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You Know, For Kids… 2.0

April 5th, 2015 by Marianne McCann

This site is being moved: please go to https://mariannemccann.wordpress.com/ – thanks!

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One of my big projects this year has been redoing my toy store, You Know, For Kids.

Exterior shot of You know, For Kids in Bay City

I started it back in mid-2006, when I was still a fairly new Second Life© Resident, and kept it going for some time — yet with the advent of mesh, plus a focus on events and other work, the store fell by the wayside: still there, but lacking in new content. I decided that, in 2015, it was time to change that.

First off, I rebuilt the building. Now it does essentially look the same, but I’ve added a lot of additional mesh details, and even a backroom for, well, storage or what not. Really, I felt it broke up the interior a bit, and added to the feeling of the space as a real “thing.” First life stores have back rooms, while Second Life ones don’t often have them. It’s a small difference, but adds to the feel of the space.

You see, I want my store to serve three functions. First, it needs to be, well, a store: you go there, you buy things. Second, I want it to be a space one could, if they wished, “role play” a visit to a toy store with their friends or family. Third, I want it to have a nostalgic “mid-century’ toy store look and feel that fits with both Bay City and with my own “retro” product line.

With the first part of this in mind, I’ve moved to the E2V Vendor system, which allows people to not only buy my products, but get cool stuff like store credit, redelivery in case they lose anything, and even gift cards. Except, sticking with the vintage feel, we’ll call them “gift certificates.”

The front Desk at You Know, For Kids

I’ve been adding additional details to the store, to enhance both the “RP” and nostalgia factors. The gift certificates are presented as gift certificate books, the credit terminal is the old “knuckle banger” type of credit card machine, and the redelivery terminal is a “lost and found” box. I want to avoid a lot of the “expected” Second Life-specific things — kiosks and terminals, signs that vend, etc. — while still having the functionality people expect.

When I’m putting stuff on the shelves, everything is presented as stock on the shelf, sometimes with signs attached and usually with additional stock boxes, to give it a “full shelf” feel. It’s still sparse yet, but this will, I suspect, change as I go along.

The overall interior “motif” of the space is mid-century, with a slight additional circus theme. Striped walls and some circus animal drawings I did to tie it all together. Well, I did have help, studying my old Walter T. Foster books as well as some vintage toy store gift wrap I recently got ahold of.

Interior shot of You Know, For Kids in Bay City

Of course, I’ve also been slowly adding new stock to the store, while revising old stock to mesh, with new features when appropriate. I’ve learned a lot more scripting and such since I did my earlier toys. It’s fun to be back in the swing of it again. I’m pretty proud of the new line, and am looking forward to putting out more over the next few months.

I hope you’ll visit the new store, even if you don’t buy anything, just to enjoy the space. I’d also love your feedback — not just toys I need to build (though I love suggestions), but any details you feel the place needs to have.

As always, You Know, For Kids is located at 100 Willoughby Way, on the corner of Willoughby and Route 66, in the Imaginario region of Bay City, SL.

 

 

Did Business Insider get it right?

August 2nd, 2014 by Marianne McCann

There’s been a lot of discussion about a recent Business Insider article on Second Life®. I also echo some of the views that the author of the piece got a few things wrong, including her graphics settings. There’s a lot I would pick at in this article, a lot I think is wrong. I don’t think the author really bridged from the premise of their headline into their walk through. I feel like they may have — whether they feel they did or not — set out with an agenda. The article itself reads like so many SL hit pieces, after all.

All that said, this article points to a lot of the troubles with the new user experience.

She complains about the “beginner world,” then about ending up in a Game of Thrones region where she was ignored. She then “glitched” and walked through a hill. I suspect this wasn’t a glitch, but just the typical bounding issue or some such — stuff that experienced SLers shrug off, but would be viewed as an error by a new user.

She also talks about her experience with a friend she met at Caledon Oxbridge. There was some discussion of nightclubs and dances, a trip to Abbotts Airfield for some skydiving in an old, prim skydive plane, some time in a sandbox, some clubbing, some pole dancing, and even discussion about a skinny-dipping event later that evening. The whole experience — if I were seeing Second Life for the first time — would seem dreadful. Why would I want to even bother with such a place?

Still, this is what it’s like for most first time SL users.

