Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ranchan Weidman and the Robotech Roleplay

By Bixyl Shuftan

High above the HV Community sim is a space carrier which Ranchan Weidman made her home in Second Life, and the hangout of many of her friends. The carrier, and a few other places high above the sim, are the settings for a Robotech Roleplay. The roleplay is not a new one, but has been going on for close to a decade, since 2008. The game has players from both the early days, and some more recent ones. It is not a "combat rolepay" like New Bastogne, but instead the various settings help put the players in the mood, as well as the uniforms the players often wear. The game is played out much like a real life roleplaying game, with Ranchan acting as the gamemaster and the players various characters helping to defend Earth, Ranchan occasionally calling on the players to make dice rolls when making an action or responding to one.

"For the last nine years, players have participated in my blended version of Robotech / Albedo," Ranchan told me, "It's a Sci-fi space drama which incorporates a large part of the history of the original Robotech Universe mixed with The Albedo Universe. The players have enjoyed a mix of settings within the theme of Science Fiction /Fantasy from being in space, to the cold of Alaska and down in the nice islands of Hawaii."

Although the game is often called "Robotech" out of convenience, the title Ranchan gave it is "Robotech: The Albedo Alliance." For those who don't know, "Robotech" is the American version of Japanese anime TV shows and movies in which human pilots fly space fighters that can fold into robots in combat against giant aliens called Zentraedi, whom are a warrior culture that finds a number of aspects of human society, such as music and love, hard to understand and sometimes frightening. "Albedo" is a less well-known science fiction tale, Ranchan stating, "Albedo is the shortened version of Albedo : Anthropomorphics. Artist Steven A Gallacci Art Featured here , and here , in where he created a universe of anthropomorphic animals in a slightly futuristic setting but dealing with an in depth look of political , social and military values ideals and repercussions. I would highly recommend reading the story. It's well written and thought through."

The plot of the roleplay's story universe diverged from that of cannon Robotech from the very start, "There are lots of things I remember, and I fondly remember how things got started for this roleplay. One of the things I stress to any new player, and as of late, older ones, I will not be following the cannon story line of Robotech. The story itself opened up with a bit of background history for the universe I was going to create, and the players were going to live in and help shape. ... Robotech fans ... would recall the day the SDF 1 crashed onto Earth. And that's about as much original cannon material I relied on to start with. Everything after that point is unique to the universe. When the SDF-1 crashed, it opened a tear in the space - time continuum . This space - time tear, pulled a cruise ship from the Albedo Universe, over, thus forever introducing anthropomorphics to humans

"From there, after 10 years of strife and working together. we introduce the players characters to the world. This being abbreviated from what the players actually read in the note card. But when it first started, our players were just arriving at boot camp, at an island nearby Macross Island. The SDF was three months out of being completed, when our first set of players started their training. The first set of trainees were, Miya Cross, Nydia Tungsten, L'sai Aeon, Icebolt Aeon, Umbra Gardenvale, Tanya Ayoob, Kit Repine, and Squick. "

Besides the plotlines of the roleplay, what's been going on with the place it's been held is a story in itself, Ranchan explaining, "Things were slow at first for the roleplay as I was still holding my own, running Club Afterburner, putting together the military training base the trainees were studying at and building a 100 m diameter labyrinth under the RDF CVN Aegwei I for a treasure hunt. It was only after Linden Lab changed the rules on void sims, changing them to Homesteads, and bumping up the cost that we had to abandon Pacific Waters and took up residence on Sunweaver Air, which later became HV Community sim, and not having the duties of the club things started to pace faster for the role play. The void sim offered the size of a full sim but a quarter of the prims , script allowance and avatars that could be on it. After moving over from there. we were squished into roughly less than a quarter size sim. I had to trim down further when my real life situation drastically changed and I couldn't support the parcels I had. so we became pretty small in size. It was around that time that we moved from the northeast corner of HV community to where we are now, about center east to just off center of the sim that I dedicated some of the land to a worthwhile cause.

