The Eponymist

A Secondary Life, with twists

The Eponymist

A Secondary Life, with twists

Monday, June 25, 2007

Animations and where to get them, Part 1

Last time -- so long ago! -- was about animation beds and how to customize the devPose, so this time I'm going to throw some quick hits on places to actually get the animations themselves. With my personal favorite, Deviant's devPose by Riann Maltese, all you need is the animation files, a notecard to set it up, and a little editing skill.

Bits and Bobs
Animation files themselves don't have an in-world substance, they're like textures or scripts, you can't rez them.Which is another reason we have poseballs. It's fairly simple to buy a poseball set, drag the animation file out of the ball and into your inventory, and from there, into to the bed base. Keep in mind that you'll be breaking the poseball by doing this, but since they usually only contain a simple posing script, it's no big loss. One value of poseballs is, they're usually positioned and rotated to adjust the placement of the animations, so you'd do well to take note of the relative position and rotation. If you do some math based on that, you can get an idea of how best to place the balls when you're setting up the pose on the bed. But for that, you have to be an experienced Edit box user, which not everyone is. Suffice to say that I have an Inventory folder called "empty poseballs", in case I want to put the poses back.

That's all information that's usable if you want to pull animations out of poseballs, but ironically, the first animation store I'm going to mention is one where sometimes, you don't want to do that.That would be Bits and Bobs, Craig Altman's store. You many not know the name, but you know the animations. It's easily the most popular 'poseball store' in SL, and although he's not responsible for all the animations the store sells, they all meet a consistent standard of quality that stands above. The ground level of the main store is the 'utility' area, with all kinds of sitting and 'household' poses. The side room and upstairs is strictly romance, from cuddles to sex to weddings -- and they're all good.

If I have to only mention one Bits and Bobs animation, it would be 'Lovescene'. It's easily the best sex animation in SL, not for how dirty it is, but how expressive and compelling. It's not really a pose, but a series of synchronized animations which takes a few minutes to cycle through. And for those people for whom sex poses are evocative of the real thing, its effect is profound. Lovescene isn't a sex pose, it's a lovemaking pose. And this is one of the poseballs that you don't want to take apart. It has a series of ten to twelve or so separate animations that the script runs through, from the initial clinch, to foreplay -- yes, actual foreplay -- to a genuinely hot missionary pose that always, always makes her swoon. Okay, I sound like a hookup artist, but take your SL sweetheart down to Bits and Bobs and try it for yourself. The quality is in the flow of movement and the timing of the interplay between the avatars. Bits and Bobs sells a lot of other poseballs that have single animations you can pull out and add to your custom bed. But for Lovescene, taking the animations out would destroy that functionality, so it's best to keep Lovescene intact someplace, on the couch at home, or in your Inventory for 'romance emergencies'. I could say similar things about 'Devotion', but either you've heard of these two items, or you need to.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Deviant does it best

DeviantI finally got inspired to lay out some more opinions when my friend Silver from SLProfiles made a comment about posing beds. She was saying she'd prefer to add her favorite animations to 'a SexGen like device'. My immediate reaction was, "Deviant is better than SexGen!" But then I thought, I know a few good reasons why. And so was born another blogpost.

I'm sure that anyone with a couple of months in Second Life has heard of SexGen. It's the most popular brand of multipose device, allowing two or more avatars to get cycled through poses without having to unsit. Way back in the old days, you had to have a cluster of pink and blue balls covering your bed in SL, and even though you could usually make them invisible, sometimes it was hard to tell which ball was the complement to the one your partner was on. (Anyone remember the 'clusterfuck' bed in the old Celestia club? Excellent example.) So along comes the concept of the multipose system. This merely means that through a menu-controlled script, you can choose what pose you and your partner(s) are in, and the script loads a new animation set on command. I know everyone reading this probably knows all of this already, but I hate leaving people in the dust, conceptually. The physical structure of multipose systems is deceptively simple. There's a one-prim box, and it contains the scripts, the animations, and a few poseballs. The bed, or whatever furniture is associated with it, is nonessential to the working of the multipose system. But necessary if you're going to keep up the illusion of the avatars actually sitting or laying on something.

