Hi, I’m RacerX Gullwing. I live in a place called Second Life. I’m a 4 foot Magic bunny sort of a mixture between the March Hare and the Mad Hatter with a name borrowed from Speed Racer (it’s Speed’s older brother) and Gullwing, which was the closest thing I could find in the list the Lindens gave us to choose from that had something to do with racing back then. I brought the RacerX name with me from the game I was in before SL, Battlezone.
After I made my bunny avatar 2 months into Second Life, I should have started a new Alt and let the RacerX name disappear. But then I may have never started the Giant Snail Races.
I learned how to write code using flash4. Before I found SL. So I quickly picked up on how to script things in SL with some help from some great script writers like Catfart Greyson, my nieghbor in Fujin, and Candid Lemay, who just landed on my pier one day, also LordJason Kiesler, a friend of a friend
I’d also been an artist/illustrator for many years and had sold thousands of prints of some pictures I drew and had printed. Something like Doodle arts.
What I’m getting at is I’ve been an artist for a long time, and when I found SL it just seemed like the perfect place for me to really thrive in. I made a film in SL about a very brave snail, his hot girlfriend, and the shady bunny who promoted him: It was a lot of work.
Decided next time I do something like that I really need a writer. Or a good story. Lol.
Anyway enough about me.
Anyway, Pooky Amsterdam asked me to answer a few questions about producing the Giant Snail Races, so here goes.
1. Looking over your time producing, what do you think have been your successes?
That depends on what you would call a success. We bring a joy and laughter to a small cult-like following. We’re one of those things everyone has to try once or at least come see.
We’re the friggin’ GIANT SNAIL RACES. 45 foot tall mollusks competing for fame and glory and fun well mostly just fun:
Every year we raise a lot of money for the American Cancer Society with the Relay For Life. We made these huge, long races, 46 to 60 sims, using the longest stretches of the existing Linden road system I could find. Of course, now the road system are a lot more complete and also interconnected; we could make a race going completely around the Atoll continent 2 or 3 times, taking hours and hours to race.
Wondering if people would come to that? Used to be amazing the line of green dots going down the road on the map. Up to 80 snails all racing at one time starting in 3 different sims. It’s a hard one to film though. You really need 3 or 4 camera people. Was nice when Treet.tv would do that; set up 3 cams, 2 were mobile, one just on Wiz, so we had a place to go if the other two crashed. And they put those on a live feed as it happened. Was amazing — those were good times, 2007- 2011, when all I had to do was show up and have fun. Wiz and Texas pretty much produced it all back then, filming, editing, posting. I’m in charge of filming and editing these last 2 years. Anyway I think I’m a bit off subject now.
1. What do you think have been your successes? …
Oh, we’re the oldest running weekly event in Second Life.
That’s what I tell people, I think it’s true. Correct me if I’m wrong.
We’re an SL institution.
Every Saturday morning, 11:00 AM SL time. Current location Devon dreams (125,125,777)
Since Nov 2004.
We’ve kept it going through 9 years and many versions of Second Life.
2. What have you learned from these successes?
It doesn’t take much for me to call something a success. Were sure not getting rich. But we’re having fun.
3. Looking over your time producing, what do you think you have struggled the most with?
Balancing the lag factor. We have a pretty good balance right now. People / physics. We use a lot of physics stuff to throw the snails around. We actually add random failures to some of the springs now just to make it interesting. Second Life seems to be more stable than its ever been before. But that may be due to the fact that we are using a full service sim, too. Thank you, Safra Nitley, for letting the snails live on your most excellent sim.
This is the crowd in Hawthorn on the mainland. Keep in mind there are 8 snails in the sim, too. (Person in front of girl in back row is Sailor Moon. Was the anime episode. That’s Sailor’s hair; it is a PG sim)
We used to crash the sim a lot when we were on the mainland in Hawthorn. Or maybe we had more people trying to crash us back then. You never really knew what caused a crash. You have so little control when you’re on the mainland. Then the call for live help — that is only so helpful, but we did see a lot more newbie traffic back then. So we had a bigger audiences of live viewers. Now it’s mostly the racers and a few die hard fans. Which is fine, too.
