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Archive for April, 2007

How To Become an Accomplished Architect in Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 30, 2007

If you have ever dreamed about building a castle, now’s your chance. Learn to manipulate Second Life graphics primitives, and the only limit is your imagination.
by Jeff Heaton
April 30, 2007

Building and scripting are two very important skills in the MMOG Second Life. Building is the process by which you create complex 3D structures. Scripting is the process of using a script language to allow those 3D structures to perform tasks, in the game. My last article focused on scripting. In this article I will cover building. I will cover the fundamentals of building and show you how to create a set of 3D objects that will allow you to construct castles, such as the one shown in Figure 1.

Understanding Primitives

To begin building you will need to create primitives, called prims for short. Prims are very simple solid geometrical objects. Second Life lets you create 13 different prim types. However, these are made of only seven different basic shapes. For example, a sphere can become a hemisphere by setting a “path cut” begin and end. Using path cuts you can remove a portion of a prim, creating a different shape. Figure 2 shows the seven basic shapes.

Figure 2 shows my game avatar, Encog Dod, standing by the seven primitive types. From left to right, the figure shows the box, prism, cylinder, sphere, torus, ring, and tube.

To build one of these primitives, select the “build” option from the bottom of your screen.

Author’s Note: If build is not enabled, then you are not on land that supports building. Generally you must be on your own land to build. However, if you do not own land, you can use a sandbox. To find a sandbox use the search and search for a sandbox. Sandboxes are regions that allow anyone to build. You’ll often find other builders present in sandboxes, so things can get a bit chaotic. Additionally, most sandboxes are cleared out daily. So make sure you take a copy of your creation, if you want it saved.

After you select build, you will see the building window (see Figure 3). To create primitives, select the magic wand icon. By default, you will create a box. If you click anywhere near yourself you will see a box created, as shown in Figure 3.

Note that the small “wood textured” box in Figure 3 is selected when you create it. You can tell that the box is selected by fact that there are red, green and blue arrows on the box. These arrows let you move the box any of the three dimensions. Second Life opens a window that shows you options that affect the box primitive. I’ll discuss these options later in the article.

You can also rotate and resize primitives in a manner similar to moving an object. You use the mouse to drag and rotate or resize a prim. To rotate a prim use the CTRL key. To resize use the CTRL-SHIFT key combination.

Grouping Primitives

You create complex objects by combining primitives. To combine two prims they should be touching, or at least very close. Select your first object normally. However, when you select additional prims hold down the SHIFT key. This lets you select multiple prims. Select all the prims you want to group, and then select “Link” from the tools menu. To unlink a group of prims, select the group, and then choose “Unlink” from the tools menu.

In Figure 4 you can see three white spheres combined to create a primitive snowman.

To make the spheres white I used the “Texture” tab of the prim’s option window. From the “Texture” tab you can choose a color. The only other changes to the spheres were sizing and moving them into place.

One of the first things that most Second Life users want to build is a house. After you have land, you can create your own place to live. There are many different types of houses in Second Life. In this article you’ll see how to construct a simple castle, built of basic castle building blocks; you can build as large or small a castle as you like. You’ll also see a useful terraforming technique that you can use with any building type.

Working with Land

Second life land is not always flat; however, flat land is the easiest to build on. Some land will be flat and easy to build on, such as Figure 5.

Most other land that you purchase will have hills. You can flatten small parcels of land relatively easily. However you can only raise or lower land so far. This makes it very difficult to flatten large areas of land. Consider Figure 6, which shows the hilly land on which the castle in this article was built.

You will notice from Figure 6 that the land’s texture varies with its height. As you move closer to the ocean the land’s texture becomes sandier. This is a preset option for land, and cannot usually be changed. The only time land texture can be changed is if you own a Second Life Island. You can get more information about island ownership here.

It is also important to note that this form of texture applies only to land. All other textures will not be affected by height.

I’ve already flattened the land as far as I can. Now I must build a foundation on which to build the castle. Basically a foundation is a bunch of large boxes textured to look like a foundation. To build the foundation, start by creating a cube of the maximum size—10 cubic meters (see Figure 7). The easiest way to make a cube that large is to choose the prim options and set the x, y, and z sizes to 10. Next, select the texture tag and choose the “Granite” texture included with the standard object library in your inventory. If you can’t find it, fill in the text box at the top of your inventory and do a search. While still in the texture options, change the “Repeats per Face” option to “1” for both horizontal and vertical.

