Friday, October 30, 2015

Meet the Presenters for Immersive Edge Launch

We're lucky to have an incredibly talented team  working on Immersive Edge and luckier still to have a gifted group of presenters dropping by on launch weekend to share their knowledge about story building  and storytelling. Presentation will last about 15 minutes, followed by  a few quick instructions from me on how to adjust your viewer settings for best experience and how to access the story. Then our team will give you a guided tour through Immersive Edge. Clean out those suitcases because scattered through the scenes are gift items and storytelling tools. We look forward to seeing friends from around the metaverse.

Speaker info and times :

Sande Chen:  How Technology is Changing Storytelling.

If you are a fan of The Witcher then you are already a Sande Chen fan. If you're more into serious games, the you'll recognize her as the coauthor of the book, Serious Games. She is respected throughout the gaming community as a game designer and author. Sande will be speaking Sunday, Nov 8th at 9 AM SLT.
Bio: Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose game credits span 10 years in the industry. Her writing credits include 1999 Independent Games Festival winner Terminus and the PC RPG of the Year, The Witcher, for which she was nominated for a 2007 Writers Guild Award in Videogame Writing. She is the co-author of Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform and a contributor to Writing for Video Game Genres, Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, and Secrets of the Game Business. In 2006, she was profiled as one of the game industry's top 100 most influential women for her work as Director of the non-profit, Girls in Games, Inc. She has spoken about games at conferences around the globe, including the Game Developers Conference, Austin Game Conference, and the Serious Games Summit D.C. She also has a Grammy nomination.

Ruby O' DeGee: Story Building

I was looking for a bio on Ruby and found this article and stole a chunk of it because I swear Ruby and I have some kind of mind link going on. This is exactly what I think the future of storytelling should look like:

"It seems like it took forever.  12 years of developing a process for storybuilding with virtual reality technology.  And finally we are not so lonely anymore.

With those billions of dollars on the horizon 2018-2020, the band wagon is being loaded with the folks (entertainment corporate sorts) who have the wherewithal to get things going.  I am not one of those folks, but my heart and soul is in it.  I would like to live long enough to see it happen: the wider acceptance of a new storytelling medium using digital and immersion arts.  From poetic tales written across clay tablets to novels and film.  Now at last we readers will enter the stories we tell for as long as we like, experience the triumphs and pitfalls, and be out in time to have dinner with our families or get a good night's sleep in our own cozy beds."
Drop by Saturday, November 7th, 9 AM SLT for Ruby's talk on Story Building. 

Bio : Ruby O'Degee is a fictive author and storybuilder, penned by Ann Dickerson. In the tradition of characters developed for telling stories (Sherlock Holmes, Marco Polo, Cynthia Rawlings), Ruby was first made a character for a journal in 1994, and later represented by an avatar (fall of 2003). Ruby is much better known than her typist, author and benefactor, a fact that pleases Ann.

Aine Caoimhe:  All about PMAC  

How do I love PMAC? Let me count the ways... I love it because I was able to figure it out myself in about 10 minutes. I love it because it sets me free from all plus and minus clicking of buttons in MLP to adjust a position. You just grab the model and put them where you want. I love it because starting from scratch with a build was impossible for me to figure out with MLP, but with PMAC I can do a set of animations for an object in a few minutes. I love it most of all because using NPCs on MLP is always a frustrating and iffy business. PMAC is built with NPCs in mind and sometimes even right inside. If those aren't enough reasons, when I replaced all the MLP in one house in one region with PMAC it dropped the region script usage by 30 percent.

Bio: Originally a photographic artist in the 70's and 80's, I gradually added digital art to my repertoire and now work primarily in Photoshop and Blender. I'm enjoying the freedom of retirement to explore 3D virtual worlds using Opensimulator software (OSGrid people will better know me as Mata Hari).

At various times I have taught, lectured and led workshops on photography, visual perception, and the psychology of art to all levels of student -- from post-grads to grade schoolers.

Now living in the wonderfully secluded wilds of northern Ontario with my daughter -- soon to be off to university herself -- and the latest addition to the family: Bonnie, our yellow Labrador retriever who keeps my heart light (and feet warm!)

On Saturday November 7th, noon SLT, Aine will demonstrate just how easy it is to make the PMAC system a part of your story builds.

