Saturday, 31 March 2007

Al goes Dutch

The Netherlands, with a population of 16.5million, are ranked number 5 in the latest statistics for SecondLife users released by Linden Labs. This disproportionate interest is reflected in the dizzying number of Dutch sites currently opening or under construction. I have already covered a number of these sites in this blog, so I will leave you to use the "Search" facility if you want to find out more. However, in my most recent rambles along the highways and byways of Second Life I have unearthed a few more sites, and some updates. After all, it's Springtime... ideal for pottering about among the tulips.

First off, the town of Zoetermeer has now opened its island. There is still space for some new features, but the structure is largely in place. There is a Stadhuis where visitors can browse and access a number of web pages, though my non-existent Dutch is not up to the job of figuring out what these are! Presumably, though, they reference the services and facilities offered by the town. There is also a meeting centre, offering a streamed video showcasing the town. The next feature of the island is a snow-clad mountain - not something you expect to see in Holland! However, this serves to promote the town's winter sports activity centre, SnowWorld. The last of the main features is an exhibition hall, featuring immersive, 360degree panoramas of various wild terrains - forests, mountains, lakes and glaciers. I'm not sure why it's there, but it's a cool place to visit (use "Mouselook" to get the most from it).

While rambling I also noticed a new island beloging to Sogeti Netherlands. The group website describes Sogeti thus: "We provide information technology services to businesses and public sector organizations. Sogeti employs about 15,000 employees in France, Belgium, Danmark, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the international Capgemini organization, one of the world's leading providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services." The island appears to be at an advanced stage of construction, but is not open to ramblers. It is possible that this is intended as a private research island, for company use only, as Sogeti Netherlands have a strong involvement in web2.0 development and research.

Not to be outdone by ING and their Virtual Holland space, Dutch bank ABN Amro is expanding its presence in SecondLife. They are in the process of adding 2 employee islands, a seminars island, an events island and something called "ABN AMRO Beleggers." I put this into Babelfish, but got nothing for my efforts. The closest I can find through Google would suggest this means "investors" - which would make sense. Here's what investors will see:

But that's not the end of the ABN Amro story. There is a cluster of 6 islands labelled "0031", which turns out to be a new, and entirely virtual Dutch town called Schoondamme. It opened about a week ago, and is full of new residents building a typical (if stylised) Dutch small town. I've found some references (in Dutch) such as this. The town is a joint investment by ABN Amro and Randstad Uitzendbureau. Most of it is accessible (just follow the green dots on the map) , search for "0031" on the "map". A pretty place at the moment, but it helps if you are Dutch...

Finally, there is a Dutch-related piece of news from earlier in the week. The Amsterdam island, which has proved one of the most popular in SecondLife (hmmm... I wonder why?) has been sold on eBay for $50,000 - that's USD, not Lindens - here's the Reuters report. [I know it's not a Dutch build - but how could I ignore it?! ]

Friday, 30 March 2007

ABC + SL = New Island

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) are the latest Ozzie organisation to unveil their presence in SecondLife, following in the footsteps of BigPond, part of Telstra, who opened their doors recently at "The Pond".

I haven't seen much song & dance about this, so I'm not sure if the island has been officially launched yet. Given that a few of the object scripts had permission problems, and there were a few "plywood prims" lying about - I am guess not. Rather, it looks like another soft launch, to elicit some quick feedback and gauge reactions.

The island is in the shape of the ABC logo, a Lissajous figure, with pathways following the wave track. Here's the map and some introductory information:

As you can see from the welcome, ABC have settled on a theme for the island: Aliens. The island is full of them, and there is a sandbox where you can create your own and enter it into a competition.

The island is divided into a number of zones, some specific to ABC, such as the Media Pods, and others of a more general interest. Here's a few of the signs, to give you a feel for the place:

However, I found several of the zones were still glitchy. For example, I couldn't find anything to watch in the Media Pods, and the Dreamtime Cove also seemed to be having problems (though to be honest, I am not sure what I was to expect in this one). These and other glitches are to be expected in a soft launch, but I would still have advised them to iron out the major wrinkles first, before letting ramblers like me in.

