Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lutra City Mysteries

My friend Celeste (celestedarkstar) saw my blog post about Cael Ystafell and mentioned that she has an art gallery just a few sims away, in a sim that offers adventure games. And so, I wandered up Route 5 in Heterocera to Lutra City.  According to owner Ilithios Liebknecht, "I designed Lutra City to bring full-featured adventure games into Second Life, something that to my knowledge has not been fully done before. There were a very small handful of games that came close, some very well made, but even those lacked things you would expect from a full-featured adventure game like variety of interaction and a progressive story. I always thought SL was very well suited to adventure games and am surprised more people haven't tried to make them. As far as I know my games are the only really full-featured point and click adventure games in Second Life."



Interestingly, due to some twists and turns of the tracks, Lutra City is located between Route 5 and the Second Life Railroad (SLRR), just like Cael Ystafell. There is a rail station, pictured below, where adventurers can enter the city. Located on a steep hill, the city is divided into upper and lower sections, and as you can tell from the picture, some of the structures are actual buildings, and some are just 2-D facades, as if you were visiting the set of an old movie.



According to the notecard you will receive upon arrival, "to get started, go to the detective agency (pictured below) and choose a game on the cases board. There is a free tutorial game called The New Detective available that will teach you how to play and show you what to expect from the games. The full games are much longer and more complex than the tutorial game of course!" In addition, near the city park outside of the detective agency you'll find a sign (first picture, above left) that gives you a Catch a Crook HUD. You'll need to wander around the city wearing the HUD, and there are prizes if you are the first to catch the crook. Also near the city park is a bus station. According to Celeste, "the bus stops are items that you click on and they take you to other places that have the signs displayed. You don't have a choice; it's random. They take you to other places to explore - sometimes it is a store, other times a park, and here it is a city full of adventure."


Celeste has a small art gallery in Lutra City, pictured below, called Darkstar Studios. She remarked, "I chose to locate my gallery here based on the adventure aspect. I can walk out of my gallery and have choices as to what I want to do. Plus the rent is very reasonable," she laughed. "Lutra City is a place for adventure, whether it is riding the rails, driving down the adjacent highway, catching a bus to a random location, taking a portal to other adventure games, catching crooks, solving the mysteries at the Detective Agency, or just exploring the cityy. You'll always find something to do here." 










Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cael Ystafell

Earlier this summer, Ziki and I decided to purchase a large parcel of Mainland on the Atoll, and we named it Cael Ystafell (pronounced "cal EES-ta-fell"). To landscape the parcel, we enlisted the help of Isa Messioptra, skilled designer, landscaper, and owner of the fabulous Crestwick Island. We couldn't be more thrilled with her work. Creating the illusion of privacy on a Mainland parcel takes a lot of skill, and Isa managed the challenge with grace and style, right down to the view from every window in the house. For the curious, Cael Ystafell is Welsh for "get a room!" Ziki and I have been heckled in first life during visits to cities all up and down the East Coast of the US, so we thought it appropriate. ;)


When you arrive at the landing point, you'll be instructed to drop your draw distance to 50m. The parcel is located on the southeastern coast of Heterocera, and is nestled between Route 5, the Second Life railroad (SLRR), and the Coastal Waterway. Yavascript pod tour H3 - the Heterocera Atoll Coast tour - passes the entrance to Cael Ystafell, pictured below, which is off of Route 5. To the left of the photo you can see where the SLRR runs along the Western edge of the parcel. We can launch boats from our beach, from which we can sail along the Coastal Waterway. It's a great spot, and I'm very thankful to Ziki for finding it.



I'm really happy with how the parcel turned out, and we held a small Open House on August 13th to celebrate. The parcel media plays Radio Dismuke, so the party-goers danced to early jazz music and explored our home. One of the things I heard over and over during the party was, "I can't believe this is Mainland!" Haveit Neox commented, "In the notecard, it says this is mainland? It looks amazing! I love the way you've furnished the house. And the views from the windows! The window in the nook with the driftwood chandelier... what an gorgeous view onto the woods. This is really a treat to see. I'm so happy you both have this really special home. Mainland... who would have guessed!"