"I've built at least 20 versions of the ARMD platform to fit each parcel. We're currently on a decent sized parcel, about 108m by 64. maybe 80 meters. ... My builders that have helped me with some of the zones. really deserve a good portion of the credit too. A special thanks to them 'cause my landscaping skills suck compared to building things .Kinya Resident and Matoazma 'Mato Foxy.' "

I asked about the ship's many different versions over time. Ranchan answered, "Four of the versions were for prim (and) land size. Everything else was overhaul. Like spring cleaning, only more frequent."

I asked about how often does the roleplay have sessions, asking if it had one a week. Ranchan answered, "We've started to do two. One of our long time members schedule at work changed and the goal was to include her more so a second day had been brought in. Been running a second day for over eight months now. The eventual goal is to have something going each day, with some parts being live interactions, as if you and I were walking through the hallways, and stopped to have a chat, then moved past that, one heads to a different location, while say I headed to the bridge of the ship etc. But that's going to require a bit more game assistants staff, and a lot more players."

I asked about the various plots over time. Ranchan answered, "Every player has a sub plot that they are involved with some how. Sometimes the sub plots become larger side plots and main plots as because of not strictly following the main story, but the players following an untold story of the combined universe has allowed for a lot of flexibility. A lot of 'who cares what Rick Hunter did, or Toki did, but what Nydia Tungsten did, or Miya Cross has done. Mato's achievements, and what our new players Christine ( played by Skylark 'Snowy' ) and Puella ( played by Kiwi ) are doing.' Unfortunately, with time and how it is (with) Second Life, for some players real life has stolen their time, not letting them come on and participate. Tanya Ayoob, our ship 'Gunbunny' Special Forces specialist hasn't been on in at least a few years."

"For me, I dwell in an abyss of plots and sub plots. I love to end sessions at times, with cliffhangers. A sample set of plots that I believe the players have enjoyed are as follows. One adventure led the players to take part in a ball at a ski lodge in Alaska. They had to detour an assassin plot against one of the delegates which were attending a meeting being held there. That one turned into a ski chase down hill. Another one took place at a roller rink. the players were going in to rescue the squadron commander, Shelly 'Kit' Sintol. She had been abducted while on vacation by a former friend of Umbra Gardenvale, who was leading an anti military group. One of the first plots during the training phase was surviving the wilderness after being shot down on a routine helo repelling lesson."

Asking more about the ski chase, Ranchan described, "After the team uncovered who the assassins were, some of the group that were involved attempted to get away from the players. One of them had managed to get onto a pair of skis and were rushing away down a non trail path. But they were captured still in the end. After the three sessions of the players arriving at the base in Alaska, they headed to a hotel, individually, although there were some that arrived in pairs. got dressed up for the night at the lodge, and eventually made it to attendance of the party they were able to uncover the who and neutralize the threats fairly swiftly. Although the one that got away on skis did make it down hill to a set of private cabins which was where he was taken down as well. that part only took one session to wrap up. I had built a small small not to scale model of the lodge up in the mountain, and a few of the cabins down below. After that, is when Mato started to take part as well."

The current plot  involves the team having been assigned their own ship, of which Matoazma captains, but Ranchan couldn't go too much in detail of the subplots, "Those are still in the progress of rolling out."

Of the roleplay's future, Ranchan told me, "Well, I would love to add more players, and bump some current players to staff that still play so that eventually this can be a more interactive roleplay with bells and whistles and running 24/7, and I hope that I can continue providing material for the players so they don't get bored."

"I would love to thank all of my players, past, present, and hopefully future for taking part in helping to shape the history of the universe that I started. Every one's contribution with their character into the story lines means a great deal to me. I enjoy watching players relax, characters develop and mature and hope that they have enjoyed it as much as I have, and continue to do."

The Newser may do articles in the future about the roleplay, such as in depth articles about the players and their characters.

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Valentine Interview - Part 2

By Mylie Foxclaw

This is the second part of the Valentine’s interview.  The basics are simple.  I have asked 6 women the same questions that I asked the men in part one.  If you wish to read the first part, you will find it here (link).

