Tag Archive: osgrid


Law of Drama

We, all of us, are a messy mix of virtue and vice. But virtual worlds may lead us to see people through black or white filters. Instead of character flaws, we see demons. Every human being has some goodness inside them. Somewhere. But in the virtual world, we become convinced that we are utterly just, and the other side is mired in evil (or at least incompetence). We do not see our opponents as they are: flawed humans, as imperfect as we are ourselves.

There certainly are people and situations that deserve righteous anger: those who hurt for the sport of it; deceivers and exploiters; and those who engage in destructive behavior and thoughtless self-indulgence that causes harm.

But it seems to me that too many people are addicted to the primitive thrill of drama. They seem to hunger for the battle-lust of explosive anger, or the conspicuous display of woundedness from having been wronged. I won’t deny it: both the anger and the woundedness can feel very satisfying–especially because it seems so clean, when we can’t see the effect of our words in the facial expressions of our target. When we see them only in black and white. When we do not see them as whole, imperfect people.

Speaking for myself, drama bores me. It also makes me a little nauseous. It feeds on emotional energy and I have none to spare. Life is too short to waste one minute of it on such nonsense. My instinct is simply to ignore it, mentally flipping the channel.

I cannot stop anyone from trying to hurt me. I cannot control the behavior of others. I can only control my own. I try to do no harm. If someone claims to have been harmed by me, I try to embrace self-honesty and humility, always allowing for the possibility, however remote, that I might be wrong, and that I might learn something from my opponent. If I have done wrong, I swallow my pride and apologize.

I do believe in standing up for one’s strong convictions. I am not a member of the spineless school of can’t-we-all-just-get-along. If someone is harming me, I will do what is necessary to stop it—which usually means simply walking away. In most cases, fighting back stops nothing. It only prolongs it. If I choose to participate in their negativity, I give it power. If I turn my back on it, it has no power over me. I just turn away, without saying a word… and without giving any ground. I have no time or energy to waste on this crap.

Even when I have been hurt, I resist the temptation to demonize my opponents. As difficult as it might be to imagine, I do my best to assume that they are people of good will, trying their best, as I am, to live lives of integrity. They may be damaged (as I am) or lacking in communication skills (as I am). Their action may have been thoughtless, or misguided. If so, then striking back would solve nothing.

I do not engage in vengeance or payback. I treat everyone with compassion, whether they deserve it or not. When you do a small kindness for someone who hates you, they might spit in your face. But sometimes, a compassionate act, even a small one, is infinitely more powerful than an angry one.

And when I have been hurt, I resist the temptation to wallow in my woundedness. All that usually accomplishes is prolonging the pain and spreading it to innocent bystanders. If someone hurt me intentionally, broadcasting my pain would only encourage them. If the hurt was unintentional, the flaunting of bloodied bandages accomplishes nothing, and risks making me look ridiculous. I know how to cope with my feelings in an adult manner, and then let them go.

At all times, I listen, with an open heart, to the words of others, and to their fear, their wounds, their hopes and desires. I listen for the good in them. And I have never yet failed to find it.

 

This was written originally about political debate. I am republishing it by request in a shorter form.

Lies

Recently I’ve been reflecting on past relationships I have had in virtual worlds. One of the things swirling around in my brain is the subject of honesty. Honesty in relationships is an extremely complicated idea. I’m writing this journal entry mainly for my own sake, to help me get it sorted out in my head.

How many couples say to one another, “Let’s be completely honest”? And how many couples actually are completely honest with each other? Not many, I’m betting.

The truth is that everyone lies. People lie for lots of reasons—some of them good reasons. It would be a mistake to cast all lies in the same light. Some lies are harmless; others are hurtful. Most lies swim in the gray area in between.

Fantasy role-playing could technically be considered a lie. Those of us in virtual worlds adopt an appearance and sometimes a persona that may or may not resemble our “real” selves. We operate under a social contract in which we all agree to suspend our disbelief about this. Some people are better at it than others. Some people look straight past your avatar and only want to know the “real” you. Others easily accept the fantasy avatar you have created. Is fantasy dishonest? Or is it playful?

