Monday, October 26, 2009



     One day Colemarie Soleil sent me a wonderful present.  She created a song for my poem called Irrevocably.  I am not musically inclined, despite my best attempts, and so to hear my poem put to music was both flattering and mystifying.   The sculpture which contains this poem was the initial idea for the Daughter of Gears story.  From this poem and scene grew a deeper understanding for each character, and with each new build I attempt to fill in the web which connects all the characters that I create.  For example, the most recent build at Burning Life called Vessel's Dream takes place before the Rabbicorn story in the timeline.  While The Daughter of Gears takes place 100 years before the Rabbicorn flees to the tower.  The story follows a theme similar to many of my narratives.  Two robots hiding from those who would salvage parts from them.  They are discarded and not seen as something human.  But even in their fear as they hide one will sing to the other in an attempt to forget what is out there hunting them.  The ingenuity of man gave them the ability to love but no form of status in society.  They hide from the salvage bots and one records the other into her memory so that should she be caught her last vision will be of her companion.

Sing me a song
sing it under your breath
if the salvage bots hear it
then it will mean our death

My love is a program
installed onto me
I gave it to you

If the robots do find us
then run quick from me
I will record your face
so it's the last thing I see

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vessel's Dream at Burning Life

If you enjoy exploring and discovering my builds without any help then don't watch this machinima nor read the post!

     Burning Life has arrived again with art curated by the wonderful White Lebed.  She has taken up a difficult job which was done last year by Poid Mahovlich.  I always admire people such as White and Poid who take up these thankless jobs where if it is laggy.. well then its their fault.  However, if all goes smoothly with great art.. then the artists get the credit.  If anyone has a gesture where you shake your fist at the sky then now is the time to send it to White.

     My work this year is fairly personal.  It is about how things can drive one to the solitude of virtual worlds.  In the machinima music by Godspeed you Black Emperor, you will hear a man who gets very angry relating a story about his speeding ticket.  Myself, it is not what he is saying, but rather all the rage coming off him in waves which affect me.  He is a symbol of all those things which drive one away to a quieter place.  Vessel's Dream combines characters from Immersiva with a new story which interprets a poem I wrote called Lilac.  In the build Bryn Oh has placed her horns in the night table and her wings against the wall.  The Rabbicorn is on the bed and she dreams of happier times.  She flees first life to Second Life and from there goes to her third life which is Lilac.

This is a cam build, which means your avatar will get to a point where you can only continue by using you camera.  Very few people will ever get past the first two rooms because of this.  But there are plenty of artists who build things that are accessible to everyone, so I refuse to feel guilty.  Some people like my work for the challenge and discovery, the hidden parts and the need to click on things, I built this for those people.  If you are unaware of how to use your cam then here is a quick run down.  Sorry I only know how to do this on a PC.

Hold down your Ctrl and Alt at once, and keep them held down.  Now move your mouse over something.. your friends face or a sculpture... when it is over an object hold down the left mouse button.  Now with all three held down move your mouse.  You will notice that you rotate around whatever your mouse locked onto.  You use this to maneuver your cam so that you can see into cracks you normally cant see into.  If you release the left mouse button and use the scroll wheel you will zoom forward to what you were looking at.  Next you would move the mouse onto another object further into the build and then again hold down the left mouse.  But always keep the Ctrl and Alt held down.  It is very much like being spiderman.  Anyway, I hope some of you can make it to my build and below is the SLURL.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MUD to LambdaMOO?