Please feel free to visit Cael Ystafell and wander around. You are welcome to enter and explore the house; we just ask that you be respectful and holler a hello if we are home. :) Explore the woods near the train tracks and the beach below the cliffs. Catch a passing pod and go on a tour of the Heterocera coast, or hop a train and see what interesting spots you can find along the SLRR tracks. I love how connected the parcel is to so many ways to explore the land. It was our hope that this place would show people the beauty that is possible on the Mainland, and encourage more people to discover that for themselves!




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hot Bay City Nights

Have you been spending a lot of time exploring the Mainland by car lately? If so, that's music to my ears, but I'm sure your car is absolutely covered in pixel dust by now, and could use a good wash. Or, have you been looking for that perfect vehicle to assist you in your wanderings? Well, tonight is your lucky night! Come on down to the Bay City Fairgrounds at 7:00 PM SLT, browse the vintage car show, and get your car washed for charity! Ace reporter Marianne McCann provides all the pertinent details below, although she did forget to mention that we also wash motorcycles, other assorted vehicles, and even the occasional dinosaur. It's all a part of Hot Bay City Nights - the hottest week in the hottest city on the Grid!

HOT BAY CITY NIGHTS 2016
Second Life® event features vintage automakers.
by guest reporter extraordinaire, Marianne McCann

BAY CITY, SL (18 August 2016) - Celebrating Bay City's mid-century theme as well as its vast network of roadways, the "Hot Bay City Nights" event in Second Life® showcase vehicle makers who create automobiles from the Bay City "theme era," stretching from 1940 to 1965.

The event is held in the the Bay City Fairgrounds, in the North Channel region, from the 20-27th of August to present the best in vintage and retro vehicles. Each designer is hand-picked, and presents great road vehicles for use in Second Life.

Additional events will provide plenty for all to do, including the crowning of the 2016 Miss Bay City on the 27th, and a series of virtual car washes for charity. The next one of these virtual car washes will be held tonight, Tuesday, August 23 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. SLT.

The event will raise funds for Child's Play Charity, an organization that provides toys and games for children in hospitals around the world. Bay City is a silver-level sponsor of Child's Play.

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 Bay city group, and home to most Residents of Bay City.

For more information, contact: Marianne McCann


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Space - A Planetarium

Being, as we are, in the midst of the annual Perseid meteor showers in first life, the night sky is more fascinating than usual to me right now. So I was delighted to discover that only one sim away from the site I blogged most recently, The Unknown Theme Park, is a place called "Space - A Planetarium," owned by Hazelee Haller. Located alongside the Second Life Railroad (SLRR) tracks in Euclida, it is one of the most creative uses of a 512 sqm parcel I've ever seen. 

What's the significance of a 512, you might ask? Those of you who are premium members will know that one perk of membership is either ownership of a Linden home, or, for those of us who own Mainland, the option of being granted a 512 sqm bonus before land use fees are applied. Either option comes with an allowance of 117 prims, although if you chose to own a Linden home, the house that comes with your home does not count against the prim allowance. Used as a stand-alone parcel on the Mainland, 512 sqm is really rather tiny, although you can find homes that size on the marketplace, and the advent of mesh has made the 117 prim allowance quite workable. However, most people who don't take the Linden home option either roll the bonus into their land fees, or put up a skybox or building platform above ground level. 


The ringed globe, pictured above, is one such skybox, but it is much more creative than a simple building platform. When you arrive at the planetarium on ground level (making sure not to get hit by a passing SLRR train on your way in) look around at the tiny but elegant build and admire the sculptures there. (I'm especially fond of "Life Cycles", by Elie Giulia.) Then, follow the footsteps and teleport to the globe high above. Inside the globe, you'll find what Hazelee calls a "stylized view of our galaxy", pictured below.

Level One includes a static display of planets and their moons, and touching each object will open a link to a web page with more information. Level Two shows the planetary orbital of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars around the sun. Following the footsteps through the skybox wall at the base of the ramp between the levels will lead you to the ring outside. This ring can be walked, though the spinning motion might make you a bit dizzy, and I did fall off when trying to re-enter the globe. 

