Lost in Cyberspace

Down the rabbit hole…

Wondering where the Nook gang went?

We said we were going on hiatus for the summer of 2019 and then were never heard from again. We were deep in new projects. We did poke our heads out when word of a pandemic first started circulating in the spring of 2020 and then took the advice to hunker down and stay put. Authors are pretty good about embracing solitude.

When the lockdowns started to ease, migrations happened. Some of us moved to new homes. Some of us moved pandemic refugees into our homes. We all had to adjust to new ways of doing everything from getting groceries to getting to work. You stay sane by doing what you can to help those around you and then losing yourself in creative projects that don’t leave time for worrying.

I’ve been working on several things:

Using Opensim as a Storyboard

Opensim as storyboard
Opensim as storyboard

We’ve been deep in something we’re calling our PH project — a story-driven, murder mystery, RPG. Above are a couple of clips from a scene I built in Opensim to illustrate how I thought the scene should play out in Unity. Neothar Cortex and Dorena Bree are contributing to the game build.

Using Unity as a Storytelling Platform

Castle Library
Yes there is a cow in the library.

STC is a multi-story project that authors Shannan Albright, Siobhan Muir, and Nara Malone are writing stories for. The explanation for the cow in the library is probably longer than the story itself, but all will be clear in time.

Intelligent NPC

Original Rob
Original Rob

I made the original Rob many years ago just before we launched Nara’s Nook grid. You could hop on a preset poseball and text chat with him while you danced.


The new genie NPC rez from a genie bottle, chat with you, follow you, and will interact with you and the objects in your region.

Replika Rob

Rob hologram, I can summon from my phone for voice chat, standing on books in my office.

I continue experimenting with NPCs and AI. The hologram Rob is not available in Opensim but I do think I can patch together some technology that will make these smart NPCs we interact with in Opensim available as a hologram that can go where you go. More details, resources and how-tos to come on all of that.

Game Development

And lastly, my favorite project, a little pony game I made in a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. My students love it, but it needs lots more tweaking. It’s a build of several islands complete with old shipwrecks, and hidden ponies. You can only travel between the islands by riding a swimming pony. There are five different ponies hidden on the islands and you must find all five to win.  I think I’ll make something similar for Opensim, possibly a DreamGrid version. I share this to show just how easy it is to build games these days. Even this romance writer can do it 😉

In times like these we need challenges that immerse us creatively, intellectually, and soulfully. We’ve got enough projects going to cover all those bases. We’ll give them proper names when we are closer to the finish.

As always, we continue exploring a variety of 3D storytelling tools and techniques and that has expanded our skill sets on multiple platforms.

If you’ve tried visiting the Nook recently, you’ll notice many regions turned off for the moment. There were some strange goings on about the grid that I had neither time nor energy to investigate. I shut some problem regions down and blocked some accounts.  I’ve also retired our oldest server–it was used when I took it over and I used it another 7 years. I’m preparing a new server with the newest version of Opensim. This process includes importing assets to a new format and uploading individual oars to new regions. It will take some time. I’ve learned to do a lot with Linux over the years but I don’t have to do it that often so there is always a bit of a learning curve to go through again when I update the grid. Things will be chaotic for a while yet, but we’ll keep you updated on our progress.