Second Life News: There’s a Flash Sale on Signature Alice, Geralt, and Gianni Mesh Bodies Until September 27th, 2020

I paid a quick visit to the Signature shopping event in Second Life after watching this video by Cat Pink SL (whom you should be following for news on sales such as this):

If you are in the market for a high-quality mesh avatar body, you might be interested to know that Signature is having a flash sale at the Signature Event, selling the Alice female mesh body for less than half its regular retail price, and offering a smaller but still significant discount on both the Gianni and Geralt models of male mesh bodies (here’s a direct SLURL to the vendors at the Signature Event):

The vendors at the Signature Event

Now, the male body panel at the event appears to only sell the Signature Gianni body, but I have checked back at the Signature main store, and you can buy both the Gianni and Geralt bodies there at the same flash sale price, L$2,750 (the regular price is L$4,000). Compare this to the current price of the other two major male mesh bodies: L$2,999 for Belleza Jake, and L$5,000 for the Meshbody Legacy male body.

The “Big Three” of male mesh bodies favoured by fashion designers are Belleza Jake, Signature Gianni, and the Meshbody Legacy male mesh body, with the Slink male body coming in fourth (and frankly, a lot of men in Second Life are still rocking a classic, system avatar!). The Signature Gianni body is very well supported by clothing and footwear designers, so you should have no problems finding apparel that fits.

Fewer SL clothing makers design for the newer, less muscular Signature Geralt body, however, so that might well factor into your purchase decision. (Here’s a handy blogpost from the Virtual Bloke blog, which compares and contrasts the Gianni and Geralt bodies.)

The Signature Alice female mesh body is only L$1,500 (the regular price is L$3,500), which is a real bargain. However, you should be aware that not a lot of fashion designers are making clothing specifically for the Alice body yet, instead focusing on what I like to call the “Big Seven” brands of female bodies: Maitreya Lara (L$2,750), Belleza Freya, Venus, and Isis (L$2,499 each), Slink Physique and Hourglass (L$2,800 each), and the new, popular Meshbody Legacy female body (L$5,000). Signature obviously hopes to grease the wheel a bit by offering such a sizable discount on the Alice body, but you should go into this knowing that you will still have a somewhat harder time finding apparel for it.

All Signature bodies have Bento hands and will work with any Bento animations. The bodies work with both Signature and Omega skin appliers (with the separately available Omega System Kit for Signature), and they also support Bakes on Mesh skins, cosmetics, and tattoos. They should work well with any Bento mesh heads.

This flash sale ends at midnight SL Time/Pacific Time on September 17th, 2020, so if you’re interested, hurry down, try on some demos and decide for yourself if it’s too good a deal to pass up. Happy shopping!

Updated! XANA: A Brief Introduction

XANA is a new social VR platform/virtual world which is (at least, according to its website) “coming very soon!”. It describes itself breathlessly as the “World’s Leading Virtual Social Experience Platform”:

XANA is the next generation virtual social experience platform which allows anyone to access or create open worlds to do anything from virtual events for fun to profitable virtual business, available for universal devices from VR , PC to mobile.

(By the way, none of the links to any of their “supported platforms” works.)

Here’s the three-minute promo video I was able to find on YouTube, which features the Chineses entrepreneur spearheading the project, and a whole ton of stock footage (a homeless man doing a fist pump in front of a notebook computer? Whatever, bro):

This video reminds me of some of the unintentionally hilarious promotional videos shot for other blockchain projects. Dig through all the blather, and note that there are precious few glimpses of what XANA actually looks like, and what little we do see, appears to be footage stitched together from a number of completely disparate virtual worlds and games. (Perhaps my readers could help me identify where some of this footage comes from? Thanks in advance for your help here.)

And yes, apparently XANA will incorporate virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and—wait for it!—blockchain/cryptocurrency. Sigh. All the requisite buzzwords are present and accounted for.

Haven’t I already promised myself that I wouldn’t bother covering any new blockchain-cased virtual worlds unless they were actually shipping product?

Yep, I did:

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 productIt 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.

This is yet another example of a social VR platform/virtual world which appears to be more hype than substance. Like so many other half-baked blockchain projects I have witnessed before it, I’ll be extremely surprised if the project comes to fruition at all.

The XANA website is notably (and predictably) sparse on any actual technical details, including a link to a “Help Center” devoid of any help. If you’re still interested despite all this, you can follow XANA on various social media: Facebook, Twiiter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. As always I caution: do every single scrap of your homework before investing in any blockchain/cryptocurrency project or platform!

