Author Archives: Rachel Rene

About Rachel Rene

An open-minded blogger with a penchant for MMORPGs, mythology, and llamas.

Lucky Board Camping in Japan

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Adopted as an integral part of Japanese fashion culture in Second Life, Lucky Boards “Lucky Chairs” are designed to generate more popularity and sales at shop destinations by offering free gifts to the shoppers who wait for the first letter of their avatar’s name to be called. Lucky Boards may have exclusive prizes – usually more fun, light-hearted gifts – or offer free versions of otherwise expensive merchandise to reward customers who patiently stand at the store. A Lucky Board may have a timer of the shopkeeper’s choosing before it switches letters, most generally do three minutes, five minutes, or ten minutes if a more expensive prize. Some shopkeepers are more generous than others but definitely Japanese shops are the most giving when it comes to these free goodies.

Other countries too use Lucky Boards but the Japanese culture has definitely adopted it the most, I often see Japanese fashion goers in Second Life “camping” my own board at strange EST hours, clad in fairy kei, himegyaru, Fruits!, traditional yukatas (casual summer kimono), lolita clothing or other ‘kawaii’ (cute) fashion styles with accessories, teleporting their other friends to join in while talking over waiting for the Lucky Board to switch to one of their names’ first letter. It definitely generates plenty of customers who spend time exploring the shop while waiting for the timer to switch on the Lucky Board in hopes of a free gift, shopkeepers aspire for the shopper present in the store to spread word about the Lucky Board or perhaps buy a piece of merchandise as well along with earning the fortuitous gift.

While wandering the Japan SIM, I found a bountiful amount of girls dressed in dainty, often soft-colored clothing waiting at +RUI+ to have their name called on the 10-minute timer for the Lucky Board for the Black & Pink Gothic Lolita Mary Janes newly stocked. If a shopper lacks time to wait at the board, they can be purchased inside for $150 Linden per shoe color. Unlike the non-Japanese Lucky Board-goers, these girls stood silent for the most part, with the exception of teleporting one of their friends in to win the prize followed by “ありがとう” (“Thank you”) before exiting upon claiming her prize. Many shoppers do this in order to hurry the board up to choose the next letter instead of waiting the full 10 minutes at +RUI+ for another letter to be re-selected.

At more internationally popular places like Love Soul, the Lucky Chair is shared between all sorts of cultures and sometimes the annoyance can generally be felt when cultures clash between two friends from Europe spamming sound clips “gestures” and talking nonstop and the Asian friends typically keeping chatter in IMs or only typing when congratulating the winner of the Lucky Chair. It’s really interesting to view the fashion differences between different cultures waiting for the same free product from the Lucky Board too, those from Japan generally in more refined, feminine styles as opposed to the American’s more casual or sometimes skimpy fashion. It’s a wonderful way to acknowledge potential friends and acquaintances who enjoy the same stores and fashion styles as you do too.

All cultures enjoy Lucky Boards – despite the fact it’s definitely more prevalent amongst Asians and specifically the large Japanese population on Second Life –  and it’s a great way to have an eternal ‘hunt’ event, keeping shoppers at your store while upping your population count up for your area., the population count ultimately attracts even more customers if nothing else. It’s intriguing to meet people whose blogs you read online or a shop designer or shopkeeper, who too wait for the same item on the board as you do, literally all walks of life camp for the prizes to be won at the Lucky Boards.

And while I may have been the only non-Japanese avatar waiting in line for my gothic lolita shoes in pink and black varieties (and stood out like a sore thumb, as demonstrated by me carrying a multitudinous amount of colorful bird balloons in my hand and my rather American-looking, and confused “Why are we here?!” friend next to me), I always enjoy learning about new stores through the beautiful array of clothing and accessories worn by those shoppers around me, especially during a new Lucky Board release such as the quaint white shop in the Japan SIM, +RUI+.

