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A Quick Update

So let me just apologize for the lapse in regular updates in this blog. Fall semester is well underway at BGSU, and the Virtual Campus Team is hard at work. Currently we do not have any major projects taking place in Second Life, but we are looking into some new avenues for creating and presenting virtual spaces online.

I am currently researching how to build an online gallery space using the Unity engine. This program has several huge advantages from a content creation standpoint. Assets can be built and imported in Maya, and Unity has an extensive set of built-in effects, lighting possibilities, and event editors. Right now I am working on building a generic gallery space using Unity. I will post some pictures tomorrow of my progress.

Category:  Second Life     

Update

T-minus 10 days until I leave for SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouvver, BC. In the mean time, I’ve been finishing up the SL video projects I was assigned and pretty much just maintaining the island and stuff like that. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Second Life right now, unfortunately. I haven’t heard yet if we’ll be updating the SIGGRAPH gallery on the island for this year, but if we are going to, let’s home I find out soon.

 

My presentation for the Online Communities class went very well. I used my 2007 MacBook Pro, which, despite cleaning out the hardrive and defragmenting the hardrive, just about exploded when I fired up the Second Life viewer. Although I had to run SL at medium graphics, and had to deal with a bit of lag, the technical issues worked themselves out eventually. After showing the class the basics of navigating the world of Second Life, I gave a brief tour of the BGSU island. We went to some nearby islands as well, and explored what other universities and companies are doing in-world. I opened up the floor to questions and suggestions for places to go, and we ended up walking around the most popular freebie store, a replica of the Moulin Rouge, and a zoo. Overall, I feel like the presentation went really well, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to come back again in the future.

Category:  Second Life     

Recap of this week & Looking ahead

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on SL stuff this summer, which is really nice. I’m getting a lot done, but it’s a lot of little things, or big, out-of-world projects that are hard to blog about in small pieces. Since I’m just sitting around tonight watching the Science Channel, I thought it might be nice to post a little update. That said, here is a look at some of the things I’m working on this week, and some things that I’m looking ahead to…

 

  • I’ve made some new signs to place at the Telelhub for the Australian Herpetology exhibit and for Modernist Madness. I still need to make a new sign for the Fate Exhibition. I’ll be putting these signs up and making teleport links soon.
  • I’ve started reading some book on LSL programming, since I’m taking over the programming projects for the SL team at BG. I’m just getting into it, but it’s honestly a lot easier to pick up than I thought it would be. I’ll be sure to post some LSL projects on here as I come up with them.
  • I spent a while this morning cutting video clips for use in a new BGSU Second Life promo video. Tomorrow I’ll probably try to finish editing the video and get it ready for audio work.
  • Next week I’ll start shooting video for yet another promo video, this time on the herpetology exhibit. This will be a sizable undertaking since I’ll need to set up cameras in-world and then pilot some avatars so that I can film the interactions. I have a script for that video, so with any luck I’ll be able to get it done within a week or two.
  • Next Tuesday I’ll be giving a presentation for a class on campus. The class is looking at online communities, and I’ll be explaining what Second Life is, talking about my work with the SL team, and giving a short demo on how to use SL and the kinds of things you can do in-world. I’m pretty excited about it. If I can, I’ll take some video of the presentation and put it online.

 

So there you have it. Lots going on, but not much that is fun to blog about. I’ll keep updating as I wrap up projects, and maybe I’ll keep doing these update posts.

Also, in case you’re feeling let down with the lack of practical information in this post, I’ll share with you an interesting fact I just learned: When a planet is forming, it has to reach 500 miles in diameter before it has enough mass to become a sphere. Until it reaches this size, it’s just kind of a wobbly mass. I thought that was really cool.

Category:  Second Life     

First VWER Meeting at BGSU

Here are some images taken during the first VWER meeting at BGSU. For more information on VWER, check out their website at VWER.org.

 

Category:  Second Life     

VWER 3D Logo

Since work on the VWER build is just about complete (the first meeting is today at 5PM), and since I’m now done with my finals, I decided to build the VWER logo out of prims in world. The logo is made up mostly of rings and spheres, so it wasn’t a particularly difficult build, but I’m really happy with the result.

I started by projecting the logo onto a flat prim to be used as a reference, and used this to match up the pieces of the logo, starting with the outer green ring.

