Utherverse dowload and install FAIL on Mac OS X Lion 10.7.x :(

I got an email from the virtual world / computer game company Utherverse, who makes a similar product ( apparently.. ) to Linden Lab’s Second Life, which, like Open Simulator, is a metaverse I’ve tried to poke into.. As far as I know, they don’t use the same engine, but then, I haven’t been able to login or confirm this either way.

(note: read my previous blog posts on SL and OpenSim!)

Anyway, the good news was, they came out with a build for the Mac! I was delighted to find this out, since I wanted to try out their engine and see how it functioned, so I signed up an account for free and got it all ready to go.

The Utherverse client download was about 500 megabytes, which is HUGE in comparison to the Second Life viewers. It then downloads another couple hundred megabytes of data, ending up at a MASSIVE installed size of 726 Mb. Part of the reason for this is, it’s not really a native Mac application, it’s a bit of a hack of the Windows version, indeed the viewer window has the looks of a Windows XP sort of style, blue gradient bar and all.

Now I’d like to make a few casual observations about the Utherverse client. Just so folks wanting to try it can get an idea what they may be getting themselves into. The first thing you may notice about the DMG file is the size.

For example, the official Linden Lab viewer (Second Life 2 or 3, depending on your viewpoint) is about 175 Mb, the 3rd-party viewer ‘Imprudence’ takes up about the same (170 Mb for the old build and 127 Mb for the new beta), Phoenix ‘Firestorm’ is around 204 Mb even with all it’s extra tools.

If you’re not short on disk space, then that’s not an issue, but the size of the downloads may be a bit daunting for slower Internet connections. Expect the whole download to be about 1.5 Gb when all is said and done.

Like OpenSimulator, Utherverse is broken into several different ‘grids’ with focused content, for example you have the ‘Utherverse Social Center’ or ‘Virtual World Web’ (a phrase they are trying to promote as the 3D version of World Wide Web, however there hasn’t been much adoption of the idea across the Internet).

Other than Utherverse, which is kind of the main adult-oriented HQ of it all, then you have spin-off grids like Virtual Vancouver, which is a virtual city somewhat based on Vancouver BC, Rude Virtual Social Center and Red Light Center, which are more focused on adult content such as watching erotic movies, virtual clubbing, pixelsex, and such, yet each grid or part of the VWW Utherverse having their own sort of niche or focus, even though they are all essentially the same build engine and primarily (interconnected, I think) adult themed massively multiplayer online thing. Whatever Utherverse is, it seems their main goal is to create various pixel sex meetup activities, since this is what the marketing stuff leads me to believe.

Anyway, they have free accounts and 2 levels of paid accounts which they refer to as “VIP” membership. This seems similar to Linden Lab’s premium account, though much more expensive. Utherverse offers a $20/month or $30/month plan, in comparison to Linden Lab’s $72 annual or $10/month plans.

Is Utherverse worth the 2-3x expense of Second Life? This I didn’t know, since I’ve never been in world to see, though from all the videos I’ve seen it appears the Utherverse is at a graphical level around 10 years behind today’s SecondLife or OpenSimulator experience, the detail of the environment and avatars are more on the level of Unreal Tournament or ID Software’s Quake from around 1999, before things such as shading, dynamic lighting, shiny or glowing objects, bump mapping, alpha transparency, and all those modern day 3D engine things most gamers take for granted, well it doesn’t appear that the Utherverse has them. The female and male avatars I’ve seen all seem to have about the same size and shape, just skinned differently, some with more photorealistic textures than others, which look like older Linden avatars from, again, around 10 years ago.

Can you build in Utherverse? Well they do have a sort of content creation thing, where you can upload posters and decorations of sorts, though otherwise Utherverse seems to be a closed system, I don’t know what facilities they have for building or scripting your own things in world, or if you have to do it all outside in another app or stand-alone 3D program such as Blender or Maya, though surely content creators must exist.

Is there land or houses in Utherverse? I don’t know what sort of virtual real estate is available, either, whether it be parcels of lands, skyboxes, or what not.

What about radio, video, media stuff? Well, Utherverse does seem to have some media options, such as streaming music or video, but beyond that I don’t know either.

How about making your own textures for clothes and avatar appearance? Well, the avatars and outfits seem to be all pre-coded and, like IMVU was, you have a limited selection of what is available to you. I’m not sure if the average person can upload their own clothing, skin, shapes, objects, etc. or not.

How about support? Yes, there is documentation on this, most of what I have seen are just simple FAQ files that read like stereo instructions, and so the information is mostly focused on getting people to download the client software or become an affiliate to advertise their product. They do have forums for users to interact with each other from their website.

Let’s talk about money: Utherverse has a sort of virtual currency system called “Rays” which is similar to Linden Lab’s “Linden Dollars” though I am not aware if Rays are traded in the real world like Linden Dollars are.

I’d like to tell you how it worked, but unfortunately for me, after several hours of downloading, patching, repairing, troubleshooting, and logging into and out of their website, I was told by their support team that it doesn’t work on Mac OS X Lion.

Talking to their customer service team was like pulling teeth, but finally I was able to get word that it only works on Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6, and they have no plans to make a Universal build or do any sort of version-specific patches for other Mac users.

Just for yuks, here is a copy of that correspondence:

Me: Hi Support — I’m a metaverse blogger in the middle of a review for your sites, and I’ve just did a new install of the client on OS X 10.7.2 (Lion), MacBook Pro, 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 256 Mb video card. Tried to login, got error. Did a repair from the client, error still. Went to website to reset to factory defaults and save that as my outfit, error continues. Tried registering a second account under new email, username StarLord827, that didn’t help either. What’s next steps? I’m comfortable in the shell or GUI, Thanks! –Christopher “Star_Lord”

Utherverse: Hello Christopher, you need 10.0 OS X with snow leopard in order to run the client

Turn around time for that detailed reply was 2 days. I wasn’t completely satisfied with that, so contacted them once more for clarification:

Me: Hi (name removed), OS X Lion 10.7.x was released after 10.6.x SnowLeopard, thus I would believe it meets the requirement and should also run if your build was a Universal binary and not an earlier PowerPC based build.

If any error or system logs would assist you in filing bug reports or such things, please don’t hesitate to ask me for them. If receiving no good response from your team, may I simply say that Utherverse works under Snow Leopard 10.6 but not Lion 10.7, if so, what is your roadmap for a fix to work under the current operating system version?

Can you please send more detailed technical information regarding the system requirements, and if it works on Snow Leopard but NOT Lion, can you inform me as to the core reason why not, perhaps I can adjust my system to compensate..

Though, I can not downgrade my OS to the now discontinued OS version. I do have a dual boot (BootCamp or VMware) with WindowsXP, if the client will work using that, please advise, thanks and best regards. Christopher ‘star_lord’

PS: I am trying to review the software and your virtual world for a magazine article, so your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Again, I awaited for the person who represented their company to give me the ultimate level of technical expertise they could come up with, and 2 hours later, a different person replied:

Utherverse: Hi There is currently no plans to update the MAC version of the software to run with specific MAC OS builds. All of the developers time is spent on the new client, which will be fully MAC compatible. To answer you question about BootCamp or VMware, we have a number of successful installs using BootCamp and the dual boot. So there should be no issue running it that way. Thanks (name removed)

That is, until they redesign the entire client app from the ground up, which they plan to do sometime in the future, given no clear roadmap when that will ever happen, of course, I guess I would need a PC or older Mac, or run their Windows client using Bootcamp, or run through a virtualization engine such as Parallels or VMware. Well, I’m not downgrading my OS just so I can run one piece of questionable bloat-ware (which may or may not even work), but I do hope to learn more about Utherverse at some point, so I can give them a proper review.

Their strength though, is they have a team of volunteers who are eager to help new users get around. I have a volunteer assigned to me, though they haven’t responded to my latest inquiry.

I think once I get in world things will be a better experience, though I don’t feel completely confident at this point, and my view has been a bit jaded or biased by the better experiences with other virtual world systems, which set a benchmark that Utherverse so far has failed to meet.

If anyone reading this has a Mac OS X with Snow Leopard (or got their client to work on Lion, in spite of their support team saying otherwise), or if you are an experienced person with Utherverse, it would be great if you drop me a comment or two and make any corrections where I may have been mistaken on talking points.

