This is the final section of a four-part series featuring an interview with Damon Taylor and Daniel Krueger from Electric Sheep, who helped produce tonight's launch of the CSI:NY television series crossover into Second Life.
Sam Ford: Electric Sheep is using this collaboration for the launch of OnRez, your viewer of the Second Life universe. What is it about the CSI:NY/Second Life collaboration you all are producing that made this the best opportunity to launch OnRez?
Daniel Krueger: I can't speak for our software development team, but I think that it's always been something that Electric Sheep wanted to do, as far as making an easier interface for navigating Second Life. It's not traditionally a very intuitive space for new users, so we wanted to make something simple for new users to come in with. We launched it with this project because we wanted to provide the easiest way for CSI:NY viewers who have never used Second Life to be able to come into the virtual world. It's really a perfect opportunity to launch OnRez.
Damon Taylor: There are two additional facts that we should highlight that is unique about this experience's launch in the context of the OnRez viewer. Unlike other launches in the past that are in any way similar to this project, when one goes through the registration page for this experience, they are able to choose an avatar from one of 12 provided, so when they arrive in the world they will appear as the avatar of their choice. These 12 avatars were custom-made by some of our best designers. Also, we have automatically attached the CSI toolbar to the viewer, so the CSI fans will be using the OnRez viewer for their experience in Second Life. All of that is designed to make the experience as user-friendly as possible within the confines of Second Life's technology.
Sam Ford: What precedent do you hope this crossover sets for future traditional media products looking to launch a transmedia campaign into a virtual world?
Daniel Krueger: This project is just showing the possibilities of virtual worlds and the various crossovers with different media platforms. This is the biggest project that's ever been done in a virtual world. We have 420 islands launching today in Second Life, with the four islands we have crated for the CSI experience replicated 105 times to scale for all the traffic coming in. This is showing the potential of what is possible in a virtual world, and the sky's the limit.
Damon Taylor: Sibley Verbeck, the president of the company, was at the Virtual Worlds Conference a week-and-a-half ago and mentioned the considerable buzz around the project we are working on. His statement was that one thing this does is begin to demonstrate what we already believe: experiences in virtual worlds can appeal to the masses. This is not a niche industry or a niche technology. With creativity and hard work and expertise, it is possible to launch this type of crossover, and we are hoping that the CSI:NY Virtual Experience will begin to demonstrate that companies can use virtual worlds in ways that appeal to a larger audience.
Sam Ford: Do you have any closing thoughts about what you feel will make this project successful?
Damon Taylor: One of the things I was surprised with is how dedicated and committed Anthony E. Zuiker has been in promoting virtual worlds as a medium for his viewership to wrestle with the content he creates every day. I have personally been surprised with his energy and excitement and his push for us to go above and beyond. I think that will be evident if someone spends time in this virtual experience and goes through some of these activities, such as the Murder by Zuiker blog game that he spent a considerable amount of time on.
Sam Ford: Well, I know that you've got a lot of work cut out for you today, but thanks for the talk this morning, and best of luck in launching the CSI:NY Virtual Experience tonight.
For the first three parts of this series, look here, here, and here. The first piece looks at the background of the CSI:NY crossover into Second Life and Electric Sheep's involvement, including the creation of the OnRez platform. The second part looks at some discussion with Krueger and Taylor on the value of this collaboration for fans, Second Life, and CSI:NY. The third part looks at the types of activities planned for Second Life and how they intersect with the narrative from the TV show.