Sunday, October 05, 2008

Opening the Gates to Stargate Worlds

When the motion picture "Stargate" came out in 1994, starring Richard Dean Anderson, the personification of MacGyver, most of us did not take it very seriously. If you're hardcore Science Fiction, travelling between worlds doesn't work this way. Stargate was not SciFi, rather a mix of fantasy, nordic mythology and quasi religion.

Quasi religion? Yes. The basic premises of the movie is the discovery of an ancient device in Egypt which allows you to travel between worlds. This has been inspired by Erich von Däniken's theory of a godlike race visiting earth at the beginning of time with their spaceships being the pyramids.

Von Däniken founded his theory upon loosely interpreting three biblical passages from the Book of Genesis. Firstly, the creation of mankind is told two times, leading him to believe we have been created in a laboritory by genetic manipulation. The second attempt was succesfull and we're now clones of the 'gods'. The second verse he refers to is in which he sees the Aliens walk the earth.

"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. " [Genesis

Well, it's not exactly rocketscience, but good enough for an adventure series and the Stargate SG-1 (1997) and Stargate Atlantis (2004) tv-series proved immensely popular. A Third series now is in production.

Now finally there's a fully 3D MMORPG coming out dedicated to the Stargate Worlds. It's been long in coming, but it is a very logical step to bring the series to the web. The series offer a wealth of worlds, scenario's, cultures and plots - and the means to go there through teleporting through the stargates. Last year I build myself a stargate in Second Life to let it act as teleport hub, but playing the real thing is of course a lot better.

Here some screeners from the official game by Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment which announced that Stargate Worlds will go into private Beta on October 15th. Already over 200,000 people signed up for Beta Testing this cool-looking MMORPG.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

SEAT Auto Emoción

VeeJay's time has been taken up with more pressing matters, and as a result he was not able to get to this sim yet - so he has asked me to cross-post this article from my Ambling in Second Life blog...

I almost forgot about this one, but a piece of tumbleweed blowing through my otherwise vacant mind dislodged a memory that I had forgotten about. Around a week or so ago I got an email from Barrabas Zabaleta of virtual worlds builders, Mosi Mosi (who produced the entertainingly fun Prados Azules sim). The mail contained an offer of a pre-launch walkabout of a new sim. I had meant to take up the offer, got sidetracked and ended up forgetting about it... until today. Why today? Well today was when the sim actually opened, and this (or the tumbleweed) triggered my memory. I was a little surprised when I checked the map, though. The sim was empty. Had I got the dates muddled up? Had I missed it? Was I too early? The answers are (in order): 'No'; 'Dunno' and 'Dunno'.

But before further ponderings on this, it would be a good idea to tell you about SEAT. The company name is an acronym for Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo; in English, Spanish Saloon Car Company. Founded in 1950, it used to make re-badged Fiat cars for the Spanish domestic market. It has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen since 1990, producing a popular range of cars for both the domestic and international marketplace. As for the 'auto emoción' strapline, I can't find a really good reference for this, but I take it to mean that the SEAT design philosophy is to produce exciting vehicles that are enjoyable, even thrilling, to drive. Perhaps The Guardian had it right in 2006, when reviewing the Leon:

"SEAT is not the world's most popular brand, but it is trying. Its recent products have been supported by splashy advertising campaigns, pressing home the slogan "auto emocion", which, it would appear, is to be said where possible in a smoky, post-coital whisper. By this means the company hopes to persuade us that it is an A-grade manufacturer of pulse-quickening automobiles, rather than a
low-maintenance corporate outcrop of the VW group and a budget car builder from Spain - Spain being about as famous for car production as Italy is for golfing holidays

The car got a good review, by the way... but now let's move on to the sim.

The first thing that struck me was just how much Mosi Mosi have been able to fit into the sim, yet without it feeling cramped. I honestly had to check the Map a couple of times, to reassure myself that it was just the one sim! There's a lot to see and do, as you might expect. One nice idea is a series of computer screens showing some "html-on-a-prim" webpages you should explore. By way of an example, in the attached photoset, I've included Torley's YouTube page. If you are new to SL, there's a number of orientation displays and there's also a HUD you can pick up, giving you information on cool sites to visit in SL.

The cars are displayed in an elegant showroom, all sweeping curves and open space. Here you can pick up a range of freebies, ranging from drivers' helmets to scuba diving gear. While the latter seems bizarre - as if shoe-horned into the sim - there does seem to be some logic, since you are able to use your newly-gained equipment at the Beach Club. Here, you can also indulge in dancing and generally carousing. The biggest freebie is a car - but you have to win this by completing a series of challenges, at the end of which you receive your license and vehicle. Being totally rubbish at driving in SL, I did not give it a go. Finally there's a sandbox - which is nice to see.

Here's a few photos to give you the flavour:

How this sim will fare with those who are professional marketing folk, I do not know. However, I liked the sim. It had handy hints for newcomers, lots of freebies, a sandbox (not that common these days) and some interesting, interactive challenges. It is also well constructed, coherent and adheres well to SEAT's branding.

My only note of concern is about the promotion of the sim. I had expected some indications of a launch party, and perhaps a series of events to get the sim off to a good start. Promotion through SEAT's existing websites too - if it's there, I've not spotted it. So it appears to be something of a soft launch. If so, then all well and good. But for the company to extract more from the site, it will need a bigger, louder launch at some point - and a schedule of events and competitions might be an idea, too. To be honest, in promotional terms, I'm not sure how much good these actually do - but they're better than comatose sims.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

SEAT and Mitsubishi inSL

Just spotted in Second Life: Car manufacturer SEAT. Not much more to tell as the island is blanked out and inaccesible.


And another automotive company (and many other things) is rezzing in Second Life as well, Japanese Mitshubishi Corporation is going six isle strong.


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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.


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Monday, January 28, 2008

Lancia gives SL the Boot

Lancia gives SL the boot... were they ever in? No they just entered Second Life, with their island bootshaped like their hometurf Italy. Last week I thought I had finished blogging every car company in Second Life when I did my post on Vauxhall but saturday the Italian Fiat subsidiary opened up their island to the public. Island is a little deceiving here as their virtual showroom is quite a setup spreading 4 sims.

Lancia explains their virtual presence on the supporting website:

Lancia has created an Island in the shape of Italy, testifying to the brand’s commitment to spreading the made in Italy ethos.

The island has 5 main buildings, 5 areas where you can experience our mood. To the North East there is the Reception, the ideal spot to start with to discover the island. To the North West, there is the Multi-Theatre, the island’s nerve centre, containing the Drive In and the Conference Room. In the Drive In area special content videos are waiting for you – you will be able to see them using QuickTime Player- with international artists such as U2, Zucchero, Peter Gabriel, Queen and Beyoncé playing the main roles. They were realized for 46664, the worldwide campaign against HIV created by Nelson Mandela, and they will be broadcasted on three big screens.

Meanwhile, in the centre, there is the Showroom, the heart of the island, the place where you can discover virtual versions of Lancia’s models, but where you can also get the very latest news and information about the brand. One above
all: interesting anticipations about the long awaited launch of new Lancia Delta. Heading West, there is the Glass Bubble. Inspired by the famous glass bubble on the roof of the Lingotto factory in Turin, this is the island’s disco,
where you can dance long into the night to the rhythm of the trendiest music around.