If you are building your own castle it is best to built it to fit your land’s size. The plot that I am using for this example is 4,096 square meters. For this size a foundation will consist of 36 (6 x 6) granite blocks like the one you created in the previous step. You can quickly copy the granite block (or any primitive) you’ve created by clicking it and choosing “Take Copy.” Copying the block adds the new block to your inventory. From the inventory, you can drag a block to the ground and quickly create more copies. Drag enough blocks to create a foundation for the size castle you want.

While you could drag all 36 blocks to the correct location, it is much easier and more accurate to simply set the x, y, and z coordinates using the prim options window. For example, the first block that I placed over the land had a z value of 36 meters. Since every block in the foundation is the same height I was able to simply enter the value of 36 for the z-coordinate of all of the foundation blocks. Likewise each block’s x and y should be 10 meters away from the previous block. This is because each block is 10 cubic meters.

Setting the z value the same for all blocks creates a flat foundation, because each block has the same height and the same z-coordinate. Z-coordinates are zero based, where zero is a spot deep underground. Therefore, if all blocks have the same height and z-coordinate they will all appear at the same level. Some will be slightly underground, similar to a real-life house’s foundation. Figure 8 shows the completed foundation.

The next step is to add grass on top of the foundation. You will likely want to walk around outside the castle, and adding grass to the foundation makes it look like a nice grassy field—a perfect building spot! To add grass, change the texture of only the top face of each of the cubes by dragging the texture to the top face of the cube. Note that each face of a prim can have a different texture.

First, select a grass texture from your inventory. I like the “Islands—Grass” from the standard library. Drag this texture to the top of all of the foundation cubes. This will result in a terraformed grassy plane ready for building (see Figure 9).

Creating the Castle Building Blocks

So far you have seen how to perform a number of basic building options. Specifically you have learned to:

Create any prim type
Move a prim or object
Resize a prim or object
Apply a texture
Apply different textures to different faces

You can quickly build a castle similar to the one shown in Figure 1 from a series of castle building blocks. In this section you will see how to create these blocks. You can obtain a copy of all of the textures and castle building blocks in the Second Life world at the following SLURL (Second Life URL): http://slurl.com/secondlife/Encogia/211/181/63.

The castle is packaged into a large box called “Castle in a Box Tutorial”. The tutorial box contains all of the textures and building blocks needed for this castle. Additionally you are given full rights to these objects so that you can examine and see exactly how they were constructed.

You’ll want to use this technique to create buildings of your own in Second Life. First, create prims and link them together into larger objects. These larger objects will become the building blocks of your structure. For example, the castle is made up of the following building blocks:

3X3 Cement
3X3 Cement Grass
Battlement
Corner Wall
Corner Tower
Door Section
Floor
Front Door
Roof
Short Wall
Small Corner Tower
Stairs
Wall
Window Wall

You can see several of these building blocks laid out on the lawn in Figure 10.

Each of these building blocks was built using skills already covered in this chapter. For example, stacking several sized cylinders and topping them with a blue cone creates a tower. Putting a wall/window texture on the front and an interior texture on the other side creates walls. The prims for each block are grouped. Except for the door, you’ve seen all the techniques used. The door uses a simple Linden Scripting Language (LSL) program (see my previous article) to allow it to open and close.

Listing 1 shows the Linden Scripting Language (LSL) code that operates the door.

This script in Listing 1 works by establishing two states for the door: open and closed. When a user touches the door, it moves from one state to the other. The door should be a simple rectangular prim. The touch function calls the door function to rotate the door by 45 degrees, which “opens” the door, putting it in the open state. The open state simply waits a preset amount of time (5.0 seconds according to the user settings in Listing 1), and then rotates the door back by 45 degrees, thus closing the door.

