Monthly Archives: October 2014

Blood Letters

Blood Letters, the first adult-themed game by MadPea Games. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

On Sunday, I received word from Kess Crystal, Marketing Director of the innovative in-world game development outfit MadPea Games, about their new game / hunt entitled Blood Letters, which will be their first foray in adult-themed games. This is a change from what we’ve been used to seeing from MadPea Games, because their offerings so far have been designed in such a manner that they could remain PG.

R3VOLT

R3VOLT, the region where MadPea Games’ Blood Letters hunt will be held from November 1st to November 30th. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

Even so, MadPea Games have been known for their affinity with darker themes; for instance, Mad City wouldn’t look out of place if it was used as the setting for a film noir. Now, Blood Letters (I’m sure the pun won’t be lost on too many people), which will launch on November 1st and will run until the end of the month, is billed as an erotic thriller.

R3VOLT

R3VOLT, the region where MadPea Games’ Blood Letters hunt will be held from November 1st to November 30th. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

The plot was described by Kess on MadPea Games’ official blog:

Samantha “The Mantis” Mason, is an internationally infamous serial killer due to her particularly gruesome hobby. Seducing men and women alike, she lured them with the promise of fulfilling their lust, only to appease her own thirst for blood with these hapless pleasure-seekers.

Society breathed a collective sigh of relief when, after 8 brutal murders she was finally apprehended and brought to justice. However, a year after The Mantis was put behind bars murders have started occurring again, and the sadistic killer operates in a way that keeps everyone in fear.

The players will take on the role of a Private Detective and get prepared to solve a grisly series of shocking murders to test the boundaries where eroticism meets morality.

R3VOLT

R3VOLT, the region where MadPea Games’ Blood Letters hunt will be held from November 1st to November 30th. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

I think MadPea founder Kiana Writer’s description of this scenario as “the most twisted storyline I’ve ever written” is very fitting. The dark and decadent theme of the game’s plot dictates, of course, that it take place on an appropriately-themed region. So, it will be hosted on the post-apocalyptic R3VOLT region. In the press release, Kess points out that Blood Letters is more than a simple “find an object” hunt. It involves solving puzzles over a 25-day period; completing these puzzles successfully will result in the player being rewarded with prizes by the stores participating in the game. Also, additional prizes will be offered on a daily basis.

The full and verbatim press release follows after the cut.

Read Full Article

Advertisements

The advent of materials processing (normal and specular maps) in Second Life brought about a number of changes to the way things are rendered, compared to how they used to be – at least for those of us whose graphics cards allow us to enable the Advanced Lighting Model (formerly known as “deferred rendering”. For a detailed coverage of this capability, please go over to Inara Pey’s blog. Now, when this new capability was added, many people started jumping up and down about how “irrelevant” or “useless” it was, about how only… twenty users in total would be able to see materials, how it would really kill the performance of everyone’s viewer, etc.

I’m going to speak from my own experience. Up until this month, my main machine for using Second Life was a laptop. A 2009 midrange model, with a dual-core Intel T4300 CPU, 4GB of main RAM, and an ATI (now known as AMD) Mobility Radeon HD4500 graphics card. Those in the know understand that this was hardly “high end” even then, and it became antiquated relatively fast. I can’t vouch for how other people with older, and probably lower-spec, dedicated graphics cards, or with integrated Intel chipsets, would fare, but, ever since the 2012 updates to the rendering pipeline were made, I was able to run in deferred (ALM) practically all the time – without shadows and ambient occlusion. Yes, I know my computer’s performance wasn’t much. It was usable, though, and the in-world pictures I once envied so much were now within my reach. So, I believe that ALM, which is a prerequisite for viewing materials, is within the reach of more people than was believed back then.

Nowadays, I’m the happy owner of a laptop with a fourth-generation dual-core i7, 8GB RAM and an NVidia GeForce GT840M, as well as a desktop with an i7-4770K CPU, 16GB RAM and an ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX780 graphics card. As one would expect, my machines’ performance in SL is a few orders of magnitude above what I once was used to. Still, I have the feeling that, as beautiful as SL looks right now, it could be even more spectacular, had some rendering capabilities (i) not been removed with the advent of materials processing, (ii) been added.