The thing we have trouble with nowadays is trying to figure out where to best advertise to our demographic. We always post in Second Life events. We’re in the sports category, since the gaming category is mostly populated by somehow legal gambling events these days and we‘d be one of 2,000 in there.
We hardly have any competition in the sports section. At most there’s 3 sports events in a day.
We’re also in the Linden showcase. We have given away thousands of snails free, a few more each day.
4. What have you learned from these struggles?
I don’t know. You can see I was never an A student. These questions are hard, Pooky.
(The answers are great though, and you know if you have an answer…)
5. How do you think you have changed? How do you think you have stayed the same?
I’ve gotten about 20 pounds wider but no taller.
6a. What would you have done differently?
I think I shoulda got into real estate. I knew Anshe when she owned half a sim. Shoulda seen that boom coming.
6b. What would you have done the same?
Still could have had the snail races but at least I would have some kind of income, too. Plus a population I could spam.
7. How does the work you are doing / shows you are producing fit or not fit in with more traditional media programming
Well we’re a little like that game show Wipeout. Where they send people through an obstacle course and try to knock them in the water. We’re sort of a live action game show.
8. Where do you see what you are doing leading to in the future of the entertainment genre?
Oh, I don’t know, maybe as a small footnote if were really lucky.
My series is about the giant snail races. But really that’s secondary first it’s a place to have fun. Share an experience with someone on the other side of the world. The fact that the giant snail races is going on in the background gives us something to talk about between moments. We try to treat it like a live show, if something glitches well leave it in, most of the time. Love when we can blame it on Lindens. They’re our scapegoat. For everything that suddenly stops working the way were used to. Latest thing is the way some prims don’t update and become visible sometimes.
Discuss what goes into producing your series.
Well we have a great crew; we call her Tindallia Soothsayer, she decorates the track to the week’s theme. Also alerts the group when the show gets posted. Also does the artwork for the theme’s notice.
My job is figure out what happens to snail dudes every week and I write a few scripts to make it happen. Then set up the camera’s script so we get it all on film automatically. I also make the textures for the leader board. Those are 2 of the three things we do between races.
The other thing we do between races is best of show. Tindallia makes a themed snail every week.
The way we have the camera work is a script I made that let’s you set up to 50 camera angles in the sim. And it also drops a prim that you can use to trigger that cam if its run over.
There is also a hud for it we have Xanadodj use, and she aims my camera at whatever she wants to. I film it.
Sometimes I use a fly cam and get some motion shots. Originally made this system so Treet could park one of their avatars on a seat and I could aim that camera for them. That way I could talk about what were actually looking at. Anyway that’s how we use it now, too. With Salem/Xanadudj pointing the camera we’re both looking at the same thing only I’m filming it and she has control of it.
Once it’s all filmed I edit it, which doesn’t take too long. Since we only have one camera. It’s just a matter of changing the titles and then editing the segments together. Speeding up boring parts like where we’re down to one snail. Then altering the credits if there were any changes. Then I drop it in the drop box and a few days later it’s on the Treet website and goes into rotation on the Treet TVs in world.
Share any interesting experiences you have had producing the series.
Once we had a pear join the race. That was fun. Recently we started having the seats follow the racers again and every once in a while we loose one and so far no idea where they go. Or if someone was riding it at the time.
I feel like interesting stuff happens mostly when we work out the bugs on new stuff. We had the audience following right behind the snails and the snails in the back started running into the audience when they were being flung across the track and falling. So next week we moved the audience 5 meters to the right or left of the snails.
Share any insights into how to produce television in/for a virtual world.
Try to make it interesting. People enjoy the moving and the shiny. Also the large boobs seem to help people stay focused.
Use any images or video to illustrate what you are writing about.
What have you co-opted from traditional media programs?
Oh, we’re using that pan zooming shot for the start of the show now like they use on some talk shows to show the live audience cheering the start of the show.
Well, thank you, Pooky, for letting me share my years of insight into the many faceted world of Mechanisms.