Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twinity: Dardo Photography Gallery opens

I have just published my second guest blog post at the Koinup blog: Dardo Photography Opens. Tomorrows' opening of Dardo Photography Gallery was a nice opportunity to highlight a few interesting aspects of Twinity: the way Metaversum and the Twinizens are doing events, and the fact that Twinity is a good venue for certain types of art display. Your comments are, as always, welcome.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Second Life: 2.0 beta viewer experiments

The first public beta of the Second Life 2.0 viewer sports some nice improvements. For me the most interesting part, is definitely the Shared Media part.

Back in 2006, 2007 when we were investigating Second Life as a business tool, we sorely missed the ability to easily work with HTML on a prim. Documents, presentations, dynamic content: it was impossible or very nearly so. A few years ago 'HTML on a prim' finally became a reality. A step forward, but it could really only be used to display a static website.

The new 'Shared Media' implementation in the 2.0 beta viewer is much more powerful. As a matter of fact, the viewerr sports a full implementation of WebKit, the open source browser engine. It allows the 2.0 beta viewer to display pretty much anything the average browser can, and as dynamic as the browser too. HTML, flash movies and games, it's all possible.

The media are placed on a specific face of a prim. I created a simple prim, and put a Google Docs presentation on it:
SL2.0: experimenting with Goog...

So far it works fine. I can login to Google Docs and work with the documents available to me. If only this had been possible a few years ago!

I have noticed that access credentials to content in a shared media texture, are stored in Webkit; they are not connected to the prim the media texture is on.
First, I created a prim with a media texture containing a Google Document for my RL Google account; I logged in and used it. Then I deleted the prim, created a new one, and put a Google document for my Sered Woollahra Google account on it. Upon saving it, the message on the media texture said my RL Google account wasn't allowed to view Google Documents owned by Sered Woollahra! I had to logoff and login back to SL to be able to use the other credentials.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eve Online Tyrannis: a whole universe

CCP surprised most of it's userbase, earlier this week, with the announcement of Eve Online's next expansion: Tyrannis. Slated to be released around the summer, Tyrannis will bring a whole new dimension to Eve Online: planetary exploration. We will be able to survey all those thousands of planets in New Eden, we will exploit the minerals and other treasures to be found through infrastructures we will build. And this will happen not only on the earthlike planets, but on all of them, including the lava planets and the gas giants.

So why is this exciting? Because planetary exploration is a missing link in the current incarnation of the New Eden universe. The planets got a visual upgrade in the Dominion expansion, and they sure look great, but they are at the moment little more than eye candy. How strange, really, that in a simulated universe like Eve Online, you can't do anything to or with a planet! Most of todays' SciFi movies, books or series would be meaningless without functioning planets. Eve Online, so far, has done without, but not for much longer.

Eve Online: Dominion planets

There's precious little concrete information in the Tyrannis devblog but it seems we won't be able to walk on our planets just yet: Incarnation, formerly known as "walking in stations" will have to wait (again) until a later expansion. But Tyrannis is definitely a first step to prepare New Eden for planet bound combat as projected to happen with the new CCP game Dust 514:

In future expansions you will be able to project military force for attack and defense of planetary installations. That will be where DUST 514 will connect with EVE. But DUST 514 will not be coming out at the same time as Tyrannis, so that is at a later date.

A New Eden with functioning, meaningful planets, spotted with industrial complexes owned by Eve Online pilots, and occasionally raided by either Dust 514 mercenaries or rivaling Eve Online corporations, is a much more complete, whole universe than the New Eden we've been enjoying for the past few years. It is more realistic too - insofar something like that can be said from any internet spaceship game.

Add Incarna to the mix, and it gets even better. I can hardly wait to pilot a shuttle through a gas giants' atmosphere, dock up at our refinery station floating there, pop out of the spaceship and head for the bar where a few corp mates are enjoying a well earned drink. Tyrannis lays the groundwork for future expansions where this might very well become possible. Exiting times for an explorer like me!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Twinity releases new version

I am doing a bit of Twinity guestblogging at the Koinup blog, and have just published my first article there: Twinity releases new version. I haven't guest blogged before, it's going to be interesting to see how this works out! Any feedback is welcome, either here or at the Koinup blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Second Life's antique beanstalk

After reading Hamlet's item about the Beanstalk, the oldest user created content in Second Life, I decided to pay a visit. In SL you never know for sure whether something will still be there tomorrow, and this is definitely something I wanted to see before it would vanish.

