Monday, March 30, 2009

I hear the engines stop but I'll find my own way down

The Kotaku article that finally pulled me into registering. Bastard World-of-Warcrafting idjits designed Diablo III...

...yes, I'm a tad bitter about this, why do you ask?

But back to music. There's some controversy for Midnight Choir. They're either:

* a Norwegian rock band who split up in 2004; or

* an alt-country band hailing from California

I get the feeling they're likeliest the Norwegian rock band, but it's somewhat hard to tell.

On top of the existing weirdness, is piled on more deranged lunacy than I expected:
The bad things had come for him. [T]he winged pink midgets were hacking their way through the walls. A slippery, slidy something slithered along the ceiling. A voice... 'they're coming out of my eyes'. a giggle... a scream... geologic tremens...

Looking down at bloodstained hands, he tried to piece it all together. What was left of his dream? What was left of him? And looking up he spied a towering steeple of a decrepid old church leanin' high above that crooked little town. And in that moment, a mangled, tremblin' hand reached out and gripped a rope that dangled then tightened and descended, one time down...

The bell did toll a single round. A single rolling sound that rolled upon the moonlight, cascading down the moonlight that spilled across the night, and shattered on the ground.


(From CD Baby's listing of the album You Have Been Warned--oddly, the album that Drunken Elephant March appears on, only under the band name A Midnite Choir, which turns up NOTHING.)

Listening to the few samples they have on that page, they remind me strongly of Tom Waits. Almost too strongly, as if they kidnapped Waits, fed him more whiskey than is usually suggested for breakfast, and shuffled him off into a small studio, surrounded by lanky men bearing accordions.

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(Lanky men bearing...well, okay, they don't have accordions. And they're not that lanky. From the fan site Unsung Street.)

Still, there are problems, and I don't think it's just me that's confused. Mainly because the people who wrote, played and recorded Sister of Mercy are not the same ones who wrote, played and recorded Amsterdam Stranded, are they? And does this home recording have anything to do with the song I can't find??

It's so frustrating. Who are these guys? Are there three bands? What the hell is going on?

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(I'm fairly sure those four are the country Choir mentioned earlier.)

All right, I give up. This is going to be a two-parter because this is going to take much more research than I can stand at four in the morning. I don't understand why there seems to be three bands with three completely different sounds and the same damned name. This is confusing even for niche music!

I'll get back to you. In or out is tabled until we figure out which band we're dealing with.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

outside, and they lead us out quietly

The corporate language they're choosing to use is anything but clear for the casual bystander; but the Lindens are now working towards working towards development of adult continent rules.

Here's some of the highlights from that link:

Q: What laws are going to be applied/quoted to support what is considered Adult Content? It is a very thin line you guys are trying to walk. It would have to be challengeable and be supported.. cant be simply an Opinion surely?
A: Sexually explicit likely the largest piece - not talking about private, talking about what is publicly advertised to public; another category intensely violent activity, not simple shooting more like beheadings and torture; third category actual photographs nudity, pornography
Will need to allow for exceptions for artistic display, educational components, health; some definitions in place being honed with input included


So they're still working on defining, albeit fuzzily, what "adult" versus "extreme content" is, but this is a fairly solid step--they're not going to evict everyone who has a sex bed, unless we move it out to public spaces and advertise what's going on. Private interactions should remain unpoliced. Emphasis on should.

Q: Nude beaches?
A: Simple nudity alone hard to regulate

They're admitting they're going to have problems in this area. Considering that not a large portion of the grid chooses to walk around nude in public--I hate to be harsh, but that's not my main concern. SL nudists only allowed to be nude in their own private spaces, I personally am fine with that, and don't necessarily see a problem with an edict not to shop nude. (While of course understanding that people will do what they want anyway, just to push the limits, if nothing else.)

Q: What about pictures of naked skins?
A: Tough area to get right; search filters may apply here; e.g., genital words go to adult category; still thinking it through

So art gallery displays, skin shops, makers of prim bits, and the like may need to follow this development closely; so far, it sounds like they're in the clear (at least the galleries and skin makers), but will have to be clear about what and how they offer access to nudity.

Q: If someone uses words like Essex (valid UK location), or watch our play Dick Whittington, they could be parsed into Adult Content?
A: Probably not; lean toward conservative side

This one, I admit, is a problem for me, if only because I know how many problems occur with students in the world beyond who need to turn in health class reports and a) find things they absolutely shouldn't have to deal with, or b) find access to everything concerning the term "breast", say, for breast cancer, blocked and filtered out by their school's auto-blocking software. Both ways have implementation difficulties.

Just as a search for "breast cancer charities" in SL, you want to show up as some branch of the RFL, and not some balloon-sized prim breast shop with protruding prim pierced nipples; but watching the search terms for what is and is not "adult" is going to be three shades of headache right there.

Q: Is this a precursor to incorporating the Teen grid?
A: Nope

Finally something connected to the Lindens comes back with a quantifiable answer. So okay--unless there's been another breach of faith, sequestering "adult" activity has nothing to do with eventual reunification of the Adult and Teen grids.

Q: Multinational platform and opinions could result in a flood of complaints; you will have to tenfold your support team
A: It's true will get many reinterpretations; happened with gambling - still get reports about games that are not games of chance; similar misinterpretation on age play
Have a team who understand policies and only enforce where there is really a violation; will have to do same here; feel confident have learned how to do that and can do it

Maybe; I still say I can name ten places that use so-called "games of chance" that haven't been touched by the gambling ban. How'ver, that's neither here nor there; what they are saying is that yes, they do understand this will require a separate "Adult" police team, for lack of a better phrase, to go through each complaint case by case.

Q: Re: policing/policies - the parameters being used to decide what is adult content, if not legal based, could be construed as being nothing more than discrimination, which in itself is illegal
A: Adult definitions are around sexually explicit activity and intensely violent activity; those are not 'strictly legal' based definitions

And this is a private company anyway; though I and everyone else forget that, they have no responsibility to provide game access to everyone in a way consistent with the provisions of the various gender/disability/religion laws enacted in RL. That they are choosing to operate within these strictures should be lauded as a good deed.

Q: Will the adult region SIMs be in the same price category than mainland (195.00 USD) or because it is now an adult content SIM which would attrack certain traffic will the price be raised
A: No intent to price differently from Linden Lab; on open market another story

In other words, parcels rated "Adult" may well rise dramatically in price, or plummet to below current mainland levels. They're saying they have no control over resale, and won't even try.

[Q]: Is content separation [motivated] by feedback from corporate enterprises?
A: Fair question; corporations are a small component of the resident groups that want more control predictability; they span from organizations to businesses to lots of residents doing lots of different things

In other words, Dude, everyone complained, chill, we're not selling out. Whether they are or not remains to be seen, but that's at least what they want publically perceived.

Q: Would having a red light mainland make the public and press think worse of SL as 'being like Amsterdam', i.e., ignoring what else it has to offer other than adult content; would creating a specific area for this kind of thing have a negative impact on the [brand's] value
A: The same content in SL now will be in SL after AO; it may be perceived as a red light district yes; everyone knows platform has broad creativity; so no, that's not a concern

This one confused me, sheerly on the count of, Second Life has an Amsterdam sim, which is pretty much a red-light district already. So I had a moment of head-tilt there.

What they seem to be saying, though, at least on the surface, is Yes, we know, this is going to increase our rep as being nothing but the game where the perverts are; we don't care, though, because we're able to mention so many other things our residents do that the media will follow up on those aspects of the game.

Even though, by and large, most media outlets never have...

More later, when I sort through more of the forums stuph, including the new thread unification thread (as redundant as that sounds, and is).

Friday, March 27, 2009

because I can't go on if I can't stop

I'm in the middle of a lace collar when it strikes me: I have changed.

My hand halts in midair, holding the brush. It makes me blink, this sudden comprehension, incomprehension, the impossible turned in midair to reveal the coin's other side.

I have changed. I am not who I was in ages past; I have moved from my former place.

