All good things…

This will be the final update for Enlades. During a break from posting in the last three months; it’s become clear that myself and Thom no longer have the time and involvement in Second Life or OpenSim environments to continue with the plans we originally had for further guides and tips.

One of the things that you learn is how swiftly these worlds can change and how people can come and go with the speed of light. We’ve been fortunate to have seen and shared many incredible events and experiences over nearly five years. It has been a pleasure and passion, for the last two years, to share our own and others’ methods and ideas to make the creativity, imagination and usage of virtual worlds accessible. Our posts will remain in place for the foreseeable future, to offer suggestions and help to people who have yet to explore the richness of virtual environments.

We would both like to thank our readers and the people who we’ve come across, spent time with and been inspired by. The world-building and the people willing to give their time, knowledge and friendship has been an amazing journey. One that we will not forget as it has enriched our lives and given us many opportunities that would have been difficult, if not impossible, to discover elsewhere.

The inspiration will continue to be passed from mind to mind and that is no small thing to achieve. This is how worlds change and grow, as well as the people within them.

Thank you all!

Farewell and good luck.

Belochka Shostakovich and Thom Lunasea

Hello from Enlades

Time flies! It has been nine months since any new posts on Enlades, but, myself and Thom Lunasea do keep an eye on the blog. We’ve been very glad to see that people are still visiting (now over 10,000 views!). We hope that our articles and links have helped people in learning to make their own, virtual world, creations.

On that note; for 2012 we have talked about making a concerted effort to add new material to Enlades – as well as give it a theme refresh. Whilst our activities in Second Life and OpenSim have been much less (due to other commitments); there are still areas of content creation and virtual world experiences that we would like to write about.

Two ideas we’re currently planning are:

A look at virtual world viewers, with a particular overview of what is available for Mac users. With many new viewers coming to prominence, and others retiring, it is a difficult area to look into as no “one size fits all” solution is available. I’ll be looking at Linden Labs’ official viewer as well as ones some of the main (or up and coming) Third Party Viewers.

A long overdue topic is an introduction to using the free avatar skin templates made by Eloh Eliot. I’d intended to cover this two years ago but, unfortunately, it dropped off the schedule. Before that gets underway; I think that it’s necessary to state that the tutorials will be for beginners who want to learn the basics, rather than a set of instructions on how to become a commercial skin designer, and will be focusing on simple customisation.

So, we’ll be back again and we hope that all our readers have had a good start to 2012!

See you next time.

Moving back – An update

Hello! It’s been quite some time since the last update; things have been busy and, unfortunately, a lot of plans that we both had for more content posts have fallen by the wayside.

Also added to that, in the last couple of weeks, Thom and I have made a return to Second Life. This was a surprise decision. Although I continued to visit at odd times over the last seven months – it was mostly to check up on resources that had been developed by Second Life residents. I rarely remained logged-in for long and was happy to log-out when a task was completed.

So why the return and what does it mean for the Enlades blog?

To tackle the first part of that; I missed the company of some friends and some of the resources that Second Life has and OpenSim doesn’t. This is not meant as a criticism of OpenSim, more that I see the virtual environments differently depending on what my view of work and fun is at any given time. SL still has elements I enjoy and it felt great to be back there, chatting with people I had not seen in a long time and rummaging through an inventory which held delights to rediscover. (Anyone who views my Flickr page knows this includes making comics with a giant character called Gmok the Wise, made by Albert Beerbaum of Herbalys)

The Enlades that Thom and I have worked in, and on, remains in place. We intend to keep it and develop it further. Perhaps in time a balance will become apparent between the two.

For the blog? Well, at the moment it is hard to be certain whether more content posts will be forthcoming in the near future. Writing for the blog is something that we enjoy doing, learning and sharing that knowledge, but it is also an activity that requires commitment in time and effort to do properly.

For now, we both intend to come back at some point. We hope that what is already here will prove useful to anyone searching for these subjects, for whatever virtual world that you are resident in.

Thanks for reading.

Blog hiatus

Hi all!

From today there will be a short break from new posts. Both myself and Thom find writing fun and rewarding, but, it can also be quite time-intensive.

We’re taking a bit of time off for our OpenSim regions. We’ll be doing some building and learning, also tracking down a strange bug/behaviour that may or may not be linked to a script. If we find out what it is we’ll be blogging about that!

We’ll still be keeping an eye on things here at Enlades, so if you have any questions or comments, please, feel free to leave them on the relevant post. We’ll be back with new guides, tips and experiences in a week or so.

Thanks for reading, be back soon.

Belochka and Thom

January Poll – What would you like to see?

This poll is now closed. Thank you for voting!

As I was writing my last post I was having a look at what topics Enlades had already covered. As the blog hasn’t been going very long there’s loads more content that we can, and want to, add but I thought it might be good to get some feedback from visitors.

Although from stats we can see what gets the most views and search terms it doesn’t tell us what you, as a reader, would like to see covered in future blog posts by myself and Thom.

I’ve made a poll listing subjects that might be of interest to people. Do make a vote! Or, if you prefer, leave a comment on this post if you don’t see the topic you would like to read in the future.

Thanks for voting.

Seasons Greetings

Just a quickity post, on behalf of Thom Lunasea and myself, to wish readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas, if you should be celebrating this winter festival.