Should Business Insider had a top of the line gaming rig with all the bells and whistles? Certainly it would have helped the otherwise mediocre photos. Would that have been a true new user experience? No, I doubt it. Instead, we see a typical new user, shown from the standard camera position, with the graphics settings I’d not be surprised were the suggested settings for the system they downloaded Second Life on.

Their experience is probably not atypical of a first-time user. Indeed, I suspect they had a better than average first user experience, being guided directly by another avatar rather than signing off sometime between that first island and “glitching” through a wall at the Game of Thrones-ish space they discovered.

Nevertheless, I don’t think their guide showed them the best of Second Life, either. Abbotts, while a lovely legacy airport and a personal favorite, is not well traveled nowadays. If they wanted to check out an airfield, there are more populated ones out there, even ones that have built-in skydiving pads. But a flight may have been more exciting: look at that osprey taking off in the background!

They could have gone to some of the LEA art exhibitions. They could have gone to some of the Linden Department of Public Works created games. They could have gone to any number of Resident-created spaces that would have impressed them. Something far beyond a beachside bar that looks like it was built and textured in 2007, a dance store, or a pool adorned with a dance pole.

Yet I must ask: how different is this from the usual new user experience? More so, how can that experience be better? We can say that the reporter could have done a better job, could have had a better rig, and could have spent more time — but is their Second Life experience any better than what most see when they join?

Let me also put this video in the mix. Some of it — okay, a lot of it — might be not safe for work.

This too is a common new user experience. Yes, this fellow obviously is going to show you the most outrageous parts of his experience for the video — but can you not look at his time in the welcome areas and not nod, knowing that his experience is not that much different from what you might discover on your first login to Second Life today?

I guess what I want to say is this: let’s not shoot the messenger. Let’s look at this as a symptom of a troubled new user experience. This is a wake up call: we all can do a bit better. What should their experience have been?

UPDATE: I edited the above after it was pointed out that the mentor was not a member of the Caledon Oxbridge staff.

A Child of the Corn

July 24th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

So I’ve been spending some time in The Cornfield, a new project by Linden Lab’s Linden Department of Public Works within Second Life®.

A child of the corn

But before I talk on that, a word or two about the Linden Realms Portal Park that leads into the Cornfield, as well as The WildernessMagellan’s Grid Scavenger Hunt and Linden Realms. The Portal Park is what the portal on the “social Island” should have been

It has a central area to land in, but the decoration of the area draws you out of this space. There are no benches facing in, nothing to serve as a focal point. Meanwhile the paths to the different experiences wind tantalizingly out of site from the hub, drawing you down. No featureless portals here. You get a sense of the area you are entering before you go, but with informational note card and the overall dressing of the area.

You can tell that Linden Realms is soft fantasy, that the Cornfield is a dark, well, cornfield, and the grid hunt is snowy. The other portals are clearly designed with expansion in mind, most notably the largely-dressed-but-unmarked Arena portal.

Very well planned, very well built. My only complaint might be the overall simplicity of the build — but I am sure this is by design. Very helpful for those who are not running big gaming rigs. I might also wish there was some way to drive people to a non-gaming area, akin to a “back button” to other choices (including social and information spaces).

Now then, let’s discuss the Cornfield.

It’s a simple “shooting” game. Go to the cornfield and collect corn to turn in for “Corn Bucks.” Beat up the baddies (in this storyline, griefers left over from the old Linden Corn Field penal area) to get more corn bucks. Get beaten by them, you lose you corn (but not saved corn bucks) and go to a spawn area. Oh, and corn bucks can be redeemed for armor, better weapons, and prizes to take home.

It all uses the experience keys, which were roughly formed for use in Linden Realms and are soon to finally roll out to other users. As such, when you go into the realm, your HUD, armor, and weapons appear, and all your saved states appear from where you last left off. Leave the area, and all the armor, weapons, and the HUD automatically detach. It’s a level of playability that has been lacking in Second Life based games for, well, ever.

It’s not the easiest game in the world, with the baddies in the corn being hard to spot in the dim light. Most take a couple hits to kill, while you are soft and fleshy, and easy to harm. This makes armor — and the odd bottle of moonshine you might find in the field — very helpful.

There are also other items in the field you can sit on for a breather, and even a still that will power you up to full strength.

