Low Poly 3D People of Second Life

Despite being a long-time casual Second Life user, I have always been using a Macbook Pro which has always consistently seemed nearly unable to handle the graphics for Second Life. You would think that I would just switch up to a proper gaming pc by now, but somehow despite having tried to switch to Windows, I still have a preference for the Macbook Pro…

The price for sticking to the Mac is that in order to avoid lagging in Second Life I have gradually turned the Quality lower and lower, and the Draw distance smaller and smaller, until I’ve even on occasion set it to a ridiculous 64m. It means that things in the distance (a range which I can clearly see) do not load until they are within 64m of my virtual self. When I zoom in and out, things appear and disappear, meshes load and unload.

So in Second Life there’s the concept of “Land Impact” of how when you upload certain meshes in certain scales, even if you thought it was a low poly model in Blender, it may be interpreted as a complex mesh due to the “level of detail” settings on the model at the point of importing. So a lot of shops on SL Marketplace sell their wares by advertising the low land impact that their items have. No use having something beautiful but can’t be loaded by many people because it uses too many resources. There’s a very interesting post here about how ‘detailed’ meshes can be uploaded with low land impact and there’s much to understand how about the scale at which one imports the file and the LOD rings ( level of detail) which affects how the object is viewed from different distances.

So recently whilst walking around the “Village de Provence” in La Garde-Aris in Stringray Bay, I encountered a holiday scene of visitors to a village tourist spot. Lest you feel lonely in this beauty spot, like many other places in Second Life, they’ve scattered lots of 3d people all over the place so you can feel like one with the other holidaymakers and shoppers…

But don’t worry, these low poly people are just about to load up properly!!

Yeah, don’t you go imagining some fantastic hi res metaverse experience when I tell you about me walking about in Second Life… because this is actually what my Second Life experience is like sometimes on this machine… <insert sweatdrop>

 

 

A Glorious Bale of Virtual Hay: Second Life worlds and their visual references

My Second Life Avatar is now approaching its teens! Monster Eel is 13!?… (and Monster wasn’t even my first character). Every few years when I return to Second Life I’m delighted to find that it has its own life, going on strong. Things are even more detailed now. Who is doing all this? Who is paying for people to do this? Is it all just a passion project for people? Why does this unnecessarily detailed digital bale of hay exist? There’s a whole cottage industry of people making exquisite virtual hairpieces and billowing blouses and freckled skin and distressed furniture and plants and antiques and futuristic gizmos for sale (sometimes dispensed via some unnecessarily complicated gacha machines)!

Over the weekend Beano decided to have a long nap whilst strapped to me (WOW!!!!) so Mummy went on to Second Life to have an adventure without leaving home… and also to look at the types of interactions in these ‘installations’. If we think about the references that each of these worlds draw upon, I realised that the places I visited could be divided into 6 different categories….

1. Depicts an abstract world
Betty Tureaud’s Rooms
https://secondlife.com/destination/rooms-by-betty-tureaud

2. Replicates real world and has specific references
Paris for Ara
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Simpson%20Bay/114/79/27

3. Replicates real world but has no specific reference
Breath of Nature (Serena Falls)
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Serena%20Falls/28/82/22

4. Depicts a fictional world and with specific references to fictional works
Kintsugi
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Runaway/71/123/23

5. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the past
Puddlechurch Rye
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Puddlechurch%20Rye/128/182/44

6. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the future
Planet Vanargand Outpost Fenrir & Solveig Village
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Amazing%20Island/148/169/242

[Admittedly, I have been writing a lot of LESSON OBJECTIVES lately and this might be seeping into the above…]

The categories are not black and white, they blur into one another. Perhaps there are unknown references behind them all that I am not aware of. To what extent are these novel creations, or are they actually faithful copies of weirdly specific things in some specific world of the creators? I… really don’t know. Will some of these mysterious anonymous SL creators ever reveal a bit more about their own design process…? Is it recorded somewhere in the world via the odd blogger webpage or flickr group, posted online under pseudonyms that I can find?


