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Friday, October 29, 2010

Blue World Notes: Happy Halloween in Blue Mars 2.0!

Tonight I met a dude with a fish head, danced with a purple alien babe, and rubbed shoulders with someone who looked eerily like Mick Jagger (so I'll just say that was definitely him.) I'd call that a good way to start the Halloween weekend right, though now I'll be bummed that no real life costume can come close to that level of coolness. Mahalo to everyone who made our Halloween Friday party in Blue Mars! Iris Ophelia will showcase her favorite costumes next week.

For now, be sure to download the new, feature-rich version of Blue Mars, and read Jasmine's notes on all the bright and shiny functions that Avatar Reality the team has added.

See you Monday after a weekend of sufficiently sexy spookiness!

Blue World Style: Alice in Wonderland... in Blue Mars

I like to think I've saved the best costumes for last, since this will be my outfit at the Monster Ball tonight at 6pm PDT! I'll be there looking for the coolest, cutest, and most creative Martian costumes to reward with BLU$ prizes! Here are all the details on how I styled this costume to suit my style -- don't be afraid to restyle it yourself for the Ball and blow my look out of the water!

  • This adorable three-piece dress set from Tirion Designs in Tharsis Estates is inspired by American McGee's revamp of Lewis Carroll's classic story of a young girl's trip through the rabbit hole, featuring the same blood spattered apron detail and the Neptune and Jupiter symbols embroidered on the pockets as the gothic game heroine. I've turned it back towards a sweeter direction to suit my love for Gothic Lolita fashion, which is what drew me to the outfit initially. I will admit that the mesh of this outfit, in particular the top, could stand to be a bit cleaner and smoother, but it's not enough to keep me from wearing this dress to death this weekend!
  • I've layered some very sheer makeup, including pastel blue eyeshadow and bright rosy blush, over a pale skin from Moxxi in Port Town. I'm also wearing a wavy blond hairstyle from Shade City. I've kept several elements of this look from my Angel costume from earlier this week, to make the costume look sweeter and more innocent. Because this dress is based on a not-so-innocent Alice, however, the hair and makeup would be the first place to start if you want to goth it up more than I have.
  • I added a pair of pink satin rabbit ears from Pink Fizzy Soda Designs in Gaia. They give the outfit a cuter flavor, and though they're not entirely accurate to Alice's character, they're definitely in theme!
  • A pair of slouchy lace tights from BS! in Misty Hollow are a perfect accessory for this look, playing on the lace trim of the skirt. I'm also wearing shoes from Moxxi. I picked dark shoes to break up the line of the stockings, and also to mirror Disney's classic Alice with her white tights and black mary janes.
  • I've taken my pictures in New Venice, which is vivid enough that it's always reminded me a little of Wonderland. Another thing you may notice is that my pictures are a bit larger and clearer than normal! This is due to the camera controls in the newest client version. Camera controls have been on my (and many shutter-happy fashionistas') Blue Mars wishlist forever, so I'm really excited about this new feature. It takes some practice to get a hang of them, so check out the Camera Control tutorial first!
There are still lots more Halloween events left to participate in, and don't forget to submit your costume photo to Facebook before Midnight on October 31st for 1000BLU$! Click here for all the details, and have a spooky weekend!

Blue Mars BETA 2.0 Client and New SDK Go Live!

--Jasmine Spearing, Marketing Associate

It’s release day again in Blue Mars! We’ve been making improvements and adding new features on a regular development schedule for the last few months, but this is not just another release. This is our biggest release yet! This is Blue Mars Beta 2.0. Our new Client has features like

• a free camera
• major improvements to the movement control options
• Blinks (hyperlinks for Blue Mars destinations)
• and other great things you are going to love!

We appreciate your feedback and suggestions, the input of our devs and our Blue Mars community helps us determine where we need to work to improve the experience for our users and the capabilities of our developers!

We have a lot to celebrate this weekend, so check out our Halloween Events and come party on Mars with us while you experience our latest and greatest improvements! Keep reading to learn about our new Beta 2.0 Client software!

• New default avatar controls!
o Avatar movement control has been dramatically improved. Now you can move and turn by pressing both mouse buttons. See HERE for details.

• New camera controls!
o Activate this camera mode using the Alt key with your mouse for enhanced camera controls. NOTE: Tap the Esc key to exit the camera mode. See HERE for details.

