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!

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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”

Posted in Gaming, Second Life

Second Life: Bento is Pure Magic!

Though I’ve been away from Second Life for about 3-4 years, I still keep up with a number of blogs. So I knew about the whole SL Bento project going on while I was gone… I just didn’t know exactly what it meant. This turned out to be one of the most exciting parts of returning to SL.

So, if you go to the join SL page, you will see a number of Bento avatars you can choose from to start with. And if you think these look like this:

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Avatars of the past…

…You just might be surprised at how far avatar technology in SL has come. I was.

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New Starter Avatars

So what exactly is Bento and why is it amazing? I’ll let the somewhat cheesy SL video explain the magic of what they’ve done here. Then I’ll show you how it’s transformed my own avatar.

 

The Bento Effect

The incredible thing about Bento is that the sliders within SL can change the mesh shape  you’re wearing. So, you have the power to sculpt your own mesh within SL once you buy a Bento piece.

Not only that, but the Bento pieces are also skinnable. This means you can place layers of images over top of them — skin color/styles, makeup, tatoos, whatever you like. This makes for some incredible individuality.

Back when mesh heads were first introduced, I picked one up. It was far better than the default style play-doh face avatars you got out of the box.  It came with a HUD that allowed for minor facial expressions and some other options. But for the most part, the mesh was static. And if someone bought the same head as you… you had the same face. Nothing you could about that.

But it still did a LOT to improve your avatar.

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Based on the time stamps of my screenshots, it looks like I updated to mesh in December of 2012. It was one of the earlier heads, I think, and the top of the line for the time. I really loved it!

When I returned last weekend, however, the only thing on my mind was that I needed an avatar update something fierce. I’d only heard about Bento. I didn’t know anything about it beyond the fact that it’s what people were using now.

So, I did a bunch of research. I learned that there are several brands of Bento heads and fit mesh bodies to choose from. I also learned that everyone demos everything now days, so I demoed lots of different styles.

In the end I chose this:

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Here I Have (Brand Names in Italics)

  • Head: CATWA Tala
  • Body: Maitreya Mesh Body – Lara V4.1
  • Skin: theSkinnery Iris Sorbet & Sorbet Skin for Maitreya Body
  • Hair: Lamb Peach – Ombre Pack
  • Eyes: theSkinnery Palermo Eyes

Clothes Are (Full body in top picture)

  • Maitreya Mesh Leggings
  • Maitreya Moccasin Boots
  • Neve (Cold Logic) Pull-over Lively

And let me tell you, this wasn’t cheap. I’m pretty well broke in SL now. The head itself cost more than the land I bought! XD

It’s still quite worth it, though. It’s hard to show unless you see it in person, but the face cycles through a bunch of subtle expressions on its own.

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But the thing is, adding new skins/tones and shaping the face with the sliders, you can use the exact same head to make a completely different look.

For example, in Strawberry Singh’s video here, she takes a long time showing all the different things you can do with this head. Her version of it looks like a very different person, even though we both started out with the same base.

I was super excited to dive into the world of Bento in Second Life. There’s so much to learn!

But then, I made a discovery that really put Bento into perspective for me. Something that made me absolutely delighted and has refueled my excitement for Second Life. I’ll talk about that tomorrow!

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“Haha! You have to wait!”
Posted in Gaming, Second Life

Second Life: Returning… and Getting More Land!

Last week, Second Life announced that premium members are now allotted double land for their starting tier!

I tried and failed to think of a title for this post that would convey how important this really is. Let’s just say, what I’m about to blog about is a pretty big deal. Enough for me to announce my return to Second Life!

Continue reading “Second Life: Returning… and Getting More Land!”