1. Depicts an abstract world
Betty Tureaud’s Rooms
https://secondlife.com/destination/rooms-by-betty-tureaud

This is like looking into a early 2000s book on Creative Coding, or Intro to Processing, or looking at a folder of three.js’s webgl experiments. Experiments and snippets, I say, because these abstract rooms are more like raw snippets than actual stories or narratives or worlds to explore.

The iridescent rooms look empty but when you walk into the middle of the rooms (probably triggered by your avatar walking onto the slightly raised surface), this triggers different interactive animations. This reminds me of the SL in the days of yore, when interaction and realism were even more limited, so all you could write a LSL script to rezz up were a bunch of basic geometric forms that were randomly coloured whenever you entered a space, and for interaction you could move these about randomly (although to what end, this would be unclear). In fact, this is EXACTLY what happens in some of the rooms.

Whilst I love these rooms because they definitely look nothing like real life (and it seem to me that Betty Tureaud’s works over the years have been focused on creating abstract worlds that don’t exist in real life, peppered with statues of human forms), I still think that the interactions for these have come a bit as an afterthought, or isn’t as naturalistic or intuitive as it could be (based on current available technology in SL). Its just like how we don’t use marquee or iframe or mouseover or flash anymore and javascript mouseovers and css transforms don’t really impress anyone anymore. (It doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy walking through the rooms though!)

2. Replicates real world and has specific references
Paris for Ara
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Simpson%20Bay/114/79/27

Paris for Ara is a location in Simpson Bay labeled under photogenic spots, and boy is it photogenic. I’m betting that many a SL fashion shoot has been done here. Although it is supposed to be Paris, it looks a bit more like Carnaby Street in London than Paris per se with all the English signage mixed in, and with the prominent rainbow pride flags everywhere (yay!), parts of it also feel more like Soho. The vision for this is ostensibly to render a real world scene into Second Life.

Some of the details are crazy amazing even when you zoom in, like for example, these steaming hot beignets (french donut fritters) I found on a cafe table. I’m impressed!

A photogenic spot like this is probably quite universally understood and enjoyed by all, since it has a real world reference (even if its been fudged a bit by mixing elements from different countries, but you know, ‘generic european city with street-side cafes and pubs’), and some of the buildings are even faithfully rendered in their interiors, so I would imagine these to be spots designed to be rented out to residents or for retail purposes. I walked into what I think was a cream cake shop and there were 3 floors of empty rooms above, overlooking the street. There was even a torch by the stair, because you might have that in the stairway of a real stairway in reality, but I didn’t use it because I had set the environment to SUNRISE.

3. Replicates real world but has no specific reference
Breath of Nature (Serena Falls)
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Serena%20Falls/28/82/22

Next I visited another photogenic spot, Breath of Nature in Serena Falls. A beautiful flower meadow with pastoral elements rendered in loving detail – an endless sea of soft dandelions, a white horse, a windmill, an old farmhouse, some sheep, a rustic wagon… I know, people dig this shit. Can’t go outside into nature? Well here’s nature for you in Second Life. Oh and with some generic amercian top 40 alt rock country pop internet streaming radio channel playing by default in this SIM… as always. I’ve always wondered if this is the soundtrack by which the creators of these objects live by. Once in a while a SIM has good radio tastes, but most of the time, its just this not-very-interesting generic internet radio streaming through wherever I go, punctuated by the sound of my avatar thudding against things by mistake (THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK).

There are some gems here though. A bale of hay with an ingenious way of seeming real. I know, these tropes of construction must have been devised years ago, and I admit I have never been deeply involved in building things in SL (and more of a tourist in SL), but there are some cool tricks to be found here. Its not hair particles which gives our hay bale its realistic appearance, it is a few strategically placed strands which do the trick.

I’m all like, who decided to build this in such detail? How many hours did it take? For them to construct the chicken coop with its wires, its distressed wood texture, to decide on its form. Is it a person with a chicken coop just like this? Did they HAVE to design a chicken coop first or did they use a reference from somewhere? I mean, this is not even a normal chicken coop. Its a set of shabby chic drawers converted into chicken coop. With a pile of rustic bricks by its side.

Finally, this bucket of ducklings with a duck about to jump into the water with mother duck looking on. This item even chirps. Yes, the ducklings, they are chirping. The water is cleverly done with just a partially transparent alpha layer on top with a translucent white pattern that makes it look like a reflection on water (not a true reflection of anything, but it doesn’t have to be in order to look real enough from a distance!)

