UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Twisted Fall Hunt

The Twisted semi-annual hunts are renowned for being the hardest hunts in Second Life. While last spring’s Twisted Hunt had a theme of white and gold, the new fall Twisted Hunt has a theme of black and red.

Don’t expect any helpful hints from the Twisted Hunt website; all you’ll get is a list of participating stores. After that, you’re on your own. Many stores deliberately put multiple false hunt cubes throughout the store to make it even more impossible to find the prize you are seeking!

Here is a look at one of the Twisted Hunt prizes: this gorgeous black-and-red ballgown with gold accents by C!L Boutique:

This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head and Eyes: Cleo by Akeruka (a previous dollarbie group gift; the Akeruka group costs L$150 to join; the Cleo head comes with matching Omega body skin appliers; more details here)
  • Mesh Body: Juliet by Altamura (Juliet was a free Valentine’s Day group gift; the Altamura group costs L$50 to join, and you can obtain the Omega system kit for Altamura mesh bodies for only L$99 available at this exact SLURL; more details about the Juliet body here)
  • Hair: Winks by LIQUIDMOON (free gift from a previous Hair Fair)
  • Dress: Morticia ballgown by C!L Boutique (free Twisted Hunt prize)
  • Jewlery: Sacre Coeur earrings and necklace by CODEX (free gift from a previous eBento event)
  • Fan with Animation: Scripted fan for geisha by Tuty’s Animations (free gift from years ago; tinted red to match the Morticia gown)


Pictures were taken at the Twisted Hunt headquarters.

UPDATE Sept. 13th: Melyna Foxclaw left the following helpful message using the Contact form on my blog:

Hi! I am writing about the recent Twisted Hunt post. I noticed you mention you were mostly on your own on this hunt. But there is an inworld hunt group too. There are no hints on the website, but if you join the free Twisted Hunt Inworld group, you can ask for hints there. That is the only place you can get the hints. They are not published anywhere because they can change very often during the hunt at various stores in the hunt. And the group can be quite helpful at times when you get stuck. Usually, there will be someone willing to help you out. Or someone who knows the hint. Some stores have an easel that might have the hint and more information about extra side hunts at their stores. Just FYI, since it was left out. Thanks!

Thanks, Melyna!

UPDATED! True Second Life Confessions: How I Deal with an Inventory of 240,000 Items

Sweetheart, I *wish* my inventory were this tidy, neat and organized…
Photo by Jamesthethomas5 on Unsplash

The avatar that, over time, has become my main avatar in Second Life is named Vanity Fair. (I got very lucky; the last name “Fair” was only available for a two-week period back in 2008 and I snapped up that name immediately.)

Back in August 2017, when I first started this blog, I wrote:

Ooh, shopping!  It just sends a shiver up my spine.  Vanity Fair, my supermodel avatar in Second Life…has an inventory of exactly 160,760 items, as of this morning. (I can stop shopping… ANY. TIME. I. WANT.)

Well, as of today, Vanity has an inventory of exactly 239,322 elements. No, that is not a typo! (Elements is the word used by Linden Lab for the total count of items and folders in your Second Life inventory.) But by any count or measurement, Vanity has a rather serious inventory problem. I don’t know of any other avatars that have such an overstuffed inventory (although I’m quite sure that there some avatars on the grid who could give me a run for my money).

Yes, people, Vanity is a hoarder. (Oh, the shame of it all!) Someone call the TLC television network people! This could be a new reality show 😉

You wouldn’t know it to look at her, would you? Vanity seems like such a sane, model citizen, a pillar of the community! You wouldn’t know it to look at her lovely, tidy, neat Linden Home, either:

Now, I should state, in my own defense, (erm, I mean, in Vanity’s defense… oh. bloody hell, you know what I mean to say…) that the major reason her inventory grew by a whopping 80,000 items since August 2017 is that Vanity is the girl who hits all the major shopping events and sales in Second Life in order to obsessively vacuum up all the gifts, freebies and bargains. No stone left unturned, no gift left untouched.

And it’s not as if I haven’t tried to clean out my inventory. Lord knows, I’ve tried. Two years ago, I made a very half-hearted attempt to clean, by using my inventory filters to select all items older than, say, 4,000 days, and I started throwing out the very oldest stuff. You might not even have known that you can do that! Here’s how it works in the Firestorm viewer (sorry, but I never use the standard Second Life viewer, so I can’t tell you what the equivalent commands are):

But I hesitated throwing out even the oldest system layer and flexiprim clothing. Why?

