Friday, December 2, 2016

Horizons - Retro Futurism Comes To The Mainland

A great deal has already been written about the brand new Horizons sims and related experiences (including the official introduction by the Lab here), but since they are technically a part of the Mainland, I couldn't just ignore them here, now could I? Of course not! So, what exactly is Horizons? Teaser billboards featuring the image below starting popping up in Bay City and other places a few months back, and our resident Lindens and Moles were all busy with some reportedly huge, super-sekrit project. Well, that project turned out to be huge indeed — a new planned community comprised of thirty-six (!) residential sims surrounding a six-sim adventure experience.


Located just north of the continent of Zindra, all Horizons sims are adult-rated with a double-prim allowance. The residential areas are split into 1024 square meter parcels with a unique feature — they come with a "mailbox" controller which allows the owner to rez one of six houses (see examples pictured below — all of which reminded me, in a good way, of "The Jetsons"), and these houses do NOT count against your land's prim allowance! In addition, the homes come with "resource packs" containing items you can use in your house and on your land. Similar to what happened when Bay City was introduced, Horizons parcels began to be auctioned off by the Lab in mid-November. When you visit the residential sims today, you'll find a mix of parcels up for auction and parcels for sale by owner. In addition to the private parcels, two large community centers and four infohubs provide areas for residents to socialize, learn about how to buy land or use the mailbox controllers, or allow them to enter the other part of Horizons, the experience area. If you are curious about the residential areas, you can start your explorations at the community center at Themis, located here.



The Horizons Experience is literally central to this new venture. The residential sims completely surround the six experience sims, the entrance of which can be seen below. One can choose to enter as a player or as an observer, although the same dangers apply to both. If you choose to "play" the experience, you will receive a HUD at the entrance which will guide you through five quests and a variety of terrains. You can return to the entrance to claim any prizes you've gathered along the way. Each quest must be completed before you can progress on to the next.


The first region in the Horizons experience is pictured below. As a Wild West landscape populated by robots, I can't help but be reminded of HBO's incredibly popular current series, Westworld, but at least in Horizons you can distinguish the robots from the avatars! Whether you choose to enjoy the gaming aspect of the experience, or you decide to become a "homesteader" and help to start the new Horizons community as a resident, or if you just want to visit to enjoy the gorgeous handiwork of the LDPW moles, I'm sure you'll find, like I did, that Horizons is a true treasure and a welcome addition to the wild frontier that is Second Life Mainland.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Mare Secundus

The Mare Secundus is a vast, inland sea which can be found in northern Sansara, spanning at least ten sims. It contains a number of interesting islands worth exploring, where adventurers can wonder at an ancient lighthouse, visit several observatories (one with a telescope and moveable observation window in the roof), climb over the ruins of buildings and primordial tree stumps, or even commune with a flock of flamingos under what appears to be one of the last remaining giant trees. Let's start our explorations in the observatory at Okinu, the gold-domed building pictured below. Go inside, where comfortable cushions have been provided for you to relax and watch a model of the solar system moving across the inside of the dome. Then, venture outside and over towards the large rocket ship, also pictured below.



You will need to touch the lever outside in order to extend the walkway to the ship's door. Once inside, take a seat, and hang on! In a few, brief moments, you'll land on a strange moon, pictured below. Look around for evidence that the LDPW moles were here before you; they left a marker for future explorers to find. The moon is dotted with otherworldly flora and fauna, but watch out for the latter, because some of the creatures appear to be hungry!



One might also spot a mysterious monument with an eye in the center, partially visible under the arched rock pictured above. A similar monument can be found on an island in Elderbridge, back on the surface. The Elderbridge island also contains a small beach, a picnic area, and a zone in which you can rez vehicles or boats for further exploration. In fact, there are at least nine rez zones in the Mare Secundus: three on piers (Elderbridge, Thurston, and Zolezzi), and six  underwater (Margery, Mandrake, Leipzig, Hepurn, Zaharik, and Henshaw). The one in Zaharik is actually inside and underwater cavern!



In fact, the entire Mare Secundus is a diver's paradise. Most of the sea floor is dotted with sunken ships, mysterious ruins, and more of those primordial tree trunks, indicating perhaps that some long-ago disaster (or global warming??) sunk an ancient civilization below the waves. The glowing rock in what looks like a sea floor crash site (pictured above) gives some credence to the disaster scenario.



