Monday, September 7, 2020

Sansar Update: A New Direction, Torley, And Account Issues


The Newser hasn't written much about Sansar, the "next generation virtual world" since Linden Lab sold it to Wookey in March. For most Second Life users, only a handful such as Draxtor Despres expressed enthusiasm about it. So most reactions of it's sale were along the lines of "good riddance" and "why did it tale so long?" While many of it's personnel stayed with Linden Lab and went back to Second Life, some such as Torley Linden stayed and left the Lab. Torley is still with Sansar as it's Production Director. Another former Linden, Sheri Bryant, also stayed, continuing as it's General Manager.

Under Linden Lab, the original concept of Sansar appeared to be as Second Life's successor. But as it's development went on, the Lab began to realize most of it's residents would be reluctant to do more than casual visits. But it went on and to it's credit stuck with Sansar for some years, but didn't seem to have much of a plan other than "if you build it, they will come," and not many came. Exactly what Linden Lab could have done to make it work, and why it didn't do more has been debated numerous times. Perhaps it was simply beyond the Lab's ability to make Sansar thrive while operating Second Life.

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(Click here if the video does not play)

So how has Sansar been doing under Wookey? According to an article in New World Notes, lately it's been looking less like an open-ended virtual world where users can create their own experiences and more of a "virtual venue platform" for live events.

It's a smart move to target the live music/concert market in the COVID age. And I do like a lot of the functionality they are showing off in the video, especially avatar-to-avatar VR meet-and-greets for artists.

 Going to the website, https://www.sansar.com/ , there's a clear emphasis on live events, right down to the title: "Sansar - A New Live Events Destination." There's nothing on the front page about being able to make your own content or create your own place, just a link to the old atlas of user-generated places on the bottom.

This isn't necessarily a better approach as if a person has time to hang around once the event is over, unlike Second Life where someone with even a small amount of experience knows they can explore around. But it seems Wookey's Sansar has come to the conclusion this is their best course of action to get users, and money.

However, there is one customer service problem that former Newser writer Cyfir informed me about. From his point of view, it's "almost impossible" for Sansar users to erase their accounts, "I requested to be removed back in may out of concerns that the new company would not handle my personal information in the right way. And four months later, I get an email, which just happened to be during my three day vacation, requesting information and proof that I am part of the European Union (Cyfir is in the US) ... and they gave me three days to reply before closing the request."

And as Cyfir wasn't in a position to check his email until after his vacation, the company sent him another email saying "as we have not heard back from you, our support system has automatically marked your ticket as resolved." As Cyfir put it, "So if I still want to close my account, I would have to send another request, wait another four months, and all the while they still have my personal information and my account is still active on a platform I don't want to be on."

 Coming across this thread in the Sansar "Bug Reports" forum, there were others whom found themselves in similar positions, including when the world was owned by Linden Lab. While some tried to assure them it shouldn't be much trouble, the response was that deleting accounts was a lot more difficult than it ought to be, "I've not bothered to repeat the request because every answer has made it clear no one is interested in helping.  Not wanting an account here is not a protest,  its simply a matter or personal privacy-  which in this case is being handled poorly to say the least.  being able to delete an account should be a very basic function of the system.  what reason could there be to not allow it? Maybe to hold onto personal data that the person does not wish them to have- like name and e-mail." It seems those whom have yet to visit Sansar and are considering giving it a look may need to keep this in mind.

So under Wooley, Sansar has found itself a new direction with a few of Linden Lab's talent keeping it going, such as Torley. But it appears not unlike the "Hotel California," those trying to check out may find they can't truly leave.

Source: New World Notes, Modem World  , Ryan Schultz

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, August 7, 2020

Mooogle As A Search Engine For The Metaverse


By Marcel Mosswood


As an Internet user, what is important and what you should be able to do? Know how to find a website or information that meets your needs among millions of other websites. We know Google as the most popular search engine today for all web needs, if we search for one keyword, it will display a larger selection of websites thar might suit our needs. But what if we just want to find websites related to the Metaverse?

One day, I tested with the words "Marcel and Sebastian's." What appears there is not what I meant. Then I expanded the words to include "art gallery," and it displayed art galleries in the real world, and a very small number in the Metaverse. It's hard to find anything specific about the Metaverse world. But do you know about Mooogle?

Mooogle is a search engine specifically for all websites of the Metaverse. So if I search with the keyword "art gallery," then it will display all websites that discuss art galleries in the virtual world. Likewise, if I search for education, all that comes up is about education in the Metaverse. With Mooogle, I can easily search for information about the Metaverse world.


