Friday July 23, 2010 at 22:25

A sound there is between

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It’s been quite a while since my last post (three weeks, oh dear) so today I have a urban summery outfit for you all.

I was overjoyed to find this waterfall-style cardigan among the new releases at Beetlebones, as in RL I have one just like it! They’re really useful and go with just about anything. I teamed this up with this week’s Fifty Linden Friday offerings from Milk Motion - a lovely skin-coloured cami and white harem pants. Both the gorgeous shoes and lovely quilted bag are from Kookie’s summer sale and cost 50L each, so hurry and grab these at the low price while you can :)

The hair and hat are a purchase from fri.day I’ve been wanting to put into an outfit for a while now. The hat colour, texture and band style are highly customisable, which I love! The glasses and necklace are favourites from Fishy Strawberry and Whippet & Buck respectively. Finally, the gorgeous skin is from Mynerva’s brand new line of freckled, ‘touched by the sun’ releases. These come in a wide variety of shades. I love how creative Rhapsody Wilde has been with the differing ‘arrangements of freckles’ - these skins are fun and very quirky!

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Style notes:

Skin: Plain Jane Dolly Dots in Butterscotch by Rhapsody Wilde # NEW
Hair: Victoria in Delighted Blonde by Parvati Monday #
Eyes: ~Mynerva~ SoulHeart Eyes in Velvet Green by Zarothan Wylder #
Glasses: *Fishy Strawberry* College Glasses by Fae Eriksen #
Necklace: [W&B] Repairs Necklace in Gold/Onyx by Dakota Buck #
Cami: (Milk Motion) my cropped tank in Nude by Marie Lauridsen # 50L FRI
Cardigan: BB* Light Cardigan in Black by suetabulous Yootz # NEW
Trousers: (Milk Motion) My harem pants in White by Marie Lauridsen # 50L FRI
Shoes: *Kookie* Powder Puff in Cloud by Kookie Lemon # SALE
Bag: ::Kookie:: Ostrich bag in Purple by Kookie Lemon # SALE

Poses: (marukin) by Valencia Southard #

Listening to: Tha Caolas Eadar Mi’s Iain by Julie Fowlis

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Monday June 28, 2010 at 21:34

Written on the bullet

I was in an odd mood this weekend. I decided that what I really needed was loooong hair *laughs*. Probably an unconscious craving from RL, come to think of it!

This particularly epic hair is from Curious Kitties’ Nyanotech range. Each hair is 100L and you buy the colour-change HUDs separately. The HUDs are definitely on the expensive side… but, considering the price of most hair fatpacks, the overall price works out about the same. You can get a HUD of plain shades and another with streaks in a wide variety of bright colours.

Then I spotted the ever-so-dramatic skin, and this turned into a goth look :D I included some of my favourite pieces over the last few months, such as the boots by Isiss Bade of NV, and the sock-and-fishnet combo which goes so well with them (from Ducknipple and Blowpop respectively). Then there’s my favourite kilt of the moment, edited to fit my tiny avi *laughs*, a layered affair with one of my own tops and a lacy cami from LOOKR (misses this shop *sobs*!!). The eyes are a mix - my friend Roswenthe Aluveaux’s Moon eyes and in one eye, Mynerva’s gorgeously shiny velvet green contacts. Finished off with this extremely gothic and detailed choker from PERTURB/ation.

