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  links for 2007-10-17  
Posted 2007-10-17 by Tony Walsh
  A Brain-Computer Interface For ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2007-10-16 by Tony Walsh
Throw away your keyboards and mice: Second Life avatars may now be controlled directly by the brain, thanks researchers at Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory. According to blog Pink Tentacle, which translated a news release from Nikkei Net, a user wearing an electrode-studded headpiece can control an avatar in 3D space simply by thinking about moving. Based on a YouTube video of the process (below), control over the avatar is very precise--not what I pictured based on early brain-computer interface experiments.

Continue reading: A Brain-Computer Interface For ‘Second Life’
  links for 2007-10-14  
Posted 2007-10-14 by Tony Walsh
  ‘Electric Sheep’ Improve ‘Second Life’ Interface  
Posted 2007-10-11 by Tony Walsh
The Electric Sheep Company, a large third-party developer of virtual-world products and services will soon launch its own window into the world of Second Life. The pending client software (known as a "viewer") has been commercially licensed by Second Life maker/maintainer Linden Lab, according to an official press release.

Based on a limited range of screenshots and online discussion about the upcoming viewer, it appears that the Electric Sheep Company has gone a long way in addressing one of the chief problems facing new users: The interface. Historically, Second Life's viewer has been difficult to use, suffering from the classic "designed by engineers" syndrome plaguing many graphical user-interfaces and software applications.

Continue reading: ‘Electric Sheep’ Improve ‘Second Life’ Interface
  Linden Lab, IBM To Collaborate on ‘3D Internet’  
Posted 2007-10-10 by Tony Walsh
Computing giant IBM and virtual-world maker Linden Lab have announced a joint effort to brighten the future of 3D virtual worlds through the development of open standards-based technologies and methodologies. According to an official press release, the two companies intend to "work with a broad community of partners to drive open standards and interoperability to enable move from one virtual world to another with ease, much like you can move from one website to another on the Internet today."

Virtual-world enthusiasts are no doubt excited about the prospect of avatar-portability, a feature currently unavailable in most contemporary 3D worlds, but promised (or at least hinted at) by up and coming platforms such as Multiverse and Metaplace. Obviously there are many more hurdles to this idea than simply technology--for me, it will be the creative and cultural ramifications of avatar portability that are worth solving first.

Continue reading: Linden Lab, IBM To Collaborate on ‘3D Internet’
  ‘EVE Online’ Seeks Citizen Journalists  
Posted 2007-10-09 by Tony Walsh
Players of sci-fi MMO EVE Online have been invited to apply for in-world reporter jobs as part of the "News Clones" wing of EVE TV, a web-based broadcast by the makers of the game for its players. According to the official call-out, the EVE universe is too large to cover with EVE TV's original staff: "Stationing reporters and correspondents across the Galaxy means we can cover more events, investigate more stories, and offer a broader scope for news."

News Clones, a sort of citizen journalist team, will be unpaid, but will receive special social status and broadcast credits. Applicants need only to possess "decent" English skills and the ability to file stories on time... hardly a high standard in reporting, but given that EVE has already had success with its own in-house magazine and its (paid) fan contributors, it's likely some skilled News Clone reporters will emerge to cover EVE from the inside out.

Continue reading: ‘EVE Online’ Seeks Citizen Journalists
  Inflate Your Own 3D ‘Second Life’ Objects in Minutes  
Posted 2007-10-04 by Tony Walsh
Inflate Your Own 3D ‘Second Life’ Objects in Minutes
German software developer impara has released an amazing little application for easily creating organic 3D objects for use with Second Life. PloppSL allows users to paint something on-screen, "inflate" it, tweak it a bit, then export it to the virtual world as a "sculptie." The Plopp interface is gorgeous in its simplicity, and appears to be completely idiot-proof, in contrast to Second Life's clunky built-in building blocks.

Certainly PloppSL is a very limited tool, but it's free, and for people like me who haven't added proper 3D modeling to their skill-set, it's got plenty of potential for rapidly creating interesting organic shapes. I have no use for its primitive painting system, but you can bet I'll be tinkering with Photoshop and replacing PloppSL's simplistic exported textures with more sophisticated ones.
  ‘EVE Online’ and ‘White Wolf’ Online Communities To Be Merged  
Posted 2007-10-04 by Tony Walsh
On the heels of last year's marriage of computer game developer CCP (maker of sci-fi MMOG EVE Online) and White Wolf (maker of tabletop RPG Vampire: The Masquerade) comes an announcement that communities following both companies will be deliberately cross-pollinated.

A campaign has been launched to introduce White Wolf fans to EVE Online with the hopes that both large communities will be interested in subscribing to the upcoming CCP-developed MMO based on White Wolf's World of Darkness universe. An EVE "corporation" (in-game team) was created specifically to attract White Wolf community members, but is open to all.

More information on the in-game corporation "White Wolf Enterprises" can be found on its official home page, which serves as a bit of a gateway for one fan base to acclimate to the other. I have no doubt that a significant portion of each game community will be interested in the other's back yard, giving CCP's pending World of Darkness game a healthy kick-start.
  links for 2007-10-04  
Posted 2007-10-04 by Tony Walsh
  ‘Electric Sheep’ Plan Virtual-World Ad Network  
Posted 2007-10-03 by Tony Walsh
The Electric Sheep Company, a third-party developer of tools, services, content and experiences primarily for Second Life, plans to launch an in-world advertising network. Aimed at residents looking to earn money by publishing ads on their land, at individual advertisers, and at ad agencies, the yet-untitled network is currently under construction, with the network's (likely interim) web page offering a means to sign up to become a beta-tester. Officially described as "for Second Life and other Virtual Worlds," I wonder what other worlds the network could reasonably be inserted into.

As with in-game advertising, context is king. Fortunately, most virtual world--as opposed to game world--environments are set in contemporary or otherwise ad-friendly settings. This makes advertising Coke in Second Life a reasonable venture, whereas in-game advertisers haven't historically understood that billboards for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalow don't belong on an alien fortress.

Continue reading: ‘Electric Sheep’ Plan Virtual-World Ad Network
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