Posted in Gaming, Second Life

SL Stories: Close Encounters of the Dragon Kind

Pictured above: Someone’s awesome dragon avatar flying above Erstwhile at the Second Life Fantasy Faire.

My weekend was made up of a combination of mutliplayer Stardew Valley with my sister and time spent at events in Second Life. We attended Relay Stock and said farewell to the Fantasy Faire with a final round of exploration.

I also spent time working on new content for my Water Horse shop. And that’s where this story comes from.

I still feel a little bad about not having “exciting” new content to post here like I have in the past. There just isn’t much to write about when it comes to multiplayer Stardew (aside from the fact it continues to be fun) and making horse content in SL.

So I’ve decided that whenever something funny that warrants a story happens in SL, I’ll work on writing it up here. Kinda like Tales from the Duty Finder… just SL instead. So, here’s my first SL Story.

Being the Dragon

One amazing aspect of Second Life (once you get past the learning curve) is that you can be just about anything you can imagine. The new bento mesh avatars make this a million times better. I’ve talked about how great they are for people avatars and for riding horses. But they can also take the form of infinite other things.

Like this amazing dragon avatar. I actually own this, but haven’t spent time customizing mine yet or writing about it.

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Image credit: Second Life Marketplace

And yes, the avatar can breathe fire (and other elements). It’s great fun!

When Dragons Attack

It was Saturday afternoon and the Posse was away. So I was at my home, the Riverwalk Mountain View, working on my newest Water Horse coats. When I’m painting horses, I need to see as much of the coat as I can, so I make the tack and the person part of my avatar invisible. This leaves just the horse… and almost makes it look like I have a horse-only avatar. Like this:

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So, I was just minding my own business at home, when suddenly, a dragon (the avatar I posted above) swooped down out of the sky. I knew this was just a person wearing a dragon avatar, and I was looking like a horse… but I did what any self-preserving horse would do when a dragon appears.

I ran.

The dragon chased me.

I live next to the Riverwalk Park, the Renaissance Fair area to be precise, which affords a lot of open area to romp around in. I wish I’d taken pictures of it, but at the time, the only thing I could think of was to playfully run away from the dragon.

I hid in water, he found me. He chased me all over the sim. It was great fun.

Then, I turned around and transformed into my own copy of the dragon avatar.

I don’t think he expected that. But he had a very good response to it. He transformed into something much more massive.

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Yes, and for scale, he’s far bigger than the buildings – almost as large as the windmill!

I laughed and gave up, telling him there was no way for me to outdo that. He laughed, too – the first spoken interaction I had from him, showing he was indeed being friendly. I decided to pull out my tiny corgi avatar.

He turned into a raptor. We had another little chase around until we finally ended up laughing and talking.

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He asked if I lived here, and I showed him my place. I asked if he usually swoops down on horses as a dragon. He told me that he had a tower nearby and that he’d seen me from the top of it (he also told me later he doesn’t go around watching people usually… I guess my horse just caught his eye).

So, we traveled back to his tower and he showed me around. We climbed it, and sure enough, I could see my plot from the top.

We spent a little time talking, and it turns out he lives in Puerto Rico. He’s been away from SL due to the state of things in his country, and is only just returning. We discussed how things are recovering after the hurricane, and how they’re taking precautions for this upcoming hurricane season. It was a pleasant and eye-opening exchange, actually.

Eventually, the Posse came around, so I said goodbye to my new neighbor. But this just shows how if you go with the flow, random can be good fun in Second Life.

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Second Life

April 2018 Gaming Goals in Review

This month, I completely dropped the ball on my gaming goals. On one hand I’m sorry, on another hand, I’m not so much. I’m having a whole lot of fun doing what I’m doing, and it’s put me in an artistic mood, rather than a really gaming mood.

I’m sure I’ll swing back to my MMO ways, especially with a new FFXIV patch coming out in May. But for right now, I’m excited by the fact that I can paint my own virtual horses and put the coats up for sale for other people to use in Second Life.

I even opened a new shop!

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Ahem… sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yes. Failed goals for the month. Here we go!

FFXIV Leveling Goals

  • Level Ninja to 50
  • Level Summoner/Scholar (to 70?) ✓

I’m happy to announce the one goal I did complete was leveling Summoner/Scholar to 70. Now, I just have to go back and do job quests for both those jobs. ><

Ninja I did work on a little bit. I’m just shy of 50 — at level 46. I could easily knock that out with a handful of squad runs, but I just haven’t been motivated to finish it. I guess it goes on next month’s goals.

