Visiting Remembrance Island in Fortnite: The Royal Canadian Legion Sets Up a Custom Island in the Popular Game for Remembrance Day, Nov. 11th

Remembrance Island (image from The Globe and Mail)

I am not a gamer.

To give a very recent example, I bought No Man’s Sky when I was swayed by all the hype about the recent Beyond update that supported VR users. I played the game a grand total of 90 minutes (in desktop mode, no less), set it aside, and haven’t touched it since. I much prefer the open-ended nature of social VR and virtual worlds, and even the open world exploration offered by No Man’s Sky, with its millions of procedurally-generated planets to explore and asteroids to mine, bored me. I just couldn’t get into it.

Yes, I have tried MMOs like Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), mainly because I was curious to see how faithful the game would be to Tolkien’s books. But I never got past Level 20 on my hobbit. Again, I couldn’t be bothered with all the battling and leveling up required. Yawn.

So, thus far I have successfully avoided the cultural juggernaut known as Fortnite. But when I read in The Globe and Mail newspaper today that the Royal Canadian Legion (the Canadian military veterans’ association) had decided to create a custom-built Remembrance Island within Fortnite to celebrate Remembrance Day on November 11th, I was intrigued.

Ahead of Remembrance Day, the Royal Canadian Legion hopes to teach children about the sacrifices men and women in this country have made in conflicts dating to the First World War with a game, one built inside the popular survival video game Fortnite.

Remembrance Island, a custom Fortnite island launched by the veterans’ organization, features First World War trenches, D-Day beaches and the Vimy Ridge cenotaph. Unlike Fortnite, there is no violence on this island.

Instead, players start at the beaches of Normandy and follow a trail of poppies through environments depicting conflicts Canadians have fought in, stopping at trail markers that offer information about each one until finally arriving at the Vimy Ridge Memorial, where they are asked by the Legion to share a moment of silence of their own on Nov. 11 at 11 at night — a time meant to meet gamers on their terms.

“It’s an opportunity to meet younger Canadians on their own turf and educate them about the contributions of Canadians who have served our country,” says Ari Elkouby, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson Canada, the agency that developed the game on a pro bono basis for the Legion.

The agency partnered with a licensed Fortnite island builder, someone able to design unique islands within the game, to create Remembrance Island.

Given the nature of Remembrance Day, when the country celebrates sacrifice, not violence, it was crucial that the game exclude any combat or ability to destroy or defile anything on the island, Mr. Elkouby says.

“We wanted to kind of flip the idea of Fortnite on its head, where Fortnite is a place where you fight and you battle to a place where you respect and remember,” he says. “We wanted to ensure that the sanctity of what we were creating was maintained.”

Each of the game’s eight environments – trenches from the First World War, the Pool of Peace, the Vimy Ridge Memorial, the Battle of Ypres, D-Day on the Beaches of Normandy, a ruined town to show the liberation of Europe, Hill 355 from the Korean conflict, and a sandy landscape depicting Canada’s mission in Afghanistan – were created by researching archival materials, Mr. Elkouby says.

So, I decided to download Fortnite (it’s free), and I followed these instructions to pay a visit to Remembrance Island.

I stumbled around a little bit at first, like a deer caught in the headlights (What? There’s no beginner tutorial!?!! I’m just being DROPPED OUT OF THE BACK OF A FLYING BUS?!??), but eventually, I was able to orient myself and successfully reach Remembrance Island.

Trying to find my way around in the darkness, following the trail of red poppies, I came to my first destination: the beaches of Normandy.

As I went along, pop-up text laid out the scenes, explaining how the battle played out, and what the soldiers faced:

I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but I really did feel at times as if I were a lost, scared, confused soldier, running across the nighttime battlefield landscape, not knowing what lay around the corner.

I leave you with a 40-second video put out by the Royal Canadian Legion to promote Remembrance Island in Fortnite:

And, now that I (kinda) know what I’m doing, I might just pay a return visit on Remembrance Day, November 11th, to virtually salute Canada’s veterans. I think this is a genius idea for outreach to younger Canadians!

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Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Male Skins from DNA and Altamura

Every month, L’Homme Magazine SL, a quarterly digital magazine devoted to male avatar fashion in Second Life, offers a number of freebies to members of their in-world group, the L’Homme Magazine SL Readers Group (which is free to join). For November, I would like to focus on a couple of men’s skin gifts.

First up is a skin store that is new to me, called DNA (short for Digital Nude Art). Their generous free gift for November is nothing less than an entire Bakes on Mesh skin package for men!

There’s an unpacker HUD with four file folders, which you click on to receive the skins (there’s one set of skins designed for Signature mesh bodies and another set designed for the TMP Legacy mesh bodies; the Signature skins should work quite well on most male mesh bodies, though).

The package consists of base skin files in a wide range of 64 skin tones, plus 8 “phenotype” overlays to add more definition and realism to the base skins. There are also 8 different eyebrows and 8 different hairbases, both of which are tintable:

So 64 times 8 times 8 times 8 gives you no less than 32,768 possible combinations! That’s pretty impressive for a freebie.

Here’s just one base DNA skin/phenotype/eyebrow combination, shown on a Bakes on Mesh-enabled version of the Altamura Romeo full-body mesh avatar (please note that the hair base I used in the picture below is not a DNA one, but it is one of the ones included in the Altamura Romeo body HUD):

Please note that Altamura mesh bodies do require a couple of additions to support Bakes on Mesh:

  • A Bakes on Mesh relay for Altamura mesh bodies (which is available for free to Altamura group members at this exact SLURL in the store; please note that this relay only works with full versions of Altamura bodies, including the Romeo body which was a Valentine’s Day group gift earlier this year)
  • You do have to buy and install the Omega system kit on the body before you can use the Altamura Bakes on Mesh relay (it’s for sale for L$99 at this exact SLURL)

The November L’Homme Magazine group gift from Altamura is the Orion Ivan skin, in both Omega applier and Bakes on Mesh versions:

The skin is designed for the new Altamura Ivan full-body mesh avatar, but of course it will work well on most male mesh bodies that support Omega skin appliers, or support Bakes on Mesh. Here’s what the Omega skin applier looks like, once again on the Altamura Romeo avatar (using a hair base from the Altamura Romeo body HUD):

This avatar is also wearing the complete summer outfit which is a free group gift from Hoorenbeek (the group is free to join; more details here).

Decentraland Is Launching a New Creator Contest With US$50,000 Worth of Prizes

The blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland, fresh off the awarding of prizes in their recently-concluded Decentraland Game Jam, has announced a brand new contest running from December 2nd to 15th, 2019, called the Decentraland Creator Contest:

Once again, there are some great prizes to be had:

Note that the fine print states that “MANA awards above 50,000 MANA are subject to an irrevocable 6-month vesting schedule” which essentially means that first, second, and third-place winners cannot immediately cash out their MANA, which is DCL’s in-world cryptocurrency.

Also, Decentraland is introducing and promoting a new feature: smart items, which you can find in the item catalogue of Decentraland’s Builder. These are interactive items which you can drag and drop into your scene, and do not require any knowledge of coding. You must use at least one smart item as part of your contest entry for the Decentraland Creator Contest.

For more information, please see the Decentraland Creator Contest website. Decentraland’s online Builder software can be found here.