• Blinks!
Blinks provide direct hyperlink teleport links from any web page to Cities in Blue Mars. If you have Blue Mars installed, clicking on a Blink will automatically teleport you to that City in-world, or prompt you to download that City. Learn more about Blinks here.

• Residences!
Residences have been available for experimentation by developers in the editor since our last update. Now they will be available for rent! Our Blue Mars users can finally have a place to call their own, to decorate, to share with friends, and a place to enjoy a virtual getaway from real life. Learn more about residences here.

• Avatar right-click menu!
Right Clicking on another avatar will bring up their avatar menu, nowhere you can:
o view their profile
o interact with them using the interactions list including hug, poke, etc.
o private message the user
o add them as a friend
o mute the user
o report the user via the HelpDesk web page

If you right-click on yourself to bring up your avatar menu, you will be able to:
o go to your favorite city
o buy BLU$
o view our events calendar on our web site
o residences- pay your rent, terminate your lease, add roommates, lock your residence
o view and edit your profile, including your mood
o report a bug

• Some bugs related to chat and movement have been fixed

• You can now move and collapse the Tool Bar

• Change your avatar chat bubble color

o Open the Options window (Ctrl+O or the Wrench icon in the menu tray), go to Options > Chat Bubble > Bubble Color and select the color you want from the color bar.
o Note: This chat bubble color change is also visible to other avatars.

• When you click the Logout icon or the "X" button on the top right corner of the Client window, the Logout dialogue box will appear immediately now.
o When you click on the "X" button on the top right corner of the Client window when the Places Browser is open, the Places Browser will disappear and the Logout dialogue will appear.

• The Purchase window now shows a description of the item

• The voice chat range has been extended to 15m, with fade starting at 12m from the speaker.

• Auto-patch feature: Now, the client software will check to see if you have the latest version. If a patch is available, it will prompt you to download and install the patch rather than take you to the client download page of our website.

• Options menu: Fullscreen option has been added to the screen resolution list.
o If you go into fullscreen mode from this Options menu instead of the Alt+Enter shortcut key, the original window size will be saved. Once you are in fullscreen mode, you can change the window size in the Options menu, press Alt+Enter and the window size will revert to the new window size.

To find out what’s new for our Blue Mars devs, check out our Developer Release Notes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blue World Notes: Send Me Your Photos of Blue Mars Awesome!

On my latest voyage through Grid Rock City, I stumbled across this vista that took my breath away. All the elements aligned just right, until they were synced to the key of awesome. I took several photos before and after this one, but they weren't as great. Even in virtual worlds, after all, the perfect visual moment only happens sometimes. But I am just one explorer, and I'm sure to miss many more that you, Blue Mars blog reader, will get to see for yourself. When you do, take a photo of it, e-mail it to me, hamlet at bluemarsonline dot com, and I may feature it here. Tell me the city you took it in, and a little bit about your Blue Mars adventures -- think of it as Blue Mars Geographic!

Blue World Notes: DavyRocket's Video Tutorials for Fellow Blue Mars Builders

DavyRocket has been making a series of good and helpful video tutorials for fellow Martians who want to learn how to build in Blue Mars. Like this one below, in which he shows you how to make a working elevator:

See many more here. Davy joined Blue Mars from the virtual world There, which has since closed. Impressed by the graphics and developmental tools of Blue Mars, he upgraded his system in preparation for making his virtual world immigration. "What inspires me to make the videos is all the knowledge I have learned from others," he tells me, "and mainly trial and error to share with others in what not to do. I enjoy giving back to the community."

What about Blue Mars should I write about next? Email and let me know: hamlet at bluemarsonline dot com.

Blue World Style: A Taste of Steampunk in Blue Mars

Today's costume went through a few stages of evolution. I originally set out after one of the Victorian gowns available at Chimeric Fashions in Caledonia, but as I made my way around the shopping square looking for a suitable hairstyle to match, I noticed that another shop, irkmade, had updated their shop contents since I'd seen them last. I was completely taken by a red and gold striped under-bust corset, so my planned costume for today transformed from Victorian-chic to pseudo-Steampunk in a matter of moments.

