UPDATE 11 June, 2018: The shape has been de-listed from the marketplace, as I am preparing my marketplace store to sell a different line of products. I will make another shop for my shapes. Thanks for looking!


Mona-Eberhardt-Maitreya-LAQ-Gaia_033-blog

When the Fitmesh capability came to SL, we were finally able to use better-designed bodies than the default avatar. This capability was complemented when Bento arrived, which not only added full articulation to our avatar’s fingers (and extra bones for other functions), but also enabled content creators to sell mesh heads that were adjustable with the viewer’s shape sliders. Of course, the differences between the various mesh heads and bodies always remain; especially with heads, the scope of adjustment is subject to limitations imposed by the head’s basic design, which may be part of the creator’s design language.

However, just as mesh body and head creators have their own styles and design languages, so do we, the users. As regular readers of my blog may remember from my posts tagged “My digits“, I have my own avatar design language: First of all, I try to endow my avatar with a realistic height and realistic proportions. Second, after 2015, I decided to design my avatar after my RL shape; so, what you see in my SL photography where my avatar is pictured, bears a strong resemblance to what I actually look like.

A full body shot...

A full body shot… As always, you can click on any image to be taken to its full-size version, which opens in a new tab.

Designing an avatar shape can be a daunting task for many users, especially those who are just starting out with SL. So, I have decided to offer ready-made shapes for you people. I want to let you know right from the start that I’m going to be designing them for body parts that I actually own and use, and what I buy is determined by my habits and my budget. So, these shapes will all be made for the Maitreya Lara mesh body and for whatever LAQ mesh head I have in my inventory. Now, why did I choose this combination? I have four reasons: I like these products’ looks, they’re easy to use, there is a vast variety of clothing available for this particular body, and I’ve found I’m getting my money’s worth with them.

I want you to know I’m not treating SL as a profession of some sort, so I don’t expect to pay my bills by selling stuff to its users; I have a day job for this, and my salary is satisfactory. So, I’ll be selling my shapes, which will include both a body and head shape and a brow shape, for L$75 each. The shapes will come with copy / mod permissions, so that you will be able to tweak them, should you wish to personalise them. At the end of the post, you will find a link to this shape’s marketplace listing.

What I’m starting with here is my own shape. It has been designed specifically for the Maitreya Lara (current version – at the time of writing – V4.1) and the LAQ Bento – Gaia head (current version 3.05). If you try to use this shape with other mesh bodies, you might have to make adjustments to get a similar aesthetic result. Likewise with the head: If you use this shape with a different model from the same designer, or with a head from another designer, you might not like what you see, and you may have to spend more time fiddling with the sliders. As I wrote elsewhere in this post, I try to keep my shape proportionate and realistically-sized (please see Penny Patton’s seminal posts on avatar proportion and scale, as well as my previous “My digits” posts).

And a view from the rear...

And a view from the rear…

As to what I’m wearing in the pictures of this post, here are the style credits:

  • Mesh Body: Maitreya Mesh BodyMaitreya Lara v4.1 by Onyx LeShelle
  • Mesh Head:  LAQ Bento – Motion Capture – Gaia 3.05 by Mallory Cowen (L$1,500 for the head alone; the HUD costs L$3,000 and can be used with all LAQ heads, so you can have one HUD for all the LAQ heads in your inventory)
  • Skin Applier: LAQ ~Maitreya Body Applier [Nougat]
    • LAQ ~ Tasha Head Applier [Nougat]
    • Makeup: Included with the head’s HUD
  • Eyes: IKON Perspective Eyes – Coffee (S) by Ikon Innovia
  • Hair: MINA Hair – Odyle (materials) by Mina Nakamura
  • Top: erratic / brandi – top / red flowers by Erratic Rain
  • Shorts: erratic / skylar – denim shorts / lightblue
  • Shoes: [Gos]  Lolita Espadrilles by Gospel Voom
  • Poses: oOo Studio: Palais by Olaenka Chesnokov

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SL Marketplace listing: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Mona-Eberhardt-Mona-for-LAQ-Bento-Gaia/14769728

Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/monaeberhardt/albums/72157667454571377

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Shortlink: https://wp.me/p2pUmX-VI

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Will Burns (SL username: Aeonix Aeon)

Will Burns (SL username: Aeonix Aeon)

Both in SL and in RL, I’m quite lucky in being honoured with the friendship of knowledgeable people who rise above the typical level of discourse and speak in a down-to-earth, matter-of-fact, manner, with arguments based on facts, logic, and knowledge, rather than fear and “common wisdom” – which, more often than not, is actually common myth. One of these people who have bestowed on me the honour of their friendship is William G. Burns III (SL username: Aeonix Aeon, SL display name: Will Burns), a published academic, and former Vice Chair of the IEEE’s Virtual World Standards Group. A published and respected researcher and professional in the field of virtual reality and virtual worlds in his own right, Will understands the potential – creative, cultural, and commercial – of virtual worlds that very few commentators in Second Life can rival, and he is not one to mince his words. His criticism of Linden Lab CEOs past has always been very severe and, although back then it might have seemed too harsh, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I can now see he was just calling things the way they were.