 Fred Beckhusen: All-in-One-NPC Controller

The foundation of Immersive Edge is Fred's NPC controller. The years of work he has poured into making a tool easy for everyone paid off on this project. From artists to authors we were all able to use some version of Fred's work to rez and move NPCs through a scene to tell our stories. While we were building he kept adding new features we told him we needed. I think his controller went through a dozen  revisions over the course of the project. We've coaxed Fred out from under his troll bridge to demonstrate all the amazing things that are possible with his NPC controller.
Fred will be demonstrating the NPC Controller on November 8th at noon SLT.

Bio: Fred K. Beckhusen, President, Micro Technology Services, Inc. Microcomputer and microprocessor hardware design and programming. My software work is primarily in C and its variants C++ and C#, with lots of perl, lsl script, Visual Basic, 3-D modeling in Solidworks, and lots of other languages and tools I'd rather forget, dating all the way back to the early 1970's. My first computer was the Rockwell Autonetics Recomp-II, a 1K word, 40-bit drum-memory military computer. I took it apart, rebuild it, and wrote John Conways "Game of Life" for it, from careful study of the Mathematical Games column in Scientific American. I still read and love Scientific American, which first published the rules for the game of Life in 1970. Yeah, I know. It dates me.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Story Sequencer Puts NPC Storytelling in Hands of Everyday Users

One of the most amazing scenes from Immersive Edge--an interactive story I have been working on--is this mirror scene. The couple dances in Avia Bonne's beautiful setting surrounded by mirrors. As they dance their appearance changes and the shift through each avatar identity that have taken on over the course of the story.

While this happens there is a dialogue going on, timed to match each shift in appearance.We needed a scene that would play through from beginning to end and reset to wait for the next visitor. This scene led to a collaboration of the scripters. Fred Beckhusen's NPC controller allowed ordinary users to type a list of simple actions on a notecard and NPCs would do them. Aine Caoimhe's PMAC let's non-techy users control and adjust animations and sit NPCs on them to run automatically.  Neo Cortex combined the power of Fred's NPC Controller and another script Fred used to make his controllers work in a sequence.  The result was a story sequencer specifically structured so writers can use NPCs to deliver a story.

With help from Aine Caoimhe, Neo added some code that allows the sequencer to deliver simultaneous appearance changes to a group of NPCs. We had five couples behind mirrors plus the center couple. Watch that change and you see the one in the mirror and the center happen at once. One PMAC script animates all 12 NPCs. So think about that. This is a tool with many applications. Machinima and dance shows come immediately to mind. Musical performances. Theater performances. Tour guides for your regions. With these tools, one not-so-skilled user can create master performances.

Using the the Story Sequencer is dead simple:

All of the tools that power the Immersive Edge scenes will be there free to copy so you can see how we have things set up and then build your own stories from those models. Most likely you will have to remake your NPC appearance cards because those don't transfer well across grids.

1) Looking at the controller content above you see a simple demo that will rez two characters, then sit them on a rock with a PMAC script and a couple of dances inside.

2) The controller prim contains the sequencer script, the appearances for the two characters, and the story card where you will craft your scene.

Assign Your NPCs a Number

Look at the first line, the first number 1 is the number you assign to that NPC when you spawn it. You can have up to 20 NPCs controlled by one controller. We're just using two here so I assigned Namaka the number one and if you scan down that first column every command that starts with a 1 is something Namaka will do.

Set the timing between events

The second number dictates the amount of time, in seconds, to wait before executing the next row of information in the card. This allows you to control the flow of a scene. If you are delivering a lengthy block of dialogue all at once, you want to give a few seconds for that to be read and absorbed by visitors before the next character speaks. If you deliver a three word comment, the timing before the next event can be quite short. you can set this timing as short as tenths of a second.

Make sure your punctuation is correct

Every programmer reading this blog just shuddered, but I'm an everyday author and this is how we think when we tell a story. We punctuate our scripts.
a) Each number needs a comma after
b) You need to put in a quote before you give the command.
c) Each command is preceded by an @ sign and there is no space between it and the command.
d) If a command requires specific information insert an equal sign and place info behind it. If it requires more that one information parameter, the parameters get separated by that vertical line called a pipe.
e) Every line closes with a quote.
It's a lot like the rules for punctuating dialog.

