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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