Where Do You Come From?

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Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

I always find it interesting to check my blog stats to see where my blog visitors are coming from. Here’s my Top Ten list of referrers this week:

  1. Search engines (mostly Google search, but other search engines too)
  2. Facebook
  3. The official Second Life community forums
  4. Virtual Secrets (because of my Second Life Bingo post!)
  5. Reddit (the Oculus, Virtual Reality, and Social VR subReddits)
  6. The official High Fidelity user forums
  7. Google+ (all my blogposts are automatically posted to Google+)
  8. The VirtualVerse user forms (formerly known as SLUniverse)
  9. Twitter (all my blogposts are automatically posted to my Twitter feed)
  10. The official Sinespace user forums

The three blogs from which I get the most referral traffic are:

  1. New World Notes, by Wager James Au (thanks, Wagner!)
  2. Nalates’ Things and Stuff, by Nalates Urriah (thank you!)
  3. StrawberrySingh.com, by Strawberry Singh (whom I also advertise with)

Wherever you happen to be coming from, welcome to my blog!

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How to Customize Your T-Shirt in Facebook Spaces

Look, it’s really no secret that I hate Facebook Spaces. I just can’t get past the cartoony avatars, and the fact that your avatar is essentially stuck sitting around a table in a 360-degree photograph. Even their recent avatar makeover didn’t impress me much.

As I have said before, true social VR should allow your avatar to move around freely, which most of the platforms in this social VR comparison chart I created yesterday permit you to do. There are products out there with much, much better features than Facebook Spaces.

But some people love Facebook Spaces! One of them is Navah Berg, and she’s a digital marketing professional with an interest in social VR (LinkedIn profile) who is eager to share her knowledge of Facebook’s social VR platform.

She’s written up a very detailed post on Medium that outlines how you can customize your T-shirt in Facebook Spaces:

Types of Images that are T-Shirt Ready for Facebook Spaces:

 Selfies from Facebook Spaces taken and shared,

— Images that have been shared or uploaded to your Timeline/Facebook Newsfeed or Facebook Stories from Facebook.com.

 Recently tagged photos of you on your Timeline/Facebook Newsfeed

— Search in Social VR. Images in the search 🔍 section

Here’s one of her results:

Navah

Now, I have to admit that this is really cute. However, being able to customize your T-shirt does not compare with the full-blown avatar fashion market that is already available in Sansar and Sinespace.

So, unfortunately, this is not enough to turn me into a fan of Facebook Spaces. (Sorry, Navah!)

UPDATED: A Comparison Chart of Twelve Popular Social VR Platforms

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From my recent blog reader poll results, I got the following results on who has created user accounts on which social VR spaces:

The “Big Five” social VR platforms

After Second Life and OpenSim, the next biggest section of the reader responses were these five newer social VR platforms:

  • Sansar (149 readers, 8.87%)
  • High Fidelity (145 readers, 8.63%)
  • VRChat (101 readers, 6.01%)
  • Sinespace (83 readers, 4.94%)
  • AltspaceVR (68 readers, 4.05%)

Not far behind were a few more newer competitors

  • Rec Room (54 readers, 3.22%)
  • Somnium Space (53 readers, 3.16%)
  • Bigscreen (35 readers, 2.09%)
  • Facebook Spaces (29 readers, 1.73%)
  • Oculus Rooms (26 readers, 1.55%)
  • vTime (20 readers, 1.19%)
  • TheWaveVR (16 readers, 0.95%)

So, I decided to draw up a detailed comparison chart of just these 12 social VR platforms. Note that in this chart, I excluded platforms that did not have VR support (e.g. Second Life, OpenSim-based virtual worlds).

I also did not dwell on technical details, such as the underlying game engine, user creation tools, etc. Instead, I focused on the three things of most interest to consumers:

  • How you can access the platform;
  • What options do you have for your avatar;
  • And whether you can go shopping!

This print on this chart is a little small to show up on the constrained width of this blogpost, so I saved it as a picture to Flickr. Just click on the chart below (or the link above) to see it in Flickr in full size. You can also use the Flickr magnifying glass to get an even closer look!

Social VR Platform Comparison Chart 22 Oct 2018

You can also download this chart from Flickr in any size up to its original size (1656 x 914 pixels).