The first question was about the type of person that would be ideal.  One common quality was intelligence and a good sense of humour but each woman was highly descriptive about her ideal person.  A.A (Lady 1) wants someone confident that can convey intense and realistic emotions and who has a good sense of humour.  C.R (Lady 2) feels that someone trustworthy would be great.  She also adds that she dislike possessive and jealous persons.  J.B (Lady 3), like A.A, wants someone intelligent and funny.  An opinion also shared by R.M (Lady 4) who adds that the ideal person should also show how much he enjoys being with her and he must be a true romantic.  F.R (Lady 5) mentions that a good sense of humour is an important quality and specifies “not someone who just laughs pointlessly at everything.”  T.K (lady 6) believes that a good person is one important quality and adds that “Someone who's also a vulpine or near canine would be perfect.”

Next, I asked each lady about their ideal place for a SL romantic date.  A.A feels that a restaurant or piano bar would be nice.  C.R likes forests, beaches or coffee shops.  J.B talks about a dance at an exclusive club where she is a member and has many friends.  R.M enjoys ballroom spots like Phat Cat’s or Bogarts.  F.R says that she would not like generic places but rather opt for something that has meaning for both herself and her ideal sl valentine.  T.K specifies that she loves cozy cuddle places which are calm, secluded and close to nature.

The third question was about their ideal gift.  A.A immediately responded “his heart”.  C.R specifies that a teddybear and a kiss would be nice but if the person could spend time with her and snuggle, it would be perfect.  J.B would like a volcano tub.  R.M mentions jewellery, perfume or lingerie before adding that going to a romantic sport together to spend some quality time would be a nice gift. 

When asked if they thought that red was a must for Valentine’s day, A.A says no before adding that “I don´t think it is about the color, it is a feeling deep inside; and i truly believe that valentine is only special with somebody who means something to you ... a flirt is not enough.”  C.R points out that red is generic, something that F.R seems to agree on.  R.M thinks that it is not a must.  To her, Red is“anytime   you’re feeling   a bit passionate and fiery.”  T.K comments that one should wear what they want before adding that red is classic and she finds that red and blue work great together.  As for J.B, she thinks that Red is a must and that any shade or red is pretty.

The next question was about what they would wear for Valentine’s day.  J.B has immediately described the outfit she has bought this Valentine’s day.  She is extremely eager and excited to wear it.  It’s a color combination of red and black.  A.A thinks that the outfit would depend on where her date would be taking her, an opinion shared by F.R.  C.R simply said that her outfit would depend on her mood.  R.M mentioned lingerie and anything red.    T.K believes that the outfit also depends on where the relationship stands and specifies that “If we're just getting to know each other, it might be something sexy ment to impress.  If we've been dating for a while, perhaps something more comfortable.  As for colors, black and red look good with blue fur.”

Finally, I asked them if they had anything to say about Valentine’s day.  A.A thinks that “for somebody who is in love - any day is valentine’s day ....”  C.R says that “Well it’s Valentine’s day.  It’s great to enjoy it with someone special.  But it’s a nightmare for single people I think!  J.B talks about her current relationship, “well this  will be my first one with my living in boyfriend so I’m very much looking forward to it and we’ve been together for 6 weeks aprox.”  R.M sends her wishes to everyone, “Happy VDay to all  the lovers a  lovers  to be!”  F.R mentions that “my original rez day was just a couple days before it?”  T.K also wised everyone and had a smart piece of advice, “I wish you all friendship and love.  Remember that love comes and goes, but if you're best friends with your mate, then it'll last.  That's the secret!”

This sums up the Valentine’s interview.  I hope you found some interesting SL facts and more through this.

Mylie Foxclaw

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Valentine Interview - Part 1

By Mylie Foxclaw

As Valentine’s Day is approaching, I thought of interviewing a few persons to learn more about how they felt about Valentine’s Day and romance in Second Life.  If this first part, I interviewed 6 male residents at random and asked them 5 questions.  Responses were interesting and amusing in some instances.  Let’s see what these SL residents had to say.  I’m using only their initials when I will refer to their personal opinions.

First, I asked each guy to tell me about the type of person who would be an ideal date.  Overall, they all believe that a good-natured person would be perfect.  Someone smart and good-natured.  Of course, each guy also has his own qualities as well.  A.L (Guy 1) believes that that person should not be jealous.  He also adds that he likes women who are open-minded and do not limit themselves to one guy.  R.C (guy 2) thinks that someone who is naughty and argumentative would be perfect.  G.H (guy 3) also likes those who are open-minded.  S.B (guy 4) wants someone who has common interests.  J.L (guy 5) and S.R (guy 6) told me that they like those who can carry a good conversation.

