Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Sunday Night Demo Derby

It's probably something you've fantasized about during a traffic jam: revving up the engine, then charging and smashing into the mass of cars. Well, there's a place in Second Life where that behavior is not only allowed, but encouraged. Every Sunday night in the Random sim, there's a Demolition Derby in a track a few hundred feet above the sim.

The track for the event isn't circular, but a few times longer than wide. Guard rails keep vehicles on the track, at least when drivers don't have a case of lag that causes them to travel a distance away before reappearing back on the track. At one end is the entrance in which participants can walk onto from the entry area, which has a notecard giver explaining more details about the derby.

Dropping by one night, I heard the people running the event ask for all those interested in racing to be on the field. About a couple minutes before the event, cars were rezzed in two rows, one for each side of the track and pointed back end in. The racers were asked to get in, and about twenty seconds before the start, those cars still empty were derezzed and the racers told to get ready to start.

And once the staff yelled "Go!" the cars charged, rear end first to keep the engine from being hit. Or in this case, to minimize the number of hit points taken away. It was a chaotic scene as cars moved around to ram one another and avoid being rammed. None of the cars tried to circle around and stay out of it as the rules stated everyone in the derby had to "actively and continuously fight" or otherwise be flagged and disqualified.

Once a vehicle's hit points reached zero, it blew up. Drivers were asked to at least fly up into the air so they wouldn't get in the way (free flight feathers were in the lobby entrance for any newcomers). Voice chat was openly encouraged, and I could hear a few excitedly calling out as they went around the track. I didn't hear any insults or taunting.

Different rounds had different vehicles. Round two involved racing in semi-truck cabs. Round three had a unique race. The participants jockeyed about in small flying saucers, obstacles resembling planets were added into the course, and vehicles could suddenly go up the sides and on the underside of an invisible force field, going upside down. It could be quite confusing and disorienting.

Round four involved something not usually seen on wheels: driveable pool tables. Back to a normal course, it wasn't long before the less skillful drivers were behind the eight ball. Round five was back to smashing around in cars, but police cars. There were no tickets for reckless driving that day as all but one ended up disabled. The sixth and final round had another unique run. The drivers were in shopping carts, and when they bumped they would loose of of the items inside, and it would appear on the course a few times larger as an obstacle. The course was soon quite a mess, "Clean up on isle 9."

The winner of the final round got an 800 Linden prize, with 400 going to second place.

Following the event, I had a chat with one of the people  there, Barbie Alchemi. She explained her brother AlmostThere Inventor ran the place, and she herself was the head of the Creations for Parkinsons sim. So besides a great place to have a smash-up-derby, the track has connections to a major charity in Second Life. One which will be for another story.

To get to the Sunday Demolition Derby Track, head to Random (6, 92, 301). Once again, scheduled races are from 6 to about 7 SL time every week. Between events, the track is available for "practice and grudge matches."

Bixyl Shuftan.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Talk Like a Pirate Day" in Second Life

I went searching for a “Talk Like a Pirate” party, and I quickly found three fun ones. 

My first stop was at Pirates at Black Shark Reef, a tropical paradise with plenty of palm trees and sandy beaches.  Their party was located at  Black Shark Reef (144, 149, 411).  Couples were dancing to great tunes like Mark Mulligan’s “Drinking Mexico Dry” and Jimmy Buffett’s  “Banana Republic”. 

Maximillian Desoto, co-owner of Black Shark Reef, was the DJ.  He and his partner, Sunny Vandyke, looked great in their pirate outfits.   Desoto said, “I've been doing Talk Like a Pirate Day parties for a couple of years.  We like doing it.”

Black Shark Reef boasts SL’s only Mechanical Shark ride, too.  They were giving out a prize for the avi who could stay on the longest.   Wyatt Bouscario tried his luck with the Shark, followed by his partner Peachalicious.  “Gotta catch that man 'o mine,” Peachalicious said as she tried to beat his score.   

I hated to leave this fun group, but I wanted to catch up with some other pirates. 

