Monday, November 25, 2013

The Oldbie Project - Hikaru Yamamoto (Kamui)

By DrFran Babcock

Thus far, the Oldbie Project has been challenging and exciting experiment. I have had a few conversations with residents from 2003, and all have agreed to provide me with interviews. However, none of them have been as accommodating and cooperative as Hikaru Yamamoto, whom I will call Kamui from now on, as that is her current display name. I am glad she is current, because she had a lot to share with me, and provided me with insights into some of the earliest events and trends in Second Life™. I have been blessed with photos and history that really speak to the aim of this project—to get at the lived experience of being a member of SL back in the days when everything was new.  

Kamui was rezzed on February 28th, 2003! She did not know how to teleport or how to make money. There was no economy yet, and the hair was pretty awful. This video from 2003 can give one an idea of what things were like back then:  

Join me in a visit with a remarkable woman: 

SL Newser:   How did you find out about Second Life™? 
 Kamui: Well, one day I was sitting in my room feeling bored and wanting to do something. I thought about searching for a game in beta to play so I went on gamespot ( ) and checked out the beta section. I saw Second Life there and read the description. It said you could build anything you want. I remember thinking it must be too good to be true, so I signed up for it. I remember having to write down my computer specs and a paragraph on why I wanted to be a beta tester. I was going to be named Sakura Yamamoto on my first attempt. I waited for about a month to get in. I kept daydreaming about it all day every day, thinking about all the things I wanted to create. I read many articles on people already in SL and things they had created. I finally got a notice that I had been rejected because my computer wasnt good enough. So I signed up for a second time and lied about my computer specs, and I got in almost immediately. 
SL Newser: What are your earliest memories of Second Life™? 
Kamui: I first arrived in a sim called Prelude. It was a bit similar to Orientation Island. Pretty much the same items but a different layout. I arrived inside a white gazebo and had a look around at my surroundings. I remember thinking the graphics were decent enough to keep my interest so I had a walk around. The first thing on my mind was wanting to change my appearance. I also wanted some privacy so I wandered down into the water and quickly found the appearance mode button. I started changing my avatar into the anime character I had planned to be. I changed my hair and basic clothing and then suddenly I got a message pop up. It was asking if I would accept a calling card from someone. I dont remember who exactly except that it was a Linden. I didnt know what a calling card was so I just clicked the decline button and went on changing my appearance. 

Pretty soon that Linden approached me underwater and asked if I needed any help. I said no thank you and he walked off. When I was finished changing my appearance I wandered off back on land and started following the path. At the end of it was a gazebo and a large gap in between. I couldn't cross over by walking. But then I spotted that Linden on the other side in the gazebo. He told me I needed to learn to fly to get across. So I just took a giant leap instead and I fell all the way down the gap into the water. I looked up and around and saw some words on the side telling me to hold up to fly. So I followed the instructions and flew upwards. I flew over to the Linden and he told me how to exit into the mainland.  