Well, the introduction of Bakes on Mesh means that you will still be able to use all those items on your mesh avatar. In fact, just within the past week, Catwa and Signature have both issued a Bakes on Mesh update for their products, and Maitreya has as well, for their popular Maitreya Lara mesh female avatar body. (While the standard Second Life viewer now supports Bakes on Mesh, the Firestorm viewer does not yet support this feature. But I’m pretty sure it’s coming soon.)

Here’s a YouTube video explaining how the Catwa and Signature Bakes on Mesh works:

And another video demonstrating the new Bakes on Mesh relay HUD for Maitreya:

So, you see, I need to keep all the old stuff. It might be useful someday 😉

Yeah, yeah, okay, I know. I know. I have a problem. Vanity can’t let go.

Now, you might wonder, what kind of impact does an inventory of almost 240,000 items have on my Second Life performance? You might be surprised to learn: very little. First, I have an absolute beast of a computer, to be able to run an Oculus Rift VR headset and explore various social VR platforms like Sansar and High Fidelity.

But there are times when having such a large inventory affects my enjoyment of Second Life. The worst thing that happens is when I click on the Recent tab of my inventory, to sort items by most recent. And I wait, and I wait, and I wait, for the display to catch up. When I click on the Worn tab of my inventory to limit the display to just the items I am currently wearing, that tends to take a while too.

But other than that, things run pretty smoothly. I’m racking my brains to think of other times when Firestorm slows down just for Vanity (as opposed to an alt with a much, much smaller inventory), and really, I can’t think of anything at the moment. (If I do think of something, I will just add an update to this blogpost.)

Now, you might also ask: Ryan, how the hell do you FIND anything? Well, a couple of years ago I learned an extremely valuable search tip for finding things in my inventory, using multiple keywords connected by the + sign. For example, to search for items that have both the words pink and earring, in either order, enter “pink+earring” in the search box:

I swear, when I first learned that I could actually do this in the Firestorm viewer, I just about fell over in shock! How had I been playing Second Life for so many years and not known this tip?!?? So I share this tip with you and hope that you find it useful to navigate your inventory, too. Here is the page from the Firestorm viewer website that explains in detail how to use all the features of your inventory window. Read, study, and learn.

In these pictures, Vanity Fair is wearing:

  • Outfit: Dany by Seniha (Lucky Board prize; the Seniha group is free to join, and there are many lovely group gifts available to pick up)
  • Shoes: Adore shoes by KC Couture (only L$50 for a fatpack of 20 shades to match just about any outfit)
  • Earrings: Sienna earrings by Lazuri (a free gift from last year’s Pumpkin Hunt for Parkinsons event; every single aspect of these earrings is recolourable or retexturable! They go with everything!)
  • Hair: Dasha by Truth Hair (my favourite hairstyle; L$250)

Vanity is also wearing:

UPDATE Sept. 8th: Another consequence of Vanity Fair having such a huge inventory that I forgot to mention is that when I exit the Firestorm viewer, there is a noticeable delay before the program shuts down completely. With my alts, I can exit Firestorm almost immediately.

Editorial: The Joys of Blogging

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

I first started messing around with blogging software like Movable Type and Blogger as far back as February of 2002. Nothing I created I stuck with for very long, although I did document the three years I spent in the nascent virtual world of Cloud Party (and my first adventures in avatar clothing design) in a blog I rather cleverly called Cloud Party Bugle. So this is not my first rodeo; I know the ropes.

As I have said before, I had never tried to get into the world (or “blogosphere”, as some call it) of Second Life blogging. It just seemed to me that bloggers like Strawberry Singh and Wagner James Au were already so well established, that I could never “break in” to that market and expect any success. I now realize that when you start your blog is not nearly as important as how often you blog, what you choose to blog about (finding your niche), and how you approach blogging (with enthusiasm and a unique perspective). If you have those things, readers will naturally come to your blog over time. My blog traffic is now twice what it was a year ago at this time. You might be surprised to know that, according to my WordPress statistics, Second Life users form the biggest group of visitors to my blog.

And I do take a certain amount of pride in my new role as the Freebie Queen of Second Life 😉 blogging about steals, deals, and freebies on the grid! In fact, my most popular blogpost of all time, a constantly-updated post about where to find free and inexpensive mesh heads and bodies for female Second Life avatars, now has 10,193 views as of today. There are a thousand bloggers covering fashion in Second Life, but few catering to freebie fashionistas! Even though I visit and write about many different social VR platforms and virtual worlds, one of my most enjoyable pastimes, still, is pulling together a well-put-together Second Life avatar look for next to nothing. If I could make money as a SL freebie fashion consultant, I would (but you really can’t make serious money at Second Life unless you are a successful content creator or a land baron).