Style notes:

Skin: *C:K* Ryao Skin in Terror by Ameshin Yossarian #
Hair: *C:K* Nyanotech 09-B Series Hair - Neblya by Ameshin Yossarian #
Eyes: Eyes of the Moon by Roswenthe Aluveaux # and ~Mynerva~ SoulHeart Eyes in Velvet Green by Zarothan Wylder #
Lashes: Innocent. eyelashes - pure by Jocelyn Anatine #
Necklace: [P/a] EDEN -Choker/BLACK+Gold- by Kikis Homewood #
Inner cami: LOOKR ~ Strappy ~ Cami in Black by Adam Soler #
Outer cami: ~hanamachi~ cami in Black #
Kilt: *COMBAT * kilt - female X by Mirja Mills #
Shorts: {Gisaci} Cambridge Shorts in Black by Hudsen Armidi #
Tights: *blowpop* Fishnet Tights in Black by Annyka Bekkers #
Socks: .:DN:. knit socks in Black Mix by beanster Potato #
Boots: [NV] Destroy Boots by isiss Bade #

Poses: (marukin) by Valencia Southard #
and ANAmations by Surrealia Anatine #

Listening to: Cassie by Flyleaf

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Tuesday June 22, 2010 at 18:48

Pictures came and broke your heart

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Geek is the flavour of the day! I wasn’t quite ready to divert from the retro theme of my last ‘look of the day’ post, so I guess I’ll call this one ‘retro-geek’ :D She feels to me like a younger sister who went out to buy groceries but ended up spending all afternoon in the old record shop :P

This look was inspired by Rhapzody Wilde’s quirky Geekgasm avatar, which you can pick up free at Mynerva right now in the Geekgasm hunt. The pack includes a shape, eyes, eyelashes, eyebrows and two tattoos, as well as a detailed skin complete with spots and buck teeth! I especially liked the grazes on the knees.

The hair is an amalgamation of two different hairs in exactly the same shade worn together. I *love* doing this as you can experiment more with the style without too much building know-how.

I matched these with Beetlebones’ shrunk sweater, an old favourite shirt from COCO and high-waisted tartan skirt, which just happened to be a perfect match for the epoque hat (previously blogged). The boots/sneakers/mixture of both were spotted on XStreet and just begged to be partnered with my favourite socks, an old group gift from Mischief. Finally, the cute little take-out box is part of a set from HOC Industries.

Style notes:

Skin: ~Mynerva~Geekgasm Skin by Rhapsody Wilde # HUNT
Hair: Maitreya Moon and Dylan in Crayon by Onyx LeShelle #
Eyes: ~Mynerva~Geekgasm Eyes by Zarothan Wylder # HUNT
Lashes: ~Mynerva~Geekgasm Eyelashes by Rhapsody Wilde # HUNT
Hat: (epoque) Baggy Knit Hat in Plaid by Vintage McMillan # 50L FRI
Shirt: *COCO* SkinnyTie&Shirt in White by cocoro Lemon #
Jumper: BB* anya shrunk my sweater in Cream by suetabulous Yootz #
Skirt: [LeLutka]-MARIANNE skirt in Tartan Brown by Minnu Palen #
Socks: **MIS** Baggy Socks in Cocoa by Janie Marlowe #
Shoes: MK Fashion : Super Sneaks Platform Hi-Hi-Tops by Mason Kingsford #
Bag: HOC Apparel - Takeout Bag in Black by Guu Nishi #

Poses: (marukin) by Valencia Southard #
and Body Language by Sweet Lovely Cute by manmoth Nishi #

Listening to: Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles

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Sunday June 20, 2010 at 1:38

Hey Daisy darlin’

...don't spread your arms so wide...

~hanamachi~ is taking part in a hunt, starting tomorrow!

It’s the Song Lyric hunt - all the gifts are inspired by the lyrics of a song picked by each shop owner. I thought this was a particularly nifty idea for a hunt, as anything I made for it would be personal and special.

The song I chose is the beautiful ‘Daisy’ by Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart. Having been introduced to Karine by Ms. Loopy Furse (the best folk DJ on the grid!), ‘Daisy’ has become one of my all-time favourite songs. I love the simple but meaningful lyrics… and Karine’s warm, lilting voice and soft guitar are so calming :)

My gift for this hunt is a limited edition cami dress in ‘daisy’ with a matching sculptie hair decoration, which can also be worn as a brooch! I hope you like it :)

The Song Lyric hunt runs from 20th June to 20th July, and the starting point is here. Happy hunting!