How to access it simply by clicking on: https://mooogle.gridlist.info/ then fill in the keywords in the search box. It's as easy as turning your palm. If your website that contains your adventure in the metaverse world can't be displayed by this search engine, then you need to register your website at https://dir.mooogle.gridlist.info/suggest.php?action=addlink&catid=0 Registration is very easy. And in no more than forty-eight hours, your website can be found in Mooogle search engine.

If you want to find out more about Mooogle please click here:
https://wiki.gridlist.info/mooogle?fbclid=IwAR2SEAP0s2qm5EEw3VBQx3ZqSLgaCK_E3_8bwcpjUx47c-dUza0gYIIOA8U

Marcel Mosswood

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Tales From Gaming : "L Is Real"


From Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich)

When I was growing up, we didn’t have the Internet. We spent much of our free time either outside or playing video games. For those who leaned more toward playing video games, there was probably no better time for the launch of the Nintendo 64. I spent hours in games like Super Mario 64 exploring every nook and cranny and trying to unlock everything that I could. When I finally did unlock everything, I set my sights to rumors that I heard about other unlockables in the game. One was that if you wall jumped just right outside in the corner of the castle, you could make it up to the roof without the need for unlocking the cannon. Failing that, I turned my sights to another rumor about Luigi being in the game. Apparently, in the back courtyard of the castle, there was a sign that seemed like it read “L is Real 2401” and many believed that this was proof that Luigi was somehow unlockable in the game.


In reality, this sign texture was just some random blurry texture asset that they even used in "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," and these rumors were just the result of bored youth trying to find anything to do with their time that they could. However, twenty four years later, it turns out that they were at least partially right about the Luigi rumor.

Thanks to a recent massive leak of assets from Nintendo, it was discovered that Luigi was indeed in the source code of the game. This was due to the fact that there were original plans for the game to be two player. But that was scrapped in development due to them not being able to decide how to do it and the technical abilities of the system at the time. Of course, he had not been compiled into the actual game, so there was no way to actually unlock him by playing the game normally. But hackers got to work on retrieving the polygon and texture assets from the character model.

And here he is.


L is real after all.

Cyfir

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Importance of Digital Media


By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich Resident)

In my last article, I covered the importance of preserving physical media for future generations. If we got rid of all physical media in favor of going “all digital,” it could severely limit our ability to preserve works of art in the future. That being said, there are many advantages of digital media that do need to be covered in the interest of fairness.

One big advantage that digital media has over physical media is that you can often get it quicker. Instead of having to wait for it to show up in the mail or having to drive to the local store, all you have to do is purchase digital media with your credit or debit card online and download or stream it. With a pandemic going on, this obviously means that there is less risk to you or the person who has to deliver it to your house.

Obviously, being able to just download or stream media is more convenient. We live in a convenience society. We want things now, not later. We’re busy. Shaving off time anywhere we can is important to us. It’s more convenient to just start up your video game system and select the game you want to play from the menu rather than looking for the game on your shelf, opening the case, inserting the game, and waiting for it to load. Hell, we even eliminated the step of getting up to turn on your console. Most consoles today are able to be turned on with the included controller.

Economically, digital media is a great option, especially for independent companies and creators. Physical media can be cost prohibitive for independents to get published, physically produced, and shipped. It’s much cheaper to just put a game, movie, or song up on a digital storefront. That’s why you nearly only ever see video games from independent publishers on digital storefronts.

You would think that the environmental impact of digital media would be less than physical media. You don’t have to use environmental resources to manufacture digital content. You don’t have to load it on a truck, boat, and plane and burn a bunch of fossil fuels to get it to your local store or your house. However, the servers that digital media are stored on run on electricity. These servers have to be up and running day and night. The environmental impact that these servers have or totally dependent on where the companies running the servers get their electricity from. Many server farms run on renewable energy. Google in particular took many initiatives to get their electricity from renewable sources.

Digital media has many advantages, just like it has many disadvantages. I do not believe that digital media should ever fully replace physical media. It’s an option, though, and options are good.

Cyfir

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Why Physical Media Is Still Important


By Cyfir

In this day and age, physical media is becoming a dying medium. Most media has gone mostly digital. When you think of getting the latest album from your favorite band, getting the latest PC game, or buying a new movie, there’s a huge chance that you don’t think about heading to your local mall anymore. Instead, you likely think about downloading a new song on a service like iTunes, downloading a new game on Steam, or streaming a movie on a service like Netflix or Vudu. One of the last vestiges of physical media has been console games. Every major home video game console save for one has shipped with a disc drive or cartridge or card (etc.) slot up until this point. The Xbox One S All Digital Edition was the first major video game console derivative to skip physical media. This holiday season, the PlayStation 5 will release along with it’s all digital counterpart. Many are predicting that this will be the last console generation with physical media, and with at least one major video game company reporting that 80% of their sales are now digital, I don’t doubt it.