I now find my email interactions with Google AdSense policy violations to be amusing rather than irritating. The latest one, ironically, was a blogpost about censorship flagged for having a Modigliani nude. And a few days later, as suddenly as the violation appeared in my Google AdSense account notices, it disappeared. I have no idea what happened, and I have given up trying to figure out the mysteries of Google AdSense policy application, and whether they are driven by computer algorithm or human intervention.

I’ve been alternately fascinated and appalled by the advertising inserted in my blogposts, both by WordPress WordAds and Goodle AdSense. The latest advertising scams making the rounds seem to prey on ketogenic dieters and older women obsessed with reducing wrinkles. Here’s a couple of examples of particularly ridiculous ads delivered via WordAds that popped up on my blog today:

When you click on these ads, it takes you to a website for a beauty product called the Essence of Argan. A little determined Google searching uncovered a detailed trip down the rabbit hole of a scam, and numerous consumer complaints of unauthorized credit card charges. Buyer beware!

The Essence of Argan website: Buyer beware!

As for scams around ketogenic dieting, Dr. Ryan Lowery has posted a good YouTube video on the whole Shark Tank keto diet pill scam:

I have some moral qualms about the WordAds advertising for these sorts of scams that I am seeing a little more often recently on my blog, and I may decide to pull my WordAds advertising altogether if the situation doesn’t improve (I make more money with Google AdSense anyways). I just hate the feeling that I may be inadvertently directing my blog readers to a scam artist, even though I know that I can’t assume responsibility for gullible people who click on misleading ads.

Between my Patreon patron page (thank you to all my wonderful patrons!) and my blog advertising via WordAds and AdSense, I am getting closer to the point where I can cover the costs my blog hosting plan on WordPress (I currently have their Business plan at CAD$33 a month, billed annually). But I am not too concerned about making money at this point. For me, it is more of a creative outlet. I didn’t get into this to make money; I did it because I love to blog!

But one of the most amazing things about my blogging is how it has changed my circumstances, and especially how people perceive me. Theanine said yesterday on the official Sansar Discord server:

Ryan is one of the most prominent social VR bloggers. His words have power…

And I immediately replied:

Oh God please do NOT put me on a pedestal. I will fall off and I will make a large crash when I do.

But the fact remains that I have, not by design and almost by accident, gone from writing a tiny blog exclusively about Sansar to a fairly popular blog covering any and all aspects of social VR, virtual worlds, and the evolving metaverse. And that means that I have a bit of clout. For example, I was among the first 200 people invited into the closed beta test of Decentraland, something I very much doubt would have happened if I weren’t blogging about this project since the very beginning.

And people are beginning to take notice: they are following me on Twitter (only 490 followers so far, but it’s gone up quite a bit this past year); they are welcoming me into their Discord servers (like the Educators in VR Discord, a community I first heard about via the entrepreneur who approached me about expanding and monetizing my list of social VR and virtual worlds); and they are coming to me with news tips and stories (for example, High Fidelity moving out of their expensive San Francisco headquarters). In one instance, two of the members of the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, Michael Zhang and Jin, pulled together and analyzed all the data and produced bar charts which I used in a recent blogpost about which social VR platforms have raised the most money!

(By the way, I have decided not to monetize my list of social VR/virtual worlds. Instead, I will try to work something up for publication in a research journal instead. Working for a university, I tend to have more of an academic than an entrepreneurial bent anyways. Then I could add it to my résumé for the next time I apply for a promotion at work, assuming I do so before I decide to retire at the age of 60, which is the current plan. I might decide instead to create some sort of digital product and distribute it, perhaps via a newsletter mailing list, such as the one set up and operated by Tony, the Italian blogger behind the VR blog The Ghost Howls.)

I have rather ruthlessly pruned who I follow on Twitter to focus on virtual worlds and virtual reality in general, and social VR in particular. And I discover a lot of ideas for blogposts from perusing my Twitter feed regularly. I much prefer Twitter and Reddit over Facebook (which, as many of you already know, I left as my New Year’s resolution at the end of last year, along with Instagram).

On Twitter, I can block tweets from irritating people like Donald Trump and his supporters, using tools such the Twitter Block Chain extension for the Chrome web browser, which will automatically block all users on a following/followers page. Here’s more information about Twitter Block Chain from the Boing Boing blog. (A shout-out to Jessamyn West, the librarian’s librarian, for telling me about Twitter Block Chain. It’s a Godsend. You should follow her on Twitter. Seriously, she’s my librarian superhero.)