Beyond fantasy, virtual worlds are a hotbed of deceit. Lying is far too easy. We can cover up where we are, and what we are doing, and with whom. We hide our online status. Knowing that no one can see our location, we feel free to invent stories about where we are. “I’m talking with a friend.” “I’m shopping.” “I’m checking something out.” Or, for total privacy, we just create an alt, and do as we please without detection. I know of at least one person who has a partner, and also a sex alt the partner doesn’t know about. I expect there are thousands of others in exactly the same situation. It almost seems to be the norm in virtual worlds.

Personally, I sometimes lie to preserve my privacy. When writing online profiles I usually say that I live in NYC. I don’t. I live near NYC, and I do spend time there, but I don’t live there. I don’t really want strangers to know where I live. I think that is a fairly smart lie and I doubt many would disagree.

“Privacy lies” happen when someone is pressuring you to reveal something about yourself that is actually none of their business. The response “that’s none of your business” might be counter-productive—it might actually increase your interrogator’s curiosity. Telling them something else may call off their prying. Are “privacy lies” good or bad? Rather than focusing on the morality of the lie, it would be better to examine the thing you are lying about, and decide whether it is hurtful.

That leads me to the “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings” lie. Sometimes this type of lie is actually compassionate, or at least benign, like when he assures her that she doesn’t look fat in those pants. But most of the time it’s bogus. Let’s say he cheats on her, and lies to cover his tracks. She confronts him. He says “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” That’s bogus. The lie is not the issue. Clearly he didn’t mind hurting her feelings, because he cheated on her. That is what hurt her. The lie is extra. Lying about it is the secondary issue that piles hurt onto hurt.

What if he’d had the courage to be honest with her long before? What if he’d had the courage to admit that he wasn’t feeling satisfied? That she wasn’t meeting his needs? That something had changed in their relationship, or in him? That type of honesty is extremely difficult. First it requires being honest with yourself. Most of us would rather placate ourselves with lies. “Things are basically fine.” “I do love her.” “I can control myself.” “I can live without it.” “I should be satisfied.” When we can’t even face the truth about ourselves, how can we hope to be honest with anyone else?

The idea of hurting someone we care about is extremely difficult for most of us. He may find it impossible to imagine saying to her, “I’m not satisfied. This relationship is not giving me what I need.” He pictures her ashen face, the hurt and disappointment he sees there, and he just can’t face it. He can’t bear the burden of having to hurt her with the truth. So he lies.

When there is a truth that would hurt our loved one if they knew about it, it’s natural to want to withhold it, or cover it up. The trouble is that this deception almost never works. Not facing a painful truth does not make the painful truth go away. It just sits there, eating away at the relationship and causing damage to both of you. For the sake of not hurting her, he decides to forego his happiness. Does he think she won’t sense that? Does he think that he won’t eventually be compelled toward something outside the relationship that does meet his needs? Does he think that won’t hurt her even more?

Others may feel differently, but speaking for myself, I would choose a painful truth over a comfortable lie every time. Hurt can be healed, but only when it’s faced. If you need something that you can’t get from me, let’s face that together. Give me some credit. If I love you, I want good things for you. I am not so selfish as to demand that you fake it, just so that I can pretend that everything is fine. I know that relationships are not black and white. I know you care about me, and that, at the same time, it’s also true that I cannot meet all your needs. So tell me the truth. Let’s face the next step.

At least, that’s how I’ve always preferred it.

What do you think?

In my last post I discussed new opportunities for OSgrid builders to obtain high-quality textures and sculpts from SL artists who are willing to license their products for OSgrid.

In this post, I’d like to applaud some of the cooperating artists. Below I have listed some of Second Life’s top creators of high-end textures and/or sculpts who offer “other grid” licenses. I encourage you to support these artists by buying their products, so that they will be encouraged to continue to support OpenSim builders and help us improve the quality of our life here.

Note that in some cases, their products are sold only in SL or on the SL Marketplace, so you would need a Second Life account to receive delivery of the product or to contact the artist. Even if you are not currently active in Second Life, you might consider keeping an account there just for this purpose. One of my friends thinks of it like this: he lives in the suburbs, and occasionally visits the big city for a shopping trip!

TOP QUALITY CREATORS OF TEXTURES AND SCULPTS WHO LICENSE FOR OTHER GRIDS

Please suggest any other premium content creators you’ve worked with who license for OSgrid.

