Saracen Princess
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...a tall heavy tome is opened; inside can be spied 15 scribbles in faded ink enscribed in Saracen Princess' LiveJournal:

    [ perchance the answer may be found among earlier entries ]
    26 September anno 2010, being a Sunday
    hour 19 minute 12
    New SL blog

    I've occasionally put stuff about SL here, but I always feel weird about it, and the good stuff has to go behind cut tags.  There's a lot more I'd like to say, but I decided I need a new place to put it where the only ones who have to read it are those who want to (a number which possibly reaches well into the single digit).

    I do check up on you folks though.  The ones who post, at least.  :)

    Here's the new blog if anyone is interested:

    Real life update?  Ugh.   Relationship wonderful, career horrible.  Recessions are very bad things.

    the mood of the moment is restless
    9 March anno 2010, being a Tuesday
    hour 17 minute 13
    Best SL Forums post ever
    My SL husband is cheating on me with a Bisexual Skunk Furry and is asking for a divorce. And we only got married half an hour ago!!

    That was the entire post.  I only sampled the discussion, because really, where can you go from there?
    8 March anno 2010, being a Monday
    hour 1 minute 24
    Signs that cute SL chick is a guy

    This is not scientific at all because I really have no way of knowing that anyone on SL is of any particular sex.  It doesn't bother me, nor do I do anything to test people (that would be rude).  And of course none of these are definitive; they're just things that make me think.

    • Enormous breasts.  Something that's not a sign: dressing like a slut.  Note this picture of an actual verified RL woman and her SL avatar,
    • An overreliance on poseballs.  Cycling through every pose on a bed rather than emoting is classic boy behavior. 
    • Going right to sex.  Much depends on the mood or the location, of course, but I think women want to talk first.
    • A certain competitiveness.  There are some really sweet guys out there, of course, and women can be horrible.  But there's a kind of braggadocio that seems very male to me.
    • No interest in shopping.  I'm endlessly amused by the reluctance of male subs to accompany me to stores, even shopping for them.  They'd so much rather be caged or flogged.
    • No sense of style at all (probably because of the above).
    • Descriptions of themselves as beautiful or even as womanly.  For one thing, who is that self-confident? 
    • Questions about age.  What does it matter in SL?  And why are they so insistent?
    • Profiles with lots of warnings about being 100% lesbian.  In my experience it's straight boys, not lesbians, who are the most frightened of other people's penises. 
    • Sexual emotes all seem external.  (Thanks to kata_kita for pointing this out.)  That is, they don't seem to be in their own body.
    My first few weeks in SL, I'd have had a very different list.  I'd met a male and a female dom, and they seemed such perfect exemplars of their sex.  Probably you can guess what happened next. :)
    1 February anno 2010, being a Monday
    hour 16 minute 54
    Picky subs

    In SL news, I've been hanging out at Enslaved, a combat/capture sim-- i.e. people run around shooting at each other, and whoever wins can do what they want with the loser.
    Read more...Collapse )

    the mood of the moment is melancholy
    9 August anno 2009, being a Sunday
    hour 15 minute 57
    Pave the cowpaths!

    Here's a nice article on how to design social networks.  The first and most interesting principle is #1: Pave the cowpaths.  That is, rather than imposing your ideas on how to grow the network, see what people are actually doing and create ways to facilitate that.

    This relates to my hobbyhorse, how Linden Labs has treated adult behavior in Second Life... as an embarrassment.  They don't want to pave those cowpaths, despite the fact that these are well-paying customers.  They want to pursue a vague dream of hosting corporate retreats and cultural events, stuff that can be done much better in other ways. 

    (I wish they'd just think about this stuff.  Remote business meetings are fine-- but that's why we have videoconferencing.  Maybe SL is cheaper, but it subtracts actually seeing people and adds the fuss of setting up avatars.  It's similar to why Spore seemed so misdesigned... for the last two stages, the game makes you spend time creating things (buildings, cars, spaceships) that don't affect the game in any way.)

    Not that it's all bad... in fact I had a couple of very nice dates this week, reconnecting with people I hadn't played with in a while.  But SL unfortunately tends to be fun despite, not because of LL.

    By contrast, a company that gets it is Valve, creators of Half-life 2, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Counter-Strike, and more.  They occasionally piss off their community-- it's inevitable when you get hundreds of thousands of high-strung gamers.  But they listen to complaints, care both about welcoming newbies and encouraging high-level play, are very cool about derivative works, and lavish free stuff on customers (i.e. they're still making major, free upgrades to TF2).

    the mood of the moment is contemplative
    2 June anno 2009, being a Tuesday
    hour 22 minute 39
    Land for sale

    Well, Linden Labs has finally defined "adult content", in an unbelievably broad way.  I have a shop which sells some "sexually themed content"; also a home where I'd like to act how I like.  (Note the complete absence of any protection for one's own home; despite many suggestions from residents, Linden showed no interest in increasing privacy options rather than segregating "adult" content.)