Now, Second Life is, as we all know, in slow decline. Many of its old users are gone, either because they no longer care, or because the ongoing global financial woes have priced them out of what is essentially a costly pastime for people with disposable income and time (two things few members of what was once known as the middle class still have), or because they died away. New user retention is, as has always been the case, disappointing, and more and more private regions sink into oblivion like the lost continents of myth and legend. However, SL still has a vibrant economy, which is based on the creation and sale of various virtual goods – from hairdos to cars and from clothing to furniture. And this economy supports a rather expansive ecosystem of merchants, regardless of whether their products are entirely their creation, or based on resources purchased from other markets like CGtrader.

SL’s merchants apply all sorts of different business models, but there is a common denominator: They are extraordinarily precious about their creations, even if they are nothing but very crude retextures of full-perm templates – sometimes even less than that. One look at most content creators’ dire, straight outta Bible, “fire and brimstone”, DMCA warnings is more than enough. In the past, many in-world shops had employed CS- and ToS-violating devices that promised (without delivering, but that’s another story) to “detect” potential copybotters. In other cases, store owners ejected and / or banned store visitors for idling, because they genuinely believed that, if you’re AFK in a store, then you are by definition a copybotter. Almost four years ago, a rather botched amendment to LL’s ToS got numerous content creators up in arms, claiming – of all things – that LL itself was “trying to steal their content”; much hilarity ensued, with several creators even ragequitting SL. It is, thus, an unfortunate fact of Second Life that it is very hard to have a calm, reasonable, and rational discussion on merchants’ intellectual property, on the implied and express licences they need to provide to LL so that the virtual goods can be displayed and sold to the customers, and – eventually – consumer rights. Unfortunately, much of the blame must be put on Philip Rosedale, who, regardless of whatever innovative ideas he may have had, has always been a bit of a demagogue. The promises given in 2003 have essentially been haunting SL ever since, often putting customers and merchants on a collision course, with very little – if any – room being given to the rights of the consumer. Naturally, things were further exacerbated, with the stance of many merchants going to full-on prokanoia with the Great Copybot Scare of 2006, which has never quite gone away.

In more recent times, the suspicion with which SL merchants have traditionally viewed customers has taken new forms: Mesh body creators demand that apparel, jewellery, shoes, etc. created for their bodies be non-modifiable, “to prevent copybotting”, even though permissions have exactly zero impact on a Copybot viewer’s ability to intercept and extract an object. We have the infamous “anti-rez” scripts, which are another form of “anti-copybot” snake oil. And so on, and so on. So, to have an honest, open, no-nonsense discussion on this risky topic, I needed to talk to someone who actually knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t mouth off based on false assumptions and blatant misunderstandings of web-based platforms like Second Life. Inspired by the licensing suggestions he made in this post on his blog, I invited him over to my always work-in-progress café, and we had a lengthy, but most enjoyable and productive, discussion.

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The Somdari station.

The ZZR’s Somdari station (rated: Moderate). As always, please click on any picture for its full-size version, which opens in a new window.

My good friend and neighbour Zen Swords (ZenriaCo Resident), a.k.a. the Zany Zen, has been working on her labour of love, the Zany Zen Railway (ZZR for short), for a few years now, documenting her efforts and progress on her SL feed, and we’ve hung around quite a bit as she was working on her narrow gauge locomotives, train station builds, and other infrastructure. Yes, the locomotives, carriages, buildings, and many other pieces of decor were made by her, using the in-world build tools and third-party in-world mesh creation systems and converters. At this stage, the ZZR consists of four stations (Somdari, Ahndang, Seogyeo, and Little Coverston)  I found her work really fascinating, with many quaint, humorous, realistic, and even whimsical details and touches, and we’ve been talking about arranging an interview for some time now. Eventually, we managed to find some time and today I’m giving you this interview.

The Zany Zen

The Zany Zen

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Brand New Colony (February 2018).

Brand New Colony (February 2018). As always, click on any photo to view its full-size version (opens in a new tab).

Last September, I had visited Bunny and Mimara Blessed’s (Svelte Blessed, and Mimara, respectively) beautifully-designed adult-rated region named Brand New Colony, and wrote about my exploration of it. In the meantime, the build moved to a new location and was also subjected to a radical redesign. Although I visited the redesigned, and still work-in-progress, build soon after its relocation, RL obligations meant I had to postpone writing about it.

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There Is Hope In Solitude, an exhibit by Oyo at the Nordan Art Gallery.

There Is Hope In Solitude, an exhibit by Oyo at the Nordan Art Gallery. Click on any image for its full-size version, which opens in a new browser tab.

This Saturday (20 January), I was invited by my friend Kate Bergdorf to attend the opening of an exhibit titled There Is Hope In Solitude, by SL photographer Oyo.  The exhibit, which runs from January through March 2018, consists of ten virtual images, all of them revolving around the concept and condition of solitude, and addressing different aspects thereof. The exhibit is based on two other works of art, one being a poem by Oyo herself, and the other being the song Gone by ionnalee:

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