My login name for Utherverse is “Star_Lord” (with the underscore), apparently someone else nabbed my usual login name before I could create an account there. I have a video of the install and troubles I went through trying to get the thing to run, but decided not to post it since it didn’t provide any real value beyond what I already stated in the article. If you would like to see it, I’ll upload it to YouTube.

The End of an Era

This posting is an interview with a vampire/lycan from the now defunct “Atrum Infero” clan, the clan’s former blood merchant and “dark keeper” known as StarLord Scribe. We wanted to share some earlier information about the clan’s beginnings, stuff that hadn’t been documented, but may be useful for historical reference, or for those considering starting their own clan, perhaps some pitfalls to avoid.
Atrum Infero will long be remembered, mentioned in whispers, murmured from the sleeping mouths of those who continue her dark dreams.

Q: You were with Satoria from the beginning, can you tell us about the early days?

A: Yes, I’d like to say Atrum Infero had humble beginnings, but really, this was once a great clan of hundreds of vampires and thousands of souls within the virtual world of Second Life. The group was started as an offshoot group within Crimson Republic, ruled by a queen named “Jadebelgie” 

Q: So it was in effect, a clan within a clan?

A: Satoria Exonar’s initial goals were to focus on RolePlay as the key element of vampirism, and stray away from the importance of statuses and the accrual of mass members to build ranking. There were like-minded people wishing to experience more roleplay beyond what was happening within CR, and our Queen Jade was supportive of the RP group existing within the larger family.

Q: How did it become its own separate group then?

A: There were several events that happened around the same time, which prompted Satoria to break away from the main clan and start off her own new group. One factor was tensions within the main group. At the time, CR was very wild, dark, and highly competitive. A lot of vampires would do sneaky things to each other, stealing souls, blood, and minions from each other. One could see a lot of drama occurring on a regular basis, and you often hear these biker-clad vamps calling each other “hun” or “dear” in the group or voice chat, this was always used in a derogatory sense and preceded a slurry of accusation flying. I don’t know if this still goes on today or not, I was banned from the clan lands since I was a devoted minion of Satoria and hence chose to leave CR when she did.

Another of the clan’s queens (“Inferno”, who was never part of Atrum Infero, yet knew all of the parties involved) had recently spun-off her own group (Phoenix Tears of Blood Clan) because of the same stuff happening to her and her minions. Inferno was a very successful huntress, but wasn’t quite the court favorite for reasons unknown to me. I suggested queen Jade bring her on equal footing with some of the other royalty, but she didn’t want to be part of that since it would make her look as if she played favorites, a bit of a catch 22 I guess, but that’s beyond me. Inferno also liked the idea of RP but didn’t want to be party to Satoria’s group, since she was already a queen herself, and knew that with tensions mounting, thought that this may be a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen”, so bowed-out of invitations and branched off to start her own clan while the dust settled.

Anyway, Satoria got caught up in much of this drama, in fact at times I think she enjoyed it. However, about the same time she also had a SL romance go horribly wrong. One of her minions (whom I only knew of 3rd-party, named “Minotaur” something) had asked her to give up a large number of souls and minions to help him raise up his ranking, and she complied because of (so stated) being in love with him. Though I don’t know all the details, I do know that one day he just up and left, taking all the collected souls and minions with him, so it looks as if he was just using her. I think that experience was the proverbial nail in the coffin (so to speak!), and being quite embarrassed about it she just wanted a new start.

So, Atrum Infero was born out of this, and continued to exist for several years before eventually puttering out and fading away.

Q: You mention romance and drama, are those normally part of bloodlines?

A: I should mention that through the course of the game a lot of dark things and trickery have been used on people to seduce them into playing, giving up their soul, blood, and coercing people to do things they wouldn’t have otherwise done. There’s a lot of mind-fucking and evil manipulation by slimey sick people that goes on, in this and other sensual/mature-themed games. Someone could likely write MORE books about it, and yes indeed bloodlines has been known to create drama in both the virtual and real world.

Vampires are often portrayed as seducers, or people who use tricks of seduction and coercion, or guilt, to gain and retain new victims, and though it isn’t officially stated in the game guide, bloodlines is filled with lots of vampires, lycans, and humans trying to swoon people into their clutches. Satoria always said she didn’t resort to seduction or sex, and it’s true I have never had pixelsex with her, though I know she was actively cybering with other people in SL, over public and private IM, and that she also corresponded offline with several of her minions.

It may be “just a computer game” but remember we’re not talking about fighting with computer-controlled bots, this MMORPG game is played by human-controlled avatars with real people behind them. The actions you consent to do or choose not to do could have real-life consequences, if they somehow directly or indirectly involve other people. Imagine the real-life implications of giving your heart and soul to another person is, that is essentially the whole minion/liege relationship, at times looked at like BDSM master/slave unions, adept and protege, etc., so if this was the REAL LIFE (RL) it wouldn’t be something undertaken lightly, of course it’s a GAME, a FANTASY, but it does make some people pause with their own convictions. Bloodlines in SL is a very dark and sexually driven game. Just hang out in the bloodlines-friendly areas and clan groups for any length of time and then tell me if you don’t agree with much of this. Hell, SL itself can largely be thought of as a world for shopping, gambling, and pixel sex, with the occasional legit education and communities thrown in. Sorry, off on a tangent.

Q: Yes, you seem to be hung-up on that sort of thing and just need to chill, don’t take things so seriously. Back to our story though, when Atrum Infero started, was playing bloodlines any different?

A: Oh yes, as was Second Life. This was before windlight and viewer enhancements, there weren’t age restrictions on sims, no viewer 2 or any of that. SL in general was highly unstable, which made it a challenge to do any sort of long roleplay. If you look at the avatars of bloodlines staff and some of the earlier objects created, like the blood spike, soul reaper, and blood tanks (if you can find them), you can gather they were made before more complex builds and textures were around. Mars and Lyle sure pushed the limits with what could be done though, they did good in that sense.

Also, the rules of the game weren’t so elaborately defined by Liquid Designs. Back then, the formal idea of human blood dolls, lycans, and war weren’t officially parts of the game, and you could only use the electrum potion once in your virtual lifetime. New avatars could be bitten on day 0, and lots of things about the game were very different, for example bloodlines counted every soul and minion including blood dolls and inactive players, so there was no distinction between them. Things changed drastically once they updated the ranking system! Most of the RP and rules we followed were stuff that was never written into the instructions or guides, yet it was common knowledge to the royalties and higher ups, so we all passed around notecards about how stuff worked, both technically in the game and some of the more obscure inner-circle things that goes on, something we’ve always referred to as “the code”. I could guess that 2% of people that play bloodlines know anything about this stuff.

Q: I see. So Satoria was the main queen of Atrum Infero. Were there others, like a King or royalty who left the larger clan or joined to start the new one with her?

A: Satoria was one of the high queens of the CR clan. When Atrum Infero formed, she didn’t even have a name for the group yet. It was basically just her and a few hand-picked minions, blood dolls, and those who had good RP skills or something to contribute. One of her original minions, “Aaron” (who is now a SL musician) was there and had his own sim with a castle and a few RP areas on it, this is where half of the stuff happened. He came up with the name “Paradise Lost” which eventually became its own clan. Satoria didn’t like the name because the name had a confusing reference, and she didn’t like the idea of people having to explain if it harkened to the poem, play, movie, or other modern references, and so she chose Atrum Infero (which loosely translates to “dark reunion” from the Latin), yet eventually the friction got the best of them and they parted ways.

It must be hard for vampires in power to stick with a king or queen over them, I’ve hopped clans a bit myself because of tensions, and I saw several people in CR sprout off their own clans, that must have been hard for Jade to deal with, yet their group still stays in some of the higher rankings so they must be doing something right.

Satoria had similar issues with high ranking people in her group. If you look back through her history and follow the bloodline of people whom she attacked and vice versa, you may be able to build a picture of how many empires she helped form. So to answer her question, yes, there were others who helped build Atrum Infero, but the trend seems to be to leave a clan and start your own once you reach a certain level of minions. Satoria used to joke about her status as a Queen being lost so many times and would often wear leg braces or odd avatar bits to show that she’s been broken yet again.

Q: What about the Tusk sim? Wasn’t that the home of Atrum Infero?