If you feel I’ve made any mistakes, or left anything out, please leave me a comment below, thanks! I do hope that people who are trying to figure out which social VR spaces to explore will find this comparison chart useful.

UPDATE Oct. 23rd: Someone on the Virtual Reality subReddit has helpfully pointed out this thread on the official Sansar website’s Feature Requests section, where it would appear that Sansar does now work with Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Sansar user Vassay wrote in July 2018:

After Windows 10 April update, WMR headsets work with Sansar in full scale – meaning all the benefits, including moving your avatar. Tested and confirmed on several systems already.

One thing to be weary is that Sansar works with WMR headsets through SteamVR libraries, so some updates to SteamVR can sometimes break things. But from what I’ve seen, things are mostly stable and work correctly.

Happy VR to all 😉

Also, there is an interesting comment on the discussion thread about this chart over on the High Fidelity user forums:

Clothing in High Fidelity is doable, but is limited at this time to whichever avatar is was made for, since global clothing options isn’t really a thing.

So can you have clothing in High Fidelity? Yes, and not just attachments either. Apparently Ryan forgot that Menithal’s robes are completely separate, that items made in Marvelous [Designer] do work here, or that I had a greeter uniform before all greeters got one…

Menithal in Clothing.jpeg

To which I would reply: Yes, technically you can make clothing for your custom avatar in HiFi (if you have the skills), but there is still no default, dressable avatar for which you can buy clothing from the marketplace, like you already can in both Sinespace and Sansar. Note that I am making a specific distinction between actual avatar clothing that conforms to your body and the simpler avatar attachments (such as hats and wings) currently offered at the in-world stores in High Fidelity.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Kim Female Full-Body Avatar by Altamura!

Once again, Altamura has come out with a great deal on a full-body mesh avatar (both head and body in one package). This is a female mesh avatar called Kim, and you can pick one up for absolutely free at the UniHispana Crea Gateway Community sim (here’s the SLURL):

Altamura Kim freebie 2 21 Oct2018

Simply pay the vendor a Linden dollar and the Kim body is yours (your Linden dollar will be automatically refunded; you do not need to be a member of the Altamura group to take advantage of this deal).

Here’s what Kim looks like:

Kim Altamura 2 21 Oct 2018

Unfortunately, this is another one of the Altamura freebies which does not allow you to remove the head (in order to replace it with another mesh head). However, the included head really is quite lovely, don’t you think?

Kim Altamura 21 Oct 2018

Kim is a fully-adjustable Bento body which comes with a HUD which allows you a complete set of alpha selections to make just about any clothing fit well. I have found that clothing designed for the Maitreya Lara mesh avatar body tends to fit the Altamura female bodies very well, with a minimum of fuss (and more and more designers are now creating clothing specifically designed for Altamura mesh bodies).

Also, the Altamura female mesh bodies have Slink-compatible feet, so any shoe designed for Slink feet should work well (the female mesh body gift comes in three foot heights, selectable via the HUD: flat, medium, and high). The bodies have Bento hands, and (in a nice added touch) Altamura has included a hand AO which cycles through natural hand positions, which you can use with your regular (non-Bento) AO. There’s also a facial AO.

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head and Body: Kim by Altamura

Hair: The hairstyle is actually a freebie from your inventory, located in the folder Accessories/Hair Design Options (Colors & Styles)/Tapered Bob)

Eyes: Dream eyes in brown (a freebie from YS&YS at a recent shopping event)

Top and Skirt: Eleni tee and Caitlyn skirt, from the freebie capsule wardrobe by Baby Monkey available at The Free*Style store (for more information, please see this blogpost)

Flats: White flats by Garbaggio (part of the free sample pack for Slink feet; available on the SL Marketplace). The package includes flats, mid-height pumps, and full-height pumps, each with a HUD that lets you pick one of four different colours.

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: FREE!

The Altamura Kim vendor is part of a special fund-raising event to fight cancer, which runs until November 1st, so you have until at least then to pick up this freebie. There are dozens of other vendors, some selling exclusive items. You can also make a donation (perhaps the Linden dollars you would have spent on a full-price mesh avatar head and body?) to the AECC: Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer.