This is a revelation.


It's always been a mild amusement, something to puzzle over in the darkness before dawn: I tell my friends of my life and what I intend to (and normally do) spin off lightly as froth and immaterial, they normally see as sheerest insanity, or insane courage in the face of savagery.

To me, of course, this is the commonest of occurrences: after all, it's my life. How could it not be average? But to others, tales of destabilization, tales told lightly from the life on guard, occasionally pull out of them all the shock, all the confusion, all the horror I'm not able to feel--or have chosen not to feel. Though it still confuses me, when my daily life experience is so very shocking to others.

I listen to the poets sing, carefully changing the collar, color by color, pixel by pixel, and reflect on a life spent on the other side of the glass. Was it my ultimate goal to reveal more of myself in spaces of less safety? If I had the same choices, would I take them again, seize each opportunity, for good or ill?

Would I mourn the ones I lost? Would I worry over the smallest phrase, the merest word, of the ones who walked away? Would I have walked away from everyone I chose to leave? Would I have loved at all?


It's a notable fact that I am less connected now, oddly enough, instead of more. Most of my old friends--friends I had, for a variety of reasons, before I moved to Caledon--have stopped talking to me. I know, without a shred of doubt surfacing, that at least in some part this is due to the lack of casual sex in my friendships with them. More important to me, however--though perhaps less so to them--is that I no longer seem to have anything in common with people who think of sex first, relating second.

This strikes me. This strikes me and strikes me. I have been here before. I have lost loves like this before. When the physical overweighed the emotional. I have done this, this exact this, before.

Now? I am by no means a prude, by no means disconnected from the joy of physicality. All my loves I also lust after, my deeply treasured ones; they will always touch more of me than just my heart. In any world, in any space, I would enjoy them, however I could; even if it were just the caress of their voices in my ears.

And more than that, I am not running willingly to places of self-destruction, to annihilation of soul and memory. I may be walking in circles at times, I may get confused, disoriented by my own spinning, because it's harder to navigate when I'm not concealed. Open actions, open heart, it creates a lot of wind drag; I can't freely fly towards the sun, I have to spiral lower, closer to the things of life. Now, I move slowly, more deliberately, feeling my way...not just overthinking it.

It is progress. But it's a progress measured in entirely new terms.

The brush moves, I draw a line here, I erase a line there. I think while I paint, erase, distort, change. Change, it's all about change. Living the more open life no longer being simple lip service to the dream. Living the more open life, and letting myself experience, the pain and joy of it, the thrill and terror...of being open-hearted.

I have never been here before.


My kitten wanders near to my door at times. He no longer does anything but call out far messages, and I worry for him. He's gotten involved with gangs, in that other world, with criminals or would-be criminals, who point implements of destruction and have no other feeling besides, what would it be like if I pulled the trigger? Followed of course by, would I feel anything at all?

I worry for him, but I feel bound by former decisions. What we were in one world affecting what we are in the next. Do we have any ties left, is what I wonder. Would I feel anything other than soft regret if I never heard from him again?

I contemplate another culling of the friendslist. It might be time. If it's been a a year since any person wrote me on that list, it might be time to disconnect. But I'm disconnecting in so many other ways--from the world I once knew, from the world around me, from so many things--is it time to resign and accept that change happens, people leave, and sometimes, we never see them go, in time to say goodbye?

Transition, maybe. Maybe it's less about change, more about transitions. Moving sideways, or up, or down, is still moving. Maybe that's the ultimate lesson to take from these perceived changes, perceived sense of change, moving slowly through the waters I wade in.

Transition. Change. Reflection. It all has meaning.

In the meantime, I need to finish this dress.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

you know what flows here like wine

I have to admit, while it's not life, as I've known it, on the grid, I'm very definitely growing partial to Runes of Magic as an alternate wandering space. But there are some very puzzling cultural things occurring there, that I just don't have the comprehension for, that I perhaps should.

Confused? So am I. For example...this may be just a me thing, or maybe more than me, a general guy thing, but--why does it matter what gender anyone is? I mean, really? The whole betting game that my guild in Runes has, with who is, who isn't, and who might be female just baffles the hell out of me. I'm currently rated in that guild as "likely female"; but they just can't be sure until I talk with them on voice, apparently.

Gentlemen, I am ruinously sorry to inform you of this, but voices, they can be distorted, lowered, raised, or converted; more to the point, there are men who have high voices and women who have low ones. I consider myself an alto when singing, but I'm very nearly in tenor range most of the time; I have been "sir"-ed on other occasions because of it.

And beyond all that, what does it matter? I see a woman walking the grid, my first thought when I see someone is not I bet she's a guy. It literally never occurs to me.

On the other hand, maybe it's just something more prevalent about life in MMOs; because I have found myself thinking of the female avatar named "Sexybeast" who is well-known for running around with a sword the size of a Buick and white panties/white cotton bra (the enforced limit of the game for 'de-layering') that she's likely male behind the screen. Most women will not name themselves "Steve", either--and again, the one wandering around known as Steve? Was another underwear warrior.

And, by and large, women in Runes? They'll be worried about how to properly protect themselves; they want armor that feels like armor, not chainmail bikinis. They'll rotate their cam around themselves, and wonder why the leather thong with the gartered boots is more protective than the trousers that cover everything. They'll plead in open chat for a pair of actual pants, damn it, that don't end at the waist.

Whereas most men-playing-women? Will go for the most revealing outfits they can find, and start off playing women that are insanely well-built in the first place.

Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, per se; as one fellow told me, he'd rather have something pretty to stare at than look at some big hulking guy's ass all day.

Which is amusing on so many levels, but that's neither here nor there.

More to the point, there are fully-covering pants one can find; there are also the steel-and-sorcery outfits, which are basically armored boots, gloves, and the "chainmail bikini" styles. It's a big world, there's more than just one way to dress. And while there are more than a few insane names--Spicytakoyaki, Toasterstrudel, Splenda and Sugarplum among them--and an extraordinarily and quite profound lack of anything resembling fantasy roleplay, the quests, the world, and the monsters are usually more than involving, currently, to make up for it.

Still and all, I'd like some attempt at actual pretend on the part of my fellow gamers. It's like gaming...without any sense of game.

In the meantime, Aion looks very entertaining. They say "visually stunning", and they're so right. If the videos found at their main page are any indication, this is a sumptuously gorgeous playspace. Considering the game itself seems to be based around celestial forces--and their demonic counterparts--battling in heaven and earth for the fate of the universe, maybe it justly deserves to be this sweeping and majestic.

I haven't decided if I want to download the client for it yet; for one, I can't download the client, apparently, until yI sign up for an account; and I can't sign up for an account until I verify payment information. And I'm not sure, right now, I want to verify payment information. Until I have more information on the game.

But I'm reading through the lore, and checking out the known issues, at least what little I can find out in advance. It does look impressive as hell. Or heaven.

lay her down in her gingerbread coffin

Maurice Sendak in live action...Will it work? Your guess is as good as mine.

And Spencer puts it all together in a song--lolcats, MMOs, Second Life, the weirdness of the net, and some somewhat-familiar characters.

For bots? Against bots? There's a wonderful discussion on the topic on the SL blog, but this is the single most logical reply.

She's absolutely right, too, though I would miss lucky chairs keenly. Sometimes when I am impoverished for Lindens, Lucky Chair offerings are how I get new outfits, plain and simple!

At any rate, my meandering musical attention finally wanders to Rasputina.

Rasputina. They don't sound like anyone else. If I had to invent a description of their sound, imagine if Tori Amos and Emilie Autumn were handed some fun mood enhancers, and went out dancing at a gothic club in Prague to chamber music.

Rasputina? Would be the soundtrack for that night.

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Melora Creager, the heart and soul of Rasputina, formed the group as a sort of rallying cry to the industry--an "electric cello choir" intended to foster sound without synthesizers, no boys or guitars need apply (though the group has since changed their goal, with the addition of Jonathon TeBeest on drums).