A: Yes. I’m not sure how it came to be that, but I remember Satoria first saying she met someone who had this awesome and magickal place which was dark themed and that they would welcome using it for the clan activities. It wasn’t always filled with Atrum Infero artworks, and the castle wasn’t always the seat of many clan-specific RPs or parties, but eventually Amby allowed the creation of the grand lodge, the blood circle, turning cave, and other areas that we would use for clan activities. This became more so the clan home when others (“Dregg”, “druid”, “DrAlban”, etc.) left to make their own clans, so we didn’t have competing regions that others might flock to. Originally, we couldn’t even make landmarks of Tusk and it was all very clandestine which added to the mystery. She had other places like Templum Ex Obscurum that she did RP at but alas all those sims are gone now too.

Tusk was a very special place, probably one of the most significant builds SL ever had on a database. It had a great shopping area and the landscape was well suited for all kinds of RP by various groups including fae, vamps, furry, gor, goth, demons, tiny, etc. Amby’s castle was this massive and incredible build that took up half the sim. It was so big in fact that you couldn’t take a picture of it even if you used Ultra mode in your viewer, it was just too big and tall to be captured in one snapshot.

After awhile though, the stores were closed up, home rentals ceased (Tusk Myst was part of it for awhile, and had parcels or per-prim rentals) and traffic dwindled since so many people had gone off to other clans or left SL entirely. Once Satoria grabbed her stuff and decided to suddenly poof from SL, I think the end was inevitable for Atrum Infero, and when Amberly pulled the plug, that may have helped to do us in. There were others who had smaller parcels of land devoted to the clan, but not much came about from that.

Q: Didn’t Satoria leave a successor?

A: She did, she empowered “RoxHardcore” as the clan’s Queen, however entrusted her liege to “Leitha” — one of Dregg’s minions. So there was lots of confusion with her sudden departure. Some went to clans with familiar people in them, others went to new clans, and some (like me) just left that part of the game entirely and returned to the generic “Curse” clan that every new player starts with. Atrum’s SL group membership has dwindled to about 150 people, and no longer are there listings of her queens and kings at the slbloodlines.com website, no, the minions and lieges have all but disbanded, so Atrum is no more.

Q: So the clan is pretty much dead then, what of this blog website and SL groups that still exist?

A: To be honest, I’m not in the SL groups anymore, even though I was one of the moderators before. When Satoria left, it didn’t take me long to bow out afterwards. My blood dolls left the groups too, so who knows what state those are in. For the blog, I think this site has a lot of good information, and since it is one of those free google blogger accounts, it wouldn’t hurt to leave it around for those who stumble upon it. Ultimately though, that’s up to Mythian Bailey, who originally started the site with Satoria.

Q: Anything else?

A: Yes, I’ve copied the contents of the old blogger blog to my website, you’ll find the articles regarding Atrum Infero buried in my random SL posts along with other Bloodlines related stuff, though of course now most of it is quite dated. Goes to show the shelf-life and longevity of the game I suppose.

Q: I enjoyed our chat, thanks for the insights.

A: Thanks for your time. This is “The Dark Keeper” of Atrum Infero signing off.

Tried installing open simulator on Mac OS X Lion today just to see if the new Mono really fixes the earlier database issues..

So yes, as the very long title says, I just tried installing open simulator on mac osx lion today, just to see if the new Mono really fixes the earlier database issues.

If you recall many of the earlier blog posts here and postings elsewhere by Mac people, the “Mono” environment had some issues running certain .NET functions on our beloved platform, so there was a need to do some workarounds to get it working, especially with databases such as OpenSimulator’s default DB of choice, SQLlite. Well, good news is, Mono just released an update, which fixes these problems, so databases now do what they are supposed to do, yay! Here is a quick step-by-step walkthrough how EASY it is to get OpenSimulator up and running on a Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) machine:

Step 1- Download and unpack the latest OpenSim package.

You can download the OpenSim package here:

http://dist.opensimulator.org/opensim-0.7.1.1-bin.zip

I downloaded opensim 0.7.1.1 (pc zip archive), then unpacked it on my desktop. Next, I moved that folder to /opt/ — this is where OpenSim likes to be for Linux and Unix distributions, so, I put it here too. You don’t have to do any fancy stuff other than unpack the ZIP or TAR archive and put it there, that’s it, you’re done. You can put it anywhere you like, really, it doesn’t matter.

Step 2- Download and install Mono.

You can get the latest version of Mono (the one I downloaded, at the time of this posting) here:

http://download.mono-project.com/archive/2.10.5/macos-10-x86/0/MonoFramework-MRE-2.10.5_0.macos10.xamarin.x86.dmg

I downloaded the Runtime Environment 2.10.5 (which is a Mac .dmg file), then mounted it by double-clicking it, then installed it. To install it, you just launch the package icon, and it does its own self-install. Very straight forward, and you’re done.

Step 3- Now we open a terminal prompt (bash is the default command shell for Mac OS X) and you type in a few commands to get it fired up.

$ cd /opt/opensim-0.7.1.1-bin/bin

Right, I’m just changing directories to the bin folder, which is located inside the OpenSim distribution I unpacked earlier.

$ mono OpenSim.exe

This tells the “mono” runtime environment to run “OpenSim.exe” which is a Windows program coded in .NET — because .NET isn’t native to FreeBSD Unix (which our Macs are based on), our Macs don’t know what to do with such Windows programs. So, we use mono to run this, since it can tell our Mac how to make use of .exe files such as OpenSim. We run it from the command prompt so that we can see a running output of the commands, as well we need to enter some initial data into OpenSim as it creates our virtual world(s), so this is always the preferred way to launch it. You can make a script to auto-launch it later, but that simple task is beyond the scope of this little blog post!

Now you will see OpenSim scroll a whole bunch of interesting information about what it’s doing. On first launch, it’s going to ask us some information about the region (or sim) we are setting up. Just use the default values for now, you can always change them later.

When prompted for region name, enter something.

When prompted for estate name, enter something here too.

When prompted for estate owner, use the defaults or create your own avatar name (you may need to create the user or change the password later. I just used the defaults (user= “Test User” and made the password “test”)

So, if you were as successful as I was, you will see now everything looks good so far.. we did not edit any ini files, but viola, it’s good to go!

Step 4 – Load your viewer and login!

You can use whatever viewer you like. I just happen to have the Imprudence viewer handy so I used that, and it already had settings for a localhost login so I was good to go.

Once you login, you should be staring at a RUTH avatar on a rough mound of terrain. Welcome to your own stand-alone heh!

So, the new version of mono DOES fix the earlier database issues with SQLlite handling, so it’s easy once again to install a fully-working OpenSimulator stand-alone, right out of the box, with no post-install configuration or maddening tweaking needed.

That’s great news for people who want to install a region on their own computer, or builders who want a private, fast sandbox to build stuff in “offline” mode. Yippee!

You can read my earlier blog posts about some of the trials I’ve gone through in the past to get working installations on Mac OS X (that was Leopard, by the way, I’ve since upgraded to Lion).

I’ve also done lots of work exporting stuff from Linden’s Second Life grid and then imported my creations into OpenSimulator grids such as New World Grid, Inworldz, OSgrid, and the now defunct RolePlayWorlds grid. Neato stuff.

If you’re a struggling educator, non-profit, or otherwise trying to get OpenSimulator (or versions thereof, for example the Diva Distro), but are running into errors or issues, or even if you have some questions you can’t get answered, then by all means feel free to ask me for help, if it’s something I can help with, I’ll lend a hand. If it’s something I can’t help with, then I probably know other helpful people you could ask so that you get whatever projects or goals you have accomplished.

The new build of OpenSim also has improved hypergrid support, but that too is beyond the scope of this article.

Best regards,
-StarLord

RolePlayWorlds (Open Simulator based MMORPG grid like Second Life) closing

The RPW Core Team announced today they will be shutting down the servers around the 23rd of September 2011, and encourage folks to do backups, export their builds, cancel orders and subscriptions before that date. They are warning people early to give them enough time to backup all their objects.

As you will recall from my earlier post, RolePlayWorlds is unique in that their grid consisted of many separate continents (think of these as Linden Labs’ mainland grids) which followed a particular theme, such as Elf, Vampire, Gor, and so on. Most of the builds were fairly massive size installations spanning 9 or more regions connected together to form larger cities, labyrinths, or terrains.