    When I arrived at the mainland I was at yet another gazebo. This one was a bit different and there were people around me and there was a sign showing a schedule of events. I remember following another path that went over a small bridge and then just stopping. I was used to games showing me where to go but this was different. It was just open for me to go anywhere I wanted.   
SL NewserWhat kept you logging back in during the early days? 
KamuiEverything. The people, creating things, the events, the games, and our group. 
SL Newser: What are your fondest memories of the early days? 
KamuiSo many memories to choose from. One of my top memories was when I had found Philip Linden (aka Philip Rosedale) sitting alone on top of the highest mountain in SL back in 2003, right after the new sims were launched. I didn't know they could create new sims before that. So I asked him how many sims he could create. He replied to me infiniteand my real life jaw dropped. I told him that I thought SL was going to be big in the future, and he said he thought so too. 
SL Newser:  What are your funniest memories of the early days? 
SL NewserThere was a rumor going around sometime in early 2003 about an alien in SL abducting people. Then one day I was just walking along and I saw my avatar lift up into the air all of a sudden with no warning and found myself inside a spaceship. A green alien by the name of Ope Rand approached me and informed I had been abducted, but instead of the probe I was given a tee shirt that read: I was abducted by aliens... and all I got was this stupid shirt. 
SL Newser:  Did you fall in love in Second Life™? 
KamuiThat I cant really go into... Ill just say no. (ED NOTE: I am finding this to be a question that many people evade. However, I will leave it in the list of questions I ask, because, well, I am nosey.) 
SL NewserWho was your favorite Linden? 
KamuiSo many... all of the early Lindens... Philip, Char, Dan, David, Ian, Tanya, Hamlet, Lee, Michael, Haney, Andrew, Bub—to name a few. I had already known Torley before he became a Linden. It still says Torley Torgeson in my inventory, but when opened reads Linden.  
SL Newser: What were your favorite activities? 
KamuiI mostly built things, designed my avatar, and created anime items.  
SL NewserDo you still log in? If not, why not? If yes, what keeps you coming? 
KamuiOf course I do. I will always be around SL as much as I can. I feel like this world was built for me. I love being able to create what I want, its something I had dreamed about when I was a child for a very long time and now I have it! 
SL NewserWhat would you like the world to know about Second Life™? 
KamuiI want them to know about how wonderful it is. A lot of people dont really know much based on reviews or advertisements. They assume its just another sims game or an IMVU type game, or that its all about sex. But SL is much more than most of them can imagine. The diversitythere are some things you can only see in SL. 
Imagine spending your days with Lindens all around! By the time that I joined Second Life the Lindens only showed themselves during office hours, and seasonal special events such as the annual holiday snowball fights. Now, I only see Lindens during office hours. Thanks, Hikaru, for an enlightening and enjoyable interview. 
Darwin Appleby, a good friend of Kamui’s in 2003, was known for many things in SL. He started the legend of the hippo in SL, and his short-running talk show, Late Night with Darwin Appleby ( ) , was popular with the early beta members. Although it only ran a few times, it was attended by Philip Linden, and others. What most people never knew, but Kamui told me, is that at the time of the shows Darwin was only 12 years old! I hope he’s running some big tech company now. 

Kamui kindly shared event schedule notes from the early days. My inspection of the notecard showed that it was created by Char Linden in 2003. It seems you had to pay to teleport, and good hosts would reimburse you for attendance at their events! Here it is (greatly edited for space by me):  

*  *  *  *  *
Welcome to todays schedule! You will find all of todays events, times locations and more! Events are a GREAT way to meet people. Host your own event too! 
To copy a landmark double-click on the thumbtack. It will ask if you want to copy to your inventory. This landmark will help you to find the location of the event! Click on the landmark now that has been copied to your inventory and next choose to fly (free) or teleport! Have Fun! 
3:00pm PST     Virtual Basket Weaving 
Virtual Basket Weaving. Join Candie Apple to learn how quick & easy it is to make baskets for decorating your home or store, or to give as gifts. Make as many as you like, and then enter them in a contest for Best Baskets. $500 total Cash prizes will be awarded.   
Hosted by: Candie Apple  
Date: Thursday, June 19, 2003  
Time (PST): 3:00pm-4:00pm  
Duration: 60 minutes  
Category: Fun & Games  
Cover Charge: No  
Location (simulator name): Native American Village on Oak Grove  
4:45pm PST     Tour New Sims! 
Come to the Guided Tour start in Ahern and lets see what new exciting sims have been added. Take this opportunity to teleport for free (reimbursement) and meet some new people!  
Hosted by: Char Linden  
Date: Thursday, June 19, 2003  
Time (PST): 5:00pm-6:00pm  
Duration: 60 minutes  
Category: Fun & Games  
Cover Charge?: No  

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Oldbie Project – Pie Psaltery

By DrFran Babcock 
Trying to find oldbies who are either still around, or who are willing to talk about the old days is like trying to have a lag-free Relay for Life. That is why I was so thrilled to be contacted by Pie Psaltery with a request to participate in the Oldbie Project. 
I am beginning to realize that the original residents of SL were a very special breed: self-selected for creativity, intelligence, and a lack of fear for the new, the different, the “out there.”  Come along with me for a visit with the wonderful Pie, who has saved a lot from the early days, and displays an appreciation for the step up in quality that SL represented, when compared to worlds like The Sims Online. 