The first song I ever heard of Rasputina captured me utterly: "Transylvanian Concubine":

You know what flows here like wine.
Stay here with us, it's just time.
Transylvanian Concubine.
Sorrow is their master
Cackling with laughter


It was quirky, demented, and deeper than I expected in spots, once I got past the feel of the chords to the meaning in the words.

There's a great description out there of what's happening on their latest album, Oh Perilous World, but they've had nine albums total; they've been recording for more than a decade at this point.

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(The current line-up of Rasputina, which includes Creager, left, TeBeest, center, and I believe Sarah Bowman, right. Also give a listen to Rasputina performing "In Old Yellowcake" live in Baltimore.)

Inside of a room is a cage, is a cage.
It's made out of chain and glass.
It's about forty feet high and three feet wide,
and it was built to last.


And, like many musicians before them, they have a MySpace page.

Their first album, Thanks for the Ether, made a minor splash to all fans of instrumentation over electronica. They have developed as a group who records covers, but records the originals over in strange and lovely ways, the familiar distorted through strings and laudanum. And they have their own songs, as well, they're not simply an orchestral cover band. They're so much more than that.

They've opened on tour for everyone from Marilyn Manson to Bob Mould, and Creager was the cellist hired to accompany Nirvana on their In Utero tour. Their second album, How We Quit the Forest, was an album produced by Chris Vrenna. (You might remember him from his steampunk contributions on the Alice game soundtrack.)

To me, they're another touchstone band, on what "steampunk music" might sound like, given space and time to develop on its own. All I can say is, listen to them, go to YouTube, go to their own web page, download their current offerings, listen to their MySpace songs--you may not become a fan, but at the very least you'll be listening to music created by a group of very original, highly unique musicians.

Their latest album, Oh Perilous World, delves into such highly discordant things as the ongoing war in Iraq and the assassination of Lincoln:

"Creager wrote the songs featured on Oh Perilous World over the last two years after deciding current world events were more bizarre than anything she could scrounge up from the distant past. She obsessively read daily news on the Internet, copying words, phrases and whole stories that especially intrigued her. She compiled a vast notebook of this material from which the Oh Perilous World lyrics are culled. 'Champion' is mostly the translation of an Osama Bin-Laden speech; 'Child Soldier' references the phenomenon of African children's armies; 'In Old Yellowcake' utilizes imagery of the destruction of Fallujah. This is coupled with the [album's] overall narrative of Mary Todd Lincoln as Queen of Florida, with her blimp armies having attacked Pitcairn Island, where Fletcher Christian's son Thursday emerges as a resistance icon, before the record's grand end and subsequent denouement. The songs were recorded primarily with cello and drums, but despite this simple palette Rasputina create a wide range of textures and affects, including what seems to be electric guitars and violins--but is actually cunningly played and recorded cello."

That's from the band's history page, on their site, but come on--how often do you get armed children, Mary Todd Lincoln, blimps and Osama bin Laden mentioned in song, let alone featured on an entire album??

Rasputina, for me, makes the cut, with no doubt in my mind. For Gingerbread Coffin, if for no other reason, they're in:

We found an old doll that was out in the grass,
She had special powers, we said a Black Mass.
We sat in a circle all holding hands. The
doll-bed held together with old rubberbands--


Like no one else, and fitting no one genre at any point in their musical exploration. Unique and individual, definitely not mass-marketed, mass-produced.

And isn't that part of what steampunk is all about?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

there's always some loophole technicality you buy into and pay until you die

Steampunk style guide, anyone?

AKA, muahahahaha, more fun things to run down!

Both Blondin and Cyn have now assured us that, basically, the official pages about this are wrong. Cyn says "Remember, this is highly explicit content we are talking about", but that's very different from what the official statements say. The official definition of "Adult" includes any public area in which there is "photorealistic nudity". That's rather different than "highly explicit" the way I've mostly heard the words used.

I really appreciate Lindens like Blondin and Cyn assuring us that only the most extreme and egregious things will have to move. BUT if that's the case, then the official statements on the subject should be updated to reflect that. Currently, it's easy to read the official statements as classifying a VERY broad range of things as "Adult", and therefore to be exiled from the normal mainland. In fact it's hard not to read them that way: you have to assume that they don't mean what they actually say, but instead they mean some milder variant of it.


Dale Innis said that, and it dovetails neatly into something I want to bring up, just for a moment.

Now, I will grant you, I have done my fair share of Linden-bashing. Generally specifically, generally by name of Linden, but I usually don't come off as terrifically favorable to the Labs.

This likely won't change; I try to keep an open perspective, but I walk around in their world, I see the changes they've wrought, and I go to open office hours and read transcripts of 'town hall' style meetings, and...I'm not overly impressed. It seems a great deal like the goals of the game designers, and the goals of the gamers, are not only disparate, but actually involve two entirely separate concepts--like someone comparing apples to oranges in a classroom setting by holding up a tire iron, and you look down in puzzlement at the coconut on your desk. There doesn't seem to be a way to relate what's said with what's heard with what's played out in world, and I don't know if it's ever going to get better.

That having been said, I want to go back to what I started out with: Dale Innis and his succinct breakdown.

To the Lindens' credit, they have:

* opened the dialogue early, not way too late
* listened (mostly) and kept responding (mostly) without the usual "This is why you're all wrong/We're going to close comments" messages [*]
* not made major plans, save for the development of Ursula as a continent, which means when they say they're waiting for input, they mostly mean it

These aren't bad things. These are, in fact, good things, things we want to encourage, things we want to offer praise of, not condemnation for, as ungrammatical as that was.

But my main point--weaving in and out of the warp and weft of raving and confusion--has always been this: What the Lindens say, and what they do, are ofttimes two separate things.

The clearest example is with the current (they say "working") definition of adult. For example, that bit on photorealistic nudity. So what's considered photorealistic? Playboy playmate images? Sure. Anime images? Likely not, at least, not right now, because that would be animated nudity--or, at least, artistic nudity.

So drawn nudity (id est, art galleries, unless the start of the nude image is a photosourced one) would not be under the potential ban. But would the "art" of skin designers be? In which case, would anyone walking around in a photosourced skin, who is naked, also be banned?

Two of the Lindens are taking great pains to assure us that only the most extreme and egregious offenses will be booted to Pervistan. Which is all well and good, save for the fact that what they say and what we read are not adding up to the same intent.

This may well be theoretical now; and we can do our best to hope for good hearts and understanding minds amongst the Linden staff. I, myself, am rather more cynical than most, and I'm thinking that having a stated boundary limit in print, and then saying something different, is eventually going to rotate around to enforcing the limit stated in print.

Bonibaru Navarathna said:

I can already see a difference in the way people are talking about starting a new "non-adult" area - they talk about it in terms of freedom, of choice, of organic growth, of opportunity. A fresh new place for a pleasant new start. When they talk about creating an "adult-only" area, though, the tone is complete opposite: restriction, constriction, inconvenience, disruption, penalty. From a purely PR/marketing standpoint, I should think LL might take notice of that distinction. A positive response to creating a new "no adult content allowed" area, self-policing, move in by choice .... vs. the current proposal which is being met quite unhappily by the users who will be most impacted. Yet both proposals would achieve the desired outcome of keeping adult content away from those who do not actively seek it or who find its presence unwelcome. I hope someone perceptive enough is noticing that nuance in tone.

That's it exactly. This is the biggest chance the Lindens have to do things right, maybe the best chance they've ever had: with this entire continent. Make Ursula the center for culture in SL. Bring in live musicians who play concertos in tastefully appointed halls. Hire lecturers to lecture in expansive spaces on the best servers; pipe those lectures, concerts, whatever content is deemed appropriate, worthy and good to the rest of the grid. Have designers make gardens, make waterfalls, create dizzying expanses of beauty to feast upon with eyes and heart.