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Wednesday June 16, 2010 at 12:29

Flashback to ‘72

One of my newly-discovered favourite stores is Veschi. Alla Ruff’s clothes are full of vibrant colour and bold shapes which just lend themselves to a retro feel and as such, I felt inspired to put together a 70s day outfit.

The high-waisted flares are my favourite item at the moment, and the top part of Veschi’s bubble dress adds a really feminine touch. I partnered this with lovely swishy long hair from booN, Kookie’s new city platforms and accessorised with a slouchy beanie from Maitreya and retro case from Picnic (an old prize from Summer Choice!). The skin was an awesome find from new skin shop Mynerva and a gift in the Fashion is Love hunt, so totally free!

Style notes:

Skin: Cynthia Starfish And Coffee by Rhapzody Wilde # HUNT
Hair: booN JPN670 hair in Sandy by boo Nakamura #
Eyes: Tohru Doll Eyes by Tohru Kanami #
Lashes: *Mayden couture* - eyelashes V1 02 by Maika Koray #
Hat: Maitreya Unisex Beanie in Knit White by Onyx LeShelle #
Blouse: -Veschi- Muffin Top Dress in White by Alla Ruff #
Trousers: -Veschi- Jeanius! in Blue Goldschlager by Alla Ruff #
Shoes: ::Kookie:: City Wedges in Road Black by Kookie Lemon #
Case: Picnic trunk case [blue] by nyasyousa Oh #

Poses: (marukin) by Valencia Southard #

Listening to: AM Radio by Everclear

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Sunday June 13, 2010 at 22:04

I have wanted to release a range of kilts for ages… and so I went absolutely nuts creating a myriad of these tartan skirts, which I hope you will like as much as I do! They come in twelve different (real!) patterns or ‘sets’ with a schoolgirl chic rolled-up style sculptie waistband, and a no band version for wearing with sculptie tops. Also included is a special version with a matching cause ribbon charm.

Additionally you can also get this skirt pack in a limited edition ‘Spirit of Relay’ set, which I’ve released especially for this year’s Relay For Life Second Life campaign. All proceeds from the sale of this skirt will go directly towards cancer research. If you buy anything from my shop in the next two months, please do get this!!! :)

Click here to teleport to ~hanamachi~ in-world!

Style notes (L-R)

All poses are by Valencia Southard of (marukin). Valencia is a friend of mine and an excellent fashion blogger who just opened her very reasonably-priced and awesome blogger-friendly pose shop in Horst! She also has freebies and group gifts, so make sure to join her subscribe-o-matic :)

Keisha’s skin is a new release by my friend Nedeko Kohime at Bodyline. Nedeko usually makes shapes and this is her first skin. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s awesome! This skin is amazingly detailed and comes with a lovely range of striking make-ups. Check out Nedeko’s blog for some more photos!

Keisha is wearing:

Hair: *C + C* Mrs. Lovett Wig v2.0 in Black by Rikka Koi #
Skin: (bodyline) SARA_m1_nude(teeth) by Nedeko Kohime #
Eyes: Kunstkammer Surrealist Eyes in Black by Nuala Shippe
Lashes: (OMFG) Lash Factor Giftie by redsoledrea GossipGirl # FREE
Tank: *COCO*_TankTop in Black by cocoro Lemon #
Hoodie: *Fishy Strawberry* minihood in Black by Fae Eriksen #
Skirt: ~hanamachi~ rolled up tartan skirt in Spirit of Relay #
Boots: *Lunas boutique* Gestapo boots in Black by Luna McMillan #

January is wearing:

Hair: booN JPN670 hair blueblack by boo Nakamura #
Skin: [ATOMIC] Skin Winter_Porcelain - Frost by Ivy Graves #
Eyes: Angel 8 Pale Blue Eyes 2C Veins Big by 2C Runo #
Lashes: (OMFG) Lash Factor Giftie by redsoledrea GossipGirl # FREE
Hat: (epoque) Baggy Knit Hat in Plaid by Vintage McMillan # 50L FRI
Necklace: {SMS} Butterfly Necklace in Silver by Irie Campese #
T-shirt: (Milk Motion) My ripped tshirt by Marie Lauridsen #
Skirt: ~hanamachi~ rolled up tartan skirt in Clark #
Socks: Emery Socks in Grey by sunami Beck # FREE
Shoes: [Uniques] »>Chelsea Multi Color«< in White by Jasper Potez #

Naomi is wearing:

Hair: [kik]hair-Kath by as001 Littlething # FREE
Skin: &Bean - Hounds of love LIGHT Nyckelpiga light brow by Keiko Morigi #
Eyes: Angel 8 Pale Blue Eyes 2C Veins Big by 2C Runo #
Lashes: (OMFG) Lash Factor Giftie by redsoledrea GossipGirl # FREE
Glasses: *Fishy Strawberry* College Glasses by Fae Eriksen #
Jumper: [LeeZu!] Woolstock Pullover in Wood by LeeZu Baxter #
Skirt: ~hanamachi~ rolled up tartan skirt in Logan #
Shoes: Babouche in Black by Pique Flan #

Rosie is wearing:

Hair: fri. - Serena - Moody Brown by Parvarti Monday #
Skin: .:Mother Goose’s::.SOY_09 by milok Hermit #
Eyes: Tohru Doll Eyes by Tohru Kanami #
Lashes: *Mayden couture* - eyelashes V1 02 by Maika Koray #
Scarf: ::[ Mr.Poet ]::Wide Scarf by hiwinyu Fazuku # FREE
Jumper: KAO : Uneck knit sweater in Brown by Kao Sands #
Skirt: ~hanamachi~ rolled up tartan skirt in Ben Dubh #
Socks: **MIS** Baggy Socks in Rose by Janie Marlowe #
Boots: *Kookie* Vintage Armarda Boots by Kookie Lemon #

Lieke is wearing:

Hair: !lamb. Sugar Hiccup & Milk (lower part) in Butterfinger by Lamb Bellic #
Skin: .:Mother Goose’s::.GeMMa by milok Hermit # L$1
Eyes: Kunstkammer Surrealist Eyes in Blue and Green Hazel by Nuala Shippe
Lashes: *Mayden couture* - eyelashes V1 02 by Maika Koray #
Tank: !Ohmai : Basics Boyfriend Racerback BLANK by Anya Ohmai # FREE
Jacket: *COCO*_DenimJacket_Midnight by cocoro Lemon #
Skirt: ~hanamachi~ rolled up tartan skirt in Snowy Owl #
Socks: Doppelganger Inc. - Knocked Up Knee Socks in White by Syler Morgwain #
Boots: [N] moccasins in Black by Lost Thereian #

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Thursday May 27, 2010 at 10:20

Dragon City in Blue Mars

Dragon City in Blue Mars

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Wednesday May 26, 2010 at 21:45

Blue Mars: Better than SL?

Alternatively titled: ‘Riko’s first foray into a virtual world not called Second Life.’

Released to a beta audience in August of last year, Blue Mars is one of the most prominent competitors to Second Life in the virtual world platform, or ‘metaverse’, genre. The company producing the platform, Avatar Reality, describe it as,

"the premium 3D virtual world platform featuring class leading fidelity, scalability, security, and connectivity."

Fighting talk from a rookie! But intriguing. Especially given the high quality imagery posted on the Blue Mars web site, which was its main draw for me.

My avatar Aimi in New Venice

My avatar Aimi in ‘New Venice’

~

My initial impressions…

Having originally signed up as a beta tester, after downloading the software I was tactfully informed that my reasonably average PC fell well below the system requirements for Blue Mars. More than a little disgusted, I gave up on it entirely.