Lastly, if you go South, you will come to the Lancia Café, where you can relax with a drink or skip over the waves in a water-scooter.

Discover the Lancia Village, a new way of seeing the world of Lancia, from a new, rather unusual point of view.

As far as automotive immersions go, it isn't too different from what their peers have done. It's the usual press center and test track, but it has something extra with the videos and water scooter stuff. As far as design goes, it is Italian design which in this case means: It is a good build. I was actually impressed by a number of things. One of the things that really caught my attention was the colorboards next to the cars in the Showroom.. Alas, they didn't function as I had hoped. The boards display in which color the car is available. It would have been nice if they had been scripted to change the color of the car in the showroom accordingly when touched.


All car companies present in Second Life can be found through the automotive label on MindBlizzard.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Virtual Israel opens Borders

Today the Jewish Chronicle reported on Israel in Second Life, which has opened the doors on january 13 whereas the real Israel closes its borders. The article in the Jewish Chronicle is written for absolute n00bs, but here's a quote anyway:

"You can now visit the Holy Land without leaving home.

Rachel Fletcher logs on to an online virtual worldVisitors to the online virtual 3D world that is Second Life (SL) have long been able to attend a computerised synagogue, yeshivah, pray at the Western Wall, and wander round a Holocaust museum. But with the launch of Second Life Israel this month, the possibilities to live a virtual Jewish life have increased enormously.

Avatars — the characters users adopt when they visit SL — can now take a dip in the Dead Sea, tour the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock, get down on a Tel Aviv dancefloor, experience the brilliantly coloured
underwater observatory in Eilat, or visit Yad Vashem’s Children’s Memorial. "

It is a little cramped, but indeed Israel has immersed on one sim. As far as construction goes in Second Life, I wouldn't call it a classy build. It has some great textures, but more often than not, the textures do not really fit. Throughout the sim there are new features under construction, but lack of space causes the builders to revert to textured decorums, which is a shame I think.

I really hope this community will grow and expand its borders in Second Life and hope to see more of the ancient city of Jerusalem and other sites from the Holy Land appear.


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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

de-activ8 Nestlé

One of the new entries in Second Life earlier this month is Swiss dairy mogul Nestlé.

"Nestlé is a multinational packaged food company
founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland. It results from a merger in 1905 between the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company for milk products established by the Page Brothers in Cham, Switzerland, in 1866 and the Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé Company set up in 1867 by Henri Nestlé to provide an infant food product.
Several of Nestlé's brands are globally renowned, which made the company a global market leader in many product lines, including milk, chocolate, confectionery, bottled water, coffee, creamer, food seasoning and pet foods...
...Some of Nestlé's business practices have been considered unethical, especially the manner in which infant formula has been marketed in developing countries, which led to the Nestlé boycott from 1977."


It's been a while since I've seen a good build, and beforehand I had expected a good professional build, but it was a disappointment. The first signs were good... when looking for the island I saw it was a double-sim build and there were about 25 people present. So it's generating traffic...

It's prime focus is the Nesquick Quicksk8 Park, a more or less urban style skate / ball park with a chocolatemilky river. This is what generates traffic today: The skatepark has been transformed into a cemetary with a Halloween party. Along the river you'll find the Nesquik Graffiti Wall. There's a shack where you can get skateboards and some info on milk. And that's about as Nesquick as it gets.

The build looks quite nesQuick 'n Dirty... it's a bit chaotic and disjoint. The landscaping looks a bit erratic and cheap. The rest of the double-sim venue is split up in various resorts, rentals, clubs and whatever; these are the areas I flew past:

  • Activ8 Beach Resort
  • Activ8 Nightlife Complex
  • Activ8 Martini Lounge

It's a double sim and it's just too much. It's chaotic. I'd not yet read KZero's remarks (spot on!) and expected something like Charlie's-chocolate-factory-ish or Ben & Jerry style.

Here's what Nic from KZero has to say:

But, there’s a serious problem here.

Who is the target market for Nesquik? Is it late 20’s to early 30’s (as the main age group represented in SL) tech and media savvy early adopters? Or is it young kids? Or
maybe it’s the mothers and fathers that actually purchase the product in supermarkets?

If the target is kids, then from a media planning perspective, quite simply it’s the right time but wrong place for them. There’s no kids in Second Life - try There or Kaneva, in fact, go even younger, into Whyville, Club
or Habbo.

If the target is mothers and fathers, then the treatment and execution of this project again is out of focus - ever skateboarded in Second Life? Or even wanted to?

Somebody please tell me if I’ve missed the point here!?

As the venue is called activ8, my conclusion would be to de-activ8. Sorry folks.

Anyway, if you'd like to waste your time, here's the SLURL:

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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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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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Monday, August 13, 2007

Citroën Brasilian style

From the mediterranean to the Copocabana is just one TP. The Copocabana houses a positively Latin metropole and several Brasilian companies. Brasil is doing SL Brasil style as it doesn't wait for the official international companies to arrive in Second Life, but follow their own branding and marketing agendas.

For several months Fiat Brasil has been under construction - and it should open soon - and now Citroën Brasil takes a / the stand as well.

However, there's supposed t be an official Citroën island. I've not spotted it yet, but here's a YouTube screener:


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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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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Glory to the Builders

My previous blogpost, Day of the Greenies ,was the of the official opening of the Greenies Home in Second Life, but not the apotheosis, the masterpiece of this build. A small crowd gathered since Rezzable's founder Right as Rain Rimbaud had niceley build up expectations in the past weeks. Right as Rain Rimbaud:
"we have a new piece from Light Waves. We all cried like little babies when we saw it first time: It is unique in metaverse."
And truly , this 30 prim sculptie is of exceptional quality. Look at the level of detail and shadow. Inside this oversized build the statue doesn't look all that big, but trust me, it's supersized.

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Day of the Greenies

ay is not the day of the Triffids, but the day of the Greenies. The invasion has begun! Even in their prelaunch state the Greenies have drawn huge crowds:

"Then there's "Greenies", from a small British development company called Rezzable, which plans to use it for retail and events. But where SL sites for large corporations like Dell, Sun, and Reebok attract but a few hundred visitors, Greenies is, with little official promotion, already bringing in several thousand visits per week," according to James Wagner Au at New World Notes earlier this week.

Prelaunch views

To make final preps for the official launch the sim has been closed since July 29. I was lucky enough to get a special invite for the preview and this is the real deal. Rezzable has done a great job creating expectations and now it all has to come together. So let's see what the little green men are up to...

Okay, the keyword again is explore, and TOUCH.

The abduction has begun...

It's time to have a peak at the mothersip, grand place of Greenie Merchandise. You've got to do some work though to find the teleports. Nothing in Greenie-land is an easy grab.

Glory to the Builders...

After some hovering I had time to have a good chat with Pavig Lok, one of the builders and Right as Rain Rimbaud, the Rezzable initiator to go to the bottom of the Light Waves story that runs on the Second Life Herald. Turns out to be the Herald can see the prim, but not the build once more and will need to re-research their story.