There are several multipose systems around in SL, but the most successful is SexGen, established by Stroker Serpentine. SexGen beds come pre-loaded with animations, available in different assortments, and they're upgradable to a certain extent. You can visit the main SexGen store, Strokerz' Toyz, in Eros, and see the variety of styles available. There's a good review of SexGen in Sadako Shikami's blog here , so I don't need to reiterate.

One of the problems with SexGen is, the selection of animations that's available is defined by the product you buy. Upgrading them requires buying other, fixed selections of poses from SexGen, and there's a limit to the upgrades you can make to a given bed. And if you don't like the poses, well... tough, really. Sometimes the poseballs that the bed rezzes get thrown out of whack, or perhaps there's a pose that's not quite right for your avatar shape. SexGen has an adjustment system for nudging the balls this way or that, through the menu controls. However, I have yet to see this system function correctly. Overall, SexGen seems a little too 'hard-coded'.

In addition, it's not very helpful that most of the specific models of SexGen come as only one style of bed or furniture. You can fork over the L$12,000 (US$45!) for the 'Purkle Platinum' bed and get ALL the available positions, but you're stuck with a big, honking purple bed that looks like it came surplus from a whorehouse. You may enjoy that style, but likely as not, you don't. Yes, it does come in two other styles, but those aren't much better.

Deviant and devPose

Now, let's turn our attention to the other major multipose system, devPose, created by Riann Maltese. Her brand, Deviant, has its own sim now, and a very atmospheric mall area, which you might mistake for a 'Dark RP' area ( it actually sort of is). DevPose is the brand of that suite of tried and true BDSM dungeon furniture, the throne and spanking horse, wall panel and bench, and St Andrews cross. If you've been to a naughty area in SL, chances are you've seenat least one of these. If you've used them, you know how good they are.

Deviant also has beds available, and despite being fairly conventional in design, they're some of the cleanest, most realistic prim furniture in SL. Definitely better than anything I've seen at Strokerz Toys. And the pose selection, while limited, has pretty much every important pose you need for a nice naughty evening in SL, and they're exceptionally good animations, as well. All of which makes devPose the best preloaded bed in SL.

I'm about to get a bit technical here, so for the purposes of my discussion, when I say "animation", I mean the actual data file that animates the avatar; "pose" when I mean the particular animation that your avatar is run through in-world; and "position" when I'm referring to a combination pose, frequently a sex position.

One of the best features about devPose devices is the built-in feedback. Animations apparently take a good chunk of script memory space in SL, and the SL servers will only allow so much. That means it takes a little while to load a new pose. But once you've clicked the blue-box menu button to select a pose, the devPose device will always show a floating text message that tells you exactly what pose is loading, and how far along it is, up to 100%. This is excellent and useful information in these times of extreme lag -- for one thing, the loading message lets you know if the device is even going to function. I've seen them refuse to, in times of grid difficulty or script lag. The loading message gives you a good idea of how long you'll be waiting before you get the new pose, or even a poseball at all. With SexGen, you click and cross your fingers, maybe for an unspecified amount of time.

Customization? Oh, yes

In the Deviant main store there are a couple of things for sale that demonstrate how versatile it is. These are a couple of simple devPose base boxes, a L$1800 version, which comes preloaded with animations, and a L$400 version, which just comes with the base Cuddle pose. If you even know a little about how to handle customizable objects, then you can work with a devPose. I think the best feature of the devPose system is how customizable it is.

The theory of how the posing system works is, very simply, there are up to four poseballs that can rez on a devPose. Each one can be loaded with an animation for the avatar that's sitting on it. Each animation set is defined by a notecard that's inside the devPose box; it defines the animations used and poseball position. Each notecard has a corresponding button on the devPose bluebox menu. When you click the menu button, it moves or rezzes the appropriate balls, positions them, and loads the animations.

