Saturday, November 8, 2008

New! Izer Tag at MadPeas :D

Hey, are you are looking for a little FPS action? Come to MadPeas - they've just debuted the new Izer Tag ice arena! What's Izer Tag? An ice varient of Lazer Tag. Round up a team and come on down! Here's the slurl:
All the equipment you need to play is available for free at the MadPeas Ice Arena arrival point. If you need to join the group to use the arena, go for it! MadPeas has plenty of other cool activities - play the Within game and you can even become an Assassin!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Second Life vs World of Warcraft

I haven't actually played WoW, but in conversations with people who do, I have come away with the impression that SL is clearly superior to WoW. I am submitting this point-by-point comparisome to prove it.

All the WoW info comes from so if anything is inaccuate, blame them. Unless it was me who misinterpreted something.... If I did, submit a comment below, and I will fix it as soon as I can. Flames and gratuitous insults will be cheerfully fed to my pet dragon. Anything marked [off the website] is a direct cut'n'paste from the WoW website. Easier than paraphrasing, and more accurate.

Minimum cost to play:

-->WoW: Info is scanty, but it appears that a temporary free account is available. If you want to continue past a certain point, you have to buy one of those boxes you see at gaming stores.

-->SL: Free! You can sign up with a basic account, and never upgrade to premium. You only need a premium account if you want to buy land. Even then, basic account holders can buy land from other players.

Character types available:

-->WoW: Eight character races: Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes, Night Elves, Draenei, Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Undead, Blood Elves, Orcs.

-->SL: Anything you darn well please. The default is human, but you can make yourself into anything someone can imagine. All you have to do is buy or make an avatar. (In SL, avatar or "avie" refers both to your graphical representation inworld as well as the appearance of that representation.) I personally own several dragons, teddy bears, dragonflies in multiple colors, a bee, a giant hand, llamas, a "carnifern" (aka Audrey II), a small rolling rock, a puffball.... Robots are popular. I have seen someone wearing a toilet avie. Yes, a toilet!

Character classes available:

-->WoW: Nine character classes: Druids, Hunters, Mages, Paladins, Priests, Rogues, Shamens, Warlocks, Warriors, Deathknights.

-->SL: Ain't no such animal. You choose your own role in the world. Some of the role-playing sims may have "classes", but you leave them behind when you leave the sim.

Character professions available:

-->WoW: Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Cooking, Enchanting, Engineering, First Aid, Fishing, Herbalism, Jewelcrafting, Leatherworking, Mining, Tailoring, Skinning, Inscription.

-->SL: Profession doesn't belong to your character so much as it belongs to you, and depends on the skills you bring to SL or develop there. Semi-skilled jobs include security, club dancer, escort, model. Skilled jobs include builder, scripter, club dj, animation maker, texture maker, clothing designer, jewelry designer, business owner, real estate speculator, teacher.

Character levels:


-->SL: None. An avie under a certain days old (generally 30, but sometimes up to 90) is considered a newbie, and is often eligable for free items and events that older avies don't qualify for. Otherwise, all avies are equal in power.

Character death:

-->WoW: [off the website] You will immediately be able to release your spirit as a ghost, at which point you will be transported to a nearby graveyard. As a ghost, you must run back to the vicinity of your corpse to revive yourself.

-->SL: Avies are immune to physical damage; even a 20-story drop will only damage your avatar's pride. Certain areas are "damage enabled"; when you run out of hit points, you are teleported back "home" (wherever you have home set to).



-->SL: The major methods of transportation are teleporting and flying (yes, everyone in SL can fly!) Others include cars, motorcycles, airplanes, balloons, boats, various riding animals, flying carpets, jet packs.... In short, whatever someone can imagine and build. When can you obtain transportation? When you have the money - on your first day if you have a premium account or credit/debit card or Paypal account.

How much can you carry?

WoW: [off the website] Bag space will be a premium in the early levels. Your initial backpack holds up to 16 items, but you may find that it fills up all too quickly.... You can also buy bags from NPC vendors and from other players.

SL: Inventory space is unlimited, at least in theory. In practice, you want to keep your inventory small enought so it loads in a reasonable amount of time. "Small enough" is a matter of opinion, but 5,000 items is a good number to shoot for. See my blog entry on inventory organization for more on SL inventories. Not only that, but there is no encumberance in Second Life. People can - and do! - wander around carrying entire houses in their virtual backpacks.

What is there to do here???

-->WoW: From what I can tell, it's basically Dungeons and Dragons - kill monsters, collect treasure, buy equipment, level up and buy more skills, kill more monsters, rinse, repeat.

