Friday, January 14, 2011

I don't make the rules, dear

Shamus Young strikes again: this time with his strange and surreal tale of that famed superhero, Star on Chest. Follow his fledgling adventures through Champions Online (which, in a few short weeks, will go free-to-play).

In other news, Blue Mars is going under...sort of. While the PC version of the software will remain active--at least for now--the main focus of the company is shifting radically to mobile devices, over platforms and PCs.
"The focus for the first version of Blue Mars Mobile is avatar style and rankings. The initial versions will allow people to share their Blue Mars avatars through a native iOS application. In the next few months, an app store for clothing, Facebook Connect integration, avatar snapshots, account registration, and character customization will be added. The items you have created or own will already work with the mobile version as will the Blue Mars item creation tools."
Translation: it sounds like they're going to combine Rate My Avatar with IMVU subfunctions to generate an iPhone/iPad version of playing dress-up, and screw the virtual world part entirely.

I realize it's likely a huge blind spot, but I don't like Facebook. I think it's creepy, I abhor their insistence on real names, and I don't feel safe there, which is why I'm not there. With so many games and programs trying to access those sleeping millions with Facebook accounts, to the point of becoming mini-Facebook clones themselves, originality and diversity are falling by the wayside.

Read GoSpeed's blog from a 2009 Blue Mars visit and contrast that hopefulness with the current announcement. Not only that, but again--the land options in Blue Mars are phenomenal (and will be ignored with the shift to mobile), and the avatars suck beyond the telling of it (and will become the focus of the shift to mobile). Who said this was a good idea?

Oh, right, the Blue Mars developers.

Sanya Weathers sent out a bare-bones 'think before you post' adviso, and I'm taking it perhaps more to heart than I should. Partially because of a conversation earlier this week held with Renee Lowenhart.
[06:10 PM] Renee Lowenhart: What you do is just mean. I feel bad for you Emilly. I know from experience in my RL career that people that push this much negativity on others usually have a lot going on in their personal lives. If you need to talk to someone I will listen. But I do encourage you to talk to friends.
First off, I want to state for the record that it takes a great amount of courage to reach out to someone you perceive as hostile, and attacking you, and make the offer to listen, or to befriend (which she offered later). That takes a hell of a lot of willpower and personal strength.

I give her full points for that, but I admit, the rest of the conversation had me thinking for several days.
[06:06 PM] Renee Lowenhart: (Saved Tue Jan 11 17:55:13 2011) You are very cruel for making comments like that. Have you ever considered what it can do to a person emotionally? Khala is under 5 feet has a tiny waist but extremely curvy. I know this because her picture is on skype and just saw it.
So, now I'm having to face a few things.

First, do I think I'm a bully? By my definition, no. Bullies, to me, are people fighting for the status quo; for some form of societal 'purity'; and people who get that sense of personal empowerment when others are brought low. Maybe I'm working from the wrong definition, but that's not the reason why I do anything I do on this blog.

Second, am I lashing out because I have personal problems? That one, the jury's still out on. I have to say, and say clearly, that regardless of what's going on in my personal life, my blog's pretty much always been like this. But has it gotten worse as problems surface in the background? Honestly, I don't know. I may literally be too close to it to get an adequate grasp of things.

But Renee said I hurt Khalania by 1) not deleting what another avatar said in comments to the Fabfree entry (which I won't do), and 2) agreeing with said avatar and identifying her by name (which the initial commenter didn't do).

Okay. That was wrong, and I'll even agree, mean of me to do. And I offer Khalania full and sincere apologies for that.

How'ver, as I pointed out to Renee, it wasn't about her shape being her shape, SL or RL. It was about her shape distorting the mesh.

Let me see if I can explain. In RL, when you look at your hand, you'll see lots of different shapes forming several moving cell types for skin--octagons, rounded squares, rounded rectangles, triangles, diamonds, stretched and/or curving lines. It depends largely on where the skin is, how it stretches, the amount of sun exposure it's gotten. Generally speaking, though, our skin allows for curves easily because it is highly complex.

