Archive for the ‘Onder Skall’ Category

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Windlight – Awesome, But Tread With Caution

November 15, 2007

by Onder Skall

As Osprey recently mentioned, Windlight is back. This means that if you download the First Look Viewer you’ll be treated to some great views. This brings much realism, but there are problems too.

I’ve taken a few pictures to illustrate the point. Click on any of the thumbnails for a higher-res version.

City of Lost Angels 1
When I was looking for a place to take some test photos, my first thought was of the newly minted City of Lost Angels sim. Do check it out, it’s an artistic masterpiece.

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City of Lost Angels 2

As you can see the architecture looks impressive both facing and away from the camera. Everything is really dramatic, and the light looks like real sunlight. I used a trick to get these pictures though. Can you spot it? I’ll show you what it is in just a moment.

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Onder Skall in CoLA Windlight

In close quarters things look great, hands down. When sunlight hits things they really seem lit up, as opposed to just brighter. One might think this is going to immediately make people feel like they’re really “in” the game… but… there are problems with that. Big ones.

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Onder Skall - normal looking skin

Here I am in my “Mr. Generic” avatar standing by the water. Yes, that big blue block behind me is supposed to be water. That’s what it looks like when there’s no actual sim occupying the space you’re looking into. In order to get those impressive pictures at the top of this article I had to turn off rendering water by going to Client ->Rendering ->Types ->Water. You’ll notice another problem with this picture: contrast.

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Onder Skall - normal looking skin - in the dark

Boy does THAT look wrong. The thing is, in the real world with a real camera people will often photograph this way as well. Being backlit with no light source or reflection in front of you will black out your face entirely. In the picture above you can see that half of my face is dark, half is lit. That would happen with a normal camera in the real world as well. It doesn’t matter so much with my cybergoth av because his skin is bleach white anyhow, but if we’re striving for realism we’re going to have to deal with realistic problems.

Fortunately, the fix is pretty easy.

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Onder Skall - normal looking skin - fixed lighting

I created a big block, gave it a completely transparent texture, and made it a light source. I attached it to my nose and bam, problem solved. If we were REALLY going to do this right, I’d place the light source off-camera to the right, and create another on the left. The color needs tweaking too in order to really look like a reflection of the sun, rather than just white light sources…

Actually I could fill volumes and volumes on lighting, but I suppose that’s the punchline here: conventional lighting techniques that have been honed by industry professionals for years now matter in Second Life. If you’re a virtual world photographer or machinima producer, it’s time to up-skill!

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Games Park

August 14, 2007

by Onder Skall

For those of you who haven’t seen it I wanted to tell you all about my little home in Second Life, the Games Park (SLurl).

Games Park

Here I have a whole bunch of games and some free T-shirts if you’re into Atari or Nintendo.

Games Park

Here I have a bunch of artwork. The tree changes color when you touch it, and you might remember those panels from Brian Eno’s big display

Games Park

… and over here, a chill-out area. Those panels can be clicked for notecards about sites around SL and landmarks if you want to visit them.

This whole thing might go away actually, I’m not sure. Things I can’t reveal are really moving at the moment. Basically: catch it while you can!

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Zombie Spawning Pool

August 12, 2007

by Onder Skall

I came across this thing installed at the Missing Mile (SLurl) after hearing about it from Sarah Nerd. Truth be told, I’ve been kind of warming up to the idea of buying my own Zombie Spawning Pool for awhile, but never had the opportunity to test one out.

Zombie Spawning Pool

The concept is simple: stand on the green circle, and zombies will spawn all around you. Pull out a weapon, any weapon, and shoot ’em. When their health reaches zero, they explode and leave guts everywhere. What could be more wholesome?

Zombie Spawning Pool

I started off using one of the kickass freebie guns they hand out at Missing Mile. By the way, for the record, any sim that hands out free guns is OK in my books!

It’s not a bad gun but in mouselook these zombies kept getting the drop on me. Time to switch to a Samurai Island sword!

Zombie Spawning Pool

Zombie Spawning Pool

What was funny about using the sword was that it was kind of useless, but way more fun. I’m not sure what it is about hacking at rotting flesh instead of shooting it that makes it so satisfying, but it really is soothing. Like taking a nap in a field full of daisies. It helps when you crank the tunes… I think I was listening to some Fear Factory.

Anyhow, expect to get chewed on a few times by egg-headed zombies if your gun doesn’t completely rock, but also expect not to care. This is, inexplicably, a really fun toy. Definitely check it out.

Oh, and a special thanks to MenuBar Memorial for coming by and taking the pictures! You rule!

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IBM CodeStation – Sentinel 2.0

August 7, 2007

by Onder Skall

I’ve received an urgent transmission and need your help! Beware the pink pony-tailed menace!

BEGIN TRANSMISSION 1 (07.31.07). S.O.S. – S.O.S. – IBM CODESTATION is breached. Infiltrator appears to be horrible pink beast with devastating pony-tails. Our defender, SENTINEL, is defeated – broken in four and scattered across Second Life. [See attached movie.] You are our last hope. Find the four parts and rebuild SENTINEL. The black boxes will lead the way. Prizes and glory await all those who complete the challenge… END TRANSMISSION 1 (07.31.07).