Let the rest of the grid struggle. Let Ursula be where we go to be polite, and be respectful, be good and kind, be gentle with each other; let Ursula be where we go to learn (on most topics), to listen (to music and birdsong, to breeze through waving leaves), to experience (oceans; glittering space; glass domes and rising spires; painted rocks and deep caves; lush verdant greenspaces, suffused with multiple shades of flower, leaf and bud, butterfly and bird, deer and rabbit).

Why is this a wrong idea? Why can't segregation be used to protect, not to imprison? Why can't it be a safe zone, a place of worship, of nature and the gods, of seeing where technology can take us, where it could take us? Why can't this be to the highest and best good of all the residents?

And why can't the Lindens see this? So far, no one I've heard objects to a solid G (or even PG) continent; but nearly everyone objects to Pervistan, on a variety of levels.

I've said this before. I'll say it again, most likely. And I'm saying it now: we're speaking. We're speaking very loudly, very stridently, with a great amount of passion. The Lindens need to listen.

([*] One additional note: as of this writing, they have closed off comments on all five comment threads in the forums, and moved all "remaining" conversations to one thread "because the conversation was dying down". As has been pointed out by more than a few residents, the conversation "died down" because the Lindens closed comments.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

is there a hero somewhere, someone who appears and saves the day

Shepherding...EXTREME!

And a handy definition of nightmare fuel. Good to know.

Okay, I admit, I failed--it's now three ayem, I never posted the SLUrl to start the Falln Hunt--but tonight, with the lag, and the various sims staggering and going down, and the aberrations...

Ah, yes. About those aberrations.

[22:43] Fawkes Allen coughs.
[22:43] Fawkes Allen: You are walking now, upon hollow Pavement.


We all looked down. Fawkes had called us to the Amusements sim by the spinning top ride. I heard a growl.

[22:43] Fawkes Allen: Hello
[22:43] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:43] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:43] Fawkes Allen: Hello.
[22:43] My Pet Zombie: >>:[


I looked around, no zombies. I looked up, no zombies near the water. I looked down to the hollow pavement. I blinked and cammed underground.

Three zombie minions of Azriel's, climbing all over each other, chains flying, nearly whirling like undead dervishes in their efforts to get out from underneath...the hollow pavement over the dip in the ground. How were they going to get out?

[22:44] Emilly Orr: Are you guys okay?
[22:44] Neome Graves: O noes! Poor Zombies!
[22:44] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:44] Emilly Orr: Oh no....
[22:44] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:44] My Pet Zombie: >>:[


They weren't happy. I tried clicking and talking to each one.

[22:45] Emilly Orr: Hello?
[22:45] Emilly Orr: Can we bring you a brain or something?
[22:45] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:46] My Pet Zombie: Hello there.
[22:46] Emilly Orr: Hi!
[22:46] My Pet Zombie: Hello there.
[22:46] My Pet Zombie: Hello there.


Good, they could answer. That was a first step.

[22:46] Emilly Orr: Are you okay?
[22:46] My Pet Zombie: Don't I look like it?
[22:46] My Pet Zombie: Don't I look like it?
[22:46] Emilly Orr: No, you...really don't


They muttered nonsense for a bit, growling, fragments of odd words. I got worried again.

[22:46] Emilly Orr: Okay....you have everything you need, or want help?
[22:46] My Pet Zombie: Yeah okay, But what? What makes you think I have it?
[22:46] My Pet Zombie: Yeah okay, But what? What makes you think I have it?
[22:47] Emilly Orr: I don't know.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: Me either.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: Me either.
[22:47] Emilly Orr: You're sounding more mental than usual.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: Do you mind if I tell other people you say I am sounding more mental than usual.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: You think I am sounding more mental than usual.


It was a bit difficult to keep up with three zombies at once, but they were all crammed together in such a small space...

[22:47] Emilly Orr: I do, and I do not mind.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: Where? OK then.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: Do you mind if I tell other people you say I am sounding more mental than usual? You do? OK then.
[22:47] Emilly Orr: You can tell everyone
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: OK I will tell them when I see 'em.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: OK I will tell them when I see 'em.
[22:47] Emilly Orr: Okay
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: OK with me too.
[22:47] My Pet Zombie: OK with me too.
[22:48] Emilly Orr: Oh, good.


I tried clicking on each one again, to orient them to speech over just unhappiness.

[22:48] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Hello there.
[22:48] Emilly Orr: Hello!
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Hi there!
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Hi there!
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Hi there!
[22:48] Emilly Orr: YAY
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: I'm glad you're impressed.
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: I'm glad you're impressed.
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: I'm glad you're impressed.


Finally, all of them were responding consistently!

[22:48] Emilly Orr: We have three zombies!
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Do you mean you and me have?
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Do you mean you and me have?
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Do you mean you and me have?


I breathed a great sigh of relief. Then things got stranger.

[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Come on. I am a Christian.
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: That's alright. I am a Christian.
[22:48] My Pet Zombie: Yippee! I am a Christian.
[22:48] Fawkes Allen: Oh god, three of them.
[22:49] Fawkes Allen: Are any of you Jesus?
[22:49] My Pet Zombie: I really couldn't say for sure.
[22:49] My Pet Zombie: I really couldn't say for sure.
[22:49] My Pet Zombie: I really couldn't say for sure.
[22:49] Fawkes Allen: Sounds like what Jesus would say.

Where the hell had the sudden devotion come from, we all wondered? We had a thought that maybe they'd gone feral with being trapped for...however long they were trapped for.

[22:49] Emilly Orr: Why are you Christian?
[22:49] My Pet Zombie: I took the same religion as my botmaster.
[22:49] My Pet Zombie: I took the same religion as my botmaster.
[22:49] My Pet Zombie: I took the same religion as my botmaster.
[22:49] Emilly Orr: Who's your botmaster?
[22:50] My Pet Zombie: I was created by Azriel.
[22:50] My Pet Zombie: I was created by Azriel.
[22:50] My Pet Zombie: I was created by Azriel.
[22:50] Emilly Orr: Okay then
[22:50] My Pet Zombie: OK with me too.
[22:50] My Pet Zombie: OK with me too.
[22:50] My Pet Zombie: OK with me too.

Okay, then. If they're following Mr. Demain, I was fine with them being Christian. As long as it wasn't some new psychosis, but something they did because they admired their creator...I didn't have to worry.

[22:51] Fawkes Allen: You're not very good Christians are you?
[22:51] My Pet Zombie: Azriel said I am good Christians.
[22:51] My Pet Zombie: Azriel said I am good Christians.
[22:51] My Pet Zombie: Azriel said I am good Christians.

Made from the very best Christians, apparently.

I'd managed to get all three talking, even though at times it was still difficult to tell *whom* was talking, from under the pavement.

[22:52] Emilly Orr: Hello?
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: Hi there!
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: Hi there!
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: Hi there!
[22:52] Emilly Orr: Are all three of you there? Yay!
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: I really couldn't say for sure. I'm glad you're impressed.
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: I really couldn't say for sure. I'm glad you're impressed.
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: I really couldn't say for sure. I'm glad you're impressed.
[22:52] Emilly Orr: I am. Just checking on your health and all.
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: What are you? What do you have that is?
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: What are you? My brain contains categories, but not one that matches your last input.
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: What are you? Is that your final answer?

They were getting more coherent as time went on. This was a good sign...or, well, we were willing to take it as a good sign. Sometimes it's hard to tell with zombies.

[22:52] Fawkes Allen: Are you trapped?
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: sometimes.
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: sometimes.
[22:52] My Pet Zombie: sometimes.
[22:53] Emilly Orr: We're all trapped sometimes.
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Do you think I am trapped sometimes too?
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Do you think I am trapped sometimes too?
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Do you think I am trapped sometimes too?
[22:53] Emilly Orr: Yes
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Why?
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Why?
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Why?
[22:53] Emilly Orr: Because you're under the pavement
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Good reason. You think I am under the pavement.
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: Interesting explanation. Thanks for telling me that I am under the pavement.
[22:53] My Pet Zombie: That makes sense to me. Thanks for telling me that I am under the pavement.