I bought the L$1800 pre-loaded base, and built my own bed to go with it. Once you've linked the base box as the root prim of the bed, the entire bed becomes a clickable object that will activate the pose menu. If you want, you can later unlink the devPose base and link it up with another. Later on, I started adding animations that I'd bought separately, and setting them up with menu buttons. The instructions are pretty clear, and make sense. You add the animations to the box, drop in a new configuration notecard to set it up, start the pose, position the poseballs, get the poseball coordinates from the box's sensor, and edit the notecard again to store the position. Done.

The only thing you might have trouble with is getting someone to help you position the balls, but then, that's the oldest pickup line in Second Life: "I need your help setting up some poseballs..." (Okay, maybe that's a close second to "wanna sex?")

Not only that, but I discovered that it's possible to create new positions with existing animations that are already used for another pose. All you do is create a new config notecard, and set up the positions, and you're done. Plus, the devPose box supports XCite, Sensations, and Lockmeister for each pose, if you like it scriptable that way.

Now, SexGen has this same product, a box that you can link to any piece of furniture. Technically, any SexGen box can do this. Only, they have a whole range of boxes, because they are upgradable, but not really customizable. Deviant only sells one box, loaded or unloaded, because that's all you need. SexGen also has a L$400 system of its own, basically a consumer version of the scripted device they use to create their beds. But the instructions for that take up four notecards, and I honestly never did figure it out completely. It seemed as though you can't do things over if you screw it up. With the devPose system based on individual notecards, you can always fix it.

I don't want to forget to say more about the Deviant products that are the most popular, the devPose dungeon suite. Any good play area with a D/s section has at least two. Now, it's true that not everything great in SL is entirely original, but it's also true that these items are popular because they work so well. They're all driven by the same devPose system, proving that it doesn't have to just be a bed. The poses are well-done, and like any good SL product, they add to the experience.

Bad stuff? Nah.

So, are there cons to all the pro's of Deviant? Well, they're susceptible to all the SL flaws that SexGens are vulnerable to. Lag, script errors, misaligned poses, all the usual stuff. But that's not really the product, that's the environment. So, I guess Deviant has no downsides. Well, maybe one.

Lately, I've noticed the tendency of devPose dungeon items to kick an avatar off if they're not wearing the right kind of cuffs. (for the uninitiated, this is to enable the particle-created chains that make it look like you're actually chained up. Willing potential initiates can contact me here, or in-world.) I have no idea why this feature even exists, but I commonly refer to it as the 'Fascist Lockmeister' feature. If the subject is not wearing Lockmeister attachment cuffs (in this case, the ones that come with the set), the furniture will unseat them and give a brief lecture in green chat. You can get free cuffs from the furniture itself, but for some reason it has trouble recognizing even Amethyst cuffs, one of the most popular purchased brands. I finally had to be reminded by Riann Maltese herself that the Admin menu of devPose furniture has a "Kick Off/On" setting, which means if the button says "Kick Off", clicking it will turn the Kick-Off feature off, and vice versa. Special message to club owners: Turn This Feature Off, Please. Make sure your devPose Admin menu has a 'Kick On' button visible, and nobody will get kicked off. I know that's a little counterintuitive, but you'll get used to it. The reason why the devPose furniture doesn't like other Lockmeister-compatible cuffs is still a mystery, but it's not necessarily the devPose scripting, it may be the Lockmeister protocols.

While taking pics for this post, I ventured out to look around in the Deviant sim a little more, and realized that a lot of it is still under construction. It's also listed in Places as 'Dark City', which it definitely fits the description of. It's mostly shopping, with a lot of the coolest SL retailers, but there's also a punk club, and there are more areas under construction which look social and residential. It's not a strictly laid-out 'Dark RP' region like Lost Angels or Toxia, which means no one is going to force you to RP. But if you happened to show up there one night with your malcontent friends to play a little impromptu Vampire Sharks vs Neko Jets, nobody would get mad at all, I'm sure.