Much of the RPW consisted of the “Gor Grid” which were extensive builds of the cities of Ar, Lara, and other places taken from John Norman’s Gorean world, along with smaller (yet still quite massive, considerably..) areas.

In an email announcement I received today, they said, “The time has come, where we need to take a different path. This has been a lovely journey, we had the pleasure of meeting several great people and learn about this awesome industry. Sadly we don’t have the time and energy to keep working on RPW as before, that’s why we decided to close it or sell it if someone wants to make a fair offer.”

In closing, they said they want to say thanks to all (customers, users, and friends) for following them on this journey, and that we may see them again on this path.

I didn’t realize they were based in South America, though the email CAN-SPAM notice on the bottom had the address of “Colinas de Bello Monte, Qta. Los Luises, Caracas, Venezuela 1058” — I will remember RPW and the great attention to detail their builds had, though membership for whatever reason seemed to be lacking. The grid wanted to use a sort of currency system, but the last time I logged in it was mostly in beta testing and a rather manual process through PayPal transactions, even though the prices for everything was significantly lower than other “pay for stuff” grids such as Second Life, Openlife, YAL, and Inworldz.

I still have 9 sims running on OSgrid though not really actively using it. I wonder if any of the groups from RPW would be interested in migrating some of their builds there? OSgrid is one of the larger Open Simulator based grids, and to their benefit perhaps, everything in there is free/opensource, they are creative commons based and not for profit. That means you can’t really make money on OSgrid, but then who but a select niche few (and perhaps some musicians) actually make any money from Second Life? I made enough money to pay for my shoutcast stream services and some music on iTunes while DJ’ing, but it wasn’t something I could do full time and quit my day job to sustain myself in a virtual career.

That isn’t to say RPW was about commercialism and making money, because their focus was all about roleplay and people enjoying themselves in the various RP’s that took place there (I can’t say I ran into very many people there, really, because I didn’t, but their support staff was very helpful and the few people I did meet were quite nice, so it’s a shame to see them close up shop).

I wish everyone at RPW the best, and hope that they do have some dedicated folks who will safely migrate the best bits of it elsewhere, or save backups of select .oar and .iar’s perhaps so people can download them from some archive somewhere. Who knows..

For more information, visit their website at http://roleplayworlds.net/

Relationships in the Second Life (SL) universe – Part 4

(Continued from Part Three)

Part 4 – Thus the use of “Alts”       

But what of the use of Alternate characters, aka “Alts?” Both my wife and I have created alts for various reasons (some valid, some not). When you run a business or are hugely popular in the virtual world like I was, you need an Alt to “get away from yourself” so you can go and have some unobstructed “down time” and relax outside the constraints of your normal avatar, who people may constantly ping and prod and message and otherwise interfere in what would be your relaxation time, or alone time with your partner.

Of course, SL has the facility to go into “busy” or “do not disturb me” mode, which automatically sends any interruptions a courteous message letting them know you are away or are concentrating on something that needs your utmost attention.

However, much like having a mobile device strapped to your person for work, you can’t always really get away from it all. It’s hard to avoid being paged or having messages and calls come in RL unless you unplug the phone and turn off the mobile or what not, and so it goes in the virtual world, too, sometimes it’s just as hard to get away. Just because you set your mode to away or busy doesn’t mean you’ll avoid peeking at that incoming message or package delivered to you from another user. So, for that reason, people create alts.

There are two “business” reasons for creating an alt as well, here is the first example:

If you’re a small company, you may have a single phone line that has a answering system, press 1 to place and order, 2 for customer service, 3 to talk to the manager. You may have separate emails for sales, service, and support. Nevermind that the same person may be responding to all calls and emails themselves, even to speak of themselves in the 3rd person to their clients “Oh, yeah well I work here to provide customer service, do you have something you want me to pass along to the management?” as if the person could be more candid talking to someone further down the line whom they know and have a rapport with.

In the virtual world, people often create alternate accounts for their online store, Linden Labs tells most people that if they have a virtual business, they should create a few alts to help recover things should something happen to their main account, or just to deal with customers setup a “customer service” Alt (if not actually hire someone to do customer service or virtual sales rep for you). One person represents the store itself, they are the main contact who does all the building and promotion. Then, they may have another person or group of people who do the basic pre-sales and post-sales customer support, how to use the product, land parcel, or service they sold you, do training and installation or placing objects or what-not. And, there may be another person or group of people who help with more technical issues such as item delivery, scripts not functioning as expected, that sort of thing.

So, there may be a group of people (paid or volunteer) who deal with running the company’s business, while other companies employ alts, all run by the same person, and it only appears that they are separate entities. It just depends how much time you have to devote to these tasks, and if you are comfortable off-loading the work to other people.

The other business reason is, to effectively back-up your stuff to another account.

It’s good to have a back-up as well, so if anything happens to one avatar, the account is hacked, suffers from a database issue that wipes out your inventory, or some other system glitch like you simply forget your password and can’t access the account anymore, then an alt you created for the purpose of the back-up of your data may work to rescue or re-appropriate things if the need arises.

On the OpenSimulator-based grids, a person can backup their inventory (.iar) or their entire simulator region (.oar) to a sort of gzip file right from the command line. Since Linden Labs doesn’t give people command-line access to their accounts or simulators, then the alternative is to use an account or bot that can be given copies of all of your work, and store it for you just in case something goes awry.

There are third-party programs out there for the Windows PC users like “Second Inventory” though as a Mac OS X user I’m not familiar with it or how well it backs things up to your hard drive.

Now, let’s consider people using Alt accounts for other reasons, besides the business or “get away from it all with your loved one” aspects. Let’s say you create other identities, or a disposable, temporary avatar of sorts who can just be this unknown presence or bot that you keep around for some other purpose.


Bots: Bots, or “scripted agents” as they are called, are software controlled avatars, think of them as simple AI or non-player-characters who you may interact with, normally just over text, though others may be programmed to do various things for you or with you, like tour a facility, jump on a poseball with you, give a pre-recorded presentation of some sort, model clothing or other avatar enhancements, whatever you can imagine a bot to do, people likely do it somewhere within Second Life or other virtual world grids.

Now it gets a bit weird. Let’s say your main avatars are paired in a marriage partnership, but your alts are not, that is, they appear to be single people. Should your partnership vows extend between the alts as well, given their pixel bodies aren’t officially tied or betrothed? That is, would the expectation of faithfulness be valid, or as “disposable avatars” are the alts subject to deviations and distortions of a malevolent kind? Generally, I think the moral or monogamous answer is no.

Regardless how many Alts you have, they’re all controlled by the same typist, it’s the RL person, their intention behind the avatar. If you need to hide from your main avatar and indeed your partner to use an alt, that indicates other problems exist in your RL that you need to deal with.

In other words, if there are things you need to talk to your RL partner about, then do so, be frank and open and honest. That’s pretty straight forward and simple. For some the effort may bring some stress and uncomfortable back-and-forth to hash things out, but I believe the end result will be worth the it, in both SL and RL.

The reason I even mention that scenario is because it’s a common occurrence in Second Life (fooling around or what-not), whether people are single, engaged, married, in RL or SL or not, people hook-up in one way or another, so it’s also been known that virtual affairs can happen, and many emotions or interactions seem to be amplified or accelerated in the virtual world, thus Second Life is said to be the ruin of many a relationship.

For people whose moral wiring puts them into a open polygamist relationship, the partners may likely already have “sex toy alts” and perhaps encourage it, though neither my wife or I are a Mormon, swinging lifestyler or such a person to desire more than the 1 true companion in life (virtual or real) so that isn’t in our modus operanda.

Another reason people make “disposable” Alts is for malevolent reasons, that is, to login and just mess with people, break stuff, cause server lag, or otherwise be disruptive. This is an activity called “griefing” and the most common thing is to attack an unsuspecting newbie with a flood of flying penises or other body parts that follow you around, orbit, push, or hit you in diabolical ways. Some people think this is funny, though Linden Labs doesn’t think so, and this practice is against the Terms of Service (TOS), because SL just isn’t the place for that kind of juvenile behavior.