In addition to ruins, glowing rocks and giant clam beds, intrepid underwater explorers will also encounter three hippo statues, two of which are in Thurston and are pictured above. As I mentioned in this blog post about Hairy Hippo Fun land in Bay City, hippos are the unofficial mascot of Second Life, and can be found in many locations all over the Grid. There is even a hippo easter egg in SL browsers (press CTRL, ALT, SHIFT then hit the H key). From the sea floor to the mysterious moon high overhead, and everywhere in between, the Mare Secundus is a wonderful place for a visit...or five! So take some time, bring along a spare wetsuit, and see what you can discover there. Careful observers might even uncover the meaning behind the name of the sea itself. Happy exploring!

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Little Piece of Art

At the far north of Sansara, in Maryport near the old Linden Village, is A Little Piece of Art. This small, friendly cafe (second picture, below) is located along the side of the road, and contains cats, coffee, and freebies for passing travelers. An informational notecard at the entrance provides a list of blogs (including, to my delight, this one!) and landmarks for further mainland explorations. Artistik Oluja (Art Oluja), owner of the cafe and curator of the gallery onsite, states that "'A Little Piece of Art' started as a space to appreciate mainland exploration and settled at Maryport on Sansara in August of this year. The cafe is a hangout for friendly, positive users, old and new, who enjoy exploring mainland, especially those who enjoy a little wordplay and corny snacks!"



The parcel is situated between the road and the sea, and overlooking the ocean is the brightly colored Pixel Gallery, pictured above. There are five levels to the gallery, which contains a mixture of the curator's private collections and some of her own pieces for sale. The third level of the gallery contains some free pieces by Art, a couple art-related gachas, and a bench with a wonderful view of the waterfall. The fourth level down includes seating and a viewing room of Art's machinimas, which she rotates periodically. The lowest level leads outside, where between the waterfall and the sea one can find places for quiet meditation or yoga.


"The pixel gallery was inspired by my love for the good old blocky prim," commented Art. "But more importantly, I enjoy displaying the works of creative people who not only have unique ideas but also happen to be supportive and encouraging towards other user's creative experiments. I hope SL folks exploring mainland are comfortably curious here, and find it is a positive space where they can be inspired and encouraged by other artists, just like I have been!"




Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bay City Institute for Anomalous Research

Tucked into a tiny corner in Tanelorn, the Bay City Institute for Anomalous Research is an enchanting find. Described as a place for "discovering, researching, and preserving diverse cynosure," the Institute is run by Professor CC Columbo, Director, and Professor Geohistoria Farshore, Researcher. Professor Columbo spoke of his colleague Professor Farshore as someone who spends his time "looking for exhibits, exploring the Grid, and having adventures. He's from Caledon." The parcel overlooks both the West Channel and the unnamed sea to the south of Bay City, allowing for surreptitious deliveries of artifacts by boat as needed.



Wandering inside the main building, pictured below, one encounters a great number of strange and unusual artifacts. According to Professor Columbo, "the exhibits will be rotated and brief stories will, with any luck, be written about each piece. This is a work in progress." Statues of Bast rub elbows with dinosaur skulls and medieval suits of armor, and there is even a strange, glowing, very futuristic-looking box sitting near the back door. What could be inside?



Professor Columbo's office is located in the round folly on the south side of the parcel, pictured below. The professor commented about the office, "It is where Geohistoria Farshore and I keep up with the administration of things and plan explorations." The office inside the folly is a delightful jumble of books and packing crates and even an adult phoenix in purple-feathered glory.



Professor Columbo is the first life brother of Bay City's own Uccello Galway (Uccello Poultry). He commented, "Uccie and I speak often about the time bubble that was created when I moved our family graveyard from next to her Bay City Arboretum of Atypical Vegetation. It was the same Faerie magic that moved the Institute from Dennis to Tanelorn, mostly intact and oddly expanded. Parts of the site disappear into the time stream and/or the Nevernever and other parts appear. Little critters come and go. Uccie's alt Zyx Flux, the source of the Faerie Magic, rezzes the critters and helps with landscaping." (Take a moment to explore the Arboretum as well - it is a wonderful and quirky place with a similar feel to the Institute.)



