Friday, 23 March 2007

Events, good or bad

Two weeks ago we decided to increase our traffic by running events at my tavern.

Traffic is a mysterious Linden figure that works out how popular your piece of land is. Nobody seems to know how it is calculated but seems to involve how long people stay on a piece of land and how large the land area is. The most important thing is that places with high traffic appear nearer the top in searches and will hopefully attract more people.

Events are listed in the Second Life Search (under the events tab) where it shows events that are in progress and about to start. We ran an event each night and I collected data for twelve events from 10MAR to 22MAR07 (13days). I also have pre-event data from the 22FEB to 9MAR07 (19 days).

I don't pay my dancers a wage nor do I take a percentage. They dance for enjoyment and tips. Most of my dancers are trained to dance, they also help newbies, chat, role-play and take part in combat. Yes, its a weird combination but Tanglia is an odd place.

The question is “What was the effect of the events on traffic and tips”.

Answer: Traffic did not increase and tips dropped to 45% of the pre-event average.

A lot of our dancers stopped coming during events. Before events we would regularly have ten or more dancers; for events we have 5 or less. The events also killed off the chat which is such an important part of the mood of the Tavern.

I need to talk to my dancers and see where we go from here. My own feeling is that events are not in character with what we are trying to do.

I am hoping to start lessons in basic building, adjusting clothing, how to be a dancer and so on. I wanted to do that anyway, but will be interesting to see what happens with traffic.

Monday, 12 March 2007

The crinkly bits - Landscaping

In Second Life many landscape are bland and uninteresting, smooth simple curves and rounded ridges. Well real-life landscape has crinkles!

Crinkles can be added using the landscape brush. Use the medium or small brush depending on the size or your hill or vallley.

I usually start by adding ridges; using the raise brush, start sweeping it from side to side at the bottom of the ridge and work upwards making the side to side motion smaller and smaller. Repeat this a few times till you have a good looking ridge.

Move along to where another ridge will look good then raise another one until you have a decent set of ridges. High hills have fewer ridges spaced further apart.

Add dips and hollows between the ridges using the lower brush and starting at the top this time work downwards.

After a bit of practice it is easy and fund to do.

If you want to see how it looks, visit Tanglia and enjoy the Welsh style coastlines.

Friday, 9 March 2007

Story telling in Second Life

We have always had a tradition of telling stories from mans earliest history from cave paintings, verbal tradition, plays and the written word.

A world like Second Life gives us a new way of story telling. I have been visiting various places in Second Life like the Goreans, Elven Palaces, Middle Earth and Vampire haunts. These are all places where stories are created and told. I have been involved in many scenarios in SL, short collaborative story telling with language, gesture, music, sound-effects, stage-settings, props, poses and costume.

Second Life provides a wonderful place to tell short stories. There are examples like Machinima (films made using games) and writings, but mostl is hidden. Very little story telling is recorded and most tales are lost straight away. Many of us do not realise we are involved in telling a story, after all what is true in Second Life?

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Raising the land

The Second Life Islands come almost flat with no trees. To create the landscape I had to raise the land, then sculpt it.

The photo shows me raising the land. I started by placing posts to mark the height I wanted. The posts are 10m high with a line through the middle at 5m. Then I selected the piece of land and raised it, doing the following.
  1. raise a little to clear the sea floor.
  2. flatten the land
  3. raise and lower it till it comes halfway up the marker pole.
There is a deep gap between the two land masses, use the same method between the two raised sections.

Next time I hope to discuss the crinkly bits - coastline and hills
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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Worlds' End Tavern

The Tavern in Tanglia is called Worlds' End. Its name has so many meanings for me.

Tanglia is my Island in Second Life and Carlotta Batra (my Partner) and I have created many fantastical places which represent some of the amazing cultures in Second Life.

The name comes from a Sandman* story about an Inn that provides sanctuary for people to gather when their own world is ending and they wait to go back to the new world. They pass the time telling stories sharing an insight into their world and lives.

