Second LIFE Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Gifts from the October Round of the SWANK Event

Have you joined the Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.

The October round of the SWANK shopping event is upon us, and there are literally hundreds of gifts for you to pick up! You’ll need to join the SWANK group for free to get all the gifts.

Here’s what you are looking for (it might be larger or smaller, and “hidden” as part of other Halloween decorations, depending on the vendor booth):

The SWANK shopping event is one of the big ones, sprawling across an entire sim! Here’s the promo video for the October round (they call it a pumpkin “hunt”, but the pumpkins are in plain sight in almost all cases—it’s hardly a hunt in my books!).

Once again, I am trotting out Second Life supermodel Vanity Fair to model some of the gifts which I particularly liked. (My main male alt, Heath Homewood, will do the honours for the menswear gifts.) Because it’s such a large event, I have included exact SLURLs for all the gifts I mention in this blogpost, to save you time.

This starry black Wicca dress is a gift from Zoom (SLURL); the top and skirt are two separate pieces, so you can mix and match! This comes in sizes to fit Maitreya Lara, Slink Hourglass, and Belleza Freya mesh bodies.

From the Firelight booth comes this curly Natalie hairstyle, which comes with a 3-colour mini-HUD as shown:

GGVG’s present is this simple, elegant black Bella ballgown, which comes with the ruby brooch and earrings shown. This gown comes in sizes to fit Maitreya Lara; Slink Physique and Hourglass; and Belleza Freya, Isis and Venus bodies.

This cute cropped sweater from COSMOS comes in two colours, red and grey, and in a multitude of sizes: Maitreya Lara; Altamura; Belleza Freya, Venus, and Isis; Slink Physique and Hourglass; and the Meshbody Classic/TMP and Legacy.

The gift from the Park Place Casuals booth is this sassy Attitude T-shirt, which comes in the following sizes: Maitreya Lara; Belleza Venus and Freya; Slink Physique and Hourglass; Tonic Curvy and Fine; Voluptuous; Ocacin; three fitmesh sizes (S, M, L); and three classic sizes (S, M, L; an alpha is included).

One of three gifts from Hawker’s House is this Mia top and matching skirt in caramel. This outfit comes in the following sizes: Maitreya Lara; Belleza Freya and Venus; Slink Physique and Hourglass; Tonic Fine and Curvy; Ocacin; Voluptuous; three fitmesh sizes (S, M, L); and three classic sizes (S, M, L).

You can snap up two different colours of this sequined Shelly party dress for free at two different locations at the SWANK shopping event: seafoam blue (as shown below), or purple. Sizes include Maitreya, Belleza (Freya, Isis, Venus), and Slink (Hourglass and Physique). These dresses are courtesy of the WILD store.

There are three men’s gifts available from the Hawker’s House booth! The first gift consists of two separate pieces, this olive overshirt/T-shirt combo and the blue jeans, which come in Belleza Jake, Signature Gianni, Slink, and fitmesh/classic sizes:

Heath is wearing both the second and third Hawker’s House menswear gifts in the following picture: the Barton sweater and jeans (the outfit is all in one piece, in sizes to fit Belleza Jake, Slink, and Meshbody Classic/TMP bodies, plus fitmesh and classic sizes), paired with the Trailblazer boots (which come in one unrigged size; you’ll need to alpha out your feet to wear these).

And the men’s gift from 69 Park Avenue is a generous fatpack of these casual shirts, which come in eight different colours and patterns as shown:

The SWANK shopping event ends on October 31st, 2021, so hurry down before it ends…happy freebie shopping!

Editorial: Second Life Still Has Way, WAY Too Steep a Learning Curve for New Users—What Can Be Done to Fix the Problem?

This week, I did something that I have not done in years: introduce a friend to Second Life.

This friend (who shall remain nameless) was not new to social VR and virtual worlds. He explores countless metaverse platforms and navigates them with ease, so he is not your usual, casual newbie. And, of course, I have over 14 years of experience in Second Life, and I have visited and written about over 160 different social VR platforms and virtual worlds over the past four years, so I am no spring chicken either. In short, we are both experienced, übergeeky metaverse citizens!

My friend was curious to explore BURN2, the virtual Burning Man festival in Second Life, and used the following instructions to get started, download and install the standard Second Life viewer, and select a starter avatar. In fact, he was up and running so quickly, that when I met up with him, dressed as 1970s man (one of the most recent lineup of starter avatars), transistor radio in hand and dancing away at one of the BURN2 stages, I thought for sure that it would take no time at all to upgrade his avatar from the classic, system options to a fully mesh version.