FFXIV Cleanup Quest Goals

  • Ninja – Lv 40+45 Quests
  • Warrior – Lv 40 Quest (maybe a few before that, not sure)
  • Black Mage – Lv 64-70 Quests ✓
  • Machinist – Lv 60-70 Quests
  • Paladin – Lv 60-70 Quests
  • Miner – Lv 70 Quest
  • Botanist – Lv 70 Quest
  • Fisher – Lv 60-something – 70 Quest
  • Check all Crafters to make sure they’ve completed up to Lv 60 Quest at least

Yeah, here’s where the disappointment starts. I really should have spent more time cleaning up these quests. Even an hour here or there would have made some progress. I still can’t believe I let myself get this far behind.

At least I did finish the Black Mage quests. Sorry to folks who enjoy the job… I just can’t get into it. I’ve got Red Mage, and even Summoner, down okay. But just don’t enjoy Black Mage, which is sad.

I’ve always found the Black Mage quests really annoying, even when I’m overgeared for them. So if there’s one job I’m glad to be done with, it’s this one. While I did kinda enjoy the story for the job quests (Shantotto doesn’t have a lot of meaning to me, sorry), the actual fights are generally frustrating and a pain in the tail. So… if there had to be one set of quests I forced myself to finish, it was these.

PC Goals

  • Try 1 new Steam game each week

HAH! No. It didn’t happen. I would like to try again next month, though.

What will happen next month? I’ll try to put up some goals tomorrow, but really, I know Second Life is going to continue to call to my creativity. There’s just too much to make, see and do. Never enough time.

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Posted in Gaming, Second Life

Second Life: Finding Gold at the Fantasy Faire (A RFL Event)

Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, a 10-day charity event to support Relay for Life, has been going full-swing since last week. Spanning 15 sims, each with its own theme, too many shops, and so much entertainment, there’s just a lot to see and do. You’ll find music, great avatars, writing discussions, role play – table top and virtual, both – and even a George R.R. Martin day.

As of this moment, the event has raised over $22,000 in donations for the American Cancer Society. This event will last until Sunday, so there’s still lots of time to explore and donate!

This is the 10th year of this annual event, but the first time I’ve actually attended. I was really blown away by the quality of everything I found there. Some of my favorite creators were supporting the event, and I even picked up this awesome Tiger Mod for my Bento Water Horse!

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One event that I was looking forward to was the annual quest. I’d heard about it, but didn’t know how it worked until it released on Sunday afternoon. I’d never gone on a quest in Second Life, so I wasn’t sure what it’d be like.

While there were a ton of prizes to win, I was really there for the experience first and foremost. I was quite delighted by the quality of this quest once we got into it.

To start, you did have to purchase a HUD, which directed you in every step of the way on the quest. There were two versions – one that included an outfit and one without. All proceeds from this sale were a donation for Relay for Life.

We started by meeting up with the fae dragon, Cheer… whom we actually got as a cute shoulder pet!

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From there, we got a well-written little quest line, with fully voice-acted cut scenes, and story that took us to each of the different sims to meet various NPCs and gain their wisdom. There was a pretty strong William Shakespeare vibe going on throughout the quest, so the ending of the story didn’t disappoint.

It was super helpful to have three of us – Amoon, Xaa, and myself – working on this together. That way, we could split up and better find the quest locations and NPCs. That’s probably the only way we finished it the first night. And because this was something happening in real time, we didn’t have any hints on how it worked (which was fun and sometimes frustrating).

I was really surprised at how much time and detail went into these quests. The HUD could actually house and serve up all the videos (hosted on Vimeo), or you could watch the cutscenes outside of SL from the video link that the quest gave you. This was nice for the moments when the lag was just too much.. or if you didn’t want to give SL media permissions.

The creativity that went into all of the different fantasy themes and sims was amazing to start with. But coupled with a search for NPCs and an actual quest, it was really enjoyable.

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There were a few small snags, as there tends to be in SL (or any game, for that matter). One of the sims was having technical difficulties, which made it nearly impossible to search for the NPC there. That’s been fixed as of yesterday, however, so hopefully those coming behind us will have an easier time there.