4. Depicts a fictional world and with specific references to fictional works
Kintsugi
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Runaway/71/123/23

This parcel is named Kintsugi (the japanese term for repairing cracked pottery with gold) but really it is a tribute to Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, which I will confess that I can no longer remember the story line for. It is supposedly based on the fictional world in the anime, and this plot relies a lot on notecards and the chat system to distribute information about the world to the user. Personally, I am not so much a fan of notecards, even though I like words – because all these notecards fall into my inventory and become a big mess over time.

A magical house on an island….

A series of red torii shrine gates… because why not, if you already have made one beautiful torii gate?

The water isn’t really Second Life water, but some other object which has these obviously faked water ripples on them which look realistic from a distance but then when close up, start to look very artificial. You can walk on the water, which I think is the point of this magical world (in most of SL, you can walk into the water and ocean and even have a rather long walk into the ocean although it might be quite boring).

The mist and atmosphere is nice, but once again, like with any role play environment, the reverie of being in a mystical forest is sometimes punctuated by other SL residents walking by. Yeah one thing I don’t get is why there are so many SL residents dressed as ladies with big bosoms and big hair and big butt in a tight dress…

5. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the past
Puddlechurch Rye
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Puddlechurch%20Rye/128/182/44

Another photogenic spot, Puddlechurch Rye is an event space which is reminiscent of a warehouse space, dressed up as a 1920s parisan speakeasy cigar lounge with plush carpets, stacks of antique books, delicate chandeliers, a stage for performances, and a gallery space. Reminds me a bit of when I visited the Museum of Everything in Paris (a travelling museum for artwork by outsider artists).

How much of a world like this is actually created entirely from scratch by one person (or a small team of people)? How many man hours goes into designing a world like this? Or, is this in part a very clever curation of well chosen objects from different creators to paint for us this speakeasy ambience?

What’s interesting is the detail to which the exhibition has been set with draperies, with conventional framing and unconventional framing. Can’t do a real world exhibition? Well this is pretty close, although the artwork is also the world which has been rendered for us in such detail.

An exhibition space for flat 2D artwork, shown in several different ways…

Conventionally framed artworks…

Along with some unconventional framing…

And finally, some moving louvres to display 2D artwork. Not entirely interactive, but some ideas here on different ways to present a work in a virtual space…

6. Depicts a fictional world with some realistic elements set in the future
Planet Vanargand Outpost Fenrir & Solveig Village
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Amazing%20Island/148/169/242

The thumbnail for this outpost on the SL destinations board was a huge “alien” mountain. But really, mountains are just boring old mountains like the ones on earth unless you say… ITS A SPACE BASE FROM THE FUTURE and here’s a space outpost to go with it! I landed in this space outpost floating in the sky (no biggie, not a hard thing to build) and immediately was overrun by other residents rezzing on top of me, skimpily dressed ladies dressed in tight dresses and high heels running around over small old me. Yeah so much for the scifi vibes…

I enjoyed walking around this space base until I went through a door which said “NO ENTRY” which I assumed was written specifically to entice me to enter anyway. A few metres further down they must have not finished building the space station because I hilariously walked into a big hole in the floor, immediately falling about 3000 metres down back to ground, landing noisily on a giant geodesic dome…

Finally I found myself in an empty carpark in this alien world admiring the detail of the snowflakes blowing past me. No detail has been spared! The snowflakes are not just circles, they are images of SNOWFLAKES.

At this point Beano woke up so I had to terminate my adventures in SL…


Why haven’t I made an ‘art’ project on Second Life before?

