Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween in Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

There's no season in Second Life quite like Halloween. With it's thrills and chills and dressing up, it brings out a mischievous side of many of it's residents. For some, the Grid provides the Halloween parties and haunts that aren't always available in real life. For others, it provides more to those who just can't get enough. Second Life Newser's writers have written earlier on some haunts and events. While it's been a busy time for me recently, I was able to show up at a few.

Saturday October 27 was Luskwood's Halloween party. The party was held not at the Big Tree itself, but at one of the clubs in the community's region, one that when viewed at midnight looked particularly spooky outside, one Lusky commenting, "Spooky tree! I love it!" But once inside, the atmosphere was fun and music, with DJ Haley Maruti spinning the tunes, "Time for music boys and ghouls!"

Events at Luskwood often have two problems. One is their popularity results in lag from so many avatars, "So many Luskies to load." With some people taking a while to rezz, there was the problem of running into one another, "I don't wanna shove people." Fortunately, there was a solution at hand, "Just use your minimap and be smart. If your dot isn't on someone else's, you're safe."

There were a variety of appearances on the dance floor, from a few demon girls, to the Laughing Man from the anime "Stand Alone Complex," to "Doctor Who," to witches, to a "Green Lantern," to someone who made his avatar look like it belonged in another virtual world, "You've gone all Minecrafty!" Luskwood being a furry community, so were most of those attending, though there were several human avatars. At least three of the four Luskwood founders Eltee Statosky, Liam Roark, and Michi Lumin were at the event.

Besides the song and dance, Luskwood was taking the occasion to release a new version of it's Big Cat avatar. The vendor there didn't rezz to everyone, though. and with the lag inevitably people crashed. But the party was a success.

Later on, my partner Jasmine and I went to the Sannomiya Pumpkin Hunt. This was part of a local festival that included events and a haunted house. Jasmine and I went looking for jack o' lanterns. Say "Trick or Treat" to certain ones, they would give you a gift, such as a piece of clothing or jewelry. The event was mostly mildly scary, with a few forbidding sounds and a few scary props. But stumbling upon a frightful sight when rounding a corner at the same time an ear-splitting scream rang out could be quite unnerving.

It's safe to say most clubs in Second Life hold some kind of Halloween event. The management of Club Zero Gravity, however, wanted to make it memorable. The decision was made to hold it "planetside" away from the space station and on a "Haunted Woods" platform. With it's aged wood, spider webs, and surrounded by an image of creepy woods, the place had a definate air of forbidding. Jasmine would be DJing for the event with a set of three hours of Halloween themed tunes. Things would be starting an hour early, at 5 PM SL time instead of the normal 6.

The party took place on Tuesday October 30th, and was a success with a few dozen dropping in on the "spook-tacular" event. This included Angel Estates owner Nydia Tungsten, Club Cutlass owner Jenni Greenfield, writer and Green Meadows Club owner Perri Prinz, and HV Community leader Ranchan Wiedman. There were a variety of appearances to, from witches to death knight, to vampire bat, to pony girl, and more. Among the tunes played were "Come Little Children," to "This is Halloween," to the "Ghostbusters" theme, to the "long version" of "Thriller," to a fun little disco tune Jasmine played for the vampire bat, "Drac's Back."

They're easy pickin's at the discotech,
I leave them feeling like they've been in a wreck.
You know they wake up all wasted, and they never check,
those two small holes that I leave in their neck.

Well if they were wise, they would soon realize,
they're not hung over, they're just vampir-ized.
'Cause Drac's back.

I wanna suck your (oooohhhh .. Dracula!)
Drac's Back!

Jasmine called it an especially catchy tune, "Don't blame me if it gets stuck in your head."

There was a three thousand Linden prize available to the winner of the costume contest. At the end, the votes were tallied, and the result was a tie between Ranchen, who came as a wolf-neko, and Kitculia, whose outfit was a spider priestess, and upon the announcement got into the act, roleplaying asking that the club be given a blessing.