In SL? The mesh isn't that complex. Our "skin" is different. In this case, it's not the skin we wear (which, as far as the programming is concerned, is pretty much just a layer of paint over the "skin") but the shape underneath. And this "skin", the mesh, is comprised of triangles, squares, and the occasional polygon. All of them are pretty much set in place. They don't move, they don't shift. This is a drawing of what that looks like on the face and upper body. See what I mean?

Because of this, it's really easy to go past the limits of what the mesh contains when one is making an underlying shape for skins and distort it to the point of peaks, not rounded curves.

Several things to keep in mind: if you are an Ishtar-shaped woman (and they're out there, one of my best friends has this body type) and you want that body shape on the grid, what you need to keep in mind are the sliders for Saddle Bags and Hip Width--don't necessarily just go to 100 on one slider and call it good. Ease it up slowly, make frequent additions to the numbers on Saddle and Hip Width, make sure that your shape still has the roundness you want, and it works out.

If you just max out your Butt Size, and don't touch any other slider? You get angular distortion on the mesh, every single time. It doesn't have anything to do with being "fat" (here or in RL); it doesn't have anything to do with being "unattractive" (here or in RL); and note, in the original post, and here, I'm not saying Khalania is either of those things. I'm simply saying she's got a bad case of mesh distortion and she needs to fix it. What you're after in any basic shape alteration is smooth curves, not angles (unless that's really what you want). People don't have butt angles in RL (unless they're really, really thin and they've got visible pelvic-bone protrusions), and there's no reason they need butt angles here if a little care is applied to working with the underlying mesh.

If that's still me being mean, then fine, I'm being mean.

More when I think over more of the conversation.

There is a new blog post on the Autogenic blog! No, it doesn't announce new product; it lays the groundwork for an entirely new product line. (Including some items that will likely be offered under a different, potentially more mature, heading.)

(Also: Crie Style's home port in Little is really, really pretty. Clockworks, ruins, water--some of the visual expanses are just breathtaking. And Mr. Allen did a phenomenal job on the pictures he and I took. Most of what you see on that blog post, in fact? Come from his raw images, not mine.)


Icterus Dagger said...


As a friend, and since you did bring it up on your own blog, I have to say: Yes, you DO tend to "lash out" more as your own personal issues flare. But if you read back through your own archive, you'll see that more often than not, you catch that you do, and you analyse the CRAP out of it.

I've heard others say you are poison, but I'll point out that Sumie had always said "they" have it backwards: that you are poisoned. Take from that what you will.

As negative as you can come across at times, you never seem to shy away from being self-critical and you've made honest attempts to improve. Whether or not that's been a success is subjective.

From personal experience, I can tell you that if you end up needing more time explaining what you said than what it took to say it originally, you probably need some help improving communications.

Hang in there, and remember, question EVERYTHING, especially yourself.


Emilly Orr said...

Sumie was a great judge of character.

I have lots of reasons to be poisoned; all I can say is I'm trying to work them out when I find them, and try to do better along the way.

This one is going deeper not so much because of the controversy--or the size of the group in question--but because Renee was quite clear in that I made one blogger cry because of what I said, and one blogger not want to blog anymore.

Half of me is firmly of the opinion that both individuals need to toughen up more and develop thicker skins if they're going to play on the internet--and that may in fact be true--but half of me is hanging back and thinking that's just not right, and if I truly did that, I need to accept responsibility for it. Because that's wrong for anyone to do. I know how much words can hurt, I have been wary of logging in to SL or reading my own blog for that reason. I can't deny it when it happens to someone else.

Sphynx Soleil said...

I'm tempted to say myself that people need to toughen up. But honestly? It's a big world out there, we're both bound to run into people that get butthurt when someone looks at them crosseyed. Hell, I've seen people like that in RL. It's frustrating.

Maybe if the technical explanation in this post was included in the original post it might have made a difference? *shrugs*

Emilly Orr said...

And to be fair, both of us, and I think a fair number of our friends, have been through some hair-whitening experiences. And perhaps the two bloggers in question just...haven't. I'm not saying they need to go out and risk life and limb, but it does give one a little bit of perspective, and a little bit more seasoned cynicism, to work with.