SL Newser:    How did you find out about Second Life™? 
Pie: Id been playing The Sims Online since its beta and in early Autumn of 2003 Id begun to hear of a new game" called Second Life.  TSO and a place called Cybertown (which is actually still open), were my only other ventures into virtual worlds Id made before Second Life. 
I remember distinctly the incident that prompted me to log in to SL the first time; I was redecorating my property in TSO and complaining loudly about being unable to place furniture catty corner.  Since I redecorated frequently, this was a common rant for me.  But this one time in Oct of 2003, while I was complaining again, one of my roommates said: "You know that place Second Life I keep telling you about?  You can do that there."  I made my first SL account that day, however, because I only had DSL at my business and it was not available yet in my home area, I let that account go, rather than paying the $9.95 membership fee that you had to pay after your free trial period.  Pie Psalteryrez day is exactly one day after DSL became available at my home.   
Heres the email from that long lost first account: 

Second Life 
Oct 4, 2003 

Welcome to Second Life! 
You have now registered for your free 7-day trial of Second Life. Your 
account name is "PieOhPah Phaeton". (Hold on to this email as a reminder. You will NOT be billed for this free trial.) 
To confirm your account registration, visit the following URL: 
Once youve confirmed your registration, your Second Life account will be activated. Once you first log in to Second Life, youll have 7 full days of 
unrestricted gameplay, free.  
Best wishes, have fun, and welcome to Second Life! We look forward to 
seeing you in-world soon. 
Linden Lab and the Second Life Team  
Its funny to me that Ive kept that email all these years, but dont have Pie Psalterys Welcome to Second Life! email.  

SL Newser:  What are your earliest memories of Second Life™? 
Pie: I spent nearly my entire first month in SL alone on top of a mountain in Ahern, playing around with the appearance sliders, trying to make myself look like "Pie" (meaning mostly, what Pie had looked like in TSO).  I knew only one other resident personally (one of the people I brought with me from TSO), because no one I knew had either DSL or a computer that could handle SL.  I didnt socialize very much the first month or three, but did a lot of exploringwhich was far easier when there were only a few dozen sims, even though you had to walk or fly nearly everywhere.  I loved flying (still do).   

SL Newser:  What kept you logging back in during the early days? 
Pie: There was raw imagination everywhere.  There was none of this white canvas syndrome you see these new virtual worlds suffering: people staring at the blankness, complaining its blank.  Everyone in SL 2004 seemed to be doing something or teaching someone else how to do it.  Lindens spoke to the world at large frequently, and often with humor.  There was a hum in the air of hundreds of nerds and geeks all shouting "Hey kids, lets put on a show!"  Ive never really felt the same vibrating possibilities in any other new world Ive ever visited, and Ive visited every one I could find at least once.  
SL Newser:  What are your fondest memories of the early days? 
Pie: 1. The day my partner from TSO finally got DSL and logged into SL. I showed her how to turn her avatars head using the ALT key so we could face each other while sitting on invisible prim cubes ( this was pre-custom animations.  I am pretty sure the animation used was "motorcycle sit"). After being in TSO for so long, with the disconnected way sims interacted with each other, when she could turn her face to face me facing her, she was almost in tears. The power of SL to "connect" two individuals separated by distance in First Life was never lost on me. 
2) Randomly teleporting somewhere while shopping one day and seeing a lighthouse I had made (for sale) off in the distance: "HEY!  That was something I made! and someone bought it! and was using it!!!" I was thrilled. It didnt matter that the person whod bought it had completely modded my pretty lighthouse into a horror, LOL. A Linden had bought that lighthouse too, which tweaked me even more.  I knew people had bought some of my stuff, but it was the first time Id come across one of my own creations randomly on the grid, being used by someone I didnt know. 