On Rezzable

The Greenies Home is the first project by Rezzable, which was founded in 2007 in order to create exciting new entertainment areas in Second Life. The company believes that as the number of residents in the virtual world continues spectacular growth, there will be massive demand for high-quality content and engaging activities.


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Monday, July 30, 2007

Capozzi branding hyperjump

Everything new gets dubbed 2.0 these days, upto and including the Financial Times writing on gospel 2.0 or the blogoshpere getting excited about Philantropy 2.0 or Fundraising 2.0. To state that this blogpost is about wine 2.0 or distilling 2.0 would not give credit enough to the sim I visited today...

This is a tale beyond a succesful immersion - even when the island hasn't seen it's final version and opening yet. This is a tale of creating a brand 21st century style in a 19th century business.

The business I'm referring to is that of making wine, a traditional profession that -at least in Europe- brings images of old, weathered farmers and old French chateau's. It's classic and romantic and absolutely non-tech-savvy. During the 20th century we have seen the rise of new wineproduction areas, like California, South Africa and New Zealand gaining popularity over the traditional French and Spanish wines. The popularity of these new wines are partly because these wineries use modern technology to create well balanced wines and of a more constant quality than the traditional French ones.

Here's a look at the Capozzi sim

To start off by calling this a hyperjump and getting all excited about it does raise some expectations. Why?

If you look at the sim -without its context- it's nothing special. It is a quality build, as expected when built by Chip Poutine of the Prion Design Group and the guys (and girls) over at Metaversatility. Lush green rolling hills house the winery and a path that leads through the various stages of the production process. Though totally different in design than the Ben & Jerry's factory in Second Life, it's the same concept. So why the buzz?

The buzz is that this is not a brand creating a virtual presence like "we've got to be there" but it is a grand design in creating the brand itself. The Capozzi winery was established in 2005 by Josh Hermsmeyer and really is a tale of crowdsourcing as it started off on the pinotblogger blog:

"On November 18, ‘05 pinotblogger was born. Its stated purpose is to “outline the long and painful processes involved in starting and building a family winery in the Russian River Valley. While we haven’t been at it very long nor has it been particularly painful yet, I’m 99.9% certain that at least one of these adjectives will correctly describe the project in the very near future (hopefully NOT painful and short though, as that would be sad)."

Meanwhile the Pinotblogger website has been been among the top 5 wineblogs in the world and gives a great insight in the business and starting up the new winery. The virtual presence complements this strategy. It's an all in, a 21st century marketing campaign from a traditional craft, that's a hyperjump.

Read more on the build of the sim at the website, or visit it inworld: SLURL:

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Greenies go Public

Today I had an exciting talk with Jonathan Himoff, the founder of Rezzable, also known as RightasRain Rimbaud inside Second Life. The company's website itself is empty for now, but he was kind enough to send me the new corporate logo.

Since I posted on the Greenies - the softlaunch, it hit the blogosphere quite massively. Here are some posts:

The Greenies are getting a buzz. Aside from some criticism and crooky post in the Herald, I've heard nothing but cheers for the Greenies.

Me taken by Verde, one of the candid camera greenies.

Official opening party

Vint Falken wrote on her blog that she met up with a few people on the opening party, but here's the news: The official opening party still has to come!

Rezzable's official Opening Party: July 31st.

There will be a press preview around 12 am SLT and Jon really got me going for this one. There will be reveiled a sculpture of spectaculair nature, one like you've never seen before.

I jumped and said: "lemme see, lemme see", but his answer was: "Sorry mate, you'd be dying knowing and not be able to blog it."

Shortly afterwards there will be the official public launch.

Rezzables Proof of Concept

So, who's behind all of this? Caleb Booker a.k.a Onder Skall asked in his report. Is Rezzable doing this for a company? Who's putting up the cash? I asked Jon if this was a signed contract or just an expensive business card.

The Greenies is a Rezzable sim allright, no contractor, just purely a statement by Rezzable, but not to be viewed as an expensive business card, but their Proof of Concept. Rezzable wants to make sure the (virtual) world knows Rezzable is able to write a new chapter in User Experience.

The chapter will continue, there are more sims coming up!

Rezzable is hiring

Finally, if you're out there thinking "I can do this too!" give RightasRain Rimbaud a call inside Second Life as Rezzible is hiring. Rezzable is a new, small, London based firm with great ideas and projects coming up.

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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.


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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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Monday, July 16, 2007

Holland SL: KPN

Another Dutch company opened shop in Second Life, this time it's the eldest Telco company of the Netherlands, KPN. Their sim is half finished, but already heavily used by KPN employees.

The Dutch Secondlife.NL blog reports that KPN employees went out to STRIKE on the SL island to get better working conditions and salary.
The build is centered around the KPN logo, 3 colored domes, of which only the green one is in use yet. The others are under construction. Inside the green dome a few standard features; info and auditorium things, a few gadgets like waterski's.

A nice feature is the Text Messaging Gadget which allows you to send 3 SMS text messages to first life at the price of L$ 150.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Real Life Cities (10): Brugge

Second Life is getting busy. Many new sims and companies from all over the world. Sometimes it looks like some countries are lagging. This seems true for the UK and Belgium, with very few companies and 'official' sims compared to the number of Brits and Belgians active in and blogging on Second Life.
The Belgians are getting upto speed though, SL-wise. Last month I blogged Belgacom as one of the first major Belgian companies to arrive in Second Life and last weekend I've blogged on the Brussel sim. Today's Brugge time.
Here are some snapshots, taken by Pieter Bosch of the SecondLife Crew blog, an excellent Belgian SL-blog.

The city of Brugge is still under construction, being build by Belgian content creators Metacon.
I've seen more and more professional content creators build Real Life cities as a promotional and community creation platform, and indeed this sim is aimed at creating a Belgian community and will be a mix of commercial and residential buildings.

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Univé:Insure your Second Life

Univé and Aegon, two Dutch insurance companies have had islands sitting out there in Second Life for months now. Univé is the first of them to open up shop on July 12.

Besides offering insurance for real life, Univé now offers the possibility of (Dutch)Second Life residents to insure themselves agains theft and other forms of damage.
At a central point at Univé island you can report damage, each incident will be registered in a database. Univé processes the claims and makes appointments with the client in Second Life for an assesment if necessary. If the damage is covered by the insurance, claims will be paid out in Linden dollars.

Pricing for this insurance is at L$ 200 per 6 months (0,57 Euro), the insurance has a limit of L$ 10.000 per claim.

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Text100 to bring Manpower to Second Life

After Randstad, Content and Kelly Services there's a new employment agency entering Second Life: Manpower.
The promotional force behind this entry is different though and is handled by Text100. Yesterday I - and quite a number of other bloggers - received a press release:

"The world of work is changing - it seems as though each new day brings a new and innovative tool for businesses and employees to communicate and interact in the virtual workplace – from telecommuting to outsourcing and, more recently, virtual worlds such as Second Life.

But as the novelty of the virtualized workforce wears off and real business starts to get done, big questions call for a response: What does success look like in this emerging “World of Virtual Work?” What are the opportunities, what are the risks? And what are the rules of engagement for employers, employees, entrepreneurs, customers and job seekers?

