Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Noo...Being There

So, the new year is beginning, and you'd like to go to open sim, but you haven't a clue how to start or what to do.

1       Arm yourself with PATIENCE! You're going to need it.
This is all new for your brain, and your computer's brain too. You may crash, more than once. You may get lost. You may load slowly. Your internet may suddenly not seem as super good as it did in SL. But it will pass! Think of yourself as a pioneer, going out into the wild. You're going to meet interesting people, see wide open spaces where the rules of the Old World don't apply, but where new and not always comfortable standards come into play. 
2        It's time to make yourself an avatar. In open sim, you can hypergrid from one world to another, you no longer have to make an avatar for every grid. This rule doesn't work for fuddy duddy money grubbing worlds like Avination, inWorldz and the like, aka ClosedSim  
Make an avie on OSGrid, which - let's be clear - is not the same as 'open sim' ... it is one (huge) grid among many smaller ones that together constitute open sim. But big is beautiful, so here goes. Here is the page you'll need - hit Join Now, the rest is obvious. Come back and donate if you like what you see!
So you've created a name (and yeah, checked if you capitalized/spelled everything properly before hitting Enter) and password and all that. Your SL name, or something close to it, is a good idea, it helps old friends find you in Search. if you want to be found. You are 'born' into this cool (although not very interactive) Welcome area. The build is by Warin Cascabel - very nice work, even though it would be more fun if there were some poseballs in the cryogenic chambers! But I guess that might be wasted on noobs.
3          Woop de do, fix up your avatar.You get a default body etc, just as you'd expect, and there are some options immediately available on the big board.
Here, thanks to the magic of Photoshop, is Lars times three. From left to right, he is sporting the outfit he was born in, along with two male options - Ginger Punk and Grid Trotter. After SL, you're going to hate them all, probably - although I thought the Ginger Punk 'Lee' skin by VidKpro wasn't bad. Don't be too dismayed, just around the corner you'll find a box of skins and a few odds and ends of clothing. Do not worry - there are loads of other options all over this grid and all the others. I particularly like the stuff the store on Craft grid offers, but German Grid and FrancoGrid also have some interesting options. Want to know where these places 'are' in relation to OSGrid?  Click here to explore and learn more!
4       There's a big sign saying Don't go beyond this point until you've picked up a free Skin/Shape/outfit combo from the vending machine. This is probably because you need a good solid rebake before other people can see you.
 You can skip all the obvious stuff in the Newcomer's guide: Walking, flying, Camera controls and all the rest are the same here as in Second Life, with one big exception - you don't need that annoying 'Flight feather' or other script to allow you to fly at altitude here. Do they still have that in SL? Ridiculous. 
Everything - or close to everything - is free in OSGrid. Most people make their content free to copy, although some make their stuff no transfer, with an idea to prevent their stuff just being given away behind their backs, so to speak, which is fair enough. If you'e not getting paid, you at least want the satisfaction of people visiting your sim and getting the goods direct from the creator.
5     Don't skip all the notices, there are some good suggestions about getting involved: opportunities to join groups and volunteer if you have skillz and time. Land can be rented here for a fraction of SL prices, and if you're in the mood for something more technical, you can attach your own sims to OSGrid. There's a How-to guide for everything, and plenty of helpful forums, especially for the tricky matter of porting. I rarely Port, I prefer to Sherry myself. Keep walking, you'll see some boxes of free items, and a few obvious tips about clothes.  It seemed to me that the 'Fixing Avatar Glitches misses a couple of really important tips. If you want to edit individual prims in a linked item you're wearing, like hair or a skirt, for goodness sake DROP IT or better, Detach, Copy, then rez on ground first. 
If you don't do this, if you edit individual linked prims while still attached to you, the object will make your avatar invisible to others every time you wear it. If you are a cloud, it often helps to change your bald base, or shape, as well as the more obvious steps like doing a rebake (Control Alt R).
Make sure you pick up the latest version of the Freebie Landmarks, and the Places to Visit notecards, which will give you a start on your adventure. This is not SL shopping, true enough, but there's lots of useful and fun stuff,  good quality prim sculpt and mesh, from furniture to clothes and RP accessories, all the way up to sex beds and lingerie.
Nearly at the end of the Welcome center... there's just time to admire the photo gallery showcasing events that go on here. 
 There's PrimWords, a game like charades, only you make the word that the others have to guess. There's a speedbuilding competition held weekly, as you'd expect. 