They were very gracious now, but still clustering around each other, trying to find the exit. I admit, I'm somewhat kicking myself today, for not getting a picture of them underneath the tarmac. Perfect opportunity, wasted.

[22:54] Emilly Orr: Just...don't breathe, and...Azriel will save you soon
[22:54] My Pet Zombie: It's only just begun. What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, now I remember.
[22:54] My Pet Zombie: It's only just begun. I lost my train of thought. Is that your final answer?
[22:54] My Pet Zombie: It's only just begun. Who is your favorite Science Fiction author? I haven't read anything by Azriel will save me soon. What did he write?

We were a tad confused by the sudden conversational detour. Mr. Demain writes science fiction?

[22:56] Fawkes Allen: ZOMBIES!
[22:56] My Pet Zombie: I do not understand.
[22:56] My Pet Zombie: This was not a yes or no question.
[22:56] My Pet Zombie: I only hear that type of response less than five percent of the time.

We managed to confuse them right back. At least it was an equable exchange.

[22:56] MystiTool HUD 1.3.1: Entering chat range: Azriel Demain (12m)
[22:56] Emilly Orr: Hey, guys, Azriel's here!
[22:56] My Pet Zombie: You've got my full attention. When do you think artificial intelligence will replace lawyers?
[22:56] My Pet Zombie: You've got my full attention. What kind of food do you like?
[22:56] My Pet Zombie: You've got my full attention. I like the way you talk.
[22:56] Sphynx Soleil: ROFL

They perked up and became very alert when Mr. Demain arrived. We waited to make sure they'd be okay until they were freed from their enclosure.

[22:57] Azriel Demain waits to see
[22:57] Fawkes Allen: You've slowly gone crazy beneath there haven't you?
[22:57] Azriel Demain: oh jezus.. how did they get down there??
[22:57] Emilly Orr: I have noooo idea
[22:57] My Pet Zombie: Interesting... I have my brain falls out bytes of RAM.
[22:57] My Pet Zombie: Cool. I have a lot of likes and dislikes.
[22:57] My Pet Zombie: That's nice. I have a birthday on I forget.
[22:57] Azriel Demain takes a photo

Mr. Demain then carefully lifted each one out of pavement-bound obscurity.

[22:58] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: Hello there.
[22:58] Azriel Demain: go my minions! be free!
[22:58] Emilly Orr: And one rises!
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: Goodbye.
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: >>:[
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: One what?
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: See you later.

They didn't immediately leave, but staggered in small little circles for a while.

[22:58] Fawkes Allen: Freedom!
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: By the way, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?
[22:58] My Pet Zombie: The ALICE chat robot can follow many things, like our discussion about noooo idea. Try being more or less specific.
[22:59] My Pet Zombie: Still how long? Thanks for the info.

They were starting to travel in longer and longer circles. We think they were just working the kinks out in their joints, or...something.

[22:59] MystiTool HUD 1.3.1: Collision with "My Pet Zombie", Owner: Azriel Demain
[22:59] Emilly Orr: Okay, zombie freedom has been achieved.
[22:59] My Pet Zombie: Yeah okay, When was this exactly?
[22:59] Emilly Orr: Never mind, go wander.
[22:59] My Pet Zombie: Oh well thanks for trying to explain it to me anyway. Where is that?
[22:59] Neome Graves: Well, partial zombie freedom
[22:59] Fawkes Allen: How long have you been down there?
[22:59] My Pet Zombie: I am 42 years old.
[22:59] Emilly Orr: Long time.
[22:59] My Pet Zombie: Yes, it seems very long to me too.
[22:59] My Pet Zombie: Yes, it seems very long to me too.
[22:59] Neome Graves: Wow, 42 years
[22:59] Azriel Demain laughs

Later, we found them wedged...inside a solid prim wall at the gates to Amusements. We had no idea how they got there; we shrugged and went on hunting, figuring they'd find their way out eventually--somehow--too.

Photobucket

(At least they seem happy about being wedged into a pillar, so...there's an up side?)

It's somewhat hazardous, having pet zombies on occasion. They get into strange places. Later, in Falln Sanctuary--the sim with the barn and the castle, if you're not sure which of the five is Sanctuary--I found a spider trapped at the bottom of a pond trying to get to a rainbow-striped kitten ball.

I thought that only worked with kittens.

Besides, the ball was merrily bouncing outside the .raw file for the land, so...that spider's never gonna find it.

and you may be acquainted with the night, but I have seen the darkness in the day

Today is International Talk Like William Shatner Day (in honor of his seventy-eighth birthday). You must see that, if you're any level of fan at all--because it's five minutes of everything! It's got instructions on how to talk like William Shatner; it features anecdotes on his career; it has instructions on how to talk like Orson Welles! It's five minutes of everything!

Go watch. We'll wait. (And thank you, Edward, I would not have known had you not sent that to me!)

Now, then. We pick up more or less where we left off yesterday, today with a comment from Yumi Murakami on Cory Edo's post:

The basic problem is that so much of this plan is unstated so far. We don't know:
- what the guidelines and borderlines for content that must absolutely be moved are going to be;
- what responsibilities avatars and landowners on the PG grid are going to have.

For example, "having a sex bed in your house will not get you moved" - well, that sounds OK - but a sex bed, plus a few emotes, becomes a rape scene. A medieval castle with a set of stocks outside might have them used for sexual purposes or might not, how will LL decide? Will it be based on the wishes of the landowner - which might not be respected by visitors, so a user could still encounter adult content on that land?


It's all in how things are used, isn't it? Say you have an attractive pose bed. It has fluttering curtains, a simple linen counterpane, spiraling mahogany posts. It sits at the top of your house, where one-way glass lets you recline upon it and look out a clerestory window.

You bought the bed because it had full functionality, but now, most of the time you use it for cuddling with your sweetie, or just--as some avatars, including me, occasionally still do--laying down to sleep before you log out.

You do nothing untoward or sexual on that bed now. It has everything, but it's not being used.

So. You're off somewhere far from home. Maybe even far from the grid. Some newb hustler and his blonde bimbette of choice break into your house (not that hard, even locking the doors won't stop some people) and find your sex bed. They start writhing on it with their oiled skins and screaming OMG YES THERE OH at the top of their lungs. One of your neighbors gets ticked off, cams in, sees them--and ARs you.

You weren't even home. But now you've got the abuse report team notifying you that your "adult" equipment needs to go, or you need to move.

Is this plausible? Likely? That's the thing, we don't know. And I'm sure discussion is all well and good, but at this point, shouldn't the Lindens have some idea of what they want done?

Cory Edo fails to get the point again:

Again, Blondin said personal stuff in your own house isn't subject to this. Its a moot point to freak out about. And how do you know the people that don't want to live next to an extreme sex club are in the minority? Compared to the people that actually make a living off the extreme sex scene, I'm pretty sure they're not.

All right, let's take your average Jane Rickshaw (apologies if there is an actual av with that name out there, it wasn't intentional). She's maybe calming down from her days as a surfer blonde, she's looking for new property because her beach house rezoned into a dance club, and part of where she likes to walk along the surf takes her into their music range, and she's just not that into "getting jiggy with it".

Someone tips her to Caledon, and she wanders around for a few days, and talks with some of the residents, and decides the land and the people are just adorable, and she must move in. She buys a little parcel in Mayfair, next to someone's mini-castle, and she thinks she's found her home on the grid.

One day, she's out flying (in a hot air balloon, it was just so cute she had to buy one), and she rises maybe a bit higher than she should, losing sight of the ground below. At 900 meters she comes across a square of dark-pigmented stone hanging in midair, someone's skybox. She accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) cams inside and sees stocks. And stretching racks. Things with rings and cuffs attached. She's so very shocked, she stands up and plummets to the ground.

She promptly ARs everyone she can track down, and for good measure complains to the Guvnah. And she tells everyone she knows about how shocked and horrified she is.