Read Full Article

Bryn Oh

Bryn Oh, who provided the heads-up for the Bread and Roses Strike exhibit. Please click on the picture for a larger version.

Last week, celebrated SL and RL artist Bryn Oh notified us members of her Immersiva in-world group about an academic / historic exhibit titled The Bread and Roses Strike at LEA13. The exhibit started out as an exercise for Dr. Sharon Collingwood’s Women’s Studies 110 distance class at The Ohio State University in the winter of 2013, spawned by the centennial of the Bread and Roses Strike which took place in January 1912 in Lawrence, Massachussets, USA.

The exercise itself grew over successive courses, and continues to grow and evolve even now. It is now available to the public, hosted at LEA13, one of the regions provided by the Linden Endowment for the Arts. As is admitted in the informational notecard provided by the exhibit’s team, the exhibit is not complete. It will continue to evolve while it is on display at LEA13, and the students involved will continue adding their projects in the meantime, hopefully providing further historical depth and more perspectives.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

A workers’ dwelling as shown at The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

The exhibit, which will run until December 31st, 2014, does not aim to analyse the strike in detail, but rather examine a point in history. Students and other visitors are asked to think about the similarities between 1912 and or own time, and to think about the conflicts of gender, class, race and culture that arise in this and any historical period.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13.

The “better” part of Lawrence at The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

To achieve this, the exhibit recreates the atmosphere of Lawrence as it was in 1912, and juxtaposes the workers’ tenements with those of the higher classes, as well as with the texture mill owned the American Woolen Company. It also makes extensive use of Second Life’s interactive and immersive capabilities, by providing the visitors with four types of avatars they can wear in order to “fit in” with their role in the era’s social and political context, and also by assigning them with tasks that need to be done during their visit. Furthermore, almost ghost-like black & white cutout figures provide insights into the opinions that were expressed back then by various members of the society of Lawrence.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

An upper-class house in Lawrence, as shown at The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. “My dear, if your husband strikes you, it means that he cares about you. Try not to make him jealous.” – “Patience, dear. Your own peaceful demeanor and moderation should help him model his behavior.”: Words women were supposed to live by at the time. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

While the exhibit may seem “old school”, to compare it with the professionally-made houses and pieces of décor provided by various content creators would be unfair; it is an educational project, which touches upon issues of income and gender inequality, workers’ rights, child labour. All of these issues have reared their ugly heads again in recent years thanks to our complacency and – silent or vocal – acceptance of ideas like Murray Rothbard’s “free baby market”.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

The proclamation of the striking workers: “We, the 20,000 textile workers of Lawrence, are out on strike for the right to live free from slavery and starvation; free from overwork and underpay; free from a state of affairs that had become so unbearable and beyond our control, that we were compelled to march out of the slave pens of Lawrence in united resistance against the wrongs and injustice of years and years of wage slavery.” Source: Proclamation of the Striking Textile Workers of Lawrence (1912). The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

In all, it is a very thought-provoking, important and politically challenging exhibit, which should remind us of a landmark in the history of the worldwide labour movement, and of the inconvenient fact that these rights we now take for granted (and which are being taken away day by day) have been won through hard, bloody struggles by unionised workers and not through the non-existent “trickle-down” effect.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

The textile processing machinery of the textile mill at the Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

As said earlier, the exhibit is of an educational nature. It was designed mostly for university classes that will complete assignments there, and the informative notecard provided not only helps the visitor get their bearings around SL and the exhibit, but also offers a number of questions as a test; further questions are provided by the blue buttons placed on various walls of the exhibit’s buildings.

The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13

Child labour was extensively used in the American Woolen Company’s textile mill in Lawrence, MA. The Bread and Roses Strike exhibit at LEA13. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

Although the workers won their fight, it is noted in the Wikipedia article that they “lost nearly all of the gains they had won in the next few years. The IWW disdained written contracts, holding that such contracts encouraged workers to abandon the daily class struggle. The mill owners proved more persistent, slowly chiseling away at the improvements in wages and working conditions, while firing union activists and installing labor spies to keep an eye on workers. A depression in the industry, followed by another speedup, led to further layoffs.”

A private classroom for school groups is also available, and can be booked by contacting Ellie Brewster in-world.

.

With thanks to Bryn Oh

.

See also:

.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-G6