How wrong I was.

And the experience was a real eye-opener to me, and illustrates what is still one of the biggest problems in Second Life: setting up a mesh avatar is an exercise fraught with confusion and frustration, and it’s just too steep a learning curve for people (even metaverse experts!).

Our first problem was that I was trying to walk him through the process, using voice chat instead of text chat because that is what my friend was most used to (voice chat is standard on most social VR platforms). However, we ran into problems because I was using Firestorm (as most experienced Second Life users do), and he was using the standard SL viewer. So, I asked him to download and install the Firestorm viewer so that I could walk him through everything step-by-step, but for some reason he could not get his microphone to work with the Firestorm viewer (it worked with the SL viewer). Then, I downloaded and installed the standard SL viewer, but by then we decided that I would talk him through the process via cellphone.

All told, from beginning to end, it took us about an hour to walk him through the following process:

  1. Teleporting to the London City sim, and picking up the Altamura Robert dollarbie mesh body and a set of clothing for it from the Freebie Warehouse there;
  2. Unpacking and setting up the Robert head and body, and explaining how the various options on the HUD worked;
  3. Unpacking and wearing a starter wardrobe, showing him how to remove the parts of his body under the clothing;
  4. Teleporting to Tuty’s to pick up their free male Bento animation override, and explaining how AOs worked.
My avatar, Vanity Fair (left), at the end of our hour-long odyssey to get my friend (right) set up with the Altamura Robert body and a starter outfit. It was an eye-opening experience! (He took this picture. And I *still* didn’t have time to explain how you can control the lighting, so he could get a brighter shot!)

I am just so used to using SL that I breezily expected that it would take us 15-30 minutes, tops. WRONG! And it made me realize just how hard it can be to get up to speed in Second Life, especially if you want to set up a mesh avatar for the first time.

Over the 18 years of its history, content creators have built empires by extending and jerry-rigging the original, system avatar in ways that are simply not that easy to learn. Newbies are not familiar with all the terminology we casually toss around (sims, Bento, HUDs, AOs, alphas, etc.), and I learned that just because you’re completely familiar with the newer social VR platforms, that knowledge does not necessarily translate to older virtual worlds like Second Life! For example, I have heard, time and again, from people who are so used to being able to control their avatars using their VR headset and hand controllers how strange it is to have to use prerecorded animation overrides! These newer users look at what SL has to offer and are not nearly as impressed by how far Second Life has come over the past 18 years.

Sometimes, it is highly instructive to step out of our preconceived notions of how things work, and helping out my friend this week has made me realize that there’s still way, waaay too steep a learning curve for Second Life. The question is: what is to be done?

I do know that Linden Lab has been throwing themselves at this problem for years (they even introduced a line of mesh starter avatars, which were incompatible with all the major brands of mesh bodies, and were later removed from service). And, of course, the creators of mesh heads and bodies were only too happy to fill the void, providing dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of different brands which may or may not play well together—to say nothing of the headache of shopping for mesh clothing to fit these bodies! I now have a renewed appreciation of just how daunting a task that can be for a new user, and why so many newbies throw up their hands and walk away from SL in disgust and frustration, never to return.

And I must confess that I have no easy answers. Most brands of mesh heads and bodies do provide free demos, and extensive online help, even videos (and of course, there are hundreds of YouTube videos to help walk people through the entire process of setting up a mesh avatar for the first time). And there are countless places scattered across the grid, to help newbies get their bearings and pick up some freebies along the way to help them get started without spending any money (I mention many of them in this blogpost, which I endeavour to keep as up-to-date as possible).

Perhaps there is no solution. Perhaps it’s just a part of “leveling up” in Second Life that you need to work your own way through this process? I don’t know. I’m quite sure the team at Linden Lab discuss this often amongst themselves, too. Is there even such a thing as a good, non-brand-specific, tutorial for people who want to upgrade to 100% mesh?

If any of you reading this have any insight or ideas, I’d love to hear it! Please feel free to leave a comment below, thanks!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Gifts from the First Anniversary of the Orsy Event

Have you joined the Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.

The Orsy shopping event in Second Life (SLURL) is celebrating its first anniversary, and to celebrate, there are many free presents for you! Below, Vanity Fair models some of the gifts from various vendor booths.

I do apologize for taking pictures of some of these womenswear gifts while Vanity Fair was on her post stand; it’s just much quicker to work that way sometimes, and I wanted to get this blogpost out to all you freebie fashionistas as soon as possible! Thanks for bearing with me. 😉 Please note that all gifts are free unless otherwise indicated, and no gift costs more than L$1 each. (As far as I’m concerned, if you have to pay more than one Linden dollar for it, it’s not a gift!)

