Sunday, April 26, 2009

Depth of Information: III. Using Second Life Effectively: Two Examples

Sim View, Mannekins and Pastry Machines at 7Days Magic Bakery

Written 23 April, 2009

Depth of Information

III. Using Second Life Effectively: Two Examples

7Days Bakery is a brand of the Greek conglomerate Vivartia, in the Baking and Confectionary Division. 7Days baked goods are distributed across Eastern Europe (I learned this here, at Aleister Kronos’ blog). Some months ago 7Days established a presence in Second Life.

7Days Bakery is a wonderful interactive build that lets you create custom pastries that send your avatar into a foody ecstasy. You create them at a machine that moves you through the processes of mixing, baking, decorating, and packaging. Colorful mannequins talk to you, guiding you through the sim, leading you to the manufacturing floor. Best of all, you get to take home a 7Days vending machine that lets you dispense the tasty 7Days treats to your friends.

The 7Days sim takes full advantage of Second Life’s capabilities. The pastries send your avatar into a paroxysm of animation and particle emissions, showing pleasure in a way you couldn’t possibly in real life. The bakery machines are wonderfully scripted by Hiro Pendragon. Sculpted prims are beautifully textured. And perhaps best of all, the build takes advantage of new HTML capabilities to allow the various mannequins to actually talk to you without speaking in ten-second clips. The sim is absolutely gorgeous in a Willy Wonka sort of way, built and scripted expertly.

I didn’t find an area that actually educated visitors about the company (I didn’t even know until I was writing this that 7Days was a European brand), and I thought the company missed an opportunity—but as Aleister pointed out, the sim makes a great place for the production of stills and videos to promote the company—and, cleverly, there’s a still a’buildin' orientation sim next door, to which many new Second Lifers will be routed to learn about the real life 7Days.

But you don’t have to be able to build the ultimate sculptie or write clever code to use Second Life to effectively promote your real-life business.

Let me just say that the business I’m about to describe is more than competently built. It’s attractive and intuitive and informative a pleasure to visit. It was just never meant to be a visual and auditory tour de force like 7Days.

The Museum of Robots on the Kubrick sim (just teleport to Kubrick on the map) is more than a tribute to robots—it’s a gathering place for those who like robots and a promotional tool for Fred Barton, who sells lovingly crafted full-sized robot costumes in real life.
At the Robot Museum visitors can socialize with other robot lovers, watch robot-related clips from movies (and, on Friday nights at 5 pm, entire movies), look at the boxes of more than a hundred real-life robot toys, learn about various movie robots, and walk through permanent and temporary displays of robot-related art.

I was profoundly inspired by and heartily recommend the Robots and Donuts exhibit of Eric Joyner’s artwork. Robots and donuts! It says it all!

But I was even more taken by the story of Fred Barton. Alas, the display no longer seems to exist. It described how, as a boy, Fred saw the dilapidated Robbie the Robot from Fantastic Planet in a movie studio museum; how he was inspired to spend several years building his own Robbie, fabricating his own parts; how, as a new driver, he wore his Robbie costume to the museum, struck up a conversation with the owner, and, hired to renovate the now even more run-down Robbie, drove home with the original Robbie in the back seat of his convertible.

Today Fred sells full-size robots. They’re not cheap, but if I were the idle rich, you betcha I would have a Robbie or Maria in the foyer of my mansion. And if I were a robot fanatic, I would save my money so I could buy one of Fred’s robots to wear to science fiction conventions.

The Museum of Robots is sponsored by Fred Barton and co-owned by Bibi and Count Bayliss.

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