Olympic legacy, what next? Daley Thomson’s Decathalon 2?

So the first part of the Olympic experience is complete. Next up the paralympics. we were lucky enough to get some tickets in the fiasco that was the Visa only powered ticketing ballot/raffle and we went and saw the Gymnasts do their thing at the North Greenwich Arena (a.k.a. O2, a.k.a Millenium Dome).
It was really interesting to see the event as a whole.
We all hope of course that more people will get into sporting activity and generally keep the sociable atmosphere that we have all enjoyed at the friendly games as they have come to be known.
I have no doubt many kids will at least try and take up sport, and the government will apply the right funding and not let all schools sell off all their fields.
The predlets have been amazed by it all, Predlet 1.0 wants to continue her gymnastics, but it also now joining predlet 2.0 and I in Choi Kwang Do. So I suspect that will be mirrored across the country providing the clubs can cope with the demand.
It has also led ( in hour house) to some competitive gaming with the “official 2012 game” on the Xbox. Whilst it does have some flaws it is quite a collection of button bashing angle selecting frustration inducing game play, but it does make everyone have to accept whether they are faster, or better at that instant in time and it does reward practice.
We have of course been there before with sports games. The original arcade Track and Field was a masterpiece of gaming cabinet action.

This then managed to be sort of cloned 😉 and placed in our homes with the then new machines of the C64 and Spectrum with Daley Thompson’s Decathalon Using our GB hero as the lead character and something that is talked about much more fondly than the arcade game.
So will there be a new rash of TeamGB star games? Will that be part of the legacy? Being able to emulate one of the stars of the games will continue to inspire kids, some of whom will take up the sport because they also get to play it and understand a bit about it and get a thirst for winning not just levelling up for ever as many games seem to rely on now.
A more important legacy, and this is wishful thinking, is that the next games understands and embraces the way we choose to communicate online, not trying to stifle it or blame it for branding transgressions.
(I have to say for all the official branding fuss the actual event we went to seemed almost completely free of in your face advertising).
I also hope the next Olympics will take the sort of wonderful digital coverage the BBC provided, and still provides with archives and extends it to give us things we can interact with, 3d spatial data we can learn from and maybe even use in the games experiences I already mentioned. I noticed at the gynastics they had a matrix style camera on the vaulting horse. It was only used a few times in replays but it generated an image from the front and panned 90 degrees to the side filling in the gaps and looked brilliant. Imagine being able to choose to view that sort of replay in any event from any angle just as we can right now with multiplayer online game replays.
Yes I am still talking about the sort of thing we built in ’06 for Wimbledon in Second Life, years ahead of its time it would appear! but lets hope Rio brings a new look at the technology. Even if it is the simplest of e-commerce ticketing applications being done correctly !
So, I loved the Olympics, the team delivering the actual event, and the athletes efforts were brilliant. Well done to them. It was also astoundingly good for TeamGB 🙂 well done all.

A bit of SL fun then onto real CKD Virtual World Coaching

It has been a while since I just went for a wander in Second Life. I have very little building space on my islands now as they are pretty much totally rented out so I just have 1 corner or Hursley. So I thought as I was in there I would pop off and have a look around. It always helps to have a subject or a reason or something to search for, but I started off just looking at some art.
Kinesis sculpture
Though it then dawned on me I had not explored martial arts in Second Life for a very long while and I thought I would take a look with my new Choi Kwang Do enabled brain. (enabled by SouthCoast CKD 🙂 )
There are a fair few martial arts related places, groups etc. None specific to CKD though. I did check out an arena for more kung fu and weapon related battles at Colibri.
exploring SL martial arts
Then I thought it was time the CKD logo made its way into SL and so my little plot now has the start of a virtual Dojang.
trying some ckd in SL
I popped along to Abraminations, just like in the old days back on ’06 (is it really that long ago!) and checked out the fighting systems and animations. The closest was a kickboxing one.
Then I shot this little video to see how off the animations are from CKD. The guard hand and stance and a lot of the moves are not as flowing as CKD but it shows an interesting potential to people not yet versed in virtual world tech and sports.

