Rezzable's Been Busy... The Greenies Guys Strike Again!

Sunday, November 25, 2007 Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rezzable has indeed been busy. I flew by their sprawling complex of now 35 islands to see what's up (probably by the time this is posted, they'll have added another dozen!) And to no one's surprise, they've been quite busy since my last visit. Yes, the creators of the Cannery and Greenies seem to have several secret projects underway. Here's a list of their island inventory (at least the ones attached to their "continent"):

  • Greenies Home Rezzable
  • Cannery Rezzable
  • Crimson Shadow Rezzable
  • Mars Areas01 Rezzable
  • Rezzable 01-16
  • Stratos Legend Rezzable
  • Stratos Home Rezzable
  • Cascade Rezzable
  • Surfline Wave Rezzable
  • Surf7
  • Surfline Epic Rezzable
  • Surfline Aloha Rezzable
  • Surfline Hang10 Rezzable
  • Black Swan
  • Ebuddy Metro Rezzable
  • Ebuddy Sndbx1 Rezzable
  • Ebuddy Sndbx2 Rezzable
  • Ebuddy Rezzable
  • Toxic Garden Rezzable
What are they doing with all these islands, which by the way costs them approximately USD$10K per month in tier payments? Here's my guesses:

  • Greenies (1 sim) Been there. And you too.
  • Cannery (1 sim) And here too. Be sure to visit, it's worth the TP.
  • Crimson Shadow (1 sim) Inside a large spooky castle is what seems to be a nightclub. Not open yet, but could be interesting.
  • Mars (1 sim) Not sure what this is - could be a game?
  • Stratos (2 sims) These are puzzling... there are two sims, one with desert and monstrous amounts of dinosaur bones, the other with an icescape, woolly mammoths, etc. I have no idea what might happen here. If I had to guess, I think it could be another Greenies-type spectacle.
  • Cascade (1 sim) No idea on this one, as it seems to be in the initial construction stages.
  • Black Swan (1 sim) Again, I cannot guess the purpose of this one - but it does include a bizarre surrealistic theme that reminded me somehow of Salvador Dali. It's quite beautiful... and deadly. Just watch out for the spikes... and the swinging axe... and...
  • Surfline (5 sims) Definitely residential. These 5 sims have typical (but high-end) accommodations, attractions, space for shops, beaches, campfires, etc.
  • Ebuddy (3 sims) No idea on this one. One of the 3 sims has a kind of giant industrial junkyard and garbage dump, but I can't tell much more than that. Ebuddy seems a bit more complete than the rest, but it's hard to understand what they are up to in there.
  • Toxic Garden (1 sim) A most fascinating place. Read on...
Of all the secret Rezzable projects you can visit, the Toxic Garden seems to be the most interesting. It's a theme world in which you:
Wander one of the most interesting and exotic gardens in SL--but at your own risk. The plants have accessed the grid and now want to keep human life away.
From the moment you TP into the arrival zone, there is a strange atmosphere. It's definitely not friendly. After handling the entry protocols and proceeding through to the main area, you are surrounded by a park, but it's like no park I've ever been in.
The area is filled with semi-overgrown sidewalks and animated vegetation (some of which looks, um, hungry!) Obviously, I stayed clear of the vegetation. The man-made artifacts appear old, as if they have been abandoned for a long time. Reading the provided notecard, I see that:
Apparently people tried to settle this area around time of World War 1. However only a few traces of that attempt at establishing a utopia remain. Only the plants with sumptuous flowers and enticing fruits are here to tell the story of the Toxic Garden.
Upon entering the Toxic Garden, you are presented with numerous warnings of extreme danger. They are not kidding! You even have to wear special protective devices to keep alive (note the gadget attached to my left arm in the pictures.) Worse, as I bumbled through the beautiful but somehow devious-looking foliage, I encountered a giant beetle trundling along the path. Suddenly:
Arminasx Saiman is attacked by the angry drone, tearing them apart...
And thus I was killed! For the first time in SL! By a bug... argh. Finding myself back at home in Caso Milo, I resolved to go back another time and continue exploring this very interesting exhibit. Toxic Garden is open to visitors, but is still in beta. The builders are asking for help to find:
  • Unusual plants and foliage
  • Steampunk artefacts with european styling
  • Plant inspired weapons with organic effects
  • Clothing items for sale
The bottom line is that anything Rezzable makes is truly wonderful. I can't wait for these sims to be completed. Meanwhile, you can visit the Toxic Garden right here. Enjoy (but for pete's sake, Be Careful!)

