Sunday, October 9, 2016

2016 EDU: WRITE: Nara Nook on the benefits of failure in a virtual world

Nara Nook on the benefits of failure in a virtual world
Adventures of a real writer in a virtual world

Go there

  • On the web:
  • HG address:
  • On HG, put address in Find bar of World Map.  Click Find, TP
  • (More after the break, scroll down!)
  • Where is Arcadia?

Metaverse events, current and upcoming


We always hear sexy sells, but trust us on this, even sexy doesn’t sell your projects if no one one knows they exist. Whether it’s a book or a virtual world, putting it up on the web isn’t enough. You have to decide how you will brand yourself and then share what you’re about in places where folks interested in what you produce will hang out.
When Nara’s Nook first opened to the public we didn’t expect it to be anything but a place to bring our story worlds and characters to life. It was meant as an inspirational tool for us. We created a place where authors we knew in real life could come and learn about using the metaverse for inspiration and to create marketing tools. 
I posted a video of the moment I reactivated Rob—a dancing partner, chatbot NPC. Fred Beckhusen shared it and then +Talla Adam shared and then +Virtual Christine. Before I knew it, our little standalone world was crashing as hypergridders tried to land. 
They helped each other find their way to us between region restarts.  That was back in the days when hypergridding was the equivalent of loading yourself in a slingshot à la Angry Birds and flinging yourself out into the metaverse. Back when the 4096 bug and hypergridding required math (math gives us hives) and you hoped your calculations landed you where you intended. And that your landing didn’t crash your destination. Ah, those were the days. 
We’ve come a long way from when we didn’t know what grid mode was to running our own grid of 80 regions. We grew from a folder on a host’s server, to managing the two servers that house Nara’s Nook today. And we’ve learned a few things, both about using the metaverse to promote our work and promoting our grid full of virtual creations. The first lesson learned came with Rob’s activation:

Reactivating Rob Bot

1.  Be A Maverick, Not A Clone
There are times when it is good to imitate, mostly imitation is a function of learning a new skill. If you are a baby learning to talk, then imitating your parents is a much better path to success than making up your own words. If you are learning to play the piano, learning technique from someone skilled in the craft is the way to go.  When it comes to marketing and growing a platform of folks who want to follow your work, duplicating another creator does more to promote them than it does to promote you. It says to the world they are worth copying. Make yourself worth copying.
If you are still at the learning stage, then imitate  with creativity. We built the first Greyville from a readymade oar by Linda Kellie, but we studied how we could make it have less a drain on users who didn’t have super computers. We remade furnishings and retextured items . Shara Lanel remade one of Arcadia’s shelves with brains on display into a candy counter in her video store. And +E. Twinklens retextured every building with a very tiny texture tinted different colors so that visitor’s computers would load one texture for all buildings instead of 20.
Yet the thing that drove our grid was the desire to bring characters to life through NPCs. The rare times we saw NPCs on the hypergrid it was usually like  a zombie character walking a predetermined path and repeating the same line over and over. So we hunted up scripts to make ours do more. We connected with the folks like +Fred Beckhusen and +Aine Caoimhe to learn how to push the limits of what NPC could do and joined with them on storytelling projects that grew our skills and our audience. 
We wanted to push the envelope on what could be done with NPCs. We’re still pushing. Not because it is a great platform growing tool (though it is), but because it is our passion. Passion is the greatest platform growing tool. When you find your passion and pursue  it with your unique style and goals, it shows. That is why being a maverick chasing your passion is a much better path to growing an audience, than being a clone pretending a passion in hope it will get you attention.
Scene from a story in a virtual world
2. Don’t Be a Wimp
Admittedly, I act as if I know what I am about when launching into some new project that will stretch our brains in six new directions. The Nook gang always pretend they believe I know what I am doing. But here is the thing--we have never let ignorance be an excuse not to grow. If we don’t know something, we learn.
Courage is grown by tackling something that’s never been done.  Courage is sticking with it even when the server is throwing tantrums and lag has you glued to the ground. Courage is not admitting defeat when you are remaking the same NPC for the hundredth time because the deserialization bug and the NPC bug are stomping you. Courage is smiling and encouraging each other, even when the hypergrid ate your hair and a bug of unknown origin left your gallant knight hanging out a dragon’s butt when the whole metaverse was watching.
It’s as much a surprise to us as it must be to you that our failures on the path to success grow our audience. I have to say I fully expected the entire Immersive Edge team to walk away about three quarters of the way through the project. Everything was failing at that point. The only way for the project to survive was to remake it on a new server. The only way to remake it on a new server was for me to learn how to setup a Linux server. I had to learn something new. 
Neo Cortex taught  us how to install Opensim, and how to make it all work, so that when the project was done and I was on my own with the new server, Nook could keep going. Some of the things we wanted to do the Opensim community debated how to pull off and shared ideas with us. I only understood about a third of those conversations. But any romance heroine worth the ink we spend to print her tale would not quit at that point. As authors of such tales, that meant the Nook team had to rise to the occasion and make the impossible happen.
One of the impossible things we pulled off in Immersive Edge is that mirror scene where NPC characters dance in a circle of mirrors and their avatars change through all the appearances they had in the 10 scenes of the story. So 10 appearance changes in a dozen avatars and all the reflecting couples (five mirrors) have to change appearance simultaneously with the ones at the center.
The moral to this tale is that being willing to let everyone watch you make mistakes, and learn from them, grows your following. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be brave.
3. Division Only Leads To Growth in Cell Biology
The first thing I learned as a newly published author was that making yourself seen in the vast sea of authors with books to sell, you need to be big enough to be visible and prolific enough to feed all those hungry fans you might attract. The best way to accomplish that was to have twenty hands, or to make NPC clones and put them to work for you. 
I did try the latter and like that movie, The Man Who Clones Himself, it didn’t work
out as I’d hoped. What did work was teaming up with other authors and discovering that together the workload is easier and our presence in the publishing world is bigger. When we share a blog, we don’t have to write as many posts. When we share marketing events,instead of each of us producing three events and competing each other for attention. We make one bigger event, attended by all of our fans, which brings new eyes to everyone’s work.
We carried that concept through to the metaverse with our Hypergrid Stories and with the WIP Meeting. Leaders of the various hypergrid tour groups, like Safari and Metaverse Tours and Hypergrid Nights, share interesting destinations and attend each other’s events when possible. In sharing the task with friends on several grids, we create something together that shows off the talents of many grids. Our audience consists of members of all those grids. We build new friendships. The picture above is an NPC holiday  card we invited friends from around the hypergrid to join in creating with us.
I wish I could see more of that across the metaverse. To make virtual reality shine, we need to combine our efforts, support each others projects and use teamwork to grow a following. As citizens of the metaverse we need to stop copying marketing events someone else does and putting up a duplicate which only divides a small audience. We need to put our heads together on how to do joint events and support each other. 
For instance Halloween is coming and there will be a hundred parties. No, we can’t all attend one big party, but is there a way we can make a big shared event? Something authors do is a blog hop. We plan a theme, set up a list of links  to each participating blog and encourage readers to visit each blogger. Perhaps the metaverse could come up with some sort of grid hop for Halloween with a variety of events. Trick or Treat for goodies. Haunted regions. Parties.
As authors and in the metaverse we grow by combining our efforts rather than competing.
The authors that helped to create and grow the Nook have always understood that and we’re teaming up together now to launch a monthly magazine I had tried a couple of times to launch on my own and just didn’t have time to pull off. The Future of Fiction Magazine will be available for free by email subscription. We’ll deliver once a month and it will be jammed with knowledge and free goodies. You’ll find informative articles, virtual goods, and downloadable books both fiction and nonfiction. More details on the launch date soon.
You can follow our grid and our members at our grid blog.


News and Notes


    The Hypergrid WIP Show

    The Hypergrid WIP is a one hour "show & tell" of works in progress or recently completed. All builders from beginner to pro are invited.  Presentations are in voice and text.  For text presentations, best bring the text in a notecard and paste it into chat.  Voice presentations may be captured in video.  Stills and videos from the show may appear in this blog and elsewhere.

    Next WIP show 

    • Next WIP show: Sun. Oct 9, Noon SLT 
    • Narasnook  location (second Sunday of the month)
    • Pandora allows presenters to run high threat OSSL functions.
    • Put the line above in your World Map next to Find.  Click FindTP
    • At Narasnook, use World Map to search for Pandora
    • Cookie II location (fourth Sunday of the month)
    • HG address below: paste into the World Map next to Find. Click Find, TP
    • II 
    • in Kitely: paste into Nav (top) bar of Firestorm, Enter.
    • hop:// II/68/369/22

            Previous Articles from the WIP show 

            HG links-- depending on your interests 

            Radio in the virtual world

            Metaverse beginner help

              Schools in virtual worlds

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              • What do we do in Virtual Worlds? 
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