Editorial: Learning to Say “No” (And Taking a Vacation from the Blog)

I have noticed an extremely interesting thing, as I get nearer to the third anniversary of the founding of this blog (July 31st, 2017, which was also the public launch date of Sansar), and as this blog becomes steadily more popular over time.

And that is this: the more I blog, the more I find to blog. I never seem to reach the end of my to-do list!

And half the time, I don’t even have to go looking for it anymore; it comes to me! My email inbox, my Contact Me page, and my Discord IMs (the latter is still the fastest, most reliable way to ping me) are always busy lately. Somebody always wants me to write a story about their social VR platform or virtual world, or attend their virtual event, or interview somebody, or participate in the video they’re making.

It’s flattering. In fact, it’s extremely flattering.

But I am starting to find myself, having reached the hitherto-unimaginable state of having actually blogged about 150 social VR and virtual world platforms (give or take, more or less; the lines between games and virtual worlds are blurring more and more over time, leading to a second list of non-combat, open-world games)…

Well, what I’m trying to say is, I’m starting to feel…

Tired. Exhausted, even.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I won’t stop blogging. I can’t stop blogging. In these past three years, I have discovered my passion and my voice via this blog, and I won’t give up the joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment blogging brings me (well, on most days, anyways). I absolutely freaking love being a journalist and commentator, writing about social VR, virtual worlds, and the ever-evolving and mutating metaverse and all the people and projects that are a part of it! It endlessly fascinates me, and I love to document it.

But I have also discovered that I need to learn to say “no”.

One part of saying “no” is dropping side projects. And, it is with regret, that I now realize that I cannot carry on with the Metaverse Newscast. Andrew William was the driving force behind the show, and as much as I want to, I simply cannot take over the video production aspect of editing together a regular show about the goings-on in the metaverse, as well as being the host and asking the interview questions.

The first season of the Metaverse Newscast (eight episodes in total) will remain a memento of an time already gone, providing a look at a few Sansar worlds which no longer exist (such as Solas NaGealai’s truly wonderful creations) and a look at High Fidelity, a social VR platform that has since shut down. I regret that there will not be a second season. I just don’t have the time and energy to keep both it and the blog going, and the blog stays. I’m sorry.

Another part of saying “no” is making choices on what to focus on. And, over the next few weeks, as I continue to work on a sort of taxonomy of social VR platforms, I will also be taking a hard look at what to keep covering, and what to begin to ignore.

For example, aside from the three projects that have actually successfully launched (that is, Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and Somnium Space, each fascinating in their own way), I will no longer be covering any more blockchain-based virtual worlds—unless they actually ship product. It was fun for a while, but more than half the time lately, I find myself writing about projects that are pretty much nothing but a white paper (and an .io website, and a Telegram channel) full of hypotheticals, handwaving, and hot air. Come talk to me when you actually have something concrete.

And finally, saying “no” means taking some time off. Yes, I know there are dozens of stories out there. I can think of at least three blogposts that I “should” write tonight:

  • Vircadia’s launch of their fork of the High Fidelity code;
  • Wave raising US$30 million in venture capital for future concerts; and
  • the big two-day LOST HORIZON event taking place in Sansar in early July.

But, I am tired. And I am taking a break, a real break, from the blog this time. I am feeling worn out, and I need to take some time, ignore the urge to keep writing about all the stories that keep coming in, and just recharge my batteries. I’m thinking a solid two or three weeks. Put my feet up. Rest. Breathe. Go outside and reconnect with our glorious, all-too-brief Canadian summer.

I’ll see you when I get back!

P.S. The sole exception to this self-imposed blogging vacation will be my sponsored blogposts for Sinespace, which of course will continue as per usual.

UPDATED! Taking a Second Look at the Viva Full-Mesh Avatar: Why the Mesh Head and Body Wars Are Just Getting Started in Second Life

A month ago, I first wrote about the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3), available for free on the SL Marketplace. After playing around with the Kalhene Ariadna full-body mesh avatar, and documenting its strengths and weaknesses (notably, a lack of alpha sections on the HUD and support for clothing alphas), I came back to the Viva mesh body with a renewed appreciation for all the work the creator had put into it. The HUD truly is amazing, allowing you to combine both alpha sections and clothing alphas to make just about any outfit fit!