There are plenty of people who would simply argue, “well, it’s just a game” in direct contrast to the throngs of people who will insist “it’s not a game, its something more” and equate the virtual space as a 3D world wide web or conferencing platform, a media outlet for musicians and artists, and educational model or virtual classroom, that sort of thing.

My Alt.. ( beware, this rant is me stepping on the soapbox )

I have an alt named Andron, which sometimes has been a man and sometimes a woman (as Torley Linden is known to be either), but nowadays it’s just inactive, I don’t use it.. that is to say I’m not really into SL at all these days, my wife and I have a lot of other stuff going on so just don’t have time to play virtual world with each other, or anyone else for that matter… so the avatars are just sitting there until such time (if ever) we pick them up again.

Back to my story though, about Alts and the use of them, well for one, I feel that the use of an Alt creates a kind of deception and the potential for consequences that I’m not ready to accept. Perhaps I take this too seriously!? Since my alt isn’t “partnered” (again, the SL term for virtual marriage) it makes him/her look single and available– true SL isn’t all about dating, but there’s enough people looking for dates that it I’ve been asked (while either gender) for sex. So, I’d rather just be myself: I am taken and happily married in RL. Perhaps any alts that I or my wife have should be partnered to each other, just to turn people away from the idea that it might be open territory. We don’t use them often enough for this to be an issue, nonetheless, whenever those rare moments are that we find ourselves online, the requests and proposals come in. I also feel that continued roaming in this sort of pseudo-uncharted condition may strain RL relations or create distrust, as history has shown (and why I agreed to leave sensual RPs like Bloodlines or Gor in the past). But okay, this is getting way too personal and psychological for me, so let’s move on; In a nutshell I’ll just say that I’m not in SL to date or flirt or any of that, just as I don’t go into bars in real life and flirt or date or anything behind my wife’s back.

Ok sure, been there, done that. Let me reiterate my earlier spiritual commentary: A general rule of karma says that if you are doing something positive and good in the world, it will bring happiness, conversely if you are doing something negative and bad in the world, then it will bring sadness. That’s pretty straight forward, and applies to both you and the people around you who may be influenced by your actions.

What you are doing directs your attention somewhere, whether if it’s watching TV, doing an activity, game, or anything, and I will term this an intention.

Putting this idea another way, first ask yourself “What am I intending to do here?This is as simple as making a plan to do something, whether the action is a natural, spontaneous, or random event, you are going over in your mind exactly what, when, who, why, and how. It has something to do with your will– your will puts that intention into action. Even choosing not to do something is an action that will have repercussions on your present and future path, and these will be either positive, negative, or neutral.

Next, ask yourself “What will the end results be from this action?” In other words, you are exercising your conscience, you are making a choice to solidify the action or non-action, based on what you expect to happen as you do it, or what will become of you and anyone engaged in that action with you — that is, the effect, impact, reverberations, whatever you want to call it, it is what sustains or lingers for awhile. This is true even if you don’t consider it, as Newton’s third law states, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

For example, when you strike a tuning fork, it can be said to follow the principle I just described: First, when you decide to strike it, that is your intention, then the initial hit, that is putting it into action, then the note that vibrates for a time afterwards, that is the effect. Due to the impermanent nature of the physical universe, the audible note doesn’t just go on and on forever, and the vibration eventually dampens to a point where the object returns to a resting or dormant state. However, you can strike the tuning fork again and again until the thing just wears down, disintegrates, or otherwise becomes unusable, but that’s another lofty topic. People used to pay me to make analogies and coaching obscure topics with metaphors in this sort of way.. 😉

Now let’s return to our conversation about my Alt.

When you use an alternate identity in the RL or SL world, you are focusing your energy outside the space of your normal life, this is true for any avatar or game character really, you are temporarily putting yourself into that role, and that’s part of the fun of gaming.

I’ve always liked to use girl characters in video games, I just happen to like watching their bum and body run around instead of a guy, and sure I liked playing Tomb Raider because Lara Croft is sexy and adventurous, but that doesn’t make me want to be Lara Croft in RL. Playing a female avatar doesn’t make me gay, bisexual, a cross-dresser, she-male or transvestite in the real world, but that doesn’t stop my partner from not liking the idea. She isn’t comfortable with me playing a girl. She did have a male Alt for trying out clothes and men’s avatar bits while she was in the business of doing upscale avatar customizations, but that’s different, in the sense that her Alt was just a glorified mannequin used occasionally for a virtual store.

Some psychologists like Freud might say when you take a virtual Alt and engage it with someone other than your partner, it’s affecting your subconscious in subtle ways which can be destructive to your RL relationship. The act of being virtually unfaithful is like a lucid daydream, it is in effect pushing your real partner out of that space in your heart they would normally occupy, and temporarily putting someone else, even if in jest, in that role and position. Repeated use of this idea will bleed into your subconscious and psyche– thoughts are things, and such intentions, no matter how innocent in appearance, will grow to consume more and more of your thinking.

Some fans have been known to think about a celebrity or fantasize about them so much that they stir themselves into delusion. Then, when they finally do (if ever) meet the person in real life, they soon realize things are not as they think they were, because the real world is much different than their one-sided fantasy portrayed it to be. This may also be the reason that 85% of virtual partnerships don’t work out – because people are falling in love with someone’s avatar, not the person behind it.

Like any addiction, the way home to what is real and true may have you ripped back awake kicking and screaming and full of disappointment.

Though, I think I am wandering off on a strange rant again — the point I was making here, though, as I have seen things and heard from other visitors to the virtual world, is that Second Life is a fantasy; People may get caught-up in the fantasy of it all, escaping more and more into the virtual world, perhaps losing touch with the real world — there’s lots of cases of kids and adults with video game addiction — take for example World of Warcraft or other MMORPGs that people spend way too much of their waking life playing, and become a computer hermit using all of their free time and money to be in the game world instead of getting outside for some nice fresh air and sunshine.. ah that’s another topic entirely!

Where was I? The avatar Alt.. I originally created it to get away from myself, as in the earlier example, to literally be someone else. The reason for that was because I wasn’t happy with how my virtual life was going so decided to start another one. I had the need to escape from my virtual girlfriend so that I could be with other people (gasp!) and I also wanted a bot of sorts I could use to run tasks for me while I was busy working somewhere or on something, so I wouldn’t have to pop back and forth from place to place with 1 avatar, I could be in two places simultaneously by logging in both avatars at the same time!

Realistically though, the cure was simple – break friendship from those who weren’t good choices for associates, and continue on, and take more time to pop back and forth between places with just one avatar, which is what I eventually did.

That is to say, not everyone I dropped from my virtual friends list were bad people, per se, it’s just that I wasn’t involved in certain sims or games or activities in SL where I would frequent with them, so, as I left those areas, I also dropped all the friends I had there. SL is a big world, and only one of many virtual grids. Yes I established friendships with some of the people I left behind, but just as with real life, people come and go in your life. You don’t normally go out and seek people who you went to high school with, whom you haven’t spoken to for 20 years and had no real reason to do so, that’s kind of silly in my humble opinion — if they were such good friends 20 years ago, then it would be likely that they were still friends today, inspite of websites and social networking companies who offer such services.

It’s good to clean out your friends list just as it is good to drop people in Facebook or Myspace or whatever, just like a guy throwing out the little black book of fuck buddies and booty calls once he finds himself his true mate, it’s kinda like that. 🙂

Hence the term “disposable” Alts, some people create Alts just to build some objects, write some stories, join a certain club or group of people, or hang out with a certain crowd even if temporarily, then, if you ever decide to leave said group, you can do so cleanly without ever affecting your true identity, just un-friend everyone, or delete the Alt entirely, boom, done. That may sound messed up, really, but it’s often the way of things in the virtual world. Better still, have 1 avatar, and be the wiser and choose your friends and activities very wisely, so you won’t ever need an Alt in the first place 😉 Perhaps there is a learning curve for all this virtual world stuff, who knows?

My ramblings are just thoughts and opinions based on my years of experience with Second Life, so your mileage may vary, your experiences may be totally different. If you are so moved to comment on any of this (good, bad, or indifferent) you are most welcome to do so!

Venture on, traveler, your quest awaits!