There is a working movie in the (rather grandly named) Amphitheatre. It's an ABC report on Second Life and what it's all about - which, since you're already there watching it, feels a little redundant! But it's interesting enough, and serves to demonstrate how streamed video will be used in this zone.

The Your Space sandbox is a multi-tiered tower, where you can make your alien - or whatever else takes your fancy. Nearby is Triple J Unearthed Club, which provided a novel experience. It is located underground, which requires you to fall down a shaft to reach the first level. There are then 2 further levels going even deeper, featuring bar areas, dancing, stages... in fact, all the paraphenalia for music events. The bottom-most level is underwater (see picture below/right).

To get the most from your first trip, there is a tour-bot, that will fly you around the island, pointing out the various features. I did not stay long enough to get a detailed view of the place, but it makes an interesting addition to SecondLife. They have certainly managed to cram an amazing amount of content into one island. I've not even covered the Info Dome and the Eco House, as I did not spend much time there.

As to the purpose of the island? Perhaps someone from ABC would like to comment, but my guess is that, at heart, it is about exploring what 3D environments will deliver - a foretaste of web3.d. To this end, they are blending their own media content (while looking at streaming and scheduling options) with social areas and events. Seems fair enough to me.

Anyway... finding it is easy enough: go to "Map" and enter "ABC" in the search. Y'see? It's as easy as... ummm.... "ABC".

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Veeco - Nanotech in SL

Here's another new island for me to keep an eye on. I mentioned spotting Veeco in a blog entry about a month ago, when their island was still closed. However, I got wind of a change to its status earlier this week, so I thought I'd better abandon my own scripting and building efforts, and pop along for a quick butcher's.

The build has been carried out by Centric, who brought us the SecondTalk Skype system. They describe the Veeco aims thus: "Here's how a $500M technology company can use virtual worlds: Create virtual fab lines for sales tools, host nanotechnology conferences, and use interactive demos to show prospects how the technology works." I was therefore interested to see whether they had brought any 3D models and demos into SL.

The island comprises 3 main areas: an orientation zone; a set of office blocks and a construction building.

In fairness, it looks to me that the build has been opened up at the earliest opportunity, rather than when it was good and ready. Much of the detailing is well rendered, as you would expect from a professional build - furniture and fittings being particularly well done. However,I believe that there is still a fair amount of work to do. The offices are only part funrinshed, and at the moment I cannot see any sign of 3D models and demos. The theatre, too, is still waiting for some content - unless the plan is for you to sit in the dark and contemplate your navel.

There is a bicycle stand near the offices, and I'd hoped that it would be possible to select and ride one of these. But no... they are just there to be looked at. A shame, as the various components of the island are linked by roadways, one of which terminates abruptly at the edge of the sim. This, in turn, leads me to wonder whether Veeco are planning a second island, with the road leading to new facilities, presumably still under consideration.

"But what about freebies?" I hear you moan. In my short sojourn on the island I cannot claim to have spotted anything for the ultra-frugal to grab. However, as I said above, it is apparent that the island is still under construction - and I would therefore expect the various shortcomings to be addressed in good time. That said, I haven't seen any mechanism that would allow Veeco and Centric to take feedback inworld.

And in other news..

  • This week we saw the 5 millionth resident account. Forecasts of around 6 million residents by mid-year look like they might need to be revised.
  • Linden yesterday released a new set of statistics for Sl usage until the end of February. I don't intend to cover these here as I have yet to mull them over, but the spreadsheet is available for download via the Linden blog here.
  • Windows Vista users with ATI graphics cards can now breathe more easily, as Linden claim these are now supported in the latest client build.
  • The Voice Beta has now been opened to all users registered before 19th Feb, 2007. You will need a new client, downloadable here.