A while back Tezcatlipoca Bisani told me about a book he was reading called Designing Virtual Worlds by Richard A Bartle.  He told me it was quite interesting so I went out and bought it.  The first part of the book goes through the history of virtual worlds which was particularly interesting because as a users of Second Life we are in a rather explosive part of virtual history on a chronological timeline.  I will attempt to sum up a small portion of what I read in what may be a paint dryingly boring blog post.
     Originally virtual worlds were known as MUD's (multi-user Dungeons).  The word Dungeon was connected to an old port game called DUNGEN rather than the tabletop game Dungeon and Dragons. The first was programmed in MACRO-10 on a mainframe in Essex University in 1978.  It was text based and moving through the world involved describing in a narrative what the viewer was seeing.  When visual imagery was added the term changed to persisent worlds and then when enormous numbers of people began to use them it changed again to MMORPG's (Massively-Multiplayer online roleplaying games).  But what constitutes a virtual world?  Well here are a few things which Mr Bartle lists.  And please remember that Bartle wrote a book and this is merely a blog post.  Not a lecture more an informal chat where I may well butcher some of his ideas accidentally.
     So in a virtual world there are automated rules that allow users to affect it.  Another characteristic is that we represent individuals in world and we channel though our "character".  Interaction  is done in real time, the world is shared and it is also to some degree persistent.   So the environment in a chat room would not be considered a virtual world because there are no physics and normal video games are not included because often they are not persistent and also single player ones such as a first person shooting game is not multi user.
  Back to Essex university.  Students began to play these games and program their own.  The university began to let other universities connect to them by dial up modem and by 1984 media discovered them and began to write articles.  At this time CompuServe decided to try to make some money off the phenomenon. 
     The programming language for MUD's was now being stressed by new advancements and as such became a bit unweildly.  So new versions sprang up with different traits.  TinyMUD's, LPMUD, AberNUD, DikuMUD etc etc etc.  TinyMUD's were interesting because they were not really games but merely a place where users could stand about and create new locations and objects.  They would then show them to other people (sound familiar?).  MUD designers worked under the premise that designers should create the world as users likely wouldn't be very good at it.  Along came LPMUD which believed the users would build a better world then the designers and so gave the ability to build objects.  TinyMUDs morphed into MOO's and LambdMOO's which brought in the ability for users to script in world.
      So now getting to the mid to late 1990's we had companies such a CompuServe porting games to run on the PC.  There was some success however using dial up was a huge deterrence because it plugged up the phone as well as cost an arm and a leg to play the games seeing as at that time phone charges were much more expensive than they are today.  Around 1993 we had the advent of the world wide web which caused the main internet providers to have a price war which made the internet affordable to everyone.  AOL went into games such as Neverwinter Nights, Dragon's gate and Federation II and began to get a huge user base.  Neverwinter Nights took in millions of dollars and had 500 simultaneous players.  Later on Gemstone III had 2,000 to 2,500 simultaneous players.  Then came the first massive success which was called Ultima Online.  It charged $9 a month and within a year had 100,000 users.  They were taking in 12 million dollars without having to pay any retailers.  It was also a graphic game.  Not text based.  A 2D environment which was possible because internet speeds were increasing and download times of graphics was now possible.  Home computers got stronger.  I won't go all the way through the history but eventually Everquest arrived and went first person 3D and had 300 000 subscribers.  Also there was Final Fantasy which did phenomenally well.
    Now what Tezcatlipoca Bisani failed to mention was that the book was published in 2003.  The year Second Life began and before World of Warcraft.  I have read that world of warcraft in one month makes $70, 000, 000 which was the total gross of the Hollywood movie Ironman at the time of the article.  Second Life now has around 60, 000 users online at any time and a functioning economy... and its not a game.
    I wanted to categorize Second Life into this history somewhere and find out what it was.  I also was curious about a second phenomenon which was anonymous online celebrity for a virtual world.  Is there a name for it? and has it existed in the past or is there a new form of celebrity coming forth out of internet games.  Anyway, so I sent Richard Bartle an email to ask him.  Here is his response.

BRYN    -

>I am reading your book Designing virtual worlds and I find it
>quite fascinating.
    My apologies in advance for chapter 6...

>So much has happened since you wrote it
    Yes, it's now getting to the point where its relevance is
more historical than contemporary.

>Is Second Life considered a MOOs?
    It's a spiritual successor to MOOs. I don't believe there
is much MOO DNA in SL, but it has evolved along similar lines
so has similar properties. Its popularity among academics
and journalists is eerily reminiscent of LambdaMOO's, and I've
said in the past that it's the LambdaMOO of today. So has
Pavel Curtis (who wrote and ran LambdaMOO); when I spoke to him
last year, he said that Linden Labs doesn't like the comparison
but it's pretty obvious to him and LambdaMOO's old-timers.

>and is there a term for an anonymous internet only "character"
>who has had their popularity move from a virtual world into that
>of the real world?
    Not yet that I know of, at least in English. I'm sure
there are a bunch of gaming superstars in Korea that have
gone from the obscurity of playing a virtual world to nationional
prominence on the strength of their playing skills.


I would like to reiterate that my version is a very poor summing up of what Richard wrote in his book.  If you would like to read it in his words then the book is called Designing Virtual Worlds

Pseudo celebrity Leroy Jenkins from World of Warcraft.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Coo Coo Bird

About a month ago, in a fit of insanity, I offered to build a sim for what seems to now be a questionable University. I don't want to get too deep into this, but after completing the sim in two weeks for a landowner whom I have come to suspect is mentally unstable, I was banned from the sim. Naturally I demanded my work returned and when he refused I contacted the Lindens to see if this was not in fact theft. The Lindens I spoke to surprised me by not wanting to get involved and as a result I solved the problem by giving friends mod rights to my work and having them go into the sim to delete my creations commando style. The artists who he later contacted to make the sim for him have also since fallen out and left. I imagine in the future there will be virtual world psychology experts who can explain this odd behaviour. Perhaps its a form of bullying or a mistaken sense of power. Anyway, this is a portion of the sim which I happened to film on the day it was deleted. It had a very short life and below is what the sim looked like before hand. Personally I believe a University should showcase the potential of virtual worlds rather than mimic their real life campus. I think the version I created would have captured the imagination of many more people than what we see below. Seriously, we don't need offices with desks in virtual worlds. Nobody will sit at them. And students who see a representation of their own school will merely say "Hey that is kind of cool, its a bit like my school." There is, in my opinion, no lasting value to recreating a first life location beyond the technical feat. There is no jarring of the mind nor any engagement of ones imagination. Perhaps there are some exceptions but I can't really think of any right now. Go have a look at Selavy Oh's work at IBM 3, it's a virtual space that is interesting to be in.