With all this space, the real engine of OSGrid is building, whatever form that may take. And of course there are plenty of parties, live music events from folk to the blues and amazing sims to explore, from sci fi space hubs to crazy roller coasters to steampunk towns and amazing art in every form. 
And don't forget... Once you've got your OSGrid Avatar, your hypergridding adventures can begin too! So don't delay, sign up today, and when you do, please friend me (I love that) and see you soon in open sim!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Emphasis on Art

Well, that was a long lunch. 

    Exciting news from OSGrid for art lovers! Art group Emphatic Eccentricia is celebrating its 4th anniversary with an art festival starting on January 5th 2014. The group, which began in Second Life, has moved lock stock and two scripted barrels to OSGrid, and they're loving it. 
Cubic sealife by Veleda Lorakeet
    These photos only represent a little of what is going to be on show, so make sure you TP over to the Emphatic Eccentricia sim for yourself. If you can get a mesh-friendly viewer, it's even better, but even good old Imprudence gives you a great ride!
The theme of the festival is 'No holds barred', which expressed much of the freedom the group feels here in open sim. The lineup of artists from places as far flung as Australia, Holland and the US are, in no particular order: Merit Coba also known as taubchen sonnenkernCaro Fayray, OhMy Shalala, Rekka BerchotLaughton McCry, Danger Lytton, Zia Frimon, Larysa Firehawk, Soror Nishiand founding member (and virtual surfer) Veleda Lorakeet.
 Veleda Lorakeet: I started out in SL obviously, and was taken by the possibilities to create. Imagination is your only limitation. I mainly made music before, but then SL got me started making visual art. I got involved with Burn2 in secondlife, just as it was no longer funded by LL. I have been to the RL Burning Man, and that got me painting in real life. You can see some of my art, real world and virtual, here. Funny thing is, I actually sold a few of my one-a-day paintings! Coming to OSG was the best thing ever, as there is way more potential to create. The festival is very much in the realm of absolutely surreal and magical. My own build this year is a minimal thing. Partly made of a design for RL festival Nowhere in July, and partly some extra, and two more cube based builds.
The tree of life by Caro Fayray, with Danger Lytton's pirate ship in the background
Caro Fayray: I like art that makes people think a little but is also fun and interactive....not stuff you just stand and look at. My first loves are textures and particles(after terraforming) and I am not here in any virtual to recreate RL, so for me a lot of fantasy is involved.
    For Veleda in particular, it's a matter of some regret that the population of OSGrid is almost entirely made of SL emigres. She would like to see people coming in directly from real life, and hopes to promote open sim in such a way as to avoid that SL-stepping stone. Coming to OSGrid was a group decision, and while the EE group do keep a presence in SL, they seem dedicated to working in OSGrid. Being part of a creative family has been essential to the group's survival. 
At the 'meditation station' with Laughton Mccry
Laughton McCry: I am from Germany and I am student of communications design. That's kinda like graphic design. My favourite field is illustrations. I like to draw fantasy and sci fi concept art. And I try to make comics too.  Its just so much more fun to build not just for yourself but for others and share ideas and inspiration. It's so great to interact all together in that 3d environment. My build for the festival  has three levels.  i painted the picture the lower level is for meditation.You can sit down and  contemplate about the meaning of the things the mid level is about adoration? uhm.. dont know if that's the right word worshiping. You think you have found the answer and now you hold to that by the way and the upper level is about the transformation of the mind
Veleda Lorakeet: Well. The effect you get is that you always have a sounding board to bounce ideas of. And you have interaction that results in interesting things. Especially someone like Merit Coba. She always picks up stuff people do and then incorporate it in a new work. Sometimes too, people sort of start adding to each others stuff. When you build with a group of people you end up having the component of being social as well, and furthermore you can have your ideas being fed by the creativity of others and vice versa. Sort of interesting inspirational moments arise, for instance I started to make a model for a Nowhere Real Life build, and used it here, then someone else uses that to make an installation with it. Our logo was created by prims from Laughie, a texture from Dryea, and putting them together by me as a texture.
       I particularly liked taubchen sonnenkern's build based on Schrodinger's box. Taub, who is also Merit, told me she loves to build, and comes to OSGrid because it allows her to tell her stories on a scale unthinkable in SL. This one is a clean and intriguing piece of interactive random mousiness, and I clicked away happily for about half an hour. There was a sense of conflict about taub, on many levels; the duality of her main avatars, and her doubling existence partly amid the tumult of second life, yet drawn here among dear friends in OSGrid. Outcome decidedly uncertain. But worth observing.