My next stop was at the Tiki Bar, located at Poseidon's Adventure (101, 140, 23).  In addition to dancing, these multi-tasking pirates were having a trivia contest!  Edward Pluto, assisted by his friendly parrot, was the DJ here.  Pluto had one of the most colorful pirate outfits that I saw tonight. 

My last stop was at The Brass Rail, located at Fountainhead (81, 107, 55).  This was the wildest party, no doubt because they had already emptied a few kegs by the time I arrived.   Some of the ladies had lost their pirate outfits, too, but the buccaneers didn’t seem to mind.  Witchiepoo69 handed me a tankard and asked if it was my first time at a strip pirate party.  (It was.)   

But the fun was all good-natured.  CaptainTomUSA said he “be having a jolly time.”  DixieDee hollared, “Yo Ho! Bottle Of Rum? Drink Up Cause We're About To Get Swashbuckled!”   JustinKredible’s outfit included a huge sword, which led to a few comments.   LITA (lalita.graves) said, “Oi had best be careful with that sword!”    

All of the pirates I met tonight were fun and friendly.  I can’t wait to meet up with them soon. 

Grey Lupindo

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Club Zero Gravity's Pirate Night

On Tuesday Sept. 18th, Club Zero Gravity held a "Pirate Night" in honor of "Talk Like a Pirate Day," giving people a chance to celebrate a little early.

"Avast ye landlubbers! Tis true "Talk Like a Pirate Day" be not til tomorrow, but ye git o' chance ta revel a wee bit early. Club Zero Grav'ty be havin' it's Pirate Party tonight. So git yer peglegs, yer cutlasses, yer eyepatches, yer parrots on th' shoulder, and whateva mark ye as one o' th' Brotherhood o' th' Coast. So no time ta arrrrrrgue, git yer best buccaneer look an' be quick about it or ye walk th' plank."

DJ Shockwave entertained the crowd with his music, as well as a few one-liners between songs, which included, "A Pirate's Life for Me," "Airship Pirates," "A Pirate Christmas," "You are a Pirate," and "Hey it's Can(n)on." His humor showed when he dedicated one song to a skunkgirl, "You Stink, But I Love You," and when some unknown person was having fun with a "spanker," his response was to play Michael Jackson's "Beat it."

Someone asked where to get one of the pirate songs. It was downloaded from a pay music website, "It would be bad form to pirate a pirate."

Club Zero Gravity's owner Nydia Tungsten was among those reveling it up on the dance floor. Jessicabelle Dayafter (right) was the winner of the contest for best pirate look. Her outfit having two sabers and multiple flintlock pistols, none of the other buccaneers chose to "arrrrrr"gue.

It was a night of piratical fun at Zero-G that night.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, September 10, 2012

The New Bastogne Second Annual Tank Rally

Saturday September the 8th was the first day of New Bastogne's Second Annual Tank Rally. Inspired by the "World of Tanks" computer game, the event was sometimes called "WoT2." The event was sponsored by New Bastogne's 1. Armee, in addition to Patrick Paspund, JessicaBelle Dayafter, and Sunshine Juneberry. Fox Cheri acted as an umpire for the event.

The Tank Rally differed from normal ground combat in the New Bastogne area. There would be no infantry involved, only heavy, medium, and light tanks. The combat tags normally worn by soldiers and tankers would not be used, although tank damage was dealt and recorded using the VICE system. Participants from both Allied and German factions were randomly placed into red and blue teams. So each usually had a mix of Allied and German tanks, sometimes a mix of Western Allied, Soviet, and German. Participants wore the flags of their teams, red and blue, on their backs, which poked out through the tops of the tanks.

At one point the participants were greeted by an official looking figure in a tricolor sash, "Heil pour le Maréchal Pétain! … I am the new mayor, Etienne Vigée, nice to meet you." He stated that before long, there would be an election with at least one opponent. It was not mentioned whom would be voting.