Dreams Mighty Prim Competition

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Today I happened to get invited to vote at a building competition. Dreams is having a "Mighty Prim Competition" that focuses on the Torus prim. It's all about building something beautiful and dreamy using only 55 prims (5 of which are the base and name holder). And get this - only Torus prims may be used! Haley Salomon (semi-finalist in NWN's Uncanny Valley Contest) and I are pictured inside one of the exhibits.

Walking around the competition area reminds me of Burning Life, just not quite so crazy. The competition rules state that no scripts or particles may be used, so the sculptures are all static. I observed entries with themes from Christmas, Veteran's Day, Animals, Flowers, Faerie Houses, Giant Food Items and of course the completely undescribable.

There are 27 entries at the competition site, some of which are quite attractive - and even more so when you realize they are built only from Torii. My favorite was Anhayla Lycia's, but there are many other terrific builds. I'd encourage you to drop by to see the ingenious entries.

If you come, you should vote for your favorites. The contest began on 11 November, and voting commenced on 20 November. You must cast your vote by 29 November, since awards are at noon SLT on 29 November.

You can visit the competition at: Dreams Entry, Dreams (155, 161, 24)

Vampire Stuff, as Promised

Friday, November 16, 2007 Friday, November 16, 2007

The other day I promised I would build something for Vampires, who often visit Electric Pixels. The new evil item is "ForestFog Vampire", which produces a rather thin black and red ground fog - suitable for evil forests, dank dungeons and other spooky places. The fog flows along the contours of the ground and spills over edges.

Also I now have the two new fireworks effects available:

Roman Candle looks like a giant roman candle and acts like one too. It spurts out a massive stream of streaky flame accompanied by stars. I have included a new control mechanism that lets you set it to automatically go off every 60, 30 or 10 seconds - with only a quick touch.

Fireworks Nova is a spectacular effect that starts with a white flash followed by a monstrous white explosion. Tiny white bits fly out afterwards. I'm not sure what they represent, but they sure look cool! FWN includes the 60-30-10 control system as well.

The fireworks were used to spectacular effect by Xena Bikcin the other night in furumachi at her famous fireworks show. She used three Novas and two Candles, as well as a few other fireworks effects.

Fireworks Show!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Up to now I have had only one fireworks product. But last night my friend Xena Bikcin gave me a shout and said she was organizing a fireworks show and needed my help. She explained that she needed something "big" and "white", so I got started working right away.

While I will describe the new effects, Roman Candle and Fireworks Nova in another post, I have to say that we tested them last night at the show location - and the results were startling! I've never seen a fireworks show quite like this in Second Life. The colors, shapes and motion were just amazing in the way Xena put them ingeniously together. She's used some of my effects as well as some others she's collected from across Second Life. Together with master-event-organizer Mustang2 Bing they are going to run an initial fireworks show this Wednesday from 10PM - 2AM SLT.

Where, you ask? It's in the furumachi sim. This is where one of my mall locations is placed. I'm in the same mall as Xena's shop - that's how I came to meet her. Anyhow, if the show turns out well, and I am pretty sure it will, Xena and Mustang2 may run additional shows every Wednesday. Here's the SLURL to the event:

furumachi (173, 198, 22)

Hope to see you there!

Top Ten Tips for Starting a Second Life Business

Sunday, November 11, 2007 Sunday, November 11, 2007

I seem to have developed a rather successful Second Life business, and I am often asked how I did it. There's no magic to it, you just have to do the basics of any start up business and follow common sense. Here's ten tips that might get you started on the way to your first million Linden $!