Next I made the green spheres, which I textured with a metallic green texture.

Next I made the gray rings. To build these, I used a 60% transparent gray texture and positioned them behind the other elements in the logo.

After the rings and spheres were built, I made the gray block with the VWER on it. I made the ‘e’ and ‘R’ with a ring and rectangular prim, and used tapered cubes to build the ‘V’ and ‘W’.

Finally, I linked the prims and removed the reference image from the 3D logo.

Category:  Second Life     

VWER Auditorium Build (Part 2)

The second half of the VWER build involved the stadium seating on the other side of the auditorium structure. This space will be used for presentations and for VWER roundtable meetings. We already had some basic seat architecture built, but I worked to integrate this into the existing structure. The space beneath the seating also needed to be a usable space.

The first thing I did, before beginning the seating, was to add railings on the ramps and walkways throughout the auditorium.




I also used railings to create a small observation deck for the main meeting space.

The next step in the build was to replace the walkway on the second floor, above the bleachers. This walkway was left over from the previous build and needed to be reintegrated into the architecture.

I achieved this by realigning the walkway with the top of the bleachers and smoothing the floor until it all matched and fit into the build.

Next, I looked at how to solidify the edges of the walkway on either side of the seating. On the outer side (away from the ramps) I made a small platform and extruded the prim below it to create a solid object. On the inner side I created a similar platform, but left the space below it open.








With the upper walkway more or less completed, I turn my attention to the space below the bleacher seats. This space will most likely be used as some kind of meeting space, so I needed to make defined walls and maximize the space available. I started by making the walls and building an angled ceiling.










There was still a small space left open to the bleachers at the entrance of this space, and I filled the gap by building an extension of the upper-level walkway and extending it to the floor, creating a wall.




The final result was a room with enough space to be used as a meeting room, built right into the architecture of the seats.



The final pieces of the build were to integrate the upper level floors and add railings to the second level. (I also added some footers to railings in the rest of the build.)






With this complete, the VWER build was completed (and just in time for their first meeting).

 

UPDATE: Since completing this build, the VWER group decided on a different approach to utilizing this space, and most of the work done in this post is no longer present in the VWER space. Oh well, such is life ūüôā

 

UPDATE 2: I recently ran out of space to host images on my blogs.bgsu.edu account, so I’ve started hosting them on my personal server space and linking all of the images in posts. If you come across a link that doesn’t work, please let me know in a comment or message. Thanks!

Category:  Second Life     

VWER Auditorium Build

This week the BG Second Life team had an emergency build project that fell to me to finish. The Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) is a group of 80-100 educators and others who meet in Second Life. This group is moving to BGSU’s virtual campus, and a space is currently being constructed for their meetings and round table discussions. The first phase of this construction was to construct an auditorium for the group presentations. This task fell to me the night before a meeting with a VWER representative, so it had to be completed pretty quickly. We decided to use the space previously used to model faculty offices for the VWER build.

 

When I took over the build, there was a floor and some chairs placed, with a presentation screen at the front of the space.

The first step in this build was to create rows of seats for guests. I used the seats supplied and created rows that radiated from the center. The goal was to have enough seating for 80-100 guests.

After the first two sections of seats were built, I turned my attention to the open spaces around the perimeter of the space. This space had been left open and terraformed to make the space descend into the floor, but now I needed a way to connect the various walkways and asiles with the main seating. To address this issue, I began by constructing some stairs on either side of the media viewer.

Once the stairs were completed and joined to the floor, I put in a side asile on the side of the main seating area.

After the asile was built, I moved the wall on the other side of the space inwards. I did this for two reasons: First, I wanted to make the seating space more¬†symmetrical¬†and avoid a large open space on the other side. Second, I wanted to move the wall to expand the hallway on the other side. We’re still not sure exactly what this space will be used for, but it was a bit narrow to begin with and is now much more open and usable.

With the wall moved, I now had a good idea of how the space in the main seating area could be built. First, I made another side asile to match the one on the other side.

The first place that needed attention was where the side asiles connected the front stairs and the radial asiles. I needed a way to fill in this space and add some architectural elements to the space. I started by placing some triangular prims in the space to fill it in.

