A cross posting from JustVirtual but there has been lots of excitement about Second Life becoming a more ‘evocative’ engine (visually speaking) for at least 18 months with lots of posts and short demo videos. Recently the Illclan’ers posted an item suggesting we are quite close to having an official Linden Lab release here, Dynamic Lighting and Shadow Engine Coming to Second Life. They like me are also very interested in the ‘controlled’ lighting effects using artificial (isn’t it all?!) light sources vs the ambient ‘sun’. But for starters here is a quick ambient test video…
A quick exploration of some of my old builds which may not be there much longer! Using the Space Navigator and running Windlight in Day cycle mode (the sun and moon take a minute or two to do a full rotation)Â to produce lots of moving shadows across the landscapes, people and builds. Rather than just show shadows I was keen to tie some ‘psych trance’ music into fast moving space navigator footage hence the constant movement – all shots took into account the timing with the shadows too.
The whole process was about 1 hour of capture, 1.5 hour edit and 2 hours on music track. Music was composed on Logic Pro mostly using Spectrasonics Omnisphere plug-in software ‘processor-eating’ synth.
I had access to a top end NVidia GTX280 high spec graphics card and quad processor machin so I put all SL graphics settings at max for once! The video was captured at PAL resolution using Fraps and the raw files edited using Adobe Premiere.
To have a go at this yourself make sure you have a top flight graphics card from NVidia or ATI and then download the Shadow Viewer client from Kirsten here or I believe a more recent one (that I used) from Boy Lane here. I am not sure of the widespread use of shadows given the grunt your computer needs to handle this, windlight, voice on top of all the usual networking issues – but for those with computer horsepower it definitely brings the place to life.
Published & created under creative commons – attribution, non-commercial, non-derivative, 23 May 2009 in Sydney, Australia
My Second Life sim builds included: Esperance (AFTRS), ABC Island, Melbourne Laneways, Thursdays Fictions, Deakin, The Pond and others. (I would have loved to show some more commercial & arty builds but non-disclosure and all that!)
Below are my introduction slides from ad:tech 2009 earlier this week. It is such a short time (each panel is given 50 minutes) to cover such a vast area and myself, Jeff (habbo.com.au) and Mitch (SmallWorlds.com) were all struggling to impart tons of great info/examples and have enough time to get interactive. I hogged the first 15 minutes by giving a broad overview and some examples I have been involved in that fitted the brief of the talk.
Below are my slides, a little descriptive text below that and at the bottom of this post some deeper insight into SmallWorlds (given most of my readers probably know Habbo already? – If not, Why Not!? ). I included one slide from Jeff Brookes set looking at Hitwise’s stats on browser worlds and other sites in terms of session length which will no doubt raise a few eyebrows!
Virtual Worlds & Business: What’s The ROI?
Virtual worlds are maturing at a rapid rate and brands are realising there are valuable business opportunities within them. Whether the objective is engagement, research or brand presence, virtual worlds are proving to be a legitimate marketing channel. In this session our panel will look to provide insights into the business benefits of working within a virtual world.
Gary Hayes, Director, Laboratory for Advanced Media Production, AFTRS & CEO MUVEDesign (Australia’s leading SL developer!)
Jeff Brookes, Regional Director – Asia Pacific, Sulake Corporation (habbo.com.au)
There were several important messages in my introduction. Firstly making sure we all understand the different platforms social virtual worlds are operating on so I briefly described
Layered or Parallel worlds – cute 2D type avatars that move over the top of 2D web
Browser Worlds – walled garden that run inside web browsers, often as isometric views as flash or shockwave
Client Worlds – anything from 20MB to 3GB downloads of data and the world is obviously much richer than browser worlds but do need higher spec computers
Console Worlds – a relatively new kid on the block, social spaces that exist on games consoles. All the rendering grunt is there and the avatars are often linked to the PS3, Wii or XBox360 real life account. PS3 Home is the easiest way to match to worlds like Habbo or There.com
Note there are hybrids of the above and I would put ExitReality down as a hybrid of 1 and 3 as it turns a web page into a client style world
Here are the images of the above part of the presentation
I decided that a good ‘spine’ to hang the introduction on was the sort of negative questions floating around from those who don’t really understand what’s happening with web 3.0, the live virtual world space. This includes the paranoid printed press, a few out-of-touch businesses, and digital media companies/consultants more interested in iPhone/mobile games or Facebook widgets which is something they can truly explain (read: make money off).
