Follow-up: It’s now over a month since I posted the following review, plenty of time to get thoroughly familiar with the product and to have developed a more objective opinion, free of the novelty factor that often influences a review of a new product.
Unfortunately, time hasn’t been kind to my opinion of Akaesha’s ReAct V bed, nor did familiarity lead to affection. And after using it conscientiously for over a week (long enough to finally learn the names of the positions), I found myself turning to it less and less, and finally just retired it to inventory. As much as I admire Akaesha and what she’s trying to do with interactive animations, the bed just wasn’t worth it in terms of physical space (it’s rather large in size, with a prim count of 25), and enjoyment.
The problems were these:
- The quality of the animations just wasn’t that good in our opinion. The heart of any bed is the animations, and my partners and I just didn’t find these very exciting.
- The emotional range was limited. There’s basically one cuddling animation. All the rest are penetrative sex. No foreplay, no aftercare, no kissing.
- The ability to interact with your lover in real-time–the main selling point of the bed– just wasn’t that impressive. Most beds let either party control animations just by taking control of the menu. Having dual menus is nice, but not especially compelling. As far as the 4 facial expressions you can choose, any L$50 face animator lets you do that and more.
For the record, I did go out and purchase another piece of the ReAct bedroom set in order to try and get a more complete effect, but this piece — a bookcase with a pose and kiss animation — did nothing to change my basic opinion.
Akaesha’s ReAct System V Sex Bed
It was maybe two years ago that Akeasha’s launched their ReAct system, touted as a new approach to Second Life sex animations that would deliver more variety and avatar interaction than the usual menu-driven click-&-play systems. Avatar interaction—the ability for both Av’s to control and respond to each other in real time during lovemaking—has always been something of a Holy Grail for us, because two-way interaction is really what Second Life sex (or real life sex, for that matter) is all about. It’s the interaction that allows us to share the experience, and without sharing whether through emoting or texting or voice or whatever, SL sex is nothing more than lonely masturbation to bad porn. So it would seem that anything that increases the ability to interact has got to enhance the SL sexual experience.
Two-way (or reciprocal) interactive systems are of course a lot more complicated to design and implement that the usual menu-driven systems in which one lover controls all the action, but Akaesha’s been something of a pioneer in this field. There are basically two aspects to a reciprocally interactive system: dual control allows either avatar to control which animation is played without having to stop or hand over control of the menu, while live or real-time response is the ability for an avatar to react with a gesture or facial expression while the animation is playing.
Dual control systems have been available in SL for a while. The popular TenderLove system is one, and Akaesha’s own Kama Sutra system is another. They both have problems, though. Despite recent improvements, TenderLove remains fussy to set up and, for all the beauty of its animations, is limited in what it allows you to do. Akaesha’s Kama Sutra pillow provides variety, but the level of excitement of the avatars is unfortunately monotonous. And neither of them allows for real-time response. Some canny lovers have taken to running separate facial animators that at least allow you to vary your avatar’s facial expressions during sex, but we’re unaware of any systems that allow for true live response while an animation is running, and that’s what we really wanted to see.
The ReAct system when it debuted was a bit crude and not entirely sure of what it wanted to be, so we held off on reviewing it till it had time to mature. But with ReAct V, the system has found its sexual focus and while the ReAct V now provides what surely must be the most highly interactive system currently available in Second Life. Both lovers can easily and quickly control the choice of animation as well as its speed and intensity, and even gesture and respond to some extent while an animation is running. So at last you can use animations to show what you’re feeling without having to resort to emoting or text. You can choose the position, speed up or slow down, kiss your partner or smile, hold them tighter or moan or even erupt in a dramatic orgasm. ReAct V lets you do all that, and more.
Overview of ReAct V: How it Works
ReAct V HUD is wonderfully intuitive and easy to use, and the system overall quicker and more responsive than any dual control system we’ve ever tried. The heart of the system is a scripted ReAct object—most commonly a bed, chair, dresser, tub, or other similar piece of furniture. Clicking on the ReAct object gives you and your lover a pair of virtually identical HUDs which you wear before clicking on the object again and choosing ReAct, and that’s all there is to it. The system immediately puts you on the bed, chair, or whatever, and presents you with a menu of possible Actions. There’s no messing with adjustments or complex set-ups and instructions. It couldn’t be much simpler.
The HUD contains a number of functions, but right now let’s concentrate on the sex animations, which are controlled by the Action and Reaction buttons in the HUD. An Action is basically a sexual activity or position (oral sex, cuddling, missionary, etc.), and when you choose one, a menu containing 3-5 variations (or ‘sub-actions’) on that Action quickly appears in both HUDs, putting you and your lover literally on the same page. The variations are riffs on the basic Action you’ve chosen, typically more passionate and extreme versions of it, and most have an Intensify button next to them, which amps up the excitement even more.
Either partner may choose the Action, the variation, and the intensity of the variation, and the responses are quick and relatively seamless with just s little jump while changing animations. And should you be a little lazy or have your hands otherwise occupied, each Action menu has a Love Scene button which automatically plays through play all the variations in that Action in an endless loop.
Real-time responses are unfortunately limited to four facial expressions that appear on each Action menu. You can make your avatar pucker up as for a kiss, smile, moan, or stick their tongue out. For those of us who already use a facial animator during love-making, this isn’t much, but it’s something. And each Action has its own orgasm button that launches both lovers into a dual paroxysm of pleasure, unique to each Action.
ReAct V allows for more two-way connectivity while making love, and is thus probably the closest to a shared sexual experience you’ll come in Second Life. The scripting is flawless and robust and the overall design is compact and straightforward, so it’s remarkably easy to use right out of the box.
