Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Home Decor from Trompe L’Oeil

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I don’t usually write about Second Life home and garden decoration on this blog, but today I am making an exception for a treasure trove of free gifts available from a store called Trompe L’Oeil (pronounced trohmp luh-yuh, which is French for “optical illusion”, or literally “trick the eye”—a great name for a virtual furniture and home store!).

Trompe L’Oeil was one of those stores who were very generous during the Stay at Home Club, rotating their gifts of homes and chairs regularly, and continuing to give out gifts even after the Stay at Home Club ended! Today, I wanted to bring your attention to a selection of free gifts (no group is needed to pick these up). Right next to the main entrance to the store are three free gifts as shown below:

The gifts include a vintage end table in ten different colours, a dresser with a fun billiard-ball design (13 different versions), and what must be the biggest collection of free floor and table lamps anywhere on the grid—18 lamps in total!

Also, on the other side of the courtyard, with the Christmas decorations (look for a teepee made of blankets), Trompe L’Oeil is giving away two sets of Christmas decorations, which were Advent calendar gifts from 2012 and 2013 (you can purchase similar sets from more recent years on the large board to the right of this display, for L$750 each set).

Here’s a selection of the group gifts unpacked. There’s something for everyone!

Here’s your taxi to Trompe L’Oeil…happy freebie shopping!

Alter Ego, A New Fox/CTV Singing Competition Television Show Where the Contestants are Avatars: Further Proof that the Era of Avatarism is Upon Us

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I don’t usually watch singing competition TV shows, but a new one has definitely got my attention! It’s called Alter Ego, and the Fox show (which will appear on CTV here in Canada) has a twist: instead of appearing on stage as themselves, they will be represented by their avatar, which they will drive while wearing a full motion-capture suit from backstage during their performances!

Yes, these are the same motion-capture suits which were used by the members of ABBA to create “ABBAtars”, presenting themselves as they were in 1979 in a future series of concerts to be held in London, England. In that blogpost, I argued that the era of avatarism (i.e. the freedom to choose the form in which you are seen by others) had truly arrived. And the Alter Ego TV show is further proof that the age of avatarism is indeed upon us!

The Fox 5 TV station in Altanta interviewed one of the contestants appearing in the first episode of Alter Ego:

Rolling Stone reporter Samantha Hissong wrote:

I was skeptical, a few weeks ago, as I approached the doors to a taping of Alter Ego, Fox’s new singing competition with a high-tech twist, but it felt the same as entering any old sound stage — at least for the first minute or so. On Alter Ego, which premieres this Wednesday night (September 22nd), the contestants don’t perform on stage, but rather behind a curtain whilst donning motion-capturing suits that control their own highly fantastical, augmented-reality avatars.

In typical music-TV fashion, the winner will get a cash prize ($100,000), as well as mentorship opportunities from celebrity judges: willi.i.am, Grimes, Alanis Morissette, and Nick Lachey. But the judges, along with host Rocsi Diaz and in-person audiences, watch the performances on eye-level monitors placed strategically around the room — so as to appear as if they’re looking centerstage. Moreover, the judges won’t learn the true identity of the winner until they’ve already won.

To film, Alter Ego relies on 14 cameras, eight of which use advanced camera-tracking technologies. “It’s not something that’s done in post,” creative producer Michael Zinman — who previously partnered with Fox on The Masked Singer — tells Rolling Stone on the still-empty studio floor. Above our heads, thousands of Infrared Reflective (IR) markers — one-inch-by-one-inch silver squares that, essentially, create a map for these cameras — twinkle like a mini galaxy.

The smart cameras then communicate with Unreal Engine, a video-game design software, to render the avatars in real time. (A company called Silver Spoon, which was responsible for creating virtual crowds for Major League Baseball in 2020, designed the 3D models in advance with creative input from the contestants. An augmented reality company called Lulu helped with the stage-plotting.)

Avatar data — things like eye color, height, and special effects — motion-capture data, lighting data, and camera data all meet in a hub of servers next to the mini stage behind the actual stage. “Then, if it all goes right, it spits it out and you see the composite,” Zinman explains. As the host, Diaz is the only one who really has to act, as she’s tasked with standing “next to” the avatars when they’re critiqued at the end of their performances: “You have to go back to your five-year-old self, play pretend, and talk with your imaginary friend,” she says. “It’s actually a lot of fun.”