Toca Me, Toca II

I recently blogged about the arrival of Toca Me, a web, print and event design company, based in Munich, in Second Life. In that article I noted that, although they had a chunk of "first land" on the mainland, they were actually developing an island of their own. Well that island is now open to ramblers (thanks to "ron jubilee" at Toca Me for the info), so I dragged myself away from my own little plot of virtland, and toddled over for a look.

I took rather a lot of pictures, so that must tell you something. Here's the first batch:

The island is carved up into several zones, or islands, best described using the content from their notecard:

TOCA ME island is set up as a group of islands - each one dedicated to the overall concept
of TOCA ME design community: feel me, watch me, touch me and the showroom.

FEEL ME: welcome to TOCA ME - the origin of your journey through TOCA ME island. have a look at our portraits, get your free TOCA ME shirt and talk to us via the message board.

WATCH ME: following the concept of the TOCA ME design community, the watch me island features amazing designers from all over the world. video screenings on huge displays and an enormous amphitheatre - platforms for artists and future events. you have something to show? just let us know or join our call for entries!

TOUCH ME: this is your playground or sandbox (spoken in terms of second life). feel free to experiment with prims and objects and show us your building skills.

SHOWROOM: in our spacelab you can browse through our recent projects and talk with us about future projects in our private meeting sphere. coming soon.

Or in less flowery lingo, there's a sandbox, a movie zone (2 actually), and a number of outdoor seating areas. Meanwhile, at some ridiculous altitude (in excess of 400 metres) there's a development "pit", which looks like a sandbox for developing island content. Above this is the Meeting Sphere (piccies below).

A nice touch is the lifebelt/"polo mint" thingy, which you can use to paddle between islands. The art-work is interesting, and a sandbox is always a plus,. From Toca Me's point of view, the sandbox is also a potential recruitment aid, in that budding designers and developers can plonk their stuff here in the hope it will tickle the owner's fancy.

One thing you might have noticed: it is very... well... white. Is this some kind of German design statement? BMW has the same thing... vast acres of eye-numbing whiteness, it's like snow blindness... stumbling around, bumping into white things superimposed on a white background. I understand minimalism, cleanness of line and all that jabber... but if it results in something that has reduced function or usability, then I think it's worth a rethink. At least give the impression of shadow --- something Rivers Run Red have off to a tee, in my view.

That said, I rather like the place. It's austerity is offset by a fairly high degree of cool. For instance, I like the way movies will start when I walk into a "Watch me" area, and stop when I walk out. I like the simple elegance of the seating too, and the "private" meeting sphere is cool too.

In terms of freebies, aside from the usual Tshirt, you can pick up a neat chair. A fairly simple affair, low prim count and a simple script to change it's colour when you sit on it... not flashy, just nicely executed.

Finally, the island reflects the same design aesthetics as used on the Toca Me website, so the branding is consistent. As to purpose? Well, I am guessing it serves 2 main functions: first, it allows the company to showcase its capabilities and aesthetics; second, it provides an opportunity to recruit SL designers.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Finally Taking the Plunge

After much "ummm-ing" and "errrrr-ing" I have finally got myself a place in the virtual Sun. All I need to do now is figure out what in the name of [insert deity here] I should do with it!

It's a balmy, breezy corner of a tier-5 sim... a gentle slope leads down to the shoreline.... though there is no beach to speak of, as the land dips suddenly into the clear blue waters. I took possession late Saturday night, and spent a chunk of Sunday moving in. All expense has been spared in my liberal use of freebies, with palm trees fringeing the shoreline, while on the higher ground I have some sturdy cypress trees sheltering a little temple. This was something I built a few months ago, using a variety of public and less well-known sandboxes. It's good to give it a permanent home. For a house I've opted for one of the many freebie beach houses, built on stilts, reaching out over the sea. Aside from that, I think the only extravagance has been a 36-prim telescope, that is just too cool to leave out.