Several months on (and with a higher spec machine), I decided to give Blue Mars another go. Amazingly enough, this time it worked!

Having already registered my (fully customisable) avatar name, all that was needed was to download the client. This took a lot less time than my first attempt. Loading the software provided no hitches, and once I got past the imposed avatar customisation screens I was presented with a reason for the quick download time.

Rather than logging you straight into the last area you visited, Blue Mars presents you with a choice of ‘cities’ to visit, all of which require an extra download. The initial welcome area however was bundled with the software, so I visited this area first. I then visited about six or so of the other cities and game areas.

Blue Mars city select screen

The Blue Mars city select screen

~

Why is Blue Mars better than SL?

Within my first five minutes of experiencing Blue Mars, several positive points made themselves known. The main one being the absolutely gorgeous graphics engine.

Blue Mars has realistic, moving shadows and reflections for avatars and objects, and while user-created buildings appear similar to those in Second Life, the atmospheric settings make even plain boxes look vastly superior. Water reflections ripple and distort realistically.

Sit down before reading this one: there is NO LAG. Because the cities you visit are downloaded prior to viewing, scripts, objects and textures rez almost instantaneously. Multiple avatars in a region have next to no effect on lag - I’ve heard that over 1,000 avatars can be present in the same city with no detrimental effect.

Content quality is much better. Trees and vegetation look realistic. Boats bob up and down on the waves. Walking on muddy floors throws up realistic-looking dust.

The content creation system is very secure - Blue Mars just doesn’t have the copyright theft issues that plague Second Life.

The quality of avatar design is very high; so high that it’s virtually impossible to tell a new player from someone who has been playing for months. The lighting in Blue Mars doesn’t cast unflattering shadows on your avatar either. Clothes are fully sculpted rather than textured onto the skin, and hair shines, bounces and swings over shoulders so realistically you’d believe you were watching a L’Oreal advert.

No newbie waddle - all avatars come with a built-in customisable AO with accompanying gestures, all of which are smooth and blend together nicely.

The cities are vast. My favourite of the areas I visited, New Venice, felt like a realistically-sized small town, and looked very picturesque with its background mountains and houses heading up into the hills. As far as I could tell, there are no sharp square edges to a city, like in a sim; nor are there laggy border crossings to negotiate.

I particularly liked the idea that ‘private’ spaces are available in Blue Mars. The golf game, which works more like an integrated ‘normal’ style video game, shows a lot of potential in this feature and adds a dimension to Blue Mars that Second Life just doesn’t have.

Playing golf in Blue Mars

Playing golf in Blue Mars

~

Why is Blue Mars NOT better than SL?

There are also many downsides to Blue Mars.

It is almost completely empty. In two hours of exploration I could count the number of fellow residents I spotted on the fingers of one hand. Though built as a social environment, there don’t appear to be anywhere near the 1,000 avatars per city that Avatar Reality claim is possible (so will this theory actually be put to the test?).

There isn’t enough guidance provided for new residents. There are no tutorials built into the game to teach movement, how to use the client and so on, and no friendly greeters, staff or volunteer, waiting to answer questions. The welcome area was pleasant and nicely designed, but almost devoid of helpful information beyond a board showing blog updates. All tutorials appear to be found on YouTube, created by residents.

While interesting, there are very few areas to visit at present. Of these, only one or two held my attention for longer than ten minutes. While the content quality is high, there isn’t enough of it to be truly immersive. Row upon row of empty shops and seemingly miles of landscape are irritating, when your avatar can only move so fast.

The controls for moving your avatar are clunky and uncomfortable. The default movement setting is ‘point-and-click’ style, allowing you to move your avatar to different locations from a third person point of view. However, this suits a 2D scrolling game better than a 3D virtual world. It wasn’t until I discovered the ability to switch on ‘camera follow’ that the movement began to resemble the fluidity of movement in Second Life. Even then, your avatar only moves based on grid points, following a blue arrow, so movement is jerky. Extremely so when climbing stairs, as the camera can dart around so fast that if I was an epileptic I’d be worried.