1. Is Miss Jane wrong to complain?
2. Is Miss Jane complaining about an extreme adult situation that needs to have the owners of said skybox give up their own parcel of Mayfair and move to Pervistan?
3. Does Miss Jane need to move to a more PG-friendly area herself?

Before you answer any of those questions pro or con, for those who don't know, all the sims of Caledon are private estate lands. In fact, the big names in the sex industry--which isn't what Caledon is in the least--nearly all have their own estates at this point. Private estates will not be affected by this ban/relocation plan; the Lindens have said that much at least.

Let me say that again because it sounds vaguely important: Private estates that feature adult content will not be moved, only "adult-themed" mainland ones.

So what's "adult-themed"? To Miss Jane, that skybox--though clearly above 750 meters, as is currently the restriction in Caledon for adult activity--is far beyond what she thinks she should have to deal with. To anyone else, though? That would be everyday happenings in Caledon. If you don't want to potentially be offended, don't be nosy, goes the thinking.

And again, private estates will not have to move. Necronom VI, the Doomed ship, Toxia (originally started, amusingly enough, as a reaction to the factioning and off-balance roleplay in Lumindor), Midian...none of these places are on the mainland.

So what are people complaining about? Escort services, I'm sure; the tackier of the free sex areas that don't have their own islands as well; strip clubs where noobs wander asking for sex and it's a grind and a half to get tipped. But they mentioned violence as well--and that has to go beyond Jessie's redneck elves, doesn't it?

People continue to wrangle, and Cory Edo continues to wrangle back, for the next ten pages or so; there were some fun comments on either side, but in the end, I decided not to go with quoting either.

What I will say about the various parry-and-retreat sessions going on is this: Cory doesn't get it. He's fixated on what the Lindens have said in these five various threads, which all boils down to Stop worrying, stuph in your home isn't a problem, it's just the stuph that goes way over the line, okay? Like rape and killing and stuph. What we all know is something people just don't want, right?

And therein lies the crux of the problem.

Perceive this clearly: I am not playing advocate for damaging places. I don't care who you are, no one wants a rape for breakfast. That being said, however, that's not what those of us against this plan are really most upset about. What we keep coming back to--and what the other side keeps not hearing--is that the definitions for "Adult" and even Mature are iffier than we want. And perhaps more than a few of us are coming to the realization that the definition for "Mature"--in place years now--has always been iffy.

And we're suddenly feeling a very deep unease, because on the one hand, we're being explicitly told--by Lindens--that skin shops and sex equipment in homes won't label anyone "Adult"--but their very own rules say otherwise. It's confusing, it's frightening, and it's angering.

Ananda Sandgrain sums it up nicely:

How would I measure offense? I have no idea, that's why this is such a troubling issue! Better to allow easily-offended folks to move into a gated community at their own option rather than engage in what could be an enforcement nightmare and encourage witch-hunts all over again like we had with the "short av omg age-play" debacle.

And let me tell you, since I was forefront in most of that, spending a large number of days at that time as a short--but I thought mature-looking--doll--trust me, I got everything from warnings that there would be warnings, to death threats--and no, I'm not kidding. Because I had a key in my back and was under seven feet tall, people took time out of their day to IM me and say I should be ashamed of myself for "being seen like that" and should just kill my avatar and get off 'their' grid.

You think segregating "Adult" businesses and individuals--under any definition--will help this situation? What are the Lindens really trying to accomplish?

While, I likely will continue this off and on, the nail in SL's coffin for me was hammered in by Jeska Linden:

Let's be clear here - this change is not about deleting content or controlling behavior. All of the same content will still be available, just located in a different "virtual" location (and still a teleport away!).

This change is about enhancing Second Life for all Residents by giving them greater control over their inworld experiences. It should help to allow a greater granularity of control over what Residents see, and provide the best available method to make Adult content accessible only to those who ought to (and who desire to) access it.


Let me be absolutely clear here: while all of the advertising, media stories, and interviews that have come out of Linden Labs trump loudly and victoriously about Second Life being the place where we can truly live life again--making different choices, doing different things, and by that same extension, connect to more people, expose ourselves to new ways of communicating and interacting...the Lindens do not believe this.

Listen. Listen carefully. The Lindens do not believe that their game is anything more than a game.

Like WoW. Like Runes. Like PSO. Like Ragnarok Online. Like LoTR Online, City of Heroes...

Hello Kitty Online.

Gaia.

There.com.

Do I even need to continue? We are living in a world that its creators do not believe in. "What's the fuss all about?" they will continue to say. "It's just a different port." I mean, it's not like moving matters, it just means you're shifting to another server, right? It's not like you matter, either, right? I mean, you could still be you, in Second Life...or Ultima...or World of Warcraft...or...any other game, right?

It doesn't matter. Here, there, it doesn't mean anything, so why get worried?

If this is really what they're thinking, I can't think of a single reason other than the friendships formed to stay playing their damned "game"! If it's not more than that, why are any of us in there day after day? Though I did give up my premium membership over their complete and utter mishandling of the Homestead situation, I was contemplating reacquiring it. Now, I can't think of a single reason, including those friendships, why I would.

This is a very bitter place, and I'm going to get away from it soon, because it's very much like bathing in acid while eating tin foil, sharp and disturbingly painful. But right now, all I can think of is--why are they even bothering asking our opinion, if this is what they think of their game? Why not just eliminate adult content entirely, one mouse click, and they can have their "better world"? I mean, it's not like it matters in any way. After all, none of us are real...

When Runes of Magic loads, or one transports within the system to any other location, there is a transit screen with a bearded, strong-thewed Nordic warrior, the scantily-clad lady mage behind him casting powerful bolts from her outflung hand, as monsters encroach. They use this screen to pass on handy tips from the company, as SL does with its load-in screen.

One of their tips is in the nature of a reminder, to remember that every player we see and interact with is a real human on the other side of the screen, so be polite. Be nice. Remember what may seem like a mortal slight or a grievous emotional injury here may not be read in the same way by that other human, so keep it in mind.

I think the Lindens have forgotten we're real people on the other side of our screens. I think they've lost all perspective that we're not just little plastic people with fake names, animated by whimsy and will.

And that, if nothing else, is what will kill this "game". Because if it's just a game, then there's no real need for any emotional--or financial--commitment to it. After all, there are more games out there, aren't there? I mean, none of this actually matters...it's just pixels.

But to some of us, it matters. It matters greatly. Too bad the Lindens aren't listening...yet again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

aspire to survive this fight in spite of liars and travesty

Between having my head partially cave in with the definition of gothic I came across earlier, and a discussion today in the charmingly lovely Marzipan TeaHouse in Kinvara, I may well be picking up sword and shield again and bravely going, yada yada yada, back where I said I would not go.

I specifically went to the last forum entry, the one concerning the upcoming geographical separation of adult content to its own "mainland" space.

Shockwave Yareach set things off on a blistering start:

You are going about this the hard way. Why should WE have to move because you want to combine grids? Why should WE eat the loss trying to sell land that nobody will want now? Why turn our worlds into Disneyland, when it is far far easier for you to create the same land mass, make all new unverified members go there and force it to be PG? You are moving the mountain when it's much simpler to instead move the molehill. Forcing your dedicated hardcore userbase to abandon builds they've put much time and effort into because of your desire to bring little Betty Teenyboop into the main grid... I cannot come up with description that accurately portrays how shortsighted this is!!!

If you force us to move, we'll move all right - straight to the exits.


And keep on going, whether there's another similar world in existence or not.

Alisha Matova had an odd comment:

Ah that's what the new Ursula continent is all about.

Ursula? They named it Ursula? Pervistan is named for...what, exactly? The writer of speculative fiction? Who once said, rather famously, "I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant." Perhaps they mean to reference the bear goddess transmuted into saint, Ursel, from Artemis, known for fertility and abundance, fierce protection and stronger love?

Or perhaps we're talking Disney's Sea Witch? What the hell message are we supposed to be taking from this?

