Chatbot comedy

This little gem has gone viral over the past few days. See what happens when two chatbots are set up to talk to each other:

Seems there’s still some evolutionary work to be done….

[via Gail Muir]

Man vs Second Life: the sequel

Back in July 2009 we covered Man vs Second Life, one of the funnier pieces of Second Life machinima around. At the time it had reached more than 50-thousand views on Youtube.

At that time its creator, Sean Krueger (Hugity) posted a further piece to YouTube stating the original piece was a school final project, that he was going to seek real video work and in between some interesting insights on the making of the film, he made some fairly judgemental comments on furries in particular and Second Life more broadly. That video from Sean Krueger has since been removed from YouTube and he’s now released Man Vs Second Life 2.

You can view it here, but a warning it’s not safe for work or kids:

There’s also an interview with Sean over at New World Notes with some behind-the-scenes insights. This is one funny machinima from a team with an ambivalent relationship with Second Life – which is probably one of the key ingredients of their success.

Second Lie: small business, good sex and humour in SL

It’s been a while, but it’s time for the latest segment with our resident agony aunt, Second Lie. It’s all about sharing insights, finding common ground and a healthy dose of cynicism.

Remember, if you want to get your own slice of wisdom, you just need to contact us and we’ll forward your question on. Pretty much any issue is up for discussion, as long as it’s legal and potentially interesting.

It’s a win-win-win scenario: you get enlightened, Second Lie gets to spread his love and magic and we get to fork out money to Relay for Life. Does it get any better than that?

=====

Three questions for Second Lie:

Q1: Henrietta: I run a fairly successful small business in SL and I get approached by virtual world developer people and the odd ‘social media consultant’ via Twitter. How do I work out how knows what they are talking about?

Q2. NotStroker: “What do you see as the next natural evolution of good sex in Second Life?”

Q3. Anonymous: “Who do you find funny in SL? There seems to be a lot of try-hards but I’d love some help in finding those who are truly funny and who maybe perform in SL or have a group I can join. Any ideas?”

First off, it’s great to be writing again for the Metaverse Journal. Despite my log absence, they’ve been keeping their fingers squarely on the pulse of virtual worlds development.

(I’m not sure where on virtual worlds they’re getting such a strong pulse, but I’d insist on asking them to wash their hands before shaking hands with them, okay?)

I’ve got to ask Henrietta about this whole “successful business” thing in SL. I thought we got rid of all those years ago. There’s still some out there?

Man, do we need to change our policies again to make sure that everyone fails equally in SL. Can’t have winners and losers wrecking the curve.

The reason why you’re approached by odd social media types is because that’s the only type of social media consultant out there: odd. They never could quite fit in with the rest of their business school mates or selling-knives-door-to-door classes, so they ended up dorking around with Twitter and Facebook and MySpace on their mother’s phones to the point that they actually thought they were experts in this stuff.

None of them know what they’re talking about, or they’d be doing business in Real Life with social media, not cruising around the shallow end of the pool, bothering successful avatars like yourself.

My advice to you is to avoid them on Twitter and stick to your old pal SecondLie. I’ll shoot it to you straight, and at a price you can’t beat!

NotStroker, on the other hand, makes an assumption that many people do: that there’s good sex at all in Second Life.

When I last checked, the only thing Second Life brings to the table is a digital replacement for the nudie magazines under your dad’s mattress.

It doesn’t matter if it’s plain guy-on-chick animated poseballs or a wild dance-orgy with Linden alts at P-Squared after midnight: it’s still you, your hand down your pants, and the overwhelming clouds of loneliness and failure circling overhead.

Know what the next natural evolution is? Getting away from all this weird perverted stuff and trying for something that’s actually natural.

You know, an actual DATE. With SOMEONE REAL.

Feel free to rejoin the human race when you’re ready. We’ve got plenty of room available, and our standards are horribly, horribly low.

Heck, there isn’t even a dress code to get into this club.

Finally, I get asked who I find funny in SL.

Every. One. Of. You.

Especially those of you who take all this stuff so seriously. Or believe all the crazy mindjunk that M Linden pours out in the trough for you to slurp up every time he rings that bell.

Yeah, I know you’re roleplaying all those weird and twisted roles and such, but it’s just so damn funny and silly to watch you bumbling around thinking this all matters on some level.