The castle uses numerous textures. I could easily devote an entire article to texture creation. One of the easiest methods to obtain textures is to find free ones on the Internet. Once you locate a texture on the Internet, you can upload it into Second Life. For example, to find a “granite texture,” you can use Google to perform an “image search” for the term “granite texture.” You’ll find quite a few textures.

Author’s Note: Before you use a texture make sure that the texture is free. Most web sites that contain textures will state the usage license for their textures. Second Life allows you to use any texture that you have obtained a valid license for, and does not violate their community standards. If you would like to create textures of your own, you should look into programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

By using terraforming, primitives, groups, and textures, you can build anything you can dream up. This article showed you how to first prepare a land site for building and how to create a set of reusable building blocks to construct a building. You also saw where you can obtain the castle building blocks.

Building can be a very time-consuming part of Second Life. However, as you become a more advanced builder you will accumulate a library of common objects that you have created, which will allow you to quickly construct new objects based on what you already have.

Building on What You Know

This article only covered basic options available on the objects. However, you can build a castle even using only these basic options. After you master the basic options you should start experimenting with other options such as hollow and taper. These options allow you to transform the prims even further to create new and interesting shapes. For example, you can hollow out a cube to create a box, with an inside. You can apply a cut path to a sphere to create a hemisphere. The best way to learn these additional options is to create prims and experiment with the available options until you understand first-hand how to transform prims. Happy building!

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Second Life’s Potential for Virtual Consumer Marketing

Posted by SIM on April 23, 2007

Latest GMI Poll Reveals Second Life’s Potential for Virtual Consumer Marketing and Branding
PRWeb
April 23, 2007

The latest GMI Poll, powered by global market intelligence solutions provider GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.), found the virtual world of Second Life is a burgeoning market for real-life brands and product promotion. Fifty-six percent of users believe Second Life is a good promotional vehicle. Only 16 percent say they would not be more likely to buy or use a brand that is represented in the Internet-based virtual world. In Second Life, residents can explore, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another.

GMI interviewed 9,529 consumers, representing a broad sample of the U.S. population aged 18 and above. The interviews were conducted online among GMI’s permission-based consumer panel using GMI’s data collection software.

‘Second Life is still in its infancy, and nobody knows if this virtual world has true staying power or is just a fad,’ explained Michael Cai, director, broadband and gaming at Park Associates, a Dallas-based market research and consulting firm specializing in digital and connectivity products and services for the home. ‘What is clear from the GMI poll is that Second Life is a potential, untapped source for marketing and branding. The people at Linden Lab have the opportunity to build out a new platform for promotion, much like Yahoo and Google did for the internet.’

The poll also revealed that many Second Life users go to the virtual world to avoid reality. Twenty-four percent of respondents claim they go to Second Life to escape real life, which they are not satisfied with, while 64 percent present themselves differently. Additional findings include:

45 percent give themselves a more attractive body
37 percent make themselves younger
23 percent give themselves a different nationality
55 percent watch less television since becoming active in Second Life
22 percent have more Second Life friends than real-life friends
29 percent feel Second Life interferes with their real-world social life

About GMIPoll
The Second Life GMIPoll surveyed a total of 9,529 U.S. consumers between March 27th and April 9th, 2007 on the GMI platform. Additional Second Life polls were conducted in Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. For more information about GMIPoll, please contact GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.) at info @ gmi-mr.com.

About GMI
GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.) is the only provider of integrated solutions for global market intelligence for market research firms and Global 2,000 companies. Solutions include market research software, desktop analysis tools, 24x7x365 service bureau, and one of the world’s largest, highly profiled, double opted-in managed panels, providing reach to six million consumers in 200+ countries. Founded in 1999 with world headquarters in Seattle, Wash., GMI has operations on five continents. In 2006, the company ranked #93 in Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500. For more information, please visit us online at http://www.gmi-mr.com or email us at info @ gmi-mr.com.

Media Contact:
GMI (Global Market Insite)
Cathy GOerz
(415) 321-1883

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Buying Land In Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 23, 2007

By Mitch Wagner,
Apr 23, 2007

At last, I bought land in Second Life to built my virtual home in. I’ve been shopping for more than a month, and couldn’t find a tract I fell in love with. I’m still not in love with the land I bought, but I like it.

It’s 1,008 square meters in Carnforth.