I've constructed some pathways, lit with mini-glowballs, and a micro-volcano, for a touch of geological glamour. I raided Yadni's for a bunch of free furniture, but couldn't really find what I wanted. So I made some simple chairs, that are now arranged around a fire pit, overlooking the sea.

I've also unpacked some of my (so-called) arty pieces, to enliven the place. Over time I expect the site to fill with more of these... but I'm trying to maintain a harmonious balance of content and open spaces. My landlady has requested that no building be greater than 35ft in height - and I'm completely happy with this constraint (it's OK to build what I want above cloud level). At the moment my nearest neighbours are on the other side of the island, but I'm sure the intervening land will fill soon enough. As long as everyone conforms to the minimal standards, then this should be a really nice island.

After some consideration, I have decided that my aims for this land are threefold:
1. It gives me a place in SL to experiment with scripting;
2. It gives me a place to build and display my array of widgets and arty wotnots;
3. It provides me with a place to meet friends and colleagues.

And now, I suppose I ought to critique the build. In terms of its current aims, the build seems reasonably successful. However, some of the space could and should be put to better use. There is a general lack of information available, no permanent greeter and a paucity of cutting-edge web2.0 integration features. However, this is tempered by the fact that it represents only about 8 or 10 hours work, and it does seem well-balanced. Recent visitors have all offered congratulations and praised the nature of the build --- but then, they're hardly going to say negative things, are they?

The experience to date has already proved instructive:

  • Although I have known intellectually that it is possible to blend bought/free items and self-built components quickly and easily, it is nevertheless surprising to find just how fast this can be done when you have the opportunity to do it.
  • As with anything else in Life, being clueless to begin with tends to mean a poor outcome at the end, but it is easy enough to tweak as you go - something that is costly and time-consuming in RL.
  • It is easy to overdo it - it is important to step back, "pause and assess", before ploughing into the next thing.
  • It is easy to get hung up on detail. If it isn't working, step away and do something else instead. It will still be waiting for you when you get back.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

The Dope on Virtual Holland

Holland, what does it mean to you? Dope and red lights? Tulips and windmills? Well as you can see below, it is the latter of these stereotypes that has won the day in Our Virtual Holland. This newly opened collection of islands is a joint venture between the Dutch ING Bank and British virtual worlds building consultancy, Rivers Run Red. Incidentally, is ING ever going to open their own island to the rambling public? It looked complete months ago, but I've not been able to go there for ages. Thinks: maybe it's just me.... paranoid?... comes of smoking too many of them tulips.

The plan is for Our Virtual Holland to evolve into a virtual mini-state, and to this end they have been offering free parcels of land to would-be residents. Don't all rush to the website though - the offer closed on 21st March. Rather than churn out all the details here, I would refer you to this page of their website, which tells you everything you need to know (if not, try their FAQ). As is usual with SL that magic word for 2007, "Innovation", looms large. I will be interested to see what emerges.

Here is a map of the main land mass. The sim on the right is carved into plots of varying sizes (the circle indicates the windmill pictured above). I assume these regimented rows are for the use of new residents. Today, they are awaiting their new owners, and are largely bare. Many seem very small, and will surely push the inhabitants' ingenuity and innovation!

The central sim features a large building that in RL is presumably an apartment block. I feel I should recognise it - but I don't. If you know what it is, let me know and I will update this entry.

The central sim feature a large building that is a replica of the Amsterdamse Poort Office, a former ING head office located in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost [thanks for the info, Marcel]. In SL, this block contains a meeting/dancing area and an art gallery. There is a rooftop patio, for alfresco dining and escaping the hubbub in the dance area below.

Further to the West is an area of waterways, cycle paths and houseboats. On another sim there is a huge tulip (d'oh!) field. You can rent a strip of it and grow your own tulips for a small fee that goes to charity. I suppose advanced hydroponic greenhouses would not really fit well with the (slightly twee) image of The Netherlands being conveyed here. Oh... and of course, there's numerous bike hire stands.