In celebration of the launch of the company’s island in Second Life, Manpower, a world leader in employment services, will host a virtual panel discussion this Thursday to explore these important issues. Several prominent Second Life avatars who are active in the virtual business community will address the many open questions on the “World of Virtual World.”

The World of Virtual Work – A Discussion in Second Life

When: This Thursday, July 12, at 3 pm Eastern/12 pm Pacific Time
Where: Manpower Island in Second Life
How: Click the following SLURL to be transported to the event -

As a Second Life resident reporting on the virtual world, you are invited to attend the discussion - and even participate - on how the virtual workforce is being shaped today. In addition, you will be among the first avatars to explore Manpower’s newly created island."

Opening parties are usually a bit crowdy, hence laggy, so I may skip this one to come back later to blog it.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Virtual Education: Enst Bretagne

In the northwestern area of Second Life dozens of Universities and Colleges are under construction, some in an advanced state, some still in conception stage. Today I visited the island called Telecom Bretagne, just between the University of Oxford and the Technical University of Delft.

The island is home to the Enst Bretagne, A prestigious graduate engineering schooland international research centre in the field of information technologies.

"Created in 1977, ENST Bretagne is one of the most prestigious graduate engineering schools ("Grandes Ecoles") in France. It is a public institution, under the aegis of the Ministry for Industry and is a member of the Group of Telecommunications Schools (GET). The college trains future professionals for careers in industry, services and research."

The island consists of various buildings ranging from classroom to sports centrew with research, information and meetingrooms in between. It's not a build that will win an architectural prize, but it's functionality that counts.
Originally the intention was to build a virtual representation of the Real Life campus, but that was soon abandoned as the real campus is about 5 times bigger than the virtual island.

Marie-Catherine Mouchot, the Head of Communications was kind enough to provide me with some details on the build and its intended use.
"We want to use it for both teaching and meeting. Our alumni already use it for their own meetings and we have 40% of foreign students and it's a good way to get in contact with them prior to their venue in France. We also want to use it for our students registerd in continuing education programmes so that they can get in conctact after the teaching sessions and exchange experience with the other students."

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Real Life Cities (9): Brussels

Officially it's past midnight here, so 7-7-7 is gone. I was just looking at my recent blogs and officially my blogcount for today is (somehow) 7. My last visit today was the Brussel Sim. To stress the fact it's 7-7-7, Earth Day, I've started with an image I took at the casino there.

The Brussel sim is advertised as meeting place for the (appr. 7000 active) Belgian SL residents, and it is dominated by the Royal Palace which - in this case - is an enormous casino. When I arrived, the sim was bustling with activity - 78 residents on site - but I doubt they were all Belgian. Casino's do draw crowds.

The second floor of the casino does show some Belgian Royal Hineyness and acts as a museum.
The rest of the sim (which isn't much because the palace really dominates it) consists of a few shops and two other noteworthy Brussel Landmarks: The atomium and 'manneke pis' (the pissing guy)


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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Virtual Banking (10): Deutsche Bank AG

While I was reading this weeks AvaStar (issue # 29) there were two things that caught my eye.

AvaStar Omissions and Errors

First of all was their doublepage special on Universities from around the globe. Again I notice that there are missing several Dutch Universities which are pretty active in Second Life, especially the Free University of Amsterdam (VUA) that's been active for months now. Also, there is an error in their report on Princeton stating:

"Princeton University will open its five-sim site in time for the new academic year in the fall... ...The AvaStar was given exclusive access to the finished parts of the Princeton site.."

Well, not so exclusive. The site was (as is the case with many new interesting sites) spotted by Al 'super-scooper' Kronos who blogged it respectively at 3PointD, Ambling in Second Life and this very MindBlizzard blog having a first full set of snapshots. A little credit to whom credit is due would seem in place.

Q110 - The bank of the future

The second story that drew my attention was their short introduction of the Deutsche Bank AG coming to Second Life:

"THE future of banking has arrived in SL. Talking at a press conference in Berlin streamed live into SL the member of the board of Deutsche Bank AG, Hermann-Josef Lamberti, referred to SL as the “killer application” of the next few years that enables us to see how the future of the internet will unfold. That’s why Deutsche Bank have decided to launch their futureoriented
Q110 banking concept in SL."

This first image is a photoscreen in front of the real build. It's set up with a photocamera and a circle on the floor will tell you where to stand. Take your picture here, and have it printed on your Real Life credit card.

The build itself is inline with the current trends to let go of traditional 'gravity-bound' architecture and is basically an open banking floor with two hovering skyscrapers.

The towers themselves fullfill no particular purpose, business is done at floor-level or in three different skyboxes. Deutsche AG takes Skybox very literal in this build. The three boxes vary in style to serve different clientgroups.

One of the funny things in this build is the "Wishroom", a sort of holodeck with three theme options: marriage, future and buying a house.
I took the Future tour and was asked several questions. After each question the holodeck formed to suit my imagined future. Afterwards I received some three notecards with the Deutsche Banks tips to get where I want to be.
At the end of my visit I discovered why the towers were there. At the rooftops you'll find baseball courts.
My last thought was, why build on the IBM Boeblingen Lab sim and not a dedicated sim?

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Doubledating Doubledown at Starfruit

Yesterday Chris Carella (Creative Director) of the Electric Sheep Company reminded me of a new sim opening today:

"Come party around the clock and across the globe for the launch of Starfruit in Second Life! We’ll be celebrating on the third floor of the tower where DJ Doubledown Tandino will be spinning a live mix of house and eclectic music."

For once the US based content creators start considering the European contingent at Second Life by doing a multiple party show, so I should be gratefull. But I'm not. 11 AM, exactly the same time as today's Things To Do annex Geek Meet outing to Eolus One. In short, I had to run a doubledate with DJ Doubledown Tandino, one of the more popular Mixed Reality turntable wizzards. I did manage to get a small piece of the action though; here's a few partypics:
So much for the party, let's have a look at Starfruit. Basically what it comes down to is this:
"Would you like to surprise someone in Second Life and send them a real gift in real life... but you don't know their real postal address? Don't worry any more... we will take care of everything"
It is a metabrand, a gift service that operates from Switserland and delivers worldwide. For more business info on Starfruit, have a look at KZero's blog.

As you may have guessed by the opening line, the build is done by the Electric Sheeps.
There are some nice details in this build which is moving away from traditional RL based architecture.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

ICEX - Spanish Export

Today I visited the ICEX island, which I've spotted mid april and found it open to public.

In april I wrote: "As far as I can tell from the logo in the bottom right corner, the ICEX Servicios sim is set up by the Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior." Well, I was right.

In short, ICEX is -as far as my Spanish goes - an Intstitute to promote Spanish companies abroad (though surprisingly I only found Spanish text and no English).
At first look the sim looks quite unorganised and messy, but some investigation led me to the website of Exporta 2007, and is about an export exposition. This explains the many corporate stands bordering the island.
The main venue is on clean energy. The picture above (right) shows some windmills and solar energy stands, and the main building (below) holds information on a solar station Spain is working on.
Now I recall a radio broadcast a few months ago where they'd discussed 'green energy' and one of the remarks was that much of todays green energy technology is coming from Western Europe and Scandinavia, and that the Southern European countries are lagging severely. Especially Spain.
What I recall from my holidays in Spain (Canary Islands and Costa del Sol) is that Spain isn't concerned with the environment at all. The country is drying up, but the coasts are getting greener and greener due to heavily showered golf-courses and palm-lined tourist resorts. As temperatures will rise and Spain will be seeing more and more sun, it would naturally be a country to invest in Solar energy technology. Now it seems they're getting that message, and now want to announce that Spain too is getting 'climate-savvy'

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Siemens in SL

Okay, big Siemens is in Second Life! new, innovating? Not really.