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Thoughts on Rodvik’s response to last names

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This is in response to Linden Lab’s CEO Rod Humble’s post regarding the decision to not re-introduce last names to Second Life.

With high hopes that I’d be given a second chance at choosing a name in Second Life, my heart sank reading Rodvik’s post that all walks of Second Life waited so long for with our last update about the issue in January. With such credentials allowing Rod Humble to further understand the importance of character individuality through his solid resume including titles like EverQuest and The Sims 2, I felt certain that Residents now stuck in the middle of this unfair predicament would be given more than just assurance that this won’t be an issue in the future with the addition of other special characters such as hyphens. What about the Residents right now? You know, the Residents already perusing Second Life, bearing this outcast surname and yet still continuing on, with less reverence than older avatars but a compelling love for the grid? This post neither covers nor details anything about current Residents, the plethora of individuals caught in this year (and a few months) of registration imposing this last name and thus winding up having undesirable first names as a consequence.

I feel like the current Residents such as myself, burdened by our last name we didn’t even get to choose and thus alienated (or respected less) by portions of the community because of our registration date and lack of first name options available, are being overlooked. I commend LL for wishing to mend the issue somewhat in the future but Residents right now are stuck and the older Residents have felt passionate about bringing unity between the two classes of Second Life users as well, divided by those with last names versus those newer without.

We’re stuck with names like undercase “deerylou Resident” because the Registration page never clarifies that “Username” is your “First Name” for your avatar, something unique to Second Life that newcomers shouldn’t be penalized for. In any other “game” (I don’t even wish to call SL a game really but it’s the best comparison I can give) a “username” is the name you use to log in with, not your actual avatar. For example, in Blizzard’s Battle.net system (World of Warcraft, Starcraft, etcetera), to me my username is my Battle.net name, not any of my character’s names. Plenty of other platforms follow this presumed standard as well.

As MMORPGs and other platforms who use this definition as opposed to SL’s (extremely) unique definition of “user name” are more prominent, newcomers believe that this username isn’t their character’s name thus pick silly things like “deerylou” without any proper capitalization or “deerysongbird38756” because hey, no one can see our name anyway so why bother with the numbers? Surely our actual characters don’t evoke numbers as many other platforms won’t even allow numbers or characters into their characters’ names as it clutters the world and devalues the character. Second Life is no different and should embrace the fact that many of us come from other platforms where “username” is our login name, nothing more or less and the fact that we’re penalized for it through this decision to not allow Residents to have a second chance at a name is unfair. And for the future, new Residents should be given the benefit of re-wording on the registration page and use the word “Avatar Name” over “Username” in the name selection part. At least then newcomers would be more mindful before investing time and money into “deerysongbird38756” and getting stuck with an undesirable name they thought would be just an invisible username handle.

Overall, I’m happy to see LL is taking action regarding the future of the issue, however us Residents who were caught in the year and a few months gap of being merely a “Resident” and lacking username clarification on the registration page in a time where obtaining a good, number-less username is a difficult feat, are being overlooked. If anything, I wish LL would give these Residents a chance to have a paid name change service if they aren’t willing or can’t simply allow everyone to re-pick their first and surname. The hyphen and characters, while not my preference for a solution, do mend the future issue, it isn’t fair to allow those who have been taken away by this lovely grid to continue to be penalized and forgotten like we have been in the latest official post regarding this issue.

How will current Resident surname-bearers be helped in the future? Will we be able to request a name change? Will we be able to get a paid name change? And will we ever feel united with the older avatars in Second Life, bearing witty, fun, or thoughtful first and last name combinations versus ours, filled with possibly numbers and a forced “Resident” tacked on the end? I feel that we too need to be included in a post regarding this issue and not simply left behind.

From,
A Resident still hopeful in having a second chance at a Second Life name somehow

 

* Also, this is what the registration page used to look like. Notice that it used to explain what the “Second Life name” is in detail that the registration page now dubs a “Username” with no further clarification at all. There should really be clarification on what a name/username/anything they wish to call it is on the registration page once again to prevent people from misinterpreting it as nothing more than an invisible login handle.