-->SL: The D&D experience is available in a game within SL called Darklife. But when you're bored with that, there's Combat Cards (an in-world collectable card game); Tringo, Zingo, and other semi-gambling games; skydiving; horseback riding; nightclubs; treasure hunts.... A lot of people spend most of their time simply exploring. If you are a creative type, you can build things - rez the basic building blocks straight out of thin air! That's only a small scratch in the surface. See my blog entry on activities for more - but even that entry only covers a small portion of available activities.

Okay, more of this entry will come soon, but it's 2:30 in the morning and my brain is shutting down.

Update: Still working on this post. :P

Monday, October 27, 2008

What is there to do in Second Life?

I get asked that frequently, especially when I'm hanging around NCI Kuula. (NCI is short for New Citizens Inc., it's a newbie help group. Kuula is one of their sims.) I generally ask them, "What do you want to do?" That's not a stupid question. Just about anything you're in the mood for, you can find somewhere in SL. The secret is the Search window.

At the bottom of your screen, you'll see a button marked "Search". Click it, then select the tab for "Events". You'll see a pull-down menu with several catagories; including Education, Games/Contests, Sports, Discussion, Music, and Nightlife. Pick a catagory and click Search. The events will be displayed by date and time. You can also sort by name if you wish. Be sure the box marked "Show Mature Content" is checked - even if Mature content is the last thing you're looking for. The Mature rating on a sim doesn't mean it *has* mature content, only that mature content is allowed. Many cool PG sims are located on Mature rated land.

A feature that many oldbies don't even know about: Have you find an event you want to attend, but it's happening sometime in the future? Just click the button at the bottom of the screen that says "Notify". The system will automatically send you a reminder pop-up about 5 minutes before the start of the event, and even give you a teleport button so you can find it fast! Nifty, eh? The event was canceled or you changed your mind? Just click the button again (this time it will be labeled "Don't Notify") Unfortunately, you can't make it display only those events you have marked for notification. I've sent in a new feature ticket requesting it. Maybe someday soon....

Also, keep an eye out for posters advertising events you may be interested in. Most of them are scripted to hand you a notecard, when touched, that you can keep as a reminder of the event. The notecard will often contain a landmark so you can find the event easily.

My profile pic shows me at one of my favorite sims, MadPea Productions. This is a great place for all kinds of puzzles to solve, or just to hang out with a bunch of fun and crazy (in a good way!) people. Here's where to go:

With all the happenings going on in SL, there's no excuse to be bored! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Inventory Control

When you're brand-spanking new in Second Life, you may only have a couple hundred items in your inventory, and finding stuff is easy. Beware! Once you find the freebies (and that will happen fast, since there are many at Help Island, your first stop after Orientation Island), your inventory will explode to several thousand items. Keep a tight rein on your inventory! Second Life has no set limits on inventory size - your only limit is the time it takes to log in. The more inventory you have, the more items have to load, and that takes more time.

I'm trying to get my inv down to 15k (15 thousand). Right now I'm at 23k. I've still got a ways to go. :P

Some tips on how to tame the inventory monster:

1) Go through and eliminate duplicates. This is both easier and harder than it sounds. Easier because you can set your inventory to sort by name, and items with the same name will show up together. Harder because sometimes identical items will have different names. Especially textures.

When you're doing a mass search-and-destroy on dupes, it helps to throw them all into one folder so you don't have to search for them one by one.

2) Put stuff into folders. Just like on your hard drive, folders makes it easier to find things when you need them. You can have folders in folders too. For instance, if you were sorting textures, you can have folders for Fabric, Wood, Stone/Brick/Concrete, etc., and then sort those int sub-catagories, eg., Fabrics>Floral, Wood>Planks, Stone/Brick/Concrete>Marble, etc. Just don't go *too* far, or you'll have a heck of a time finding what you need.

3) Use keywords and special characters. If an item can be modified, it can be renamed. (If it can't, you can always throw it into a folder and rename the folder.) Torley shows this in one of his tutorials. He used the example of a red go-cart: (red vehicle cart), although I would abbreviate vehicle to veh. You're probably wondering why you don't just throw it into a Vehicle folder. Well, you can - but the keyword helps you round up all those vehicles to include them in the folder!

Special characters: I use special characters on folders that I want to sort in a particular way. If I want something to show up at the top of my inventory or the folder it's in, I use *, !, or ). If I want something to show up on the bottom, I use ~. I haven't worked out the exact sorting order, but it probably follows the standard ASCII order. I also use n), where n is a number or letter. This is handy for when you don't want things in strict alphabetical order.

4) Empty your Trash frequently! Until you empty that puppy, stuff inside still shows on your inventory count. This is bad if you're trying to slim down your inv; good if you deleted something by accident. It's not gone gone till you empty the trash. Until then, you can root around in there and reclaim anything that's not supposed to be there.