Studio Skye – Alex Bader. Alex has just started making his outstanding textures available for download from his website. No Second Life account needed. http://www.studio-skye.com

Primmersive Designworks / E&D Engineering – Eryn Republic, Texture Engineer. Excellent, hyper-realistic textures, emphasis on postmodern, dystopian, industrial. Custom design available. Contact them for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/21145  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

TRU Textures Ltd. – LillyBeth Filth (Elizabeth Gallagher) Extensive selection of quality textures available for download from website. No Second Life account needed. http://www.texturesrus.net/

Anthonys Republic. High quality sculpts. Choose between one-time license covering all products, or pay as you go. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/22444 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Twisted Thorn Textures – Nighty Goodspeed. Only a small selection available on Marketplace; see SL in-world store for much more. Choose between one-time other-grid license covering all products, or pay as you go. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/5019 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Door and Texture Store – VonGklugelstein Alter. Really useful materials for creating buildings. Contact VonGklugelstein Alter in SL for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/21912  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Panther 3D – Adaarye Shikami. Some textures available in SL at Twisted Thorn. Contact Adaarye Shikami for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/9149  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Jubjubs Stuff – Jubjub Forder. Several highly useful sculpts. Contact Jubjub Forder for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/15290  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Svo Michalak. Very nice sculpts of useful landscaping, food, tools and assorted other objects. He told me once that other-grid licensing is assumed for all his products however I would suggest that you contact him yourself to make sure. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/18128  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

FUD – Happyholly Grigges. Some good trees and other items. Contact Happyholly Grigges for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/8976 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

CFD Cloud Factory Designs – Areku Shirakawa. Furniture sculpts. Contact Areku Shirakawa for licensing info.  https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/15366 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

FLECHA – Flecha Warwillow. Contact Flecha Warwillow for licensing info.  https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/52128  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

S.Town Sculpties – CrashOV Uladstron. Contact CrashOV Uladstron for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/39126   (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Please suggest any other premium content creators you’ve worked with who license for OSgrid.

The fact that everything is free in OSgrid may feel like a refreshing change for those who came from Second Life, where capitalism reigns. No money! No economy! Content creators freely share what they make. Take everything you want – it’s free!

On the other hand, it also presents a challenge for builders, especially those for whom quality is important. Most suppliers of high-end building materials in Second Life – textures and sculpts especially – are professional graphic artists who make a living at content creation. Not many of them are willing to provide materials for use in OSgrid. They are, understandably, reluctant to give their livelihood away in a grid where they can’t easily be reimbursed. Without their supplies, quality materials are not plentiful.

Thus, OSgrid builders typically have been faced with difficult choices. We can try to rely on whatever freebies are available here, which can be hit or miss. A few builders, sadly, simply steal materials. Others do their best to learn to make their own original textures, sculpts, scripts and animations, and while that’s probably the best solution, the learning curve can be extremely overwhelming.

However, there is another option. As OpenSim based grids like OSgrid grow in popularity, more and more creators of high-end building materials are willing to license their textures and sculpts for use on other grids, not just the commercial grids like Second Life, Avination or Inworldz. If you want the best quality, and if you are willing to pay a few pennies for it, you now have a lot more options.

We would like to thank these pioneering content creators for their willingness to support OSgrid builders. In my next post, I list their names and URLs. I hope that all OSgrid builders who value quality will support their businesses, as they support us by enriching our world.

We want to encourage high-end content creators to continue providing great textures and sculpts for use in OSgrid. Support goes both ways. If we expect them to support us, we must be willing to return the favor – by buying their products, and also by treating them with respect:

  • PLEASE respect licensing agreements. If the license says you don’t have permission to export building materials to other grids, don’t do it, no matter how much you want the item.
  • It is NEVER okay to give away purchased textures. It is okay to share things you made with the textures, but not the textures themselves. Do not pass textures to friends. Do not share textures.
  • When you use a purchased texture, do not give out your creation with full permissions. Make it no-transfer or no-copy. If you need to make something that is both copy and transfer, use only building materials whose creator clearly intended them to be freely shared.
  • If you have permission to export a texture to OSgrid, do not re-import the texture into Second Life. This is the main transgression that stops most content creators from supporting OSgrid. Also, if you make something in OSgrid using a purchased texture or sculpt map, and import that item into Second Life. replace the texture or sculpt with the purchased version that shows the original artist as the creator.