It doesn’t. It’s just one big Renaissance festival with cheap plywood booths selling overpriced handcrafted trinkets by people with bad fake British accents.

Just hand me my turkey leg, pass me a beer, and keep this ballet of the brain-damaged going.

It’s showtime.

Well, that’s all the letters I have for now. I suspect that the mailman is keeping the rest of them for himself when he’s not banging my wife.

I wish he’d stop that. It’s a federal offense not to deliver the mail, you know.

GnomeAir: one of Second Life’s funniest (casual) observers

Like a lot of people I love a machinima that provides laughs, and in recent months one of the highlights in that regard has been the work done by GnomeAir. His weekly updates on forays in Second Life pack a lot of experiences into each one, and there’s no shortage of cutting commentary on a range of Second Life aspects.

I fired off some question to the somewhat elusive GnomeAir to find out a little more about his approach:

Lowell: How long have you been involved in Second Life?

GnomeAir: Just started a month ago. I had watched friends play some, so I did know a few things before I started.

Lowell: What about SL inspired you to make machinima?

GnomeAir: I’ve been fooling around making YouTube movies for awhile. I’ve deleted a bunch because they came out scary. It seems to be a current thing. A fun way to express yourself. Something like 15 hours of YouTubes are uploaded every minute? Something like that. I just had an idea one day to make a Second Life account and film it. No idea what would come out of that idea or what I would film or say.

Lowell: Has the reaction to your work surprised you, and if so, why?

GnomeAir: I’ll just delete the comments that tell me I suck!

Lowell: Can you shed some light on how you go about making one of your episodes?

GnomeAir: The first ones I just entered game and played and filmed what I did. Nothing much really happens in those! Then later after I had played a few weeks a bunch of stuff would have happened to me so I just condensed it all down to highlights or lowlights or however you want to see it. Some videos I went on opinionated rants like the one about guys playing girls. So they were all different. Some came out better than others.

As far as the technical stuff, well theres two basic ways I can do them. Record the audio in advance and then film it, or film it first and then record audio. I use Pro Tools to do the audio. Its amazing program for making music or doing anything you want with sound on your computer.

I think for these Second Life episodes, filming it first works best. Put together a basic film sequence and story in Windows Movie Maker, after capturing the video with some other program. Then, turn on voice recorder (Pro Tools for me) and ad lib into mic as you watch the movie film playing back. Then you edit the audio taking out boring bits and pauses etc and load the sound into Movie Maker and tweak the film a little bit to match the audio. Ive done it other way around, make audio first based on what I did in game and then make the film part and it’s not as spontaneous, the comments etc, reactions to what is happening in video.

For example in video #6, there is a long sequence where I’m just talking about SL girlfriend and nothing is happening in video. That is a result of making the audio first and so I think the movie suffers. You are looking at dead screen and just having the sound tell the story. One thing about making machinima is you do learn movie making. You see what works and what doesn’t. For example, I’ve learned to go instantly from far away shots to close up and not to use zoom! But then, I’ve only started to think about these things recently. Most of the video is pretty messed up in these, but dont really matter with what I did.

Lowell: Do you have a longer term plan with your work or is it just a bit of fun.?

GnomeAir: Nothing long term planned just winging it. I have some other projects coming up soon like Comic Con, so I will be busy with those. I will say using Second Life to make machinima is unlimited. You can make the sets and the characters – no limits there.

UPDATE (25th July 2010) – GnomeAir has pulled all his videos from YouTube. An incredible shame – GnomeAIr if you’d like to contact us, we’d love to host them or somehow archive what was some great satire.

You can view all GnomeAir’s work here, or see the Second Life pieces below:

Episode 1:

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Second Lie: costume etiquette and primadonna management

It’s time for the first of what hopefully becomes a regular Q&A segment with our new resident agony aunt, Second Lie. It’s all about sharing insights, finding common ground and a healthy dose of cynicism.

Remember, if you want to get your own slice of wisdom, you just need to contact us and we’ll forward your question on. Pretty much any issue is up for discussion, as long as it’s legal and potentially interesting!

It’s a win-win-win scenario: you get enlightened, Second Lie gets to spread his love and magic and we get to fork out money to Relay for Life. Does it get any better than that?

