Saturday, May 12, 2007

R.I.P. Dolltopia

This is a hard announcement for me to make, because I put so much effort and several months into the Dolltopia sim and had a lot of hopes for it being a cool, safe and innocent place for people in Second Life like me who needed a better view of childhood to experience the wonder and joys we should have had in this imaginary world. Unfortunately, under the current climate of sexual ageplay witchhunts that seem to run the risk of inadvertantly targeting innocent child avie users or sim owners, I don't feel I can afford to risk the ever-changing policies and currents of Linden lab's whims on undefined rules and standards by operating any sim catering to adults playing child avatars, no matter how innocent the idea or how strickly enforced my rules. So, as of this time, Dolltopia is dead even before it opens.

I think it's very sad really, after reading so many comments from people on the official blog post about the German news expose, and Linden lab's resulting policy changes and actions. I myself, am a child abuse survivour as I have mentioned here before. Though Zoe is short compared to the 8 foot amazons running about SL, she is not a child avatar...but I do have a child avie alt. Like many grown adults who choose to play a child avie at times, SL allowed me to try to experience an innocent, carefree renewal of a childhood that for me was very violent and horrific at times. playing my child alt was liberating, safe, comfortable and very therapeutic. It allowed me to create a new childhood for myself that replaced the one I never had.

The vast majority of adults who play children in Second Life do so for I think similar reasons. Just based on my talking to those I know personally. yet, in the comments to the LL Blog post, I saw so many people asking LL to ban child avies altogether, and questioning the reasons why we as adults might want to play one...with the assumption being we are all perverts and take part in sexual activities, which is simply as far from the truth as you could get. I feel victimized all over again now by these witchhunters and by Linden lab and their media-craze induced ever-shifting policies that they will not even define for us. It's sad that in the name of supposedly protecting abused children, they re-abuse many of us that were abused children by taking away a very helpful means of healing after our destroyed childhoods. I will no longer feel safe even logging into my child avie alt now.

With no clear written legal policy on what is acceptable conduct for innocent roleplay of innocent child avatars and what is not going to be acceptable, i just can not feel safe running a sim like Dolltopia, even though it was designed to offer the sort of safe haven, therapeutic place for people like me to heal that is the very opposite of what LL and the ageplay witchhunters claim to be aiming for. If someone comes into my sim and propositions someone, will I be held responsible for running the sim, even though it's PG and has a strict covenant against any sexual behaviour by anyone, period? I can't say I have any faith in LL to fairly decide my fate in such cases, so I will avoid the situation by keeping the sim closed and killing the idea entirely.

I am not sure if I will continue making doll avatars either. I saw far too many people use the term "doll" in the same context as child avatar recently as they expressed opinions that LL ban them entirely. I may have to err on the side of caution there as well, and drop The Heart of a Doll brand for good.

While I am 100% for stronger laws in life to prevent child abuse like happened to me, and happens daily to millions of children around the world, and while I feel its a good idea for LL to be strict on anything from casinos to sexual ageplay inside SL that could compromise the platform legally...I feel the current method of handling the issue...namely a total lack of written legal policy and guidelines for legitimate businesses to follow and feel safe that they are acting within...only feeds hysteria and witchhunts, and causes people like me trying to offer positive views and options for child avies in SL to run like hell to avoid the loss of our businesses and income if LL decides to shift their unwritten policy in the wind of media attention as it has shown it is want to do.

If Linden lab ever wakes up and decides to start operating like a legitimate business platform developer, and starts stating ALL policies in clear legal language for business investors here to follow, i may reconsider Dolltopia. But for now I can't risk being involved with anything oriented towards children in Second Life, no matter how positive it was going to be. My apologies to anyone who may have been looking forward to the Dolltopia sim.

Three Years in Second Life Just Ceased to Exist...My Creations are Gone - RESOLVED

Yes, we have all heard of this happening to other people before, and we always just hoped it didn't happen to us. Well, clearly I didn't hope hard enough, or no one gave a flying fuck either way...because one of my worst fears in SL just happened: My entire 30K+ inventory is just gone.

Yes, three years in Second Life, two years of running a business, everything just wiped out in a blink of a virtual eye. It's all gone. SL's database says I only have 2,150 inventory items, most of that is random animations, a few notecards and snapshots...but not a single piece of my own work.