  • I've layered the corset over a fitted blouse and a pair of silky red riding pants, both also from irkmade. Since all of these layers fit relatively snugly against the avatar, here's a layering tip: Make sure that you layer the pants several slots closer to your body than the blouse and the corset, and keep the blouse just one slot closer than the corset to keep the meshes from clipping each other (and if you have no clue what I mean by any of that, check out my article on layering clothes in Blue Mars).
  • I'm wearing a newer hairstyle that I'm very fond of from Tirion Designs in Tharsis Estates, but if you're picky about your Steampunk style you can get more thematically fitting hairstyles than this at irkmade and elsewhere around Caledonia.
  • The finishing touches on this look are a choker from Sketchy Fever in Gaia, and my favorite buttons black boots from Adam n Eve in Caledonia.
  • If you're a guy and you really want to pursue the Steampunk/Victorian look for Halloween (or otherwise!) duck next door from irkmade into Mako Magellan's menswear shop, which is literally stocked to the roof with dapper clothes for the gents. There's even a gorgeous men's military hat that I would have loved to wear with this outfit.
  • All my photos for this article have been taken in Caledonia, as well. Just slip past the shops to find all these colorful little houses!
Just one more day left in Blue World Style's Blue Mars costume coverage -- check back tomorrow when I unveil my costume for the Monster Ball. Click here to find out more about Blue Mars' Halloween celebrations!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blue World Notes: Blue Mars' Grid Rock City Adds a Flycam -- Try It!

When I wrote about the ability of Blue Mars to depict your avatar from a god's eye view high up, I didn't know you could control that view, and take it pretty much anywhere around you. But in Grid Rock City, you now can -- just by hitting F3. Behold, especially around :12, when the camera zips past my avatar:

While most Blue Mars cities don't enable this detached camera (least those I've visited), the code to do it already exists: "[T]he camera is actually available in the City Editor," Grid Rock's lead developer, CoreyEvans, tells me. (Corey's known in Second Life as whyroc Slade.) It's an incredibly fun feature, and far as I can tell, the camera can rove all over the local Blue Mars area, even a mile or two away from your avatar. As it happens, it's in Grid Rock pretty much by accident:

"I had experimented with it a few months ago and had totally forgotten about it," says Corey. A colleague named Dude Starship (oh yes) pointed this out, and it's now a publicized feature. "Since it's so popular I think we will leave it in, we are planning some games [in Grid Rock] that would be hurt by it, to be honest, but for the time being its a good way to get around and gain more exposure for our city."

Thanks to Jasmine for this pointer. So what about Blue Mars should I write about next? Email and let me know: hamlet at bluemarsonline dot com.

Blue World Style: A Blue Mars Angel on Cloud 9 (and 10!)

To counter yesterday's red-hot demoness costume, today I'm opting for a slightly more divine style. This absolutely angelic outfit is actually inspired by one I saw on AR employee Jasmine Spearing in Blue Mars, but I've made a couple little tweaks to it to suit my personal style.

  • The most obvious choices for an angel costume are the luminous halo and lovely wide wings from Cloud10 in Cloud City. Cloud City has two separate pairs of angel wings depending on your style, and both are available for the guys as well, so you can choose the set that you find the most appealing.
  • The lovely pure white regency-style gown from Estelle Parnall of Fashion Esplanade is a natural fit for an angelic ensemble. If you want to make it a little more formal, you can also wear the matching gloves also available in Fashion Esplanade.
  • A pair of snow white Mako Magellan pumps from Caledonia add an extra feminine touch to the ensemble, but the length of the gown means you can easily go barefoot as well.
  • Wavy flaxen hair from Shade City and a fair blond skin from Moxxi in Port Town are the last elements needed for this ensemble. I've layered a very pale lipstick with gloss over the skin, as well as eyeliner and a swoop of with eyeshadow. For an air of innocence, I've also added a layer of rosy blush to the cheeks, and some light freckles!
Whatever your Halloween look of choice in Blue Mars is, don't forget to show it off! Check out this weeks spooky events, and details about Blue Mars' costume contests here!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blue World Notes: Blue Mars' Halloween Fun Featured on the BBC's "Outriders" Show!

The BBC's Outriders podcast show now has a nice segment on Halloween in Blue Mars (click the "Things that go beep in the night" episode, segment starts at about 5:30.) I talk with the Beeb's Jamillah Knowles about cool and scary Blue Mars fun like Cloud City's ghost adventure, Arzach Mills' amazing minotaur costume (which some mistake for a giant cat), and of course, this Friday's costume contest.