The prizes are simple but fun, ranging from corn necklaces (which would be nicer if modifiable or at least resizable) and system t-shirts (I’m surprised they weren’t fitted mesh) to “griefer avatars” and plush toys. Cute, but these are not necessarily the most useful items.

Still, the fun is in the play. It’s an enjoyable bit of playtime to get out there and beat up the baddies for a while. The prizes are secondary to the overall game play in my opinion.

It’s clear that the LDPW has done all they can to limit issues of lag in the build. Designs are simple and textures are repeated. Scripts are minimal. Nevertheless, when it is crowded, you will face some lag from other users and other typical Second Life latency issues.

It’s a great use of the Second Life platform. Much like with Linden realms, it’s fun to take your day-to-day character and “enter” an alternate world. It feels a bit like the old TV show “ReBoot” and hopping into incoming games to beat the user — while retaining the shape you always inhabit.

I’d recommend it. Go play.

On SL11B

June 22nd, 2014 by Marianne McCann

Empires of the mind

Empires of the mind

Picture this. Here we all are, in a virtual metaverse that exited its initial beta eleven years ago.

It started as the Rig, a simple virtual world for testing haptics technology for Linden Research. Then, it was LindenWorld, where people terraformed with grenades and watched ators eat birds.

Eleven years ago, Philip Linden counted down with a small crowd of Lindens and early Residents at the Ahern Welcome Area, ending Second Life’s initial beta and opening to the public.

Reflect on how this world has changed since then. An economy. Prim attachments. Pose balls. Music streams. Flexible prims, Local lighting, Voice. Windlight, Sculpties, Mesh, Materials. etc., etc. Hundreds of innovations — and infinite possibilities.

Think of how you have changed. How your avatar has changed, — and how your experiences in Our World have crafted the person behind the keyboard.

Consider how we’ve grown. 16 regions became 22. Today it is 26,000 or so. Many favorites have come and gone, like Greenies Home, or Spitoonie, or Nakama, while many have sprung up and remain today: 1920s Berlin, Bay City (yay), and so many others.

“The Empires of the Future are the empires of the mind.” At Sl11B we are showing our siblings in this metaverse our own empires: these places we’ve created through the sheer power of our own minds.

And at SL11B, we too have crafted our own shared empire of the mind. Eleven beautiful regions full of art, and community, and celebration.

Viva SL11B!

About Ever Dreamscape

May 18th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

Ever Dreamscape

Ever Dreamscape, from an episode of Etv’s “Ever’s Tiny Island.”

Ever Dreamscape came to Bay City in early 2011, and in that time founded the Bay City Post, started our Oktoberfest and Miss Bay City events, helped in the creation of the Park Plaza hotel, expanded our Mole Day and Tree Lighting events, and Started the Bay City Rumble races. She was also well known for the time she spent on the SL feeds, creating her “feed spam” story lines with her various “Etv” photos.

When I first met her, she was asking for help. She had just purchased a parcel in Bay City – Falconmoon and had no idea what to put on it. She opened rez to me, and I placed one of the Bay City prefabs that fit the parcel and her plans – a sort of proto-version of her Bay City Brewery. I don’t want to talk about predestination, but even that first moment I thought that this was someone who was going to be a big part of the community. I had no idea how much.

Of course, the next time we talked, she had somehow managed to rez an incredible assortment of Linden Trees in the middle of her bar.

In first life, she was many things, including a successful business owner, a homesteader, and a mother. She also struggled with being bipolar, panic attacks, and having liver disease, each of which took her away from what was an active first life. She was loyal, and she was honest — sometimes even to a fault. She had no filters, and would often say or do things long before she realized what she’d done.

In her last weeks, she was in an increasing amount of pain, and could not type well with her left hand. Her liver was failing, and she had also injured her back. She did not talk about this much publicly, and tried to keep up with her many inworld duties. Her last work was on Bay City’s Sixth Anniversary Celebration, trying to line up performers.  She had a feeling that her time was short, and worried that she’d not make it to the anniversary. Sadly, she was correct.

From a personal standpoint, she’s a friend that I will miss greatly.

Her and I talked nearly nightly. When we weren’t talking about Bay City events or other inworld things, we talked about our lives. She told me of her history, or her loves, of her life. She talked about her son regularly, both how proud she was of him and how much she felt she was a burden to him. She told me all she lost due to her own health complications, and all she was doing to try and stay well and together.