UPDATE 3:43 p.m.: Well, that didn’t take long! Sharp-eyed reader Rainwolf tells me that he has spotted various pre-made game assets from the Unity Asset Store: Cyberpunk, Medieval Kingdom, and The Lost Lands. Look familiar?

Rainwolf tells me that what tipped him off was the avatars looked like they were created using the Unity SDK for avatars, so he just started searching on the Unity Asset Store for keywords like “cyberpunk”, and it didn’t take him long to find it. Thanks, Rainwolf!

At this point, it’s pretty clear that there is no XANA—at least, no original content. It’s vapourware, folks. Nothing to see here, move along now…

Pandemic Diary: September 12th, 2020

It is now Day 181 since I started working in isolation from home for my university library system.

One hundred and eighty-one days since I last worked in my office at the University of Manitoba Libraries (although I have popped in once or twice to use the printer and pick up a few reports). One hundred and eighty-one days since I have set foot in a retail establishment of any kind (I order my groceries online at Walmart, and have them load everything into the back of my car, and I get my prescriptions delivered). One hundred and eight-one days since I ate a meal inside a restaurant (although I have dined outside on a restaurant patio five or six times this summer, something I soon will be unable to do with autumn fast approaching).

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

I apologize for the lack of blogposts this week; I just haven’t felt much like writing “news and view about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse” lately.

Yesterday, game designer Jennifer Sheurle tweeted something that I could utterly relate to, as I near the six-month mark of working from home, lacking in external stimulation and close human contact:

She wrote:

Does anybody else feel like the quarantine has influenced their creative prowess negatively? I feel like my creative energy is at an all-time low with so little external stimuli, rarely going outside, seeing people…. It’s making me feel very sad.

Turns out for me, having time is not the main aspect of making creative things happen. If I have time but no external stimuli, travel, good conversations, food, etc… my creative energy takes a HUGE nosedive. Who knew.

In the office, I love doing brainstorming sessions with colleagues, lock ourselves in a room, whiteboard scribble things out, go for lunch to think and so on. I feel like all my creative strategies have lost all meaning.

Her tweet went viral, and was liked by almost 800 other people, dozens of whom commented that they, too, were struggling to find their creativity, zest, and joy in their work. I responded:

I can completely relate to this, and to many of the comments people have made here. The lack of external stimulation has pitched me into full-blown hibernation mode, and I am struggling just to keep my head above water at work, at a time when I have hard deadlines to meet.

And it’s true: I am struggling. I admit it. All of my energy is going towards work, and my productivity and creativity have been significantly impaired. I find myself sleeping 10, 12, even 14 hours at a stretch, and I often feel exhausted, fighting to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. I have gotten up, set the alarm to sleep another two hours, and gone back to bed, unable to face the challenges of the day without a little extra sleep. I am like a grumpy (gay) bear in hibernation mode.

I got myself a subscription to CalmRadio.com, and I find myself listening to soothing music all day, every day. And I keep working away, a vat of black coffee on constant standby. I was hoping that the official start of the academic year this week would help to kick-start my energy and motivation, but I still find myself pushing myself to get things done.

I don’t kid myself; I know that this is the “new normal”, and that things will likely stay this way for at least another six to twelve months, probably well into 2021. Even if good vaccines are found among the first batch that are currently being tested, it will take a long time to manufacture and deliver sufficient quantities to bring society back to some semblance of normality. Canada has already signed major deals with four vaccine producers, and I read in the news that they are close to signing other deals. The pandemic is going to make some people very, very rich and, as usual, the poor (and those without universal healthcare or health insurance) will be screwed.

This week, bowing to public pressure, the provincial health authorities have started breaking down COVID-19 cases by Winnipeg city neighbourhoods:

While the overall numbers are still low compared to many areas in the United States, we have still seen a recent surge in daily cases in Manitoba:

I vacillate between wanting to stay informed on the latest progress in the fight against COVID-19, glued to my newsfeed, and getting so disgusted and demoralized by how some thoughtless, selfish, ignorant people are responding to the crisis that I avoid the news media for days at a stretch. I still don’t have a TV set, but I am spending a lot of time binge watching various Netflix shows on my iPad.

My Valve Index is still on back order, and I don’t expect I will receive my shipment of a complete kit until November at the earliest. I am toying with the idea of throwing out the worn, old sofa in my living room, and completely rearranging the space to set up (for the first time ever) a full-room space devoted to virtual reality. We’ll see.

Stay healthy and stay sane! I will continue to keep you posted on how things are going with me.