Yes, everything that is placed in world still exists. The stores are still there, and the items for sale can still be sold. But even those are a fraction of what I have made. There are hundreds of projects and half finished creations, alternate versions no one has seen or that haven't been made available yet...and its all gone. I built a complete reproduction of a famous New England mental asylum a year ago, but had no time to finish the last bits then so took it back into gone. Tonnes of cyberpunk items and products that I hadn't gotten around to packaging up yet. Boots, shoes, new versions of some of my stuff that just needed tweaking...all gone. The new neko parts for version 2...gone.

So i am setting here this morning, do what i normally do first thing...answering the avalanche of IMs from customers from during the night while I slept, and I go to pass a copy of a skin that didn't get delivered to someone...and it just isn't there anymore. None of it is. I am panicking, I am shocked into almost catatonia, i am crying, and yet the one thing I don't know how to do is fix it. because Linden Lab in their joyous attempts to prevent anyone of their users, investors, or businesses using their platform from complaining, pointing out issues, or otherwise bothering them with little useless facts like the loss of their -entire- livelihood has removed nearly any help function or avenue from Second Life.

I file a bug report...once I find the option hidden somewhere other than Help. But we all know how useless bug reports have been, right? I will never hear from them on that I am quite sure.

Who do I talk to about this? Who can fix it? I have no clue, and there is no longer a Live Help to ask, no longer any way for me to find out from a real human being what to do next. This is not a minor issue...this is the loss of 3 years of content creation for my business. And yet it's a Saturday for the Lindens, they don't care. Sure, they advertise Second Life as the future of the 3D Web...a business platform for the next generation...and yet they treat it like a game. Yes, Mr. a game. the very thing you have often angrily complained to reporters for years SL is not is exactly how you treat it on your end. You do not act and your business policies or development priorities do not reflect what you preach...that SL is not a game at all, but a serious business platform. I have been here almost from the start. I have invested tens of thousands of dollars into this business that supports my family like any other business. Yet when my business critical data ceases to exist...where is my support? At home watching television or playing WoW. I am treated not as a business platform user with a 6 figure income riding on Linden lab's performance, but as a simple game player. Wake up can not have it both ways!

What do I do from here? I have zero clue. Right now I am alternating between being angry, and crying. I am petrified. I quit my job and have gambled my family's entire future on a business opportunity that until now was paying off very well. But when things go wrong...will and can Linden lab step up and behave like a -Real- business platform creator? can they live up to their own claims and promises? Will they act like a Google, a Sun, a Microsoft? I admit to having little faith in them after the past few years experience.

For now I guess I start emailing every address at Linden lab until I get someone to reply and hope against hope that I didn't just permanently lose thousands in development time and costs, and hundreds of thousands in potential income.


Huge huge thanks to Cherry Tokyo for her kind help in solving this. She sent me a couple notecards that had a list of steps to perform to -usually- successfully return your inventory after something like this happens. Most of the steps were things I had already done, from relogging, going to empty sims, using serch and recent items searches, and clearing cache. They didn't work when I did them before...but for some reason when done in the order the notecard lists, it eventually worked for me.

Thank you so very very much Cherry, and also huge thanks to those that commented here or in world with support and kind words.

Text of the notecard that worked for me is here below...

How to find "Lost Inventories" due to the new Coalesce feature

In a feature release a couple of weeks ago, we incorporated a new feature to help with load on our databases when Residents return objects from parcels. As before, lost objects can be found in the Lost & Found folder, but there is a change in how they are displayed. When objects are returned to this folder, they will be coalesced into one or more of the returned objects.

The way it works is that the system randomly selects one of your returning objects as the item to be bundled with, hence the word "coalesce". This one object is actually a combination of all of the other returned objects from the same area. When you rez that object inworld from your L&F folder, it will rez all of your coalesced items in the same formation it was last placed inworld before having been returned to you. If your items are being returned from various areas in a sim, you may receive several of your returned objects in your L&F folder. Again, each these will be bundled with rest of your returned items. This will only happen when multiple objects are returned at the same time from the same parcel or region.

