Saturday, July 31, 2010

OpenSim: the kids love it

Back in September 2007, I installed my first OpenSim instance, and my kids - and their nieces - have been experimenting with it on and off ever since. With the release of OpenSim 0.7, I decided to upgrade my installation, and keep it online for a while. Frankly, it was the kids who triggered that: they asked me to start 'our Second Life' again because they wanted to play.

And playing they did! For the past two days, they have been hard at work on a new camping site - probably inspired by the summer vacation season - and I am, once again, impressed with what they've made. It has everything: a reception, a terrace, shop, sanitary facilities and cabins to stay in. The cabins are decorated to each owners' taste, too.
OpenSim: the camping terrace

What really amazed me, is the quality of work these kids deliver, without any training. Sure, last year I tought them the basics, such as creating shapes from prims, linking them and using textures, but once they understood how that worked, they pretty much did the rest themselves. Today I got them started on using scripts, and that is again giving them a whole new area to play with. The first really usable chairs are appearing here and there, and my daughter is working on a revolving door! Of course they didn't write these scripts, they downloaded them from wikis, blogs and such. But, I am eager to see whether they'll get an interest in scripting in general.

Obviously, these are kids. There's plenty room for improvement in their work; especially aligning prims is sometimes hard to do. Frankly they often aren't that concerned when prim alignment is a bit off; for their play purpose it's usually good enough. Although my daughter deleted her entire shop today, as she wasn't satisfied with it anymore due to the walls and floors being aligned improperly!

I have never really worked with sculpted prims, and I'm not sure those render well in OpenSim - I think they do but I'm not sure. But after scripts, sculpties is probably the next thing I'll point them to. I wouldn't be surprised if they become more proficient with them than I was!

Many of my OpenSim snapshots at Koinup feature work created by this next generation of virtual world users. Take a look! OpenSim @ Koinup

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Twinity: Miami

Today Metaversum presented me with the opportunity to visit their virtual rendering of Miami Beach in Twinity, in advance of tomorrow's official opening. Of course I accepted, and I must say I'm pretty impressed with what they've achieved. More on my visit to Miami Beach is at the Koinup blog, where I am the resident Twinity blogger. Of course I have a lot of screenshots, also to be found @ Koinup!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eve Online: nullsec adventures

As mentioned on this blog before, I am currently an alliance diplomat for the MPA alliance in Eve Online. When we were offered a chance to travel to nullsec - the dangerous, lawless, but most rewarding space in Eve Online's New Eden universe - some of our corporation took it with both hands. Most of our corporation and alliance members reside in the more safe highsec areas; some live in wormhole space, but we rarely venture into nullsec. Yet for many of New Eden's pilots, nullsec is the place to be. This is where the big space holding alliances reign, where epic battles involving hundreds or even thousands of players are being fought, where campaigns lasting weeks or months are being executed. It's also the place where each and every move is potentially dangerous: there is no safety in nullsec. Theoretically the same goes for highsec and lowsec (empire space) but still, nullsec is a different story.

So after all diplomatic hurdles had been taken care of (a process which went more smoothly than I could hope for) some of us embarked on the long trip to a hospitable system in Providence.

This region had just been conquered by two alliances, Ushra'khan and Atlas Alliance, who defeated the previous owners CVA and their holder alliances in a campaign that lasted for several weeks. For many neutral pilots, CVA's loss was bad news, as CVA and their holders regularly allowed these neutral outsiders to reside in their space. The new owners, however, quickly restored some of CVA's hospitality. Ushra'khan (ticker: UK) themselves declared they were adopting a 'Not Red, Don't Shoot' policy (NRDS), essentially allowing neutrals into UK space, and some of their allies followed suit. It was this policy that allowed us to go there, and enjoy the thrills and rewards of nullsec.

From the start, however, it was clear that Providence was still in a lot of turmoil. Hostile fleets roamed the systems and blocked routes, even in Ushra'khan space; it seemed UK wasn't able or willing to enforce their 'NRDS' policy. We resided in another system, but suffered a lot from these roaming gangs of hostiles, and we lost several ships. Pretty soon, we started to feel the financial pain of these losses, and it started to look like the rewards were not enough to cover the costs anymore. So, we contemplated a retreat from Providence back to highsec, and wait for another - perhaps better - shot at nullsec space later.

While we were discussing this, news broke that the Ushra'khan alliance had been dealt a deadly blow. An undercover agent infiltrated Ushra'khan, slowly working his way up through the alliances' hierarchy; after one year of patient roleplaying and plotting, he rose to such a powerful administrative position he was able to dismantle the alliance from within, simply by ejecting most member corporations from the alliance - and steal a lot of stuff in the process, too. As this agent is now the only one left in the Ushra'khan alliance with any power - he removed all others- there's no way UK can be restored to it's previous incarnation. Whether you like Ushra'khan or not: you have to admire that kind of dedication! It's stuff like this that makes Eve Online unique, in my opinion.

As it is now, Ushra'khan still does exist, but it's no longer a meaningful entity. The corporations who used to make up Ushra'khan membership are still active and of course keep defending their space, but obviously they suffered a severe blow to morale and organization. As was to be expected, hostile alliances like Hydra Reloaded and Razor alliance are now trying to profit off the confusion, to gain sovereignty over parts of space currently owned by former Ushra'khan members. In other words: more battle, more turmoil.

Luckily I succeeded in getting my clone and most important gear (Drake battlecruiser, T2 drones, loot and some ammo) out of Providence, earlier today; it is now safe in highsec empire space. We will continue to watch the situation, which is highly interesting in itself. But it probably means we'll have to look for another, preferrably more peaceful part of nullsec to continue our exploration. A nice task for a diplomat..

Twinity update

Again, it's time for a Twinity update. Upon returning from holidays, I must say Twinity is developing rather fast these days. Concurrency numbers are clearly up, and the welcome areas have daily visitor numbers unheard of a few months ago. More on that in my Koinup blog entry: Twinity: busy in here.