Be sure to be on the lookout for some scary fun on Halloween Day. And even after the holiday is technically over, many of the haunts will be up for a few more days, as well as another costume party or two for those who need one more scare before packing their scary avatars away for a while.

To see a list of haunts, check out the official Second Life Destination Guide.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Luskwood Celebrates Nine Years

With the events of Second Life's Ninth Birthday a few months ago, last weekend it was it's oldest community's turn to celebrate nine years: Luskwood. Besides the home of the classic Luskwood furry avatars, Lusk also boasts the longest lasting group of residents, not just of Second Life's furs, but of the entire Grid. And Saturday October 20th, the folks of the Big Tree got together to celebrate their staying together.

Hey Folks! It's that time of year again, and for the 9th time, we're celebrating Luskwood's Birthday!  To kick off the celebrations, we bring you the lovely Keeba Tammas, singing hits from the 70s through today!

Stick around after Keeba, becuase at 1PM, Shannon O'Herlihy will be picking up the microphone, and delivering a fantastic acoustic folk set.  Come on down and grab a seat, the fun starts at Noon, SLT! 

The singers performed not at the tree, but the nearby ampitheather, which was on both the Lusk and Perry sims to accommodate more avatars. Following Shannon was live singer Alazarin Mondrain. Later on came a performance from two musicians whom have performed regularly at Luskwood for years, Jaycatt and Frogg.

As the musicians played, some avatars danced on the floor near the stage. Others sat in the stands and cracked jokes, "is there any LW9B souvenirs?" "Commemorative Michi bobbleheads?" "Michi should be made into a bobbletail." "Or a bobblehat." "Hmmm, Lusk Core bobbleheads n' tails. (smile)" Luskwood founder Michi took the joking around in style. As it turned out, there were commemorative LW9B hats.

The last live musician was Canon Organizer at 6 SL time, who razzed an organ on stage, and told everyone he was playing from a real one that was practically a museum piece. But still, he told the audience to be ready to be pleasantly surprised, "and now for something completely different," and then began playing the "Star Wars" theme on it, much to the delight of the audience, "Woo-hoo! I love Organ!" "Amazing how much sound is coming out of that one instrument. (grin)" Other tunes included the "Back to the Future" theme, and "Brains" by Voltaire. "That organ might be the ticket to play that 80's tune, 'Freeze Frame' (grin)."

There were a few technical glitches. Those in the Lusk part of the stage kept seeing the Perry sim vanish then re-rezz. Michi told me, "It's because Lusk is on Magnum and Perry is'nt. It's been having sim intercomm problems ever since the 'unscheduled emergency' Magnum roll on Wednesday. … it was some sort of rollback and 'group database' fixes."

But the birthday went on. Last for the night at 7PM SL time was the squirelgirl DJ Haley Maruti, who rezzed her box onstage and got in, "LUSKWOOD, MAKE SOME NOOOOOOOISE!!" For a few hours, she entertained the crowd with a selection of pop music, from 80's tunes, to more modern fare. "And now for something 'PSY'chotic," she announced before putting in an English "Gangnam Style" remix. When her playlist was done, she told the crowd, "We're into unknown territory now! I planned for three hours tonight, but you all are being so awesome that I can't stop now!" And so she continued to play on as the Lusk residents continued to dance late in the night, the floor changed from a wood finish to a discotech one, with a spinning Lusk symbol in the center.

This wasn't the end of the birthday celebrations. On Sunday afternoon there were some open mike "social events." But the big events had been on Saturday.

"Thank you so much! Happy Birthday Luskwood!"

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 22, 2012

Going to the Burn

This weekend, the Burn2 art and music festival opened in Second Life. Taking place across six sims and eight days, there's a lot to see and experience with over a hundred arrests and dozens of live musicians and DJs apiece.

Heading over to the entrance at the Playa in 
Burning Man - Deep Hole, (84, 9, 24), I was greeted by one of the staff, Tee Auster, "Heya, welcome to Burn." Talking to her, she described the weekend as "pretty busy. … we had a great turnout last night for the Lamplighters." She gave me a notecard with a list of landmarks, and if I had any questions let her know."