Random Modeling Encounter in the Garden

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The Songbird Garden, before the re-modeling grand opening at the beginning of December 2011.

Owning my garden shop in Second Life, which has flourished so much from being just a mere flower-ridden cottage at the bottom floor of our Balu Island residence to being revised and raised up in the sky as some astral space observatory-themed shop and now finally transforming into the sky garden I’d always dreamed of, but never had the resources to develop, we find a plentiful amount of walks of life strolling through the Songbird Garden. Our garden was complete at the end of November 2011 and ever since, some bystanders come to glance at a shop that has more than just general department store-like windows and life-sized photographs of products but an actual garden beyond it to further demonstrate why it’s indeed the Songbird Garden.

I’m proud of this store conjured from my own dreams because it’s indeed something I created all on my own and am so happy to share this vision with the rest of Second Life, and even my parents who can feel my love for nature through this platform. The shop had gone through so many incarnations and this final version represents achieving my dream of having the willpower and resources to build it, and I’m grateful for the positivity I was given every step of the way. My friend encouraged me and sat with me through the many, many days of building this sky garden, one grass strand at a time and made me feel empowered enough to pull off such a tedious task.

In Songbird Garden, you can meander through our garden houses, one offering sound products and the other avatar shapes, which are named after various plants, trees, and flowers and inspired by the lore of each. Even in the back of the semi-greenhouse you can spot new shapes sprouting from beyond. Our shop has bloomed into an ideal place for hunt events to take place, hosts of such hunts love to see gifts hidden beneath the flowers we plant in our garden as part of the hunt itself. If you find the hunt item beneath this particular clued flower, you receive a gift from our shop and it’s brought in quite a crowd.
From Neko girls crawling on all fours sniffing around from the hunt item beneath the trees – we currently have a “Hollywood Walk of Fame Hunt” going on right now where we chose Snow White (Yes, she has her own star!) and hide the object under a lush apple tree to “The Penitent Hunt“, celebrated through the purple heart gift box under the towering lily of the valleys, a flower relevant to religious repentance- to child avatars browsing the free monthly goodies on our table, we’ve literally seen every type of avatar there is in Second Life.


As for activities though? While developing a new product for our shop in our cottage at the edge of the garden, our manager and I spoke over voice chat until we noticed a dark-haired man lingering beneath the tree. We could hear the shots of his camera and thought perhaps he was only taking photographs of our garden, flattering in itself. Shortly enough, he brought a few models with him, girls who sported outfits from wedding gowns to light-hearted, pin-up dresses, one model even wore an avatar shape she’d purchased at our shop previously.

I’d only been to the bigger gardens such as Alirium where people took any sorts of pictures (most photographers enjoy using a green screen and making a backdrop in Adobe Photoshop) but only few places in Second Life are so impeccably worthy to receive actual attention from a photographer with models and I felt honored to be one of them. Our store manager, and real life friend, asked me how it made me feel and I could say, “Nothing short of proud, I’m so glad we built this garden that everyone enjoys spending time in, whether to listen to the gentle Cecile Corbel’s harp over our self-made radio station, to shop around, or to explore beyond the store deep into the garden and perhaps take a picture. Our shop should feel honored now.”

I never thought I’d have any professional photographer or long-time models for various Second Life products meander in and sit amongst our purple and pink-peppered wildflowers nor rest near the lofty tree and pose, but I think it’s safe by this point to say I’ve seen every sort of activity here at the Songbird Garden and will eagerly search every store and blog to discover our garden photographed that evening. Second Life is the only platform in which I could develop something from my dreams and overall imagination and transform it into a complete reality to share with everyone who wishes to traipse through my garden reverie while listening to the fairy-like sounds of Studio Ghibli films, and I’m grateful for this.