Now I am wondering about taking the kinect tracking and seeing if I can mocap that to my patterns for CKD and get the BVH file up into SL. Just so I could use a lot of acronyms 🙂 I know the skeleton format is going to be different but it is something to work on.
This is initially just a bit of fun, but…. as we know with projects like The Coaches Center we are getting closer to being able to enable hold gathering and meetings and share more insights.
Here I am sat in my personal coaches office, with Choi Terms on the board and a synchronized version of the kinect ckd test playing, the same view anyone would get if I invited them in.
Snapz Pro XScreenSnapz021
(You can also load videos and graphics etc onto various other boards in the room to share with people)
So there I am with a virtual presence, a shared space and all the tools available voice, text, imagery, avatar placement reaching out to the web to pull in other content. All in Unity3d 🙂 check is out and register in the beta at The Coaches Center

Cool isn’t it? Imagine being able to attend a class from anywhere for those time when you just can’t get to the Dojang, or for blackbelts and masters all over the world to connect and share their insights.

Games Britannia – Inspiring the next gen through games tech

I was pleased, this week, to head up to the Magna Centre in Rotherham to share some time and enthusiasm with visitors to the Games Britannia festival.
I had two workshop sessions for teachers, students and visitors I went well prepared taking lots of things as you can see.
I had the Henry Cort room which is spooky as it is the Henry Cort School in Fareham that is one of the Dojangs we train at for the life changing Choi Kwang Do.
My ever evolving presentation I augmented with live uses of Blobo and of Minecraft, and also showed my real life Makie, arduino and Raspberry Pi.
There were sessions completely devoted to Minecraft and Raspberry Pi throughout the rest of the week but as I was covering the how makers will change the world overviews worked 🙂
Schools booked to come to the free event and signed up for talks. We had some monday morning last minute no shows, which was initially disappointing, and kind of shows the problem with technology in schools that these last minute no-shows may not have realised just how important all the things we were all sharing were to the future of education and the country. That may be part of the side effect of relating it to games, but equally it makes sense to do it that way!
It worked out brilliantly for me as I got to talk to some teachers who were concerned about what ICT would be replaced with. Clearly we need us lot from industry to be in the schools helping or offering support. It seems unlikely that before September anything will get sorted out. The general IT industry is not known for its speediness is it?
The second session I had some very willing recruits to hear about all sorts of things, of course the 3d printing follow on from UGC in games was somewhat of a hit. This combination of games and maker culture is a potent one to anyone, but particularly to young people with a passion for just getting on with things, not held back by rules.
The other exciting part about Games Britannia was the Replayed arena. A huge area filled with retro gaming marvels that took me back. I remember all of them!
It was good to see a permanent stand from CBBC (/me waves to @swingpants) which I could regard as the opposition having been on CITV/ITV but we are all in this together trying to educate and inform. Of course it is only really the BBC that has a direct budget to drive this it seems. The benefit of having a public education remit means that they will continue the great work.
It was great to hang out with my fellow workshoppers too.
Shouts out to Graham McAllister founder of Player Research who I met a few years ago at Develop. He does fascinating work on understanding users and player motivations and being able to apply that scientifically.
Also Mathew Applegate/pixelh8 who is a fellow STEMnet ambassador who has got the brilliant Computing after schools club and curriculum pattern going that will no doubt spread like wildfire.
It was also great to chat for a while with MinecraftEDU who produce a custom Mod for minecraft to help teachers and are getting a lot of traction. i.e. virtual worlds in education. Who would have thought it 😉 So it is great to see it expressed in Minecraft having ceom from a gaming direction for a change. Usually the VW’s are from a non gaming direction and they seem to have more trouble getting buyin from teachers which is a little odd. Still whatever works and drives the industry forward is good by me 🙂
Thanks to Mark Hardisty for doing all the arranging and gathering us and dealing with a complete week of event, whilst I was only there for the 1st day this is a long haul event 🙂