Although the parcel is only 784 square meters, it feels deceivingly larger. Every bit of space is well used, with many places to sit and enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation. When I asked about the aforementioned graveyard, Professor Columbo told me, "You'll see a statue of a cherub to the northwest after you arrive. It's the one that was in the Dennis cemetery, and it is a memorial for Lydia Rose. That's my RL daughter. She passed away many years ago before she was three years old. I have always had a memorial marker out for her, at minimum. At one time a quarter of the Nangrim sim (which Uccie and I owned) was named for her. I like to think of the Institute (and the Arboretum, since it was my idea to have that in Dennis) as a way that Lydia and I explore together and have adventures." The Bay City Institute for Anomalous Research sparks the imagination and will rekindle anyone's love for adventuring. Why not visit today?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bay City Tree Lighting and Charity Auction

by guest reporter extraordinaire, Marianne McCann 

The Bay City Alliance will host its 7th annual holiday Tree Lighting event on Saturday, 3rd December 2016 from 1-4 pm SL. The event will be held at the Bay City Fairgrounds, in North Channel and will feature DJ GoSpeed of KONA Stream, and live performers Christov Kohnke and Zachh Cale. The event will also feature ice-skating, dancing, refreshments and a lot of fun for everyone, as well as the annual lighting of our Christmas tree.

Once again, Bay City will host a silent auction to support Child's Play Charity.  Bay City is a Silver Sponsor of Child's Play Charity, having raised over US$2,000.00 to support the work of the charity. We are asking Second Life™ designers and artists to participate by providing fun, interesting, unique, or other transferrable items (or a no-copy object that the auction winner can give to you to redeem their prize, if the item(s) have to be no transfer). Please contact Marianne McCann to participate. Items need to be in by November 28th.

The auction will end at the conclusion of the event. All proceeds from the silent auction and from donation bins at the venue will go to Child's Play Charity. Child's Play is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization which offers online communities such as ours an opportunity to help seriously ill children around the globe during their hospital stays with the purchase of games and gaming equipment.

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab® and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest group for Residents of Bay City.

For more information, or to participate in the event, please contact Marianne McCann inworld or at
marianne.mccann@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

And We Walked!

On Sunday, November 13, 2016, a group of adventurers set out on a walk via the train tracks in southern Heterocera. The walk was a lot of fun and was without incident, except for a few of us falling off or through the tracks in Lutra. (Who does one report holes in the tracks to anyway? The moles? The SLRR group?) Ziki and I had not told anyone where we were headed, and the group seemed surprised and delighted to end up at the D-Lab train station in Poecila.



But by far the most delightful surprise was the fact that D-Lab owner Dazai Voom had created a group gift especially for us! I had told him we'd be walking along the SLRR tracks, so for the gift he designed a steam train engine-shaped pipe, with smoke coming out of the chimney (see picture at left). A huge thank you to Dazai for his creativity and generosity! The pipe is still available in the group gift area of the main shop and sky garden. You simply need to join the D-Lab group to pick up your very own pipe! D-Lab, about which I wrote here, is a delightful place, and well worth a visit in any case.

If you'd like to join us for further adventures, please visit our home, Cael Ystafell, and click the group joiner near the blue sign (see below). We will post notices about future walks there, and group chat is a good way to stay connected while walking! We'd love to have a really large group join us next time, and who knows what mischief we might get into and what new adventures we might find! 

Until then, keep exploring, and keep walking!










Friday, November 4, 2016

Prim Mining at ANWR

On the great day of Primsmas (which is to say, yesterday, when the Lab announced a 1.5x increase in Mainland land impact/prim allowance), I did celebrate by visiting the Temple of the Prim, about which I blogged here. But then it occurred to me that I'd never written about the prim rig in ANWR, that magnificent mining apparatus in the center of the ANWR channel, pictured below.




According to the Second Life Wikia, "ANWR is one of the sims added on March 22, 2005 as part of Heterocera. Along with Cyclops, Suduffco and Sandra, it forms the narrow strip of ocean that connects the main continent and the northern continent. The name is a reference to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." The ANWR channel is a transcontinental waterway, allowing boat travel between Sansara and Heterocera, and there is a lot of traffic through there. In addition to watching the passing boats, one can stand on the rig itself and catch a Yavapod in the form of a hot air balloon, hop on a very modern-looking SLGI train, or even ride a tugboat to Calleta.



But the best part about ANWR is the rig itself. Go below the main platform and you'll find the actual drill, pictured above, pulling up prims from the depths of the Linden ocean. And below the rig, along the ocean floor, a prim pipeline runs the entire length from Sansara to Heterocera. One can only imagine the increased production effort the recent prim increase will demand!

So take a visit to the ANWR rig and see for yourself. Marvel at the seemingly limitless supply of prims being mined for YOUR pleasure! Hop on one of the previously-mentioned tours and explore the nearby continents. Or, near the helicopter landing on the upper level of the rig, you can pick up two free sailboats for future travels through the channel. And above all, enjoy the prims!