Next, I asked each guy about their ideal place to go if they have a date.  A.L and J.L both opt for romantic outdoor themed places (forests, beaches,etc).  S.R and G.H think that ballrooms would be perfect.  S.B told me that he’s like a colourful sim with low lag and R.C told me that his ideal place would be a creepy themed sim like Netherwood. 

Concerning the ideal gift, responses were interesting.  A.L told me that the perfect gift would be for his woman to share him with another woman.  R.C said that for him, “something either black, rusty metal, bloody, creepy, or any combination of the 4” would be great.  G.H thinks that a new outfit would be cool.  J.L does not want any special gifts but a greeting card for valentine’s day would be nice.  S.B wants to hear a joke that would make him laugh for hours.  S.R did not have any ideal gift. 

When I asked each guy if Red was a must for Valentine’s day, most of them said no.  R.C added that red is boring to him for Valentine’s day.  S.R feels that it is a tradition to wear red but it’s not compulsory.    However, G.H thinks it’s a must. 

When I asked them about what they would wear for Valentine’s day, S.R told me that he would opt for a Tuxedo. G.H would also wear a Tuxedo specially for a ballroom date and opt for a red tie. S.B also mentioned a red tie before jokingly adding that he would dress like Tarzan.  I suppose a Tarzan outfit and a red tie would be an interesting combination.  R.C stated that a black dress shirt or a black tuxedo would be his choice of outfit.  As for A.L he says his birthday suit is perfect… J.L does not have any special outfit preference for Valentine’s day.  He would just be himself. 

Finally I asked them if they had anything to add.  J.L says that “one should take time to acknowledge the day and show some kind of gesture.”  S.R thinks that “its a special day just to show someone you care.”  G.H mentioned that he loved someone a lot.  R.C humorously stated that “Hmmm. That we also need an M Day, that is just about giving muffins.” And I definitely agree with him!  As for S.B,  he simply said, “Make love not war ...”  And, A.L had a lot to say, “really though, surveys consistently show that Valentine's day is more stressful to men, more dreaded than a dentist visit because there's a lot of pressure.  what do I get her? where do I take her? what do I say?  we just want it to be over.”

So, I believe we learned a few interesting things from these guys.  See you next time to find out how girls think Valentine’s day.  

Mylie Foxclaw

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rana Dexler of Survivors of Suicide

By Deaflegacy

I recently sat down with Rana Dexler (random.demina) to talk about Survivors of Suicide and what the group is all about.  Rana explained that the group is about offering support to people who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses, including bipolar and borderline.  Krissy Sinclair founded the group, and is still an active member.

"Group chat is open 24/7 for peer support, and I have a support group meeting at SOS on Wednesdays at 3:30." said Rana.  SOS stands for Survivors of Suicide.  The support group meeting is at S.O.S.  Survivors of Suicide Group, Schoomere (162, 45, 22). If anyone wants to join the group, it's free to join with an open enrollment.  "There are no criteria for becoming a member." said Rana.

When Rana was asked if she would recommend this group to anyone who have mental illness, she said, "I would. I suffer from mental illness myself, and the group has been a great help to me." Rana joined SOS a very long time ago when she was in bad shape, both emotionally and mentally.  "Well, I joined SOS a very long time ago, (again, cant tell you how long for sure) and I was in really bad shape emotionally, and mentally." said Rana. "SOS gave me people to talk to, which helped a lot, in combination with rl medication and rl therapy.  Now, my illness is manageable and I feel my time with SOS has left me better able to cope."

Rana is a mentor, which makes Rana one of the chatroom moderators.  Rana is available for chat whenever Rana is online.  Rana is also the facilitator for the Wednesday support group.

Rana did say something important.  "I'd like to add that depression is the most common mental illness, but also the most treatable. If you suffer from depression, please seek treatment. most cities have free mental health services that can help." said Rana.