With all that said, I still believe that physical media is still very important, and that’s because we’ve already seen the downfalls of going “all digital.” For one, what do you think happens once the service that you downloaded your media from goes away and you no longer have the hardware you downloaded it on? That’s right. It’s gone. You never owned a copy of it and you’ll never have access to it again unless you buy it again on another platform. If you don’t think that this happens, dust off your old Nintendo Wii and try to buy a game from the eShop. You can’t because it’s no longer there. If your internal memory on the Wii fails, all those games you spent money on downloading over the course of the console’s life cycle are now gone. For some, this may not be a big deal, but some games are only released on the online shops. For video game preservationists, this is a nightmare. There have been many instances of where an unreleased or rare game has been discovered in someone’s attic and preserved online for others to enjoy. Unfortunately, if everything were to go digital, this just wouldn’t be possible in the future.

While digital delivery has a place in preservation, there needs to be a physical copy found to preserve. While I’ve mainly focused on video games here, these same arguments can be applied to any form of media. We have backed up recordings of old VHS tapes on YouTube for anyone to find and enjoy. Some of these VHS tapes are rare and would not be accessible by the general public otherwise. The problem is that media companies, in many cases, are not concerned with preserving their own history. They are more concerned with making money because they are a business. The artists creating these works usually have no control over what happens to them because they work for the companies.

If all media were to go digital, there would be many things that would be lost to time forever. Imagine losing the works of Beethoven to time because no one had a physical copy of his written notes and the servers that they were stored on were taken offline and erased forever. While digital media definitely has its advantages, physical media shouldn’t be forgotten or abandoned. I’ve downloaded plenty of games to my steam library and on my Nintendo Switch, but when it comes to games that I really care about, I’m going to get it physically and display it proudly on my shelf. If there’s an album from a band that I really care about, I’m getting a physical CD and enjoying that new CD smell for as long as I can. Physical media cannot be completely replaced. When the PlayStation 5 comes out, I’m getting the one with the disc drive.

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(Click here for a video of the article)

Cyfir

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Playstation 5 vs XBox Series X : Which is Better?


By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich)

As with any major console launch reveal, there are competitors in the market. This coming console generation is no different. This is a good thing because competition makes for more innovation and better products for the consumer. However, only one console will inevitably be the clear winner for gaming fans. So the issue becomes which new console should you sink your hard earned money into or should you spend any money on either? Below, I will bring up the pros and cons of each system thus far. We are still waiting on a huge Xbox event sometime this coming month, but at this moment chips have been thrown on the table. It’s time to compare.

PlayStation 5

Even though Microsoft showed their hardware first. In my opinion, Sony came out of the gate swinging and hit a home run. Their streamed event did a lot to hype their new machine and software but it’s the fact that they waited, picked their time, built anticipation, and dropped a massive bomb shell that made everything click. For just a few moments, I forgot about all the bad things that have been going on in the world recently. One thing that Sony seemed to have this past generation was platform locked exclusives, and from what they showed, they’ll have plenty of those this time around. Like Microsoft, they took a very unconventional take on the look of their new console. This is due to the fact that these systems are much more powerful than previous generations, and thus will produce more heat. A flat rectangle under your TV isn’t going to cut it anymore. These systems are as powerful as a decent PC gaming rig. That said, when it comes to style, I have to give the nod to Sony. The system is much taller (or wider if put on it’s side) than Microsoft’s new system, but you can really tell that they hired a designer. I even joked on Facebook that I was getting a PS5 as a decorative piece for my living room. In contrast, in my opinion, Microsoft’s new machine is a boring flat looking tower. I also think that the accessories that were revealed for the PS5 fit into the whole aesthetic and ecosystem very well. They put a lot of thought into that and it shows. Style isn’t going to win a hardware race, but it’s nice when a system makes you gawk in awe. That said, the hardware itself seems to be a little weaker than the Series X, but Sony has promised a proprietary lightning fast Solid State Storage drive that will practically eliminate loading times and allow for much more open and massive worlds.