Hazelee commented, "I have had the Planetarium since 2007. I put it up for sale a couple of years ago, with the stipulation that it remain as is. Finding no buyers who would promise me that, I took it off the market and am glad no one took me up on the offer!" All in all, this is a fun find, and one of many hidden gems along the SLRR route in Heterocera. If you enjoyed your visit, there is a tip jar located within the sky globe.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Unknown Theme Park

According to the current owner, Miyi (Miyi Nishi), the exact beginning of The Unknown Theme Park is not documented, and its founder, Ade Franklin, left Second Life a while back. What is known is that the theme park started with a club, The Unknown Club, which has been at the same location since November 26, 2005. Located along Route 1 in the sims of Moneta and Rivula in the north of Heterocera, the theme park comprises 37000 sqm packed with more than 50 colorful and exciting rides and activities. Miyi remarked that when visiting, "ear plugs and high-class lag protection suits are recommended."

Miyi recalled meeting Ade for the first time, commenting, "we always had a lot of fun at his always-changing park. When my SL family fell apart, Ade took us kids into his family. Imagine a dream come true: living in the middle of an always-open theme park as a kid, where all the rides are free! From that day on all the rides had to be 'Miyi approved'. If me could operate them, they were good for the customers. Me became Theme Park Guide." As the years went on, and Ade spent less and less time in SL, Miyi took on more responsibility for the park, buying the parcels of park land which were not already group-owned, and replacing broken rides. "With a last visit of Ade," she said, "and the big help of a neighbor resident, plus Linden support, the park could be transfered and saved. Now me runs it until Ade comes back. It is so much fun to work at and on the park!"

Additionally, after many years of inactivity, The Unknown Club (pictured below) now is active again with regular events, the next ones being "30 Greatest Hard Rock Songs" on August 10th and "Lynyrd Skynyrd & ZZ Top" on August 24. There is a group joiner in the club and several others throughout the theme park for those wishing to keep informed of such happenings. 


The Unknown Theme Park is in the middle of a year-long 10th Anniversary celebration - quite an accomplishment in our ever-changing world! Stop on by to enjoy the sights and sounds of a classic theme park, and try out the many rides, which include a tour train, underground bumper cars, a maze, a bouncy castle (pictured below), several roller coasters, and a giant ferris wheel. Play some classic arcade games in the mini arcade or play chess on a giant chess board. The land extends down to the inner waters of the Atoll, so visitors can also enjoy fishing or inner tubing. A balloon tour near the club provides some history of the park as you ride. Remarks Miyi, "All rides are free, with a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. ;) The Unknown Theme Park is here for fun and for you to have fun. And it is here to stay. :)"




Thursday, August 4, 2016

Gerstle Point

It isn't often that you stumble across an entire Mainland sim that is constructed and landscaped as a cohesive whole, but while I was exploring Jessie the other day, that's exactly what Ziki found. Gerstle Point comprises all of the sim Gerstle, and is located on the shore of the Bay of Space Pigs on the old continent of Sansara. Beautifully landscaped with high cliffs, rocky shorelines, forested areas, and a mysterious, mist-covered stone circle, Gerstle Point is a peaceful and delightful respite in the center of some of the oldest land in Second Life. Let's stop by and take a look, shall we?


I spoke to sim owner Катя Коваль (KatyaKoval), pictured below, who recently purchased the area from two friends who had owned it since 2004. "I am trying to build up two spots," she told me, "the storytelling/glamping area in the corner and the discussion ruins." The ruins she refers to are the stones, pictured above, which are the setting for a weekly discussion group. Upon arrival, a notecard gives you some information, "Welcome to the ruins. Here we have a chat meet up every Wednesday night at 4pm slt. Depending on the interest we will look into further expanding the dates, times and locations." Katya continued by saying that "the western side of the sim is going to be more modern age and the eastern, a more ancient English leaning. I wanted a place for the arts. I love my artist friends and I still hope to create an artist colony at some point."



Wandering around, in addition to the discussion ruins, you'll discover a creatively-furnished lighthouse with a 7seas fishing vendor outside, what Katya called the "Glamping corner" - five glamorous tents and a fire circle tucked into a heavily wooded corner between the cliffs and the sea, four dockside glamping tents located on rafts over the water, a lovely English cottage (pictured below), a pool and pool-house, and the forlorn remnants of a fallen lighthouse (last photo, below). If you look at the sim from overhead via the inworld map, you will see a picture of a lighthouse, created by the delightful (and apparently omnipresent!) Marianne McCann

Katya concluded, "This land in SL has always had a special meaning to me over the years, and I hope that folks join in because I really enjoy seeing things grow, especially when they involve resident creativity such as storytelling, and participation with the discussion group area.  I try to to welcome all thoughts and at the same time be a welcoming place that allows folks who need a shoulder to find respite, in a place that is a comfortable place to be for awhile. The area itself is in a spot that is more generally oldbie residents so we tend to be more open about personal RL selves at times when making personal connections. We will eventually have boat slips available for rent in the future, as well as now having areas to fish if you are into 7seas fishing. Also starting soon will be campfire storytelling in the glamping corner, leading into November's NaNoWriMo.  This will be by invite only, but if you are interested in participating, please definitely IM me. There will be limited spots available so be sure to do it soon!"


