Friday, May 11, 2012

Interactive Storybook Adventure

When you think you've seen it all, you've barely seen any of it. The brilliant minds that make-up the population of Second Life continue to astonish me with their innovation. The way that they can take the blank canvas that Second Life gives us and create something extraordinary, some of the things I find boggle my mind. Take for example, Interactive Storybook Adventure. The name, when I first read it, threw me off. What kind of story, their own story, an adapted story, how would the creator be able to do it?

Amazingly well, is how he did it. When you teleport to the land the storybook adventure takes place in, you are dropped in front of a lighthouse. Next to the door is a poster telling you the story that you will be adventuring through, "Where the Wild Things Are." Upon entering the lighthouse, a door, with the words "Max's Room" on it stand in front of you. Going through the door you are transported into Max's room. The story is being told to you through manipulation of a chat box that Second Lifers use to communicate with each other.

When you climb into Max's bed a forest slowly begins to appear around you, trees sprouting up from the floor, vines dangle down from the ceiling, the walls disappear, revealing a forest. Next thing you know, the bed shoots up, depositing you on a small circle of beach with a little red sail boat. You hop into the sail boat and make your way across the ocean.

Your boat drifts onto the shore of an unknown beach, and as you disembark a group of Wild Things comes up to greet you. Interactive Storybook Adventure is one of the coolest things I've experienced in Second Life. What could have been done very blandly, was done masterfully. Interactive Storybook Adventure felt like more of an amusement park ride than it did a virtual reality experience. It captures the feeling of Where the Wild Things are perfectly, and amazes with its presentation.

Terracotta Warrior Army

I've always been interested in China's Terracotta Warrior Army, for as long as I can remember. Discovered in 1974, the army was meant to guard Emperor Qin Shi Huang as he made his journey into the afterlife. With over 8,000 sculpted soldiers, it is a sight to behold.

I'm not sure if I will ever get to experience the sight of the Terracotta Army, but, with Second Life I can at least have that experience simulated. Walking into the tomb of the army is quite an experience. It's dark and damp, and the mood it gives off is almost unnerving, like descending into a cave in a horror movie. After making your way down the short hallway, you come upon the army. Obviously not the thousands that actually make-up the army, but enough to simulate the experience. The detail on the re-creations of the statues is pretty remarkable, and it is obvious the person who designed the exhibit put a lot of care and time into their work.

For anyone interested in seeing the Terracotta Army, but without the means to see it in real life, I would suggest taking a trip into Second Life and over to the Terracotta Army exhibit. It's as close to seeing the real thing as you can get without going to China.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Apollonian and Beauty

Have you ever wanted to experience ancient Greece? In Apollonian and Beauty you can. Apollonian and Beauty is an Ancient Greece role-playing sim where players can come and immerse themselves in the pleasures and history of Ancient Greece.

Second Lifers can participate in tournaments with their avatars, battling other Second Lifers in the hopes of winning fame and glory. Second Lifers can also participate in raids with their fellow Greeks, helping to expand the Apollonian empire and bring glory back to the homeland.

Your first step into the Apollonian Empire will be in a marketplace, where players new to the sim can buy clothes, weapons and various other items that will help prepare you and immerse you in the experience, and it is quite an experience. The attention to detail is quite impressive. All of the architecture is crafted in the style of ancient Greek architecture, complete with grand arches, magnificent pillars and carved marble engravings on the various buildings, depicting great thinkers or gladiators.

I highly suggest a visit to Apollonian and Beauty for anyone interested in ancient Greece. Whether you are interested in seeing the architecture or participating in a unique sim experience, Apollonian and Beauty is definitely a part of Second Life worth checking out.

The Loneliness of Being

The Loneliness of Being is such a beautiful and simply-made area of Second Life, I found myself staring into the cloud of letters, looking for patterns and words. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. The Loneliness of Being is an art installation in Second Life, it is made up of a small island with a cloud of ever-changing letters floating around it. The incredibly cool thing about the cloud of letters, is that, it is a constant reflection of the now. The cloud is linked into the internet, using Twitter and various news-feeds to update itself with new words.

The letters float through the air, in a range of different colors and sizes, appearing out of nowhere and then disappearing, some sinking into the water that surrounds the island. I found The Loneliness of Being incredibly interesting and caught myself just sitting in my chair staring into the cloud, looking for new words, trying to figure out if there was some sort of order to the chaos.

On one of the mountains of the island I found a strange, almost disturbing site. What looked like a group of ghosts walking around in an endless circle. They would seem to become almost tangible, and then become so translucent they were barely visible. I'm not sure what the ghosts were there for, but they did confuse and unnerve me a bit.

I found The Loneliness of Being incredibly interesting, and found myself lost in the swirl of ever changing letters and words. If you are ever in Second Life and have a few moments to kill, I highly suggest checking it out.