The tank battles were fought in both countryside and urban terrain, taking a little time for the forces to meet. But once the battles were joined, the action was usually fast and furious. The first round was in hilly country, with Fatalitywolf Firehawk, Vickster Khun, and Ayane Sauber on the red team. Killingowl, JessicaBelle Dayafter, and Toscha Vayandar were on the blue team. Both teams rolled out from their bases. But when they met, red team had their guns pointed right at two of blue, whom were driving across their line of sight. Vickster soon took out two, but JessicaBelle's light tank avoided the red team's fire and soon took out one. But her computer crashed, and so the match was declared a red team victory.

Round two took place in mostly urban terrain. Red team's Toscha Vayandar destroyed all three blue tanks. Round three, which took place in central Bastogne, started with the two bases not far apart, and the teams soon met up. This time Toscha's luck did not carry over, and his red tank was blown apart without a kill along with Blue's Crymson Serenity's. Blue Team's JessicaBelle was the winner with two kills, with Ayame Sauber having one. Red team's KillingOwl and Fatalitywolf got a kill each before their tanks were disabled.

The fourth round was in New Fallout, normally the home base of the Soviet team. The terrain here was hilly, with trees, boulders, and some trenches. Red team had Vickster, Ayane, Toscha. Blue had Fatalitywolf, JessicaBelle, and KillingOwl. Meeting up, Fatalitywolf and KillingOwl fell to Vickster and Toscha after several rounds of cannon fire. JessicaBelle once again was outmaneuvering the Red team, but her tank ended up caught in a ditch and without mobility was quickly smoked.

Under the point system, Vickster was the winner of Day One of the Tanl Rally with 1800 points. JessicaBelle was second with 1200 points. Toscha was third with 1100. Ayane Sauber was fourth with 700. They along with others who scored received Linden cash prizes. Vickster as the top tanker also won a new tank of her choice. There was also a raffle, in which the winner was due a second tank, along with a new plane from Dayafter Productions and a new uniform from Sunshine. The prizes just for this first day exceeded 6000 Lindens, two tanks, one uniform and one airplane. The points will be accumulated throughout the Rally until the end.

The Tank Rally goes on in New Bastogne every day to next Sunday, September 16.

"Play hard, and play to win!"

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 7, 2012

Election Night 2008 in Second Life

This article is reprinted from Second Life Newspaper. It can no longer be accessed from there as after the paper was shut down, most of the sections, including the one where it was archived, was closed to public access.

Election coverage in Second Life was different four years ago than from today. The Grid was still in the public eye, and months earlier politicians Newt Gingrich and Mark Warner had made inworld appearances. Real life news media would occasionally stop by areas in Second Life with political activity, notably Cafe Wellstone for the left, the Straight Talk Cafe for the right, and Capitol Hill which was officially neutral. Also, with no incumbent, the election was considered more wide open, and more people were interested in this race between a grizzled old war hero and a promising up and coming Senator.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

After nearly two years, the 2008 American Presidential Election finally came to a close with millions of citizens turning out to the polls. And in Second Life, many got together to watch the returns come in.

Going around, I found a few amusing sights, such as someone running around Capitol Hill in his skivvies. When offered a campaign button in jest to put there, he declined, “I’m weird, not vulgar.” Then left shortly afterward. A lady there told me there was interest in the election overseas, “I spoke to a guy from Portugal this morning and asked him if there was a sense of excitement there about the U.S. election today. And, he said that there is a lot of interest in his country, and most people see Obama as the winner.”

 Checking out the Obama HQ in Silicon Island, a few had arrived before polls closed. They were looking forward to victory, both the Dems and some European visitors, with a few having sour words for the opposition. Asking them what an Obama Presidency will bring, they told me, “eventually, an Obama Presidency will bring a stable middle class, which will create a stable economy, and more employed home owners,” “PEACE,” “ a year and our economy will be creating clean energy jobs.” I later saw a couple avatars that were caricatures of Pailin and Obama, the Pailin one joking, “Well, don't tell McCain that I'm with Barack. He'll be pissed, ha ha! But I LOVE this man.” Later, the two went to SL Capitol Hill, the Barack caricature wearing a Superman suit.

Cafe Wellstone, another pro-Democratic area, had a small crowd early in the night, mostly confident of victory, “And TOGETHER we will begin the next great chapter in the AMERICAN STORY.” Though some were anxious. Later on when I tried going there, the sim was maxed out and closed to me.