Another positive virtual world wave approaching

We can argue about the delineation between types of virtual world, games and social media and their popularity with users, press, business etc. However it does seem there are some interesting developments that feel like a rejuvinating step. For those of us in the industry and still passionate about it it is good news as we can help all the people just discovering all the wonderful benefits, the interesting challenges and sparking new ideas on how to communicate live online.
The first biggie is the birth of the web based (Facebook) virtual world. Cloud Party. In the very early few weeks of this I could not easily get in on my Mac, teething troubles with sockets etc. So I left it to settle a little.
Now I have at least visited. I popped into the environment, did a little bit of customisation on my avatar(no green hair by default 🙁 ) and had a chat with a fellow Metaverse Evangelist Joja Dhara, so it was like old times just in a new place.
With in seconds I was trying building from the mesh palette.
Cloud Party
Of course it is well known in the metaverse world that Cory Odrejka the former CTO and co-creator of Second Life is high up in Facebook. So this was bound to happen 🙂
In other news we saw announcements about Google having another go a co-creation and virtual world spaces.Combining with Lego to create BuildWithChrome which is starting to look interesting after the demise of Lego Universe Online.
Also the the former Nortel Web.alive, now AvayaLive is finally working not Macs too. It is less live user generated content but it does let user move around and talk with the VOIP working very well and is one to watch for what is a yet untapped corporate market for online communication that is richer than those telecons and powerpoints.
I feel I have said that before a few times 😉
So lets see how this wave pans out, our seed of evangelism coming to fruition? Then we can get on with the next innovation 🙂

Virtual worlds getting a fashionable boost

I was honoured to be asked to write a piece on Virtual Worlds for this great online magazine Flush the Fashion. There is lots to see in the magazine but if you notice pages 98-101 I have explored the adoption path form Moshi Monsters and Binweevils to Opensim and alike via Minecraft. It looks great and they have done an awesome job 🙂 See what you think 🙂

Here is a direct link to the article

Also thank you for the opensim photos – The others images are all from my accounts.

Per Erikson from Lost Castle

Pathfinders Hypergrid tours

and last but not least tidalblog

6 years in Second Life – Rez Day again – Constant change

Another year passes! Certain milestones in life act as reflective placeholders. When I started work full time in 1990 it would be unlikely to be celebrating, or even mentioning that you had been with an online service for any period of time. Computer systems were tools, things that you happened to use. You did not commemorate 2 years since your first email. However that was before we started to interact and have very deep experiences online. Interacting directly with other people, with personas, with environments. So it is now 6 years on I am able to happily shout that its my 6th birthday there.
A lot has also changed out there too. For instance, this birthday snap was taken in Second Life, but then posted to the Second Life personal web profiles, then curated (the new word for shared bookmarking 🙂 ) on Pinterest. Where it is then disseminated to both twitter and Facebook. Our virtual worlds were never really supposed to be isolated islands in the digital landscape, despite the use of islands to represent server space in this particular metaverse. It was always about integration. The integration of our thoughts and ideas with one another, mediated by rich digital channels.

Source: via Ian on Pinterest

Oh it is fun too despite that elaborate description 🙂
These environments, and the ones they evolve into and the new ones that get created are offering us richer and richer ways to meld our minds. Of course in the meantime we have to let everyone evolve their own digital persona through twitter, Facebook and now curation. Some forms of interaction become fire and forget, whilst others rely on conversation and personality. The great thing is we have lots of options, not one tool to communicate. Long may confusion reign. Not least so I can help people make sense of it as I find out for myself where this all goes. Constant change continues.

Monkeying around in a virtual world

MonkeyQuest is a kids virtual world well worth taking a look, from Nickolodean, as it has quite a few things going for it.
1. It’s created in unity3d which is always great to see
2. It has great high end cute visuals
3. It is a Free 2 Play
4. It’s a side scrolling MMO platformer

