earlier. They've done some heavy redecorating and I really like the architecture!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Content at Second Life

Here's the latest news on Dutch corps coming to SL. Finally I get the chance to publish the pictures I took two months ago in a sneak preview...

And yay.. it's another Lost in the Magic Forest production.
Rotterdam, 26 April 2007 - Dutch employment agency Content goes Second Life. Dutch employment agency Content, one of the biggest in Europe, opened an island in Second Life. Content sees Second Life as an important platform for dialogue and crowdsourcing. Furthermore, Content will offer both real jobs as well as Second Life jobs on the island. Virtual branding agency [Lost in the] Magic Forest was responsible for the design, working closely together with internet agency Evident.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Down in the Electric Sheep Company area an island called Elysian attracted me. I didn't recognise it as a corp name, so I figured it must be private. Judging the location, I expected some link with the ESC.

Turns out it's the home of a UK based Architect (Real Life one) who also did gigs for various ESC projects and other contractors. I must say I was impressed by the architecture.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Real Life Cities 1: Amsterdam

When in Holland and you want to start a conversation on Second Life, or any other immersive world for that matter, the discussion is bound to touch virtual Amsterdam very soon. Amsterdam is probably the best known sim in Holland, mentioned in almost every SL story.

It usually is referred to as one of the largest sims (forgetting that all sims are created equal), or largest builds. The sim itself encompasses Amsterdam Central Station, the Damrak and the Dam itself with the monument, the New Church and the Royal Palace. Then there are some canals lined with shops. It's hardly a surprise to see half the shops are sex related. When making that conclusion, it's no surprise to see Amsterdam always is one of the favorite places in the Metaverse.

Since I don't dig virtual sex, I judged slamsterdam by it's architectural values. It's true that it is heavily built, and there's an enormous amount of textures used, making the sim very slow to render, which for me is a show-stopper.

The sim was originally built by Strokerz Toy, but was recently purchased by Nedstede, an Amsterdam based real estate firm. The sim was actioned at E-bay and the deal closed at 50,000 euro. I'm not sure the clientele is what they would like to see in Real Life.


If Nedstede is willing to spend that amount of money, they should call Lordlfy who did an extremely good impression of Amsterdam for SL's 2nd Relay for Live event in 2006. Though the sim is no longer live, its contents can be found somewhere in the deeps of Lordfly's inventory. Here are some impressions:

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Real Life Cities 2: Dublin

If we're talking about virtual recreations of real life sites you have to visit Second Life's version of Dublin. Many people who have visited Dublin in meatspace will recognise the virtual version.

Dublin in SL also hosts one of the most popular meetingpoints in Second Life, the Blarney Stone pub. Aside from meeting the regulars and dancing. The sims media url usually streams real life Irish radio, but the Blarney Stone is a regular site for musicians to simulcast. Many young artists perform on the small stage behind the dance floor. Due to its popularity the pub was one of the first places used by Diageo to promote their virtual bar.

The heavy build urban sim and the popularity of the Blarney Stone have a downside; the sim is usually very slow to stream and at happy hour many teleports are rejected because of this.

Next to old fashioned Dublin a new sim was added recently, shaped like the traditional Irish four-leaf clover. Unfortunately it is not open to visitors yet.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pontiac Motorati's Crowdsourcing show

One of the companies that literally drives the notion of crowdsourcing to the edge is Pontiac / Motorati. There's heavy interaction between the wonderful SL sim and their website ( The sim is a buzz of activity with visitors designing new cars, dragracing and all sorts of car-centered events.

Since the Pontiac Motorati cluster borders on the Millions of US development sites, it isn't hard to figure who build this great sim.

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