Deviant Art Offers an Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Drew Struzan Hollywood Movie Art Gallery and Studio in Sansar

You can’t visit the Drew Struzan virtual movie art gallery in Sansar until the official opening tomorrow, but you can (courtesy of Deviant Art) get a sneak peek!

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Here’s the link to the 50-minute livestream (please skip ahead to the 1 minute 40 second mark to start). There’s an interview portion with Drew, followed by a virtual reality tour conducted by Jason Gholston, head of Sansar Studios at Linden Lab. Of particular note is Struzan’s studio, captured using a combination of laser scanning and photogrammetry.

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High Fidelity and JanusVR Announce the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance

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Remember that blogpost I wrote, way back when, about the idea of the Universal Avatar? Well, we seem to be one step closer to that today.

Philip Rosedale, the visionary founder of Second Life and CEO of High Fidelity, has just announced that JanusVR and High Fidelity have founded the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance (VRBA), “a group dedicated to establishing a universal digital identity built on the blockchain and outside the control of any specific corporate entity.” He goes on to say:

As a member of VRBA, Janus will host a node of the High Fidelity blockchain and have the ability not just to read from the ledger but to register assets and record transactions on it as well.

As a member of VRBA, Janus will recognize avatar identities created in High Fidelity, and equally personas created within Janus will transfer to High Fidelity. Users of both services will be able to control what information they share or keep private for each experience and tailor how they present themselves. Together we’ll add more features to our identity platform to help build trust as people traverse VR.

Soon High Fidelity users can bring their virtual goods to Janus, along with ownership rights — the precursor to avatars and property moving effortlessly from world to world.

Janus is also developing a Blockchain Explorer that will allow people to view and render their assets, regardless of which service they used to buy them. You’ll no longer have some of your stuff on one platform, some of it on another. It’s just your stuff, everywhere you go.

High Fidelity Coin (HFC) is our cryptocurrency for peer-to-peer transactions and purchases on the High Fidelity Marketplace. Janus will soon support HFC in its digital wallet, meaning anyone will be able to purchase Janus content using HFC. We’re creating a kind of ‘HFC free-trade zone’ between all the virtual worlds on both platforms.

JanusVR, a decentralized service which re-imagines webpages as collaborative three-dimensional webspaces interconnected by portals, also had a statement on their website of this new alliance. It states:

Fundamentally, Janus builds a universe of virtual worlds from the decentralized platform of the web itself. The use of blockchain technology is the next logical step, as it provides a meaningful solution to an important problem: portability of identity between virtual worlds. Such portability enables many new capabilities, for example: avatars that provide a consistent appearance between worlds, or enabling transactions with cryptocurrencies or any other kind of digital asset, with transactions occurring in-world or even between-world. All of this data will exist within a decentralized, public, secure network that will itself allow open exploration and visualization (something we are very enthusiastic about working on).

Of course, there’s still a bit of skepticism in some quarters about how well blockchain technology will stand up in actual virtual world use. It’s a fascinating debate, well worth following. Philip Rosedale is obviously a big believer in the blockchain. Maybe his bet will pay off.

And maybe—just maybe—the day of the Universal Avatar isn’t as far away as it once appeared to be…

UPDATED: More Details on the Upcoming Ability to Change Your User Name in Second Life

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Patch Linden added a bit more information to the recent announcement that Linden Lab was going to allow Second Life users to change their last names. He said, in a thread on the official Second Life user forums, that you would be able to change both first and last names:

It will be complete and total name changes, both first and surname.  Just to set expectations on this, it is a later this year item.

When asked if the change would be available to everyone, or just those with the Resident last name, he added:

It will be available to everyone.  ;)

And, in answer to yet another question about whether or not you could hide your name:

No hiding of names.  First name and surname combos will have to be unique like they are today.  A couple of other questions that came up – no re-use of retired names, once a name has been used, it belongs to that account forever.  We keep a transnational name change history.  Only standard English characters will be permitted.

Just to make it clear, this is an upcoming ability to change to the actual avatar name, not the display name. When asked about how this change will affect the display names of avatars (which can be updated once a week):

This has no affect on display names and largely I do not anticipate we will change how display names work.  If anything, it somewhat sunsets the need for them.

So, that makes everything a little clearer! Thanks, Patch! I predict that there will be a land rush on names once this feature is turned on for users. Being able to change both your first AND your last name (as long as somebody else doesn’t already have that combination) is a very nice feature to have!

UPDATE March 23rd: Inara Pey has a very detailed blogpost on this announcement by Linden Lab, with even more details:

The plan is to allow people to change their first and last name whenever they wish.

  • As with the “old” system, users will be able to choose whatever first name they like, then select their last name from a pre-set list of available names.
  • Once a name combination has been created, it is forever tied to that avatar, it cannot be used by anyone else, even if the “owner” later changes their name, or their account is deactivated.
  • Previous names will be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that and get their current name.
  • As with the “old” system, this list of last names will be routinely changed with different names appearing on it.
  • To help keep the available names relatively fresh, the Lab is considering accepting suggestions from users.
  • It has not been determined if someone will be able to switch back to using a name they’ve previously used.
  • Unicode will not be supported when entering a first name.

Thanks, Inara!

SECOND UPDATE April 2nd: Inara Pey has posted more details on the upcoming ability to change your avatar name in her report on the Second Life Web User Group meeting of March 28th:

  • “Original / legacy” last names will not be re-opened for use.
  • New users joining Second Life will still be given the automatic “last name” of “Resident”, but have the option of changing if they wish.
  • The fee for name changes has not been announced, however, at this point the indication is that the fee will be in fiat currency (i.e. US dollars) not Linden Dollars.
  • One of the reasons the return of last names will take time to be implemented is that all of the SL web properties – like the Marketplace – have to be updated to recognise users as they change their names (something which applies across almost all of the SL services when you think about it).

THIRD UPDATE Aug. 14th: Dakota Linden weighed in on the whole last names issue in a post on the official Second Life user forums:

It is wise not to speculate about what “might” happen at some time in the future regarding anything related to Second Life, or life in general for that matter.

1. ALL new accounts will be created with the Resident last name. Whether your personal choice in viewers allows that name to be hidden or not, ALL new accounts will have the last name of Resident.

2. IF a user chooses to become a Premium Member, they will have an option to purchase a different last name. The available last names will be from a Pre-Approved, rotating, list. If you do not want to purchase the option for a different last name, then don’t. No one is being FORCED to choose a last name other than Resident.

3. Will having the option to choose a last name change the gobbledy-gook first names? No. Why? Because some people will still choose to have weird or goofy first names that have no meaning at all, regardless of whether or not last names are available.

4. Will using your preferred, chosen, first name be easier when last names are available? YES!  Why? Because you pick your own first name, then have an option from a pre-approved list of last names, to pick from.  This means you will ALWAYS be able to have your preferred, chosen, first name, even if someone else is also using that name. Provided you are a Premium Account member AND you have paid for the option to have a different last name.

What is new about this information is that you have to have a Premium account in order to purchase a last name for your avatar. (Thanks to LittleMe Jewell for pointing out Dakota’s update!)