If you don’t respect licensing agreements, you are only hurting yourself. Every time you use a texture or sculpt without permission, you make it less likely that high-quality textures and sculpts will continue to be available for to OSgrid. Maybe you don’t want them; but when you don’t respect licensing agreements, you help to close off the supply to other builders who do want them. So please respect your fellow builders as well as the content creators whose work enriches our virtual world.

I decided to try Victorian…! We wanted to make our new shopping area reminiscent of New Hope, PA and other small towns where the original Victorian houses have been converted to funky, eclectic shops. I made most of them fairly simple, but on this one, I got inspired to go full tilt. As they say, if you stood still for 5 minutes, the Victorians would try to decorate you… so the last thing a Victorian house should be is simple!

It’s loaded with highly detailed authentic features, including a wraparound porch, turret tower, sculpted balustrades and spandrels, fretwork, decorative shingles and “Stick” detail. The interior was painstakingly textured to match the Victorian styling. The double hung windows even work!

I took my inspiration from various Queen Anne style houses in New England, and the famous “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco. I had a lot of fun researching the style, and planning the materials.

This is one of those “only in OpenSim” builds at 985 prims (no problem, we’ve got plenty more). A residential version will be forthcoming soon, with authentically styled interior. I might try to do a somewhat less primmy version for SL.

The store is offered rent-free. Land ownership is included, also free. We want to encourage content creators to share their creations with our residents by offering them free space to do it. If you’d like to move in, contact Walter Balazic or Camryn Darkstone inworld in OSgrid.

Come see it on the Littlefield NE sim in OSgrid.

See more of Littlefield at our Flickr page.

I fail to understand why anyone would choose to make themselves look stupid by griefing.

As a method of making a point, griefing is inefficient. It has no effect whatever. It doesn’t affect the target. It has no emotional impact. It doesn’t persuade anyone to change their opinion.

Well, that’s not precisely true. It does persuade people that the griefer is an idiot. And in fact it usually persuades people to have sympathy for the party who was griefed. It makes the victim look better, and turns public opinion in their favor, and against the griefer and his or her point of view. So unless the griefer’s intent was to look childish and stupid, it actually has the opposite effect from what was intended.

It’s not just bad judgment — it’s negative judgment. It is as if the griefer tried to think of the worst possible choice, and said to him or herself, yes, I’ll do that.

One of our friends had a small griefing incident at Littlefield. It was not a big deal. What the griefer must have thought was damage was easily undone. No one panicked, no one had their feelings hurt; it was more boring than anything else. But it gave me a moment to wonder why anyone would intentionally choose to make themselves look stupid by griefing. If your point of view is so weak that this is the only way you can think of to express it, you might consider just letting it go, and preserve at least the appearance of intelligence.

Last summer, Walter began to worry about the future of Second Life in the face of growing evidence of the financial struggles of Linden Lab. In particular, he worried about how we would keep our family together, if Second Life should suddenly tank. He decided to work on a backup plan: building us a second home, in another virtual world. Not to leave SL; but to establish a beachhead, a fallout shelter, a Plan B.

After a few months of experimentation with various virtual worlds, he decided that we would build in the OpenSim world of OSgrid. One attractive thing about it is that there is no TOS, and no restrictions on “adult” lifestyles. Also, it is incredibly cheap. For less than the cost of a single homestead sim in SL, we could have 24 full regions, each one with no less than 20,000 prims, some with much more. Unlike SL, we are connected to OSgrid but our regions are hosted on our servers; that gives Walter full control over our world. No overlords; no being at the mercy of someone else’s poor business decisions. For Walter, and for our family, this was perfect. Walter was really excited. I think this is something he was born to do.

Walter’s imagination saw the possibilities, not only for our own family, but for the whole BDSM community on SL. Linden Lab is, to put it charitably, increasingly less hospitable to the BDSM community. But having our own grid would put us in charge. We would not need to conform to someone else’s rules. We would make our own rules, and protect and celebrate our way of life. So Walter hatched a plan to create a virtual world, not just for our family but for the whole BDSM community. And thus, Littlefield was born.

“Our hope is that Littlefield will be a safe, fun, and rewarding environment for the BDSM/Adult/Fetish community. We hope this community will bring together like minded individuals who will be able to create, interact, and have fun with very limited cost. We hope to offer some clarity and education about the BDSM/Fetish lifestyle to help anyone who is curious or wants to learn about the practices of BDSM in RL.” –About Littlefield, by Walter Balazic

As good as that sounds in theory, I will admit that at first I was reluctant. I love Second Life. It has been my home for four years. I love the creative people and the amazing builds and artworks they have made. I love my friends. I love the visual splendor of the world. I love being able to explore strange and wonderful new environments and experiences. I marvel at what people are to pull forth from their minds.