I honestly don't know if the technical explanation would have helped; in the first post, I carefully didn't bring anyone else up, because I had a specific focus in mind. But by the time comments were rolling in (and for every comment I get, I still get five or six, on average, "You suck!" or "You're evil!" comments in world), I was irked, I was overtired, I was spaced out on Vicodin...and I just didn't care anymore that I was still dealing with people on the other end of the line that could be hurt by anything I said.

Sphynx Soleil said...

Maybe, then, go back to that post and link this one? Something like "Think before you bitch - read the technical explanation here"?

Emilly Orr said...

Maybe, save for if you read through the comments on the entry in question, it's pretty clear that at that point I'd just gotten irked with the whole march of the anons.

Serenity Semple said...

Wow a little taken aback by this one. Hard to believe no one has said anything negative about certain 'peoples' shapes. I mean really? I get critisized all the time just for being a furry, not even shape. People will ALWAYS judge others. Do they deserve the right to? No, but they'll do it forever and that's just the way things will always go. Maybe because they think it's a virtual world that people are more accepting or something, but they're dead wrong. XD There's no other way to word that one either. People will always do usually what they want and express themselves how they see fit. It's kinda human nature in a sense - but trying not to go too deep into that... Yet I would applaud Renee for trying to befriend you or whatever, but doing that AFTER bitching about you to her group - ya sorry no applause. That's like, sorry for the really bad analogy here, saying you hate mice - kill mice - then sneak a mouse a piece of cheese behind everyones back!

On another note, kinda sad for the Blue Mars thing cause I never got to check it out. But if the avatars don't look good, then I usually can't play the game anyway. If a game lacks a story for the most part...then I'm stuck looking for the prettiness. Kinda like GrimGrimoire for PS2 - story was kinda meh but it was just sooo beautiful. Anyways enough of a way too long comment. XD

Rhianon Jameson said...

Miss Orr, you're opinionated, forward, brassy, stubborn, and doubtless other adjectives I can't think of at the moment. Introspective. Critical of yourself and others. But mean? Mean speaks of deliberate cruelty. In my time of reading your blog, I don't believe I've ever kown you to be mean.

No matter how hard one tries in being straightforward and fair, there will always be those who take the comments personally. Don't let it bother you.

One great thing about the Aetherwebs is that one can choose to look away from those parts that are offensive. So too with your blog if a reader finds your style too direct.

Fogwoman Gray said...

I'm with Rhiannon on this one. I certainly don't always agree with you, but I still read because you have some great insights. You also blog about stuff I know little or nothing about so I even learn stuff :)
I also suffer from a bit of cognitive dissonance - I want to be Florence Nightengale but more often wind up becoming Lizzie Borden :)
So we still have work to do, which is likely why we are here in the first place!
I think that it is helpful to some that you are willing to show your work.

Emilly Orr said...


Pretty much with you on both comments. I never had the tech necessary to check out Blue Mars; now, unless it comes out in a non "rate my cool avatar on Facebook" mobile app, I likely won't try it, period.

As far as the new bloggers, parsing from the Renee I think what she's trying to get across is that she and Whisper get a ton of comments, and just tough it out, because they know they're beautiful and screw the world; but the new writers don't have that same willpower and are more easily hurt by negativity.

Which, again, I get, believe me; but as you said, people will be people. If they're high-minded in the least, it will be 'don't be so cruel to people we care for'; in the hands of lesser individuals that turns into personal attacks (within moments of Renee revealing the blog URL, f'rinstance, someone said I must be unstable and had a swelled ego; someone else sarcastically asked, 'Does this blog post make my ass look fat?').

So it happens, people are people, I know that, but also, if it takes a single call and response to reduce someone to tears? Again, that has to be a call to work on some personality reinforcement, and toughen up a little.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

Oh, believe me, I've said mean things on the blog. But it must be said, my definition of 'cruel' and others may be vastly different things. My saying that particular blogger needs to work to smooth the mesh angles on her shape, so it more accurately reflects an organic structure was seen as mean-spirited and cruel by someone else. Was it mean? How I said it in comments was. But deliberately cruel?

