Second Life: The Rainy Café in Winter

I needed a break from the unrelenting coronavirus pandemic, so I did what I usually so when I have a bit of time to kill and need an escape from messy, painful reality: load up a Second Life avatar, and do a keyword search under Places in the Search menu, to see what I could find. I searched for ‘winter”, and in the first page of search results, I discovered the Rainy Café!

The Rainy Café is a snug, cosy, and welcoming coffee shop tucked away in a skybox located high above the Second Life mainland. For winter, the owner decided to change the rain to snow!

The Rainy Café

Inside, it was clear that somebody had gone to a great deal of time and effort to decorate the interior, with many delightful touches (see the teddy bear, the string of photographs, and the space heater next to the window?). A number of different machines dispense coffee, hot chocolate, or apple cider for your avatar to hold.

I decided to take a seat and stay a little while, holding a somewhat lazy, meandering conversation with the other avatars whom I encountered there, while the snow gently fell outside the café windows in the surrounding woods.

The Rainy Café is a cosy spot to have a rambling conversation

(Although Second Life supports voice chat, most people still use text chat out of habit. At one point, I was having a side conversation with one of the café patrons in a second window, while simultaneously carrying on a conversation in the main room!)

If you want to visit yourself, here’s the SLURL: the Rainy Café in Winter. Bring a friend, or perhaps you’ll meet one there!

NEXT: Beyond the Metaverse Virtual Conference—A Free, Daylong Event Hosted by Lethbridge College, February 17th, 2022

Lethbridge College, a Lethbridge, Alberta-based college which was among the first post-secondary institutions in Canada to offer a Virtual and Augmented Reality program, is hosting a free, daylong virtual conference on February 17th, 2022, titled NEXT: Beyond the Metaverse. The event runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (in what I assume is Lethbridge time, Mountain Time Zone).

According to a press release issued by Lethbridge College today:

As the reality of an evolving Internet becomes more mainstream, so does interest in the metaverse – a network of spaces where you can create a virtual world parallel to your physical one.

Just as the Internet revolutionized how we communicate, learn, play and do business, spatial computing, by way of the metaverse, is transforming those everyday interactions yet again.

Lethbridge College is bringing together some of the world’s leading voices on this computing revolution for NEXT: Beyond the Metaverse, a free, virtual conference presented by Lethbridge College’s Spatial Technologies Applied Research & Training (START) centre on Feb. 17. Hosted on the AltspaceVR and Classy Live platforms, the conference connects the best virtual and augmented reality experts with industry and individuals alike.

Emceed by Kent Bye, producer of the Voices of VR Podcast, the full-day event features presentations by April Speight, Spatial Computing Technology team leader, Microsoft Cloud Advocacy; Matt Todd, historian for game design, Ubisoft Quebec City; Antonia Forster, senior technical specialist, Unity Technologies; and George Bloom, executive producer Visual Effects, Metaverse and Innovation Lab, CBS Television Studios. Join them as they explore the complex topic of the metaverse, where it’s at, where it’s headed and why it’s important.

You can read more detailed speaker bios and register for this event on this page. It looks to be an interesting virtual conference. See you there!

The Fabricant: A Brief Introduction to a Digital Fashion House for the Metaverse

The Fabricant describes itself as “a digital fashion house leading the fashion industry towards a new sector of digital-only clothing”. The team of artists, technologists, and executives certainly aspire to some very lofty-sounding goals:

ALWAYS DIGITAL, NEVER PHYSICAL. 

We waste nothing but data and exploit nothing but our imagination. Operating at the intersection of fashion and technology fabricating digital couture and fashion experiences.

CREATIVE EXECUTION: We develop end-to-end 3D narratives for customers and consumers, from concept to implementation.

PHYGITAL EXPERIENCES: We merge physical and digital capabilities to create interactive brand experiences.

DIGITAL COUTURE: We create digital-only fashion that can be used and traded in virtual realities.

An article on the blog Portion includes an interview with Michaela Larosse, the Head of Content at The Fabricant:

The Fabricant is the world’s first digital-only fashion house. Its’ community of creators combines 3-D fashion design, cutting-edge visual effects animation, and technology to build the future of fashion. Their bespoke designs garments only exist digitally and collectors’ avatars can “wear” the items on social media platforms, in gaming environments, and in virtual worlds (“the metaverse”)….

Q: When you talk about your practice you sometimes refer to it as “thought couture.” Can you elaborate on what that term means for you and how it ties in with your practice?

A: The Fabricant has always believed that clothing does not have to be physical to exist, but it can be quite a challenging concept for people hearing it for the first time. We’re used to such an intimate relationship with garments because we have traditionally worn them against our skin, so the idea that this is no longer necessary requires a mindset shift in what fashion can be. We use the term ‘Thought Couture’ to describe our pieces to enable people to comprehend the concept of non-physicality. It’s couture that exists beyond the physical, just like a thought. We can collectively agree that thoughts exist even though they don’t take physical form, so it’s that idea translated to fashion.

