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.
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:
THIS YEAR’S BURNING MAN THEME IS AN INVITATION TO EMERGE FROM OUR COLLECTIVE ISOLATION, TO EXPLORE THE UNFAMILIAR CONTOURS OF A CHANGED WORLD, AND TO REIMAGINE OURSELVES, OUR COMMUNITY, AND OUR CULTURE IN WAYS THAT MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE BEFORE THIS PERIOD OF PLAGUE AND PAUSE. AFTER A LONG YEAR ADRIFT IN THE MULTIVERSE, BESET BY ANGST AND UNCERTAINTY, IT’S TIME TO CLIMB UP OUT OF OUR ESCAPE PODS AND LOOK OUTSIDE TO SEE WHERE WE’VE LANDED. ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN, LIKE NOAH? AT THE BOTTOM OF A RABBIT HOLE, LIKE ALICE? OR ARE WE ON A VAST AND ENDLESS PLAIN, RINGED BY ANCIENT MOUNTAINS, THE SORT OF UNFATHOMABLE TERRITORY THAT ONCE CAUSED MAPMAKERS TO THROW UP THEIR HANDS AND WRITE “HERE BE DRAGONS” AT THE MARGINS OF THE KNOWN WORLD?
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.
Sadly, this year’s real-life Burning Man festival has, once again, been cancelled due to the continuing global coronavirus pandemic. Instead, events are happening on various virtual world platforms, as follows:
BRCvr (in AltspaceVR for VR and desktop users) returns from last year to capture the spirit, culture, and principles of Burning Man in VR. Join thousands of participants, visit over 200 camps and art pieces. Engage with 1000+ events in a cutting-edge space cultivating conversation, connection, and community.
Build-a-Burn (on Topia) is a network of browser-based virtual worlds with spatial video chat. Freely explore the camp metaverse for moments of sponteneity and serendipity. It’s easy to create a camp, add art, and customize everything. Anyone can easily create a unique experience to delight fellow Burners.
Dusty Multiverse is accessed on mobile phones and VR headsets. Burners enter as 3D avatars and can explore the environment, art, and performances and talk to others via live voice chat.
The Infinite Playa is a photo-realistic digital simulation of the Playa that puts you at the center of an interactive & social world of art, music, games, talks & performances.
SparkleVerse is a magical online city. Our digital playa is a 2D browser-based map with social features where you can wander through art, music, and experiences co-created by participants.
Burn Week: Global Live Stream (on PORTL) is a global streaming event featuring daily regional broadcasts, the Man Burn, and the Temple Burn all in an interactive environment where you can broadcast yourself, join or create a camp, and start video watch parties with friends.
There have been few illusions for attendees that a virtual event is any substitute for the real thing, but organizers have tried to get creative when it comes to the social web experiences so that attendees can reclaim some of the camaraderie. While the organization won’t be setting up an official presence, some camps have already committed to hosting an unofficial return to the desert…
Most of the creators behind last year’s experience are back this year, including a few VR-centric experiences and a handful of livestreaming and Zoom-based apps designed to spice things up a bit. This year’s apps include the VR-based BRCvr, interactive chat platform Build-a-Burn, 3D world Dusty Universe, “photo-realistic” simulation The Infinite Playa, video chat Sparkleverse and livestream platform Burn Week.
This year, the apps have a reserve ticketing system set up for “early bird tickets” and they are all charging different prices based on the experience type. The most aggressive pitch is from Infinite Playa, which is offering tickets ranging from a $16 two-hour pass to an $88 unlimited pass. Others are adopting donation-based pricing tiers, while the Burn Week livestream is offering a free stream to all viewers alongside a $29 “extended experience.”
See you there!
UPDATE May 14th, 2021: I forgot to mention what is probably the longest-running of the virtual extensions of Burning Man, BURN2, which happens in Second Life! Although their major celebration usually happens at a different time of year from the real-life festivities, there should be some events happening during the Burning Man festival, so be sure to check it out. Just search for “BURN2” under Places in your SL viewer. (Thanks to Spiffy Voxel for the reminder!)