Press hyperbole or myths?
Virtual Worlds are on the decline?
Thereâ€™s no one in them?
& people donâ€™t spend long there?
They are for kids or social â€˜gamesâ€™ not business?
There are no marketing models?
But I then addressed each question in turn showing real world stats and examples. Obviously in recession investment in new tech/services are going to be hit and recent reports do suggest a consolidation of investment into kids worlds, hinting at a lowering of VC in the ones I highlighted in my presentation, but this whole area is still something education & business are advised to R&D and understand fully – as a minimum. As we know it will be new ways of doing business, more immersive and efficient ways to collaborate and alternate forms of entertainment that will be partly what will bring us out of recession.
I finished the talk with a quick overview of the main models that virtual worlds (and most online games) can be monetized. Items 1, 3 and 4 were picked up in a talk on the 2nd day of ad:tech looking at how Nike engaged with console ingame campaign experts Massive across a few platforms.
Promotions & Sponsored events
Virtual Goods & Product Placement
Dynamic InWorld Advertising
AdverWorlds & AdverGames
After my talk some great examples from Jeff Brookes from Habbo followed by Mitch from Smallworlds. I am always fascinated by the methods Habbo engages with its loyal and large community and was equally fascinated by Small worlds thinking too and how they are ‘integrating’ themselves with the existing 2D social networked web. This video by the infamous Robert Scoble features Mitch Olsen and Ted of SmallWorlds
They talk about the main traditional world features but then go onto the interesting areas of embeddable worlds (the Google Lively Killer app – not exploited), API integration with almost anything (twitter feeds, YouTube vids, FB updates on walls anyone) and the most interesting ‘missions’. You are encouraged to explore, meet folk, shop and basically get involved – Mitch says this is like the LinkedIn profile thinking, until your profile is 100% filled in you feel like you are missing out. I likened it much more like World of Warcraft, set players tasks, set them group tasks, give them rewards. This to me could be SmallWorlds real killer applet. At the moment they have around 400 000 users and that looks set to take off in the next months.
One important thing which was missed is that they didnâ€™t have time to talk about all the cool micropayment features (which Ted alludes near the end) such as Gambit, OfferPal and Zong. Gambit and OfferPal are both services which allow users to earn SmallWorlds currency by completing tasks. These tasks include things such as answering surveys and give amounts of currency proportional to the amount of effort put in. This is a great way for players (who may not have a credit card) to still be able to earn a premium SmallWorlds experience. Zong is a simple cell phone payment service, where by users can pay for a premium SmallWorlds experience using their mobile phone. For an excellent look at how we have integrated Zong into SmallWorlds, check out this YouTube video created by the developers at Zong:
An Australian project (initiated at a 2007 LAMP@AFTRS (Laboratory for Advanced Media Production) residential) called “Macbeth:What If” received further development/production funding from the NMC and the Australia Council. Project creator Kerreen Ely-Harper teamed up with producer Kate Richards and designerAngela Thomas to realise the original project, that built on the original project idea looking at the experiential teaching and awareness of Shakespeare’s works using Second Life. After a year or so of development they created an island in Second Life which also focuses on machinima creation in a rich virtual setting.
The video below is quick & cheerful, one-take, ‘Space Navigator’ Machinima and Music by Gary and the whole work was very similar in style and form to Thursday’s Fictions in Second Life, a MUVEDesigned project two years ago. Full credits for the Macbeth project below.
As promised a rough transcript of my keynote talk to CeBit last week based on my experience of actually building some Second Life sims, talking to those who use them and creating branded environments that have more usage than any others inworld, so far. There will be a video and/or podcast at some point from CeBit TV but for now lots of ‘nice’ words and this YouTube video I uploaded…