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

Fat KittyCats at Mardi Gras

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With the hints dropped to each breeder through the KittyCats Addicts group notices hinting at a special event of some sort occurring this week as the Valentine’s Day event wraps up, KittyCats continues its Mardi Gras-themed celebrations by surprising breeders who receive KittyCat boxes between 12AM on February 21st to February 23rd. With the in-world Mardi Gras Fashion Parade hosted by BOSL on Sunday featuring a Love Leopard – Ambrosia float made by KittyCats Artist Callie Cline, the special “costume” hinted at by Equinox Pinion seemed so apparent yet no one in the KittyCats community could figure out what the specialty awaiting breeders at midnight was yet each eagerly awaited and the suspense peaked when breeder and Too Adorable auctioneer Ifoni Kembla received the first special female box of the event.

KittyCats is only a few minutes into this event, and a few KittyCats boxes have popped up with names alluding to Mardi Gras yet no boxes have been opened at this time as it takes 30 minutes for a box to open. As the day approaches, KittyCats users hope to be able to obtain one of these gifts, which is chosen by random when breeding the KittyCats in this time frame. The special KittyCats are nothing more than costumes, decked out in what should be a very festive green, yellow, and purple display of Mardi Gras spirit. If a breeder wishes to remove the costume due to finally attaining their dream KittyCat, he or she must submit a support ticket and they’ll gladly remove the colorful wardrobe.

The second part of the Mardi Gras Fashion Parade in-world will be hosted by Opium at 4pm SLT.

  • Update 11:32AM SLT: Kitten Longmeadow on the KittyCats forum with the following text regarding the Mardi Gras KittyCats: ” They will have a costume over their real stats, which means if you have a Siamese Blue born it will still have the Siamese Blue trait as the first trait, it will just wear the special costume from the “special” KittyCatS. So you will not loose any traits you would have get with a normal born KittyCatS.”

One year with KittyCats (And with Callie Cline!)

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KittyCats Developer and Artist Callie Cline can only begin to describe the last year of KittyCats as “wow,” as the community has grown from 300 people at the grand opening to several thousands now partaking in KittyCats and its one-year birthday event, adorning KittyCats and supporting their hobby through daily KittyCats auctions, forum activities, and get-togethers. With the gradual growth of the KittyCats group transforming this once small breedable community into one of the most populated and active in Second Life, Callie adores those who enjoy the feline breedable, stating that the KittyCats community continues to flourish with generosity, support, and kindness toward other breeders’ endeavors no matter how large the user base expands, and has demonstrated this throughout the last year.

The one-year anniversary of KittyCats epitomizes not only the vision to create the most aesthetically alluring line of breedables in Second Life from Callie Cline’s imagination (and by the way, her favorite KittyCats’ face is the American Shorthair Silver Tabby, further revealed by the KittyCats homepage banner) come to reality, but the growing friendship of three individuals who entered this business endeavor, Artist Callie, Scripter Dennis, and Web Equinox. Callie added, reflecting on this past year of KittyCats, “I’m super happy to have met Equinox and Dennis through this virtual platform, people that I’d never have met in my real life any other way can now share a dream and make it happy through SL, and through it, have an opportunity to express our innermost goals and dreams through KittyCats, it’s pretty awesome and have met so many precious people along the way.”

Despite the abundant amount of KittyCats breeders who loyally remain active in this community over the year, even the eldest breeders sincerely welcome those intrigued by their hobby, rediscovering KittyCats through the fresh eyes of the newcomers. I can vouch for this too, as I begun collecting KittyCats in August of last year but had neither bred nor entered the community until October (I literally kept my army of seven boy kitties with breed off, for display in my in-world shop), where I stumbled upon an auction at Catnip or GTFO (Now known as Catnip at the Borough) while exploring the sim for yet another kitty to add to my all-boy shop collection. Almost immediately, I  was greeted by both the auctioneer and the audience of both interested bidders and seasoned breeders and was captivated by the amount of energy they evoked for KittyCats. Watching the auctioneer elaborate on the genetics and breeding tactics used on each KittyCat panel and the bidders communicating with her over their shared passion brought me into this tight-knit community and I haven’t looked back, that night the most senior of breeders openly shared a wealth of warmth and knowledge with me. I’m sure there are a prevalent amount of stories of other avatars pursuing KittyCats not just for the striking aesthetics given to each KittyCat by Callie but for the community’s apparent love for both the breedables and the community.