The land the Beanstalk is on, was claimed in 2003 and is group owned. For all group members, the last login date is 'unknown'. Whether the user who created the beanstalk, Steller Sunshine, is still an active SL user I don't know. Pay the beanstalk a visit while it's still there!

Isn't amazing that we consider something created in 2003 to be ancient? Be it a beanstalk in SL or a character in Eve Online: 2003 is prehistoric, almost awe inspiring. And yet it's not even a decade old!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Upon returning from a quick skiing trip, I noticed I won the fourth prize at CK's Blog banter contest! Thanks a lot CK, my email address is seredsecondlife at gmail dot com. Looking forward to ordering some cool stuff from the Eve store!

This seemed a nice opportunity to change the blog template, too. The previous template worked fine for a while, but somehow it changed last week, probably due to a change at the Blogger side. I'm still fiddling with the layout. Not yet sure, for instance, whether I want to go to two columns or stay with three. Let me know what you think!

Finally, tomorrow my Second Life land fees are due. This is the best moment to check wether the land rentals are profitable or not, and I'm happy to report we are profitable once again! We're off to a good start in 2010; let's hope it stays this way.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Twinity: In the eye

Another visit to the London Eye. The view is nice, from up here..

Twinity has come a long way, in 2009. A much more stable client, three cities online, activities to do and an emerging community. Yet, there's always room for improvement, isn't there? Here's some suggestions!

The first one, is draw distance. In Second Life I can choose to set the draw distance to a large value. Of course it will take a lot of time to load the environment if you do so, but snapshots like this one would certainly improve:

The other thing is the day and night cycle. I understand why Twinity - a mirror world after all - would have a natural day and night cycle. But, given that I usually work during the day, it means I'm mostly confined to seeing dark cities.. Enjoying the city in broad daylight, or catching a sunset or sunrise for a particular picture is, to me, not always possible! That's why I would like to be able to override the default day and night cycle.

And I miss the fog. Especially with London not yet being finished, it might be a good idea to introduce some atmospheric haze. With a bit of haze in the air, loss of detail becomes a natural thing at larger distances; currently it looks like a texture that didn't load right. It would also serve to soften the hard edges of virtual London, where the city isn't finished yet. Especially when viewed from a higher viewpoint!

Finally: I would like some movement. Now that there's a London Eye, I'd like to ride it too! Same for the sightseeing buses strewn through virtual London. Why not let me hop on to one, and do an automatic guided tour through the city? Or a boat ride over the river Thames, through Singapore harbour, the Spree river in Berlin? This might actually require quite a bit of programming; I don't know how difficult it is to build this in Twinity. But would be a very valuable addition in my opinion.

See you in London!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Twinity expands virtual London

One of the most appealing parts of virtual worlds, is the ability to show world famous landmarks to anyone with a computer strong enough to run the necessary software. I can't afford to visit the Forbidden City in Beijing for instance, but I can get the gist of it through the virtual rendering, as you can see here. Another example: I have visited the Vatican's Sistine Chapel in real life, but in Second Life I could really take the time to appreciate the build, and view it from very unusual angles.

Twinity is perhaps the virtual world best suited to showing real world landmarks in a virtual setting. The platform also provides the opportunity to integrate the past and present, as Metaversum demonstrated when they celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Today, Twinity's virtual London became a lot bigger. Famous landmarks along the Thames river such as the Big Ben, the Westminster Abbey and the 'London Eye' became available. Due to family matters I couldn't spend too much time, and it was already evening, but here's a few snapshots of the Westminster Abbey and the London Eye, the way a real world tourist would never be able to view them. Enjoy!

More Twinity London snapshots: at my Koinup page as usual.