As I spotted the island Siemens Innovation Center I got really exited, though the shape of the build looked somewhat familiar, and yay, it is a recycle or rebranding job: the island was previously named UGS Innovation Island and only a few signs and logo's have changed.

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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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Friday, June 29, 2007

Mediacom Branders

A new arrival to Second Life is Mediacom, a global media buying and planning company with over $13 billion in billing and has over 100 offices in 80 countries worldwide.
It is one of the many Real Life branding companies making a move towards Second Life, and in this case, Mediacom is a player. The question is: "Do they understand how the game is played?"
I'm not sure they do. First of all, the sim is still in development mode (I'm guessing, since it's half empty). For bloggers like me its always nice to have sneak previews, but I'd rather see a complete build than a half finished one. In my opinion the island is open too soon.
The main venue is a square with a lot of basic white. The coloring does fith the corporate colors, so no remark there, it's just my fear of German Design Snowblindness is playing up again.

The main venue is set up in a square with a white path leading past the various stages. The path includes the location of all offices. There's a seminar room, an inforoom and some display stands.

Peculiar is the slogan behind the car (right) reading: "Building Brands in Second Life." If they live up to that call, time will tell.

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The Heart of Intel

Today Intel advances more in Second Life as it opens up another 3 sim build. April 30th I already spotted 9 island under construction, so this will be an ongoing process I think.
"Today, Intel (in cooperation with MRM Worldwide and Millions of Us) will be unveiling the consolidated Intel presence in Second Life known as Intel Island. At the heart of this 3-sim build, including the previously launched Intel OCC (Intel’s partnership sim with Orange County Choppers) and Intel Software Network, is what we like to refer to as “the journey.”

Read the full release story on the Millions of Us blog

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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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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Suntory Update

Early may I blogged that the Japanese mega-brewer Suntory was entering Second Life. Here's an update.
A few weeks ago I went to take a look and saw nothing much besides some rudimentary blocks marking a rough setup. It was enough to get hold of the name of the person who was building it, but she wasn't very forthcoming.

Today I went in for another peek, while enjoying a Suntory Yamazaki whisky and found a little progress, so let's keep an eye on them...

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Dutch Edu: Fontys University of Applied Sciences

Fridaynight I was too busy with the Geek Meet to notice the Fontys University
of Applied Sciences
open up in Second Life. Fontys has been building the sim in the past three months, setting up a virtual campus in 9 bits and pieces, each faculty build their site, which makes up for the somewhat unorganised appearance.
In short they plan to explore and experiment the technical and education options in Second Life. There's Fontys Campus Radio all over the place and several students from the Fontys Rock Academy can be seen on the many video screens. Then there's mixed reality experimenting by the Faculty of Education, who have put up twitter and the internetbunny 'Nabaztag' This RL bunny is equiped with an AI and hooked up by WiFi and transmits messages from Second Life into the realworld.

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Dutch get a Testlife

Friday the Testlife sim opened up for public. For once there's a test intitiative that's not been initiated by Sogeti's TMAP, but this comes from the testers Four Oaks in Arnhem
This is somewhat an a-typical sim, as it absolutely has no explicit branding except for the four oaks dominating the foresty sim. It's a paintball area where testers can meet and community-build in a fun environment.
The builders are the Dutch DNBMedia corp who're also working hard in the 0031 area.

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Virtual Banking (8): BNP Paribas

The title of this blog is the the order in Which I've blogged financial corps in Second Life, as Aleister already described the Japanese Suruga bank. For a chronological timeline of entries you should check Nic's blog

BNP Paribas Group-sim

First of all BNP has a group island in which it promotes their French and German CRR brands. This island is partly accessible and has a major promotion-wall (left) stating it'll open in June. The only finished items I can spot are the press center (right).

Next to the press center is a nice pond with terras and the rest of the sim consists of restricted parcels. A large parcel in the SE corner is covered with a white box, but with some camera-juggling I managed to peek inside. It looks like some offices are being build here (left)

BNP Paribas-sim

The second sim is totally inaccessible, but from the BNP Paribas group sim you can have some view on what they're up to. (above right, below left and right).

From this distance I can't really see what is going on, but the build has a nice fresh look to it. The circle in the bottom-right corner is meant for recruitment and on the left pic it shows several funplaces, like jetskis and campfires.

Sofar, it's a regular sim, no new things spotted. I hope to get a good look soon to judge the build.


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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cyberextruder's Facelift shop

Here's another episode in the rise of the Metabrands as Cyberextruder comes to Second Life with a new über-cool Second Life service. One of the things I've noticed over the past months in Second Life is than many people are paying a lot of attention to their looks, some painstakingly tweaking their face until it does resemble their real life appearance.
Up till now it has been hard to get your real life face texturised and mapped on your face. I've experimented a little, but it would take a skilled person to make it look good, but ata Avatar Island you'll get it done the cyberway... automated laser surgery in freeky chairs ;)
Here's the island which has the main Laboratory and some free vendor sites for related avatar business, one of them is Cryogen Labs where you can pimp the rest of your avatar.

Well, mighty thanks to 57 who organised a trip to Avatar Island for the Things To Do group and got us free surgery (normal price at about l$ 2400, so close to 10 US dollar).
In normal plastics you're face swells up, gets bloody and messy and you're absolutely not allowed to laugh, talk cry, shout get angry or whatever. At Cyberextruders'nothing went really wrong, except SL went haywire, constant client crashes and forced client updates didn't really better my mood, so I barely dared look in the mirror.

Okay, SL is quite buggy'right now and is taking huge amounts of memory so I won't get into the report on my face job. That will have to wait until tomorrow.

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Last month I wrote on Playboy entering Second Life, well, earlier this week they opened up with a big party -which of course was a USA timezone thingy, too late for me to stay up.

So I probably missed out on a few lightly clad party-animals, cyberchampaign and some music. No big fuzz then. I popped in for a peek to see how the build was done -though Nic warned me:

"This may not be a venue you would perhaps want to visit from work - it’s got a mature rating and most people there do seem to be wearing very little. Of course, you could always convince your boss (or IT department) that visiting the virtual Playboy mansion is in fact a research exercise into leveraging real world media into virtual worlds. Let me know how that goes."

It became PG rated somehow, Partner Guided that is, as I was having coffee with Mrs. Vee.

The Playboy sim is hard to miss on the map, it's logo stands out very clear and the design of the sim is very handsomely build around the trademark bunny. It's probably no surprise the general look and feel are on the sunny side of life, there's a high beach and coconut tree per square inch ratio. Being there from a business point of few I politely turned down "my Happy Meal" who asked me to dance.