=====

Dear Second Lie,

A nightclub is having a Costume Contest this evening, so I went to a store and purchased a nurse costume. But SL said there was a “security error” with the transaction so my money is gone but I got no outfit.

So I went to a different store and purchased a nurse costume, and I waited “up to 15 minutes” (as directed) for SL to complete the transaction, but it never did, so my money is gone and I got no outfit.

So now I’m broke, so I went to XStreetSL to get a free costume, but the FREEBIES category doesn’t permit word-search.

Tell me, Second Lie, when you need a new outfit within the next 15 minutes, what do YOU do?

Thank you so much for your expertise!

Sincerely,

Second Life Addict & CoDependent

Dear Second Life Addict & CoDependent,

First off, congratulations on getting the last names of Addict and CoDependent.

We’re proud of our limited-release Mental Health Awareness Month names, which not only highlight many popular disorders out there in the real world, but they provide fair warning to anyone crossing paths with these headcases.

(I was going to get CoDependent myself, but you weren’t around to tell me if it was a cool idea to get one. Do you think it’s a good idea to get one? I’m not sure, maybe it is, I don’t know, what do you think?)

Anyway, we’re awfully sorry about you not getting your product and losing your Lindens as a result of the mussed-up transactions, but here’s a bit of friendly advice: don’t buy anything unless there’s been an “In-World Issues” post to Twitter by @SecondLife. Then, when they give the all-clear, it’s going to be safe to buy things for a few hours until the whole system comes crashing down again.

Getting this advice now won’t help you with your immediate predicament, for certain, so how do we get you an outfit lickety-split that will for-certain win you the contest?

Well, when it comes to getting dressed in a hurry, never underestimate the power of copybotting. Hop over to another party that’s just finishing, rip the winner’s clothes right off of their back, and head over to your party. Sure-fire way to win, even if it puts you on every wanted poster at the Lab.

Next, there’s always The Library… a little mix-and-match, a few impromptu clothing layers, and you’re got Cardboard Robot-Headed American Flag Faced Girl Next Door, Snowy Gamer Guy Skull-Headed Fireman, Punk Grass-Shirted Businessgirl Furrytail, and Man Made Of Old Wood Who Likes To Glue Lots Of Torches To His Body. The possibilities are endless!

Fifteen minutes is a little short notice, but there’s always an ex-Mentor at the Orientation Islands wandering around, grousing about how they got screwed over and lost their Linden Scouts Toadying Badge. Just repeat “A/S/L” and “I need a job” enough, and they’ll drop an outfit folder on you that they’re prepared for newbies. (Which is also full of advertisements and landmarks for their store – the REAL reason why most content creators joined Mentors, you know.) Do it enough, and one will accidentally drop some actual decent stuff… wear that and teleport over to the party!

Last but not least, who is this party being thrown by? If it’s the Lindens themselves, then it doesn’t matter what costume you wear because you’ll look far more cool and flashy that any of them on the grid. Have you seen what some of these lazy bums are going around wearing? Heck, the creator Philip himself goes around with that creepy spiked hair and blingy codpiece. If he’s there, you’ll look dashing and magnificent by comparison if you’re wearing just a plywood cube!

Good luck with the contest, and remember: I get 25% of your winnings.

Love,
SecondLie

=====

Hello Second Lie,

I work in SL as a producer of a TV show called “Live n Kickin” for Treet.TV.   It is about live performance and is filmed all across the grid, sometimes venues but usally not.  We try to match up our performers with locations that we feel suits their music or personality or just looks fantastic and would make great machinima to watch while they perform.   Sometimes there is a struggle of visions for the show – our production company has one vision and the artist has another, and they are usually quite opposite of each other and meeting in the middle can be next to impossible. They want  to stand and sing on stage at Carnegie Hall and we want them in a empty wherehouse or on the deck of an aircraft carrier because we know how great it will look on film.

My question is: what would be proper etiquette  here when we don’t meet eye to eye?  Tell them to shut up and ‘trust us we know what were doing’?  Go along with what they want even though we  don’t like it? Something else?  Remember, no-one really wants to tune in to see a musician standing there playing the guitar or whatever for 30 mins on UncleFrodo47 Tipmongers  lil venue stage over at live-music-is-awesome sim, or they would not watch the show they could just listen!