Thinking about all the things that are possible with a devPose box are a little distracting, so that'll be it for now. Questions about this post are always welcome, as are

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Jinx Kinx

My friend Bethany told me she'd discovered a new place for the dissolute activities we both enjoy, so we went to check it out. Jinx Kinx is an airborne sex play area in the Hoodoo sim, and something about it reminds me of 'the old days'.

Oh man, here I go. My first Rezday is next Wednesday, and I'm already starting to talk like on oldbie. I'm thinking of 'back in the day', when I started SL at the beginning of last Spring, and there was something called 'Dwell'. If you joined SL after the summer of 2006, you probably don't know about it. Nowadays people running businesses and attractions in SL are concerned about traffic to their locations, because it puts them higher on the popularity list, and that's better for retail and general commerce. But until last summer, traffic in SL actually translated into Linden Dollars. 'Dwell' was an incentive feature that allowed you to actually make money in SL simply by having a popular spot. You didn't actually have to have any commerce going on there, but the Linden system would actually pay you (a portion of some arbitrary amount they put out), based on your traffic. I actually earned Dwell when I got my First Land (now another extinct species), and just by hanging around my house for the better part of a day, I scored something like L$4. Big whoop, but that's how much I got for one or two people hanging around on 512m^2. Imagine what people got at Heaven Above the Clouds at that time. A lot of major places in SL closed after Dwell was discontinued, and that spurred the rise of 'vendors in the club'.

There I go again, showing my age. Heaven Above the Clouds is still around, but eight months ago it was one of the places in SL to go to people-watch, socialize, and, hopefully, to get picked up for some e-sexin'. It also had a certain 'wink wink nudge nudge' reputation, being the most popular sex park. The lag was terrible, so you could usually count on a nice 'poseball farm' like Above it All to take care of the necessary animations, after leaving Heaven Above. Compare the popularity of Hard Alley today, and its similar reputation -- and craptabulous lag. But it was places like Heaven Above that were mostly dependent on Dwell to keep up on tier payments.

Anyway, I wax long, so let's get to the tourism.

Jinx Kinx is a floating space station for the kinky in search of some public playspace. Well, maybe not exactly a space station, since it has open-air stairways and an upper outside deck. But there's a definite sci-fi feel to the building and its decor. You start off in an airlock (although when my friend TP'd me there, I ended up on top of the outside structure), and go through a predictably noisy iris valve to get into the main area. It was this place that set off my nostalgia, since it's... a room full of poseballs. Haven't seen that concept (or lack thereof) since the days before everyone had a SexGen bed. Maybe Jinx is interested in saving on prims, but it seems like there could be a little more thought given. Say what you want about Missy's Pleasure Starcruiser, it had a well-executed concept, being able to get down in every room of an imaginary spacecraft.

Jinx is basically organized around 'kinks'. In the main room, you have multiple-penetration, gangbang and bukkake poses. On the other end of the main area is an exterior deck, which leads to a smaller capsule-style skybox space containing your favorite extreme devices -- the Dark Delights Violator and Scorpion, and a Milkerz F5000 milking machine. Down the stairway you'll find more, including a potted tentacle-monster plant, the Deviant D/s suite, and the now-familiar Dark Desires Horse.

There's also a horse of a different species, an apparently old(?) KDC device that I've only ever seen at Dungeon Online. It's a fascist Lockmeister object, and made in the shape of a abstract horse-machine. I have no idea what it does, however, because neither example I've seen has worked properly. I'd love to find out what this thing does, I have a girl who might be interested...

The larger area in the lower level is devoted to a kink that not many people I know in SL enjoy: toilet fetishism. There's toilets, the bathtub, stalls, and a big porcelain area with standing yellow puddles, and some poses. I tried the 'Roll Arond In Pee' pose, strictly for the novelty, and it was a pretty good animation. But sorry, no real enjoyment for me there (my potty training was pretty much trauma free). Bethany and I did enjoy the dirty SexGen mattress, though, a classic on its own, down to the Smoking pose instead of the usual cuddle. And probably the cleanest object in the room.