However, the whole point of the SOS is to be there for people with mental illnesses. Rana's plan for the future would be to carry on with Rana's support group, and encourage the other mentors to do the same.

Survivors of Suicide is a support group that has been going on for almost 10 years, if not longer.  It is for people with mental illnesses.  The group continues to grow.

Schoomere (162, 45, 22)


Monday, January 30, 2017

Stepinwolf Darkstone, Virtual Ability's Apartment Manager

By Deaflegacy

Stepinwolf Darkstone, or Stepin as he is often called, and I met at his place on Cape Heron.  He is the apartment manager on Cape Heron.  He started being an apartment manager about three months after his first day in Second Life.  It would have been about nine years ago. "As far as the apartments go, that is my major responsibility." said Stepin.

Of working on the apartments, he described what it's like building them, "The first step was to work up a layout that would allow the apartments and the rental parcels to fit along with the open areas and tavern.  I did that on a spreadsheet." said Stepin. I told him that he does a good job.  He went on to say that Eme Capalini did the open spaces and the courtyards.  Stepin used entries in the apartment design contest as a basis for the apartment designs they have today.

I asked him what his favorite part of being an apartment manager. "Actually, it is talking to the tenants and other residents on Cape Heron." said Stepin.  He went on to say that dancing in the Heron's Nest Tavern is fun too because he gets to dance and chat.

Stepin has an assistant, whom is also his alt, VAI Spot. "Yes, VAI Spot is the official owner of most everything here apartment related." said Stepin.  "It is a VAI alt, so if someone needs to take over, it can be done.  And the ownership of the apartments isn't disturbed." I asked Stepin if we would get to see VAI Spot as often as we get to see Stepin.  He said that he usually only bring Spot in when he needs to change something that requires ownership of the object. Stepin told me that there are 44 apartments on Cape Heron.

Stepin then showed me the slide show that's about the history of the apartments beginning in Wolpertinger.  It was amazing and showed many different pictures, especially of the contest for the apartment designs. "When they did away with Second Life for teens, we made a teen friendly place for them to come to." said Stepin.  "You can see that Bels design was the winner of that first contest."

I asked Stepin about rentals. "Apartments in Cape Heron are available to Virtual Ability members with no other home." said Stepin. The apartments would be for the active members of Virtual Ability.

I asked Stepin if the rent for the apartments is one Linden a week. "That is correct.  It is mostly used to let us know if the apartment is being used." said Stepin. The maximum time of the rent would be six weeks, and the prim limit on an apartment is 150 prims.

Stepin did mention something about the new rental system. "Well, actually with the new rental system, we can't stop them from renting, but if we don't let them join the Cape Heron Land Group, they can't rez anything.  And I boot them out if they aren't members." said Stepin.

I asked Stepin if the rent is subsidized.  He said that the Virtual Ability Inc pays for the sim.  The rent on the apartments does not cover the cost of sim in any significant way. "So they are nearly free to Virtual Ability members who need them." said Stepin.

Stepin explained that Roxie Marten, iSkye Silverweb, and their respective ALTs Cape Heron Management as well as VAICapeHeron help him out a lot.

I asked Stepin if a member has to be a member of Virtual Ability and a member of Cape Heron Community before that person can rent an apartment. "Yes, you need to be a member of the Cape Heron Land Group with the role of Tenant to rez objects." said Stepin. "Only members of Virtual Ability qualify for membership in the Cape Heron Land Group and only after they have read the lease agreement and returned a copy with their name and date on it. Then one of the managers here will invite them into the group."

I asked Stepin if he is going to be an apartment manager for a very long time.  He said that he really enjoys working with the apartments and tenants so yes, he plans to stay.

My last question would be how long had Cape Heron been around.  He said that the covenant is dated June 30, 2015 although the sim was here before the place was done.

Stepin does have a goal and that would be to minimize the prims used by the apartments and maximize what was available to the tenant to make their apartment a home.

Stepin is really a good apartment manager.  I hope to see him again soon as time goes by.  I do plan on coming back to Cape Heron because it is really a beautiful place to be at.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Interview with Tindallia Soothsayer

By Deaflegacy

The interview happened at Tindallia Soothsayer's place.  Her residence is gorgeous and well-designed. I gave Tindallia a compliment about her building skill. "Thank you, did my best with limited prims," she answered.