Relationships in the Second Life (SL) universe – Part 3

(Continued from Part Two)

If you read my earlier posts, you know that everyone in SL can make their avatar’s a perfect 20- or 30-something image of health, and making use of the virtual world’s lsl scripting language, one can acquire or borrow from hundreds of well-crafted bvh motion-captured movements of professional actors and expert coders, these are worn on one’s avatar in a HUD or invisible object in things called “Animation Overriders” or “AO” for short. It makes your avatar move and wiggle and shift their weight around, walk, run, swim, fly, and such in a more natural way than default.

You can also use animations for doing activities, like, dancing, or fighting with weapons, or riding a vehicle, or.. yes, indeed, sex!

Instant looping love scenes of varying duration or complexity are just a click away: Sit on a scripted animation ball with another and boom your avatar is displaying masterful perfected examples of coupled dancing, loving and sex, even your facial expressions and body language can be so scripted into something that could pass as believable human animations.

So, if watching pixel interactions is enough to lull you into a some sense of romance or sexual arousal, producing a real-world emotional/mental response, then whoopee!? Go figure. Pixels don’t generally do anything for me, but given my wife and the right enhancements, emotes, voice, whatever, then yeah it may sound perverse but that could work for me. Run now if this is disturbing LOL.

So, people can get distracted. Just like watching a TV show or movie or sporting event, well, playing a online game will distract your mind from any real world issues or its responsibilities.. In the virtual world, when you meet someone on a superficial level, it’s much like meeting someone informally at a bar. Generally, you don’t care about real-world compatibility, differences in gender, age, size, thought, history, baggage, body odor, menstral cycles, undesirable habits or traits like flatulence or nose picking to endure, and generally, you will not easily uncover any underlying psychopathic behavior or mental disorders on that first encounter.

After all, in the metaverse, it’s just pixels, none of this is real unless you in your mind and heart desire it to be for you. Nobody you interact with has to know anything of your real world identity or location, unless you tell them. And when two people with like mind interact, well then maybe the sparks will fly (and maybe not..)

So what about, online safety and security?

SL has no enforcement to reveal what you look like in the RL, or what your contact details outside of SL may be, and why would they? Surely they are a commercial business and don’t want to be held liable if some client of their own free will chooses to have a RL affair outside their marriage, or if a trusting woman winds up hanging dead on a meat hook from some wacko who posed in SL as a reputable human. That sort of stuff may be open to the laws of common sense and natural selection, however not everyone has those traits in either SL or RL.

I guess you can look at it as a responsibility or a fault, Linden Labs has no screening process regarding account creation by pedophiles, sexual predators, serial killers, the abusive or emotionally disturbed personalities, those with suicidal tendencies, religious extremism, or any sort of criminal history, so anyone you interact with, either casually in public conversation, over personal instant messages, voice, or for that matter outside of SL across the Internet, telephone, or face-to-face interaction, comes with no protection or guarantees of personal safety — however, most people who are online at all realize that they need to be on guard for those who are out to do bad things.

So, there are now two verification systems, one so that you can spend money in SL, the other so you can access adult content. Either of these are easily faked given the right information to enter into their website, but this isn’t an article how to hack SL or get free Linden dollars or stuff like that.

In that sense, an extremist about online issues may complain that SL (indeed other virtual communities) in part encourage felons and social deviants to inhabit and likewise infect their virtual world, allowing anyone a free unchecked account (or accounts) passage to RP or end up charming the gullible or lonely bored person out of RL money, common sense, vows, or even their life. Lots of kids online chat rooms and games don’t have much control over this and there are cases where kids got hurt, but really that’s more uncommon than common.

Back to my rant though, think about all the things you can pretend to do in SL which would otherwise be serious crimes: plunder, rape, steal, pillage, have hardcore virtual sex with children, animals, or whatever their diabolical mind can imagine. But it’s just a game. People want to explore BDSM or things in a safe virtual environment, or act out roleplays of a violent nature (think of games like Quake, Halo, Call of Duty, that sort of thing.. People don’t go out and shoot people in real life after playing such games unless they are mentally disturbed, of course, and generally when you play these sorts of games you are playing with artificially intelligent computer-created models, there isn’t a real world person controlling the actions of the character, and interacting with you on some mental interpersonal level.

A spiritualist may say, no matter how subtle, there would exist a mental and emotional connection, indeed your physical body may react to stimuli from said person-controlled avatar, just as much, if not more so, than a computer character who is blasting away at you may piss you off and get your physical self visibly enraged.

So, let’s say a person wishes to be a pilot, so they read books about repairing aircraft, flight controls, aerial mapping, and GPS navigation. Then, in the virtual world, they practice the book techniques in simulated conditions where they practice takeoffs and landings, plotting airport to airport courses, and addressing standard mechanical maintenance of aircraft. It is their eventual goal to repeat this in real life, to learn and become a pilot- the books and virtual practice is training their mind for the task, and indeed the imaginary successes and failures may generate RL emotional responses, even pleasure or stress.

Now, there is something to be said about sympathetic magick or the effect of doing things in SL, which influences your psyche or subconscious mind, as in the example of the pilot on training, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that similar effects may be produced when the typist exposes themselves to other repeated activity in the virtual world.

Becoming a vampire in SL and daily attacking and draining victims isn’t likely to turn someone into a RL bloodthirsty goth, but it will indeed leave lasting impressions in your mind, and your thoughts on these matters will often be in your mind. What you fill your mind with, what you “sow” in otherwords, so will you begin to create, or “reap” in the waking everyday life; how this manifests really is dependent on many natural, universal laws.

Not every child who plays war games and shoots people grows to be killers who mow down their classmates in a rain of bullets, and not everyone who attends a cult church is immediately brainwashed or manipulated into submission, and not every man who visits a nudie bar every night ends up paying for a lapdance, but indeed, if one were to frequent such places until it wore down your sensible resistance, you may indeed end up a convert of a wicked cult or find yourself humping a stripper in the back room of a club, if conditions allowed for such a thing to occur, and you were weak enough to succumb.

Thankfully, with SL also comes some safety you wouldn’t get in RL encounters: You have the ability to immediately shut someone out if things go sour, or if someone goes too far beyond your comfort level (or indeed that of your spouse). You can teleport away, logoff, un-friend a person, mute or ignore them, even delete your account entirely if circumstances need be so drastic to rid yourself a stalker or casanova.

And surely the following has happened to many a resident of SL, indeed, what happens in the virtual world could ruin what may have been an otherwise long and happy marriage.

SL is full of unscrupulous men and women who, having no love of their own, will do what they can to destroy any love they find, and trick people into letting them steal it for themselves, at relatively no cost to their own person, yet leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. This happens in the real world and indeed it happens way more often in the virtual world.

Really? A game? How the heck can my kid fall victim to a computer game, or a partner fall prey to an internet stalker in a game? Here’s how. It’s the people playing the game. That’s not to say everyone in SL is bad, it’s just to say, like RL, there are good and bad people, and people who do good and bad things in spite of themselves or their mate.

The old “I’m better than they are, because I’m great and they are rotten so you should spend time with me” manipulation, guys use it to talk women away from men, and women use it to talk men out of their pants for those who have ears to listen to such nonsense. On the Internet, though, we usually refer this to “predators” who “stalk” their online “victims.” — No need for me to go into details, just google it if you never heard of such horrid behavior.

In the RL, any sane woman would call the man out immediately “player!” for they are just a charmer. But in the SL, the challenge is that pixels and scripted words may cloud what true judgement would have easily dispelled as disloyalty.

Let’s touch on common relationship stuff of the modern age: First off, it’s not good manners to snoop on your partner, because that in itself is a form of distrust. So, what if you snoop and you find some IM or email from a person courting your partner? What if someone is courting your partner in a GAME? I would guess it’s just as bad as if it happened in real life, except that you can STOP playing a game, you can STOP email, you can STOP instant messaging, delete delete delete.

Sure, I have friended people in SL, I have chatted with people outside of SL whom I built objects with or at the time was roleplaying with, but it wasn’t like I was being dishonest or hiding from my mate about it — at the time I was single. Yes, once in a relationship I flirted with people, but my friends knew where my loyalties were, and that above anything, my girl (now my wife) was #1 in my life, and any interaction then wouldn’t be of the romantic or sexual sort of play .. not that I did much of that sort of play as it were, and I don’t use IM or any of that as I once did, it’s more the concept, the precedent, the intention behind it all that gets me.