I haven’t sorted through all of the rewards I got (and man, were there a LOT of them in that pile of gold) just yet. However, I greatly appreciate all of the gifts, time and love that went into this quest line.

This was one of those times I’m glad I gave SL another chance. The residents there can really do great things… and for a good cause!

Posted in Gaming, Second Life, Uncategorized

Second Life: Modding My Arabian Horse

When I was growing up, like many girls, I loved horses. And there was one series of books that fueled that love — Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. We had a small bookmobile that came from our main county Library and stopped by my neighborhood. They almost always carried a book from this series, and if they didn’t, I could put in book requests to get more.

I devoured these books as a child, fell in love with the Arabian horse, and the art on this book cover in particular was my measuring stick for all horse artwork I drew:

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I probably still have a box set of these books somewhere in my closet. And if I don’t, I might just take it upon myself to go and collect the series with this particular cover art just to keep for myself.

Anyhow, what does that have to do with video games? Well, a few weeks back in Second Life, I stumbled upon the Water Horse Riding Horse… which isn’t really a horse but a fantastic, realistic bento add-on to your SL avatar. The Posse has been getting a lot of mileage out of our horses as we explore some really awesome places on the grid.

That little spark of Arabian horse love still burns in me, so I knew when I saw the Arabian Horse Mod for the Water Horse weeks ago that I’d be making that a project of mine. Over the weekend, I did just that.

While I think that my original Warmblood bento horse is very lovely, I have to say that the Arabian mod has transformed it to something above and beyond.

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A lot of work from talented creators went into this horse. I wanted to take a look at how all that comes together and give them my props for wonderful creations that bring me joy!

It Started With a Skin

I’m a huge fan of Hap’s work at Painted Pony. There’s a lot of great content out there for these horses, but her skins and content keep pulling me back in. She develops a lot of work for the Arabian mod in particular.

When I saw the new specular silver coat in her Highlights section, and noticed it could be used with the Arabian, I was struck by it immediately. I can’t really explain how this coat catches and reflects the light, but it’s amazing in person. I can just sit here and look at the way light plays off of my stallion… Beautiful work!

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So, this prompted me to head to the Jinx store (another creator I really love) to pick up her Arabian mod. This was the most expensive part of the modding process, and also the most tricky.

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This is a full body replacement for the Water Horse. This means when you add this to your avatar, you essentially have two horse bodies. You make the original horse body and tack transparent, and somehow this mod meshes beautifully to show instead.

It uses the Animation Override within the original Water Horse tack, so it moves and controls exactly like the original. Here’s a video of this horse in action (Note: lightly dressed female avatar warning):

If I had to nit pick about anything in this mod, it’s the tail portion. I’m not sure what it is about the tail, but the textures in the originals just don’t render right for me. Especially the white tail.

But that’s easily fixed with a texture replacement from Painted Pony. I picked up the Arabian Tail Fat Pack 1 and the Happy Tail add-on (which makes the tail swish from time to time like a real horse).

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And the final cosmetic piece was, again, from Painted Pony. I already had this from making my Miss Daisy setup — a lovely Tropicana Blue eye.

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Syn and Amoon like to tease me that the eyes make my Arabian look spooky, so I’m almost tempted to name him Specter. XD

Anyhow, I needed one final touch to really make this all come together. If you watched the video above, you’ll see the custom Arabian animations created by Mythril in action. Great stuff!

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So, I learned how to mod the tack AO to replace the standard animations with these. They included a very regal idle standing pose, a floating trot, and a lovely canter replacement. I also picked up a new gallop animation that I really liked.

What’s even better about this animation set is that it includes sidesaddle animations, which I was looking into picking up to fit a medieval dress that I bought. So a medieval warmblood project might be my next focus — we do have the Fantasy Faire coming up this week in Second Life!

And finally, the tack. I chose the new Sultan tack by Jinx. This is currently exclusive to the March Fantasy Collective, so I have no idea how much longer it’ll be there, or if Jinx will sell it in shop after the event is done.

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Much of the Arabian tack available is quite ornate, so I liked that this was less flashy and didn’t take away from the horse. These are cosmetic add-ons, and not a replacement for the AO tack. They look great and come with a HUD that allows for color change and minor modifications.

In the end, I’m very pleased with the overall results of the mod. What do you think?

