Latest Entries »

Jury’s Still Out on Cloud Party

When Cloud Party first hit the scene, there was a lot of metaverse press about that it may eventually topple Second Life as the king of virtual worlds (at least for us Westerners).  It was easy to get in and get started, could run in a browser window, was less laggy than SL–the list went on and on. Over the past six months or so, it seems that there’s been a new announcement from Cloud Party each week of some upgrade or another–a new physics engine, Oculus Rift capabilities, new art installations, inworld games being developed, new avatars, free building privileges, template builds, etc. Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education even had a portion in Cloud Party this year. I recall myself saying that, if Cloud Party kept on the trajectory, it could catch up to SL in a few years. The connection to SL hasn’t been lost on those working on Cloud Party.  They’ve been drawing the boundary lines of late to put to rest any confusion, pointing out the differences between Cloud Party’s Terms of Service and that of Second Life’s, as the latest Linden Labs debacle rolls on.

I like Cloud Party, but mainly as a visitor.  I like to go and hop from location to location, visiting the art installations and taking pics. I also play with the building tools and have used the building template to create an immediate virtual classroom. That said, I haven’t felt the urge yet to “live” in Cloud Party like I do in Second Life. My avatar is little more than the standard fare. Building seems to be more complex than it should be (some tools are in one location and others in another place–it’s part SL prims, part Minecraft). There’s also no privacy. One could make the argument that there’s no privacy in SL, but you can set a parcel or a sim to owner/group only which isn’t available in Cloud Party unless you are willing to pay a monthly fee.

This is my main issue with bringing students into Cloud Party. I love the free builds and access part because students can easily log in and start playing and working collaboratively on builds. This freedom also poses a risk, though. People who haven’t necessarily logged into Cloud Party can come through at any time (they’re the ones with “Guest#####” above their heads). This opens the door for trolls and griefers. (At least, from what I’ve seen, Cloud Party doesn’t have the adult seedy stuff proliferating throughout–at least not yet.)  So the jury’s still out.  I’ll continue to visit Cloud Party and encourage others to do so too but will it become part of my virtual routine? We’ll see. With each round of updates and improvements, my interest gets piqued a little bit more.

Aevalle in Cloud Party

Aevalle in Cloud Party

inside_my_classroom

Instant Classroom in Cloud Party

How_far_will_it_push

A Guest Inquires About the Cannon

It was a busy weekend for me in Second Life.  Sunday, Wrath and I began looking up inspiration for a new very special build, one that would be the virtual home for the Teal Life Foundation in Second Life.

Teal Life is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to educate women about ovarian cancer and assist those who have been diagnosed get the care and support they need.  It was founded by Crystal Elliot after she, herself, was diagnosed.  Crystal lost her battle in May of this year but her legacy, Teal Life, lives on to help others battle this cruel disease.  I’m very honored to be able to play a small part in bringing TLF into Second Life to educate more people about ovarian cancer as well as network with and support other organizations in the fight against cancer.

Currently, the TFL headquarters is in Caledon Steam SkyCity (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Caledon%20Steam%20SkyCity/105/138/75).  I liked the idea of “rising above” cancer as the entire build of SkyCity floats in the sky above open water below.  Wrath took my suggestions of a Victorian orangerie and images of the Palmenhaus Schönbrunn and ran with it, creating an oriental steampunk inspired build with a tree atrium and windowed rooftop.  Main color scheme?  You guessed it–teal!  We’ll probably be tinkering on it for a while but I adore the results–lots of etched metal, lots of ornamental girders, all focused on the teal tree in the center (Teal Life’s symbol).  The main floor is primarily for education and outreach–so far there are a handful of interactive boards, leading to various websites (including Teal Life’s).  The lower floor (in the “belly” of Steam SkyCity, so to speak) is to house a conference/presentation area and events area.  This will be accessible via a teleporter just inside the front door.  There is an in-world Teal Life Foundation group as well which is open for anyone to join.  I’ll be adding updates as we get events planned and on the schedule.

TLF in SL

TLF in SL

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the first meeting of the fall semester of the Video Game Development Club (VGDC) here on campus.  First, as an aside, Shelby Hall is gorgeous and any excuse to visit is a good one!