Here is one of their first projects, described as “the world’s first digital-only dress”, and sold on the blockchain for $9,500. It was designed by The Fabricant, and “worn” by model Johanna Jaskowska in collaboration with Dapper Labs. Here’s the 8-second video:

The Fabricant has launched something called the Fabricant Studio. Michaela Larosse says:

The Fabricant Studio is an open invitation for anyone to become a digital fashion creator, without any software knowledge, and participate in co-creating their own digital fashion NFTs to be worn, collected and traded. Users get to customise garments to their own preferences using limited edition digital-only fabrics, trims and accessories. The master silhouettes are dropped into the environment by big brands and boutique digital creators, so they can be played with and customised before users mint their own entirely individual fashion NFTs.

All the garments can be traded in the Studio’s in-platform marketplace, launching 15th October [2021], and have multiple utilities in environment such as The Sandbox and Ready Player Me, so they can be worn on avatars in virtual spaces.

A Google search for the “Fabricant Studio” brought forth the following clever 404 page:

It turns out that the Fabricant Studio moved to a completely separate website, here.

My take on all this? In the same Portion interview, Michaela claims, “We didn’t end up in this industry [digital fashion], we created it.” Oh, really?

Well, there would be a lot of virtual fashion designers in Second Life, Sinespace, Sansar, and dozens of other social VR platforms and virtual worlds who would likely beg to differ with The Fabricant’s claim to be “the world’s first digital-only fashion house”. I have interviewed them, reported on many of their stories, and showcased their creations on this blog.

Digital fashion is not a new concept, people. What perhaps is new, is the creation of Instagram-like “filters” so that people can see digital garments on real-life people (and once again, I’m pretty sure that others have done this before The Fabricant). I am starting to get tired of being the only person in the room who keeps pointing out that what everybody keeps trumpeting as “new” in this season of NFT and metaverse hype, really isn’t. It’s becoming tiring, and frankly, I’m starting to get cranky.

If you wish to learn more about The Fabricant and its work, you can visit their website, join their Discord server, or follow them on social media: Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They also have a YouTube channel with a lot of CLO3D tutorials, as well as the ones I shared here with you.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Outfits, Accessories, Weapons, and Vehicles from ECHELON!

Second Life is home to many combat roleplay communities, as well as science fiction roleplay. ECHELON is a store which caters to these players with outfits, accessories, weapons, and even vehicles, and they are generously giving away a HUGE collection of such items for absolutely FREE! Just teleport to the store, join the – E C H E L O N – group for free, and click on the rotating white sign in the middle of the store:

There are no less than sixty-five separate gifts in the box you receive, a wide variety of outfits, weapons, and other objects (there’s even a cup of tea with a Bento hold pose!). Let’s start with the outfits first.

Please note that all these outfits (except where noted) include system clothing layers, which are intended for classic, system avatars and Bakes on Mesh-compatible mesh bodies, like version 3.0 of the Belleza Jake body this male avatar is wearing. (By the way, Belleza is still running their 50% off sale on the Jake, Isis, Venus, and Freya mesh bodies! It’s a real bargain, but I honestly don’t know how long this sale will last, so if you are shopping for a high-quality male or female mesh body, don’t delay!)

If you’re a fan of Star Wars roleplay—or if you just feel like strolling around Second Life dressed as a kick-ass Mandalorian!—feast your eyes on this complete set of Alorian armour, courtesy of ECHELON! The package even includes a special animation override (AO) with three sets of animations you can easily switch between during your roleplay: stand-by, sneaking, and combat. (There’s also a separate Alorian jet pack in the ECHELON gift box; it’s not shown in this picture.)

There are four different versions of this Imperial Soldier outfit (white, red, blue, and special forces), and the helmet comes in versions with and without the glow, as well as a chestplate variation for female stormtroopers!

Imperial Solder

IF you’d rather be a samurai, there’s a complete samurai outfit with armour:

This seven-piece medieval armour set is suitable for historical roleplay purposes (please note that the system/Bakes on Mesh clothing and the boots pictured below are NOT included in this package; I just rummaged around in my existing inventory for something suitable to wear with the armour):

Now let’s turn to accessories. Below are pictured two gifts, the aptly-named Crown of Light and the floating, rotating Heroic Heirloom (both are fully modifiable, so you can adjust the colour and the glow of each as you wish to match your outfit):

The Duality Mask domes in seven different versions, and is also completely modifiable:

And, as expected, there are weapons galore in the ECHELON gift box! All weapons include both stashed and deployed versions, as well as gestures which you can load and activate for your avatar to draw and sling them during battle.

First up is the AKG Assault Rifle, which comes in versions with or without the silencer:

The Slayer Sword is just the ticket to get you out of a tight spot in any fantasy battle!

The Big Heckin’ Gun is well named, as you can see!

Here my avatar is armed with a sci-fi laser rifle (there’s also a pistol, as well as all the gestures to swap between the two as needed):

And if you’re old school, how about this Dungeon Raider Halberd? There’s truly something for everyone in the ECHELON gift box.

But wait, there’s more! There are also a number of science fiction vehicles in the gift box. Here are just two, the Corvus Jetbike and the Land Cruiser hover vehicle:

The Corvus Jetbike
The Land Cruiser

So, if you are into fantasy, historical, or combat roleplay and gaming in Second Life, you owe it to yourself to drop by ECHELON and pick up this truly generous gift before it’s gone! Here is your taxi. Happy freebie shopping!