On a nearby platform, OhMy was fixing up her winter scene.
OhMy Shalala: I like building in the artisan group because it shows me new ways of expression I haven't seen or thought of before, new ways of seeing. I  love this unpredictability, it fuels my imagination more than just seeing a tonne of my own stuff. My field of art is usually surrealism but I vacillate wildly at whim to other types. I like to mix them all up for emotional effect. I like making things that cause you to feel - cold warm -sad or happy - etc. I seem to have a strange attraction to snow and cold things for this exhibit....I dunno why and not sure I wanna keep it...eep! Mine here now is more of a 3d holiday card lol!
    OhMy Shalala is a professional builder. She teams up with Rekka Berchot for builds like the Duke University Hospital in SL. Their experience with Duke and the Lindens has colored their view of Second Life.
Rekka Berchot: Security was the biggest issue we had with Duke University and without having that access (not to mention something tangible to own) many universities worry about what they are exposing their students to.
OhMy Shalala: Yes, and the fact that all their content was locked to a grid that doubled their tier fees on them out of the blue. I mean, when they are asking, so can you move this to OpenSim for us? and you have to thell them there will be a rebuild fee, cause you can't move the content they already paid for. these projects cost them 25k and up in usd...they can't afford SL's way of doing things
Rekka Berchot: I feel bad taking 25,000 from a client knowing I can not give them something to actually hold onto - and ask me where Duke Island went.  They were promised a certain fee and then had it doubled. I like having OS as an option to build in and THEN we can upload it anywhere they want it to go.

     We were chatting in the central area of the Emphatic Eccentricia sim on OSGrid, on a weekend afternoon as far as us Europeans were concerned. Five or six avatars all together, having a chat, is something that 'never happens' in OSGrid, according to your average SL-dependent old fart, with a limited and outdated experience of non-Linden grids. The festival will include a wide range of representations, everything from a pirate ship and an airship to a temple and fiery monsters. That's no surprise, for it's an interestingly eclectic group. 
      I was curious to know what the group members' experience has been, and what they say to SL friends to explain the benefits of the leap into open sim.
OhMy Shalala: I encourage others to let them know it is a HUGE uncharted sea of awesomeness.  I let them know it is more free than SL and doesn't have the cruddy TOS to deal with, and in a way I feel MORE creative here, or freer to create? dunno why that is, but I am not being murdered by upload fees either and I get to experiment A LOT. I also am concerned these days about content rights, and I do not like the idea that SL locks my content to their grid.
Veleda Lorakeet: Working in OSG has some downsides, one is the obvious cumbersome travel arrangements, and the fact that it is a break from all relations in SL. That may partly be an advantage too actually. Physics is different, scripts are different.The advantages are huge though. More creative freedom, liek limitations that are present in LS are not present here. Sit target teleporters work unlimited in distance. OSGrid is harder at first, but everyone is very welcome to help you out. There also are things scripts can do here which it can't in SL, like clones. Also, you can size prims to 256 meters. But.. if you export them and adjust them on notepad you can make them bigger still - so I have a prim 256x256x2560!  
Caro Fayray: It is fun to be part of a group experience, especially here in OSGrid as mostly people keep to there own sims. OSGrid needs more community activities. The biggest challenge is content, finding animations and scripts that work here, also trying not to forget to NOT edit stuff that you are wearing!  I do still have a presence in SL where I have been since 2007. It has been greatly reduced now, but is important as there is a large group following involved and I don't want to just abandon them. I love OSGrid and the freedom to build here and also the people, the best and most helpful without the aggression of commercialism involved. I am constantly coaxing my SL friends to come to OSGrid. They will all come and see the event here, and several have settled here!
OhMy Shalala: I would like to say if we work on doing things like we did in SL all those years and innovate with scripters it can change into something amazing - more than SL. Not everyone can afford their dangerous TOS. I for one will not be taking any more of my RL photography which I prize into SL. I would advise others to keep their private images out of there lol!
Rekka Berchot:  I am a builder and many times I tend to work alone as it is in SL. At this point it is difficult to find a place that is both private and available with enough room and prims to create, not to mention that Linden Labs is turning their backs on the creative forces that made SL to begin with. I had an island for several years and just couldn't justify the expense anymore for something I didn't actually own.