5) Toss whatever you're not using! I'm a packrat in real life and it carried over into Second Life, so I know it's painful to throw things away. You're always thinking, "What if I need this someday?" Suck it up! If you won't use it, don't give it a home. In Second Life you don't have to worry about recycling, landfills, hazardous waste, etc. - all those items you cherish are really nothing but records in a database. Freebies in particular can be nuked without a qualm - if you really need that item again, you can go grab another copy.

6) If you really, *really* don't want to nuke that item (eg that sports car you paid L$5000 for), you can always toss it into a prim. Just go to a place where you can build, rez a box, go to the contents tab, and drag your item(s) into the prim's inventory. Name your box something you can find later (I like to use the keyword (arc) to find my storage prims), and take it into your inventory. Now you can nuke the originals in your inventory. Caution: if you put No Modify items in the prim, the whole prim will become No-Mod (ie, you won't be able to change the name). It's best to rename the prim before you add the contents just in case. Yeah, I know I should have written it that way above, but I've got a cat in my arms and it's hard to type! :P

I have no idea how many items can be put into a prim. I suspect you can put your entire inventory into a single prim if you have a mind to. But that would be a bad idea. For one thing, it would make it incredibly hard to find anything (you can't search a prim's inventory); for another, prim inventories take just as long to display as a regular inventory does to load. Also, you can't access a prim's contents unless you can rez it. Oh, you can temporarily "Wear" the prim on your hand in a no-rez zone and get at the contents that way, but you'll look like a complete noob.

Storage prims can be put into other storage prims. You cannot put folders into prims, you have to open the folders and put the contents into the prim. But you can make a prim for each sub-folder, then put these "sub-prims" into a main prim. And the main prim can be put into *another* prim. And so on.

Full-perm items (ie, items which allow copy, modify, and transfer) can be stored on notecards. This is convenient because notecards don't have to be rezzed to access the contents. Just create a new notecard, RENAME IT, and drag your items onto the notecard. Save the notecard. Nuke the original. These archive notecards can even be put onto other notecards if you still need the space!

7) Speaking of storage prims, don't forget the virtues of specialized organizers. These include posestand/animation organizers, texture organizers, and sculptie previewer/organizers. They're basically glorified scripted prims, but they are really handy for seeing just what you have. Unless you're good at scripting, you'll want to obtain them from a third party. Try out the freebie organizers from Yadni's (Leda/210/28/54) or the Stillman Bazaar (Stillman/146/122/31) before you spend money.

Last word: Inventory control is an on-going process. It's been said that inventory sorting is the most popular hobby in Second Life. :) Don't think just because you've whipped your inventory into shape that you can sit back and relax. Every time you get something new, you will need to put it in its place. And inventory organization is not writ in stone. What works for you now may not work six months from now, and you'll have to reorganize.

I will probably be adding to this post as I think of more tips, so keep an eye on it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Before you begin Second Life....

Make sure your computer meets the minimum requirements to run Second Life! This can be found at the official website, You *can* run Second Life on a half gig of memory (I've done it), but your computer will freeze and/or crash often. Do yourself a favor - pony up the scratch for a memory upgrade. Your computer will thank you.

You will need to download and install the viewer - a program that runs Second Life on your computer. Linden Labs (the creators and owners of Second Life) frequently updates the viewer to promote stability and fix bugs that crop up here and there. Some people find that when they upgrade their viewer, it doesn't work well on their computer, and they have to reinstall the previous one. My suggestion: when downloading the installation files, use the Save option. When you're done installing, keep the files in a safe place. This way, if you find your system is allergic to the next upgrade, you will have the old one handy to reinstall.

When signing up for Second Life, keep in mind that you CANNOT CHANGE YOUR AVATAR'S NAME! Anything else about your avie, including species and sex, can be changed any time you darn well please, but the name is carved in stone, as it were. Make sure the name you choose is something you can live with! The only way to get a new avatar name is to make a new avatar, known as an alt (for alternate). Currently, the cost of an alt is $9.95 per alt.


Hi, I'm Firebird Nightfire, and I'm writing this blog to share various hints and tips I've picked up around Second Life. This is geared for Second Life newbies - but heck, even oldbies might find some useful snippet here and there.

I don't guarantee regular posts, cos I tend to have a short attention span for this kind of thing. All I can say is keep checking back.

Eventually, this will most likely have a lot of Second Life building tips, cos that's what I do best. I've taken a lot of classes, and picked up a lot of tricks. Well okay - here's my first tip: If you want to really learn how to build in Second Life, take building classes! Sure you can teach yourself, but classes are a whole lot faster. And you can pick up nice textures and scripts for free! Start with lvl 1/beginner classes. Yes, even if you think you know how to build. If you taught yourself, it's most likely you've missed some things that are covered in the beginning classes.

If you have any tips you feel should be here, send em to me!
IM Firebird Nightfire in SL
or, email me at oo7ofnine(at) (substitute @ for (at). I don't want spambots finding me.)