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An Update: Leaving My Second Life Avatars to Other People Via My Will (and Why Cancer Is Still Part of My Life)

By the way, even though my recent cancer scare is over, I am still actively drawing up my list of acquaintances, friends and family to whom I will leave all my Second Life avatars in my will.

(If you have already responded, thank you! And I will be in touch with you before the end of October. So far I have had about a dozen people send me messages, by email or in-world.)

Here’s the alphabetical list for you to peruse. The following four avatars are already spoken for:

  • Nada Nix (my goth girl avatar) I have decided to leave to Jenn (a.k.a. Xiola Linden), the Community Manager for Second Life at Linden Lab.
  • Rose Queen (my Caledon/steampunk/Victorian older woman avatar) is going to Blush Bravin of the Second Life brand Blushed (a.k.a Debi Baskerville in SL and Sansar).
  • Scarborough Fair (my medieval roleplay avatar) I am leaving to Solas NaGealai, co-owner of Silvan Moon Designs in Second Life.
  • Vanity Fair (my fashionista avatar) I have decided to leave to Strawberry Singh. I know that she will take good care of her!

 

And, if you are hesitating because you don’t really know me, except through this blog, please don’t. I still need to find homes for most of these avatars before I shuffle off this mortal coil! Don’t get me wrong—I plan on living a long and healthy life, and reaching a ripe old age, but you never know what can happen! And I would hate to think that all my creative work will go into the pixel bin….

All I ask is that we have at least one good, long, in-depth conversation (via phone, chat, or IM). I simply want to know who you are (and what you plan to do with my avatar) before I leave you one of these avatars, on which I have spent a great deal of time, energy, and (in some cases) money.

And, if you don’t want me to publicize your name, I can certainly honour that request too; just let me know in advance. I’d much rather leave these lovingly-created and outfitted avatars to people who actually enjoy and appreciate Second Life, as opposed to people who never use SL. And I know from my blog statistics that I do get a lot of visitors from SL. Thank you for your consideration. Here’s my contact page.


By the way, cancer is still very much a part of my life. My best friend in real life recently underwent surgery for serious prostate cancer, and he has learned that this cancer has spread and that he will soon have to undergo testosterone suppression therapy and radiation treatment. I feel afraid, angry and sad, and I also feel guilty that I’m OK and he’s not. He was back in the hospital for a  couple of days due to blood clots in both his lungs after his surgery, but he is at home resting and recovering now. Please keep my friend John in your thoughts and prayers.

Relay in Life for Second Life now has a very special meaning for me. Please consider supporting this annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. You can also consider making a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society. Thank you!

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Aether City: A Brief Introduction

Well, whaddayaknow? I turned over a rock and discovered yet another blockchain-based virtual world!

Aether 21 Oct 2018.png

Aether City is a new virtual world (city, to be more accurate) that uses the Ethereum blockchain to register property ownership.

The only way to explore Aether City is via their web browser, which is currently rather limited in functionality. You can buy units or entire buildings, such as this central skyscraper whimsically named “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”:

Aether 2 21 Oct 2018.png

According to their website:

A unit is the smallest unit of property ownership in Aether. It is a property that is defined by its coordinates occupying an area of 10 m³. A unit is a part of a building and is adjacent to neighboring units. The owner of a unit determines its appearance, fills it with content, and has the ability to connect the unit to its own domain.

However, there doesn’t appear to be any way to actually build content within your units yet. All you can do is put in a link to the property’s domain page. Rather limited. (At least Decentraland already has a working command-line editor that allows builders to create and deploy test scenes.)

I bet that the team behind Aether City, Aether Labs in Waterloo, would just kill for the kind of media attention that Decentraland is getting. But sadly, it would appear that the project is moribund. There have been only two Medium posts about it (Feb. 4th and March 11th of this year), and not a word since. Their Discord has seen no discussion at all since May 11th, and their Telegram channel has seen absolutely zero chatter, with only a couple of company-posted pictures of their bland, rather uninspiring-looking city:

Telegram Aether 21 Oct 2018

Frankly, I’m not sure exactly why anybody would want to spend their hard-earned cryptocurrency on this. The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace building is for sale for 10 Ethereum coins (approximately US$2,000) if you’re interested. I think I’ll pass.