The last sim currently resembles a map of Northern Holland and contains an office and the start of an orientation environment, still under development.

So what do I think? Well... the build quality is good, but more importantly, the idea is a novel one in SL, as far as I know. To lift a quote from their website: "OurVirtualHolland will be a place where people have the opportunity to create their own ‘Holland’. You can set up a small business, build a new house or design new products either on your own or together. We want to attract creative and entrepreneurial people and help you to explore the Virtual World. OurVirtualHolland will be a breeding ground for new ideas and initiatives on an international level. Communities will evolve, who will share experiences and work together."

You can read a list of planned resident ventures here, a report on the opening of the site.

No doubt old hands from Neufreistadt and other such venerable institutions will point out they've been doing this lark for ages. What I find interesting here, though, is that a large RL commercial organisation (ING) is driving this. In considering what they will get out of it, ING have already pre-empted my question: "ING is taking the virtual-world phenomenon seriously and expects that part of its future internet activities will become three dimensional... ING seeks to gain a better understanding of improvements it can make to products and services by assessing valuable feedback from inhabitants who will experience ING in Second Life."

So there you are. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Friday, 23 March 2007

T-Online Online and Inworld

Out on a short ramble today I spotted a couple of islands belonging to T-Online, the German ISP, so I popped by to take a look. T-Online already had some involvement in Second Life as co-sponsors (with Axel Springer) of the SL newspaper, "The AvaStar". [Hmm... I see Gwyneth Llewelyn has written an article in the latest copy - should be worth a read.]

At the CeBIT show in Germany last week T-Online unveiled their new presence in SL.

The 2 islands share a common "tropical isle" theme, but serve 2 different functions. First, there's the information and events island - the place to go to find out stuff. Then there's the beach island, where you can go to chill out, dance like a loon or laze in the Sun.

Here's the map for the first island.

As you can see, it's not all about ruthless efficiency - rather it seems to be a bit confused about its purpose. On the one side, you have serious-minded locations like the "executive briefing centre" and "board meeting centre" (nice to see English spellings too!). On the other, you have the catwalk and gallery. The latter has a nice facility - it allows you to upload your portrait (or so it says, I'm too shy) on to the Gallery wall. There appears to be a photo-studio, like that at AOL Pointe, but there were no instructions or any indication that this did anything.

They also employ a greeter to welcome you to the main building - which is always a good thing in my book.

The second island, aside from sporting a giant logo, seems largely unadorned. There's sunbeds, a beach hut and some dance stages. The place seemed quite popular, with a number of people dancing or sunbathing.

If I am not mistaken - and I often am - the islands have been put together by The Web Production, or so this webpage says. It's not a company I am familiar, but I now know they are based in St Peterburg (the one in Russia, not Florida). There are some nice aspects to the build - which seems to be very effective in "midnight mode". However, I am curious about the messages T-Online wants to put out. Are they trying to use the place for their own internal meetings, attract business customers or provide a "promotional playground" targeted at home users? Most of the site would suggest the third of these, and if that is the thrust then maybe they'd be better shifting the "serious stuff" to another, more private sim. Just a thought...

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

The Builders, Can They Do It?

And with the earworm that is the theme from Bob The Builder still rattling around in my head, I thought I'd look at the building community in SecondLife. This has been prompted by a recent entry on the Official Linden Blog - and I confess to have robbed freely from it. However, there is some original content too!

In February, 2007, the SecondLife developer community was surveyed by Linden Labs. At the time the Developer Directory listed some 90 developers: 50 full-service and 40 consultants - double the number that existed 3 months earlier.

Linden noted that only about 1/3 of the developers responded to the survey so the numbers presented represent only a slice of the total Developer community.

The first point of note is that the Developer community has a large number of small companies, and a small number of fairly large companies (D'OH! No excreta, Sherlock!). The largest number of employees was 175, while 3 companies listed over 50 employees.