For the first time since its start in 1986, the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this year the festival is moving into a Multiverse of ten different platforms and services:
Here is a very brief guide to what’s going on where, with information taken from their website.
BURN2 (in Second Life)
Burning Man played a pivotal role in the development of Second Life, as explained in the history of BURN2:
In 1999, a dreamy guy from San Francisco decided to go explore this Burning Man thing he’d been hearing about. Into his car he tossed a tent, water and everything else he needed to survive, then he drove 300 miles out to the Nevada high desert.
He arrived at a featureless, 40-square-mile expanse of cracked mud, ringed by distant mountains. Hot. It was terribly hot. Except when the sun went down. Then it was just plain cold. The Black Rock Desert is an ancient dry lake bed. “The Playa”, geologists called it; harsh, foreign, unforgiving and so shockingly barren that it *begs* to be your empty canvas. A strange encampment had been erected there, ringed around a 40-foot tall anthropomorphic wooden statue destined to be burned the last night.
What the Dreamer found there— a huge group of people, self-organized into a city, collaboratively creating a different reality— tweaked the direction of the project he was working on back in San Francisco, and filled his head with ideas about the nature of reality, creativity, identity and community. He worked some of these ideas into the very fabric of his project, “Linden World”, which you and I now know as Second Life. That Dreamer was Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale.
So it is not surprising that a virtual version of Burning Man has been a part of Second Life since its very beginning, in 2003. This event usually happens in October (so as not to detract from the actual, real-world event), but this year there will be a version of BURN2 running from August 29th to September 6th (here is the calendar of events). You can join the festivities in-world (SLURL) or watch it streaming live on Mixcloud.
The Infinite Playa (in what looks like Sansar?)
ENTRY UPDATED Aug. 30th, 2020: It turns out that I was wrong. I could have sworn that from the pictures on their website (and the video below) that this was taking place in Sansar, but apparently, this is something different. And they are way behind in getting it all set up, too!
We are soooooo close to gates open on The Infinite Playa! Our entire team,in collaboration with 100’s of artist performers, DJs, speakers, teachersand camp leaders have been working tirelessly to get us to launch.Turns out creating an interactive, photo-real virtual playa fromscratch in just a few short months is…no small feat – who knew?To give you the best (admittedly beta) experience we can,we have decided to delay the launch a few days.
Not to fear – the free “Watch the Infinite” portal will launch on this site Monday August 31st at noon, where you will be able to access live stream performances, talks and art from within The Infinite Playa.
Tickets will go on sale…really, really soon, no seriously—please hold while we write some code…
The ticket portal is not up yet, but once it is, I will put in a link to it here. Also, it’s not clear if you need to register on The Infinite Playa website (the form is at the bottom of the page) in order to attend. I did, but I haven’t gotten an email confirmation back yet. It looks as though a lot of this is being set up frantically at the last minute!
And tickets are NOT cheap, either. This is easily the most expensive of the ten virtual Burning Man platforms that make up the Multiverse:
■ Visitor – Two Hour Pass – $20 ■ Weekend Warrior – Five Hour Pass – $40 ■ Dusty Explorer – Ten Hour Pass – $75 ■ Founder’s Package – 24 Hour Pass – $150 (includes executable file) ■ Downloadable executable file available for purchase for $100 with unlimited access to the interactive experience all week. A gaming PC with a GTX1080 or higher graphics card required (sorry no MacOS version just yet).
Wait…a 24-hour Founder’s pass is $150, but an unlimited access pass is $100? What?
BRCvr (in AltspaceVR)
BRCvr (website) is taking place on the popular social VR platform AltspaceVR:
MysticVerse bills itself as “a fully immersive, interactive 3D experience: a visionary expression of a virtual Black Rock City”. There’s not a whole lot of information on their website, but according to their FAQ:
The MysticVerse can be accessed from any device (mobile, desktop, VR headset) and on any operating system. RSVP here and be the first to know when the gates open to our universe.