Prepare to enter a world full of wonder, steampunk wonder that is! Caledon is a whimsical and eclectic steampunk community based in Second Life. It is made up of fifty different regions, each inhabited by Second Lifers from all over the world. The collection of different regions is called the "Independent State of Caledon" and it is considered a micronation in Second Life.

When you first teleport to Caledon you arrive in the city of Oxbridge, the gateway to the main city of Victoria and the rest of Caledon. Caledon is set in the Victorian era, but, like all good steampunk-inspired works, it has bits and pieces of sci-fi and fantasy scattered throughout it's world. Want to get from one region to another as quickly as possible, why not catch an airship and sail through Caledon, enjoying the wondrous sites you pass over?

For those not familiar with steampunk, it is a genre that became popular during the 80's and 90's. Steampunk is generally set in the Victorian era, where the power of steam is harnessed to run, trains, airships and other idiosyncratic devices. The gadgets and machines are based on futuristic innovations as the Victorians might have envisioned them.

Caledon does a great job at building a living, breathing steampunk world. The architecture is fun and imaginative, the fashion is what you would imagine would be worn in the Victorian era, but with a flare of sci-fi inspiration. I encourage all to visit this rich and vibrant land, and experience the wonder and excitement of a steampunk world.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tree Of Lovers-Portland

Live music? In Second Life? Yes. "Tree of Lovers-Portland" is a "multi-international effort combining the creative talents and efforts of a group of friends from Canada, France, Italy and the USA. Providing Second Life Residents with live performers from all over the planet." With eight custom-built stages, each hosts a different genre of music and an art gallery. I arrived in a breathtakingly designed area, with magnificent statues of what looked like angels. They were fitting, as the stage before me seemed like it was anchored in a heaven-like afterlife.

I walked across a glistening, white bridge and come upon a group of my fellow Second Lifer's dancing, hooting and hollering, or whatever hotting and hollering would be described as in text format. The singer was Naomi Morens, apparently a fairly well-known Second Life singer, though I had never heard of her. She sang covers of mostly top 20 pop songs and had a penchant for over-extending her vocal abilities.

Second Life has flourished with live music events such as the ones hosted in Tree of Lovers-Portland. A typical day in Second Life will feature dozens of performances covering a wide array of genres. The band Redzone, a British electronica group, have even toured in Second Life, being the first band to do so, and recently released their newest album in Second Life only. There are dozens of areas in Second Life where you can experience new genres of music live, one of the best parts being that you can interact with the artists after they're finished playing, something you normally can't do. Second Life delivers a unique live music experience, all from the comfort of your keyboard.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This is a Dead End

Your footsteps echo on the cracked pavement as you walk slowly down the grime covered alley way. Scream's seems to come from off in the distance, carried by the wind, or was it just the wind? Trash swirls around your feet as you creep closer to the end of the alley. You have that feeling, that distinct feeling that you are being watched, but you're positive you are alone. Up ahead, there's something, something under a pile of garbage. You cautiously keep walking, hoping to pass by it with no trouble. The pile begins to rustle as you move ever closer to it. You start to walk a little faster, hoping to just get by it, get by it without finding out what's lurking beneath the discarded refuse. But it just seems the closer you get, the more the pile of trash animates. You're coming up on it now, your muscles begin to tense, the trash is just becomes more and more restless, you're sure something is going to jump out at you. A hand reaches from behind you, covering your mouth, a sharp object is wedged against your spine, "Give me all of your money."

Welcome to "Dead End" the urban/noir role playing game. "Dead End" brings you to the filth ridden streets of Dead End, a city filled to the brim with the worst types of human garbage imaginable. Second Lifer's can choose from a variety of roles, like a common "denizen," just trying to survive and make a life for himself in a city overflowing with corruption. Or maybe you're feeling like being a part of the problem instead of a part of the solution, then the role of "deviant" is perfect for you. Run around the streets causing mischief and mayhem, getting into heated battles with the police, and just being an all-around bad guy.

The look of the city is everything you would expect it to be, it's dark and grimy, practically post-apocalyptic. While exploring, it's hard to not imagine something or somebody waiting for you around every corner. "Dead End" features a plethora of delightfully sleazy areas for players to role play in. Are you sick of the city? Well head to the rural Dead End suburbs. There are plenty of houses in this quaint little neighborhood, that looks like it's been hit by a tornado. If neither the suburbs or the city are your cup of tea, then maybe the sewer system will be more your style. Slosh through the human excrement as you congregate with the rest of the scum that were too reviled to be accepted even in the city.

"Dead End" is a great role playing game for those who are sick of fantasy and science fiction, and want a dark and grittier role play experience. It explores a city haunted by corruption, will you be a part of the solution or a part of the problem?