Choose a command

There are 12 possible commands I am going to talk about today for this simple demo:
@spawn=Firstname Lastname| <x,y,z>|AppearanceCardName   Rezzes an NPC at set coordinates
@say= The words you want the characters to deliver in local chatNPC dialogue

@delete deletes NPC
@touch=name_of_object_to_touch Lets an NPC activate a scripted object.
@walk=<x,y,z>  Insert the numerical coordinates for the x,y, and z positions of the destination.
@appearance=name_of_new_appearance card
@rotate=degrees_to_rotate Turns NPC to face a new direction.

That's it, four easy steps for each line you add to the story sequencer. So that first line, assigns Namaka Sun the number one and puts her at location 63, 202, 79. The next line puts Dylan in position. Fourth and fifth tell them to sit on the Dance object which is filled with an initial embrace, kiss, and a couple of dances for them to play through. All that in is the Dance object and preset so saves me programming them to do all that. This could just as easily have been poseballs I sat them on. The cool thing is that the next two lines of dialogue can happen while they are sitting on the Dance. So they talk while they dance.

Having the ability to sit characters on an object which plays through a series of animations (this could work just as well for sitting at a dinner table, eating and drinking while they chat) enables storytellers to give their audience action and dialogue at the same time.

This is easy to do. It's understandable without a degree in computer science. It's free. All of these elements make Opensimulator an excellent platform for authors and artists to learn how to use virtual reality to inspire, promote, and create their work.

Our Immersive Edge story launches Nov 7-8 at  We will have presentations at 9 and noon Pacific time both days. Each program will start with a short presentation and be followed by a guided tour of the story.

To learn more about Immersive Edge and how you can be there for the opening of the story and live demos of the tools go here:

If you've never been inworld and want to learn how to do that so you can join us, go here and follow the tutorial:  Get that done ahead of launch day.

We currently have the portals to the story turned off but I will activate them on launch day so everyone can visit for presentations or view the story scenes at their leisure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How the Hypergrid Made Us More Than We Were...

This is where we were last fall. That is just a concept shot. You can see the final result at Take the teleporter to Dixie Land Band and take home all the makings to try putting together your own band. The lizard band was fun and the most complicated thing we could do with an NPC. It was born from a collaboration between Endora Twinklens and Fred Beckhusen as part of our Hypergrid Story project for OSCC 2014.

This is why events like OSCC, AvatarFest, and Hypergrid Stories are important. They bring us together to share knowledge and work as teams to come up with those wow-factor projects. For the members of the Greyville Writer's Colony they are a chance to explore merging storytelling with 3D worlds.

We love visiting beautiful worlds, intriguing worlds, worlds that make us think.

Chapter Six: Nostalgie by Cherry Manga and Praline B

Ending C -- a virtual paradise by Avia Bonne

Personable characters you can interact with is a new feature we'd like to see more widely adopted. When you set down a character on a scene, especially a character that invites visitors to become a part of the activity, you deepen immersion and a visitor connection to your creation.

Chapter One Demon Dance by Nara Malone,  Shannan Albright and Neo Cortex.

Chapter Five Cheshire Cat by Fred Beckhusen and Sunbeam Magic

Chapter Three Tree Guides by Serene Jewel and Fred Beckhusen

We've come a long way in the year since we released that second round of hypergrid stories. We had 8 different stories by 8 authors in that build. This time around we wanted to see what would happen if we tried to tell a story together. Greyville Writers put out the call to the artists, scripters, and builders whose work we admire. We shared a moment of sheer panic when everyone said yes. This was going to happen. We were going to be spending the summer creating with intimidatingly talented folks.

Traditionally group stories are crazy-quilt tales lacking a common thread or coherence. That didn't happen with Immersive Edge. I'm still in awe of what this team effort produced. We have all learned and grown skills and craft over the course of this project that we now take back to our own grids. The weekend we launch we will be giving presentations on the tools developed to create Immersive Edge and gifting them to the Opensim community. This is why the hypergrid is so important to Opensim.

Immersive Edge is an interactive story using tools that allow us to bring characters to life as NPCs that lead you through the story and invite you to join in the adventure. It was created by members from around the hypergrid community. You'll journey through 9 regions/chapters and choose the ending you want for the characters. Learn more at the Hypergrid Story website.