Wednesday, July 23, 2014

RFL 2014 Wrap Up – An Editorial

By DrFran Babcock

Relay For Life of Second Life™ (RFL of SL) is over for another year. This was a very successful year for donations, with over 409,000 US Dollars collected at this point. I had a wonderful Relay this year, working with a solid team, staying on the track for 21 hours, and collecting a lot of money, mostly by selling old gacha items I had in my inventory.

I wanted to take some time to go on record with my thoughts and reactions to the event this year. I will talk about the things I loved and the things that could be made better; maybe next year.

Things to Fix For Next Year

Sim Stability - I am not a noob, and I understand that when too many avatars are on a sim the resources get stressed to the max. I have a very fast computer and very fast Internet. I could not count the times I crashed trying to do the lap with my team. I almost turned off my computer and left the house, because I had become so frustrated.

Lag is not LL’s fault. All of us can and should do all we can to make the team lap a low-lag event. I suggest that the committee recommend that teams dress in system tee shirts, and go bald for this first lap. Will that help? I am not sure, because I have read all kinds of conflicting information about what does and does not put a demand on sim resources. Let’s face it; most of the camps are very high prim and script-filled affairs—my team’s Relay Wizards for Spunky included. However, it’s really the number of avatars on the sim, and I am not wholly sure that a “naked” lap wouldn’t help.

I had no trouble doing laps once it got much later. There were still a lot of avatars on the track, but they were spread out more.

Original vs. Bought Content - I know I may make enemies for saying this, but I have issues with the way some of the camps and designer builds were presented. In my opinion, there is a vast difference between a build that is created by a content creator, and one that is created by buying the work of others, and putting it together as a build.

I understand that many content creators, myself included, can’t make trees and some plants, can’t make hair, avatars, etc. However, I do try to include my own content in the camp, even if it is not as good as what I could buy or modify.

Many of the builds contained works made by Aley (Arcadia Asylum) that are always full perm and easy to modify. I think that if you want to do that, you need to acknowledge that. I write research for a living, and I would never use other’s work without an attribution.
I want to be careful here…I am speaking just for myself and no one else on the SL Newser or in Second Life™, but I fell in love with one of the designer builds (more about this build later), and realized that aside from some trees, the entire build had been constructed by the designer who had been asked to build it. I noticed other designer builds that had entire, large houses from other content creators on them, and these builds seemed to get more attention and accolades. I am not really comfortable about that.
Again, I suggest that the committee create new categories for Best Designer Build that are for mostly original content, and for best use of objects created by others.
I want to give a big shout out to Lilith Heart of Heart Botanicals. Her work, with partner Dolly, was ubiquitous in Relay, and if she treated other camps as she did Relay Wizards, those items were provided free of charge.
What I Loved
Whew, I am glad that’s over. I don’t like being negative, but I have to say what’s on my mind. For the most part, I adored the camps and the laps and the Relay. There is something in me that just melts when I see those lavender arrows on the Relay track. There were many, many, many more things I loved, than didn’t like.
Alia Baroque’s Designer Build -  I went mad for this build, because of it’s look and it had canals! I inspected enough to realize that Alia had done most of the heavy lifting, and that the concept of Birth and Decay was quite moving. It’s impossible to take a bad picture of this build, with its two forums and winding waterways and bridges. If you go inside the buildings strange things can happen to you.
I had been entranced by the way the Fantasy Faire had looked, and hadn’t realized that the main builder for this masterpiece had been the very same Alia Baroque. I IMed him to heap praise on him, and found him to be both humble and inspiring. I immediately went to check out some of his other builds, and I was not disappointed. Alia’s work is definitely worth exploring.
By the time this article is published the sims will be gone. I hope Alia can be convinced to resurrect this build on one of his sims.
Beq Janus' Escher Build - This build has gotten quite a bit of well-deserved attention, and all of it is quite justified. Beq is the only person I know who can make a black and white sim as compelling as the brightly colored builds that surrounded it. Things move, and things don’t move, but your eyes are dazzled as you walk around.
It wasn’t until after the Relay that I got a good look at this build, because the Relay track runs right through the whole thing—uphill and downhill, but not at an angle where I could see it well. The 3-D lizards climbing the wall are fun and very Escher.
The Activities Sims - Grace Loudon was in charge of putting together the area where the opening and closing ceremonies would take place, along with concerts, sales, and even a museum of RFL of SL.
The central meeting places for large events are often overlooked in favor of the activities happening there. Grace’s touch with these four regions is exactly the perfection that was required. Unless you focused specifically on the details, they just became a part of the happy experience. The verdigris walls and lamps were just there in the environment, but they served to pull all of the different areas together. The subtle shading on all the elements provided a soothing balm from the madness of the track. There is even a history museum where you can see the giant hair that cemented Fuzzball Ortega’s title as Spirit of Relay.
Steelhead Salmons Camp - This really was a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. There were individual items in this build that were exceptional—the sharks, the octopus—but, it really was the entire build that just screamed steampunk. I am always a fan of the steampunk builds, and the Salmons hooked me (like that pun, Bix?).
The build is also educational, and speaks about behaviors in support of treatment and lifestyle. A bit hard to do without modern energy sources, don’t you think?
It’s A Small World, the build you love to hate – Last, I would be remiss if I didn’t salute the Relay Rockers, and their camp build that recreates the Disney Small World Ride. This build, and its ear worm tune, has become a symbol for mock annoyance the world over. Everyone loves to grumble about It’s a Small World After All, at the very same time that they keep getting on the ride.
The Rockers used the ride to point out how very international the fight against cancer has become, and how Relay for Life events are being held all around the world. The committee thought it was a super build, and gave it first prize for Education.
Whatever your response, or story—everyone has a story about this ride—you can’t deny that Second Life™ and Relay for Life have made us a truly international community. The outside world could learn a lot from us.
Relay was mostly wonderful, and only a bit irritating. In fact, the letdown of it being over makes me sad and gets me to think about plans for next year. Our Gold Team Relay Wizards is shooting for platinum next year. I hope to see you there!
DrFran Babcock

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