Here’s another pro Twitter tip: how to automatically filter out neo-Nazi content from your Twitter stream, from the Lifehacker blog (another blog you should be following):

Twitter…is legally required to hide Nazi content and symbols in Germany and France. You can take advantage of this without moving to Germany. Twitter user Christa Peterson discovered that you can just tell Twitter you’re in Germany, and it will try to hide Nazi accounts and tweets.

Reddit has proven to be another good source for stories for the blog, including one of my most popular blogposts of all time, which actually got picked up by Google News and racked up over 10,000 views. (I didn’t even know that I could get a blogpost picked up by Google News! That just blew my mind when it happened.) Here’s a list of my favourite subReddits.

Among the useful resources I have discovered on my blogging journey are websites which offer free stock photos for blogs. You do not need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on pricey stock images! Most of the images you see on this blog are from my two main go-to sites, Unsplash and Pixabay, but there are literally dozens of websites out there which offer beautiful, high quality, royalty-free images.

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Another great find was the online graphic design program Canva. They do offer a premium subscription, but the free version is very powerful. I was able to use Canva to quickly and easily create professional-looking infographics, like this one, used in a January 2018 blogpost comparing Sansar and High Fidelity:

So, where does my blog go from here? Well, I certainly think I have found my niche, where I am very well-positioned to be able to respond to news and events in social VR and virtual worlds as they happen. For example, it doesn’t really matter whether or not the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland blows up in popularity, or becomes an epic crypto dumpster fire. Either way, it’s news and I will blog about it.

And yes, I was surprised when my recent blogpost about the first casino in Decentraland went viral, with almost 1,500 views in less than a week:

There is an amazing network effect in the crypto/blockchain community, especially if people think they can make money at something. Speaking of money, don’t forget to register for the upcoming Decentraland Game Jam, with some seriously sweet prizes, including a first place prize worth approximately US$21,000. You don’t need to own land to take part in the contest, and they’re even offering training sessions all next week (online via Twitch and at various real-world locations) on how to use the Decentraland SDK to create contest entries. Seriously, how can you lose?

So who knows what directions this blog will take in future, but I doubt I will stray far from my current formula: providing, as my blog tagline states, “News and Views on Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse”. Thank you all so much for accompanying me on this journey!

Sansar Store Spotlight: Hellen Custom Avatar by eunicorn

There is something deeply satisfying about getting dressed in Sansar. I mean, who hasn’t tugged and pulled on their jeans in exactly the same way in real life? (Mind you, your real-life jeans might not be as stretchy!)

The jeans I am adjusting in the video above are called jeggings (jeans leggings), and they are sold by Debi Baskerville in her store, in five different colours, for only 50 Sansar dollars each:

There’s also a brand new, curvier custom Avatar 2.0-compatible female avatar for sale on the store by eunicorn, called Hellen for only 150 Sansar dollars (I found out about this via Sansar and Second Life blogger Chic Aeon’s blogpost):

Now, this is a custom avatar, which means that you cannot adjust any of the facial features as you can with the new default Avatar 2.0 avatars, or change the eye colour. But Hellen works with any female Avatar 2.0 hairstyles, so I picked the long ponytail, a pair of Debi’s jeggings (which fit perfectly after some gentle tugging for a minute in Lookbook), the default tan Nexus boots, and the lovely blue Infused Nexus Shirt, a free reward you get after completing the first couple of quests in the Nexus.

Here are a few pictures I took in my own experience (I mean, world…you’ll have to forgive me; this recent change in terminology is going to take me some time to get used to!).

(All pictures were taken in my own world, Ryan’s Garden. You are welcome to come visit and explore my green little world anytime!)

Between Daisy Winthorpe’s shapewear, Ravioli’s rigged attachments, and new custom avatars like this one by eunicorn, I am now completely satisfied with my female avatar options in Sansar. All of these, of course, are interim solutions until Linden Lab releases body deformation for Avatar 2.0 avatars, something Landon Linden (a.k.a Landon McDowell, Linden Lab’s Chief Product Officer, and the person most directly in charge of Sansar’s development) told us was coming within the next 4 to 6 months. Based on the amazing flexibility of the new facial deformation features, I am very much looking forward to this!

I can honestly say that this is the first female avatar that I feel truly comfortable exploring Sansar worlds in! Here’s a picture of Vanity Fair at the Nexus, which I think is the best work that Sansar Studios has done yet in terms of world creation:

Happy shopping and exploring!