The first thing that got me excited had absolutely nothing to do with Playboys' core business, but with simple communication. This is absolutely one of the very few business sims that has an Event Calender! How hard can it be ;)

The pic on the left is something that would please a colleague of mine, who's been immersed in for several years and showed me several mood-pictures from his favorite places, they always had similar signs. On the right is The Cherries, the club "to enjoy formal elegance in an informal setting." Throughout the sim there's music, not only on the audio stream, but interactive music as well, like this harp. Later we'll get to Drum Mountain and inside the store I also saw a piano.

The Playboy Store

The sim's main event is the Playboy Store, which basically has a platform for clothing and apparel (left) and a hovering platform for Playboy movies and mags. (right)

The Sunny side of life

On the sunny side of life there's the Reed Resort, a Tiki shack with a sculpted bunny hostess and free raft rides" The pic on the right shows me doing a modelling pose, one of the many spread throughout the sim.

Then There's Drum Mountain with all sorts of drums and the Grotto, a lush secluded pool paradise for Hugh's private pool delights.

There are a few more elements on the sim, but I'll leave it up to you to explore. I'm a little pressed for time, so this time I'll skip the surfboards.

A short wrap up; unlike Nic's statement the visitors were quite decently clad (must be since I visited during US office hours) and the overall build is well designed and done. On a few occasions I saw prim jitter and cornerpieces that were slightly off. The most positive thing is that it's varied and has an event calendar.


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Dutch Railways-Connexxion-Arriva-DHL enter Second Life

Nothing special has happened for a long long time in the 0031 sims, but now it is getting interesting as the Dutch Railways (NS, or Nederlandse Spoorwegen) are doing a triple sim build.In short there are two trainroutes that are being build:

A <--> B
which is Lunteren (5km from where I live) to Amersfoort, which is a relatively large station close to Utrecht.

C <--> D
Winsum to Groningen. Groningen is the capital of the Province Groningen, up north in the Netherlands bordering Germany

It's still in development, and closed, but nice to see new initiative coming, though I'll doubt this build will add weight to their performance contract to have (?) 98% of trains run on time.
Aside from the NS it looks like Connexxion and Arriva, two bus companies are joining in as well.

Last tidbit: Next to the NS build is appearing a build that could well be DHL.



Thanks for the tip Dobre

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Virtual Banking (7): DNB Bank Norway

Another international Bank has opened up shop in Second Life, this time it's the Norwegian DNB, not to be confused with the Dutch national bank, also called DNB.

After ABN AMRO, ING (The Netherlands), Wirecard (Germany) and Saxo (Denmark) this is the fifth major European finance company coming to Second Life (with BNP Paribas still in development)

The sim starts of with a neat 3D model of the sim (very popular these days), which is devided into several smaller islands. The overall theme is summertime Norway, as I'm told by one of the freelancers who worked at this build. A main feature is the auditorium (right) which is a good build.

The second main build is a hovering globe -which is quite low on textures - and though most of the sim is bilingual (Norwegian and English), this was solely Norwegian, so I can't give you the full monty on this.
Then there's a small terras showing the Nobel-Peace-prize winners and a series of gazebo's intended as learning centers.
Throughout the sim various Norwegianish things appear, like sunken ships, swimming orca's, campsite, windsurf and diving spots, small fishingboats etcetera.
The build is developed by a company called Design Container, working with several Freelancers. This makes up for several degrees of quality in the build, some are neatly texturised, others are a bit low on textures (pic left, the gallery), or have a few textures askew. The DNB NOR car (right) is very primitive.
In the pic below an example of where it's neatly done, even tidal influences are considered in this build (left). The other one, an ancient worship tree is a little buggy in the script (right).

All in all I must say that the overall quality of the build varies enormously, and also the theme is too unfocussed. It's a bit of everything and I'm not sure where the root of this problem lies. It could well be that DNB Nor didn't have a fixed idea of what they intend to do in Second Life, or there was a basic plan that saw several ideas gone wild because of working with too many different freelancers.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

ABN AMRO Young Professional Launch

Earlier this week I blogged on the upcoming ABN AMRO YP launch. Well, today's the day.
In short, the opening event is a simulcast with DJ Jesse Voorn (Jesse Bourne) performing life in the Panama Club in Amsterdam and in Second Life. It's also a Dance4Life party. I won't go into details on the background much since I've blogged that here.
Anyway, the sim's open now and here are some pics. I see I need to mention a bit of background still to explain it. The sim is intended for Young Professionals. The idea behind the build is a relaxed mediterranean village with harbor, a place where Young Professionals would like to hang out.

The sim's core is a mediterranean village with some nice houses, a harbor and several meeting points like bars, pools and conference center. According to the Dutch Lost in the Magic Forest the build had to be realised in just one week. All buildings are custom made meeting the quality standards whe'd expect from LitMF (both architecturally and texturally speaking), though a number of props like yaughts and furniture were bought.
One of the sims fun things is the Mocassin 1200 Jetski ride (okay, here's a pic from me without the usual business suit). It's strong engine propelled me rapidly forward, causing me to bump into several yaughts and even launched me onto the dance site knocking over a few early dancers.

The Dutch partyscene raced out to be there (many Dutch SL club owners were present as well), and I must say, the party was well organised and every possible dance was prepped, I even saw the "feet of flame". Some minor glitches, such as partybubbles that were causing some lag were quickly disabled before the real event started. Truth be told, it remained quite laggy at times causing a hard time for the streaming media to render properly, but the crowd liked it.

Finally the audio stream was disabled and both image and sound were streamed through the movie, but the soundquality was less than that of the audio stream. All in all I must say the load of the dancefloor, dancers, the sim and the streaming media was too heavy. Sound fell away quite often and it was hard to get a decent snapshout without the stream being blocky.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hollywood bots to invade Second Life

Last week we saw Bruce Willis (in some blogs said to be Yippie Kay Ay, or others as Bee Dub) come to Second Life to promote his new movie, Die Hard 4 (blogged here).

Hollywood now has a turn on on Second Life and has decided that Second Life needs more bots. After copybots and landbots and tons of other not so nice spiderthings Second Life is heading for the Autobots and Decepticons as Silverscreen is prepping the SL entrance of the Transformers movie.

update 11 june 2007

It seems I was a little ahead of the official press. I've been kindly asked to hold down on this post for a while.

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Fashion gets Spanish Spice

Fashion has been one of Second Life's hot commodities since the early days. Many residents leaped to the challenge of creating virtual clothing and the number of stores is astonishing. Everybody in Second Life needs clothing, even more so than bling bling apparati or cars.

Yet very few Fashion houses have come to Second Life. Adidas and Reebok have a presence, and Calvin Klein, but that's about it as far as it goes to official presence (and not imitation). Spanish fashion house Bershka is going to add another big RL fashion brand to that shortlist.

"For us, bringing Bershka to SL (for whom we've been long developing design and web projects) is specially interesting. Bershka is an important brand on fashion industry (400 shops in 28 countries) who consider Mosi-Mosi their preferred new media partner.Bershka will offer a complete subset of their real life clothing items every season with their woman, man, jeans and Bsk sections. The entire island will also be updated every season to keep up with the collection main theme. We will also have regular parties and events for the SL community in an effort to offer a good place for them and us to meet and discover each other." says Daniel Aguilar of the Spanish interactive agency Mosi-Mosi, located in Barcelona, also responsible for some work on the Swedish Embassy in Second Life (next to Electric Sheep Company) and is most known for its SLOOG product.

