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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.

Bay City’s 5th Anniversary Celebration!

May 16th, 2013 by Marianne McCann

Bay City 5th anniversary poster

In May of 2008 the Linden Department of Public Works unveiled its first project, the themed city area on the Second Life™ Mainland known as Bay City. Now, as Bay City turns five, its community invites everyone to join us in celebrating this milestone.

Anniversary celebrations will kick off around noon SLT/PDT on Sunday, the 19th of May, with a parade lineup at the bandshell in Bay City – Harwich. The parade will make its way down Route 66 beginning at 12:30 p.m. SLT/PDT, concluding at the Bay City Fairgrounds in the North Channel region.

A live concert will kick off at 1:30 p.m. SLT/PDT at the Fairgrounds, featuring Christov Kohnke, CelticMaidenWarrior Lancaster, and RoseDrop Rust, and including GoSpeed Racer of KONA Stream providing music leading into the event.

All Residents of the Second Life grid are encouraged to participate. Celebration goods are available at the Bay City Community Center, in the Daley Bay region, for those who wish to be a part of the parade, and able viewing area is provided. The music event is also open to all who desire to attend.

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab™ and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life™ and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest Bay City group, and home to most Residents of Bay City.

 

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.

Bay City Tree Lighting!

November 26th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

Bay City Tree Lighting Poster

Come to the Bay City Fairgrounds on Saturday, 8th December 2012 from 1-4 pm SLT for a tree lighting, skating party, silent auction, music event featuring GoSpeed Racer, Grace McDunnough, and Bluemonk Rau.

All proceeds go to Child’s Play Charity. Child’s Play is a 501c3 non profit organization that helps seriously ill children around the globe.

Special items will be auctioned for charity. These include:

• Ecelectica “Nouveau Leaves” fatpack, exclusive to the event

Nouveau Leaves Fatpack

• Show of Support Artwork by Whiskey Monday, exclusive to the event

Show of Support

• Pop Shop Bunny Slipper Max Pack (two available)

Bunny Slippers Fat Pack

• This is my brain on drugs artwork by Ever Dreamscape

This Is My Brain On Drugs

• Lightening Video television and L$5000 gift certificate combo (two available)

Lightening Video Pack

• Set of Luxurious Animal Print Fur Coats from Curio Obscura

Luxurious Fur Coat Animal Print

• Set of Luxurious colorful fur coats from Curio Obscura

Luxurious Fur Coat Colorful

• Complete set of riderballs, the rideable vehicle ball by Curio Obscura

Riderball

• Set of one dozen illuminated Tall Oaks from Heart Garden Center (two available: one all white, one multi-color)

Illuminated Tall Oaks (Colorful)

• Treehouse and welcome mat by Emma Starsider

Emma Starsider Goods

• Eat Pray Love Artwork  by Gracie Kendal (aka Kristine Schomaker)

Eat Pray Love

• Cassandra jewelry set by MC Designs

Cassandra Jewelry Set

• Fortuna dress by Sonatta Morales

Fortuna Dress

• Morning Light Cupboard Bed by Trompe L’oeil Designs

 

Morning Light Bed

• DHC-2 Beaver by Spijkers and Wingtips Aviation

DHC-2

• Electra 10 by Drusilla Saunders Aeronautics

Saunders Electra 10

• Flowers of Passion by Teagen Slade

Flowers Of Passion

Auction will start at 10:00 am SLT, 8th December & end at the conclusion of the event at 4 p.m. SLT.

The event will be held at the Bay City Fairgrounds, in North Channel.

Additional donation items are welcomed. Please contact Marianne McCann inworld for details.

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.

Pathfinding Panic

August 8th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

Usually I spend a lot more time being thoughtful before I post here. It means my entries are usually few and far between but, I hope, worth the wait. With all the brouhaha about pathfinding today, I opted to hop right into it.

First, let me start with a critique for anyone from the Lab who might be reading this: this is why you need to communicate. I am doing your job here, but if you guys would do a better job at communicating to your own paying customers, people would get better information than what I’m about to lay down here. Please rethink your communications policies.

So today Pathfinding code went live on the main channel of the Second Life server software (the code that runs all the regions on the grid). Tomorrow it hits the LeTigre and BlueSteel Release Client server software. That will mean that every public region on the main grid will be running server software with pathfinding code, including a Havok physics update.

Pathfinding is something the lab has been hammering on for months now. Makes prims that can act sort of like critters. They can wander, attack, evade. Kinda cool, if you’re into that. I’m not so much, but who knows. Maybe I’ve just not see the “use case” that I can use.