Why’d I buy that parcel? It’s got a gentle slope, and it’s near to the ocean. Also, I liked the look of the neighborhood: No obvious businesses, no obnoxious big ads, just bunch of houses with interesting architecture. All of that will give it a nice view.

The cost of the land: About US$40, plus US$5 per month maintenance fees (called “tier” fees in Second Life). If it turns out I don’t like the land, I expect I can sell it to someone else get my money back.

Why’d I buy land? The same reason I’ve had a personal space on the Web for more than 10 years, a home page which evolved into an online journal and then a blog. It’s a place where my friends and select business associates can connect with me, and it’s a place where I can play with the technology. I’m looking forward to getting started building in Second Life; I haven’t done any of that so far and it’s a major part of the fun of the virtual world.

Why didn’t I buy the land for InformationWeek? Couple of reasons, really: I think the tract is way too small for what we should do in InformationWeek, when we do decide to buy land in SL. Also, I expect my first efforts at building and landscaping in Second Life to be bad. It’s one thing to just be one guy learning to build in Second Life, and writing up my experiences on the InformationWeek Blog. It’s quite another thing to have this butt-ugly monstrosity sitting on IW land, with the IW brand on it, where passersby can look at it and get the idea we don’t know any better. We do know better; it’s just the purpose of this land is not to market InformationWeek; it’s to have a place where I can experiment and be bad at it, at least first.

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Gaia Online

Posted by SIM on April 21, 2007

Move over MySpace, Gaia Online is here
Written by Wagner James Au
Sunday, April 22, 2007

By the middle of last year, it was attracting half a million unique visitors monthly; fast forward to last month, and that number is two million. It’s not a traditional MMO like World of Warcraft; it’s not a social game like There; it doesn’t originate from Europe like Habbo Hotel or from Asia like Cyworld. You haven’t heard of it partly because the San Jose company has kept a low profile.

Another reason you’re still likely in the dark: it’s primarily designed for teens. But with online worlds all sizes and styles poised for an explosion, you’ll almost certainly hear a lot more about it soon.

It’s called Gaia Online, and as a guy on a giant crane behind us tore down the giant Web 2.0 conference banner in Moscone West, I had a chance to sit down with CEO Craig Sherman— formerly COO with Myfamily.com, and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Benchmark Capital, a main funder of Gaia— for a furious round of questioning. How did Gaia grow so large so quickly so stealthily?

“The world’s fastest growing online world hangout for teens.”

That’s the way Sherman and his team prefer to characterize Gaia, the brainchild of Studio XD, a comic art firm which gave the site its anime-influenced look. Gaia’s online world aspect (which launches in a separate Java-powered window) is a series of virtual towns where Gaian avatars can socialize (up to 100 in a single space), with apartments they can own, and treasures they can find. (No combat, however.) It’s just that 10% of total user activity takes place in the world itself.

Gaia’s Many Experience Channels

The world is just a conduit to the larger activity on Gaia, says Sherman: in addition, there are website arenas where users can upload and rate each other’s artwork and other content (7-10% total activity), or play multiplayer Flash mini-games with group chat (10-15% total activity.) The largest cohort of activity (wholly 30%) takes place in the Gaia forums, and here’s where the truly staggering numbers come in: Averaging a million posts a day and a billion posts so far, Gaia’s message boards (with topics running the gamut from pop culture to politics) is second only to Yahoo in popularity.

Gold for Activity

A unique innovation is the way the company distributes its virtual gold currency: instead of selling it for real money (as with There) or allowing its trade on the open market (as with Second Life), Gaians are automatically given gold for participation: You get gold for posting on the Forums, for riding events, for uploading content, for exploring the world. Subscribers are rewarded for engaging in Gaia, in other words— and the reward incents them to engage in Gaia even more.

Gold for Auction

With the gold, Gaia subscribers can buy items, clothing, and accessories for their avatars, some sold by the company, but most of it sold via Gaian-to-Gaian auction. (They estimate some 52,000 auctions are completed every day.)