Continued in Part 4..

Relationships in the Second Life (SL) universe – Part 2

(Continued from Part One)

Part 2: “When SL love meets RL”

The vows of partnership

First and foremost, Starlord Scribe, my avatar in Second Life, is partnered to RileyGene Parx, the avatar for whom my RL wife is typist. Neither of us are in Second Life really anymore, so that point is mute, if you ping us in-world you’re likely to get no response at all because we’re never there anymore.

Anyway, for these main accounts, we agreed to restrict certain roleplay only to our mate– the idea here is, even in our gaming, our avatars will uphold the sanctity of our RL marriage vows (be they so duplicated by our handfasting rites performed initially in SL) so, when either of our avatars are in-world, with each other, alone, or in the company of others, we agree not to engage in any sort of play of a romantic or sexual/sensual nature- the idea is, we don’t want our avatar’s pixels or indeed our own emotions or thoughts to be engaged with anyone other than our mate. There are a few schools of thought on this subject, which I will touch upon later, and give some short “case studies” from real world events you may ponder.

One may ask, how does a couple progress from a game’s virtual fantasy encounters to real world physical relationship? At what point do we cross over from “the game” and enter real-world territories of sharing personal information, skype, cams, cell phone, instant messaging, and the like?

For RileyGene and Star, we met in February 2009 at a now defunct virtual dance and strip club (Club Lean) she co-owned with a girlfriend of hers (Arva), and there, after some visits, I became one of the resident DJ’s. My job was spinning music, taking requests two nights a week, which later became three nights a week, shifts often lasting for hours.

At the time we met, we were both in “virtual relationships” with other people; Granted, I was dating a Brazilian woman (of perhaps questionable stability, like much of SL) who was playing in SL perhaps in defiance of her RL, and RileyGene was dating a man who positioned is avatar as a “furry” man – that is, part human, part animal, (e.g., neko, kitsune) – though he was more interested in running a (virtual) store and doing scripting and such, more so than having sexual interplay with his pixels, though, RileyGene was quite interested in the later so employed the use of an “Alt” (we’ll call her Amira) for sex, which I will touch upon later.

Thus, RileyGene’s partnership was said to be a business one, even though it was the equivalent of marriage in SL, and mine, well, it wasn’t optimum and it was wrought with its own issues since I took things perhaps more seriously than I should have. So, you now have a glimpse into the kind of odd people found in SL, myself included!

Back to our story though, as virtual co-workers, RileyGene and I saw each other for brief moments every night, and over the course of several months we established a good friendship, went on some virtual dates together, and this bloomed into something grander. We then partnered in SL, and would stay logged in for hours on end, overnight at times while our avatars lay naked holding our RL bodies slept– Total mushy love in the virtual world which logically crossed over and grew in the RL. We awoke to each other’s SL avatar and RL voice just as if we would do so if actually living together in the RL.

Around July that same year, having awesome love blossom and flourish between us, we mutually decided the relationship would go further, and made plans to meet up in real life.

She came to be with me for a few weeks in San Francisco, and then I came to live with her in Canada after that. On my visit to Canada, while we were snuggled watching “The Italian Job” (c.1969) I popped “the question” and she said “yes.” In September, we married in Reno, NV and I’m now living with her in Alberta.

Our relationship is one of the exceptions though. I read somewhere once that 85% of online relationships just don’t work out or never mature to any tangible state, or people being people for whatever reason decide not to take things any further than they have existed in the fantasy world, and fine be it left at that, sometimes it’s a mutual thing and other times one person decides to drop it much to the dismay of the other.

Of course that’s just a brief synopsis of the events which occurred, and I don’t feel compelled to blab about my personal life experiences for all the world to see, just to put it out there that, that’s how we met, and yes it did lead to a happy lasting marriage, because of who we are in RL though, our compatibilities and love and everything, not just because she has a sexy voice and avatar, but because of who she IS, and who I AM, that’s what made it work and continues to hold it together today.

About jealousy, suspicion, virtual “issues” . . .

I’ll touch on a few things here just to give the prospective SL couple something to think on. Due perhaps to the anonymous nature of SL, or indeed Internet chat and email in general, it’s easy to take things out of context when you can’t read someone’s body language or facial expressions. There are stalkers and perverts and demented disturbed people online just as there are in real-life, of course, it’s not as easy to detect this behind the guise of an avatar.

On that note, let me talk about Gorean sims. On average, Gorean books contain lots of sex, so, likewise, the virtual sims where Gor is played are generally adult themed (i.e. sexually explicit) lands.

Is pixelated avatar sex that good?

Let’s take a look at the basics of avatar sex and what factors it may be appealing– these same factors will also draw the most prudent or sound minds far from SL, because there are no real checks and balances.

One appeal of avatar sex and its fantasy is the lack of accountability, not having to face consequences, not having to answer to anyone or any commitments, not having to make an effort or sacrifice yourself to get a reward, and not having to register yourself into a database whereby law enforcement can run a background check on you and monitor illegal activity (without some earlier cooperation from network savvy folk or the grid owners Linden Labs themselves).

So let’s rant a bit about scammers, charlatans, manipulation, that sort of thing. This content rating is getting into adult territory now so if you didn’t expect that you should perhaps leave and go look at cute puppies or kittens or something else now.

In SL, one can easily proclaim fake or attest “real” undying love to anyone (or a thing) and revel in the fantasy as long as the other person (or people) buy into it, because there are no real world constraints, no inhibitions, you can’t read someones real expression or body language, you can do kinky things like BDSM without the risk of causing real world injuries, spreading disease, or even death.

Someone could have virtual “quickies” and watch avatar pixel-sex which appears perhaps as good as any similarly scripted (yet interactive) porno movie, while mutually masturbating and typing erotic “emotes” to the other typist (or even have a sort of audio voiced phonesex) along the way. With today’s media and streaming technologies, sure you can webcam someone, but really once you get past the pixels and avatars and such, and are doing webcam sex and voice chat and all, then you aren’t really doing the virtual world anymore, now you are doing real-world interaction, even if behind the confines of a net connection.

For lonely singles or people with a real-world disability that prevents them from engaging in RL social activities, you may see the appeal — mind you, some people just want to hang out or dance or play sports/games or what not, while others are on the prowl for sex and sensual virtual experiences.

On the other hand, for someone who is otherwise engaged in a healthy RL relationship, partnership, marriage, or the like, one may question if it is right for their partner to involve themselves in this sort of virtual playing (even if totally fake and in the fantasy realm) and indeed what harm can it do?

What does this virtual sex play do to someone’s psychological or mental health, or that of their mate? How does it compare to someone engaging in Internet sex chat rooms, or frequenting real world singles bars, when they themselves are betrothed or committed to someone outside of those playgrounds?

In other words, the moral dilemma may be, is it the same thing to tease and flirt or even have virtual sexual encounters with someone in a “game” of sorts, as it is to have them in real life? Well, I guess that’s a semantics issue — yes and no. You don’t normally engage with someone physically (does masturbation fall into that category? What if you yourself are not masturbating, but the person with whom you are virtually speaking and interacting with, is?) In the virtual world, one doesn’t generally exchange real world information with anyone, such as your geographical location, because after all, you don’t want some love-lorn or psycho person arriving at your doorstep looking to meet the person behind the avatar.

Indeed, nobody generally knows f the avatar you are controlling is a man or woman typist behind it (or she-male or bisexual or transsexual or whatever variant), and people don’t generally know your real world age or marital status, indeed, if you are hiding behind an avatar and engaging in what would otherwise be prohibited sensual play with someone, without your real-world partner knowing, and indeed if the whole idea is that you are pretending to be a single person who is online having fun, and have no intention of telling your real world partner that you are doing so, and nothing in your profile says to the contrary (that is, the purpose of your online presence is a deception), then, are you having an affair over the computer? Does it “count” to have virtual sex games since they aren’t real?

Believe me, this stuff has crossed my mind and other people I know who have experience in the virtual world. If you are into Second Life (or other VR) for any length of time, you will understand where these crazy ideas come from.

Ok, just for example let’s take the time you would normally spend sharing and talking with your real world partner, what if that time is spent online gaming? How many husbands or wives have nagged you about their mate spending too much time checking email, surfing the web, or playing games instead of giving them attention? Indeed, how many people can say their partner’s hobbies, TV shows they like, or other interests are known to cause the same tensions?