I am bit cynical and to me Tanglia gives an insight into a Second Life world that may be ending to be replaced by a more commercial world. The Tanglia Island is telling my story in the landscape, buildings and things that happen there. I am sharing an insight into a world I fear will end.

*Sandman by Neil Gaiman

[Postscript 9MAR07: People will always take a piece of the story with them and some will make the stories live again. We all have a need for stories, whether we believe they are real or know they are not. As we move from world to world there are some who will carry the stories with them and retell them for another generation.]

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Pristeen - body shape

I finally mangaged to put another body shape on sale. This is the Pristeen shape and hase been used by Pristeen Barbosa for over a month during which we improved the face. Her overall look comes from her sense of style and skill at choosing accessories, but she does look good in whatever she chooses.

I started the shape by copying the body and face of a slavic model. During the copying I make many adjustments so the body shape and face will look good in Second Life.

I check how the body moves by walking round and also how it sits and lies down. The body shape can make some clothes and movement look bad.
The places that mess up are:-
  1. deep wrinkles round the nose.
  2. black shadows under the breasts
  3. black shadows round the buttocks
  4. poor facial animation.
  5. straps at the top of the breasts that wrinkle when moving.
  6. scalp that pokes through the hair.
  7. stomachs that fold
  8. shoulders that dislocate when rasing arms
  9. hips that dislocate when sitting
For the first four checks I set my daylight setting to Noon. The noon lighting in SL is harsh with light coming from one direction and it shows up creases in the face or shadows on the body. I check the facial animation with the smile and wink gestures.
Hair is checked with three different makes; ETD Ponytail without bangs, Adam and Eve Glamour and Cake.
To check the top of the breasts you need vertically and horizontaly striped tops, preferably not by a good maker. A good maker knows about the problems of distortion and you will find that the pattern and cut avoids the problem areas which are the tops of breasts and just below the ribs. When the avatar poses you cannot get rid of distortion but it can certainly be reduced with good body design.
To check for distortion around the shoulders, stomach and hips I use the free karta and bara animations.

Pristeen is shown with House Jiang Pristeen body shape, Canimal Fetish Uberlight skin, ETD The Bob hair and !WRONG look 1 clothing.

The Body Shape is available from House Jiang in Tanglia.

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Tuesday, 23 January 2007

World's End Inn

I want my Second Life estate to be social and friendly. A place where people can gather, talk, chat and go do things together. I am used to running a guild in other games, having a good friendly atmosphere, doing things together, talking and having fun.

After going through a lot of names, we decided "The Worlds End" was a great name, summed up its location and had so meanings.

We talked about running a pub and I started building one a couple of days ago. My design is for four buildings linked together with a dance-floor in the middle. While building I was thinking of a typical old british farmhouse. A central old building with newer buildings added on. A family home that had been expanded over the centuries as it grew, different styles and sizes of building added as needed.

The above photo is nothing like my building but it does shows the typical European style of oldest building in the center with extensions added to extension and that is the look I am after.

The photo is from here

Monday, 22 January 2007


Had a lot of fun landscaping and building a pub.

I was landscaping a large region so I tried a few ideas and discovered a new things. I will describe these on another entry together with screen shots.

I started by drawing a landscape map with key locations marked with positon and height. I took about 3 hours as I included the buildings. Then I went to the sim and created poles 0.5m x 0.5m x10m high and applied a builders texture marked off in meters. I located each one of the poles at the key locations, copying the position and heights off the map.

Using the landscape dialogue, I select a rectangle of land, flattened it and then changed the height till it came halfway up the poles. I kept doing this till most the land was the correct height. Raising the land had left deep narrow 4m valleys between each of the rectangles of land. I selected these as a 4m wide selection, flattened them, changed the height and then smoothed it.

Now I had the basic land heights and moved onto making the landscape look more realistic. I imporved the landscape with a simple technique I discovered and I will describe that and the pub in another entry.