What pays in Gaia, however, stays in Gaia: the company strongly discourages real money trading, and works with Ebay to curtail it. That’s not to say Gaian treasures haven’t been sold online. “One item sold for $6000,” says Sherman. “Wonderful to tell you, but bad for what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Gold— for Gaia Interactive, Inc.

Instead of monthly subscriptions, Gaia Online sells “rare items”— treasures, fantastically cool fashion accessories for player avatars, and so on— two offered a month for $2.50 each. Subscribers buy them via credit card, Pay Pay, cellphone—or cash on the barrel. (“We employ someone full time whose job is getting dollars and quarters” out of envelopes kids send them, Sherman notes.)

… but first, a world for our sponsors

The company’s other revenue source are ad campaigns created to run within the world of Gaia. Before launching these, Sherman says, they solicited subscriber feedback, to find out which potential advertisers they wanted to see in the world— and which they didn’t. (Cool fashion brands got the majority nod; big American auto companies, however, didn’t.)

Staffers work with advertisers to create, not passive billboards, but an extended immersive experience. Gaia’s campaign for New Line Cinema’s fantasy adventure The Last Mimzy, for example, challenged their users to accomplish a series of tasks in order to get their own special Gaian-only Mimzy (a super-intelligent bunny). Hundreds of thousands of these Mimzyies were given out—meaning some 10-20% of their total user base jumped through the hoops to win the advertiser’s prize. (By contrast, when Nissan began giving away virtual versions of their cars in Second Life, far less than 1% of Residents took them up on the offer.)

The Secret to Gaia’s Success

Craig Sherman has been thinking what the value-proposition of his site in the era of MySpace or Facebook. “In a world where teens are constantly branding and packaging themselves” on sites like those, he points out, “Gaia is where you get away from it all.”

Whether that remains the case when the competition reaches full roil remains to be seen, but for now, the Gaia seems destined to keep growing.

The Gaia Numbers: Demographics and Usage Patterns as of April 2007

300,000 log in daily, according to the company; average unique visit is two hours a day.

Average concurrency: 64,000 users. Maximum: 86,738.

85% of users are based in the US

10% are English-speaking but non-US (with 5% a nebulous Other)

Breakdown by gender: 55% Girls – 45% Boys

About 20% of subscribers put up their real life photo in their avatar profile.

Number of Gaia gold “millionaires”, as of last week: 1385

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Second Life Helps Generate Second Income

Posted by SIM on April 19, 2007

More and more entrepreneurs making money in virtual world
By Christina Friedrichsen – Business Edge
04/20/2007  

When Vancouver fashion designer Nyla experienced Second Life for the first time, she knew that she was on to something.

Nyla (she dropped her last name), owner of House of Nyla, a company that specializes in haute couture for women, was looking for a unique way to showcase her designs and Second Life seemed like the perfect place.

Not only would the online virtual world give her a place to create a 3-D virtual boutique so that customers could see her fashions on 3-D models, it would give her exposure to thousands of people who had never heard of her.

She invested $100 in virtual real estate and was well on her way to creating an online presence in Second Life when she realized that the potential for her company was much bigger than she had dreamed.

What Nyla realized was that Second Lifers are an image-conscious lot and that fashion plays a big role in how avatars (virtual beings) express their identity.

Why not transform real-world fashions from House of Nyla into virtual clothing in Second Life?

Although Nyla is not a graphic designer, she taught herself the computer programs she needed to make it happen.

In the one year that Nyla has made the leap to Second Life, she has opened a dozen virtual stores and is making a living from the income.

Nyla still designs fashions for real life, but her virtual fashions are becoming an increasingly large part of her business.

“I’m making a lot of money … It’s like a virtual slot machine,” says Nyla, who is a graduate from Helen Lefeaux Inc. School of Fashion Design in Vancouver.

At her busier stores, she is getting 100,000 Second Lifers per day and is selling hundreds of items per week.

Her virtual dresses sell for $6 each.

She says one can “make good money here and live off it no problem. This could pay all your bills, your mortgage, everything,” she says.

Her plans include a line of virtual men’s clothing based on the real-life clothing line she has created for her husband.

Nyla is part of an increasing number of entrepreneurs generating income from virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Although many of the individuals make money from creating virtual items, such as clothing, hair or houses, the big money is in real estate and sex (avatars can work as escorts and strippers, and individuals can design sexual props for Second Life), says Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot (Basic Books: 2006).