For example, here is one of my alts, who wears an Akeruka Lulu Bento mesh head (one of their early group gifts), which I have grown attached to and wanted to keep. I originally wore it with a classic, SL system body; Akeruka had provided system skins to match the entire range of the Lulu head’s available skin tones. And for a long time I was happy with that.

But today, I decided to upgrade this avatar to a full mesh body, and while I was thinking about how best to do that for an inexpensively as possible, I remembered the free Viva Bento, Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body and decided to try that again. (I wasn’t too crazy about the head that came included with the Viva mesh body, but that is a separate attachment, and you can use literally any head with it.)

Here is what she looks like now:

The only problem I encountered was that the system skins that came with the Akeruka Lulu head were older, and as a result there were white spots at the nail bases of the mesh fingers. To fix this, I used the free set of Bakes on Mesh feet and finger fixes available at League (exact SLURL):

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Lulu by Akeruka (L$1 group gift, no longer available; the Akeruka group costs L$150 to join).

Mesh Body: the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3) from the SL Marketplace.

Skin: I used one of the system skins that came with the Lulu head in a matching skin tone, adding the League Bakes on Mesh finger fix in the pale colour, which was the closest match.

Hair: Chella by Analog Dog (I picked this hairstyle with scarf as a free gift at previous gacha event)

Necklace: Metamorpheses Temple Necklace (a gift from the 2019 BURN2 celebration of Burning Man in Second Life)

Top: Cream embroidered peasant blouse by Petite Mort (this is one of my favourite freebies, available from the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil).

Jeans: Skinny jeans from Mara’s Mysteries (a free hunt gift, no longer available).

Flats: Amy flats by Hilly Haalan (free group gift from their freebie store; the group is free to join; I found that the Viva mesh body’s flat feet are compatible with both Maitreya and Belleza flat shoes, but the Belleza ones fit a bit better so I used those)

Bag: Boho Bliss fringe bag (with hold pose) from a previous Witchwood hunt (Witchwood is the sim where the Petite Mort and Oubliette stores are located, and they regularly hold small hunts; I believe I paid only L$10 for this delightful bag!)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$161! (L$150 to join the Akeruka group, L$1 for the Lulu Bento mesh head, and L$10 for the bag)

I am very pleased with the result of this makeover! After my experiences working with both the Viva and the Ariadna mesh bodies, I can say this: with the advent of competition from free or inexpensive Bakes-on-Mesh compatible, Bento bodies, we are getting closer and closer to the time when stores charging (and users paying) thousands of Linden dollars for a mesh head and/or body is going to become harder and harder to justify. Yes, I know it’s a bold statement; hear me out.

The Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies are just the first shots fired in a war for marketshare between the established, big-name brands (Catwa, LeLutka, Maitreya, Belleza, Signature, Slink, etc.) and the smaller, nimbler upstarts. For now, the big-name brands have better designer support and offer more options, but, as we see with the fully-featured HUD that the Viva mesh body offers, that gap is starting to narrow!

I’d strongly encourage you to take a look at the Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies on the SL Marketplace, and give them both a test run. Although they are not perfect, they do give an indication of the direction the market is moving. The days of paying L$10,000 or more for a full-body mesh avatar may be numbered!

UPDATE June 11th, 2020: The Kalhene Ariadna mesh body has just updated to version 2.0, with alpha layer support (SL Marketplace link). It now has a HUD with alpha cuts and skin shininess levels, addressing some of my most serious concerns about the product.

In these final two pictures, I have combined the beautiful head from the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body with the Viva mesh body, using one of the Bakes on Mesh skins that came with the recent Limited Advanced head group gift from Akeruka:

Looking fabulous for zero Lindens! The Viva mesh body offers many more features on their included superHUD (such as a better selection of alpha sections to choose from, five different fingernail lengths, and three foot height options), which the Kalhene Ariadna body does not have. Here I just picked the shortest nails, in a natural nail colour, to go with this makeup-free look.

One particularly nice feature is the option to alpha out the wrists but not the hands, as I did for this long-sleeved minidress (a gift from Little Fox at the recent Cosmopolitan shopping event anniversary round). Surprisingly few HUDs that come with mesh bodies allow this—even the expensive brand names!