I quite fancy doing Cornwall, I wonder if they can use me on Earth Mk. II?

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Club deleted from Tanglia

Nachtwlf and I opened our club, Broken Hearts, in November and at the same time several friends opened their clubs too. Today Carla and I went to see how they were getting on.

I had been to the opening night of the pub Coyote Ugly and there was a happy Country and Western atmosphere. The wooden bar had been built near the middle and 4 girls were dancing on it wearing shorts, stetsons and tied shirts. Amusing comments going back and forth and everyone joining in to create a party feeling. Today it had been turned into a bleak blue and white cube that was more suited to toilets than a club. There were dance bases and slot machines along the wall. No atmosphere even thought there were people there.

Kinky Kitty was doing quite well, but there was only one dancer and people were arriving and then leaving. When more dancers arrived, it got going. Carla and I were griefed there, I saw a guy out the corner of my eye and before he was 8m away knew he was out to cause trouble. He was walking straight towards us even though he had to walk at an angle to do it. He bumped us apart and started verbal abuse. In my own club we had a lot of people just out to cause trouble, maybe 2 or 3 a day.

There is another place we go, which is just a pub, but there are always people there and it gets busy. It probably doesn't make much money but its always fun to go there.

When we got back to Tanglia, Carla and I had a long talk. We decided that:-
  • A club is hard work as we need to interview and employ, events must be arranged, DJ's booked.
  • Most places will be griefed at some time so security or some way of dealing with those people is needed.
  • Clubs do not make money. The employees make a moderat income, maybe 3,000 L$ to 6,000 L$ per day and they have to work long hard hours to get that kind of money. If a club takes 10% from tip jars, the income will will get about 600L$ per day.
  • Money is to be made in shops and selling things, especially clothes and skins.
  • Gambling is potentially a big money earner but again needs a lot of work.
We decided to scrap the club part of Tanglia and run a pub there instead. We will run a few shops, but keep the shop area small to start with.

I have scrapped the whole Island map and started again. The pub will be in the SE side of the Island with the dance floors below. If you want to see what they look like, go to Empathy in Whitefish. On the SE side we will get sunrise and sunset and see more of the moon. I will make the place romantic and beautiful.

The remaining 3/4 of the Island will be hunting and capture with two forests and swamp and lakes between. The SW forest will be evil and the NE forest soft and gentle.

I will put up some maps when I have them drawn out.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Tanglia discovered

My Island was delivered today.

TANGLIA is here!

I have started by printing out the Island plan and building the floors for the buildings. There won't be a lot to see, but awhole lot of building to do.

Just waiting for Carla to get here so she can be the first here, then I am opening it up to friends.
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Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Personality test INFJ

I have always been interested in personality tests and discovering the drives and needs of others, so I can understand people better.

I found the this test useful in understanding myself.

Seems I am intuitive, introverted, feeling and judging.

My personality is described very well here:

Island may take a while

Seems we may have a long wait for the Island of Tanglia to be ready. Linden Labs took two months to prepare my friends Island. Talking to Babeth Kaupas, co-owner of the "A and B" region, it was 2 months between their Island going from Pending to Fulfilled. Pending means that the Island is paid for and that it is scheduled to be built. Fulfilled means that it is built and ready to be used.

I have great people ready to help me build, Laya, Carli, Maya and Carlotta. The extra time will allow me to develop the terrain map in more detail, build some key parts and start on the textures.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Momoko Body

I opened my new shop House Jiang today. It sells a Japanese/Asian body-shape, hair, eyes and clothes.
Shown here is the body-shape including, hair, eyes and clothes by Antilo; All available from my store in Whitefish 32/96.
(The skin is a free skin from Tete a Pied).
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My new business

I help my friends get the looks they want, acting as body maker and personal shopper. I have created a Dita Von Tees lookalike, Japanese Manga style and several bodies based on real-life models. I enjoy making body shapes, its like sculpting but using sliders to add or remove parts of the body.