We all knew her through her characters: the hung over housewife in pink bathrobe and curlers, the little green alien, the banana daiquiri-induced chimpanzee, the Etv news reporter, and dozens of others. Most were silly, yet some were cut from deep in her heart.

Ever was a very complicated person. She came across in SL as a dumb, silly, unpredictable person that always appeared just before a disastrous, hilarious calamity. She was Chaos. Underneath all that was a kind soul, a person of great intelligence and drive, and the sort of person who – if she had it – would give you the shirt off her back. It’s hard to describe how a person could, oh, show up at your door dressed as a shark, or walk into your pub as a monkey and set the place on fire could also be so beloved by the community — but she was.

She helped keep me — and the rest of Bay City – moving forward. She was the thing that kept it interesting, and disrupted the status quo. She was a big fan of Pink Floyd, and truly was our crazy diamond.

Shine on, Ever Dreamscape.

Ever Dreamscape

A self-portrait of Ever Dreamscape

Welcome Home to Our World

April 5th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

A strange thing happened this week: I met Ebbe Linden

Me and Ebbe

Now I suppose this should not be too shocking, given I have a lot history of meeting Lindens. He’s not hardly the first, nor is he the first Linden Lab® CEO I’ve known. What makes this unusual, though, is how hard it has been to find Linden Lab employees inworld over the reign of the last CEO.

There were policies in place, I have heard, that prevented Lindens from socializing inworld. Instant Messages would go unanswered. Governance and support Lindens were hidden behind “Governance Linden” staff accounts. Office hours became user groups, and most of those were quickly shuttered. Linden Village – already decimated after the June 2010 layoffs, became an empty ghost town. By the same token, the blog and other forms of “official” communication went silent.

I can understand a lot of the reasons why. There were other policies that forbade Linden Lab staff from being on social media, too. No one wants the company tainted with a Justine Sacco-like situation. Likewise, the company insisted that they wanted the focus to be on the things its Residents created and did, not on their employees’ efforts. Fair enough.

Yet from its earliest days, Second Life™ has been a collaborative effort. The Lindens and the Residents, at first, worked very much hand in hand, with the Lab’s Liaison program hiring from the Resident pool. Additional Lindens worked with the Mentor program, or worked with both Lab and Residents in other ways.

This began to change during Mark “M Linden” Kingdon’s era, and while many hoped that Rodvik “Rodvik Linden” Humble might revive some of that spirit, instead things went very much the other way.

Now — to steal liberally from Crap Mariner — it is not Ebbe Linden we should be seeing so much of. Yes, he should be there for the big events; the SL birthdays and such. He should be busy doing “CEO things,” however. Steering the company, keeping it profitable and well. At the same time, he should have people who work for him who can be that face, who can serve to communicate his and the company’s vision, who can help the community, and manage the same.

It would not be the first time I’ve noted this, but I think Second Life is better when Linden Lab’s staff are present on the Agni grid, experiencing what all of us experience. See what works and what does not, and understand what Second Life’s users experience.

I saw a big first step with this, not from seeing Ebbe inworld, but the following day

First, while out shopping at Happy Mood, I came across Marissa Linden at the same store. I then went to a new island in the chain of Linden Village regions on Northwestern Sansara, where I witnessed half a dozen Lindens setting up their own homes.

Linden Village

Linden Village during the Rodvik era was a symbol of how bad things were. It was abandoned, Empty, full of damaged and disused parcels. The feeling was, to me, that they really did not care for this world any more. They had moved on.

So this was heartening to see. It was great to see Ebbe, but it seems far better to see Linden Lab staff there, in Our World, with us. Experiencing the same joys and heartaches of any other user. It was a new symbol, one of renewal and hope.

Second Life is a shared experience, and really is best when it is shared at all levels. We all have something to bring to the table, and there is no better place for that than within Second Life itself.

Welcome Home, Lindens.

Dear Ebbe,

February 25th, 2014 by Marianne McCann

Ebbe Linden as the Iron Giant

Welcome to Linden Lab©, Ebbe. I hope you have a long and successful career.