    SL isn't free; I pay $40 a month for my land, plus $22 a quarter for a land-ownership-level membership.  But no longer.  I'm not going to pay Linden Labs money for second-class citizenship.  (Admittedly, my SL business paid for most of that; but to put that another way, all the revenues from that business go to pay the rent.)

    This doesn't mean I'm leaving SL; I'll go back to the non-land-owning membership and go there to visit my friends.

    the mood of the moment is aggravated
    25 April anno 2009, being a Saturday
    hour 17 minute 01
    I can has bagels

    I love bagels, but they're pricey-- over a dollar each at the store down the street. Amazingly, just like flint knapping and silkworm cultivation, making bagels is something you can do at home! I used this recipe.  It's not hard, but it's a bit of a production... almost three hours, so it's not exactly an impulse thing, though most of that is waiting around.

    They turned out quite good, rich and chewy, though I think I baked them a little too long. 

    26 March anno 2009, being a Thursday
    hour 18 minute 33
    What is LL after?
    Linden Labs must have been sued or something, because they've started up a whole kerfuffle about adult content.  Their latest brainstorm is to move all "adult" content to a new continent (despite the fact that the main grid is supposed to be 18+ already).  They claim that "2-5%" of the mainland would be affected.  I suspect that's technically true, in terms of square meters, but far from true in terms of activity level, or income.

    From LL's publicity materials, it seems that their self-image is that SL is-- or is going to be someday-- all about corporate conferecences and faux-edgy arts festivals.  (Actual art likes to explore boundaries, so it would very likely be relegated to the adult ghetto.)  This seems like a delusion to me.  As someone reasonably pointed out in the forum, there's no good reason for a business to use cartoon avatars when
    they can get videoconferencing and see real people.  (It doesn't help that they've created an architecture where 41 people overload the servers.)

    It's still tentative at this point, and it may go nowhere, like some of their previous stabs at moral hygiene.  Personally, I'm offended if a company takes my money and wants to condemn my lifestyle.  I can go have fun somewhere else and save the money, if it comes to that.

    Someone should really make a SL replacement using Steam.  The platform already does the heavy lifting: networking, voice, 3-D graphics on a higher level than SL.  All it needs is some sex beds.

    the mood of the moment is bitchy
    5 February anno 2009, being a Thursday
    hour 21 minute 02
    Wait, we're gay now?

    It's nice that Iceland has the first open lesbian premier:

    Only, why do the news articles say "gay"?  What's wrong with "lesbian"?

    (I know some lesbians do use "gay"; I just don't get it, and I think it reduces visibility.)
    28 January anno 2009, being a Wednesday
    hour 18 minute 49
    Bella: What was going to happen
    Might as well explain the end of the story arc since we'll probably never actually get to it.
    13 January anno 2009, being a Tuesday
    hour 2 minute 05
    Winter Song

    This song and video are so beautiful.  The song is by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, and both it and the animation are amazing.

    the mood of the moment is enthralled
    21 November anno 2008, being a Friday
    hour 14 minute 13
    The art of the rogue

    I've been playing Mass Effect, which is by the same people who did Jade Empire, and despite many differences, it shows: the dialogs and levelling system are similar; so is the combination of a large long main quest plus a tasty but limited number of side quests (as opposed to Oblivion where the main quest is dwarfed by other possibilities).  And it has the same good vs. evil choices.

    I suspect the "evil" choices (here called Renegade) are aimed at teenage boys who like giving snotty answers and trashing the joint.  For RP purposes I wish there were a third way.  As I play it in D&D or SL...
    • A rogue is motivated by personal relationships rather than by accepting social norms (usually because she's an outsider, perhaps not even human).  If she likes someone, she will happily help them out; these people might as easily be criminals as 'normal people'
    • She has no trouble with stealing things; but she's not normally a murderer.  She prefers ranged weapons... after all, melee is a good way to get hurt.
    • She has a sense of honor, though it may be quirky.  She won't oppress the powerless, and she will keep her word.  She might work for a criminal organization, but she doesn't approve of incompetence or arrogance.  She might work for a king, but she figures people in power are out for their own gain, and should be treated with the same attitude.
    • She prefers to dress in black, without much visible skin, with nothing shiny to give her away in the darkness.  She needs to remain agile, so avoids heavy armor.
    • She is always observing her surroundings, and she assumes everyone is dangerous.  
    • She is courteous... you learn more that way, avoid unnecessary fights, and put people off their guard.
    • She never boasts; and never makes empty threats.
    • She's smart, and likes to talk to scholars and savants... if it weren't for early reverses she might have become one.
    The type of "evil" character from the Bioware games would, I think, come to a quick end.  (Or, in the real world, become CEO.  But that's a depressing thought and let's not pursue it.)