As these are questions I often ask myself, when I present myself online, I don’t do it in a way that negates or invalidates what is really going on in my head and life — I am happy to have my wife and don’t want people to get the wrong idea of me, and I don’t profess to give others the wrong idea by pretending I am something I am not..

Is this a rant? Maybe so.. Let’s move back to topic though and talk about SL’s general avatar appearance. I can get back to the rant later.. In the next part!

Commentaries on Gor and relationships in the Second Life (SL) universe – Part 1

Equipoise: The Journey in the Destination.
Continued from my last post, yet this is more so about Second Life and relationships in the metaverse, more so than about Gor itself.

In the virtual metaverse of SL, as well other places on the Internet, people have created Gorean-themed areas, forums, groups, etc. to entertain fans of the stories.

I enjoy the absurdity of SL and find most well-designed sim regions to be pleasing to the senses, much as any Real Life (RL) travel destination could be– Gorean themed or otherwise.

On many such sims, people roleplay (RP, act out, pretend) their avatar’s character to be a Gorean, for example, though one could also pretend to be a furry animal, elf, beast, insect, or potted plant. There are many virtual “islands” and microcosms created within the SL and indeed other virtual world grids, some exclusively themed (like RolePlayWorlds for example) to particular mythos, cultural societies, historical representations, etc., others simply random assemblages of multiple pantheons which somehow interact and coexist with each other.

That said, I enjoy RP of different types. Generally, one can find open-ended roleplay, rather, the “stories” are short-lived and follow whatever random thoughts people come up with, though others are more elaborately engineered, and follow stricter storylines or rules known as a “by the book” (BTB) roleplay.

Regarding BTB sims, on the plus side, having limits and rules is commendable, inasmuch to stick with time periods or known races/attributes may be virtuous or honorable, for example in the game World of Warcraft you pick a specific race, sex, and starting abilities to represent yourself in-game. What you do via movement and text will cause said character to evolve or devolve, though you are obviosly limited to what that chosen race and gender’s strengths and weaknesses are known by all to be. Since people in Gor don’t generally have super-powers or the ability of self-propelled flight, most sims don’t permit human flying without a suitable piloted bird or accepted vehicle, and the effects of gravity, falling damage, or weapons may be calculated through the use of “meter” devices, which are programs attached to your avatar which calculate and display such physics or statistical things as one’s health and stamina.

On the other hand, we know a lot of non-BTB things may occur in SL (it is SL after all), and some argue that overly defining your RP, not only within a certain time period or set of races, but also styled of an author’s story pages, that it stifles one’s creativity, thus forcing daily RP’s into stringent roles, rules, or patterns. Perhaps some people require a formal “box to build in” as basis to build upon, though, I suspect the RP of BTB game regions may become a “beaten dead horse” of repetition or lost novelty, its residents growing bored or complacent within the same confines that serve to define the sims themselves.

For many, in fact, the very idea of logging into a virtual world for cosplay or RP is an appaling cop-out. How many Shakespeare play groups are performing in SL for example? I don’t know of a single one, in fact, don’t recall seeing any sort of theatre performance in SL, short of a few machima with little to no dialogue.

Twice now, I had joined Gorean sims which seemed interesting at the time, yet soon left after giving the matter some thought.

To put these concepts into words is difficult; A few contradictions arose; I realized these groups didn’t ultimately fit my persona or modus operanda; Even the idea of engaging in virtual gameplay is a conflict of interest with my real life — Yes it’s a fantasy world and what goes on isn’t real — How it compares (to me and my ideas) with other casual gaming I will do my best to detail over the next pages in this article.

(Continued in Part 2)

Jokes of Gor – Rare and Largely Unknown Gorean Quotes

Jokes of Gor – Rare and Largely Unknown Gorean Quotes
Based on Stroke’s rare and largely unknown Gorean quotes from the internet archive. Two characters, a warrior and slave girl, stand quoting various one liners and funny quotes regarding Gor and the Internet. Some knowledge of John Norman’s Gorean saga or the Chronicles of Counter-Earth as well familiarity of Internet chat may be expected to understand the content of these jokes. I found a few of these pretty funny. My first attempt at making an Xtranormal animation, hope you enjoy it! Rated 13+ due to some language and drug references or sexual innuendo. Visit my website starlord.net or YouTube channel (starlord) for more.

Jokaydia Grid – Yes another Second Life and OpenSim grid, also on World of Warcraft!

I’ve been hearing bits about Jokaydia grid, an Australian based grid running OpenSimulator which is relatively affordable in comparison to some of the other closed grids.

Here’s some tidbits about Jokaydia grid:

Focus – Like New World Grid (which is based in France), Jokaydia is centered around education and artistic uses, as well social change (I gather they refer to using virtual world technologies to empower educators and artists, hmm?)

Maturity rating – Looks like Jokaydia likes to open themselves up to children (ok, younger folks) so they can get a head start on Virtual World living and interactions. I don’t know what sort of adult or mature oriented stuff this grid has (if any!) though they do have hang out places for people to, well, hang out.

It seems Jokaydia really likes the whole hypergrid idea and encourages folks to hyperjump around the different metaverses, even doing some cross promotion in other grids, including running 4 sims on Linden Labs’ Second Life grid, some interaction with ReactionGrid (which also does a lot of art projects and has a PG rating as far as I know), and even World of Warcraft, where they have a group of goblins hanging out.. this I don’t know too much about and get all of it third person, but here’s the usual rundown of what Jokaydia grid is..

The viewer – you can use any OpenSim or SL friendly viewer to login, nothing special there.

The sims – There are a few variants here, first of all, they do have 4 sims running in Linden Labs’ Second Life grid! Also, they have the Jokaydia grid sims which are OpenSimulator based, I am not sure but, I believe they are a somewhat closed grid system (can you can connect your own self-hosted sims to their grid or not… nothing says you can’t, but then nothing shows you that you can… which, hmm, is a bit odd, I don’t know!) I will guess then, that the answer is NO — they are a closed grid… Until someone proves me wrong hehe. They also rent you sims or parcels. Neat thing is, if you rent from them in Second Life, you get some free land in Jokaydia grid free along with it (neato!)

Renting – They rent entire sims for about $25au per month for a full region. Not so bad eh?

Events – They love to host all kinds of friendly events and have 4 calendars you can poke through to find out stuff to learn, hangout, or go hypergrid travelling with them across lots of other inter-connected grids, neato! 🙂 There seems to be a nice community of people at Jokaydia grid, and they really promote the whole cross-cultural, cross-grid, multi-media experience. That’s cool too.

Support – They have an OSticket based support system right on the website as well 2 wiki’s of information for you to peruse for assistance.

About – The name Jokaydia grid comes in part by creator Jo Kay (aka jokay Wollongong in jokaydiaGRID, ReactionGRID, and SL) and claims to be a “freelance geek, designer, and facilitator” based in Wollongong, Australia (hence the avatar’s last name!) the About page on http://jokaydiagrid.com continues “Jo has interests in online culture and social networking and the impacts both are having in the education sector, but also on society in general. Her current research is around virtual worlds, with a particular focus on virtual worlds and the possibilities that they offer for education, communication and collaboration. Jo is owner and manager of jokaydiaGRID and the Islands of jokaydia and supports a vibrant community of educators and Institutions. For more information visit: http://jokay.com.au.”

Accounts – You create accounts through the webpage, and have a selection of decent looking default avatars to choose from. If you are on one of the other hypergrid-accessible grids like ReactionGrid or New World Grid for example, then you can hypergate teleport across into Jokaydia grid, of course, without the need to create another avatar 🙂

So, travelers, well worth checking out! But don’t just take my word for it, go check out their website and see for yourself all the neat stuff going on here. Looks promising for educational and artistic uses, most definately, this grid is rather on the cutting edge of the whole social networking concept or virtual learning thing touted by so many people “oh that would be a great idea if our university would …. blah blah blah” Well, it so seem that people ARE doing those things in Jokaydia grid, and have some good success with it, so kudos!

Will you find violent sexy games and adult interactions on Jokaydia? This I don’t know, I haven’t been there myself. But if your school chums and people newbie to the whole virtual world hing are looking for a casual place to hang out, this appears to be a good place to start.