Given all this and all the time and effort that must have gone into it, it’s hard to account for the gross design error that makes the ReAct V unnecessarily difficult and frustrating to use: the names they gave the animations.
Rant Alert!! Naming Sexual Animations
We’ve been railing about the names manufacturers give their animations ever since our first review in this mag, and Akaesha, for all her fine work and the way we admire her, is one of the worst (though certainly not the only) violators. There might have been some rationale for giving the sexual positions in her Kama Sutra Pillow their original Sanskrit names—names so indecipherable that the HUD had to be expanded to screen-gobbling dimensions in order to provide an illustration of the act in question—but what possible justification is there for totally bewildering and frustrating the users of the ReAct V with animation names like Crave, Devotion, Invite, Rampant, Ecstasy, Harmony instead of just calling them what they are, namely Blowjob, Missionary, Anvil, Wheelbarrow, 69, and Anal?
Do they expect up to spend a week or two studying and memorizing these names and what they stand for before we use their React V system? Do they expect us to consult notes in order to decipher these cryptic names (which is what I still do, some weeks after purchasing my ReAct bed). Or do they think we don’t care what sexual act we choose and so don’t even bother with what they’re called? Is it some sort of copyright issue? Do they find the common names just too offensive?
Do they have any idea of how maddening it is to want to change to a certain position and have no idea of what it’s called, and then have to start bouncing from one animation to another like a bug on a hot griddle in search of it, totally destroying the whole mood and love-making experience?
The whole point of the ReAct V system is to give both users control over how they make love, but how can you exercise control when you don’t know what you’re doing?
Calming Down: A Closer Look at ReAct V
All right. Rant over. But really! Our chief complaint about React V is the names of the animations. They’re a problem.
As stated, the basic sexual positions and acts are called Actions in the ReAct V, and within a given Action will be 3-5 sub-Actions or variations on the basic Action, many of which (but not all) have an Intensify button which does pretty much just what it says: shows you a more intense version of the variation.
When you start the ReAct V, you’re on the Main Screen, which has three buttons: Cuddle, Body Pillow, and Intimate. Cuddle gives you a basic lying down cuddle while Body Pillow just puts the woman on top. Both of these have 5 sub-actions or variations.
The third button, the Intimate button, leads to the real sex, and gives you the choice of 14 different Actions. The names won’t tell you what the Actions are, so we provide the translations below. We also tell you how many sub-actions (or ‘subs’) are available under that Action, and how many of these have an Intensity function, indicated by the number of + signs. So in Stimulate below, there are 3 separate subanimations, and each one has a lo-hi intensity switch, giving you 6 total animations in the Stimulate category. For Infuse, there are 4 subanimations, but only one has an intensity switch, for a total of 4 animatuions for Infuse.
For brevity’s sake in describing positions, MOT/ GOT = Man on Top/Girl on Top.
- Stimulate (Cunnilingus, 3 sub-animations, 3+)
- Infuse (MOT foreplay, 4 subs, 1+)
- Crave (Fellatio, 3 subs, 3+)
- Attraction (GOT Foreplay, 4 subs, 1+)
- Addiction (Man Kneeling Missionary, 4 subs, 3+)
- Enshadow (Both Kneeling/Doggie, 4 subs, 3+)
- Devotion (MOT Missionary, 4 subs, 1+)
- Rampant (Wheelbarrow, 4 subs, 4+)
- Pleasure (GOT facing away, 3 subs, 3+)
- Invite (Anvil, 4 subs, 4+)
- Ecstasy (69, 3 subs, 3+)
- Harmony (Anal, 4 subs, 0+)
- Allure (GOT legs together, 4 subs, 2+)
- Enchain (“96” – MOT face over her feet, 4 subs, 2+)
The names given the sub-animations or variations are thankfully more understandable than the names of the Actions themselves, and the last sub-animation for each Action is a Kiss, which is nice, since it allows the lovers to stop for a kiss without breaking the position they’re in. Each Action also comes with its own unique Orgasm animation, which is separate from the sub-actions, and the orgasms are without doubt some of the sexiest animations we’ve seen.
Including the Cuddle and Body Pillow animations as well as the Orgasms gives us something like 76 sexual animations, and including the results of using the Intensify buttons, it increases to 98. The bed we purchased cost L$3750, which is quite reasonable, giving an average cost of L$37.50/animation.
The ReAct V HUD has some powerful capabilities and it’s pretty obvious that the designers at Akaesha’s intended it for full-time use and not just in bed. The HUD comes with its own customizable AO, and a huge supply of dances. It also has a full-featured recorder that can be used on any ReAct object to record up to 2 hours of action, thus letting you make your own love scenes, or dance sequences, or whatever. You can record your own sounds too, and integrate them into your animations or use them live.
Positions may be easily adjusted on the fly by hitting another button on the HUD and using normal SL editing click & drag techniques. We found the positions nearly perfect for us and didn’t have to adjust anything, but the feature is much appreciated
Price and Purchase
You can buy ReAct V objects as stand-alone furniture or as complete bedroom sets that typically includes a scripted bed, chair, and bath tub (each with different animations) along with a bunch of unscripted ancillary pieces like lamps and dressers, etc., all for around L$6,000. Because we were just testing the system, and because I don’t like filling my bedroom with animations from only one maker, I bought a bed only for L$3750.
All In All…
We love the idea of avatar interaction and we’re all for any outfit that’s working to promote it. In that regard, the ReAct V is a real step forward and should definitely be considered by anyone looking to upgrade their sexual animation system. You can try it at Akaesha’s showroomand see what you think, but it’s not till you get it alone with you and your partner that the capabilities really shine. We hope Akaesha continues to develop and refine the system, and, our rant about nomenclature notwithstanding, we wish this product the success it deserves.