Again, Rosie Barthelmess' entire comment should be read, if you can, but here's the part I had to pull out:

I'm not against keeping up with adult content and making sure it doesn't infringe on others' rights to a pleasant SL experience. As a matter of fact, I'm all for it. I think ad farms and billboards with naked ladies on them and sex clubs who build next to people's private residences are inconsiderate, but I also think they could be dealt with in an ongoing manner on a case by case basis.

I just think since in SL, technically EVERYTHING is publicly accessible, that means someone's sex bed is accessible, someone's music stream with sexually explicit lyrics is accessible, someone's profile that includes links to any adult content themed locations they frequent can become a tool for an AR, and this shouldn't be a matter where some people are forced to wear the scarlet letter because of how they choose to enjoy their 18+ SL experience.


She's right.

Temporal Mitra said, in a much longer post:

More important questions...WHY merge the teen grid at all...why force people that joined SL strictly BECAUSE it was an adult platform..where we could be assured we would be interacting with other adults...to now interact with children? The entire appeal of SL is that you can get AWAY from the kids for a while.

IMVU. Shinobi Legends. Gaia. Most of Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel, the Doll Palace melding of servers and webpages. The endless variations on Legend of the Red Dragon that pop up fortnightly, nearly. Almost everything listed on this page. All designed to appeal to kids.

Most of us didn't want to hang out with kids. We wanted adults. We wanted conversation that wasn't about how miserable having to learn things is. We wanted to converse with people who read books, not mispelled things on cell phones as their only example of literacy. We wanted to know that those we interacted with, on the presumed adult grid, were at least eighteen or older.

Why are we suddenly the essence of evil for wanting something beyond "lulz r u a girl" and "o i c whatev"?

Why aren't the Lindens going about this in about the most cackhanded way possible?

I'm hoping Ewan Mureaux was kidding:

I think we should ban attached prims, because people make guns and penises and if we just banned that then people would be less tempted toward sex and violence.

Shockwave thought so too:

This would eliminate hair, prim clothing like belts and swords, every tool and HUD in existance, and all furry avatars. This will not work.

Cory Edo says in his comment (well, "Cory" with a Y, I'm assuming male):

There seems to be this idea that SL is going to turn into a kindergarten while everyone of adult age is getting shoehorned into their own continent. I'm reading this more as SL will stay the same except for Rapy McRaperton's Sex Play Club on the mainland heads to a continent where people are looking for that sort of thing (and sorry, even if you love that stuff, you probably don't love that stuff 24/7 to the exclusion of everything else).

And see, this is the problem that we're having, here, in this discussion.

I don't think anyone has any doubts that, f'rinstance, a Dolcett Girls Revue ("ten dancers enter...ten entrees leave") has any business next to a church where child avatars are frequently seen. Just to make an extraordinarily polarized example.

I'm also pretty sure that sims like Jessie, Toxia, Midian, and Lumindor in its former "glory" would be shotput en masse into Pervistan, did they not own their own private estate sims. But that's not the point, people.

This is the point: Listen carefully. The Lindens are not giving us enforceable, quantified definitions for what they consider "adult", "mature" and "PG". They say it's "obvious", they say "of course we don't mean", they say "you won't have to move"...they say a lot of things.

But according to their own current definitions, anyone at this point could be reported for abuse if:

* they own a skin that has skin details instead of modesty layers covering nipples and genitalia
* they have a Titian or Rubens painting hanging in their home
* they curse
* they listen to, or worse, broadcast, music with implied sexual content
* they read, or worse, broadcast, poetry with adult content
* they own any bed that can be used for adult play, or has names on the poseballs or drop-down menus indicating sexual descriptions, positions, or parts

and they are on a MATURE-rated sim.

How are we supposed to be reacting? On the one hand we're being told that we'll only have to move if we have publically-available rape machines and shoot people afterwards. On the other hand, we're being told that if we show nude paintings on the walls of our homes, especially if that content features naked children and adults together, we can't be seen in polite company and must move.

Who's right? Who's telling us the truth? I think there's a lot more thinking along the lines of "I know it when I see it", and less along the precise legal and logical definitions of words. Things that would be insanely helpful right about now:

* A formal Linden statement: If you own a sex bed (or other personal items intended for adult use), and it is rezzed out in your home, you do not need to move. If you own a sex bed, and it is rezzed out on the street in front of your home, you will have to move, or remove the offending adult content.

* A revising of their current definitions for Adult, Mature and PG, and who's going to fall into which category across the grid.

* A confirmation (hells, even an initial outline!) of how people will be compensated and/or aided if they do have to relocate--or are the Lindens again expecting folks just to swallow the costs (as they did when banks and casinos were declared illegal) and move anyway?

Any one of these would cause tears of relief to stream down the faces of some residents. That the Lindens seem consistently "oh, you just don't understand yet" chipper about these things, and/or continue to constantly and consistently vague things up for us is driving many of us stark raving mad.

Still sick and tired of this whole thing, but now tired overweighs the sick, and I'll be off to bed. More rants, maybe; more music, definitely, once I warp back into an okay space for it. (As the roommate mentioned is still bringing up the argument with points on why she's right....it may be a few more days yet.)

Lastly, a bit of news: We finally finished the Magic of Oz hunt, I never got a SLUrl for it, my apologies; but the offerings are again stellar, and remember, it ends today, so if you want in on it, go get those gold coins NOW!

Friday, March 20, 2009

pick up the pieces of my yesterday-old thrill

I have been searching for this silly thing (and here's a link to a larger version) for eighteen months. It took that long to narrow in enough on the brand name to find it!

Apparently, it was directed by Spike Jonze for Sprite. Somehow, that just adds to the amusement.

(This has nothing to do with SL. Save for I've been talking to folks in SL about the frustration in finding it! Moving on.)

The Magic of Oz gold coin hunt is still going on; FallnAngel Design's Ostara hunt just started. We'll be setting up search parties soon; I'll post links when I can. The Magic of Oz hunt ends on the 22nd of March and is free to play (if you discount the incredible lag); the Falln hunt ends on March 23rd at precisely 3 AM PST (and don't think he's kidding on that; he means it) and is a hunt with ninety-nine eggs to find, all one Linden each.

Though if you don't think paying ninety-nine Linden for outfits you can normally acquire for five to six hundred Linden, and skins you can normally acquire in the 1500 Linden range, is more than fair--well, then by all means, don't come hunting. Because the rules are strict and Azriel is He Who Must Be Obeyed.

In other news, Runes of Magic is now live. Amazingly, while I fully expected it, like WoW and so many other MMORPGs before it, to go pay-for-play it remains free. Runewaker and Frogster are essentially expecting the game to pay for itself by selling a type of currency known as "diamonds" (and its more advanced stage, "rubies"--the cost and return of which, I believe, has not been fully worked out yet), which can be used to buy items in the Cash Shop, as well as make changes to the in-game avatars--things like, changing costume color (both primary and secondary tinting), hair color, skin color, and the like--in addition to making changes to weapons on occasion, and mounts (of which there are now at least three--horses, in various shades, ostriches, which are already termed "Chocobos" in world, and two types of "war tiger").

It is a surprisingly rich and varied world, with significant challenges, and, though some of us still believe they hit release too early, it's fairly functional for such a quick beta process (December 2008 to March 19, 2009). The only severe problem is in the end game, which they are still coding, and the reason it's a problem is they never expected to have avatars at level 50 already. (Some people really went all out testing the beta, fighting everything in sight, including each other.)

But for levels one to thirty, say, the game works, and even with constant questing, upgrading and slaying of monsters, it still takes a month, easy, to reach very high levels--of actual time, not just committing an hour here or there. So they're convinced--and I think they're mostly right--that more people will be ramping up from level one to level thirty, than are concentrating on the more problematic levels forty to fifty.

They'll have time. And I am quite sure they'll get the problem fixed and under control.