The build is still in production stage right now, and next week will see a wrap up. A few days later will see an official opening event, mainly targeted at the press. I'll be looking forward to seeing the complete build.

Some pics on the work in progress can be found in this Flickr set.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Blogwars !?

I was reading up on some other blogs and found out sometimes our allegiance switches. When it comes to Skynews I'm in line with Nic at KZero in liking it, contrary to Aleister.
When it comes to Comcast though, me and Al like it, and Nic doesn't. Now we're all pretty serious bloggers, so where's the switch? Why do you like a build, or why don't you, what makes you think a build will work, or not?

Here's a little comparative reading:

AL on Comcast :
AL on SkyNews:
Nic on Comcast :
Nic on SkyNews:
Me on Comcast :
Me on Skynews:

Obviously we have different tastes, and sometimes we like Rivers Run Red and not Millions of Us, or the other way around. But should that matter when it comes to judging a build. We should be able to go beyond that and spot the key elements for branding, for business integration and potential to actively engage the community.

It seems that it is a complex cocktail of several factors after all.

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ABN AMRO Dances 4 Life

Friday the 8th wil see the launch of a new ABN AMRO venture in Second Life; the Young Professional Island. The opening will be supported by DJ Jesse Voorn, ambassador to Dance4Life with a simulcast or cross-reality concert from the Panama Club in Amsterdam .

In this coop ABN and Dance4Life are opening an island for people at the start of their careers. It will be a place to meet, socialize and relax. The Dutch bankers will organise several events for the community. The island is one of the new builds from the Dutch Lost in the Magic Forest and the Dance4Live club on the island is build by ABN AMRO themselves.
According to Lost in the Magic Forrerst the build is not complete yet, but will be further developed in coop with the YP community.
DJ Jesse Voorn will perform between 00.00 and 01.00 (CET) in both Club Panama as well as Second Life. Jesse is no stranger to Second Life, as he has done a rather succesfull gig earlier this year.
Dance4Life is an international organisation which gets young people together in the fight against hiv and aids. Dance is the international language that binds young people all over the world. Dancing is combined with television programmes, media campaigns and fundraising to benefit projects in areas that suffer strongly under the presence of hiv and aids.
ABN Amro is one of the sponsors of Dance4Life

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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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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dutch Law in Second Life

A while ago I stumbled on the (blocked) island of Dutch Lawfrim Faassen & Partners. Every once in a while I scan my list of sims under construction and try which ones are open. Last week I tried FP again, to no success. Now it's open though, and I had to find out reading it at 3pointD in an article by my good friend Aleister. I won't get into too much detail of the firm, as I already did a little PR for them in this post.

The build is refreshing in style with a great detail in texturing. The firms main (virtual) office is at the sims center, with small info-islands and an auditorium scattered around in the ocean. Sailboats can take you 'to and fro' the various stops on the island.

As Aleister duly noted is that this sims freebee set is a scuba-kit, a nice change from the endless sets of t-shirts that are usually thrown in.


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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Die Hard 4

Last night saw the opening of Bruce Willis' Die Hard 4 representation in Second Life.
When I got home it was quite late and decided to take a look, but couldn't get in. The sim was filled to the brim with 58 residents present for the opening, so I decided to take a raincheck.

I would expect this build to be done by one of the big content creators, like ESC or MoU, but it's build by the V3 group, who also owns and operates Sillicon Island and were the producers of the International Technology Expo of 2007 event.

The sim has a nice feel to it, set up from a central dome with auditorium and infostands bridges lead to four platforms displaying props and scenes from the movies.

According to Liam Kanno from the V3 group, Bruce Willis was about an hour late for the opening, but hung around for nearly an hour as well to chat with the visitors.


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Friday, June 01, 2007

Nonsense and simplicity

Well, with certain anticipation I have looked forward to the Philips launchparty announced in the Avastar and other media. There has been a Philips sim out there for ages, but not open to public. I had hoped they would open their sim up so we could see what they have been working on these past months.

However, there was just nothing more than the platform I blogged yesterday (previous message). The only addition was that you could get a freebee beertender or coffeemaker.

During the last months I have held several presentations for inworld companies on the topic of Second Life and Virtual Worlds in general and when it comes to business sims I'd always told of how Philips was working together with customers on getting feedback on new designs and stuff.

Don't try to tell me this is Philips hail to the new world, that this is the only result of months of presence. You just don't throw an openingparty over a beertender and a coffeemaker. Who thought this up? Was this Philips or their SL consultant?

Well, there were lots of documents you could read on their website... is innovation to be found there? If so, tell us, because I'm not about to read 10 large documents to find out if they'd learned something.
To me this launch is too much on the simplicity side (or complex beyond my limited abilities) and makes absolutely no sense. So, anyone, please explain....

update 04- june - 07

After reading my blog one of Philips' spokepersons contacted me with a little clarification on the launch: "I would like to add that we were very happy with the results of the launch of this particular plot which was intended to introduce people to our Cocreation plans at Philips Design. We did aim for a simple presence and a soft launch but indeed it seems that expectations were raised for a number of reasons, press releases, Brand name etc. " Okay, well I intend to find out!

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Philips Launchparty (2)

Last week I blogged that Philips is planning to open their sim to the public on June 1st. Here's some more details.

The event will start at 14.00 CET and from reliable sources I've heared that the launch will start in the Virtual Holland sim 3. I went over and indeed found some signs of Philips. There's a platform with a clear path to the open sea, which could well be the place where the Philips sim will immerse.

Connecting with Virtual Holland to some extend makes some sense, also suggests a Rivers Run Red influence.


Okay that'll be it for today. It's not much, but RL has been extremely tiring today with severe SL presentations so I'm totally knackered.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Virtual Banking (6): Wirecard unwired

I blogged earlier that Germans are coming to town. Many German cities are immersing lately, like Augsburg and Munich. When I speak of Munich, I speak with respect, it is an impressive project with high levels of texturing.

This is so untrue for German business sims. In the early days of this blog I wrote on German Design, on the sims of Toca Me and BMW New World as being a desing without any texturing. This Wirecard sim is no different, leaving me under the impression that Photoshop isn't available in German.

The Wirecard is a pain in the eye, another German impulse to spread snowblindness. However, it's not all that bad. The design itself is exploring the future, though with a very minimalist approach.

As for strategy Wirecard is taking a different approach than e.g. ABN AMRO (or Barclays or Bank of Scotland... what will it be next week?), ING or Saxo and tries to push their core business, Finance, to SL.
It's time to sit back and observe to see they'll succeed. They've got a chance...
A trivia for this build is that they didn't hire pro's but resourced it internally.

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Belgacom softlaunch

Today I stumbled into Belgacom by accident. I've seen this sim on an earlier trip last month, but then I couldn't get in. But this time I could.

According to Alain Gufler, Belgacom's Marketing Manager the sim opened up May 24 and they're now in softlaunch mode to find some User Acceptance. In the past days they've already seen more than 100 visitors, mostly from Spain looking for Football (soccer for our us readers).