Last year Linden Endowment for the Arts closed. For many years now I have always wondered if I should apply for the land grants in the past, but I never got around to it because Second Life was something I enjoyed as a game, exploring without a specific goal. It simply wasn’t high on my priority, since it requires quite an investment of time to build this all, and I’ve got a lot of real world projects to finish. Second Life was leisure and enjoyment for me, not work, the same way one might enjoy a pleasant walk through nature without the desire to reshape it all. I suppose if you were just dabbling and not too sure on whether you would commit to building such a project, it might have been useful to give you a nudge to go and do it without any financial startup cost. Land tiers aren’t cheap after all. And if this is not art per se, then, is this all a ‘vanity’ project?…

However, the closing of LEA is not as much a loss as one might expect. I suppose if I am really motivated to create art in SL, I would continue to make it regardless of whether I had a land grant or not, and even with the closing of LEA, there continues to be lots of art on SL. To be honest I never really got into the community for SL artists. Besides a run in with some people in Singapore building an amazing Sikh temple several years ago (what happened to it I wonder?) I don’t know what happened to other SL makers in Singapore…. Or maybe if you are out there, give me a holla…?

Second Life Adventures: A Lonely Dinosaur on the Dancefloor, Deconstructed Architecture in the Metaverse, and Hopper’s Diner in Space

I’ve been having internet issues the last few weeks – being in a flat in Venice with no internet and no mobile data, having intermittently poor internet here in Berlin. Once every few months I recall that I have a Second Life account. Last few nights I found that – shock! surprise! – I could actually clamber online after hours late at night, and what do I do online? The really important work I need to do online?… No, instead, I found myself wasting time on Second Life once again.

People unfamiliar with Second Life often ask me, “What can you do in Second Life?”, “Aren’t all these virtual worlds dead already?”. So here is a list of things you can do right now in SL – or rather some of things I’ve done this week:

1. Walk through some abstract wastelands

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Lots of half-built places with strange lighting that look like a cross between a glitchy p-model music video from the 80s, a seapunk animated gif, and someone’s incomplete rhino 3d project. But don’t get me wrong, most of them are less interesting than what I’ve just described. A lot of them are very mundane as well, like reproductions of grassy hills and boring houses with boring normal furniture inside them.

2. Walk around in the prehistoric world of dinosaurs

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Went to Prehistorica, the Dawn Kingdoms, where they also have a collection of very convincing dinosaur avatars for sale!

3. Become a dinosaur

I decided to become an apatosaurus (also known as brontosaurus), largely because it was just about the BIGGEST.

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4. Become a Dinosaur and and walk around “London City”

“London City” is a sim which looks like London but is set by the seaside, merging some of the elements from London with a seaside town. I tried walking around making loud roaring noises and growls and stamping sounds but no one seemed to take notice. Some other avatars skittered around underfoot, trying to figure out how to operate the free go-karts in this parcel…

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Sadly, as I was still a gigantic Dinosaur, I was too big to go inside the Tesco and Tube equivalents in “London City Pier”. Its hard being a dinosaur.

5. Become a Dinosaur and walk around a beach – almost

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I also wanted to go to the beach in Jamaica but they had a compulsory swimsuit policy. That meant that I couldn’t go to the beach because I didn’t have any dinosaur-sized swimsuits to wear there. Again, its hard being a dinosaur.

6. Go to a party as a Dinosaur

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It’s lonely up there, being a big dinosaur, and dinosaurs can’t dance because all the other people are too tiny and its impolite to step on them…

7. Become an Android and do taiji in a japanese pavilion by the seaside

I was bored of being a dinosaur by this point, so I switched to being an anime style android. Utilizator makes really excellent full mesh avatars. This is the Rikugou A; Utilizator also makes the popular Kemono avatar, of which there are endless mods it seems, all very professionally constructed (except that I don’t really want to be a furry…)

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8. Fly through outer space

I visited Ars Simulacra: NMC’s SL Artist Showcase Island, which can always be counted on for a good experience. All of the following images are from Ars Simulacra’s MediaMorphosis.

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9. Wander around immersive landscapes

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I should like to rent a large plot to build something on this scale one day just so I can experiment with it slowly! How much of these effects are “accidental” or intentional designs? I believe that a lot of what looks impressive is sometimes very simple in its underlying construction. And looking back, I’m surprised to realise so much time has passed since I first saw these kind of spaces. I’ve already been on SL as nothing more than a casual user for over 7 years now. It has almost been 3 years since I stepped into Kuru Kuru World. This type of floating, deconstructed space has been in the metaverse for so long; its nothing new but I still wonder if we can learn anything from it and apply it back to architecture in the real world.