On top of these prims, I added tall pillars. These pillars helped to divide the space into a seating and presentation area and the asiles in which avatars could move.

Now that the seating area was clearly defined, I added additional chairs on either side of the radial asiles. The final seating area can hold around 105 guests.

Once the seating area was complete, I decided to work on the walkway on the second level of the space. This walkway goes around the inside of the glass at the front of the VWER space, and can be accessed via ramps by the entrance of the structure. In the future, we may add a second level to this presentation space, so I wanted to make sure that the walkway was integrated with the rest of the architecture. I decided to continue the walkway into the side hallway and added some stairs so that it would be accessible from either side of the seating area.

Once the walkway and stairs were completed, the VWER presentation space was essentially complete.

In the next week I’ll be working on the other half of the VWER space, which is located at the other end of the building. This will have stadium seating and will house the actual “round table” used for discussions.

Category:  Second Life     

Wolfe Center Live Look

A small project that I completed this week was building a small viewer screen by the Wolfe Center in Second Life that showed the live webcam feed of the Wolfe Center as it is being built. I was curious about whether it was possible to project a Flash element on a prim, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

 

Category:  Second Life     

Mondrian Madness

My current project in Second Life has been the construction of a pavilion to serve as a launching point to the Mondrian Madness game. In building this structure, I tried to use architecture that would reflect the Mondrian Madness game, as well as the artistic style of Mondrian (the artist).

While researching some ¬†architectural concepts, I came across a pavilion in London, England (Frank Gehry’s Serpentine Pavilion) that I thought would be a good starting point for my structure.

Using the Serpentine Pavilion as inspiration, I built a basic pavilion structure to house the rule board, game buttons, and stat chart.

After constructing some supports, I put a Mondrian texture on the pillars, and added angled roof panels to the top of the structure.

The next step in the construction of this pavilion was to make a floor that reflected the ceiling. To do this I used red, black, white, blue, and yellow prims to make a floor that resembled a Mondrian painting.

I also changed the texture on the pillars to solid red, white, yellow, and blue textures, in order to more closely match the floor.

After a meeting with the BGSU SL team, I decided to reduce the area of the pavilion slightly, and to modify the roof. I repositioned the glass panels to the outside of the support pillars, and also changed their texture to a solid red, white, yellow, and blue. The positioning of these panels was made to resemble a box opening, which I created to reflect the cube in the Mondrian Madness game. I also thinned out the pillars and put a frame around each glass ceiling panel.

Another way that I tried to reflect the architecture of the Mondrian Madness game itself was to have a rotating prime above the main structure. Instead of a cube, I used a pyramid with solid colors on each face.

Finally, I added some small supports to each pillar to hold up the colored panels.

In the future, I believe the goal is to populate the empty space in the pavilion with Mondrian art and images of the Mondrian Madness game.

Category:  Second Life     

ArtsX Recap

Arts Extravaganza was fantastic. After working all day with Brandon to clean up and polish anything left on the Wolfe Center, I ran home to get dressed up and get my laptop. At about 5pm I set up in the Medici Circle/Promusica lounge and began taking the BGSU Thor avatar through the Wolfe Center. The tour was projected on the screen in the room so that everyone could see it. The people in attendance seemed pretty interested in the project, though only a few people came over to talk to me about it (one of which was the Wolfe Center project manager who said that, with the exception of one set of stairs, we nailed it).

At about 7:30 the lounge was closing down, so I unhooked everything and moved to the SL/Minecraft room with the rest of the BGSU SL team. In this room we had set up computers for Wolfe Center tours, Mondrian Madness, and the Herpetology exhibit, and also had computers set up for the Minecraft contest. People coming into our room seemed like they were pretty interested and impressed by our work, and especially in the Wolfe Center tours. On a related note, we had 5 or 6 entrants in the Minecraft contest, and they made some pretty cool stuff, so that went really well.

If I can find some pictures of the events, I’ll be sure to post them. Sometime this week the SL team is supposed to have a tour through the physical Wolfe Center, which I’m very excited about. We’ll finally get a chance to see the progress made and see how it compares to what we’ve built in world.

Over our holiday break I’ll be working on completing the Freebie Store that I was building before the Wolfe Center, and I’m also making some kind of platform/porch/entrance off of the Mondrian Madness game.

Category:  Second Life