First off, I have to welcome you. I read that you have had some experience with Second Life™ before, and I think that’s great. A lot of folks have complained in ages past that Linden Lab doesn’t always use Second Life, or at least does not use it like their Residents. I hope that you get some time in just to see the world and try your hand at Second Life when you aren’t otherwise tied up keeping the lights on at 945 Battery Street, or working on some of the Lab’s other gaming properties.

My name is Marianne McCann. I’ve been in Second Life now for eight years, almost to the day. I’ve outlasted three other CEOs — one of them twice — and have seen the Grid go through some amazing changes in all that time. The world of Second Life is not the one I originally joined, and has changed countless times. With your new role, it will change again.

Many people, as I’m sure you noticed, will be asking for your attention, for all sorts of issues. Heck, there’s already a parody Twitter account dedicated just to all the things folks might feel you need to do. In a world as diverse as Second Life, I’m sure that any requests will be just as diverse, even contradictory. On top of that, you have to look at the big picture. You are answerable to the Board of Directors, and you have to do the good job they expect of you.

That said, I AM going to ask of you just one thing. Not for me, mind, though it will certainly make my Second Life easier: communicate.

Now I don’t mean that you need to spend your day jockeying at Twitter or posting to the Second Life feeds and message boards. While that is appreciated, it’s far from sustainable. You’ll get swamped in a heartbeat.

But I hope you will consider looking at how the company as a whole can better communicate to us, the Residents of Second Life. There is a reputation of poor communication, and knowing what was going on with Second Life from the Lab’s perspective has often been spotty. The Community team staff, cut thin in 2008, has remained so, and communications has been largely relegated to a grapevine of Residents. The JIRA was closed. “Office Hours” between Residents and Linden Lab employees were shuttered. Lab employees were barred from fraternizing with Residents.

When no news is provided, people build their own narratives — and they tend to focus on little more than doom and gloom. It hurt everyone, not the least of which is Linden Lab.

The Second Life community can be a best friend or a worst enemy. Some days they’re both. The better the communications, the better information and resources are provided to us — and the easier it is for us to do what we choose to do in Second Life — the more times the community will edge towards the former.

The community — some would say communities — of Second Life is your best asset. It always has been. We do more than build the content, host the events, and fill up servers: we evangelize Second Life. Or we do, when we feel there is something worth evangelizing.

Now I don’t think this is anything surprising or groundbreaking for you. I’ve read your tweets, and you do seem to get how important this is. I only ask, as you go forward, that you keep it in mind, and do what you can to open — rather than close — communication channels.

Thank you for your time, and I hope we’ll hear more from you soon.

1, 5, 10

June 23rd, 2013 by Marianne McCann

Mari-SL10B

Second Life™, as of today, has officially marked its tenth year since leaving beta. That is very much a milestone, and one I am glad to be a part of. I have been a sim coordinator for this year’s event, as well as a builder of many pieces of infrastructure, an exhibitor, and someone who has been called on to perform all sorts of necessary acts to get SL10B together and running. It has been an honor.

As a child avatar — perhaps one of the better known child avatars, at that — I find myself reflecting about child avatar involvement at these events. It has been a long and sometimes tulmutous history.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the first child avatar was created by Washu Zebrastripe sometime during Second Life’s beta. Then again, the option has long been there for shrinking one’s avatar down to 0 on the height slider and doing what one can to give your avatar a child-like appearance.

Child avatars at Second Life's first anniversary gala. Photo by Bacarra Rhodes.

Child avatars at Second Life’s first anniversary gala. Photo by Bacarra Rhodes.

At the Second Life First Year Anniversary Gala, in addition to a gala parade and time capsule event, Bacarra Rhodes organized the One Year Young festival. It was a one-day event on the 24th of June. Avatars were encouraged to be a kid for the day, and enjoy various carnival rides and refreshments. They even had contests for the best looking and wackiest kid avatar. Was all in great fun, and a product of what was, then, a very innocent and young world. What could possibly go wrong?

Fast forward five years. Second Life was booming. In the course of two years, they’d gained millions of account. Corporations were flocking to the virtual world as yet another means to sell their products.

Of course, with the greater visibility came greater scrutiny from a mainstream that was leery of the “wild west” ways of Second Life. One of the biggest scandals? Sexual ageplay. After Report Mainz uncovered a sexual ageplay and real-world child pornography ring operating in Second Life, Linden Lab clamped down on child avatars of all sorts. Many wished the lab went even further, barring child avatars altogether.