  1. Pick the right type of business. There are limitless possibilities for Second Life businesses, but you should pick something that fits the following: You must be reasonably familiar with the area or topic; You must be sufficiently skilled to do the necessary work, which might include leadership, social, artistic or technical skills; There shouldn't be too much existing competition, especially large and mature competition; Most critically you must have sufficient time to do the work. Don't pick a labor-intensive business model when you have only a few hours per week available to do it
  2. Know your customers. To whom are you selling? Is it everyone? Is it a particular Second Life species or group, such as Furries, Japanese, Builders or Club Owners? You must know exactly who they are because all of your subsequent actions - advertising, branding, product types and even product names - must be engineered towards their peculiarities and characteristics
  3. Know what your customers need. If you talk to and observe avatars, your close attention will reveal the kinds of things they want. If you understand your customers very well, you may even be able to develop products they need even if they haven't specifically asked for it. Identify a problem they have and solve it! Answer their question, "If only I had...." This is why you should select a customer niche; you cannot listen to everyone to solve all problems
  4. Forecast your finances. All too often I find someone setting up an entire sim with a business even before they have a single customer. What are your monthly expenses? Consider not only tier/rent, but also advertising fees. How much revenue will you make? Divide your known monthly expenses by the average price of your products and you'll know how many products you must sell each month to break even. Estimate how many visitors you need to generate that number of sales – and not every visitor will buy something. What's that? You need more customers than you can reasonably attract? In that case increase your prices or reduce your expenses. Business success is often just simple arithmetic
  5. Grow slowly. Match your expenses to your revenue over time. In other words, start small and expand when you feel you have enough revenue to pay for increased expenses. That way it's not likely you will lose money. If your revenue doesn't grow, why would you expand? Worse, if you started out too big, you get the same result as if you expanded too rapidly, just a lot sooner
  6. Make it easy to buy. You've got visitors in your store, but can they actually purchase your items? Are they visible, findable, understandable? What information do you provide customers from which they decide whether to purchase? Just a product name? A picture? A demonstration? Can they try out your product? Or is it just a colored box? Would you buy if you were a customer?
  7. Experiment! Second Life makes it easy to try different approaches. Mix up your products, advertising and store structure from time to time. Not a lot, but do try different things. Then, do more of the things that do work and don't do the things that do not work! Over time your operation cannot do anything but improve
  8. Promote your business. No one will buy from you if they cannot find your store. You MUST advertise. Where you advertise depends on the nature of your business, but you must find the right places to promote your products. Don't be afraid to try different and multiple approaches (See "Experiment")
  9. Provide great customer service. No one likes an abusive store clerk, so don't be one! Give people refunds if they genuinely have problems. Help them use your products. Ask them if it worked. Give out some freebies now and then, especially to faithful customers. Follow up with them later to ensure they are still satisfied. While this may seem like work for nothing, it is simply the best way to promote your business: word of mouth rules in Second Life
  10. Ignore your competition. Avatars can TP to anywhere instantly. Therefore, there is little geographic advantage that you see in RL. Your only hope is to produce new and unique products. How can you do this? By ignoring your competition. If you see what others are doing, you will tend to copy/duplicate/emulate what they are doing. They will be unique and you will not. Have faith in yourself and always do your best

Running a Second Life business is very similar to running a RL business, so many business principles still apply. You can get a lot of excellent ideas simply by reading some business books.

Above all, remember that your business should be addressing the needs of the immersionists. Don't know what that is? Read this!

Fall Effects

Friday, November 9, 2007 Friday, November 09, 2007

This post is completely out of order. As you may recall I posted about new "Winter Effects" a few days ago. Well, I did build those winter effects - but today I am announcing new "Fall Effects". Why Winter before Fall? Who knows! When I get an idea to build something, I make it, regardless of the season.

Available today at Electric Pixels are six new "Leaf" effects. They are devices that you can place within your trees to produce a stream of falling leaves. The six different types correspond to the amount of leaves and the color. You can choose between Red/Yellow/Brown and Thick or Thin. Pictured is Red Thick.

And one more new effect is available: FlowerRing. It's very similar to other Ring effects I've made before, but this one produces slowly rotating ring of flowers around you. It's quite beautiful, although I suppose it's appropriate only for some people (sorry, Vampires! I'll make something for you next time!)

Swindle or Urban Legend?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today I received a group notice containing the following:

IMPORTANT WARNING: to all members . It is communicated that a serious swindle is in course on Second Life: an invitation with a link is received, if we accept it the avatar is stolen . The persons who take possession of the avatar obviously take possession of all the powers and also of the data of the credit card. The name to watch for is : Cora Lewsey, who joins groups at random. She just sent the link to over 20 groups thru chat then quit the groups.
We have closed the group to new members.

I get a lot of email in RL, and quite often these types of warnings fly by and most (if not all) of the time they are fake. Not that the sender is attempting mayhem, as they could have been fooled by the message.

Now the same type of warning arrives in Second Life. Is it real? Is it fake? Internet searches reveal nothing about the accused avatar. Could this actually happen? In my opinion, I suspect there is a very slight chance this could technically work. The perp IMs URLs to a web site that takes advantage of a security hole, perhaps similar to the Internet Explorer hole that was fixed by Linden Lab a few weeks ago. If I recall, the hole enabled a perp to capture your Second Life ID and password, which of course could then be used to do the bad things mentioned above.

I am not closing down my group at this time, since I suspect this is not real. However, the best approach is simply to not visit URLs if you are not sure about their validity and safety. Especially so if they are thrust upon you without request. This goes for both Second and First Life!

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