These sort of spaces still remain as some of my favourite kinds of spaces in SL to walk around in. I realised the image I had in my head for a proposal I had written recently (to be built in real life) comes a lot from my fondness for such spaces in SL.

What’s interesting for me is the use of video on the 2d planes which are used to create structures. In such a world, “light” or more correctly “colour” also operates completely differently. A media “texture” with glowing white elements appears as a bright light that reflects off the faces of the avatars, and the shifting transparency in these moving image layers also produces unexpected diaphanous and complex-looking waves, especially when you cam around them. Much of these are housed inside huge megaprim domes with “infinite” seamless interior textures, which only reveal their underlying structure when you fly about and cam out as far as you can.

10. Visit a replica of Hopper’s Diner

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An obvious landmark to reconstruct in a virtual world, and famous for having been used as a visual reference for the “future noir” style of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Where Blade Runner faithfully reproduces the colour tones of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”, here the lonely diner itself is faithfully reproduced as a physical 3D space to wander in and around. I feel a bit strange walking around it, standing outside looking in, sitting inside looking out – I wonder, by spending more time in the virtual Hopper diner, will the diner eventually appear in the maps of my dreams…?

The Simulacra of Cobain the Cactus

Today I decided to do one pomodoro of Second Life building. I decided I would try to build a replica of Cobain the Cactus, a plant on my windowsill which G gave to me because it initially resembled a toy rabbit I had named Kobain. Unfortunately, G forgot that cactuses are not inert objects, so it continued to grow many new cactusey fingers, and now Cobain the Cactus does not look like Kobain the toy rabbit anymore.

This is a photo of Cobain the cactus – in Real Life:

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I cropped out the other bits so it was just the cactus. I prepared this as a 512 x 512 image for uploading to Second Life.

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Next I found some random 8-sided mesh/sculpted tree and retextured it with my cobain.png texture. You can find many free sculpted trees on SL Marketplace if you don’t have one to start with. If I had more time, I could probably have used Blender to bake the plant sculptie/mesh myself and then imported it into SL instead of repurposing some other plant mesh. I’m not building it in order to sell it, so the permissions don’t really matter to me at this point. Finally I created a brown pot for the bottom from a tube, added a circular disc textured with soil and linked them all together.

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And so by the end of one pomodoro, I had a copy of Cobain the cactus – in Second Life:

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Real Life and Second Life Paredolia

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Recently I have been working on a few things. One, is the manuscript for Dream Syntax, consisting of 5 years of transcribed dreams and maps of dream spaces. Two, is this game we call Russian Jogging Roulette, or “Ruskijogelette”. Basically we pick a time and two of us in separate continents HAVE TO GO JOGGING at the same time (OR OTHERWISE DIE). Three, is a slight increase in the time I’ve spent playing Second Life, because I’ve been trying to learn to build and script. (We bought the land, now we have to make it. And oh yes I have “Grandiose Designs” for it….)

It should be obvious why Second Life attracts me so much. I suppose I like dream spaces and virtual spaces as much as I like real spaces. I was uploading my daily phone pictures along with some of my SL screenshots to Flickr (a somatic reflex of self-documentation), when I realised two of images from different sources – coincidentally uploaded one after another – had certain similarities. I’m not sure about you, but for me it is a curious case of the two having a similar composition and alignment, made apparent as my Real Life and Second Life become indistinguishably mashed up online.

I know it is a human impulse to find similarities even where none truly exist (pareidolia), but after having transcribed and written out my dreams so extensively, and in real life having all this strange physical distance between me and you whilst we do virtual things together and talk as if we are in the same room together, it sometimes feels like the real life things I write about are not so very different to the imaginary things I write about.

Now, what I would really like is for Snapshots in SL to be automatically embedded with its SLurl in the EXIF data for each image. Then doing the documentation of my virtual life would be… (pardon the pun) like a… dream?