A year and change from the Report Mainz investigation came SL5B, the fifth anniversary. Linden Lab was gearing up for big change, with a fresh, new CEO incoming and high hopes to eventually take the company public. Second Life’s 5th birthday was seen as a big event to show a more professional side of Second Life, and help lure in some big names. But first, some clean up would need to happen. The Lindens involved with the event had to keep out the Goreans, the sexual content, and most of all — child avatars.

Meeting between Dusty Linden, Loki Eliot, and Marianne McCann in the lead up to SL5B

Meeting between Dusty Linden, Loki Eliot, and Marianne McCann in the lead up to SL5B

Loki Eliot and I were summoned to LindenWorld Lobby a few weeks before SL5B. We both had submitted applications to be a part of the event, as had a handful of other kids. We were eager to find out what part we may be playing in SL5B — and then Dusty Linden dropped a bombshell on us. Higher ups had decided that child avatars could not present at SL5B. We were “respectfully declined.”

Protests broke out. Resident volunteers resigned. People got angry. Kid avatars held their own event, Kids5B. Eventually the lab relented, first changing the stance to allow kid avatars, but barring any photos of child avatars in the same frame as adults, nor being pictured anywhere near a bed, no matter how innocent the photo. By the end of the event, even that had been softened — but the damage had been done.

Much changed after this, including that CEO. After a disastrous tenure that saw the launch of the much-maligned “Viewer 2.0,” Second Life went from wonderkind to has-been in the eyes of the media. A new CEO, Rod Humble, took the helm — and while SL is not what it was in the Golden Age of 2006-2008, its heart is still very much beating.

The SL10B history walk exhibit.

The SL10B history walk exhibit.

SL10B took place this year, and as I already said, I had no small part of it. I was one of two child avatars who served as sim coordinators. Though some happenstance, some of my work has ended up featured. So has the brilliant Behemoth build that Loki Eliot presented. There were eight builds that I know of that featured child avatar content, ranging all the way from the LAMP mesh child avatar project to an underwater presentation on mer-children. The kids of Escapades were interviewed at the SL10B auditorium. Gemini Enfield, one of the founders of Second Life Children, DJed at the lake stage. Kids were everywhere.

It’s been no small honor to be a part of the event, and to help make it possible. I could never have conceived that SL10B would be what is has been back in the days of being “respectfully declined” from SL5B, much like I doubt any of those early pioneers expected Second Life to even still be a thing ten years on.

Here’s to another successful decade, Second Life.

Doing the impossible

November 30th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

In Second Life, the impossible is commonplace. We teleport so often that it is considered as typical as walking. Unassisted flight causes us to not even break a sweat. We can explore places from all times, all places, and born out of pure imagination. We continually go beyond our First Life limitations: it’s what we do.

Yet there’s another form of impossible. Things that are impossible in Second Life.

Of course, there are plenty of “should nots,” both in the form of social mores and in the terms of service. There are also a lot of things that you really cannot do, and that code prohibits. You can’t make a 65-meter prim, or build over 4096m in the air, as examples.

There are other forms of impossible, but these are a different kettle of fish — and this is the sort of impossible I relish in.

One impossibility I love breaking: region crossings. The mantra has been, for years, that region crossings are a painful, difficult issue. To be fair, they long were a difficult issue. For the last year or so, however, they’ve been largely pretty easy (recent Havok upgrades being one pain point for a few weeks). With the advent of high quality, mesh vehicles and advanced physics, we’re also seeing vehicles of great detail, capable of carrying sizable numbers of avatars.

This is where things go well into the real of supposed unobtainability. It has always been bad enough trying to get one avatar in one vehicle to cross one region crossing. Can you imagine putting several into a vehicle, and crossing multiple regions? It’s unheard of, preposterous.

You know where this is going.

Lockheed Electra 10e

Here’s the plane: an Electra 10e from Drusilla Saunders. It’s not yet commercially available, but should be very soon.

Passengers

Here are the folks in the cabin: a hardy bunch of friends and others from around Bay City.

We initially took off from North Channel, just after our weekly “Bay City Rumble,” which this week was a demolition derby the likes of which has never been seen in SL. Cars bashing themselves to bits in SL: incredible building and scripting work by ADudeNamed Anthony, making that work. I should note that, yes, we did have a sim outage after that, proving that there are still limited to physics. Oops.