IBM CODESTATION (SLurl)

Details after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Samarkand RP Kicks Off

August 4, 2007

Samarkand Samarkand
Samarkand Samarkand Samarkand
Images are 800×600

by Onder Skall

I caught one of the kickoff events at Samarkand tonight. (Here’s the SLurl.) The place is gorgeous, the role players really and truly role play, and I got pictures. It’s good to wear my “games reporter” hat sometimes! (Even if it has holes in it from the horns.)

Here’s a quick summary from the press release:

As one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, Samarkand is an international city set along the mysterious Central Asian/Persian/Arabian Silk Road. It is here, in ancient Samarkand (2000 BC – 1200 AD), that a group of outcasts have settled and begin to blend into the tribes of the land. These multi racial tribes–consisting of vampires (Vampire: The Masquerade clans, as well as vampires without clans), demons, nekos, drows, mages, mortals, shapeshifters dragons, angels, lycans, among many other species and cultures–draw all travelers into their ancient rivalries until, soon, Samarkand lives up to the meaning of its name:”land of war!!!”…

As role play areas go, I have to say that Samarkand is unique in that they control the style, but not really much of the content. You get “Masquerade” vampires and human goreans, sword fighters and magic users, angels and atheists, but in conversation they all seem to be on the same page about the tone and style of the environment. It’s an opportunity for people to take characters they play elsewhere and bring them into a new culture to see if there are new ways to make things fit.

The architecture is a mix of Arabian, Persian and Indian opulence, and I found myself looking forward to the day when Windlight lets us control the lighting effects. This kind of build will really win out against others when shadows and light can play against each other in a more subtle way. It’s running on a class 5 server so the details popped into view fairly quickly too.

The “Queen of Queens” in Samarkand is (currently) Pierce Malick, who would tell you that all of her subjects are loyal to her. That’s not completely true, however. There are always plots to overthrow the throne, but of course, none of the tribes will openly admit that to the Queen herself. Secrecy, politics, and strategy play as much a part in the daily lives of the city’s residents as DCS combat does.

Silk Rose Club Of course, every sim needs a club. Samarkand’s is called “The Silk Rose Club” and keeps with the multicultural feel, broadcasting dance radio from China, Afganistan, Russia, Iran, and even a little European mix now and again. Like most clubs they hold regular events on Fridays and Saturdays, and they’re hiring dancers and escorts now if you’re interested.

If you want to join in the general exotic fun at Samarkand, TP in and you’ll get notecards telling you how to join a tribe and meet interesting people. It’s nice to see somebody trying something unique, and I have a feeling old-time role players are going to love the refreshing change.

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An Apology & A Mission

August 1, 2007

by Onder Skall

Delays! Aaaarrrgg!

It has been an uphill battle this past week to keep on top of things. Between Metaversed, CalebBooker.com, the Herald and a special feature on RPGs I’m putting together for NWN, there’s a lot of writing to be done. PLUS there’s podcasting.

In addition (yeah, there’s more) I have a secret project coming out soon. HOPEFULLY I’ll be able to reveal that to you all in the very near future, but it has to remain cloaked for a bit. ALSO, I’m working with an indie game developer right now on something special and different, but again, that’s still all hush-hush.

Did I mention I also have a full-time job (because none of the above is paying the bills), and a wife and daughter to whom I devote all of my spare time? Don’t ask me how I got that last Harry Potter book read… where the time came from for that, I have no idea.

So then, after all that, there’s Second Life Games, which I still love. I’ve been neglecting you, and it really is my fault. I’ve had big plans to ramp up the action around here and somehow they always get trampled on by other things. I’m so sorry.

Listen, I’m going to need your help to keep this going. Yeah, you, the guy/gal/cyborg reading this. NO, not donations. I need you to find me any one of three things:

  1. Stories.
  2. A Prize.
  3. Somebody.

Let’s start with #1:

Now, I don’t need tips, although those are appreciated too. What I need is a picture, a SLurl, and a couple of paragraphs. The paragraphs cover three questions: what is it? What does it do? Is it any good?

If you send me that, I’ll give you a great big hug, and publish the content here under your name. You’ll also get a PRIZE.

And now for #2:

I’m looking for a prize. It can be an avatar, a building, a game, a sculpture, or clothes – but whatever it is I need to be able to give it out to every single person who contributes. I will pay whoever can create something incredible for Second Life Games, no worries there, but there can only be one. Email me about the incredibly cool thing you have in mind and we’ll get this thing done. Free advertising too. 🙂

#1 or #2 no good? Try #3:

I need you to find me somebody. That somebody should be interested in #1 or #2. Think now… which of your friends might fit? Yeah, them! Go bug them! Go on! Be really annoying about it!

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Anti-U.S.A. Shooter

July 18, 2007

by Onder Skall

Below is a clip from The Special Operation (Rescue Nuke Scientist), a video game released in Iran by a bunch of students. It’s a first-person shooter where you have to save a captured scientist from those evil Americans who have an obsession with global military dominance. I guess.

As you can imagine people are pretty upset about it. Patriotism is Religion 2.0 these days. If you can put that on hold for a moment, though, this game suddenly becomes inconsequential considering the number of games out there involving killing people in other countries (including Iran). Turnabout is fair play.

Yeah I know I’m supporting “evil” or something blah blah blah here come the religious fanatics… guys. It’s a game. Pixels. Students made it. Nobody dies when people play it. If it’s used for “training” the soldiers will all figure they have “damage meters” in real life and just need to touch “health packs” to heal. It’s ok, really. I mean, far be it from me to prevent you from getting your hate on but…

(via GamePolitics)