No. To me, deliberately cruel would have been relishing each moment of another's pain, and I just don't. But I used to, and perhaps that's what's making me ponder this issue more than I would have normally.

Emilly Orr said...

Lady Fogwoman,

I would mildly offer a correction: Lizzie Borden was acquitted. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for not deleting my post, in my opinion Renee is doing a type of bullying and manipulation herself. Did she think of how I would feel if my words had been deleted? To me that's much worse than anything I've said. Post deletion should be reserved for things like racial slurs. For the record, I was also talking about the mesh and limitations of SL avatars. The shape she wants is not coming through in Second Life. Maybe she thinks it looks like the real life her but it does not. You can't really be anything you want, you have to compromise or start using prim avatars. Otherwise the weird angles, clothing distortion and such will happen.

And Renee was trying to guilt trip you, make you feel bad for hurting someones feelings. See what you did, you made her cry. But who showed her that post? I'm guessing Renee showed it to her. Renee caused her more pain when she posted it in fabfree for all to see. Of course, I don't agree that what was posted is something worth crying about. I think if someone is crying over their avatar's shape, then THEY are the ones who are obviously working through some serious life problems. But Renee didn't feel that way, from the start she didn't agree with the post. Then she should have kept it to herself, even if the new bloggers stumbled on it themselves they could just shrug it off and say to themselves "she's just jealous, noone reads her blog." Instead thanks to Renee their faces were rubbed in it, as if you had posted this under the fabfree blog.

I hope that when you say you thought about it a lot, you didn't feel guilt or regret. I don't think I'm a mean person and I'm not happy when a person is upset, but I do get ...what's the word...indignant or something when someone reacts the way they did. As if your post was worthless and aimed to cause pain, and as if you are damaged because you posted it. It's wrong about the post, and whether or not you have some damage (what human doesn't) I don't feel that it matters in any way as far as that post goes.

Sort of offtopic, but what made the BlueMars land options so great?

Emilly Orr said...


Actually, I'm pretty specific: I auto-delete spam (unless it's interesting), and (most of the time) double posts, and that's about it. Everything else I figure, they had a reason to say what they said, so I leave it up.

As far as I know, Stolan got mailed the link-back and Renee gave the entry's URL out in a group chat session. Was Khalania in that group chat session? No clue. Did someone send her, as someone sent me, a transcript, so she could go read what was said? (And, as you and anyone know who's read that entry, the entry says NOTHING about Khalania, only the comments mention her, and only mine by name) Again, no concept on what happened.

As far as what I'm feeling, it's less guilt and regret as it is deep consideration. I am damaged; I openly admit that. And I do have problems communicating thoughts, ideas, concepts. (One of my loves still takes that pause to reflect in some conversations: 'She's not saying that to piss me off, breathe, ask her why she phrased it that way, she's not doing it deliberately.' And I'm not. I just say things really, really badly a great deal of the time.)

I'll honestly lay half of the ensuing drama at Renee's feet; I have done my best to present her in a favorable light, but she gets her digs in, and it's very much as you said: "See what you did, you hurt that poor avatar! Bad blogger!" Now, as far as she goes, she may (and I make the assumption that she does) genuinely hurt for her people, and feel for them, and want to protect them. I get that, absolutely. But if she really wanted to protect them, she would have done one of two things:

* never mentioned the blog post, then, if it came up, dismiss it: "Oh, that thing? You don't need to stress over that. She's obviously so wrong, it's just silly."


*mention it deliberately, emailing everyone who might be affected by it, with a personal note saying "See? This is the kind of nonsense you can expect. It doesn't mean anything, and you're doing fine. Ignore it."

And yet, she did neither of those things.

As far as Blue Mars, from what I understand from Desmond (which isn't that much, I grant), they had a better graphics engine to render larger sims, plus they had stricter control on designers, including sim designers, so no issues of copyright, no people in the game who didn't pay to be there, no makers of items who weren't vetted in advance. With game-approved designers and a population that paid to get in, at the time the land options were highly sought after, for good reason.