Anyway, after that was cleared, we took off and headed for the Bay City Municipal Aeroport in the Hau Koda region. This was a trip that had us crossing 6 region borders, including going over a busy Infohub (Moose Beach). We made it with nary a scratch on the polished aluminum hull.

My passengers had quite a bit of fun. So much that they were still up for some more flight.

We took off from Bay City Municipal Aeroport on a slightly longer route. The final destination was the old Areodrome space in Abbotts, via the southern water passage. Total crossings for this route: nineteen. Again, we’d cross Moose Beach, and travel perilously close to the sandbox regions.

I showed a friend of mine the shot of all the passengers. She assumed it was just a posed photo and we did not actually fly. Again, the common wisdom is that you simply do not do that in Second Life. It’s impossible.

Electra crossing by the Battery Point Lighthouse

Nineteen crossings later, we touched down, safely, in Abbotts. We rubberbanded at a crossing here and there, but nothing too frightening. No one got logged out, and no one stalled at a region crossing.

I’ll admit that I know others who continually face difficulties crossings regions. It is a challenge for many — but here’s me, on an iMac from 2008, on a so-so network connection, and I can pilot that flight. The impossible is possible.

The death of a world

November 26th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

“This is a horrible day. This is a horrible thing to have to say: Glitch is closing.”

So begun a missive from Tiny Speck, the company behing a cute, quirky MMO game named Glitch. With those words, the land of Ur, fashioned by the imagination of eleven giants and populated by the seemingly-genderless glitchen and a host of other creatures mundane and magical, had its death warrant. As I type this, Glitch has two weeks before its demise.

Marianne in Glitch

This is my glitchen, Marianne. Yes, she’s rather kid-like there too, though the world is not much at all like, say, Second Life. She has her own little house (as do all players), is making her way through a maze of quests, learnable skills, and levels while running headlong to the end of the world.

I’m not going to bore you with reminiscing about her adventures — though the Last Pilgrimage of Esquibeth quest was beautiful, and I love the Autumn Walk — now do I want to spin a maudlin tale of woe about the loss of Ur.

Rather, I want to tell you about one of the most enduring, powerful parts of the Glitch world. It’s not the game play, the badges, the backstory, the adorable art direction, or even Glitch itself. It’s the community.

In the goodbye letter, Tiny Speck says that “Glitch has not attracted an audience large enough to sustain itself.” That’s likely true. It can be hard for a game — especially on e that is a bit off the beaten path like Glitch — to build an audience. That it is flash-based, not necessarily suited to mobile gameplay, and not another mindless game attached to Facebook likely doesn’t do much to help.

Yet the audience they did gain is the sort that most would be envious of. It’s a well-behaved, adult-acting community. They help out each other, a trait even more pronounced in light of the shutdown. They’re generally better at using blocking and reporting tools to keep things on track, and yet not vigilantes seeking to shut people out of their clique.

In the light of the shutdown, the community is going through the five stages of grief in their own ways. Many have chosen to drop all their goods into massive piles, letting others pick through and take it all away. Some are trying to organize other places on the web or in other games to continue to meet up. A cottage industry has sprung up of creators making physical copies of game sprites.

Meanwhile, many continue to explore the world, checking off their “bucket list” and getting some time in to enjoy the world they love one last time.

The glitchen who remain have stepped up, helping everyone they can to complete that last quest, gain that one item they wanted, or mentor new users even though we all know that time is limited. There are a lot more parties going on, too — no need to hoard their virtual “party packs” for that special day.

It is also refreshing to see how this has been handled by the owners of Glitch. Tiny Speck has been firm that, indeed, this is the end — but has taken the time between the announcement and the shutdown to introduce new lands, new items, and other upgrades they’ve had sitting around — giving people new items to have fun with even in the face of virtual doom.

The company has refunded all subscriptions, made everyone a subscriber, and provided every account with some free credits (you would usually have to purchase those with real-world money) to enjoy until the end.

Soon, my little glitchen will be a memory. All her achievements, all those little upgrades, her wall of trophies — they’ll only live on in a handful of snapshots from the game, and in my memories. It will be sad to see her go, but I’ll always appreciate the community of people there who have made the experience all worth while.

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