“I LOVE our community. Truly it was our goal from day one to foster a community which would be kind, our goal for a strong community was as high as having a well-working cat. That was our dream, truly,” Callie urges newcomers to get involved in the community that has blossomed so much from the beginning, a first priority of the KittyCats team who too likes to partake in community discussions and activities rather than seem like a separate, invisible body, “Anyone new to KittyCats should join our groups and jump in, our cats love water and we love to answer questions and have fun!”

(Courtesy of Callie Cline)(Courtesy of Callie Cline)Callie Cline, listed by Maxim magazine as #95 of the 100 Hottest Women in 2007 (And first Second Life avatar to ever hold this honor!) and former spokes-avatar for Pontiac, deems the KittyCats community the most wonderful group she’s partaken in and awaits this next year of KittyCats, beginning with the Love Leopards – her favorite collection thus far – and Birthday kitties in celebration of KittyCats’ first anniversary.

Bestowing excitement upon the KittyCats party celebrating the first year hosted by Developer Equinox Pinion, Callie Cline continues to unite the community through her unending enthusiasm, lively personality, and kindness, inspiring KittyCats fans whether through this birthday celebration, the KittyCats forum, or the KittyCats Addicts chat. Callie embraces that the group’s connection is on a deeper level to each KittyCats collector, a unification that Callie cherishes, “Over the last year, I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that we all want love and we all want a connection with others and our world, and that no matter what, we’re so alike in our basic desires for that. When we love and hope for the best in each other we get way more than we could ever imagine, and the fact that this can happen in a virtual world through pixelated cats is thrilling.”

Beyond the ever-growing community that holds this breedable strong, KittyCats has redefined the term ‘breedable’ across the grid with its advanced, cutting-edge mechanics and an overall sophisticated breeding system. The site for KittyCats too expands from more than just a site to garner general information about the available traits to the curious, but automatically hosts a free pedigree for each KittyCat born. The pedigree reveals a family tree for the KittyCat, stemming back to the select kitty’s grandparents and showing each one’s traits and owner. KittyCats owners can further customize their kitties perusing the main store with their kitty of choice and selecting from a wide array of collars, hats, and the very newly-introduced vests after your KittyCat has pounced onto your shoulder or into your arms to be cuddled, ready to travel with you. Even those don’t have their own KittyCat can pet and play with the kitties, interacting with others besides their owner. Over the year, KittyCats has undergone plenty of upgrades to both enhance and expand their abilities and interactions with others, each of these features scripted by the talented Dennis, who maintains all of the coding for these unconventional breedables.

With a plethora of diverse, beautifully-designed cat breedable offerings, a development team focused on uniting the community and promoting kindness, and plenty of breeders celebrating the one-year anniversary of KittyCats beneath an outdoor woodland canvas dotted with colorful balloons, live music, and kitties offering birthday hats, I hope that KittyCats continues to flourish throughout Second Life and experience plenty more birthdays in the future!

Residing in my in-world cottage with my new siamese flame kitten adoption perched on my shoulder, Rainbow Brite, named for her recessive yet startling rainbow prism eyes.

Stay tuned for future KittyCats features, including a glance at KittyCats’ ingenious scripter behind this breedable!