First up is this combination of two separate gifts. The black-and-white lace blouse (which has a sort of gothic vibe) is the gift from the KIB Designs booth, and the black leather pants are the present from the wackily-named VAKI KVAKI:

Next is another pairing, this time it’s a black top from Tori’s Stylez (the lace is optional), and the interesting black Ana pants with the side ruffles are from Flirt. (The Ana pants cost L$1.)

The gift from Ma’De is this shiny strapless minidress, perfect for your next club outing!

From ALANTORI comes this entire schoolgirl uniform from head to toe—the socks, shoes, and even the tintable hairstyle is included! I love the detail of the saggy white socks over the brown penny loafers. 🙂 There’s also a separate cardigan you can wear over the white shirt, which is not shown in this picture. (This gift costs L$1, but you can easily mix and match the pieces from this outfit to create many other looks!)

And check out this sexy black leather minidress from Anny’s Fashions, with the side chain detail! The package includes a pair of black pumps (not shown). This gift costs L$1 to purchase, but to me it’s a Linden dollar well spent!

Finally, as is customary for the Orsy Event, we have the generous gift from LaPerla: a free fatpack of this Ariela minidress (look for the vendor located high above the stairway between the first and second level, at one end of the event). The skirt is bit too short for my tastes, but it might be perfect for you!

The October round of the Orsy Event runs until October 21st, 2021. Here’s a handy four-minute YouTube video from Cat Pink SL showing you some of the other gifts you can snap up:

Happy freebie shopping!

BURN2: Celebrate Burning Man in Second Life, October 8th to 17th, 2021

Entrance to the BURN2 festival (SLURL)

Once upon a time, a man named Philip Rosedale went to Burning Man…and the rest is history. Some say that it was Philip’s experience at Burning Man which inspired him to create the still-thriving virtual world of Second Life. And so it seems very fitting that, as the real-life Burning Man festival has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we gather in Second Life for a virtual Burning Man festival.

Veteran SL blogger Inara Pey writes:

Burn2 2021 opens its gates at 17:00 SLT on Friday, October 8th, 2021 and will run through until Sunday, October 17th, 2021. Possibly as a result of the 2020 event proving so popular amongst Burning Man veterans – that event went virtual due to the pandemic – this year’s Burn2 Octoburn is taking place over a total of 12 regions, double the usual number. Thus, there are more camps, more builds and more things to see and do.

The theme for this year’s event is The Great Unknown, once again matching the core theme of Burning Man, and the organisers of that event describe the theme in these terms:


The official BURN2 website offers a bit of background on the virtual festival:

BURN2 is the first sanctioned Burning Man regional in the virtual world. Burning Man has always had a presence in Second Life since its beginning, and BURN2 is the latest incarnation of Burning Man presence there. Today, BURN2 occupies a region in Second Life year-round called Deep Hole, with extra regions added to their virtual space during special events. It is run by a group that includes people involved directly with Burning Man, along with seasoned Second Life programmers and digital artists with a genuine interest in Burning Man.

The BURN2 community is a mix of those who attend real-life Burning Man as well as people from all over the world who may never have the opportunity to visit the real playa, but share a genuine interest in Burning Man. For many, BURN2 is their Burning Man experience. Together, we celebrate Burning Man culture in the unique environment of Second Life.

BURN2 has many of the elements of the Burning Man event, including being set in a desert playa virtual environment, and the opportunity to create your own environment. BURN2 has many of the same organized groups such as Lamplighters, Fire Dancers, Rangers, a DMV complete with crazy art cars to drive around, and many talented artists who build and share their art with the community each year.

You are encouraged to explore the dozen sims of BURN2 on foot, via bicycle (free ones are available at the entrance), or using one of the many crazy free vehicles you can find scattered around. There’s even a hot air balloon to take you high over the playa!

At the end of the BURN2 festival, the burning of The Man and the Temple will take place at 12:00 noon Second Life Time/Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, October 16th, and Sunday October 17th, 2021 respectively.

For more information about BURN2, please visit their website or subscribe to their RSS newsfeed (and if you are complete and utter newbie to Second Life and BURN2, start here for step-by-step instructions on how you can participate). Here’s the listing of all the events taking place, and an event calendar. You can also follow BURN2 on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. See you on the playa!

P.S. There is a large selection of free gifts from various creators located immediately in front of the entrance to BURN2.