If you are visiting this blog from the BBC show, welcome! Go here to register and download the software for free. Here's a few of the upcoming Halloween-themed events -- the name in bold is the city you need to enter, from the Places page:

Friday Oct 29

- 4pm PDT Ghost Dance and Bon Fire in Misty Hollow

- 6pm PDT VIP Monster Ball with Halloween Costume Contest, Costumes judged by Iris Ophelia, in the Welcome Area

Saturday Oct 30

- 2pm PDT Monster Mash Party with Ilko and Jamt in the Welcome Area

- 6pm PDT Sage's Halloween Party in Gaia

Many more events listed here!

What about Blue Mars should I write about next? Email and let me know: hamlet at bluemarsonline dot com.

Blue World Style: Try This Scary-Sexy Blue Mars Succubus Costume on for Size

I mentioned the new shop BS! in Misty Hollow yesterday for their cat ears and tail set, and today I've gone back for a second fix. All week I'll be flaunting a variety of Blue Mars costumes, from sweet to smoking hot, to go along with this weeks Halloween-themed events (including the costume contest that I will be judging this coming Friday at 6pm PDT!). Today, BS! items are making up the majority of this succulent succubus look, along with a few accents from some other favorite shops!

  • This rather daring high-collar red dress from BS! is perfectly devilish, but if you want something a little more angelic it also comes in a frosty blue color.
  • I'm wearing it with a cropped black hairstyle and some epic bull's horns, also from BS!. I'd even love to see some elegantly curled ram's horns in the future.
  • I've added a pair of red platform mules from Tirion Designs in Tharsis Estates, which are a bit tartier than I would wear normally, but Halloween is all about hyperbole and going over the top, so these super-sexy shoes are a natural fit!
  • The final touch (other than dark red lipstick and dramatic black eyeliner) are these demon's wings by Cloud10 in Cloud City. They're also available in more angelic styles that would suit the blue version of this dress, if you're not feeling the red-hot temptress look.

Are you perfectly angelic or deliciously devilish? Either way, don't forget to enter your Halloween costume picture for 1000BLU$!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blue World Notes: Heads-Up on Blue Mars' Customized Heads-Up Displays

I'm still early enough into my Blue Mars explorations that I'm impressed by small, subtle-but-powerful features about the world and its development platform -- in this case, customized heads-up displays that can come automatically loaded into your viewing software, when you enter a city. This is the HUD you see when you first enter OnLand, the immersive 3D space for enterprise use developed by DLAB:

Clicking the green HUD teleports you to an orientation for learning how to use Blue Mars. Just as clicking the other customized HUD, in the bottom right corner, brings up the OnLand map display:

... and clicking any of the purple icons on the map instantly teleports you to that location. Now if you're a Blue Mars regular, this all might seem obvious, but it's a distinctly different way of deploying HUDs, from Second Life. In that world, you can also have customized heads-up displays, but at the moment, you need to manually find and apply it to your avatar, before you can see it. But because Blue Mars is deployed in terms of different cities, all of which require a download before launching, any custom HUD the city developer makes comes pre-loaded and ready to go the moment you enter.

All that said, I do wish the OnLand map had a teleport to the lovely little park near the corporate area:

What should I look at next in Blue Mars? Email and let me know: hamlet at bluemarsonline dot com.

Blue Mars Style Tip: Cosplay Cat Ears Take a Costume from Cute to "Neko Kawaii"

Today's tip, like last Monday's, is meant to help you take your Halloween costumes in Blue Mars to the next level. This is something a little simpler for fans of anime, manga, and even games. A new shop has opened up in Misty Hollow, named BS!, and they are an absolute goldmine if you're still looking for the final touches for a prize-winning female costume. Keep your eyes peeled for more Blue World Style pieces this week featuring their designs, but today I'm focusing on their cat ears and tail set.

I've layered a frilly french maid dress and a little floral minidress, both from Cloud10 in Cloud City, to complete this anime catgirl look, but I've counted this article as a tip because these cat ears can add a touch of the "neko" look to just about any outfit, Halloween costumes included. If you're a fan of Japanese pop culture, or just a lover of all things cute, definitely pick this set up to add a cosplay vibe to your Blue Mars style!

Once you've got the perfect costume, don't forget to show it off! Check out the details on all the Halloween events that will be going on in Blue Mars this week!

Celebrate Halloween in Blue Mars!

--Jasmine Spearing, Marketing Associate

Happy Halloween! Well almost! We have some great events coming up this week to help you get spooky and have fun, complete with BLU$ prizes!

Don't forget to post a picture of your Blue Mars halloween costume to our Facebook Page, to win 1000BLU$! More details here.