Meanwhile, a blog for a third party viewer went out, claiming that the pathfinding code will use up to 18% of your sim resources, and provided information on how to either optimize or disable pathfinding for your region.  This, in turn, led to what one might call “the usual panic.” Instantly, it became fact that “the evil ol’ lab was out there hurting its users, and it was up to all of us to fight back my immediately disable the code.”

The usual talking points were trotted out. The lab has clearly not tested the code. It is deliberately trying to “kill” SL by rolling this out, etc., ad naseum.

The thing is, this code did not just pop up on the main grid today. It was used in The Wilderness project and Hairy Hippo Fun Land months ago. It was sprinkled around the grid then as well as a “PF” release client. Five weeks ago, it was promoted to the Magnum release client server software, and has been chugging away ever since. Just ask anyone who uses mesh vehicles, and they’ll tell you all about the fun of trying to cross out of a Magnum viewer and dealing with the mismatch in Havok versions.

But what you won’t hear much about is how their regions were crippled by a staggering 18% of sim resources being tied up in pathfinding. The regions themselves have been running fine, albeit there have been a few bugs along the way — and there are still a few things that need to be ironed out. Some issues with the way some prims travel on the navmesh, for example.

Now, to be fair here, the code can use some resources. It is designed to throttle itself, however. It does not use all the resources all of the time, and is intended to deliberately not take resources from other uses. It is not going to be crippling your region.

So really, what I want to say is this. Enough with the knee-jerk reactions. I understand that the lab has not always thought things though, and was even fairly antagonistic to their userbase during the “M” era. Their current lack of clear global communication, too, doesn’t help to get people beyond that time.

But rather than seeing a blog post and instantly reacting to shut it all off, do your own tests. Go visit other regions that are running the code (which by the time you read this may well be all of them). Heck, try your own region on for size, and see if its running poorly compared to, say, this time last week. Don’t take the word of any blogger — even me. Go look with your own eyes, and form a rational opinion of your own.

Hot Bay City Nights!

July 30th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

Hot Bay City Nights 2012 Poster

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Marianne McCann
Bay City Alliance
marianne.mccann@gmail.com

HOT BAY CITY NIGHTS

Event focuses on top Second Life™ vintage automakers.

BAY CITY, SL (30th July, 2012) – Celebrating Bay City’s mid-century theme as well as its large network of roads, “Hot Bay City Nights” will showcase vehicle makers who create automobiles from the Bay City “era,” stretching from 1940 to 1965. Hot Bay City Nights in a first of its kind event, borrowing a page or two from the city’s successful “Bay City Fashion Week’ last April.

Established vintage automobile designers will be found in the Bay City Fairgrounds, in the North Channel region, from August 18-25 to present the best in vintage and retro vehicles for all Second Life™ avatars.

Additional events will provide plenty for all to do, including DJ and live music events, a bikini contest, and a charity car wash. The event will raise funds for Child’s Play, a charity that provides toys and games for children in hospitals around the world.

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab ™ and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life™ and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest Bay city group, and home to most Residents of Bay City.

For more information, contact: Marianne McCann

-30-

SL9B – But that’s not all!

June 18th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

There’s a couple other items with a SL9B feel I’ve got going on.

Burn2 is turning their own region, Burning Man- Deep Hole, into its own SL9B party, called “Conception.” Furthermore, my build “A Child’s Metropolis” was asked to come back back and have a reprise showing on the virtual playa. Yay!

I talked about the build right here on this blog when it originally came out. Of course, back then I did not have shadows in the SL viewer to really show off the build so… here’s a new picture!

A Child's Metropolis

Pygar Bu helped me on the completion of A Child’s Metropolis, and I assisted a bit on his SL9B build for Second Life Children. Through some small luck I also have a little build across from him in the Jamboree region caled “It All Beings With A Cube.” More of a folly than anything, it is a “history of building materials” in Second Life, from the oldest prim (dated 25 January, 2002!) to a mesh rubber duck created during the mesh beta.  It’s not much, but it was a little bit of fun just ‘cuz.

It all begins with a prim

I also used a lot of projected light on it. Oh, and Crap Mariner did an audio clip, which you can hear on the music channel.

Oh ya, and a few things here and there at SL9B, like signs and stuff in the welcome hub. Not to mention Sim Coordinating and all that. Whew.