Team Fire’s Fun House

After watching Grand Designs, I decided to invest in a sweet little piece of virtual land. Since we can’t build it in real life, we’ll build it in Second Life. And I hadn’t realised how affordable Second Life land was in the rolling auctions – for about L2500 (approx USD10) I got a simple 512m sq plot (my land tier limit) on the side of a mountain by the seaside. Seemed like a good kickstart for practicing some building and scripting. I don’t know if thats a good price in the Second Life land auctions since I haven’t watched the numbers for long, but it seems reasonably affordable as the startup cost to embark on this game. A GAME WITH NO RULES…

Introducing the site of TEAM FIRE’s NEW FUN HOUSE:

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Okay nothing has been built yet but we have grand designs for a skybox/sandbox of some sort… in the meantime, I rezzed up a giant flower that rotates. I mean, obviously, it can be really hard to find our precise plot on the mountainside if there isn’t some giant spinning psychedelic flower floating over it. And so we sat on top of the giant flower on the mountainside and admired the view…

ALSO…

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OH and we also met our hunky tattooed neighbour, who is probably going to start up a chain of sexy nevada-style casino brothel skyscrapers next to us. He probably thinks we’re a bunch of inexperienced tools, wiling away our days, sitting on a giant retarded flower next to his plot…

BUT I’LL BET OUR FLOATING FUN HOUSE WILL BE MORE FUN THAN HIS CASINO SKYSCRAPER!

I’ve decided to seperate my SL from my RL interests, so for those interested in following our building progress and other tips/notes on Second Life Building, you can visit our other building blog at teamfirefunhouse.blogspot.com

Patterns: A 3d sandbox world building game

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Everytime I have a spare moment to do… well… nothing, it seems I end up going to Second Life. I suppose I’ve played SL for roughly 6 years now, on and off. [See also: iggydix.blogspot.com and secondlifemonster.blogspot.com] I guess its a kind of pointless, aimless wandering game. Which suits me fine. I don’t know how other people use it, but if I didn’t have an interest in building/3d modelling or programming or virtual spaces, I don’t think I would have stuck with casually playing this game so long.

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For some reason, despite having a fairly nice little gander about, I kept having intermittent problems rezzing up normally, and instead of looking like a white statue as I had planned, I looked more like a moire pattern. I also kept losing my connection whilst repeatedly trying to TP to the Kowloon parcel I had once visited a long time ago. During the downtime, I saw a small advert on the SL startup screen about a new game also produced by Linden Labs…

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A few minutes later (and US$ 9.95 poorer), I had bought an activation key and was up and running with PATTERNS. Visually, it reminds me of Minecraft-meets-Flatland’s aesthetic. I’m sure detractors will complain that the gameplay does have a semblance to Minecraft in the “mining” process, but the rest of the game’s objective is quite different.

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Despite looking very “simple”, the pieces rely on a realistic physics and fluid/particle system. And as you build simple bridges or structures or even bombs, you have to find the right kind of material that will not collapse on itself depending on what you are trying to build with it. And unlike Minecraft, there are no Zombies or Creepers about to come to eat you when the sun sets. Its just a big happy sandbox for discovering materials, exploring floating islands by slowly building bridges to cross over to them, and building more and more complex 3d polyhedras out of triangles and squares.

Basically, its like Minecraft minus all the parts of Minecraft’s gameplay that annoyed me (i.e.: being eaten suddenly) – multiplied by a mathematics/geometry puzzle. Because oh yes, trust me, you’re going to have to figure out how to quickly fit a tetrahedron with a goddamned square pyramid to form a flat plane in order to get to the other island. And then you’ll probably want to make more Patterns in the library within the game to order to automate your building process…

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The game is blest with amazing environmental light – Linden has really got WindLight down pat, because the environmental light is absolutely gorgeous and brilliant for what seems on first sight to be such a simple game that is entirely built of squares and triangles. In Patterns, the sun and the moon will rise and set in quick succession; you can see the rays of light come into the structures whilst you’re inside mining for materials.

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You can download Patterns here. This is an early launch called Genesis Release (public alpha) and its available on the site or via Steam for US$ 9.95. More info on building is on the Build Patterns Wiki.

ADDENDUM – More about Building BOMBS

Contact Bomb

Brimstone Bomb

The simplest bomb consists of 1 Brimstone cube + 1 Brimstone square pyramid + 1 Starene square pyramid. It will explode when you touch it on the second time. You can stand on it and the explosion itself will not hurt you, but it may throw you off the thing you are standing on and you might shatter into pieces. Its a quick way of harvesting Unbreakable materials.

