Mon >> Jul 23, 2007

Congratulations to TakingITGlobal!

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aloha! Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.and aloft hotels has donated the aloft island to TakingITGlobal, an international organization that currently reaches over 1 million young people in over 200 countries. Led by youth and empowered by technology, TakingITGlobal works to inspire, inform and get young people around the world involved in improving their local and global communities.

"We are incredibly grateful to aloft for giving our community this opportunity to grow and look forward to sharing our future success with the brand."
- Michael Furdyk, Director of Technology from TakingITGlobal.

Please be sure to visit the TakingITGlobal island soon. They will be hosting many events for the Second Life community and plan to discuss global and social issues that they care deeply about.

Thank you for everyone who submitted ideas for the island. We really appreciate your interest in aloft over the past year.

Posted by at 3:01 PM in Events | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) |

Mon >> Jun 4, 2007

Submission Collection Ended June 1st

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Thank you for all of your wonderful submissions to acquire the aloft island. We were thrilled with the many responses we received. Later this month, we will announce the new owner of the aloft island for the coming year. Best of luck to everyone who participated!

Posted by at 6:22 PM in Events | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) |

Mon >> May 14, 2007

Friendly Reminder!

Do not forget to that we are donating the aloft island back to the SL community. Please submit your best idea to acquire the island once we leave Second Life. Send Cider Starbrook your submission (must be 500 words or less) by June 1st.

Posted by at 3:36 PM in Events | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) |

Wed >> May 9, 2007

Last night's event with the aloft team

On behalf of my collegues at ElectricArtists and Electric Sheep, we want to thank you, the residents of SL, for making last night's event so much fun! Here are some snapshots of the evening...

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Posted by at 3:26 PM in Events | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) |

Thu >> May 3, 2007

Virtual aloft re-opening on Tuesday, May 8th!

Aloha! We are pleased to announce the reopening of the virtual aloft. Over the past few months, we have actively solicited input from you, the Second Life residents, on such design features as public spaces, guest rooms and exteriors – everything from color palette to space planning. After reviewing all of your comments, several changes to the overall design of aloft are a direct result from your feedback. Not only have these changes been applied to the virtual hotel, they will also be reflected in the “real-life” aloft hotels.

We are unveiling the newly renovated virtual hotel this Tuesday, May 8th. You will be able to walk through the hotel, sit down on the new furniture, and enjoy all the other new textiles and prints and much more. We are also celebrating the re-opening of the hotel in Second Life with a meet-and-greet session and an informal Q & A with the real-life aloft team later on Tuesday at 8PM ET/5PM Second Life time.

As aloft segues from the virtual world to the physical world, the donation of the aloft land to the Second Life community will also be announced at the re-opening ceremony. Until Friday, June 1st, Second Life residents can submit ideas on the best use of the land once the virtual aloft closes. Submissions should be 500 words or less and can be emailed to Cider Starbrook or through a notecard drop box inside the virtual aloft hotel. In early June, the aloft team will announce who won the rights to the island and will present the land to the new owner.

See you on Tuesday!

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Thu >> Mar 8, 2007

Now Groundbreaking Video is in Second Life

We have added the real life groundbreaking video on the construction box on aloft island. Please be sure to check it out in world and don't forget to go on the beach and get your free gifts from SPG!

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If you have any questions about aloft, feel free to contact Cider Starbrook in world.

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Thu >> Feb 15, 2007

The Real Life Groundbreaking Video

Here is the groundbreaking video of the aloft hotel in real life! You will notice from the footage that the aloft hotel plan looks exactly like the hotel in Second Life. Thanks again for all of your comments about the aloft design inside Second Life. Stay tuned to find out when the hotel renovations will be complete. Also make sure that you visit aloft and click on the SPG card to get some free gifts! This video will also be available to watch in Second Life soon, If you have any questions, feel free to contact Cider Starbrook in world,

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Fri >> Jan 26, 2007

Under Construction

Over the past few months many of you have visited our aloft hotel within Second Life. We hope you have enjoyed sitting in our guest rooms and hanging out at our pool. We were excited to receive your feedback in regards to the design for aloft. Your suggestions have been taken very seriously, and now we are making adjustments within the hotel as huge renovating project in world!

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This is very exciting for us but to make your revisions a secret, we are going to be temporarily closing the hotel. For the first time ever, your revisions will also be reflected in the real life hotel when it opens in 2008!

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Thank you for your continuing interest in aloft. Even though the hotel is closed for now, please be sure to visit the island and click on the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) card on the beach. Here you will receive free aloft bathing suits, flip flops and robe as our gift to you! Do not worry, once the renovations have been complete, we will open the hotel back up to you and your friends. You can count on a fun event from aloft so stay tuned!

If you have trouble getting into the island, please go to our neighboring sim Argali so you can check out the construction site and free gifts!

If you have any other questions about aloft, contact Cider Starbrook in Second Life!

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Wed >> Nov 15, 2006

Take a Tour of Virtual aloft

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Wed >> Oct 25, 2006

Announcement: aloft Halloween Costume Contest

As residents of Second Life begin to prepare for next week's Halloween festivities, aloft hotels is having its first virtual Halloween costume contest inside of Second Life.

Here's how it works.

To enter the Halloween costume contest, from now until 11:30pm EST on October 31st, all you need to do is to take a photo of your Second Life avatar in your Halloween costume on the aloft island sim, either inside or outside the hotel. To enter, simply email a jpeg version of the photo to us at frontdesk@virtualaloft.com. In your email, include your name, avatar name, email address, and mailing address to be eligible. To be eligible, your photo must be received by 11:00 pm EST on October 31st, 2006.