Xbox Series X

When Microsoft unveiled their new console at the 2019 game awards, it caught everyone by surprise. A few months later, they randomly revealed the inside of the console on YouTube through Austin Evan’s channel. The hardware itself is impressively engineered. Microsoft took a tower PC design approach and everything is cooled by one massive fan and a series of heat syncs. I do like that they were actually more than willing to show the internals of the console. I’m a hardware nerd and such things excite me. Microsoft also seems to have their own proprietary Solid State Drive for the Series X but rumors are that it’s slower than Sony’s offering. Otherwise, the Series X has more horsepower under the hood. This isn’t everything when it comes to game consoles. The original PlayStation was much less powerful than say the Nintendo 64 but it outsold everything during that generation. However, extra horsepower is nice. It’s certainly a big deal for the Xbox One X this generation as it can make multi-platform titles look much better than their PlayStation 4 counterparts. One thing that I am disappointed with from what I’ve seen about the Xbox Series X is the games. Aside from Halo Infinite, what they’ve talked about so far I’ve been able to find on the Steam storefront as coming soon. However, this could very well change in the coming weeks. Microsoft has taken a very different approach to Sony in that they don’t tend to care which product of theirs you’re using to play your games, whether it be Xbox, Xcloud, a toaster, as long as you’re making transactions. They are very service oriented. I get it. Why win a console race if you don’t have to? But honestly what is the reason so far for me to own another box that plays the same games? Please let me know in the coming weeks, Microsoft. So far, I’m leaning towards PlayStation 5.

Verdict?

While I may be leaning to Sony’s camp, that doesn’t mean that I’ve chosen a clear winner yet. The winner of every console generation will have the best software and higher user base that will have developers flocking to the platform to cash in. So far, with their exclusive titles and massive fan appeal, Sony is still winning this round, but that could all change with one reveal or one slipup. We still don’t even know the prices of these two machines yet. Microsoft is also rumored to reveal yet another console codenamed Project Lockheart that is rumored to be less powerful but play the same games at a much cheaper price. This could undercut Sony dramatically and entice gamers who may want performance at 1080p over 4K flashy graphics. We still have plenty of time to maul it over. One thing is for sure. The excitement of a new console generation is underway.

Cyfir

Monday, April 20, 2020

World of Warcraft: Quest For Vulpera


By Bixyl Shuftan

Some of my Second Life friends have been going at Warcraft lately. The objective: to go about the game as a foxy character: one of the Vulpera.

Clever and resourceful, the vulpera have survived amidst the harsh desert of Vol'dun for generations. Traveling in close-knit caravans, they watch out for each other as they scavenge supplies from across the dunes. Despite their small stature, they are fierce and cunning in battle, bringing down any enemy foolish enough to underestimate them. Now full-fledged members of the Horde, their wagons have left the sands in search of adventure.

The Vulpera are not a regular race that one can simply play from the start, but an "Allied Race." This means one has to unlock certain achievements to be able to play one. For the Vulpera, this means as a Horde character, doing several things. (1) Go to the continent of Zandalar to the desert of Vol'dun (which you'll be doing anyway as part of a couple quests), complete enough storylines to get the achievement "Secret in the Sands." (2) Unlocking World Quests by getting the three footholds in Kul Tiras in the Horde's War Campaign , reaching "Freindly" with all three major factions on Zandalar, and hitting Level 120 (this will change sometime in the future). (3) Do enough quests, to reach Exalted status with the Voldunai faction.

So many of my gaming friends, including some whom had been playing mostly Alliance Worgen, have been trying to get a Vulpera. This included some starting up a new Horde guild. Yours truly went ahead and started up a Demon Hunter character to get a head start in being able to try to get these achievements.  I finally got to the "Battle of Azeroth" level, which is the current version of the game, and the quests took me to the two continents the action takes place, Zandalar and Kul Tiras. With lots of gaming (and egging on by certain friends), I finally did steps one and two. Now comes the long haul, the grind of world quests to raise my status among the Voldunai from Friendly to Honored to Revered to Exalted.

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(Click here if the video fails to play)

I'm not sure how long it will take to finally be able to be foxy in Warcraft as well as in Second Life.  Only that it will probably be a while. They're not very big compared to some characters, about to my Tauren character's waist (or "anklebiters" as my friend Jasmine called them). But as most of us know, big surprises can come in small packages. I've seen a number of Vulpera shamans, mages, priests, rouges, and monks as player characters. Which one will I choose? I still have plenty of time to think on it.

To certain friends (you know who you are) don't worry, I'll eventually get there.

Bixyl Shuftan

Addition: It seems there's one more thing to do after you the things I mentioned, complete a questline for the final step