Green arrows led from the entrance into the festival grounds, the trail looking like tire tracks in the Black Rock Desert. I soon came across a few teepees with packages of freebie goods, which included mutant vehicles and funny hats. Although it stated "backpack, wear me," there was no backpack in there, but there were plenty of other freebies.

Passing a few mannequins, there was the DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles) Diner, which I stopped at to take a break. There was also a map of the six sims, with the Guru stage in the northeast of the sim of the same name, and Newser writer Gemma Cleanslate's partner DJ Qwark having a place in Burning Man - Deep Hole.

I ran into one other Burn2 staff member, Chrisssy (Chrstenhp), "Welcome Bixyl to Burn2." Asking her who was coming to the festival, she answered there were "a lot of" newcomers attending, reasoning they saw it in the Second Life Destinations Guide, but there were plenty of seasoned residents coming too.

Within sight, there were a number of exhibits. There was a 3-D maze that looked promising. But I saved that for later as it seemed a little crowded. One exhibit close to the entrance was Caro Fayray's "The Maypole, the Brain, and the Beanstalk," which had a few more freebie items such as a brain hat that sparked and a walking stick that made one's avatar dance. Other exhibits included a garden DJ stage, a flower garden with birds and bees, three giant spiders throwing webbing over an avatar-sized empty chair, and many others. And around the sims were the decorated toilets that appear every year. I also noticed a pet kitty walking the grounds of one exhibit. No doubt set there by the artist as company while building the place, and left there since he seemed happy enough.

There was only so much one can see in a few hours. Clearly, one will need to come back more days to get a good look. And of course there's the Burning of The Man and the Temple Burn next weekend.

Burn2 is based on the real life Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, which is considered by some to be a partial inspiration for Second Life as some Lindens attended it during the development of the virtual world. For several years, Linden Lab sponsored a Second Life version of the festival, which then was called Burning Life. But eventually Linden Lab stopped it's sponsorship. The people running the festival rented a few sims and renamed the event Burn2. Today the Burners, as the serious fans of Burn2 are called, are more active than ever with smaller events with the theme elsewhere in the year. But there's nothing like the big event.

For a list of landmarks, Daniel Voyager had these listed in one Burn2 article of his:

Gate Road & Freebies (SLURL)
The Man (SLURL)
The Temple (SLURL)
Center Camp Stage (SLURL)
BURN2 Osiris Stage (SLURL)
Guru Stage (SLURL)
Lamp Lighters (SLURL)
Literary Camp (SLURL)

For the Burn2 Flickr, Click Here.

For the Burn2 website:

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Scary Fun at ZZ Studios

To celebrate the spooky fun of Halloween, ZZ Studios announced on October sixth they were having a "monster mash" party at their Club Stripes. Just doing a photo shoot with them, I wanted to check out their party.

There was an amazing prize of 1,000L for the best Halloween costume. I didn’t have anything very spooky except for a no face costume. The no face is the lonely ghost who enters the bathhouse in the movie "Spirited Away." I got a few compliments from the other spooky party goers. The scariest and best costume by votes was "Oogaboogaman." His costume was the Oogie Boogie character from the "Nightmare Before Christmas" created by Tim Burton.