Here's a good way to find your returned items, utilizing the inventory tools:
" Open your Inventory
" Select the Recent Items tab
" In your Inventory toolbar, left-click on FILTERS, select MODIFY CURRENT
" When the Recent Items window opens, go to the bottom of that window and adjust the Hours Ago or Days Ago back to the approximate time your Inventory should have been returned from the parcel
" Untick all categories except OBJECTS
" In your Inventory toolbar, left-click on SORT, select DATE
" Go to a parcel where you have enough prim usage to rez all your coalesced objects (do it in a sim where it's not laggy or you could risk losing all your items if the sim should crash due to a sim rollback. If you go to a sandbox, select one that's not busy or laggy!)
" Rez objects inworld from your Lost & Found folder, starting from the top, one at a timeIf after following the above instructions, your returned items have still not rezzed, please be sure to check the land parcel it was returned from and determine whether it was truly returned. If the items being returned were DEEDED to a group, they will be returned to the Resident who originally deeded the objects to the group ONLY IF the objects were not copyable. If the deeded returned objects were copyable, then the objects will not be returned and merely be deleted.

If you've done all of this and you believe you are still missing returned objects, please file a bug report inworld. Once youve submitted your bug, send an IM to Kona Linden inworld and provide him with your RT# from the email confirmation.

Big note on who to contact if you also ever suffer this issue: Kona Linden.

Excellent info to have when it seems no one is there to help. Too bad the help had to come from another resident and business owner who had suffered this same problem in the past rather than from Linden lab itself. I think that says a lot. Thank you again Cherry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Whispers of Night

Working on this skin line the last few months has really taken a lot out of me, and stressed me like no project has in some time. For that reason, I sit here now and stare at the blog and I really don't know what to say about the skins. I am so drained by them I really don't want to talk about the process of making them, or any of that stuff, honestly. But regardless I do feel I need to announce them since they actually went up in the ~broken~ store at Temenos a few days ago now.

I tried my best to make a lot of changes that friends, customers and users of my old skin line, Divine Mystery had suggested...I made major changes to the eyebrows and added eyelid shading, changed the breast shading, and lots of small tweaks beyond that. The makeup options you see as part of this set is only a fraction of what is ready and waiting for me to get in world...but its gonna take me some time as the tedious work of saving, naming and uploading textures, followed by photoshoots and making ads and getting the skins all into the vendor display leaves me wanting to scream. But the rest of the options will be coming, along with the Zombie skins and more...and much much later, the demon skins I been working on for over a year.

Right now, there are two skin tones to this line...Spectral and Deathly, both available in male and female versions. There are currently five different eye makeup styles, each available in three different lipshades each of which has three styles. That makes a total of 45 different makeup combinations per skin tone per gender at the moment. There is more on the way including at least 3 more lipcolours, several new lip styles, and some more eyeshadow and eyeliner styles. What is up today is just the bare bones basics of this line. Down the road I will also be offerring multiple hair colours, multiple facial hair and pubic hair styles, etc. This line, Whispers of Night is just the first of a series of skin lines I planned and started way back over a year ago. These are the Vampire skins, but there will also be a series of Zombie skins (which have been finished for more than a year but I was too lazy to deal with em), a whole series of Demon skins, Infernal Seduction, as well as a possible Angelic line and maybe some drow/elves too. All as part of the Isle of Damnation ~broken~ stuff.

Okay, the blog is supposed to be about announcing stuff, sure, but before I forget in my lack of coffee induced stupour, I also want to say thank you to all those friends who stood by me, supported me and urged me to keep working on these and to see it all through despite my frustration and stress. Without you guys, these skins would still be sitting as betas in my inventory. To the folks who beta tested the early versions and offered suggestions or just wore the beta skins about for me...Raven Pennyfeather, Furiae Blackthorne, QuietlyCharmes Vega, Nigel Riel, and Grim Misfit...thank you. And to those close friends that offered support and kept me sane-ish during the last few months and who forced me to keep going on these...Quietly, Gabee, Sumire, Furiae, Raven, and all the rest of my dear, dear friends...thank you so very much. But the biggest thanks goes to my real life love, Raivyn. She is a saint for even putting up with me at all. Thank you hon.

So, the skins are now available in the ~broken~ store underneath the lava at Temenos, and will soon be up at Rfyre by Raven Pennyfeather as well. I placed a few teleport signs that will take you down there from above. Someday, ~broken~ and all my vampire, gothic and demon stuff will move to its own sim, Isle of Damnation behind Temenos...but it could be a while before I have time to finish that island. So for now get em at the ugly lil' store in the volcano or at Rfyre. :p