Heading to the Republican’s Straight Talk Cafe, there were not just the regulars, but some liberals had also dropped in to debate them, some barbs traded between the two sides. A few branded him communist. More Conservatives were saying they could not vote for a charismatic leader they knew little about. Some also expressed worries about more trouble with Islamic terrorism. Asking them what they could expect of a McCain Presidency, one answered, “I expect McCain and Pailin to grow jobs, restore out image around the world, and secure victory in the wars we are fighting.”

As time went on, states were declared as polls closed and tallies were taken. Finally around 8 PM SL time in the Capitol Hill sim, “This is it.” “... here it goes!!” “Oh my God! Noooo!” “This will decide it.” “Nooo.” After a few more comments of the sort, Kiwini Oe went, “Well, now we’re a bit over the top! 304/143.” “Congratulations,” Kei Mona announced, “We have a new President.  We welcome President-Elect Obama and VP-Elect Biden.” “Oh my God! As soon as he won, my MSN crashed!”

Princess Ivory had this to say, “Do you all realize that this is a historic election not just for the US, but for SL? 4 years ago SL wasn't as popular. In the past, we would gather with our neighbors and family in the living room and watch the election results on television. Now we sit and watch our avatars sit together, and listen to the BBC broadcast from another window. Incredible. Who could have forseen it?! ... I think that this is one of those elections, regardless of its outcome, that will go down in the history books as being a significant moment of change in the way we communicate, share data, etc. And the immediacy of the online environment tends to mobilize people. They don't feel so alone. They are part of something larger.”

Checking the Obama HQ, they had set up some bright glow-balls, bathing the interior of the building in light. And with victory declared, many were dancing away. Some were clearly rubbing it in, “Eight years of opression is over!” “... he and his followers are finished!” Others were more conciliatory, “McCain sowed respect to Obama and showed humbleness.” After McCain’s concession speech, one remarked, “McCain has asked all Americans to support Obama.” One lady in voice and chat told everyone, “I'm an American Ex-Patriot in France and for the first time in a LONG time, I am proud to be an American that the USA was able to overcome racism and elect the first black president.” She put her son up to the microphone, whom began singing.

Then a couple came in, telling everyone they had just been banned from the Straight Talk Cafe, saying they ran through the place naked, “StreaKIN THE rEPS!!” Heading over, the main group of avatars had gone from the Cafe to the deck outside another building, where the Conservatives found no peace in their candidate conceding defeat, Obama supporters coming in to harass them. One was commenting how wonderful Obama’s election was as it would help usher in a world government, but it was unclear if he really meant that or was trying to aggravate the conservatives by invoking a conspiracy theory.

“You voted to suffer.” One Republican lady told them, “I voted for the man who tried to free my country, Vietnam.” “Any comments on what the Republican will do now?” I asked them. “Regroup.” “We need to clean house and get back to our conservative roots.” “1) Clean house in the RNC. 2) Take a few Leadership Institute courses 3) start promoting limited government candidates who believe what they say 4) pain(t) ever action by Obama as the socialist pickpocketing that it is. 5) Win the 2010 and 2012 elections.” One soldier sighed, “I will go to base tomorrow, keep working, kiss my wife goodbye for a year in March, and hope I am not shot when Obama makes me run from Iraq.” Some wondered if they could have done better with another candidate. Others felt there were not many realistic alternatives to whom they had chosen.

Outside the political sims, people told me about two clubs, Star Tails and Cutlass, having election-themed parties. Cutlass called theirs an “Election Reconciliation” party, with a poledancer in red, white, and blue. Stopping by Luskwood to chat, one asked me if the Straight Talk Cafe was griefed with Obama particles.

Stopping by Capitol Hill one final time, there were fireworks in the air to mark the end of this long campaign.

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Four years later, Capitol Hill and the Straight Talk Cafe, later renamed the GOP Cafe, are gone. Cafe Wellstone is still around. Fewer people seem interested in the election, as one real life columnist put it, the days of "Hope and Change" are long gone.

Bixyl Shuftan