Monday Oct 25
2pm PDT Booooo Bowling for BLU$ in Beach City
4pm PDT Cats Around the World Trivia in the Welcome Area

Tuesday Oct 26
2pm PDT Hide and Seek in Arcadia
4pm PDT Ghostly Celebrations from Around the World Trivia in the Welcome Area
5pm PDT Jamt's Costume Parade and Spooky Campfire Stories in Misty Hollow

Wednesday Oct 27
2pm PDT Hide and Seek in Wildwood
6pm PDT Wednesday Music Night in the Welcome Area

Thursday Oct 28
No Events Scheduled

Friday Oct 29
2pm PDT Catchup Cafe with Halloween Scramblers in the Welcome Area
4pm PDT Ghost Dance and Bon Fire in Misty Hollow
6pm PDT VIP Monster Ball with Halloween Costume Contest, Costumes judged by Iris Ophelia, in the Welcome Area

Saturday Oct 30
2pm PDT Monster Mash Party with Ilko and Jamt in the Welcome Area
4pm PDT Happy Halloween for Volunteers and Friends in Gaia
6pm PDT Sage's Halloween Party in Gaia

Winners of These Events in Wildwood can Earn Halloween Prizes Oct. 25-31

-Pumpkin Hunt
-Ghost Hunt
-Margaret's Quest

-Trick or Treat with the Blue Mars bots in various Blue Mars Cities, see the Event Calendar for more info!

Check back in for updates, as more events are being added all the time!

Also, don't forget to check out our Event Calendar for all the events going on every day in Blue Mars!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blue World Notes: How Cloud City's Ghostly Adventure Game Was Made in Blue Mars

At the entrance of Cloud City's ghost game, which we wrote about yesterday

The Blue Mars creator known as Homunculus didn’t have any experience as a professional game developer or 3D graphics artist when he began creating Cloud City. “I used to run some MUDs way back in the telnet days,” he tells me, “but to actually conceive something from start to finish and see it through... this is all really new to me!” Despite that, his new ghost-filled adventure, which I wrote about yesterday, has amazing ambition and impressive features, such as ghosts that follow you around, and special player abilities, like super-human jumping.

“[I] don't think that the abilities will be confined just for this Halloween event,” he says, “If anything [it’s] just a stepping stone for what new things are going to be coming to Cloud City.” As for how he scripted so much complex behaviors, he just smiles. “Trade secret?”

Before joining Blue Mars, Homunculus used to play around with the Sandbox editor for Crysis (which also runs on a variation of the same graphics engine as Blue Mars.) ”When I heard that I could have fun messing with basically the same editor but make money? I was all for it!”

In building Cloud City, Homunculus mainly uses 3DStudio Max, Sketchup, and Photoshop. "I’ve tried messing around with ZBrush and some other tools to help bring out the realism of the textures, and I’m happy with the results thus far, but by no means am an expert.”

Ultimately he wants Cloud City to “become like a mini roleplaying game. Think Zelda.” But the final version of all that he imagines, “That's still a far off dream somewhere,” he tells me. “I'm always coming up with new ways to reinvent the City and where I want to take it from there.”

Blue World Style: Egyptian Mummies Walk in Blue Mars

If my Wicked Witch last week felt a bit to plain for you, today's costume is grand enough to please any showboating costume connoisseur. Though this Egyptian mummy outfit seems very layered and complicated, all it really takes are 3 items and some eye-catching makeup layers. I've used Arcadia as a backdrop for this Egyptian queen, as the tropical trees, sand, scrubby vegetation, and glittering river are a perfect fit for this Valley of the Kings inspired ensemble.

  • The main elements of this costume are the Pharaoh dress and crown from AD Sport in Beach City. The dress comes with all the ornaments including the golden coiled snake armband built in, and the crown comes with a sleek bit of blond hair attached so you don't have to worry about fitting any hairstyles underneath it. While I like having hair built into the very snug crown, I would have preferred the option of a black or dark brown color, given how rare blond Egyptians were compared to the brunettes. Nevertheless, the crown and the dress are a pretty spectacular work of creative modeling, as I've come to except from AD Sport's designs.
  • Now you could leave the outfit at that and be done, but I've chosen to take it to the next level with a set of head-to-toe mummy wrappings from Costume Trends in Venezia. The detail and shading on these wrappings is an excellent compliment to the outfit from AD Sport.
  • The final touch is the makeup. I've gone with a blue-green metallic eyeshadow with flared black kohl liner, and a neutral beige lip. If you're feeling more adventurous, try a bright red lip, or a more artful and elaborate eyeliner design.
Think you can improve on this anciently awesome style? Submit your costume picture for 1000 BLU$, and don't forget to attend the Monster Mash Halloween party in the Welcome Area next Friday, October 29th, at 6PM PDT! I'll be there to find the cutest, coolest, and creepiest costumes. For more details on both, click here!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blue World Notes: Blue Mars is Haunted by a Ghostly Adventure Game in Cloud City