It is a simple platformer at its heart with some very accessible (for younger kids) puzzles and collections.
It has a constant RPG style levelling up system and lots of things to earn and buy to custom up the your very own monkey.
As you are playing and moving around the lobby style areas you see lots of other fellow players, and some of the level gates need 2 players to work together to get through to them.
There seems to be a large crafting section too though we have not needed, not come across the tutorials for that yet.
Both the predlets have got into playing. Of course being f2p it is enticing with memberships just as club penguin, moshi monsters and bin weevils. It remains to be seen if we need to do that, a bit more free playing first I think.
As usual with these things they are in the world but I signed up to see how the game works and so we can work out together the level of communication and friending. it is always good to gauge this and help set some parental rules.
You sign on is separate from your monkey, it uses a fixed names list in 3 parts to let you have some control over the monkey name without giving details away. Though you will see from the image above mine is called Elvis Wildswing.
When I said it was a 2d scroller the visuals are very 3d but you traverse in 2d occasionally moving in or out of the screen to a new 3d plane. It does give a good sense of depth and avoids any confusion about moving around in full 3d.
I am looking forward to seeing how this evolves and what else there is to play in there, in particular when they get to the crafting.
See you in there?

Amazing Minecraft machines and builds

If you have never tried to build anything in Minecraft you may not realise the effort that goes into these. They are incredibly clever, and also a fantastic repurposing of the platform. Second Life/opensim builders and scriptures take note too.
A machine that is a programmable guitar. Purely made of switches and blocks powered by redstone (aka electricity). A mechanical marvel.

The Simpsons intro redone as a machinima. Like many of the Lego parody movies the adjusting of the style of environment makes this even better

Just to add to the meta nature of mirror worlds there seem to be a lot of recreations of the world of Skyrim in Minecraft too.

There are also lots of very interesting time lapses of massive builds. This one of ancient Egypt is a great exemplar

FyreUK appear to be amongst the best builders in the world too with this recently too.

Still Minecraft is just a game about digging stuff up isn’t it 😉
Nope its a full on metaverse with live user creation tools and digital distribution of content.

Kickstarting the virtual world – busking for change

There is a very large community of people out there who are looking at various virtual world projects. Many of these people were part of the 2006/2007 (and before) Second Life explosion that I feel a particular affinity too. If it was not for all that I would not be doing what I do now in quite the same way.
So I take a keen interest in any interesting projects in the space. So it is interesting when people ask if Second Life is dead, meaning are virtual worlds dead on the basis that they don’t hear wild and wacky stories about them in the press quite so much as its all Facebook and Twitter.
However, the industry is gathering itself and the movers and shakers, new and old are creating interesting things.
One such project is a new mirror world project. This one is from Jon Brouchard of ArchVirtual He has been around a while and is a name many will recognise from his architectural approach to virtual environments. I noticed on the Kickstarter a project by him called Main Street MMO cities in Realtime 3D and so I backed it.

Mirror worlds, replications of real places, have a specific set of challenges in gathering and recreating the physical world, however it was not that problem space that interested me. It was that this one is to be built in Unity3d and hence has the chance of being a very accessible platform.
With such a keen interest in Kickstarter at the moment it seems wrong to not invest in a virtual world project on a platform I have a lot of time for by someone whose work we know is of great quality?
In many ways Kickstarter is an entrepreneurial busking on the street corner, getting small change for your talents but hoping to get enough to make something bigger happen. The fact this project is actually making street corners has a wonderful symmetry to it.

Another virtuous loop in 3d printing/metaverses

It is a few years back now that we started to see applications that would print our digital 3d designs form Second Life out into physical form. Now the current king of user generated content in a 3d multi user virtual world toolkit/game (metaverse) – Minecraft, is getting the same treatment.
Eric Haines has created an open source package to help go from the digital blocks of Minecraft to a file format suitable for 3d printing.

Whilst there is a pursuit of mesh reality in Second Life, smooth curves flowing lines Minecraft’s charm is that everything looks blocky, but you can still be creative in the use of those blocks and colours. (i.e. there is a prim and its a cube (there are a few extra shapes 🙂 ). It is so far way from the uncanny valley, yet it is actually full of valleys in its digital representations.
What I think is great is that its the same cycle as in 2006, in 2011/12 but with even more buy in at the game level, and lots of education uses. Plus this time around we have services like Shapeways to print with.
More please 🙂