I have always know which designer or style will give the looks they want, but it takes ages collecting the skin, hair, eyes, clothes and accessories from the different stores scattered around Second Life. My store will sell everything you need in one place with everything matched and co-ordinated. No need to adjust the prims on your hair or alter belt sizes to fit.

My first shop sells the Momoko Japanese/Asian body-shape and is a one stop shop for everything you need; look for House Jiang in SL Classifieds or on SL Boutique. Also go to Whitefish (32/96).

(The clothes are ready but not for sale yet)

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Tanglia - Island

My Island, Tanglia is now Pending and will be ready soon.

Stages are:
Not started - You have reserved a region but not paid for it.
Processing - Region is paid for but in a queue waiting to be processed.
Pending - Region is in the process and will be up soon
Fullfilled - The region has been put up.

Times for me were:
Processing to Pending (4 days)
Pending to Fulfilled (7 days)

Can't wait to go there and start building!

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Tale of the ancient resident

The Second Life update was aborted yesterday as problems were identified at a late stage on the Beta Grid. When I logged on, the main grid was suffering from the old problems; failed teleporting, grey shapes, invisible friends, missing hair. I needed to vent my frustration so here is Second Life in the style of Samuel Taylor Colleridge.

It is an ancient resident,
And he stoppeth one n00bie.
`By thy flex hair and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me ?

Down dropped the frames, the speed dropt down,
'Twas sad as sad could be:
And we did chat only to break
The stillness we could see!

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a screenshot
On a Second Life promotion.

Green dots, green dots all around,
Yet no avatars I see,
A prisoner trapped in a crowd,
Bald, naked, shorn of finery.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist !
And still it neared and neared :
A name tag! my friend I see you now,
As past they plunged and veered.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn :
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

Apologies to Samuel Taylor Colleridge and The Tale of the Ancient Mariner

Men have two emotions: hungry and horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Update day 10JAN06

Today is update day.

I am usually logged into the Test Grid where I see a few friends, but I spend most my time designing clothes in Fireworks. I have pencil sketches I am slowly turning into clothes.

Fireworks was a Macromedia program for designing web graphics but gradually aquired nice painting and texturing features. Drawing is vector based with everything positioned in pixels. I test the designs in the free Avatar Viewer where I spend most my time aligning seams and patterns. If a seam does not line up, its a question of nudging one of the vectors by a few pixels and testing again.


SL was bad yesterday.
Teleports timing out, items not resolving, slow updates and with only 19,000 people logged in. Sometimes I had no hair, sometimes it appeared between my legs alongside by boot. A lot of time the scenery was a dull grey, people were invisible yet I was still being bumped by them.

I ordered two items from SL Boutique and they were not delivered in-world.

I find Second Life becomes almost impossible to use during those conditions and we had this for over two hours yesterday.

The odd thing is that it can be fixed manually by the Lindens, suggesting hardware issues or maybe 'bad stuff' happening on some of the sims and needing to be cleared up.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007


Second Life confirmed that my Island is on order and will be called Tanglia, which are the last three letters of my last and first names with a T added at the front.

I had problems ordering the Island as the purchase price was higher than allowed for a single transaction on my credit card. Then I found out that Second Life starts by taking money from your credit balance before debiting your credit card. After adding money to my balance I successfully placed the order.

Carla and I started designing the club, finding that we can make it smaller than we expected (24x32). The smaller size makes it feel cosy and will allow us to place more buildings in each area, taking up less of the sim.

I am designing the sim in 4096 (64x64m) blocks and have started allocating what will go there. There are 16x4096 blocks. At the moment we have:-
2 - Club, pub and function rooms
1 - Mall and beach
2 - Shops
11 - Roleplay area

The role-play will include fighting and capture and we need to look at combat systems for this. It will be one of the HUD (Heads up Display) and scripted weapons systems, so only those wearing the combat meter will be affected by weapons fire.