Sunday, July 31, 2016

"This Is Why We Fight"

In the early days of Second Life, there existed a group of four damage-enabled sims designated as "The Outlands": Stanford, Federal, Hawthorne and Shipley. Half of the sim Clyde was part of the Outlands as well, and contained a wall (the remains of which are pictured below) separating this virtual Wild West from the rest of the world. Later, due to increased demand for this type of area, the sim Jessie was added, set as combat-enabled, and opened for public purchase. Today, of those five sims, only Jessie remains as a damage-enabled war zone. It is Jessie which we will explore today, so put on your combat boots, prepare for occasional death during our explorations, and follow me over the wall!


As do many of the oldest sims on the grid, Jessie allows for 40/40 terraforming, so you will find high cliffs throughout the area, dividing parcels from each other and forming natural defensive structures. The whole thing seems a bit jumbled, and not at all like the cohesive town I'd been told it once resembled. Having heard about the "Jessie Wars", I looked through the forum archives to try to decipher what happened, but the accounts, while entertaining, were confusing to follow. So I contacted a current resident of Jessie, Kenny Avalanche, to try and get a better picture of things.

According to Randy Farmer in a 2007 post on his blog Habitat Chronicles, "During the Second Life beta test, its initial culture was starting to emerge. In my experience, worlds like this one attract early adopters of a somewhat democratic-libertarian bent — "Let's just all get along" and "Leave Real Life rules behind" often reflect the mentality of the most vocal users. But, something unusual happened this time — another virtual world, called World War II Online, was failing and its 1940s role-playing refugees migrated to Second Life, en masse. Since it provided for personal combat (hit points), death (teleport you home), and you could build just about anything, including weapons, it seemed like an ideal fit. Quickly they'd built up WWII cultural and military items, including Nazi uniforms, gear and propaganda, including flags and posters with Swastikas and the like. Eventually they took over the only remaining full-combat enabled simulator [patch of land], named Jessie, and made it their home."

About the WWII group, Kenny recalled, "They came here for combat. They said they were promised a place where they could build and create what they wanted, but what they found was a group of residents who were now against combat. Land was pretty scarce at that time (see the map of the world at that time period, below), and people had started building houses in the combat zone. In order to try to force the WWII group out, some local residents started using RL issues (this was at the time of the Iraq War) to force people to move. People put up posters of Bush and Saddam, and also Confederate flags, all over the Jessie wall. It got pretty ugly."
 



And at that point, the Lindens stepped in. They set the Jessie wall to "no build" and removed everything on it. According to the Jessie wikia, "The Jessie wall was almost completely destroyed at this point; it was damaged after a large conflict over the war in Iraq, when many posters/boxes were placed over it. Linden staff, while removing these objects, also deleted a large portion of the wall, leaving only a small section in the Northwest portion of Jessie." As an aside, both the wall and the "Entering The Outlands" sign on it are copy, so if you want to take a bit of SL history home with you, here's your chance.

When asked about the land now, Kenny commented, "The residents of Jessie tried to stick together, but some sold the land and it will never be the same. Combat was the goal of the sim, but just like RL, most people don't like war. Some of those who wanted a combat area moved to a private sim and called it New Jessie. I try to keep my land true to the idea of Jessie but others just live here. Only a few still use Her as Home."


Kenny concluded by saying, "I still think Jessie is a must see. It definitely is a huge part of the history of SL. It is the only entire sim on the mainland with damage enabled. You can see your little heart at the top of your screen when you are on Jessie. The heart is your health meter, and indicates that you can die here still to this day. I think everyone in SL should get killed at least once just for the experience! Good ole Jessie is alive and well, noob-friendly, and definitely worth visiting."

I'll leave you with a song by The Decemberists which seems an appropriate soundtrack for the story of Jessie:

"This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
And this is why
This is why we fight"