Cindy Babii the owner of ZZ studios gave me permission to take photos around the ZZ studios sim. Usually it is forbidden and a bannable offense to take photos around her sim. However I worked for the SL Newser so Cindy allowed it.
ZZ Studios went a step farther to celebrate Halloween. They created a zombie maze that was pretty fun. First you had to grab freebie weapons from a nearby box along within uploading a HUD and bar above your head showing your hit points. It was a whole new game within Second Life. They used the grim combat system to do combat with those nasty zombies. You had armor, health and ammo in your HUD. I equipped myself with a sword to hack away at the zombies to give them a more permanent grave. The zombies had high detail and were cool and gory to look at. The maze itself was dark and forbidding as well with dark stone walls. Asking, I found out Rhin Forti and Mercy Moonwing created the zombie maze. They both did an aMAZEing job.
The combat was easy. Zoom into mouselook, and there was a set of crosshairs on your screen to target those zombies. The hard part was staying alive. Just like a horror movie, they surround you and bite and claw at you until you fall over, dead. You’ll know when you die when your avatar falls over dead.  Unlike the soap opera "One Life to Live," you have unlimited lives. So don’t worry if you end up dead. Click "escape" and then click where it says “You have died, click here to be revived.” After a few messy deaths, I figured out backing away while attacking seemed the best way to keep zombies from biting me as I hacked away.
Over time I got a few kills and some experience, but after a while I wanted to look into the madhouse also on the ZZ Studios sim. Standing at the entrance, Darkefur Fraker joked that the hearse was about to make another trip. Risking my life anyway, I entered the madhouse.  It certainly was spooky and scary inside.  Navigating around was certainly difficult as there was no direct path throughout the madhouse towards the top. While in the madhouse, I heard the audio playing of a creepy movie along with scary images all around. Just like the zombie maze it was an excellent environment like a horror movie. Something scary I saw were buzzsaws at my feet with blood coming up. In the madhouse the enemy wasn’t zombies but more of a puzzle of how to get to the top by navigating through the twists and turns. Oh and there was a tentacle monster.

Darkefur Fraker and Mercy Moonwing created the madhouseand they did a great job. The madhouse did drive me mad not in anger more like insane trying to figure out how to get to the next floor or area. If you want a challenge try out their Madhouse.
Looking for a fun way to celebrate the spooky time of the year? I recommend ZZ Studios’s zombie maze and madhouse. There might be some ZZ studios staff or other vistors to hang out with as well.

Grease Coakes

Editor's Note: To those who don't know, Cindy "Zig Zag" Babii's ZZ Studios has an overall adult theme with it's adult clubs and sexually themed media up for sale.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The First 2012 Presidential Debate in Second LIfe

At 6PM SL time on Wednesday October 3rd was the first of three debates between Romney and Obama in the US Presidential Election. It could be seen in two places in Second Life. One was Cafe Wellstone at Pini  (56, 78, 45) a hangout for people advocating liberal and progressive causes, and naturally were inclined to support President Obama. Among the people there was CNN iReporter Any1 Gynoid. Most of the audience who stated so remarked they were watching MSNBC.

There were a number of comments there, such as how Obama has aged in the past four years. Someone wondered if a bingo card should be made up with key words, and the appropriate square checked when it was uttered. More frequent were comments praising the President and not just saying the opposition wasn't as good, but clearly questioning their motives and goals, "Barack is one of the finest Americans ever born. He saved the country after the Republican wrecking crew. ... Every time Republicans win the White House, it's a criminal exploitation of the US economy, start wars, enrich (their) buddies, destroy industries." "(Romney)'s so full of crap already." "He's lying like crazy." "Quit selling out resources to China." "Middle Class Mortgage Deduction - GONE!" "Mittens is a moron."

For the politically conservative, there was the Republican Party in Second Life building in Sunset River (180, 198, 23). The humans and furs were watching coverage streamed in from FOX News. Among them was East Coast Conservative's Hatton Hunghi.

Naturally they had the opposite position of the people at Wellstone, criticizing Obama and complementing Romney. "This from the commentary on The Iowa Republican blogsite: Comment From Todd, 'Apparently the President is taking this debate as seriously as he did his Daily Intelligence Briefings.' " "LIAR!" "Oh em gee, hilarious." "Exxon employs 82,000 people ... and does me more good than this President." "Obama is just repeating his speaking points and getting called to the mat for it." "GO ROMNEY!"

Following the debate at the RPSL building, most thought the challenger came out ahead, "Romney should be carrying a broom right now, he swept the floor with him." CNN, streamed by neither location, declared Mitt Romney the winner.

There will be two more Presidential debates, and one Vice-Presidential one.

Bixyl Shuftan