Blue Mars is haunted by ghosts, many people told me, and they dwell in Cloud City. If you go there like I did, you'll soon find a ghost on your back, following behind you everywhere you go. Fortunately he (or she) isn't one of those freaky Paranormal Activity kinds of ghosts, but more of a "Do a favor for me buddy and I'll leave you alone" sort of spirits. In this case, you must discover who's responsible for his death. And it starts when you step into the rain swept graveyard, and click the right tombstone.

"So you click the gravestone there first," a tall woman with a halo tells me, after I spend some time searching fruitlessly. "It's the second or third row from the entrance on your right as you come in."

"Are you a guide or just a helpful angel?" I ask.

Bohny laughs: "I'm just trying to figure it out."

The creation of a Blue Martian named Homonculus (as is all of Cloud City), the mystery of the ghosts is an adventure game he's just finishing. (He is adding more elements to it now, but there's more than enough already there to start exploring and uncovering puzzles.) After clicking the tombstone that starts the game, you're given some special abilities, like Mario-style super jumps. It's the most ambitious Blue Mars game I've played so far (though to be fair, I just started exploring), set around a vivid and beautifully rendered, haunted manor that seems to be under an eternal blood red moon and an endless rainstorm. (After playing for over an hour with heavy rain sound effects beating in my ears, I actually began getting real life chills.)

Between an angel and a devil with a ghost on my back -- you know, just like in real life

The puzzles in the game are pretty challenging, but when I went there today, there were several Martians already exploring the place and solving the series of mysteries. So if you're not too shy, you can ask for hints like I did, and they may help you out.

I plan on interviewing Homonculus soon, to find out how he created this game, but until then, here's a video look at Cloud City's ghostly problems, shot by Jasmine of Avatar Reality (be sure to select HD before playing!)

Blue World Style: Stylin' New Blue Mars Shoes at 8502.Bauhaus

Jasmine tipped me off earlier this week that a new shop had opened up in GridRock City with the cutest shoes called 8502.Bauhaus, and I was immediately itching to grab a pair or three. Today I've styled a retro-feeling outfit around my favorite of their new releases, a pair of black and white cutout pumps (though their gladiator-inspired sandals are also to die for). This is a pretty simple look to achieve, so if you want something cute and classic but you're on a budget, this is definitely an ensemble you should consider.

  • As I mentioned, the shoes are from 8502.Bauhaus, and also come in solid purple and solid brown. I love the style of these shoes, and the detailing on the straps though it's a bit subtle. My one complaint is how the toes sit in the front of the shoe do to the height of the platform, but given the overall look of the shoe it's an issue I can live with comfortably.
  • The dress pictured is one of my absolute favorite releases by Estelle Parnall of Fashion Esplanade. It has a definite vintage feel to it, and the velvety pencil-fit bodice and skirt are flattering on every avatar. If you want a slightly more modest look, try layering it with a button-up blouse from Fashion Esplanade, or a bolero from Zuma in Misty Hollow.
  • The final touches are a skin from Moxxi in Port Town layered with a dramatic cat-eye and classic red lipstick, and the versatile black bob from Shade City, which has become my go-to hairstyle to match just about any outfit.
When I was initially looking for the new shop, I made the mistake of teleporting to the GridRock marketplace only to come up empty handed– instead, click the 8502 Bauhaus teleporter and follow the sandy path to the edgy outdoor shop display, quite separate from the GridRock market.