KittyCats One-Year Anniversary & Valentine Event

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With teasers released hours before unmasking some of the mysteries of the KittyCats launch event, players partaking in this Second Life breedable community flocked to their KittyCats group chats to hype up the release even more, still puzzled about what KittyCats Lead Designer Callie Cline had in store for them at 12AM PST. It seemed almost like a virtual camping out in pajamas with your friends party within this large community, waiting for the main store to re-open with the surprises that KittyCats support staff continued to tease members with through their main group chatroom, followed by plenty of wink faces, hinting at different guesses residents proposed to the staff about the event yet to come. 😉

What makes the KittyCats breedable community so lucrative is that it’s not only a tightly-knit yet populated community but the breedable cats themselves are aesthetically beautiful, with an enthusiastic development and design team actively working constantly and partaking in community events with guest appearances. There are auctions at all hours of the day, with auctioneers selling off KittyCats in a dozen panels in two hours per auctioning session, and people willing to offer a bountiful amount of money for the dream cat of their choice. Money seems an afterthought in this community as just the other day at an auction, an avid collector spent the equivalent of $400 USD on a ‘dud’ cat bred with a recessive fur. This was only a dud and it shocked the rest of the audience hanging on the edge of their virtual lilypad seats, watching a bidding war unfold over two girls desiring this dud KittyCat in hopes of breeding out the recessive fur hiding beneath it.

12:11AM PST struck and the KittyCats Main Store opened its e-doors, I attempted to flock in with a friend, eager to get a taste of what the KittyCats team had been hyping all day. We discovered a wide array of pastel-colored kitties called “Love Leprecats,” spotted in white and black lip vector art and in bright colors, the rare cats were the rainbow-colored ones in the center, their colors called “ambrosia.” Each KittyCat went for $750L (About the equivalent of $3 USD) and people bought them by the dozens in hopes of garnering the full collection, as every Love Leprecat purchased was given in a random color and the ambrosia ones appeared a rarer odd than the others, naturally the KittyCats chat flooded with people asking to trade duplicates or offering to buy the ambrosia cat for extreme prices from other players.

Chaotic at best, the KittyCats Main Store lagged and the region filled up, closing due the overpopulation of people within the zone. A few moments later, Callie Cline sent an invitation to a second, much quieter location, she had been able to put down a small KittyCats vendor on the boardwalk of the Mango Yacht Club. I quickly headed over there, unwilling to tolerate the lag of the main store anymore as my avatar floated around uncontrollably due to the severe population issues in the store that KittyCats wasn’t ready for.

Within moments I’d purchased my very own Love Leprecat, nearly lag-free, and acknowledged some of the familiar faces nearby – I saw an auctioneer from Juice Berry Farms and the lucky girl who went home with the jaw-droppingly expensive dud from the other night, among others. Callie was also there to greet KittyCats lovers traveling to the yacht club in search of Leprecats and a lag-free zone. Both zones quieted down soon though as people successfully purchased their boxes of breedables and retreated back to their Second Life homes. The chat spam turned from “OMG!!” to “Does anyone want to trade a Lemon Leprecat for an Apple Leprecat?” and the chat continued to scroll, beyond anyone’s capability to read everything at once being said in the KittyCats Addicts group.

Despite retrieving my Love Leprecat easy at this satellite location, I sauntered around the Mango Yacht Club, located on mainland – meaning it’s on an actual continent created by Linden Labs versus an island in the vast expanse. I viewed the boats of all varieties from wealthy users fortunate enough to obtain a spot for their boat, a wide array of yachts dotted the sea’s canvas and a country club, resort house, and swimming pool resided not too far away. With my two KittyCats breedables acquired earlier held by my avatar, I explored the club that Callie Cline belongs to while in the background witnessing the spam of chat from people complimenting the KittyCats team, wishing the breedable community a happy one-year anniversary, and others avidly trying to trade Leprecats with others. A hyped launch that exceeded its crowd’s expectations and a rainbow matrimony of KittyCats resulted from this event with an abundant turnout despite the late hour, no hour appears too late for Second Life breedable members to camp out KittyCats with friends they’ve met through the hobby and eagerly trade with others throughout the night.