In my conversations with builders it is clear that within the Developer community there is an unofficial tier system at work - with Tier 1 equating to the small number of larger companies, such as Electric Sheep, Millionsofus and Rivers Run Red. Snapping at their heels are the up-and-coming Tier 2 companies, expanding to take advantage of the massive increase in demand, but still of middling size, such as Metaversality and Beta Technologies. In Tier 3 are the small companies, like my friends at Virtuool, and contractors. This last group face some interesting choices:
Do they go for growth and aim for Tier 2?
Or should they look to be absorbed by a Tier 1, as happened to the excellent Rezzust last year.
Or simply stay as they are, taking direct commissions and subcontract work?

With the SL resident population now standing in excess of 4.8million, forecasts at the start of the year of 6million residents in June/July now look like underestimates. Current predictions of 13-15million by the end of 2007 certainly look feasible. Businesses are already salivating over the prospect of so many potential clients/recruits/informants/reviewers. And they're going to need builders to help them realise their SL objectives. The future for builders is looking very promising.

But right now, let's look at some of the results of the Survey:
1) Number of full-time equivalent employees and contractors
Total: 559 Average: 19 Median: 5
I noted above that the largest company has around 175 employees. Many companies employ people outside the immediate area, and indeed, outside the home country.

2) Where do you recruit employees?
Mostly Second Life: 41%
Mostly real life: 19%
Both: 41%

3) Projects in the current pipeline
Total: 380 Average: 12 Median: 4
With the large companies averaging 15 projects, while the smallest average 4 projects. The growth in project numbers parallels the growth in developer numbers.

4) What is your estimated revenue (in US$) from SecondLife projects for Q1/ 2007?
Total: US$ 6,700,000 Average: US$ 161,500 Median: US$ 31,500
The revenue per company ranged from $45 - $2M, with the largest 10 companies forecasting incomes about 35x the smallest 10 companies.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Innovation in SecondLife

I've rambled around Second Life for some months now, blogging sites of interest - commercial and educational. Until now, I haven't really given much thought to a Top 5 of Second Life innovation. However, I was speaking with a colleague last night and he raised an interesting challenge: "Show me somewhere that represents the most innovative use of Second Life."

Now I will confess at the outset that I don't frequent the mainlands that much, as they tend to exhibit a cacophonous kaleidoscope of weirdness, while suffering levels of lag that border on the insufferable. This means that there are huge tracts of SL of which I remain blissfully ignorant. However, here are a few candidates for my Top 5 of Innovation (currently in no particular order):

  • Virtual Sao Paolo
  • Svarga
  • NOAA
  • PA Consulting Demo Island
  • Ramonia
I'd be interested to have your views, gentle reader. What is the numero uno of SL Innovation - and why? (Casin0s and p0rn don't count!)

Also - my colleague was particularly keen to know if there's anything inworld that models a real world health and safety concern, such as a chunk of oil refinery.

Leave a comment with your views.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Merc C Class launched into Second Life

Last Friday (16th) Mercedes launched their new 'C' Class car in RL and SL, and it seems to be something of a hit with the virtual petrolheads of SL. I popped along for a look earlier today, when there were about 20 such afficianados lining up to grab a car and zoom around the newly re-configured track, which now features a jump and a slalom to add a bit of zesty excitement to proceedings.

Given the hullabaloo, it is a surprise that the official blog has not been updated to reflect this. But I guess the RL version is a bit more important to Merc than its virtual sibling. Oddly, even the normally reliable SLNN has not got a piece on this.

I have to confess, as I'm not a petrolhead - and the lag was terrible, even with only 20 people on the sim - I did not go for a spin myself. However, I spoke with a friend who had given it a try, and he found it a difficult drive, mainly on account of the lag. Though from what I could see, it was quite responsive - and fast. No doubt like its RL counterpart.