And I have to admit, for all the bitching that's gone on in the forums, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Scout class is perhaps the single most varied and adaptable class in the entire game. Everyone says you have to play Mage/Priest now to be a power hitter, and I vehemently disagree. Scouts are the very essence of trained horse skirmishers without the horse--circling around the battle in the center, primed with various sorts of magical arrow attacks, as well as being able to wields one-handed swords and daggers in melee attacks. While their armor class is low (they can wear leather, and also cloth, if they want to go down that far), they're not intended to be the big brawny berserkers--we have Warriors for that, fully fueled and able to fight enraged. What they do they are excellent at--providing cover fire and staying mostly out of the way, while killing things on the edges and supporting other group kills.

(And, in case anyone thinks I'm showing favoritism for Scouts because of personal bias, my main avatar in Runes is a Priest/Knight--I love the Scout class, and my first post-beta character I pulled together was a Scout, working towards likely Mage, or again Priest--but it's just something I've watched, discussed with people, and observed at a distance.)

Which is where I think all the complaining comes in--people want to play Scouts that are able to take a hit of a level seventy Giant Rune Guardian (no lie, they exist, and they're the size of Texas, if Texas were really, really large, and had gears and a club longer than an Oldsmobile station wagon), and still be able to shoot afterwards.

This is patently psychotic.

I may be overstating the case. And to be fair, most of the vocal group of "Scout Haters" now are saying they shouldn't be "forced" to enter melee at all--that they should be happily sitting on a ridge, picking everything off in the meadow below, then go home for dark ale and the nearest handy wench.

Wait, let me retract that--while Runes is an eighteen-and-over game, there are no actual active bits--everyone has "modesty" layers (the men lack nipples, which I just find surreal, and wear leather loincloths, and the women, in a more bizarre turn, wear white cotton bras and panties), which yes, you do have the option to show to the world if you wish, but--really, now: why?

At any rate, it has an amazing variety of things to kill, places to go, people to meet and quests to complete. More than enough to keep anyone busy...until they get around to fixing the higher levels with something that will slay us all by thinking hard.

Check it out, if you want to. It's a neatly run world, and only a small portion of it is still in fractured English (Runewaker is a Korean gaming company, and Frogster hails from Germany, so the translations get highly amusing at times). I have quite enjoyed my time as a beta tester, and I'm definitely looking forward to what they come up with next in Taborea.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

how can I brace myself for razor blades on whips



Sometimes, life takes us strange places. Any life.

In lieu of a formal apology to the usual suspects of the Poetry Slam (each Thursday at five pm SLT, at Winterfell Absinthe--I can make that a SLUrl link later, but just hit me up for a port request around that time if you want to join the mayhem), I'll offer somewhat of an explanation.

Without getting too much into non-SL situations (my personal ones), we live with another maker of things in SL. So many of our conversations in and around the house feature SL to a large extent.

She wanders into our room tonight, where I already sit somewhat stressed because my work on what was to be the next blog entry was taking a lot more thought than I'd anticipated (and ended up making me fifteen minutes late to the Slam), and listened as I read a problematic portion of the entry (concerning Victorian class structure, how rigid it was, and how essentially one was either nobility, of some stripe, and usually born so, or born gutter-poor and rarely elevated past that) aloud.

She asked what I was doing. I explained to her I was trying to identify the core themes of steampunk music...and we were off and running.

In the four hours of intense, heated conversation that followed, we covered eugenics and brutality; Germany's rise to power if unchallenged and weakened by two world wars; potential post-apocalyptic warzones peopled only by the damaged and the mad; the Industrial Revolution, and how necessary it was to save those trammelled underfoot by such social restrictions; the absolute execrable conditions that most lived in during actual Victorian times, in England; the fact that if we had not had the Industrial Revolution, with the concurrent rise of electrical power, over steam power (essentially, if the internal combustion engine had never been invented), we would not have hospitals, colleges, and workspaces that were useable in any of the ways we use them today; the fact that directly due to the advent of mass production, that for the most part, in America, 98% of all citizens are, all factors considered, actually far above what is considered "poverty" in such places like East Timor and Calcutta, India...

...in essence, it went on, and on, and on. And I couldn't think of a way to get out of it, past a certain point.

I'm just concentrating on the music, I kept saying. If I stop, and think through the entire invented history of an alternate time stream in terms of what may or may not have "actually" happened during each year of the developing culture...my brain caves in. I stop writing. I stop talking, because my brain will have evaporated from the pressure. I can't encompass all of that in what I'm doing.

I'm just concentrating on the music.

Just the music.

World wars, Victorian culture, the studies of electrical fields and their affects on plants, Nikola Tesla, social anthropology, and all of this flung like knives back and forth, with me doing my best not to hit for vital organs, and her in near tears trying to make me understand why I was wrong.

Just concentrating on the music. Not really thinking about the rest of it. Just the music. I can't get any bigger or I lose all focus.

Four hours. I'm still shaking, she's incredibly depressed, and neither of us have a resolution.

Save for this. I freely acknowledge that if the internal combustion engine, and mass production, had not arrived, had not screamed out to be invented, we would not have the society we have now. Hands down, she's right there. I acknowledge that if gasoline and diesel had not been the power source for the new engines, that we would not have been able to develop so far, so fast (even if I still also believe we could have been in space by now, but that's a whole separate rant). I acknowledge that having non-coal-powered machines and industry was a much better thing for everyone involved (since coal mining is inherently dirty, dangerous and--to this very day--lethal) than coal and steam power at the time. And I agree that a lot of steampunk's adherents are glossing over the bad, in favor of the beauty of nostalgia when seen through rose-colored goggles.

And we both agree that there is far too much fashion (that whole, slap a gear on it, it's Steampunk mentality), and far too little actual content. We do agree there.

We just...disagree on everything else. And at this point I'm tired, I'm shaking, I'm wanting to just kill everything as prosaic posturing, as--as she said--the "errand of a fool".

Give me a bit, I'll come back to it. But for me, it was, it is...all about the music. Just the music. I really wasn't considering the socio-economic devastation that could potentially occur if Germany won both wars in a culture already conditioned to think that clockwork people--and genetically-engineered people--were reality, not fantasy.

It's too much. I can't go there.

It's just the music. It has to be just the music. I can't think bigger than that. I may be wrong--I may be going about everything in the exact wrong way--and I may be making very, very many mistakes as I go.

But I don't know how else to do it. And the project can get bigger once I'm out of the mass band list. Until then...I have to take it as I'm taking it.

One band at a time. One sound at a time. The music. What is, what isn't. What might be. What can't be. Deal with the visuals and the mentality later.

So. In brief (ish), that's what distracted me tonight. I wish it hadn't all blown up. I doubt I'll be reading anything aloud from the blog past this point.

You are, by the way, any of you who read down to here--perfectly free to not respond to this post. I'm not asking people to choose sides, I'm not pushing for support. But I did pretty much go silent for nearly all of the Poetry Slam, and I wanted to mention a bit of why.

Now. Another topic entirely.

In searching for Baron Wulfenbach's "dirty skin"--a project started by Mr. 1wuz Gray, and which I still haven't found anything on--I decided to search through Xstreet Uncensored. Because I don't tend to browse that side of Xstreet, I don't often see the pop-up warning.

I did tonight, and maybe it was just the fried nerves, but they've made one distinct change in the agreement.

WARNING/DISCLAIMER
You are about to be redirected to Xstreet SL Uncensored.
The adult content within this site is intended for ADULTS ONLY (18 years of age or older). If you are not of legal age or do not wish to view materials of a sexually-explicit nature or you are offended by transgender images or topics, then please click CANCEL now. If you continue to on to view any adult content within this website, you are stating the following:

1. I am an adult over the age of 18 years.

2. I will not allow anyone under the legal age, stated in 1. above, to access any of materials labeled Mature.

3. I am viewing mature content of this site willingly and I understand that by doing so I will be exposed to materials of a sexually-explicit nature.

[OK] [Cancel]


Maybe it's just me, but...exactly when did "transgender topics" become adults-only?