To my question if that wasn't a serious image problem, the answer was quite simple. Belgacom isn't sponsoring a football team, but it is one of their cornerstones for their Broadcasting activities, so that's why it's in their search string.
The sim is build radiating from a central point towards 4 domes, representing Belgacoms productlines: Television, Telecom, Mobile and Internet. Pulsing beams across the walkways symbolise their convergence to crossover mobile television and so on.
It was nice to get some personal attention and explanation of the sims build, and though the guided tour is a smooth ride (available in English, Dutch and French), it's a bit of a long stretch at 5 minutes.
Finally there's a maze which will probably take about 10 minutes to figure out first time, top time right now is 2:07. Fastest labyrinth killer will receive some great freebees, as long as they're Belgian residents.
Now, shortly on the build itself. It's a decent build, no prim-jitter and nice fresh colorings. However, while I dig their philosophy on convergence, there's something missing. It misses immediate active participation or something I just can't put my finger on directly.
Last detail is that Belgacom has hired a Belgian Concent Creation company... I forgot to ask which.


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A closer look at Intel

After the press conference finished (about 10 SLT or 19.00 CET) I had to relog since I'd frozen and couldn't move. My SL Client was pushing my (intel CPU) to the limits. Here's a few screeners from the sim:

These two small thumbs are about the whole story. The sim isn't a fancy build. It has the following features:
  1. Development Room
  2. Showcase
  3. Conference Area
  4. Sandbox

The larger buildings are for conferencing and showcasing, smaller stands are to get the community involved, through blogs and movies. Honestly I liked Intel better at the OCC or the Live without Boundaries sims which had gotten my hopes up for this one.

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Intel's new HQ

Today's the day of a new Intel sim opening up. At exactly 9.a.m (18.00 C.E.T.) the sim will open up with a press conference. In april I reported that Intel geared up with several new sims being under construction, and before that I've blogged on the OCC and Live without Boundaries theme sims by Intel. First on the spot today were the gang from Things to Do., rallying at the New Business Horizon sim.

Right after we went over to the Intel site, which was soon filled to the brim with 53 people.

We were urged to find a seat, but many of us didn't dare move a hair with this visitor load. From the press comes a nice pun that Intel believes itself to be part of the "core of Second Life" and they see SL as "a wonderfull place to explore and engage" and so on.

The sim is build by Millions of Us and will act as Intels new virtual HQ.

update 18:45 CET 9.45 SLT

According to Intel's General Manager "Second Life is not the ultimate environment, but it's a start" Oh, yeah, they're still talking about getting the Developer community involved and "Help shape the future". I guess I'm not really a press conference type of guy, but it's very rude to slip away. Hope to get to do some networking in a bit.


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Real Life Cities 7: Munich

The Germans are coming! Second Life is hot in Germany, where it currently sees the fastest growth in registrations. This also reflects on the arrival of a of new german builds. The great city of Munich is such a new sim under construction.

It still is under construction, but already interesting enough to blog it, although the first sight didn't trigger that idea. The first thing I saw was a stand with the well-known German beer pot.
The sim is covered with a simplified map of Real Life Munich and it seems to be the intend to build an exact copy.
In the second sim work is actually being done. Rough outlines of the buildings are quite decently build and also the texturing is coming along on various buildings as well. This will sure be a sim to visit when it is complete.
The detail and complexity of this build will be challenging and the possible showstopper in this build will be the time needed to stream all textures to the SL client.
Developments can be monitored at the website Muenchen-SecondLife.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Skynews hits the virtual sky

Yesterday saw the opening of yet another media corp to Second Life, this time it's Sky News. And like Channel 4 it is a Rivers Run Red production, so I was wondering what they'd come up with this time, since the Channel 4 release earned heavy criticism in the blogger community.
Many people I've talked to say a Real Life company should go for a daring, innovative design in a virtual environment and not stick to a RL representation. In this case, they're absolutely wrong. The Sky News sim is rather RL-like, but works a lot better than the C4 sim I just can't relate to.
The Sky sim consist of a large complex in which various stages are set for talkshows, news and weather presentations which could well be very much alike their RL stage. There's a lot to do to, explore and enjoy at the sim, or as Nic at KZero puts it:
"The main aspect of the venue is the virtual Sky News Centre, complete with an audio feed from the RL centre as well as streaming video of Sky News show on the plethora of screens and monitors. Part of the roadmap for this venue is the re-creation of news events and stories and this will be the sweetspot for enabling residents to engage and interact with the news - this is what metaverse marketing applications is all about : Engagement. Another key success factor for metaverse marketing is integration and there’s lots of it here."

The opening of the sim coincides with the Guardian Hay Festival, which explains the extra setup at the back of the main building (picture left). A last nice feat of the sim is a number of fake decorums, like the entrance of 10 Downingstreet (picture right) which leaves you wondering how they do it in RL, especially if you've seen the Wag the Dog movie.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

More arrivals: Renault, Accenture, Maldive Embassy

Last night I started a little mailing in order to try and get some of the great SL bloggers together for a bloggerconvention and logged in early this morning to see where we'd ended up. When I logged in, Nic of the outstanding KZero blog was already on. My netvibe SL feed page rang out time and again as he was blogging like a madman.

Also new to (or opening in) SL this week are:
  • Renault Italia
  • Renault / ING formula 1 (blogged here earlier)
  • Accenture
  • Maldive Embassy.
I really do have some caching up to do

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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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Real Life skyline

May seems to be the month of Real Life cities coming to Second Life. In the past I've blogged about Amsterdam, Zoetermeer and visited Paris 1900, but forgot to blog it. Last month we saw an excellent Salzburg sim go live and this month is a true avalanche with sims of Manchester, Munich, Augsburg and Venice.

My good friend Aleister wrote a strong piece on the Manchester kick-off, though he was rather disappointed. It seems judging Real Life cities entering Second Life is a little complicated. A businesscase or requirement set that we can put to business sims doesn't work out. Do we have to judge them by innovative design? Certainly not, it needs to be as close to Real Life as possible.
Yet when a virtual representation for RL Companies is a bore, and a must for RL cities, it's not the sole requirement. The Virtual Tourism market needs a little extra, some attractions that make people visit. Sweden and the Maldives have set up their embassy in Second Life, but I doubt that will do the trick. The City of Berlin (new Berlin sim, not Berlin) is hosting a cross reality / simulcast event with the "Festival of Cultures", running may 25th to 28th, which is a good start to show the world what's going on in your city.

Here's a few pics:

Augsburg City:
Opening: May 29 Location:

Swedish Embassy:
Opening: May 30 Location:

Venice Italy:
Opening: May 26 Location:

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Philips Launchparty

The Dutch electroniscs and household mogul Philips is finally opening up its sim in Second Life. For months the sim stood out there in the Rivers Run Red area, frustrating bloggers time after time by not opening up its doors. Finally the wait is over...
Friday, june 1 is their official kick-off, with several freebees thrown in. .. "PHILIPS Design have launched in SL with a promise to work with residents more actively than many RL firms have managed in the past" reports Billbo Winkler in the popular weekly "The Avastar" newspaper.
Responsible for the build is (a.o.) Wendyy Mahana, who's also involved with the development of our Virtual Holland, so there's a definate Rivers Run Red involvement.

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