       Yes, it's true, you may find yourself looking a bit Ruthy, or a cloud, especially if you experiment with different viewers (Singularity and Cool viewers both seem to be having big problems loading Inventory just recently, as you may have noticed) but on the whole, it's not about personal vanity or some pointless romancing that these guys come into virtual worlds. They are so much more than that.
 Veleda Lorakeet: We as a group have been together for 4 years in changing composition. We have moved around a lot in SL. And this feels like a good place to stay since it is very much affordable to keep up. In SL, they used to embrace creativity and now it seems as though all they want to do is 'steal' the content for their own purposes. I have a feeling there will be more movement in the coming period. Basically this has future whereas SL does not have future I just want to see that we can create a portal into OSG without people having to go through SL first. It needs to become an option to go here. Because you can do stand alone sims and connect them this has more potential.
OhMy Shalala: At least here we have the freedom to innovate, whether we look like a cloud of particles or not!
Rekka Berchot: Many avatars will follow, for instance, Nance Brody has concerts that expand over different grid systems. Actually I think OS will be more appealing to education entities, they will be able to link up through OS to other universities without all the garbage that SL brings with it.
OhMy Shalala: OpenSim will more and more appeal again to educational groups and institutions, freelance groups, and private sector VR lovers SL will become a commercial thing,  and then it will fizzle because after a while it is just a store that is all SL is a variety store, where developers buy from one another.
The whole build, un-meshed
        Many people have found that it's very hard to move around in OSGrid of late using Singularity and similar mesh friendly viewers - Inventory won't load and you can't rebake or go to appearance. 
       Of course mesh is great, but there's something very earthbound about it. The whole 'fantasy' element to virtual worlds - shapes beyond the commonplace - seems to go out of the window, it's all cows and cars and model houses. And while your own personal appearance doesn't matter much while you're busy building, there's no doubt that as a visitor or spectator, one does want to be able to see and control one's personal appearance - impossible at the moment in Singularity and Cool viewers, at least for me. 
       This is why prims reign supreme on an unstable platform, guys! Anyway the build looked more surreal and had a fantastical open-plan feel using  of my ancient yet reliable Imprudence viewer, with its lag-free Ultra graphics.
      Anyway, here's Danger's meshy pirate ship in all its glory, although I found the mesh cage a bit claustrophobic and very camera unfriendly. But those sails rock, and who can say no to cannon fire.
       Many people who have left SL and moved to other virtual worlds along the same lines have done so at least partly because they got hurt either emotionally by other residents, or because of Linden-related problems. Veleda sees this move to OSGrid as an asylum for creatives in a number of ways.
Veleda Lorakeet: That was one of the reasons to found Emphatic Eccentricia. Originally there was a young bubbly girl, Dryea Foxdale, who was highly creative, but also almost always on the brink of being banned from a lot of places. She inspired me to create EE as a haven for creative people to give them room. both physically as mentally, so every way in which one can be creative has always been encouraged. Sometimes people are considered griefer because they experiment with their appearance, or with rezzers. I like minimal stuff. That also entails repetition. So when I rezzed 3 huge 45 meter bolts in a sandbox people complained. So I recognize the phenomenon...f you make art it is nice to have people enjoy it. But in the end it is not the visitors you make it for.
        Lastly, what should you expect from your open sim experience? 
Rekka Berchot: don't expect it to be a copy of SL, just keep an open mind.
Veleda Lorakeet: Exactly. It is not. But it is very good to come, but it is vitally important to form a connection to people. For everyone venturing to OSGrid from SL, we are welcoming everyone who is interested in creative stuff...That is why I made the group open enrollment... If we ge short on prims here, which is wont to happen at some point, we can decide if we add a sim or not...
OhMy Shalala: I should have that region up by then...
Laughton McCry: I love that spirit.
Generosity, friendship, innovation. What's not to love.

No Holds Barred begins on sim Emphatic Eccentricia in OSGrid on January 5th, with music and all the usual stuff. A note of the exact time will appear in the comments, so come back and check. Quick warning, people who suffer from epilepsy should know the build includes fast moving textures that could make them unwell. The festival ends on January 11th, if you need help or advice in getting to OSGrid, contact Veleda Lorakeet in SL, InWorldz, OSGrid, or via Facebook, where she is Christine Romejin. Or message me on FB, that's Thirza (duh) Ember, and I'll try to help.