Avatars can’t jump. While flying is allowed in certain areas, the movement relies on the mouse to steer, and this is even more temperamental than simply walking. If you fall in the water while walking around, you’re stuck for good.

You can’t TP directly to any spot in a city; you can only use the cities menu or scripted items within an area to arrive at a destination point. Scripted items which allow automated movement, such as boats, teleport points and lifts, are extremely buggy. Most of these refused to work for me, which was disappointing. I also crashed/froze/spun out into the ether numerous times.

The user interface is very minimal. The six or so buttons allow you to bring up the cities menu, view your friends list, change clothes and make-up, change animations and choose basic options, but very little else. While this could be claimed as easy for new players to use, this also means you have little control over your viewing experience.

Customisation just isn’t high enough to match the levels of Second Life. While a server hog, the inventory system provides a much more powerful experience. In Blue Mars, clothes and hair are very difficult to find in quantities great enough to provide the ability to create an individual avatar. At the moment, there is no inbuilt way to take photos in the game.

Nebula West in GridRock City

Nebula West in GridRock City. The UI is shown at the bottom of the screen. On the left, a chat box with expandable chat history, and on the far right, the log out button. In the centre, buttons for the friends list, camera view, city select screen, help, menu expand (the menu shown in full here), clothes, make-up, animations, options.

~

Overall opinions…

Blue Mars, while extremely pretty, has a long way to go before it can call itself a serious rival to Second Life. I consider myself to be more patient than most regarding exploring virtual areas for the sake of doing so, and even I was disappointed. However, there is a great deal of potential in Blue Mars. What appears possible in the future is exciting. Should the platform generate enough users and more content, and several serious problems be given enough attention, the platform could eventually become the ‘premium 3D world platform’ it claims to be. As for the present, I don’t think it can claim that title.

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Friday May 07, 2010 at 14:31

Arizz

On Tuesday we lost a good friend of mine to stomach cancer; Arizz Janus.

At the time I’m writing this, he would have been well into his DJ set at Fibber Magees in virtual Dublin. Arizz loved rock. He had a wicked sense of humour which brightened up my Fridays. His lust for life was unmistakable.

You left us too soon Arizz (even if you were a perverted imp!). It’s difficult to accept that I’ll never again hear you singing along to the music you played - with the full intention to annoy! - or your cheeky voice haranguing me as soon as my avatar entered the bar. Second Life, and indeed real life, will never be the same now you’ve gone.

Sleep sweet Arizz, and rock the hell out of them up there :)

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Friday April 16, 2010 at 22:23

Thwackery?

  • Angelo Beauchamp: Mia .....
  • Doramia Aeon: TWACKS Riko
  • Angelo Beauchamp: thank you
  • Doramia Aeon:
  • Riko Kamachi: what?
  • Riko Kamachi: owie!
  • Angelo Beauchamp: just because
  • Riko Kamachi TWACKS Angelo
  • Angelo Beauchamp: Mia AND Rilla .....
  • Doramia Aeon: don't abuse the poor DJ
  • Riko Kamachi TWACKS Mia
  • Doramia Aeon: OI
  • Rilla Inglewood: TWACKS Riko
  • Riko Kamachi TWACKS Rilla
  • Doramia Aeon: twacks Riko, runs and says poor poor Dj
  • Angelo Beauchamp does his own dirty work and THWACKS Riko
  • Riko Kamachi uses a long stick to TWACK Mia
  • Rilla Inglewood: nah, I'm done, they'd like girl-on-girl a little too much, I think
  • Riko Kamachi TWACKS Angelo with said stick
  • Angelo Beauchamp: hey, when can we get Danton to read Thwackery?
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