The stairway is a notable feature, even if its just a stairway. It's 400m in the air, so falling off would be tedious, if nothing else. But Jinx has kindly provided teleporters also, for those of us for whom simulated foot traffic holds no appeal. One thing I noticed about these is, they all have the same three destinations that access the main parts of the club, but there are more locations in the area than this. Each teleporter seems to have a different fourth destination, making it interesting to try all of them. Apparently, Jinx also has some speciality areas set up: a couple of two-story houses, separate from the station, one which caters to lesbian play (all pink balls), and one which is intended as an office/classroom RP area. There are also a couple of locations Jinx hasn't set up yet, apparently, but the teleporters are holding out hope.

Last of all, a somewhat sad affair awaits on the exterior top deck of the station. A pool with a rather large outer structure highlights in red (for those using Alt Shows Physical), and a tooltip reveals it to be (drum roll please) a SexGen Pool. Okay, that's fine. I set about to explore the built-in poses, but was confounded by a script error -- missing animation, apparently. Sorry, Jinx, but the L$5000 price tag is a bit steep for something with existing bugs. Good luck with that.

The cool thing about Jinx Kinx is, it's so new that the n00bs haven't discovered it yet. Right now, It's a nice quiet place to get nasty, even though people do TP in at random. It was enjoyably free from crowding. It's only a matter of time before that ends, i think. I wish Jinx success, however, she's got a good build going with some interesting stuff, even if I'm not sure how she's going to have the place make Linden$.

Can't wait for the Pulp Gallery!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dark Eden does it right

I recently went to Etain Peregrine's 'Dark Eden' retail establishment because I'd heard you could get good and inexpensive 'ballet heels' there. (Not for me, mind you, but for a certain young lady whose ensemble required them.) These are the fetish-style heels that make the feet point straight down. The Dark Eden ballet heels were praised because they didn't use an animation, but talented 'invisiprim' placement to accomplish the downward foot shape. Basically, that means these heels will never interfere with other animations, nor will they make one look like a Chinese foot-binding victim when sitting in a difficult pose. Hey, this is SL, where appearance is everything.

I found I was familiar with Dark Eden style already, with its emphasis on straps (and straps, and... straps!), as well as the unique Cephalopod heels, an example of why SL is such a great place -- pretty much anything is possible. But what impressed me most was the Dark Eden 'mini-mall' itself. It's really a group of shops built in one large block, floating in the air about 600m above the Magenta sim. And it's not huge. SL residents will understand that many retail builds are enormous, in terms of scale. This is necessary in some ways, because we avatars need room for our third-person cameras to follow us around, and that means everyone has an extra two meters of 'personal space' in their back. The thing about Dark Eden is, the builder(s) of the place allowed for that, but not much more. The buildings are tight and clean, with excellent texture work, and no stupid clutter. So the impression I got of the main Dark Eden store was one of a shop or specialty boutique, which it really is. It felt good.

Etain Peregrine's fashion style falls somewhere between 'Tank Girl' and dominatrix. Tough and very sexual. Lots of straps, leg-length boots, and not a lot of coverage in the upper chest -- although the tape-X pasties are free for the taking. There's a definite hard sexual edge to everything, but it's done with style, and a distinct feminist overtone -- Etain's boots come in Maiden (white), Mother (red), and Crone (black), after all. The Cephalopod ensemble comes with its own strap-on (a stylish one, too), and there's a little blowjob posebox in the corner, apparently to aid those who have a restless sub that needs occupying while they shop. The BDSM crowd shops here, make no mistake, but you're not hit completely over the head with that. I got more of the ribald feel of the back of Spencer Gifts, especially on the second floor.

One of the things I like most about Dark Eden is that instead of sprawling all over the place and going out, it goes up, or down. The way it adds an urban feel to the place is excellent, because it's such a simple design solution. I looked, and the whole place is only on a 4096m parcel. Ms Peregrine could probably have her own sim, but doesn't everybody already? There are several more shops in the complex, all related in some way or other, either in style or content. There's even a club on the lowest level, which, in keeping with the rest, is no bigger than it has to be.

Check this place out, definitely. And don't forget to explore, it has hidden places.

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