Dibbell’s book is a memoir about the year he gave up his job as a journalist to make a living buying and selling virtual artifacts in the game Ultima Online.

His goal was to make more income in-world than as a freelance writer. He succeeded.

“By the end I was making $4,000 per month. I could have sustained that and probably would be making more than I do as a writer,” says the Indiana-based author.

A decent living, yes, but nowhere close to the income generated by virtual real estate tycoons such as Second Life’s Anshe Chung, the world’s first virtual millionaire.

According to Dibbell, developers such as Chung purchase “raw” virtual land from Linden Lab (the company behind Second Life) that they use to create virtual communities, usually with a theme. The developers then sell or rent this developed land to Second Lifers.

Although there is money to be made in Second Life real estate, few are as successful as Chung, says Dibbell.

“There are very few making the kind of money Anshe Chung is making,” he says.

Most entrepreneurs on Second Life make just enough to cover their Second Life expenses and maybe “go on an extra vacation each year,” he says.

“For them, the money is not the point in many cases,” he says.

Dibbell says the most successful entrepreneurs, such as Anshe Chung, know what Second Lifers want.

“(Chung) has a keen sense of what people want in Second Life and what they are there for,” he says.

Adam Gillis knows what Second Lifers want.

Gillis, a student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, is taking a semester off to work full time for Galveston.com and Company, a tourism company in Galveston, Tex.

The company has hired him to create a virtual representation of Galveston Island in Second Life.

“It is the first SIM (simulator) commissioned by an official tourism agency, recreating the city of Galveston within Second Life,” he says.

Gillis says Galveston.com and Company approached him after seeing a virtual representation of Ottawa’s Winterlude festival that he created for Second Life last year.

“They saw it and hired me on the spot,” says Gillis.

Gillis, who is also a photographer, says he started out in Second Life showcasing his photography in a virtual gallery.

Not only did he hope to get exposure, his motive was to make money selling virtual photos to Second Lifers who would purchase the digital images to hang in their virtual homes.

“I sold some, but not to the point where it was worth it,” he says. After that, he began designing virtual homes for Second Lifers. As he honed his designing skills, more and more people approached him for custom work.

In January of this year he began working on the Galveston Island project for Galveston.com and Company.

“From the planning to the building, I’ve pretty much done all of it,” he says, adding that his wage is comparable to a designer at a design firm.

Gillis says the company behind the project is hoping that the virtual world attracts tourists to the area.

“They are looking for a way for people to sample the city – to go and get the feel of it, the vibe of it … and to make plans to actually go there,” he says.

Gillis says for those who aren’t ready to pack their bags, there is the option of renting a virtual home on the island for $10 per month.

“We’re already at 95-per-cent capacity,” says Gillis.

As for Gillis, he’s heading there this summer. In real life. For real money.

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Second Life For Developers

Posted by SIM on April 18, 2007

Learn About Second Life For Developers And Business At The Life 2.0 Summit Late This Month
By Mitch Wagner,
Apr 18, 2007

If you’re a developer or businessperson interested in learning more about the opportunities in Second Life, my colleagues at Dr. Dobb’s Journal have the conference for you: the Life 2.0 Summit, running April 28 to May 4, both in Second Life and simulcast to the Web.

It’s looking like a great conference. Check out the complete calendar. for event times and details, read on for the complete overview.

Things start off Saturday and Sunday with eight hours of tutorials for advanced developers using the Second Life programming language, Linden Scripting Language.

Saturday night you can get a tour of Second Life’s most impressive locations, and Sunday at the same time, you can get a tour of SL’s most impressive and beautiful objects, demonstrated by their creators.

Monday: Two-hour panel on Second Life as a platform, looking at technology trends, plans to open-source the platform, and other likely changes.

Later, there’ll be a keynote by Mitch Kapor, a director at Linden Lab, and investor and advisor to tech companies. Kapor was founder and CEO of Lotus Development, and designed Lotus 1-2-3, the most popular spreadsheet of its day until it was eclipsed by Microsoft Excel. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Tuesday: Two-hour panel on the three-D user interface, followed by a keynote by Linden Lab founder and CEO Philip Rosedale.