IIR stands for “Interactive Immersive Reality.” This immersive visual technology runs on mobile phones and VR headsets. Think of IIR as a stack of technologies that take an immersive experience to the next level. IIR provides the ability to 3rd parties to access the virtual environment from a web-based portal for certain things. For example, here camps can broadcast live events and music remotely into the environment from a simple-to-use web portal. In addition, IIR shows the 3D objects photo-realistically, meaning that their look and feel as they are in real life, is preserved. In addition, with IIR we can simulate large environments such as the entire Black Rock City with all the camps, art, music stages, etc. and have people appear as 3D avatars that can communicate via live voice.
UPDATE Aug. 31st, 2020: I just received an email update from the creators:
We wanted to send out this quick update to let you all know that we just submitted to the Android and iOS app stores. We hope the apps will be live by tonight, but sometimes it can take a bit longer. Like anything on the playa (IRL or digital!), schedules are more like guidelines than anything else!
Please make sure to add this email to your contacts to ensure you get all our messages, and also please follow the Dusty Multiverse social media accounts found at @dustymultiverse both on Instagram and Twitter – we will be putting out critical updates there first – but via email as well.
…Please note that the Oculus Quest application is delayed, and will likely be published late Monday. In the meantime the iOS and Android will be the only way to access the universe.
UPDATE Sept. 1st, 2020: The Multiverse app is now available, and I downloaded it to my iPhone to check it out. The app costs at least US$10.99 for seven days; there is also an option for you to sponsor other attendees at US$3.00 each. The default recommendation was $10.99 plus sponsoring ten others for a total cost of US$52.00! I think I’m going to wait until the Oculus Quest version is ready before I pay for it.
Build-a-Burn (on Topia)
Topia is a webcam app, which will be hosting something called Build-a-Burn. It is described as follows:
Build-A-Burn is an interactive digital space that has already hosted events, including fantastical remote Burns, all by empowering the community to celebrate their creativity. Using just a browser and webcam on any device, participants will be able to wander an art-filled playa with friends old and new. Prepare to bend the reality of time and space, authentically connect with others in facilitated workshops, stand too close to some of your favorite DJs, and more.
Created by the team behind the Love Burn, The Bridge Experience is an interactive, fully immersive, 3D web-based virtual reality (XR) Burn accessible via any device. It is a passion project built by new and old Burners who are committed to simplifying the barriers to entry by adjoining Extended Reality (XR) technology with the 10 Principles.
There’s not a lot of information available; it appears to be some sort of mobile/desktop/VR app which requires registration. Check their website for more details on how to get set up.
In late 2019, Burning Man Project selected “Empyrean” by Laurence “Renzo” Verbeck and Sylvia Adrienne Lisse to be the official Black Rock City Temple for 2020. As announced in the Burning Man Journal, “Empyrean was chosen for its lovely geometry and inclusive design, as well as for its strong leads and crew who have demonstrated the experience, integrity and feasibility necessary to create this unique space.”
Fast forward to Spring 2020, when it became clear the community would not be building Black Rock City this year. The Empyrean creators embraced the challenge, dedicating themselves to creating an inclusive, healing virtual Temple space where visitors can share, express, process, grieve, and heal during this transformative time. The result: the Ethereal Empyrean Experience, our 2020 virtual Temple.
Again, there’s frustratingly little actual information about how to access this. Here’s a five-minute preview of the virtual temple:
After spending Burn Week exploring the marvels of the Multiverse, join us on September 5, 2020 for Burn Night: Live From Home.
Wherever you live and however you choose to burn, you’re invited to connect with the global Burning Man community for a worldwide, around-the-clock Burn Night extravaganza!
Create your burnable Mini Man effigy using our blueprint, or something from your own imagination. Then host a small Burn wherever you are, within your local COVID-safe limits, ignited time zone by time zone worldwide on Burning Man’s traditional Burn Night — September 5, 2020. You may choose to upload your Man Burn to our 24-hour live stream. These will all be streamed and shared in a portal with chat, so the entire Burning Man community can connect around our favorite fire for a full day and night of burns.
So, no matter whether you use a mobile device, your flatscreen notebook or desktop computer, or a VR headset, you can participate in Burning Man this year!
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).
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.
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!