Pick of the Day: Connections

I’m feeling tired tonight (not surprising after a solid week of Sansar blogging!) and I want to put my feet up and binge-watch past episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race (I’ve just started on season five and the catfighting is already simply fierce!).

So I am going to “cheat” a little bit here and, instead of visiting a published Sansar experience and taking pictures to post here, I am going to point you to a well-done machinima by Sansar user Amelie Marcoud (here’s a link to her Flickr profile, she’s been quite busy taking video and pictures in both Sansar and Second Life!).

“Machinima”, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is an art form where users use video games or virtual worlds (like Sansar) to create videos.  Second Life has long had a vibrant machinima culture, and Amelie Marcoud has carried that tradition over to Sansar with a wonderful machinima of the experience called Connections, created by virtual artist Cica Ghost.  It really wants to make you go in-world and visit that experience!  (I actually have visited there and wandered around a bit, last week.)

This YouTube video only has 36 views so far and it deserves a much, much wider audience.  Job well done, Amelie!  It was also great meeting you at the Atlas Hopping event yesterday too 🙂

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Sansar Creator Interview: Agustine

Agustine's Horse Carousel in Ryan's Garden 2 Sansar 26 July 2017

Tucked away in a corner of the Ryan’s Garden experience in Sansar is my favourite Sansar creation to date: a rotating musical horse carousel.  You have to wander a little bit into the forest to find it (hint: listen for the sound of the calliope).  The creator, a Sansar user by the name of Agustine, has been a literal one-man object-making army since he was invited into the Sansar closed beta in December 2016 (the same time I started). He has no less than 250 items he created in the Sansar Store already, anything and everything from a medieval style guillotine to a shiny red disco dance floor!   (Here’s a listing sorted by price, with the many freebies he offers listed first.  Grab a kickable football or beach ball!)

One of the many regular features I plan for the Sansar Newsblog is a creator interview series, where I ask questions of the many creators who have already been attracted to Linden Lab’s new virtual world.  And the first interview in this series is with my friend Agustine.  (A second interview with Maxwell Graf will be published tomorrow sometime.)

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, and how did you get started making and selling objects for virtual worlds?

Howdy Ryan, I’m currently 47 years of age and can tell you that my first dabbling of art started at age 7, doing simple 2-dimensional real life still art. It was not until college years when I really found a big interest in computers and 3D graphics, but I was majoring humanities so I switched to a major in Microcomputer Graphics Applications. At that same time, I got into game modding with UnrealEngine and I created a basic western-themed game named “LawDogs Mod”. I am impressed today that people still download that old game, and I feel perhaps maybe should make a sequel.

It was not until about 2005 when a German artist friend of mine told me about Second Life. He kept insisting that I try it, but I thought it was kinda absurd living a fantasy life online. After several tries, my friend finally won and he got me hooked into virtual worlds. Now that Sansar is here, I continue that same path of 3D content creation for the community and I can’t believe how far I’ve come along doing this.

I understand that you are building a Western themed experience in Sansar. Can you tell me more about that project, and what challenges have you faced making it?

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Though I have a few experiences in the plans, my main one is a western themed experience that I am slowly developing on my own. At this early beta stage of Sansar it’s been very difficult to fully take advantage of common features to give the experience the life it needs, things such as smoothly animated props, animated water, and interactive props are few of those challenges, but considering the progress the team at Sansar has made, the future is looking bright for this project. (Ryan’s note: Agustine’s Western experience is not yet published in the Sansar Atlas, and therefore not yet accessible to the public.  The pictures you see here were given to me by Agustine.)

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Where do you draw your inspiration for making virtual objects? For example, what was your inspiration and what was the process you followed in creating your wonderful horse carousel?

Old western history and art and spaghetti western movie classics have been the primary motivation and inspiration which drive to most of the 3D artwork I do, but I also have a great interest in gothic and Victorian art for its elegant beauty.

My horse carousel project all started about February when a few people were requesting one. At first, I really didn’t find the motivation to make one until I got a few more requests. By then, I took the liberty to research classic old time horse carousels and started sketching, jotting, and brainstorming how I wanted mine. However, there was one challenge that I could not solve and that was the horse itself. Organic modelling such as humans and animals is not my speciality, so it took some time till I finally found a candidate to fill that void. It still needs a very smooth keyframe animation, but I know that feature soon will be added to Sansar. Also, sometime down the road avatars in Sansar will be able to ride on that carousel, which will make the experience extremely dynamic.

(Ryan’s note: I cannot wait for better keyframe animations to come!  My carousel definitely has a little hiccup in its current rotation script LOL!)

What advice would you give to beginning content creators in Sansar?

To those of you finding great interest in 3D art creation, do your homework and take your time and do basic, easy steps in learning 3D/2D graphics. If you’re on a budget and cannot afford premium software, try taking advantage of the very well-received community-made graphics design software out there. (Ryan’s note: for example, Blender and Gimp.) Don’t be afraid to ask the more experienced users on the Sansar forum for tips, assistance and help. That’s why we are here.. until then friends, Happy Atlas surfing!

Scene of the Day: Felsenmeer

Felsenmeer by Silas Merlin Screenshot 5 August 2017

This panoramic scene is a screenshot from Draxtor Despres’s video of our Atlas Hopping adventure yesterday afternoon (which I highly recommend you watch if you missed Drax’s live stream of the event). I am standing on a hilltop, looking out over the wide expanse of countryside. This experience is by French artist Silas Merlin, and it is called Felsenmeer (German for “sea of rocks”). Silas has a large number of his artistic works on display in this experience, and it is so wonderful to be able to walk around and look at his art in this beautiful environment. Silas also has a number of his artworks and creations listed for sale in the Sansar Store, that you can purchase and install in your own experiences.

Linden Lab Staff Talk About Sansar

What I’m focusing in on now is, I need performance, I need social, I need community, I need commerce. So all these things are high, high up on my roadmap.

— Bjorn Laurin, Linden Lab’s Vice-President of Product

I pulled out the quote above from a must-read blog post by Inara Pey summarizing in-world discussions Linden Lab staff had with Second Life users prior to the launch of the open creator beta of Sansar. I must have missed these sessions (were they part of the recent 14th-anniversary SL celebrations?), so I am really glad that Inara went to all the trouble of writing and organizing this post (she even went to the trouble of transcribing audio clips!). Anybody who still has questions about where Linden Lab is going with Sansar absolutely has to go and read Inara’s post. Go! Read it now! I’ll still be here when you get back 🙂