SL Newser:  What are your funniest memories of the early days? 
Pie:   1)  The default attachment point being your head. I think its blasphemy that LL changed it to the hand position.  (ED NOTE: Newcomers may not remember the box on the head being a symbol for a newbie, but trying to wear a package in the old days resulted in that, rather than holding a stylish shopping bag: the norm nowadays) 
2)  The much refined and repeated Head Up Your Own Arse bug that has plagued SL since forever.  Its my personal favorite bug and it delights me every time it pops up again on the platform. 
3)  One of the only original FIC(ED NOTE: Feted Inner Core - a supposed group of residents that were/are the beloved of Linden Lab employees) that Id ever spent much time with, Marilyn Murphy... wekinda known of each other through mutual acquaintances, but the very first time we met, the very first thing she said to me was: "Here, let me help you get your boobs out from under your chin" and gave me some tips on adjusting the torso sliders for a more natural look. Ive always thanked Mari for making my boobs better. 
SL Newser:  Did you fall in love in Second Life™? 
Pie: Yes 
SL Newser: Who was your favorite Linden? 
Pie: Philip, of course.  Probably not Philip as an actual human being, but certainly Philip as an idea.  In my mind, the word Linden has been indelibly etched with Philips face.     
SL Newser:    What were your favorite activities? 
Pie:   1)  Building.  It was one thing to arrange pre-made objects decoratively in The Sims Online, it was mind blowing to be able to imagine anything you wanted - and make it!  It didnt matter how badly you made it - in 2004, every boxy, prim-gapped, texture flickering build was a masterpiece.  Because youd made it. 
Here's a pic of my First Land, mine is the plywood thing in the middle: I didnt live there very long, because I immediately wanted MORE LAND.  I splurged and got a edge-of-the-map water front plot and built my first real home in SL a month or so later 
  2)  Socializing.  At first, I was quite the social butterfly in SL.  I ran a Second Life™ group, maintained a club, a little vendor center, and free noobie apartments related to the group for almost two years.  Id brought a lot of people I knew in TSO over with me, so I sort of immigrated a pre-made posse, lol. 
SL Newser: Do you still log in? If not, why not? If yes, what keeps you coming? 
Pie: I do still log in.   
Ive walked away from SL a number of times over the last decade, the longest being the period of M Lindens reign.  Ive gone thru my fair share of bouts with SL burnout and complete disdain for Linden Lab as a company.  I dont think youll find an "oldbie" who hasnt.   
But what keeps me coming back is the same thing that made me so awestruck those first few months on the platformImagination everywhere.  Its addictive to me.  I cant shake it.    
SL Newser: What would you like the world to know about Second Life™? 
Pie: I am not of the belief that the world as a whole will ever really get SL, no matter how much they know about it.  SL requires imagination; not everyone has that in large quantities and not everyone is comfortable with their own, or others, being unfettered.  But I believe it is that required imagination that keeps the hardcore SL resident hardcore.  If you are an imaginative person, creative and inquisitive, who actually enjoys learning new things - youre gonna love Second Life.  For the rest of you theres Farmville 2.  Thats what Id tell the world.  
After this are comments on the pics. Not sure how you want to handle it. All pics are by Pie Psaltery 
Profile poem from 2004: 
"this place makes me giddy 
awed by the grandeur 
delighted by the minutia 
my inner nerd mouths a quiet o my 
my inner hedonist titters with glee" 
Heres a pic of my very first club: 
A picture of a St. Patricks Day shamrock replacing the Linden sun over the community center of my SL group: 

And, because I remembered I had another "When the Lindens Changed the Sun" picture. 

Heres my first recorded incident of Head Up Your Own Arse, including my friend all in unloaded texture grey: 

DrFran Babcock