President Joshua Dunn (Junior IS major) led the meeting by first having the club sponsor, CS instructor Howard Whitston, and the other officers introduce themselves then presented a bit about what the club would be doing.  I quickly realized that this is not a club for lurkers (which is great!).  Just as the title suggests, the group will actually be designing and developing games!  Teams will be formed with group members of varying talents and strengths.  The idea is that the team, over the course of a month, will design and develop a game using the Unreal gaming engine or Unity3D.  The club will be working towards levels/badges on the One Game a Month challenge site.  Lessons gleaned from one project can be used to hone skills and make future projects better. For those of us in education who want a boots on the ground experience in learning real-time development of games to match the book knowledge, this is perfect. :)

Interested in playing a part of this growing club?  Follow the group on Twitter and Facebook, or contact president Joshua Dunn for an invite to the Sakai project site (you must have a USA Sakai account to join).  And who knows?  In the near future when a student asks if you’ve “got game?,” you can answer “YES!”

(Originally posted on the South Alabama Gaming Educators (SAGE) blog.)

It’s been much too long since I’ve chronicled here.  Since mulling over adding some attractions to Caledon Sound, I was curious as to the subject–what games do Caledonians play?  I set out to find some locations with regular or ongoing activities.

The first location I visited is high over Caledon Prime.  Every Friday night, Duke AV Parabola and crew host Primtionary, a game where players build “clues” to the titles of books, movies, events, etc.  (Think charades but with prims instead of gestures.)

Primtionary over Caledon Prime

For those who like exploring and shop style hunts, they can fly a few sims south of Caledon Prime to find the Caledon Quest in Caledon Oxbridge University.  Questers start off in the Hall of Caledon on the Oxbridge campus, but quickly find themselves following clues to locations all over the nation, ending up in the skies over Middlesea dodging air kraken.

Caledon Quest Starting Area at the Hall of Caledon
Not far from the Oxbridge campus, in Oxbridge Village, the Oxbridge Fencing Club caters to those who want to hone their swashbuckling skills.  Using the En Garde gaming system, mentors and champions help beginners learn the finer skills of the game while working their way up the ranks in the En Garde system.  The Club also has an in-world group to arrange tourneys and team activities.
Inside the Oxbridge Fencing Club
You’ll need firepower more than sword skills in the skies below Middlesea’s Iron Cloud.  Kraken hunting has become infamous in the sim.  Kill enough kraken and your name will appear on the leader board in the Iron Cloud lobby.  (The sim has avatar flight turned off, so vehicle flight is required–may want to bring a partner to navigate the skies while you blast a few tentacled critters from the aethers.)
Kraken Lurking below the Iron Cloud Airbase
(photo taken by Wrath Constantine)
Finally, for those who prefer a more leisurely pursuit, full of pets and prizes, there are multiple locations in Caledon that offer 7Seas Fishing.  To catch best fish and custom prizes, you’ll need a pro rod and bait–these are usually available at vendors at the fishing sites.  I have fishing set up in both Caledon Sound and Caledon Speirling at Tempest’s Point.  Kitiwickshire Fishing Supply is also listed on the 7Seas website as having customs (in this case, a Jaeger Duck!), but there are many unlisted locations–just wander around and you’ll probably find some fishing holes.
Aev's Gone Fishing...as a tiny
A Wee Pink Jaguar Fishes from the Tempest’s Point Dock.
(Originally posted on the Caledon Memoirs blog.)

My proposal is finally starting to shape itself into something I can defend.  Trying to unlearn MLA in order to learn APA format has been tricky to say the least.  At least I know I’m closing in!  Aiming to defend within a month!

Fall semester 2013 started off Monday here at the University of South Alabama.  Just started and I already feel like I’m behind (and I’m only taking one hour of dissertation!)  My brain’s rather in a muddle, so here’s just a few things I have on my mind currently…

Tours will start from Jaguarland next week–I still have to figure out the exact themes and dates and, of course, I need to update all of the info in the Bay Boat to correspond correctly with the College of Education website.

On the upside, I need to send out big congrats to my guildies in the Inevitable Betrayal educators guild in World of Warcraft–over the past couple of weeks, they’ve snagged a handful of guild achieves for raids, questing, and fishing–so yay!  (Maybe once I get this dissertation proposal passed by my committee, I can rejoin the group and start slooowwwwly leveling my little characters once again.)

I’m still a bit disappointed to hear about Disney closing down several of its virtual worlds/games.  Toontown, Fairytopia and Pirates of the Caribbean Online are all going.

I actually really enjoyed those and felt pretty safe letting my nephews play them, so I wonder what will be coming down the pipeline, if anything.

First post

I’m slowly working on the new site, in addition to major home renovations/repairs and such, as well as working on my dissertation proposal, getting it ready to defend.  If anyone finds this, thanks for your patience.  I’ll be back to blogging regularly soon (I hope)!