    This is just a side quibble when it comes to Mass Effect, which I'm enjoying.  It's not as much of a romp as Jade Empire... something about sf seems to make Bioware put on its serious hat.  There are moments of humor, but nothing like Drunken Master or bar fights using smashed table legs.

    the mood of the moment is contemplative
    11 October anno 2008, being a Saturday
    hour 16 minute 03
    Mavia collage
    I got this from caitriona_nnc — a really neat meme.  

    Here's the instructions.  (I used Photoshop instead because bighugelabs lost half the pictures.)  The label identifies all the photographers (left to right, top to bottom).  Note that the pictures aren't answers to the questioins, their tags or titles are... I've never actually eaten elephant.  (By the way, I've done a flickr meme before, and I have to say that I'm amazed at the quality of the images even if randomly picked.  Sturgeon's Law apparently has an exception here.)

    Simply type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr search.
    Then, using only the first page, pick an image.

    Then, copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into this mosaic maker (

    1. What is your first name?
    2. What is your favorite food?
    3. What high school did you go to?
    4. What is your favorite color?
    5. Who is your celebrity crush?
    6. Favorite drink?
    7. Dream vacation?
    8. Favorite dessert?
    9. What you want to be when you grow up?
    10. What do you love most in life?
    11. One Word to describe you.
    12. Your flickr name.
    30 September anno 2008, being a Tuesday
    hour 18 minute 04
    Stabbed to Death in Office Frolic

    There's a headline you wouldn't want on your obituary.

    An ink eraser, by the way, was a type of knife used to scrape ink off parchment.
    22 September anno 2008, being a Monday
    hour 13 minute 42
    How to railroad your players and make them like it

    I asked kata_kita what her favorite Echo RP sessions were.  (See for a list.)  She said: the asteroid; Arnem station; the flood; the life support failure.

    My list would be similar: the first encounter with Nawi; the asteroid; the disaster sessions in general. 

    So, what lessons can we draw...?

    1.  Everybody loves a good disaster. :)  The classic SF story, after all, is that something goes terribly wrong.   Danger galvanizes people and allows them to work together--perhaps overcoming conflicts to do so.  Plus I think a part of us likes to see things get messed up, at least in fictional form.  It's also satisfying to resolve the situation in just one session.

    2. Suspense is good.  Exploring a weird alien artefact; finding yourself trapped with your worst enemies... these are inherently dramatic situations that will likely be a good time.  Hanging around your base can be fun, but getting outside your comfort zone will be more intense and actually tell a story.

    3. Lots of GM preparation helps, but doesn't directly correlate with having a good time.  The asteroid story needed a lot of plotting: we needed an overall story, with a set of successive problems, each of which could be solved.  And, of course, a whole fancy set (the pirate base).  I think it worked well in part because of all the work we put into it ahead of time.  On the other hand, the flood was hardly any work: just adjust the water level every 5 minutes. 

    4. Opportunities to act.  A disaster is good because everyone can help out in some way: check the sensors, round up survivors, fix the machines, care for the wounded, whatever.  I think a lot of non-Echo RP flounders because there's really nothing for people to do except stand around while the principals palaver.  Ideally there's something for everyone to do.

    5. Good stories for RP can be, to be honest, quite cheesy.  Something you might roll your eyes at if you were watching Kirk/Adama/Mal can be fun and involving if you're in it.  Plus, we all kind of know how to behave in a tried-and-true plot. 

    What didn't work?

    1. I love open-ended RP with good players.  At their best, the Bella stories were fun precisely because there were multiple factions where each person had their own history and goals... it had the multiple plot strands, Firefly style, that I was aiming for.  On the other hand, it was very hard to GM... key players might not show up; someone without a clear role could get bored; people tended to end up in one spot anyway-- usually the admin area where the the most things seemed to be happening.

    2. Not everyone is used to open-ended gameplay-- some people expected the game to be rigged in favor of one team, and it's not.  I come out of a D&D background, where the GM does not guarantee that your party will prosper or even survive.  Problems should always have a solution, but for players' actions to be meaningful, they must be able to mess up, too.

    3. Pretty much any time guns were used, somebody would be upset.  Part of the problem is technical; meter systems are a huge hassle.  Part is gameplay oriented: even if you nerf death, as we did, some players just don't like problems being solved by gunplay.  I like the edge that weapons bring to RP (the sense that almost everyone is dangerous); but actually using them seems to always bring drama.

    4. The mystery plot didn't work as well as I'd expected.  To be precise, it worked fine as an introduction to Bella; it encouraged interaction with a purpose.  It didn't actually solve the mystery though. :)  Partly this was because the detective was a bottleneck.  If I were doing it again I'd probably be much more careful with clues and physical evidence. 


[ perchance the answer may be found among earlier entries ]
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