As always, send me your Martian fashion and style tips by email, or leave a comment!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blue World Notes: How Danielle Eber Imported Her Blue Mars Mesh Skirt Into Second Life

Last week I announced a challenge to mesh creators: Could they import a mesh object made for Second Life into Blue Mars, or vice versa? Here's the first attempt I received, from Danielle Eber, a successful Blue Mars fashion entrepreneur who also creates content in SL. Here's a gold skirt she made for Blue Mars, and what it looks like (without texturing) after she imported it into Second Life:

"I used a UV Map test pattern on the SL import because I was checking if the UV mapping had transferred properly," she explains, "and SL cannot do the metal shader and reflection map like we can in Blue Mars." To do the SL import, she didn't need to change the model in 3D Studio Max. "I only had to export using the Autodesk built-in Collada exporter instead of the OpenCollada exporter I usually use for Blue Mars. The SL version is static (does not deform when the avatar walks) because I have not learned how to rig the model to be animated yet."

While it would be possible to also give the SL version of the skirt a shiny gold color, Dani tells me they would not look the same: "The Cryengine2 [graphics engine] that Blur Mars uses has two main features that the SL graphics engine does not. That is, using multiple texture maps per surface, and a range of 'shaders' to choose from." So in this case, the mesh import is not a 100% faithful translation, though the basic form is the same.

If you're up for this mesh import/export challenge too, send me screenshots of the same object in each world, via email to me, hamlet at bluemarsonline dot com, or Tweet it at me @SLHamlet, or Plurk it to me at Hamlet_Au. I'll display the best examples here.

Blue World Style: Japanese Developer Yukimaru Koba's Gorgeous Blue Mars Self

I've come across Yukimaru Soba's Second Life menswear shop, Z#Road, several times, and it was one of the first highly visible Japanese brands that emerged there. I was a little surprised then when I was shown a blog post on the Japanese Second Life community blogging hub, SLMame, and almost immediately recognized the super-sweet face of the red-tipped brunette Yukimaru. He's written there about his first experiences exploring New Venice, for better and for worse, and taken some amazing pictures along the way. The reason I'm the one fawning over Yukimaru rather than Hamlet is that in exploring Blue Mars, he's created a custom avatar for himself that is absolutely one of the most gorgeous things I've seen in a virtual world to date.

You'll have to pardon me for gushing, but the natural and seamless fall of his hairstyle, the careful detailing in the glasses, the texturing and meshwork of the jacket– down to the shoulder seams– just blows me away! Yukimaru's avatar is an absolute work of art, and the pictures he's taken of himself in Blue Mars for this blog post are just as stunning. The header of his blog seems to make it clear that Yukimaru has 3D modeling and development experience, and given his history as a content creator in Second Life I'm hopeful that he'll eventually open up shop in Blue Mars and share his amazing talents.

You can see Yukimaru's original blog post here in Japanese, or in English (more or less) via Google Translate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blue World Notes: Flying in Blue Mars, the Machinima

I wrote about the immersive qualify of flying in Blue Mars last week, but it's really something you need to experience for yourself. Or at the very least, watch this video, making sure your volume is turned up high, to float in all the wonderful ambient sound. For tech/machinima geeks, I shot this with FRAPS, a great machinima tool, running it on my new Alienware M11x notebook, which I love. Pretty good performance for a relatively low budget machine. I'm still learning how to capture machinima in Blue Mars. If you have tips, or want to share your own videos, please post links in Comments!

Blue World Style Tip: Find the Perfect Halloween Picture Backdrop in Blue Mars, the Sequel!

Yesterday I wrote about a great area in Shade City to take your costumed pictures for Blue Mars' Halloween BLU$ deal, but it looks like I spoke too soon! This morning while in the process of looking for a missing piece for an outfit, I came across Cloud City's new Halloween build. Once you land there, enter through the cemetery gate and take a look around. There's a white ghost that trails after you, and a black ghost that skulks around ominously, and as you wander around you'll find your camera will occasionally by hijacked to sweep dramatically over the scene around you, almost like a game cinematic– all of this is a part of the game in the city, to solve the white ghost's murder. It's dark, gloomy, rainy, and an amazing location for your spooky snapshots!

Here are a few tips for taking the best pictures possible in Cloud City's graveyard:

1. Is the white ghost in your shot? Just wait a couple seconds and he'll fade away, leaving the frame clear for your picture.

2. Feeling lucky? Try to snap a couple pics while the city's controlling your camera movement, you'll get some really uniquely angled shots!

3. Dark is spooky, but is it hard to make out your costume in the pic? If you have Adobe Photoshop, you can use the "Auto-Tone" function under the "Image" menu to bring in a little light without washing out too much of the darkest details.

No matter which location you choose, don't forget to submit your pictures before October 31st, and enter the costume contest on October 29th! Read more about both here.