My first few visits to alternate grids did not reassure me. I love Walter very much, and I believed in his vision. Yet, at the same time, my initial experience was unappealing. For one thing, it was lonely: 5000 sims and I rarely saw more than 80 people online in the whole grid. Then there was my appearance, of which I am very conscious in Second Life. I am not a fashionista by any means, but I do love looking good; I have taken great care selecting skins, shapes, hair and clothes and I really appreciate the artistry that goes into making them. Alas, upon arrival in OSgrid, I looked like a 2006 noob; and even worse, the only skins, hair and clothes I found were freebies from that same era. I couldn’t find an AO so I was stuck walking like a duck. The buildings and landscaping around me were amateurish, lacking that spark of design sophistication that makes SL so appealing. I got very depressed over it. What would my life be, here? Yes, Walter would be in the new world, but the prospect of disconnecting from everything else I loved in SL seemed grim beyond words.

So I sat down to think things through. As I often do when pondering a dilemma, I begin by reminding myself of that which is most important, the sine qua non. And that is Walter. He is the most important person in my life. I may live in a virtual world, but my home is in him. He is my center, my ground, my reason for being. At my collaring, I made a vow to stay with him, to follow him to the end of all things. And I will, even if it were to mean forsaking everything else.

Having established that, I began to ponder my dilemma. Staying with Walter was a source of happiness. So what was making me unhappy? I focused on two things. My avatar looked terrible; and the world around me looked grim. Well… what if, instead of just lamenting the problem, I tackled it head on? Could I fix those things? Would there be a way to procure good skins, decent clothes? Instead of accepting as a given the uninspired world I saw, could I build something better, a world that was visually pleasing?

The more I thought it through, the more I began to see myself, not like a refugee, but almost as a character in a science fiction novel–a pioneer on a spaceship sent to colonize another planet. If we wanted something, we would have to find a way to bring it with us, or, more likely, make it ourselves; there would be no stores where we could just buy things. Could I do this? I was pretty sure I could make buildings, but could I make my own trees, my own clothes, my own hair… my own skin?

I thought about it for several days. Then it was time for action. I had to build just one thing, something simple, something that could reassure me that other things eventually would be possible. I sketched out a simple plaza, with fountains and planters and benches. When my friend VonGklugelstein Alter gave me permission to use his textures in our new grid, things suddenly started looking up. I built a few stores. They didn’t look half bad. Inspiration hit, generating ideas for a community center. I experimented with making a tree. I bit the bullet and started to learn Photoshop. I found clothing templates I could work with.

I’m not sure exactly when the transition happened, but somewhere in there, I went from being dragged reluctantly into what seemed like a prison, to voluntarily spending almost all my time there, because it’s so much fun.

There are a LOT of challenges. But now, instead of depressing me, the challenges energize me, and even entertain me. If I need a building tool, I can’t go out and buy it. I have to make it. (But it’s not such a bad thing, is it, to learn how to do it myself?) There is no fashion world on OSgrid; no other designers, no shopping, no couture, no skin makers, no hair makers. But some makers of clothing templates in SL will license their content for other grids; so I can make some cute outfits, and we have one person in our family who is really good at making clothes and shoes. I found a free skin on the internet that’s really good. Hair is still a challenge, but we are working on it. Animations are another, but we now have one pioneer who is applying herself to that trade. My avatar now looks almost normal.

It is a different way of being. My SL has been, not so much about creativity, as experiencing and appreciating the creativity of others. It is a somewhat passive experience of consumption. On OSgrid there is not much out there available to be consumed. Whatever we want to consume, we must make. The experience of Littlefield is proactive, one of creating, colonizing our own new planet, building a world that we’re in charge of, for the benefit of our family, our friends, our community.

Walter was right about this. He usually is right. I am learning to trust that.

I am still in SL–I don’t see myself ever leaving SL–but pixel by pixel, the Littlefield part of my world is coming into focus. It stimulates a different aspect of my mind and heart. It is a place of limitless possibilities. A place that is all potential, all promise, all vision, unrealized as yet, but well on its way.