Wednesday: No daytime programs because Wednesdays are when Linden Lab usually schedules its “rolling restart,” shutting down Second Life a couple of hours for maintenance. In the evening: A costume party with live DJs and entertainment.

Thursday: Panel on business in Second Life, moderated by Yrs Trly, in the form of his avatar Ziggy Figaro.

Friday: Games in Second Life. as tools for market testing and branding.

Evening events: According to the schedule: “A full schedule of evening programs, including informative guided tours, wallet-depleting shopping sprees, and (mostly) safe and (maybe 80%) wholesome late-night entertainment, will be offered on Mon-Tue and Thur-Fri, beginning at 7 PM SLT (PT).”

The conference will also include a career center, and a show floor.

Register here http://www.life20.net/register.php

Because of Second Life capacity issues, attendance in SL will be limited, but people can also attend on the Web site, and be able to chat with people attending in-world. Tickets to in-world attendance are being distributed by random drawings. Register right away — the earlier you register, the more drawings you can participate in.

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VirtualThirst.com

Posted by SIM on April 17, 2007

Coke Opens VirtualThirst.com In Second Life
by Tobi Elkin
Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007

DIVING INTO THE VIRTUAL WATERS, Coca-Cola officially entered Second Life, issuing an invitation to avatars as well as the general public to submit ideas for a portable virtual vending machine.

The design competition invites people to submit designs to http://www.virtualthirst.com for a chance to win a grand prize of building and launching the ultimate vending machine with the help of 3-D design shop Millions of Us.

Design entries will be accepted through a variety of formats and submission methods, including submissions within Second Life, YouTube and MySpace.

Submission guidelines for each and contest rules appear on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/virtualthirst, as well as on “crayonville Island” in Second Life. The entry deadline is May 25.

Coke’s initiation into Second Life was spearheaded by marketing consultancy crayon, which devised the strategy for the soft drink marketer and helped it tap an advisory council made up of Second Life residents and designers which will select the winner of the competition.

The grand-prize winner will get to introduce the virtual vending machine at an in-world party; residents will also be able to buy the machine. The Virtual Thirst contest represents Coke’s first big experiment within Second Life.

“Our goal is to enable individual creativity in pursuit of a ‘vending’ machine that can exist only in your wildest imagination,” said Michael Donnelly, director, global interactive marketing, Coke.

Donnelly said the “Virtual Thirst” platform has a lot of legs–and is something that could be extended into offline media, as well as into portable media-games, wireless and other emerging platforms.

The concept could eventually tie in to or complement Coke’s current campaign “The Coke Side of Life.” He said the Second Life play is a learning experience.

“It isn’t any kind of reach play, it’s about learning about how to better market.” And he also noted that since the relaunch of Coke.com, the brand is striving to reposition itself around self-expression and creativity.

Coke isn’t the only brand dabbling in Second Life. Boutique agency Campfire established an ongoing presence and sophisticated set of experiences more than a year ago for GM’s Pontiac brand.

Campfire came up with Pontiac’s Motorati Island, where there are participating dealers, auto enthusiast groups, live sponsored concerts, racing events and more. The tie-in with SL was designed to promote the Solstice GXP sports car. Recently, Campfire teamed with Pontiac and Leo Burnett to offer a real-world Motorati experience at the New York Auto Show; big screens at the Show offered an in-world glimpse in real-time.

At Coke, Donnelly noted that the winning design could lead to futuristic concepts of what the brand’s real-world machines will look like: “That is part of our strategy. How do we take our old world vending machines and make them relevant to our customers?”

Joe Jaffe, president, crayon, said Coke’s approach in SL is understated. Coke held a press conference in-world to announce the competition on Monday. “It’s just one event in-world–25 people attended, but it’s a seed,” Jaffe said. “Our advice was to start small and then build conversation around the small idea. That’s the long tail of creativity.”

Jaffe continued: “This is less about a Second Life project and more about being able to take the whole concept of thirst and position it as a thirst for meaning, knowledge, love, self-expression and a thirst for an experience.”

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