If I were you - I'd wait until the numbers dropped a bit before giving it a whirl. But then, I'm not you :-)

UPDATE: Tonight (Tues. 20th) the island was quiet, so I took a test drive and found it lived up to my expectations - namely, the car was too twitchy to drive well. Maybe it's just me (I did see far bettter exponents of the art of driving in SL), but the experience wouldn't sell me on a Merc!

UPDATE 2: I was chatting with someone who'd spent some time with the SL car - and they were of the view that it was...if I have word correct... "awesome". It is a simple matter of getting used to the gears, apparently. Having watched a few spectacular laps, I would agree. That said, another friend who'd mastered the gearbox still thought it sucked. I guess you'll have to make your own mind up!

In other news, I spotted a new island under construction (well, I've spotted a lot - but I thought I'd mention this one today) from a company called Maastrek Selection. Never heard of 'em? Neither had I. They are a promotions company specialising in promotional merchandising. You know the sort of thing I mean: mousemats, CDs, mugs, pens, clocks, cameras... the list is seemingly endless. I thought it interesting that they are coming to Second Life. In fact, now I know they exist, it seems like stating the bleedin' obvious. SL strikes me as an ideal location to widen their market (they are based in Germany) both in terms of promoting their RL products, but also (and I'm guessing wildly here) by introducing new lines of SL products for the many companies now in Second Life. As I have mentioned on innumerable occasions - SLers are, at heart, a bunch of freeloaders who like their freebies. This could be your one-stop-shop for all your virtual branded goods needs. I will be interested to see how this plays out.

(No piccies today)

Saturday, 17 March 2007

NMC Meeting on 3D Net

Damn... I missed this: Daniel Reed, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, gave a live presentation yesterday on Computing the Future: The 3-D Net at the New Media Consortium in Second Life.

Fortunately for me and others who missed it, the presentation (a 32-slide deck) is available as a PDF file here, while there is also a set of pictures from the event on flickr. Also, you can download the mp3 of the presentation here.


Ajax Arena

Ajax Football Club of Amsterdam - one of the most famous names in the sport - opened up an island in Second Life this morning. The build work, which is to a high standard, has been carried out by Nemesis Content Creation, the team behind innovative inworld game ideas such as Numbakulla, a Myst-like game deployed in SL. Reading about the site in other blogs, it seems that the Dutch telco KPN may be is a co-sponsor.

I guess it should come as no surprise to find the site is dominated by a football stadium (the arena), that is an uncannily good simulation for their RL stadium. I know there is a War of Virtual Aesthetics in parts of SL, between those who believe it is good and healthy to import RL buildings into SL, and those for whom it is a complete abomination. Personally, I hate the zealotry coming from the more extreme factions in this "war". In my view, if you have an iconic building in RL, then flaunt it in SL - provided you do it justice. I think the Nemesis team have done a great job in transforming the RL stadium in to SL.

Inside the arena there are seating areas (d'oh) and bars, while the more enthusiastic can run around on the hallowed virtual turf, or sit up in the gantry lighting to get a good view of the on-pitch shenanigans. Outside the main arena there are open areas, the Ajax shop (which seems rather bare at the moment), a bar and a second shop that is yet to be occupied. All of these are linked with easy-to-use teleports - just click and you're there.

The island is intended to appeal, in the first instance, to Ajax fans - with matches being screened live into the arena. The first such is the game on Sunday, 18th against league leaders PSV Eindhoven (who currently have a 23 point lead over Ajax, who are languishing in mid-table mediocrity this season). For those who are not footie fans, the arena will also host non-footie events, although no schedule is currently available. The site should hold up to 50 spectators - rather less than in RL, but average for a SL sim.

I didn't find much sign of freebies. but then given the amount football clubs charge in RL for branded items like replica kits and so on, perhaps this is to be expected. I confess, however, that I may not have spent sufficient time here to discover any freebies that may be on offer.

I mentioned the build quality briefly above. I think the furniture and buildings here have been developed to a very high standard indeed, and should give Nemesis an excellent reference for obtaining new commercial development work.