Drax’s Our Digital Selves Documentary is Now Available to Watch on YouTube

Cody and Donna at Linden Lab
Cody Lascala and Donna Davis at Linden Lab headquarters in San Francisco (still from the documentary Out Digital Selves)

Earlier this month, I had written about Draxtor Despres (a.k.a Bernhard Drax) and his documentary on the experiences of people with disabilities in virtual worlds, titled Our Digital Selves: My Avatar Is Me. Drax interviewed 13 people with a variety of disabilities for this film. Among the locations which Drax visited for this documentary were the corporate offices of High Fidelity and Linden Lab (the latter is the company behind the Second Life and Sansar platforms).

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day,  the purpose of which is to is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities. So Drac decided to release his documentary today, instead of tomorrow as he had originally intended!

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I was able to watch a preview of this documentary, and I enjoyed it very much! I think you will too.

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Strawberry and Drax Tour Sinespace

Very early this morning my time, Strawberry Singh and Draxtor Despres paid a visit to Adam Frisby in Sinespace. I wasn’t there (still sleeping), but Strawberry did a livestream of the event:

Among the many Sinespace regions they visited was one which I had profiled earlier on the RyanSchultz.com blog, Sudin.

Another region they all visited was Race Meet – Winter Mountain, a wintertime raceway where they drove dune buggies which Adam created. The vehicle physics in Sinespace are quite good!

It’s a great video and I learned a few things about the Sinespace user interface I didn’t know before. Looks like they had a lot of fun too! They were chatting in Skype while they were in-world (there’s no voice chat in Sinespace yet).

Here’s a list of Sinespace regions they visited, according to Adam:

UPDATE March 6th: It turns out that Sinespace does have voice chat, but some regions have that ability turned off, which is why they used Skype in the livestream.

Zero-Gravity Turkeys in Sansar!

One of the new features in yesterday’s update to the Sansar client software was the ability to adjust the gravity level in your experience. Here’s the quote from the release notes:

  • Gravity scaling – Adjust the force of gravity as you create or edit your scene. Let avatars and objects fly in zero gravity or crank it up to make the scene heavier.

Gravity Settings 2 March 2018

So, of course, somebody had to try it out and see how it works! Space Sailor made the following hilarious video of his experience in the Turkey Bounce, a zero-gravity funhouse filled with 80 turkeys. Because why not!

And you can visit it yourself here! Gobble, gobble… thank you, Space Sailor!

Occupy White Walls: A New Virtual World for the Art Curator in You

Occupy White Walls Image

Denise Kelley on Facebook told me about Occupy White Walls (OWW for short), and so I decided to pay a visit. This app, created by a company called Stiki Pixels, is best described via this blurb from its high irreverent website:

To say it’s a PC sandbox-building, AI-driven MMO where people play with Art, developed by people who really love architecture and abstract characters… would be a bit of a mouthful.

We could have named it ‘World of curation craft’, or ‘Clash of artistically and architecturally curious people’ but we chose Occupy White Walls. OWW for short.

Pronounced as Owouawwouaw.

They describe this virtual world as “Fair-to-Play”:

The ‘Art Market’ is already cynical, patronising, unethical and geared for the very-very-rich, we don’t see a point in making an online ‘Art fantasy land’ like that too.

OWW is as far away as possible from ‘social casino’ and ‘Pay-to-win’. No matter how poor you are, if you are creative (you are), opinionated (that too) and enthusiastic, you’ll do great in OWW.

Fair-to-Play means that OWW has no loot boxes (sorry) and no ‘real money’ required to buy any of the game elements – you can realise your way to whatever you like, organically.

Basically, you select your basic avatar and add attachments like hats or masks to it, work your way through a step-by-step tutorial to learn the basics, then build the floor and walls of your own personalized art gallery, selecting from an impressive array of 18th, 19th, and 20th-century artworks. Essentially, you curate your own art gallery, arranging the art as you prefer, then invite other avatars to come visit! You can also teleport to other avatars’ galleries. It’s a very cool idea.

Here’s a picture of me (in my Guy Fawkes Mask, centre) standing in front of my first wall of art. I picked plain white walls so as not to distract from the paintings. You can also select how you wish to frame your works, from a selection of frames. It’s all very easy to do, drag-and-drop using the OWW user interface. The frames automatically adjust to the art you are framing.

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Here are a couple of shots of me exploring other curated art collections.