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Posted in Gaming, Second Life, Uncategorized

Second Life: Building Houses for the Ultimate Sandbox

This weekend, I taught myself the basics of Blender, built my first house for Second Life and made my first sale on an item I created all on my own.

Sure, it took me the better part of two days to figure out Blender and trial-and-error through making that house. Sure, I sold it for a pittance of $L50 Lindens. I didn’t feel like I could charge much for my first try at a simple house… I was more curious about the process of putting something up on the Marketplace (which I’m still learning) and whether it would sell at all.

But it still felt awesome, was a crazy learning experience… and I’m eager to take these skills I’m developing and continue to build new things. I’m even writing a series of blog posts on my Second Life blog just to chronicle what I learned… mostly so I don’t forget how to do things! XD

As a creator, part of me gets a little thrill out of thinking someone else in Second Life might be living in the house I built. Maybe someone else gets a little bit of happiness at having their own little Modern Loft House somewhere on the grid. That’s pretty inspiring.

Sorry for the ramble. Most of the MMO stuff I’ve been doing lately is standard leveling, roulettes, weekly turn-ins, so nothing to report there. I’ve just been far more fascinated in making things right now.

Posted in Gaming, Second Life, Virtual Pets

Second Life: Riding Miss Daisy

I know I said I wouldn’t continue to flood my blog about Second Life posts, but it’s what I’ve spent the most time doing this weekend. So, it’s natural to talk about it a bit!

The Water Horse Riding Horse had a 1st Anniversary Event on Sunday. The horses were discounted 25% (if you’re a group member), and many of the stores in the mall have special gifts scattered around for grabs. There’s some pretty nice free stuff there!

The Sim was overflowing on Sunday, and I was surprised to see the enthusiasm that Xaa and Vix had for getting their own horses. Because the sale was extended to the draft horses, which I didn’t already have, I picked up a Clydesdale to go with my Warmblood. I have a plan for her… more on that later!

One way or another, the Posse took advantage of the sale and we got everyone horses. Since then, we’ve spent time searching for parks and neat sims to explore on horseback.

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Riding Miss Daisy

One thing I hope to do for my re-newed Second Life blog is a series called “Riding Miss Daisy.” It’s the reason I wanted a draft horse, even though I already had a warmblood.

I picked up a free bonnet for Miss Daisy, modified it a bit for her ears, and stuck a hover text script in it to name her properly. Then, I spent most of my time last night looking for the right skin and mane/tail coloration to match the concept of what I had for her in my mind. I’m pretty happy with how she turned out:

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Now, my plan is to leisurely ride through awesome locations in SL and blog about them. Hence, “Riding Miss Daisy.”

Since I’ve spun up the idea, I’ve come across a lot of parks and neat places that I’d never have known about in SL. I haven’t started writing up the series yet (was still working on getting my horse in line), but I’m looking forward to what all I’ll discover!

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Developing (?)

Another thing that I’m excited about is the possibility of working on skins and assets for the Water Horse. There was a link in the barn where you can request a Water Horse dev kit — this required a pretty formal legal agreement that you won’t use it for anything you’re not supposed to use it for.

I don’t have a lot of knowledge when it comes to SL, Blender and that sort of thing, so I doubt they have much to fear from me. I just want to learn how to make some neat coat textures for the horses… and maybe, if other people like them, put them up for sale.

Doing some research last night, the cost for stalls around the Water Horse Mall is extremely reasonable… when compared to the cost of a much smaller store to sell my breedables. So, I’ve sent in my agreement and “application,” and I’m waiting anxiously for my response on whether I can get a dev kit.

It would be so much fun! 🙂

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One more shot of the Posse, this time in a desert!
Posted in Gaming, Second Life, Uncategorized

Second Life: Finding Water Horse

I talked about how amazing Bento is when used for a Second Life avatar. I didn’t realize how far Bento could reach… it’s much more than just making more life-like avatar heads.

You guys might already know that I’m a huge lover of horses in any MMO or game… so please excuse me while I fangirl about horses in yet another post.

I was browsing (and cleaning up) pictures on my Second Life Pets Flickr… which somehow still exists after all these years… and I ran across some amazing pictures of people riding horses in Second Life. I was blown away — I’d never seen such a life-like breedable horse in SL!  Continue reading “Second Life: Finding Water Horse”