SL9B – Bay City Community Pavilion

June 17th, 2012 by Marianne McCann

Bay City is proud to play a part in Second Life’s 9th birthday, or SL9B. To that end, we have erected a large pavilion and plaza that welcomes to weary SL9B traveller to learn about our area, or just relax in a pretty, park-like setting.

Bay City SL9B Community Pavilion

The pavilion itself is based on a rescaled version of the National Dairy Products building from the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, as a nod to the Bay City theme, “the American urban experience, between 1940 and 1965, perhaps best typified by Chicago circa 1950 and marked by a distinct deco influence.” For some, the streamlined shapes of the building may evoke the sails of boats such as those at the New Port Yacht Club.

Inside, you’ll find several things. Well well as a spacious area for relaxing indoors out of the sun, you’ll find several freebies – including goodies for celebrating the party – as well as information boards detailing the history and culture of Bay City, and even an interactive map of the city.

At night, this white building is awash in blue and red, mimicking its first life counterpart. The projected lighting is best seen using the advanced lighting and shadows in the newer SL and third party viewers. Your experience is not cheapened without this, but is enhanced with it.

The plaza leading up to the building is a typical city park type area, largely paved, with neatly trimmed hedges, park benches, and other amenities. Banners, provided largely by Residents of Bay City, frame the area, showing some of the places and events that exist in our borders.

Leading into the plaza is a photo of some of our Residents, welcoming you to our build and to SL9B. Balloons also encircle the area, providing a festive atmosphere.

Bay City Alliance 2012

During the day, the plaza is home to many birds of the city, and you may just hear the siren’s song of the bustling city in the distance.

We will be hosting some parties and other events here during the week. Please feel free to check in with us over the course of the event.

SL9B – Proud

June 16th, 2012 by Marianne McCann


SL9B Candle

I am so very proud of my co-collaborators at SL9B.

When Linden Lab posted on their blog that they were not going to host the land for SL9B this year, a lot of people were very disappointed. Even though SL birthday events have been plagued with controversies — SL4B and Mature content, SL5B and kid avatars, SL6B and theme, SL7B and “Barbies,” SL8B and purple hats — and have shown a declining interest in the last few years, it was still part of Second Life’s culture. It was a touchstone in the Second Life year. And now it was seemingly gone, replaced with shout outs on the Second Life Destination Guide.

On my mySL feed, I put forth a proposition. When SL5B “respectfully declined” child avatar participation, kid avvies were understandably upset. We considered boycotts, protests, and all sort of actions to vent our displeasure. Then we got creative. We made our own celebration, Kids5B, and packed all the awesome we could muster into two regions. It was epic. And even though SL5B did eventually move towards full inclusion of kid avvies, we in the SL kid community still had this incredible, positive, amazing thing that brought our community together.

So, I said, ” I wonder if the same could apply to SL9B. What would be a good way to turn this negative into a positive?”

That same day, or close to it, Crap Mariner put forth a proposal to have the LEA and others chip in some space, and hold our own event. Saffia Widdershins started to ask around and see if a separate sponsor could be found (this lead to DreamSeeker Estates being so heavily involved). Doctor Gascigone and I both began to ask about, as I’m sure others did (if I forget anyone, it’s not intentional – mea culpa).

Many began to offer space. A parcel or two here and there. Pallina60 Loon jumped in, offering a big chunk of the LOL region. Others too. Then an anonymous private owner stepped in offering six full regions to me for the event. Then DreamSeeker Estates ponied up 10 more. Later we’d get two from Fruit Islands and two from KittyCatS. All of a sudden, we had 20 regions and as big as the last two Second Life birthdays. The event was a “go.”

Volunteers stepped up. : greeters, moderators, exhibitor assistants, and more. Builders submitted applications — over 450 of them, far more than any previous birthday event. Last year we had troubles filling all our spaces, this year we had to turn people away due to the sheer number of requests. The stages filled with amazing acts from all over. We still have people wanting to perform, and even added a fifth stage to help make that happen.

Tomorrow, the SL media and press will be in to see our works for the first time. The builders have done great things. The volunteers too. In spite of a blog or two attempting to gin up controversy and claim this year’s big drama, things have been pretty smooth. Smoother than I’ve seen before, and I’ve been at the SL birthday event since the 3rd. The builds are at an all time high, and I’m not just talking about the build height. They’re great.

In the blog post that started it all, Linden Lab said, “No one throws a better event or party than the Second Life community!” In our own way, we proved that to be 100% true. We did not do it for them — but for us. This is one for the record books, and one we — as a community — can be very, very proud of.

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