Alter Ego contestant Dasharra Bridges and her avatar, Queen Dynamite (source: Rolling Stone)

The first episode of the show dropped yesterday, so you might want to check it out on your streaming service or cable TV! I know I’ll be watching every episode 🙂

Stageverse: A Brief Introduction

Stageverse is a new social VR platform for musical performance, currently available for the Oculus Quest only (not other VR headsets), as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. The platform features full-body, customizable avatars and spatial voice chat.

Today, Stageverse launched their first show, a 360° video recording of a 2-hour Muse concert held in Madrid, called Muse: Enter the Simulation. According to their website:

Muse: Enter the Simulation is a mixed reality experience of the Simulation Theory live show, recorded at the sold-out tour stop at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. This is an interactive, social experience allowing you to meet up with friends and fellow fans as avatars, at the Stageverse Stadium. You can explore the show from 16 different viewpoints, all in 360 degrees – and in 3D in virtual reality. You can express yourself with interactive toys, and exclusive virtual outfits from Muse and Balmain Paris, including the recreation of Matt Bellamy’s jacket worn onstage. Available on mobile or Oculus Quest headsets, guaranteed to transport you out of reality and into the simulation.

From this video, it would appear that you and your friends are avatars in a space where the 360° video is being played, and you can switch viewpoints to catch the concert from various angles. The concert is free to attend “for a limited time only” (whatever that means; I assume it means that they intend to start charging for future events).

Also, Stageverse has future plans to hop onto the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) bandwagon, with something called the Future Culture Club, which you can sign up for on the website:

For more information about Stageverse, please visit their website, join their Discord server, or follow the project on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I will be adding Stageverse to my ever-expanding comprehensive list of social VR and virtual worlds.

Somnium Times Covers News and Events on the Blockchain-Based Social VR Platform Somnium Space

The Somnium Times website

I may have been belabouring the point lately, but I still feel, quite strongly, that many of the newer social VR platforms have not been promoting themselves very effectively lately. I have written before about how Second Life’s bloggers, vloggers, and livestreamers promote SL, saying:

Second Life has a vibrant and thriving community of thousands and thousands of bloggers, vloggers, photographers, and machinima makers. Combine that with a flourishing ecosystem of programs and tools, such as the Black Dragon viewer, and you get a creative frenzy of activity which is, as yet, unmatched by any other social VR platform or virtual world (although VRChat comes close!). It’s essentially a self-sustaining marketing machine at this point, selling SL to a wide outside audience…

So my message. to all those companies which are toiling away, hoping to inherit the mantle of Second Life and become the next massive metaverse platform, is this: pay attention to your community, and encourage their creative pursuits! You might be pleasantly surprised at the spin-off benefits of cultivating and leveraging your fanbases.

Well, today I want to spotlight a great example of someone who has done just that, promoting the blockchain-based social VR/virtual world platform Somnium Space. Somnium Times is a website and an associated YouTube channel focused on news and events in Somnium Space, by Marc Demar. Here’s an example video:

Yes, that’s right, in much the same way that I originally started this blog four years ago to focus on Sansar, Marc has started his website and channel to focus on what’s happening in Somnium Space. Every social VR platforms out there should be asking themselves: What do I have to do to find someone like Marc Demar?

And if you can’t find someone to volunteer to do it because they’re such a fan of your platform, perhaps you should consider how to better cultivate those raving fans. You might want to ask yourself if there are ways or tools (like the Black Dragon viewer) to allow those fans to create high-quality, compelling content to spread via social media. Perhaps, you should consider even taking the step to (gasp!) pay someone to create sponsored content to advertise your world. (If you’re interested, here are my rates for advertising and sponsored blogposts. Was that subtle enough for you? 😉 )

The point I am trying to make is this: you can’t just create a platform, then sit back and do nothing to either a) promote it, or b) enable other people to promote it. The platforms are not just going to magically sell themselves (as Sansar has discovered to its detriment over the past four years). As RuPaul says: You have to work!

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk 😉