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Only White Walls 1 27 Feb 2018.png

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I shot the following one-minute video to give you an idea of what to expect when exploring within the galleries of Occupy White Walls. I am the black-and-red avatar wearing the Guy Fawkes mask, with my name “ryanschultz” hovering over my head in white letters. I walk around the gallery created by a user named halfmambo, which was mostly empty of art (except for one section), but full of what appeared to be animated bots (very strange!). There’s even a bright blue flash near the beginning, when a portal opens up and an avatar steps into the scene from another gallery!

Seriously, this is one of the trippiest experiences I’ve had in a while. You should check OWW out for yourself, you can join their alpha test by going to their webpage and downloading the software (I also joined their Discord channel, where someone whitelisted my email address so I could actually get into the alpha, you’ll probably need to do that too.) There are also user forums, where you can post problems and questions.

Video: The Animated Giant Tree Man in C3rb3rus’ Darkwood Forest

The following forty-second video (no sound) captures C3rb3rus’ gigantic animated tree man as he approaches a visitor on a raised platform in the Darkwood Forest experience, reaches out several times in an effort to touch him, then lumbers away into the green mist:

This is obviously the big (and I mean, BIG) brother of the tree man C3rb3rus created in his original experience! If you haven’t visited Darkwood Forest yet, set aside some time to explore this wonderful environment! This was one of our stops on last Saturday’s Atlas Hopping, and C3rb3rus has added so many new things to this experience.

Easy Sansar Content Creation Using Microsoft Windows Paint 3D and Blender

Several months ago I wrote about using Microsoft Windows 10’s Paint 3D program to create content for Sansar. Using Paint 3D is so easy that a child could use it to create great-looking three-dimensional content! But unfortunately, there were some problems with importing linked objects from Paint 3D into Sansar, as well as with the huge size of the imported objects.

Draxtor Despres and Vassay have worked together to create this YouTube tutorial video which explains how to use the free Blender software to fix the problems in mesh content created using Paint 3D. Drax and Vassay used this workflow to create the fun and funky content you can see in Drax’s experience, called Meet the Draxies. It’s got a wonderful cartoon-like feeling to it, which is actually very easy to recreate!

Basically, there are six steps to using Blender to fix your Paint 3D-created mesh object:

  1. Import the FBX-format file you got from Paint 3D;
  2. Rescale the object (to fix any potential size problems in the object);
  3. Decimate each part of the object (to cut down on the number of polygons in your object);
  4. Set the normals of each part of the object using the Set From Faces feature;
  5. Create UVs for each part of the object using the automatic Smart UV Project feature;
  6. Select all the parts of your object and export as an FBX-format file.

This is an excellent tutorial video, which takes you through the workflow step-by-step. My only quibble with it is that Drax doesn’t give enough information about the all-important roughness and metalness maps, which you need to include so your Paint 3D-created mesh objects look the way you want them to in your experience. (Linden Lab recently released an update to the Sansar client software, so a lot of mesh objects created before the change now have an unnatural shininess to them.)

So here is a bit more information on the metalness and roughness maps. These are just PNG-format image files, which can be as small as 2×2 pixels in size. You can create them in PhotoShop or GIMP or any graphics program. They are essentially one of the 256 shades of grey between pure black and pure white. Here’s a diagram from OldVamp that shows what an object looks like when you change the metalness and the roughness maps:

Sansar Metalness and Roughness Maps Better

Most of the time, you are going to want to use a white roughness map, and a black metalness map (the ball in the bottom right corner of this diagram). If you want something really shiny, you are going to use a black roughness map and a white metalness map (the ball in the upper left corner of the diagram). You should only use a white metalness when you want a metal object. Here’s another example of roughness and metalness maps, using a brass object:

Sansar roughness metalness brass.png

And there you go!

Medhue’s Animated Animals in Sansar

Medhue, who is well-known in Second Life as a talented creator of animals for Zooby, has brought his animated elephant from SL to Sansar! He’s also brought over an animesh horse he is currently working on in SL. You can visit them at his testing experience in Sansar:

Medhue has told us that he is not going to put products up for sale in the Sansar Store, as his personal protest against what he considers to be the too-high commision fees charged by Linden Lab. However, he has said that he is willing to create tutorial videos for Sansar. He’s already posted ten videos for Sansar creators on his YouTube channel. You can also access Sansar kits, resources, and tutorials on his website.