Then at midnight on November 1st, our panel of judges will select five Grand Prize winners and 10 first prize winners from all eligible images received. Winning entries will be selected based equally on the following criteria: creativity, originality, and effort.

There's a limit of one winning image per participant and in the event of a tie, the entrant with the highest score in the creativity category will be considered the winner.

Winners will be notified via email within seven seven days of the selection. If the potential winner does not respond within seven seven days after the first attempt to contact him/her, or if notification is returned as undeliverable, we will then select an alternate potential winner in his/her place from all entries received.

All grand prize winners will receive gift sets from Bliss Spas and first prize winners will receive aloft t-shirts.

If you have any questions, drop us a note at frontdesk@virtualaloft.com

Posted by at 12:14 PM in Events | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) |

Fri >> Oct 20, 2006

Last Night at aloft

On behalf of all of us at aloft hotels, ElectricArtists, and Electric Sheep, we'd like to thank everyone for coming out last night to the official Grand Opening of the virtual aloft hotel in Second Life. We'd especially like to thank Ben Folds and SONY BMG for making the night super special.

Unfortunately, due to the technical limitations of Second Life, it wasn't possible to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend, so we thank all of you for who wanted to attend but couldn't, for understanding.

Stay tuned for more events. We're planning a big Halloween blow-out at the hotel which should be a lot of fun. If you've missed the event, here's some photos of what went down...

(For those who attended last night, let us know what you thought by posting a comment....)

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Posted by at 1:47 PM in Events | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0) |

Thu >> Oct 12, 2006

aloft to Open In Second Life Next Thursday October 19th with Ben Folds

We're excited to let you know that the official launch party for the aloft hotel inside of Second Life will take place next Thursday with a special appearance by Ben Folds.

The launch party in Second Life will take place on October 19th, from 7PM-9PM.

Ben Folds will appear live at the virtual aloft and will give people a chance to be the first to hear new tracks off of his upcoming album, supersunnyspeedgraphic.

To attend the launch party, send us an e-mail to frontdesk@virtualaloft.com to request a VIP invitation to the event.

Posted by at 12:58 PM in Events | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) |

Wed >> Sep 27, 2006

Bathroom Doors

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We quietly opened the aloft sim the other day and have been getting some nice feedback. We've also gotten some great comments taking a critical eye at the build and design, and we welcome both. Feel free to post your thoughts as comments on this blog as well!

One question we heard a few times was why there wasn't a door in the bathroom. There will be a sliding door in the real hotel but we actually forgot to put it into the virtual version because, well, avatars do not spend much time in bathrooms in Second Life. We did not capture every detail of the hotel interior but instead tried to focus on the essentials. However, we think you are right -- that door is an essential and we are going to update that wall separator and add the door. We see this build as a work in progress. Keep those thoughts coming!

Posted by at 1:17 PM in Project Details | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0) |

Wed >> Sep 20, 2006

Building A Virtual Hotel... A Time Lapse Video

When we started this project, our Second Life designers placed a tiny virtual camera high above the island that we purchased for the aloft hotel. Each day they took a photograph of the construction of the exterior of the hotel. To see how the virtual hotel came together, check out this time lapse video put together by Cory Edo from ElectricSheep....

Posted by at 8:12 AM in video | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0) |

Mon >> Sep 11, 2006

Textures Make a Build


This past week saw a quiet aloft blog but a really busy build team. We brought the interior to life with the addition of texturing. I actually believe that texturing is the most difficult part of building within Second Life -- to make something look great and be low-lag (inefficient textures use is actually one of the worst causes of lag within Second Life) takes creativity, skill and smarts. Custom texturing is extremely time consuming but it separates a great build from an only-decent one.

Two examples below show how textures make all the difference in the creation of an immersive space:

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Sometimes you need to combine both clever prim work and texture work together to accomplish a difficult effect. Because everything in Second Life is made out of blocky primitives, organic shapes can be quite difficult. You cannot prim creased sheets, so Cory and Makaio combined forces to make the below effect. It is actually quite difficult to come up with a texture that makes a flat box and a few cylinders look like wrinkled cloth.

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When it comes to texturing, the devil is truly in the details. Details that differentiate a build include knowing when to add shadow effects (Linden Lab added local lighting to Second Life, but there is not much in the way of shadow rendering), knowing how to age a texture and when to add "noise" to prevent a flat or plastic look, and designing textures that do not over-repeat a pattern thus shattering the immersion. Smart execution in texture application is also important, such as paying attention to how textures sit on every side of a prim, checking for the pattern-repeat problem, using the repeat and offset settings appropriately, and double-checking texture size to avatar size (many make the mistake of leaving their texture patterns too big because they work with the camera zoomed out).

Speaking of details, one of my favorite touches in the kitchen is a very faint reflection effect cory placed underneath the aloft bags (I happen to like how she did the aloft bags as well, but that's another topic). If you look at the image below, you can just make out a faint reflection in the countertop. This actually is not a texture effect -- rather it is accomplished by mirroring the prim bags (making a copy and flipping them upside down under the counter) and making the counter-top faintly transparent. The illusion is shattered if you expect to see your avatar reflection, but if done subtly, I believe it can be a nice touch.

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-- Giff Constable aka Forseti Svarog

Posted by at 6:54 AM in Texturing | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0) |