Monday, April 21, 2014

High Fidelity Alpha

By DrFran Babcock

Philip Rosedale is a genius and a visionary. Every day in Second Life™ is a wonder to me. Even more, there has been nothing to rival this virtual world in over ten years! I am so grateful to Second Life™, because it has brought me friends around the world, the wonder of creativity, and even the chance to do other things I love such as writing. I still marvel daily at the gift of this world of miracles, big and small. Have I gushed enough for you? If not, hold on while I tell you about my experience with High Fidelity.

What is High Fidelity?

High Fidelity, or HiFi is the newest brainchild of Philip Rosedale, and represents his plans for a new virtual world that is meant to improve upon and fix those things in SL that were problems for him, and many residents. If you go to the website ( ) the big quote on the home page is: “If it doesn’t hurt to think about it, we’re not going to try it.” Some of the things that will be addressed are latency, which relates to speed and lag. By speeding up the communications and musical interactions between avatars interactions will become more lifelike. If you have ever dealt with the pause between a performer finishing a song and your clapping in appreciation, you will like this. I remember Grace McDunnough (SL live performer) telling me how she had to wait a few beats after she finished a song before she responded to the audience, because they might still be hearing and seeing the end of the song. If the High Fidelity interface can make that response immediate, people will feel as if a true human connection has been made. 

Builders will be happy to hear that user-created content will be a feature. The unit of building is called a voxel, and it is a cube that can be scaled to any size to create a whole that will be capable of being complex and edited by others. Philip also wants avatars to be able to make facial expressions, and connect with other avatars. I know that most folks thought he was crazy when he envisioned Second Life™, so I bet he can pull this all off with his team.

My Experience in High Fidelity

I was thrilled when I found I had been accepted for the alpha opening of High Fidelity. I am not a coder, not a super content builder, and not a geek, but I told the team in my application, that they needed ordinary folks like me to assess the learning curve, and see what the new-user experience was like. I had a lot of trouble creating an account, but the team were very patient with me. I logged in finally when all of the meet-ups had concluded, and most of the content was missing. My huge “aha” moment came when I looked at the cute little robot that represented my brand new, un-customized avatar, and I smiled. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the avatar smile back at me! What I was really looking at was me, as viewed through the camera on my Mac. I hadn’t noticed that the red light on the camera was lit, and that my facial expressions were being recorded.

So, this is alpha, and it’s pretty primitive, but I am a fan, and I am in for the ride. I will take you all along with me.

Phil recently addressed the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meetup, and demonstrated the current progress with his huge and ambitious project. Jo Yardley, of Berlin 1920s fame covered the meeting on her blog (Philip’s presentation starts at about 42 minutes into the video): ( Watch this video, because  you may be amazed.

DrFran Babcock

Friday, April 18, 2014

Game Review: Seven Days to Die

By Nydia Tungsten

First, let me say the name is deceiving. I died on the first day…. well within the first 20 minutes actually. You all know I like playing both Minecraft and Rust, and 7 Days to Die is like Minecraft with the graphics of Rust.

      Basically, you are a survivor of WWIII and other survivors have turned into Zombies due to mutations. Your job: Survive….which isn’t always easy because, unlike Minecraft, these Zombies come in different flavors like in “Left 4 dead 2”, But, unlike L4D2, to kill these zombies, it HAS to be a head shot.  But, when the sun goes down or even in a dark building, the zombies get stronger, faster, deadlier and harder to kill, so you have to be careful.

     When I first spawned in, I discovered I had a radar map and green dots on it. Green always means good, right?   Right?   Don’t you believed it…… it turns out the green dots were the Zombies that hadn’t noticed me yet. My going in search of the green dots made them notice me, making the dots go from green to yellow to red.  “Yellow” means you have been sensed and “Red” means you have been noticed and have active aggression. THAT was my first lesson.

   First thing you need to do is scavenge and scavenge everything: bodies, cars, garbage piles and cans, drawers, cabinets, sinks, stoves …. anything that lets you. That’s the only way you can get anything to craft what you need. Next step is to find and reinforce some type of base to work out of. Zombies can break through walls so you don’t want to draw their attention at night. But if you do you need to kill them before they damage your base, then in the morning, try and clear your base of the few Zombies that have come around or are left.

    Like in Minecraft, you can dig holes and collect ore and farm as well as hunt for food to add to what you find scrounging through towns (you will start out doing a lot of that). But when you get an area under your control, you can start cultivate it.

This IS an Alpha game so constant updates are being put out, some good, some…well, not so much. The latest update broke some textures for railing, but I am sure such an obvious “bork” will get fixed quickly. At the time of this writing, I have learned to make a forge, crossbow and a few other tricks.

   Another great feature is you can open your games to your friends. I started a solo game then opened it to three of my friends; Bix, Jenn and Pagan. It took a bit of tweaking with the “port forwarding” on my router, but my experience with Minecraft servers helped me out so it was quick and easy. If you have never done port forwarding, I would recommend looking it up on Youtube to see how it is done.

  If your starting ANY game that you haven’t really played before, and would like some help, I recommend looking it up on Youtube. You can decide how much help you want, just watch a quick play through, a detailed how-to video or even just a little help to get past a road block in a specific spot of the game. That’s what I do. I look it over, try it myself and if I get stuck, I go to Youtube. (Gaming tip of the day)

   There ARE zombie hordes roaming everywhere, I saw one moving in the daylight. There were about 15 in one and I decided to go around them, bad choice. That night, they found my base and made life….interesting for a while. I ran out of multiple types of ammo and here is a clip of what happened: . You will also see one of the bee’s that roams the lands as well shortly after the hoard.

    Here are some highlights I have put together for you to look at and make up your own mind.

Setting up and spawning in:
The first night:
Claiming your first base:
The whole 4 hours of the first play:

I had a lot of fun playing this and give it a thumbs up. Let us know if you decide to get it or not based on what you see here.

I always welcome feedback and as always…GOOD GAMING TO YOU!!

Nydia Tungsten

Edited by Brandi Streusel Tungsten