At this time of year it’s quite traditional to give thank you’s and good wishes to people. So first and foremost; thank you to every visitor to this site. Whether you come from an OpenSim grid or self-created regions, Second Life, Inworldz, etc., we both really appreciate you taking the time to read our posts and we hope that they’ve been helpful in giving some ideas or resources to look at (or create yourself!).

On a personal note, I’d like to thank my friends and acquaintances from Second Life who helped me on the way to learning far more than I thought I could.

Some of the biggest thank you’s go to people I don’t know and have never met: Natalia Zelmanov, Eloh Eliot, Nicola Escher, Sezmra Svarog, Seshat Czeret, all of whom, in their own ways, make it possible for people to learn how to design and create things for virtual worlds. Without their work we’d all be worse off.

Finally to Jacek Antonelli, McCabe Maxsted, and all involved with the Imprudence team, who work their behinds off to make an amazingly useful and stable viewer, whilst balancing other projects.

So, to all of you we raise our glasses of Christmas cheer and wish you a wonderful Christmas and very best wishes for 2011.

Belochka Shostakovich and Thom Lunasea.

OpenSim and learning

As Enlades has mostly concentrated on information gathering and sharing, this is an out-of-character bit of writing by being an opinion piece. And a long one at that. I apologise for this unscheduled interruption, but, after a recent comment debate on another person’s blog I felt motivated to write something different.

I think it is also overdue in terms of both explaining about some of the links to tutorials and for those who are interested in OpenSim and creating.

I’ll start by saying: I love our OpenSim regions, I love the idea that an entire virtual world can be designed and made according to whim, imagination and for fun. Although neither of us has made use of hypergrid, as our regions are still under development, or visited other grids or regions I can imagine how amazing and inventive these places can be given the freedom to create.

When I first started hearing of OpenSim grids, stand alone regions and various communities one of the things that impressed me was the idea that people were more open to the idea of sharing information, even including their own creations. I’m sure there are many generous and helpful people in grids and stand alone regions who do just exactly that.

However, there is one big, unavoidable, drawback waiting to trip you up. With the odd exception, when you’re looking online for particular information you’ll find precisely nothing. It is like being stuck in the Antarctic zone of information.

As any regular visitor to this blog will probably have noticed: nearly 100% of tutorial or information links listed on this blog are:

a) courtesy of Second Life residents or wikis and,

b) no matter how useful or inspiring they’re almost exclusively from two or three years ago, if not sometimes older.

Whilst it is understandable that the most popular resources would be linked to Second Life, because of its prominence amongst virtual worlds and the number of residents, I’ll give one very specific example of what I mean.

With the greatest thanks to interested visitors, this blog has seen an explosion of views over the last two months, having generated, so far, 419 views. That may not sound like a lot to better known blogs, but for a tiny, only 4 months old with 8 posts blog that seems a lot. A rough breakdown of those views shows that over half of those hits were people searching for information on avatar skin creation. I’m not going to nitpick unique viewer numbers, because I don’t really care about that level of detail.

What this does show, I think pretty clearly, is that by far the most sought after information through searches is on how to make a skin. As I pointed out in my previous posts about this subject the only tutorials/guides I could find were, yep, you guessed it, from 2007/2008.

I’m not an über-researcher, so I’m ready to stand corrected, but in all these months I have been unable to find any freely available guide or tutorial on how to make from scratch, or modify a template like Eloh Eliot’s, an avatar skin using hand-painting or photo source techniques.

Think about that for a second…

Does something about that strike you as odd? Because to me that sort of stands out like a strawberry in a bowl of spinach. Not one single person, in any virtual world, has written blog posts or made a video covering the most basic lessons on how to paint or source a skin in any program? Is everyone walking around as a Ruth avatar?

(I’m not including Natalia Zelmanov’s Goth skin tutorials. This is because it doesn’t deal with creating human skin tones or a photorealistic style and was written before skin design became such a diverse area.)

I can absolutely understand that it’s a complex subject, but then so are lots of other things. I haven’t noticed a complete lack of clothing tutorials (which I will get to at some point), and yet that requires a similar knowledge of avatar mesh and painting/3D skills for highlights and shading.

The point I’m trying to get at here is that I wouldn’t necessarily expect that kind of skin tutorial to come out of SL, or any commercially developed grid, because, well, they’re commercial. If you’ve scrambled your way to the top of the skin designer tree, built your own sim and even have a marketing budget, then you’re hardly likely to stand in the middle of your store shouting “And today I will give away all my templates, resources and trade secrets!”

But what about those who don’t make for commercial reasons? You know, like people who use OpenSim.

So, I’m making this plea to any OpenSim advocate that might be passing by and read this. You want people to wake up and realise what fantastic things can be achieved? Want to get people interested in developing their skills and sharing that? What does it say about OpenSim, and its users, that when it comes to tutorials and guides on some pretty major areas of design and creation the only online resources available are ones that were made by Second Life residents? Does that promote the positive side of OpenSim to you, does that sound inspiring or encouraging?

Then give people information to work with, to learn from, to inspire them.

Don’t sit back and think, “oh that’s too complicated” or “that’s already been done by someone else” because chances are it isn’t, if you think about how to explain it clearly, and just because something has been done by someone else, once, 3 years ago, doesn’t mean it isn’t time to provide an alternative.

Nothing comes from nothing and gives nothing.