May 232009
 

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)  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.

shadows_sl

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!)

Jan 212009
 

We are well into 2009 and there is a lot of news popping about the likely growth of social virtual worlds and their adoption. As a tangent game based virtual worlds are also still in relative growth as covered in SMH’s post Video games thrash movies and DVD, referring to the shift in Australia and reflected in the rest of the world, of more money spent on interactive vs passive entertainment ” video games industry is now double the size of the box office and more than 40 per cent larger than the movie disc industry in Australia”.

But back to social virtual worlds and I have quickly mapped some dates and SVW events (most are recent) onto a slightly modified Gartner ‘hype cycle’ curve. For the uninitiated here is a brief wikipedia definition.

Since 1995, Gartner has used hype cycles to characterize the over-enthusiasm or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies. Hype cycles also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits and become widely accepted.

Gartner Hype Cycle SVW

Of course in reality we have really been through a sine wave quite a few times since 1987 through 2005 but since the relative maturity of services like Second Life, There and others true and robust applications are emerging, beyond the traditional ‘gamer/entertainment’ use. MUVED created a post a few weeks ago showing widespread investment in a range of niche virtual worlds and this trend is seemingly continuuing apace. Raymond de Villiers, CEO of Wisdom Games is very bullish about the use of these worlds for business communication in a post entitled Growth of Virtual Environment Expected in 2009…

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Jan 152009
 

Senor Hontar: “We must work in the world. The world is thus.”
Father Altamirano: “No Senor Hontar…thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it”
Final lines of the film ‘The Mission’

As well as the increase in venture capital investment across all virtual worlds, the time spent in them, measured in user hours, is growing too. While this is partly due to existing users spending longer it is often the about the typical new user who after the initial log-in hurdles becomes highly engaged for 3-18 months or longer with a particular personally resonant virtual world service. Virtual worlds that offer something beyond mall-like activities (PS3Home springs to mind) or just a glorified chat channel (there are quite a few in this category) will obviously increase engagement. The personalization factor, to make the virtual space YourSpace either by customising other community members work or by creating it from scratch yourself, naturally increases your personal investment. Second Life has always been about Your World and one of the major driving factors is aspirational lifestyle and peer appraisal.

We partly escape, we are often out to impress, we love the control but most importantly we like to co-create and communicate with those we like on our terms and in areas we make.

Increase in User Engagement Second Life

Linden Lab who run Second Life have just published figures looking at 2008 and as in several presentations I have been giving around the world, it shows that SL and other worlds are far more ‘sticky’ than traditional 2D social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. From the Linden Lab (second life creators) Blog:

Second Life Residents logged nearly 400 million hours in 2008, growing 61% over 2007
Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 12:33 PM by: Zee Linden

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Nov 122008
 

Gary Hayes Builds

Social Media and Web 2.0 is a lot about providing the tools and therefore the means for everyone to create content, that they believe others may want to see. I have personally created a lot of corporate, professional entertainment and music films over the years using high end equipment but now, like many millions around the world, find it a fun and satisfying process to be able to create films and stories in virtual worlds, aka machinima. (Quite a few are over on my personal virtual blog justvirtual)

There are literally millions of machinimas emanating from the likes of World of Warcraft, Sims, Movies, Halo, Second Life, Half Life and many more. Most are done for the love vs the money and some make it onto the big screen. For the creators it is about expressing ‘their’ world and experiences to each other but of course there is something else as important here.

Laurel Papworth talked recently about a machinima I did in Twinity and the ‘free advertising’ it offers for the brand or platform. For me it is also about creating an environment where simple tools encourage large numbers of people to come together remotely and do real-time, collaborative content creation for extended periods. It makes the world very, very sticky when they have shared creative goals and purpose – not just pre-constructed game play. Some may say game quests are social too and I believe when the players get ‘creative’ with the mechanic and ‘bend the rule’ together it certainly is.

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May 122007
 

NOTE: Based on my sticky post ‘The Brand Owners Guide to Joining the Metaverse“.

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…


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