We started talking about Tindallia's legend as a racer. As it turned out, in her first days there she was just going to the races as an observer because she enjoyed watching. "One day when there was no race, I tried to run the track, did pretty well." said Tindallia.  "So decided to actually enter a race."

Tindallia said that just by watching, she did learn how to race. "Well, more observant I'd say, just paid attention to what the other racers did and tried to do that myself," said Tindallia.  She had been racing since November 2009.  Tindallia had just announced her semi-retirement in January 2017.

Tindallia had been dominating the races in the first place for years, during the seasons and in the championship.  She had done things no other racer has done, such as getting a perfect score for the year.  Tindallia had been getting 1st in every season, not only once but twice.  Tindallia does a lot more than just race.  She comes up with the theme for every week.  Tindallia also tear down the previous week's theme and decorate the track for the current theme.  She build a themed snail for the race as well.  Tindallia also co-host the show.  She made awards, such as racing cup and the blue ribbons for the best in show.

"Of course, just because I'm not racing doesn't mean I'm giving up the rest." said Tindallia. "I 'retired' because as I said, I've dominated the races for years. I felt it was time someone else had a chance at the 1st place position.  Well, I've proven I can race, that's for sure. In my time racing I've gotten 673 trophies, blue ribbons and awards, I don't really need more." 

After 8 years, Tindallia still enjoy doing it. "It is the longest running event in SL. RacerX started doing races in 2004," said Tindallia.

Tindallia announced her retirement just after 2:16 in this recording of the January 7 race. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Why Do Some People Just Disappear From Second Life?

By Mylie Foxclaw

I have often seen people panicking when their partner has suddenly stopped logging in.  I have reacted the same during my first years on Second Life too.  We imagine the worst, a real-life problem, a death… but in many cases, that person is fine, so why do they just disappear?

Sometimes people fear to hurt the other or expect a bad reaction.  You can’t say you won’t react badly if your partner suddenly tells you that he wants to part ways.  You will be hurt, you will probably vent out your anger without realising it.  The next best option is simply to just leave without a word; without drama.  
People know when you start distancing yourself.  They can sense it even if they may not admit it.  Sometimes they are just waiting for you to confront them and tell them the truth.  And you will be surprised.  I see some people who remained friends even after breaking up or who are on good speaking terms.  Some argued and distance themselves but later, they patch up and stay good friends. 

Second Life relationships are not always easy.  A good friend of mine once told me that certain people just ran off because they told a tiny lie at the beginning but now that the relationship grew and they formed a bond, they felt that they would hurt their partner but felt like this lie became a big issue.  So they preferred to disappear suddenly, without a word.  What could the lies be?  Claiming to be single when they are married, being of the opposite gender from what they play in Second Life, faking their age.  If you put yourself in the shoes of someone who lied and imagine what they go through as they realise that their lie is becoming an issue, you may probably react the same way and leave too. 

When you find that your partner has suddenly left, you may want to consider these reasons as well.  Give it some days or weeks, then try leaving a message or an e-mail or something to see if they respond.  Keep it simple and civilised.  Remember, you can’t force someone to be with you if they don’t wish to be.  If they want to leave, let them go.  Give yourself time to digest the fact.  Take some time off Second Life or explore new facets of the virtual world to distract yourself. 

Announcing bad news and knowing you are going to hurt someone is not easy.  But when you leave like that, you’re not making things easy either.  Your partner has no idea and will worry.  He/she will wait for a while, months maybe, especially if the feelings on his/her side are deep enough.  Later they may move on, or not.  Spare them the worries and the waiting.  Break it to them, let them get mad.  If it gets so bad, restart afresh but at least you know you done your part.  No regrets, no guilty conscience. 

Whether your partner have left or you wish to leave, put yourself in the shoes of the other party and imagine what you would go through.  Don’t leave someone hanging and don’t make them feel guilty.  When it’s over, we eventually have to move on.  No need to drag it on.  You will only hurt yourself.  Isn't it better to end things in a civilised manner and remain friends?

Mylie Foxclaw