Friday, 13 July 2007

Virtuool and The Fight Against Cancer

I received an invitation last night from my chum Joshua Culdesac, of Virtuool, to come and have a quick look at their latest build. On arrival I struggled to find Joshua for a while, until I noticed a small bespectacled mouse waving a placard in my general direction.

Normally Joshua sports a dapper (and distinctly unthreatening) wolfman avatar. With the niceties sorted out, and the arrival of Joshua's business partner, the hubbahubbalicious Piper Pitney, we fell to talking about the site they have constructed. Situated on the Francophone Europe sim, the French charity La Ligue Contre Le Cancer have a small 4096sq mtr parcel of land.

The size of the parcel introduces some interesting challenges for builders, as the number of available "prims" (primitive building objects) is so low - around 900. Virtuool have therefore adopted sculpted prims as a method for reducing their prim requirements. Although initially skeptical, these have proved very effective.

The build, which took only 3 days to assemble, comprises a number of zones. At the centre is an information dome, with rolling displays and links to relevant pages on the charity's website. Around this hub there are 4 other zones, connected to the centre by walkways:
  • The first zone is the Media Room, which will display slideshows and movies.

  • The second, my favourite, is the Meeting Zone. This has a neatly scripted configurator that allows the owner to set the space for presentations - in which all the seats face forward towards a central screen and dais - or discussions - in which half of the seats disappear into the floor, and the others rotate to provide a smaller face-to-face discussion forum. One point - the use of yellow lighting makes everyone look jaundiced! Please change it!!
  • The third zone provides displays and links to cancer research information. The frugally fashion-conscious can pick up freebie clothing here. It also provides access to a yacht - but I would warn would-be sailors that this is a tricky blighter to sail, and has been known to sink on at least one occas ion!

  • The fourth zone is, in effect, a huge plant pot with a closed flower in it. Every time a payment is made to the charity (from donation boxes that can be placed anywhere in Second Life) the flower opens, the plant rotates (displaying the total collected to date) and a chorus of cheers goes up.

The whole site makes strong use of the charity's "brand colours" of orange and blue. As usual with Virtuool builds it crams a lot of clever ideas into its petite space. For example, the walkways have invisible walls - briefly visible if you bump into them - that serve to prevent the n00b or the careless from walking off the side of the path. The level of information is high and the donation flower and yacht make amusing diversions.

We spoke about the plans for the site. Virtuool have been contracted by a marketing agency (un-named) to build the site, and have had liitle (if any) involvement in planning how it should be promoted and utilised. This is unfortunate, since they have a lot of knowledge and ideas about the use of Second Life, whereas the agency has no experience in SL at all. This does not sound like a recipe for success, but time will tell. Hopefully the agency and/or charity will make use of Virtuool - or acquire other Second Life marketing and promotions expertise - to advise them on how to exploit this presence.

After a quick sail, we were joined by Tara5 Oh, Eolus McMillan and Alanagh Recreant for a fascinating discussion about fund-raising for Alanagh's charity in South Africa. This allowed us to test the meeting zone in "discussion mode". But I will leave discussion of that for another day - though my guess is that ugotrade blog will beat me to it.


Joshua Culdesac said...

Hi Aleister !! Thanks for this review. I changed the yellow light :) (Piper told mee she agreed with you on that).


Josh the Wolf

Aleister Kronos said...

Hurrah! I am feeling better already :-)

When I first read the comment, I thought Piper was agreeing with my assessment of "hubbahubbalicious." Maybe she was!