Rocket Bomb

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The Rocket Bomb consists of 2 Brimstone cubes + 1 tall Rubble square pyramid. The rocket will fly once constructed, for the length of approximately 60 squares and then explode. From experience sometimes it explodes even sooner than you would expect if you are hoping to arc it into the air and have it come down again. If you have shot it in too wide an arc it will almost always certain explode in mid-air, so be warned. Once I bombed the Floating islands in Barren Plains so much that… THE MOUNTAINS OF BRIMSTONE, STARENE AND CLAY COMPLETELY FELL OFF. THEY STOPPED FLOATING! Which brings me to the question: WHY DO THE FLOATING ISLANDS FLOAT? WHAT KEEPS THEM THERE???

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Do Digital Worlds Fill up with Digital Kipple?

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When I am bored, I sometimes take a walk around the ‘Destination Highlights’ on Second Life. I suppose it was one of those things I continued playing even as everyone else I knew in real life left the game, probably because I still enjoyed it as a space for scripting and playing in sandboxes. As usual, one can always find a number of things to see, and installations and artworks in Second Life, such as the spots above at LEA (Linden Endowment for the Arts), but last week I clicked on a random advert (maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Hathian/137/124/2605) for a destination in Hathian that was highlighted that week in SL. I was teleported to the “Hathian Crack Den” which also had this one particular shopfront…

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An advertisement for Trash and Rubbish.

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And… Dirty Laundry.

Yes, it was a virtual storefront for a virtual box of trash and rubbish. And dirty laundry. Nothing new you might say, since there are many “grungy” places in Second Life. So people who are building such places must be buying up this virtual trash. Made for the people who are too lazy to sculpt up some prims to make their own dirty laundry, or perhaps, should I say, those who might not actually have loads of trash lying about and dirty laundry in real life? Because I recently watched Louis Theroux’s preposterous docu entitled THE CITY ADDICTED TO METH (a completely different world from Singapore, I might add), and let’s just say I don’t think many of those people addicted to crystal meth are on the internet playing Second Life. And even if they were, I don’t think they would create a Second Life in order to play the role of a virtual crack addict all over again. And to sell Virtual Trash (of which its contents are indistinct except for the understanding that this looks like a pile of trash on the ground?)? Who is building this? And who is buying this? OH GOD AM I BECOMING COMPLICIT IN ITS CREATION BY BEING HERE…?

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Alright, but objectively now, in any case, it seems so wrong that it completely crosses the boundary of wrong and comes back around on the other end. And joins the list of WRONG THINGS THAT ARE UNEXPECTEDLY AWESOME BECAUSE THEY ARE COMPLETELY WRONG AND SHOULDN’T EXIST.

Physical items are able to become waste material or trash, but virtual items cannot turn into physical waste material. As Flusser writes, “Information is synonymous with value. However, if apparatus can create information in the place of humankind, what about human commitment? What about values?”

I suppose for me, the virtual trash is the ultimate black hole of meaning. Objects mostly get their meaning from what they are used for, or from their shape. To transfer the image of trash to a virtual/digital state that doesn’t exist in the physical realm, and to also erase the meaning and create it without an original physical shape in mind (being just a pile of trash), and YET to create a product that sells itself on the very feature that separates real things from virtual things (the potential ability of real and useful things to eventually become physical useless waste), is a kind of entropy itself. And the potential transaction of purchasing this virtual trash, would be the ultimate simulacra. Like partially gibberish spam advert emails, this is the virtual, 3d embodiment of pointless commercialism and empty meaningless packaging present in almost every facet of modern life today.

Why do people turn to digital formats anyway? Was it not to avoid this very entropy in the first place? To avoid the disintegration and decay of paper, of flesh, of physical things, and to create eternal digital memories for information that would potentially outlive the physical records?

From Philip K Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”:

“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you to go bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up there is twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.”

SECOND LIFE IS ACTUALLY ONE BIG DIGITAL KIPPLE MACHINE…

“The entire universe is moving toward a state of total, absolute kippleization…”