Delinda

Hello Delinda!

Ah, yes. It’s always the struggle between the performer and the producer trying to bring out the best of that performer for the medium, isn’t it?

My advice to you is to let the whiny baby prim-adonna performer have their way. I mean, they know best, right? They’re performing in Second Life, not some coffeeshop or bar or biergarden or county fair or Carnegie Hall or somewhere they actually might get some press for their absent talent.

Fuel their delusion with apparent submission to their experience and wisdom. Concede to them on every point. Give in. Yield. Let them believe that they actually have potential and talent when you know they’re just a washed-up hack or a deluded fool craving fame like a cat craved catnip-filled socks.

On the evening of the performance, they’ll get rezzed on a stage made of Old Wood textures and sploders and cheesy speaker stacks. They’ll struggle with the microphone poseball and end up leaning back and forth like a pathetic Chuck-e-cheese animatronic, covered with pizza-vomit from frightened birthday kids.

It doesn’t matter. Let them have their way. Heck, their pathetic fans will still come and hoot and holler, even if the stream’s set to NPR news stories.

Meanwhile, fire up a second session with the -multiple flag and get over the kick-ass location you’ve busted your hump to find. Fill it with all your best-looking friends, and then have someone work up an alt with the best guitar-playing animations you can find. Unlike the performer, your friend will be able to sync the animations to the music, stopping when the music stops and switching from gentle strumming to hard long windmill loops.

Obviously, the show to film will be the “shadow” show you’ve arranged. (It’s not like those prim cameras actually have film in them, right? Ha ha!)

Sure, there’s always risk of your deception being caught before you get the episode in the can. The performer might ignore your warnings to ignore requests for teleports, they may have such a huge ego that they’ll want to watch the show on another window, etc. But if you assume that they’re barely able to afford a clunky desktop and a dialup connection, they
shouldn’t be able to handle much more than just the stream and a minimized SL window on Low.

Once the show is over, tell the performer what you’ve done, and if they don’t want to look like a total jackass they’d better keep their trap shut
and play along with the ruse.

Oh, and while you’re at it, here’s a services contract to sign for the new awesome-looking avatar outfit and the animation set… sign here… and here… and then here…

Ah yes. A star is rezzed.

Keep rocking in the freebie world!
SecondLie


The reverse argument for virtual worlds in the enterprise

With thanks to Tateru Nino for the heads up, this machinima just about perfectly encapsulates the tug-of-war within the enterprise in regards to adoption of virtual worlds as a collaborative tool. It’s an incisive piece that strips bare some of the stereotypes and barriers put forward by business as ‘arguments’ against utilising virtual worlds in their operations.

It’s the sort of piece that may be useful after some initial discussions have been had within an enterprise. It would probably make some people defensive if used up front, but its power is likely to be found after the stereotypical arguments have been made by those less convinced of the opportunities virtual worlds provide.

Watch and enjoy:

How to win at PvP in World of Warcraft

It’s been a while since I’ve done a WoW post, and I can’t think of a better reason than a piece of machinima called ‘How to win at PvP’. If you’ve ever been involved in PvP in any extensive way in WoW, you’ll get many a laugh from this masterpiece:

There’s also some good info in this piece for MMO developers, on what not to do in PvP combat. Over to you: what are your pet PvP hates?

Thanks to Wow.com for the heads-up.

World of Warcraft intervention

We only feature humour intermittently, but this piece from Barely Digital is top notch:

Sex in Sony’s Home?

The YouTube video below has been doing the rounds of the social media sites. If very close dancing and the odd suggestive comment equals sex, then indeed Sony’s new virtual world for the PlayStation 3 is a hotbed of fornication:

Thanks to numerous sources for the link, including Dizzy Banjo and Pavig Lok.

World of Warcraft polled on Obama and McCain

Humour is the intent of this video, and there’s certainly some funny sections. It also does again show the potential power of virtual worlds as a political platform.

If you don’t have time to watch – Obama polled 62% across the whole Azeroth population, with McCain been favoured by Alliance whilst Obama is the pick of the Horde. It’s been a popular video to watch: more than a quarter of a million views in the few days it’s been available.

Previous Posts