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"

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Phoenix - Rising From The Ashes

High above the sim Gurshi on the continent of Satori spins the impressive five-level Phoenix Space Station, pictured below. The station's levels include dance clubs, living and sleeping quarters, and even a hangar with five different rezzable spaceships (second photo, below), each of which can be flown. Similar to those on the LDPW's Mos Ainsley Space Base, about which I wrote here, the spaceships will autoreturn to the station when you stand.

I wandered around the station for a bit, taking the center elevator to explore each level. This would be a great place for a photo shoot, or to host a space-themed party. Unlike at Mos Ainsley, I didn't spot any aliens, so I think partygoers would be safe. ;) Sim owners Sven Homewood and Sauly Saulio (Saul Winkler) mentioned that anyone wishing to host a party on the station can contact either of them for group membership, which includes rezzing rights. After I was finished looking around, I jumped off the station and tumbled the long way down to earth, curious as to what was below.

With rez dates one month apart in 2007, Sven and Saul have owned the land below the space station for over nine years. "I remember we got the land four weeks after I joined," commented Sven (pictured below). "We were the first people here. We didn't know each other then but we talked a lot and then found out that our plans are pretty similar about how things should look and feel." Sven built the space station and the pub; Saul said "I mostly buy and place things around."

According to Saul, The Phoenix Hangout, comprised of two connected parcels spanning about 16k of land, was created because he and Sven "wanted to make a non-commercial place for folks to kick back and hang out, play games and listen to music." He continued, "We call the place The Phoenix because I basically destroyed it once with the click of a button. Everything poofed off the land. Sven was a little miffed. When we (mostly he) rebuilt it, we renamed it The Phoenix, because it was rising from the ashes."

When I asked them what their favorite parts of the land were, Sven mentioned the pub — The Sleeping Dog — which was named after an ancient dog sleeping by the fireplace inside (pictured above, far left). Saul said his favorite part was the fishing pond outside of the pub (pictured above, far right). There is a 7Seas fishing vendor located right next to the pond.

The Phoenix Hangout is filled with places to, well, hang out. There are hobbit houses to explore (pictured behind our mushroom perch, above), playground-type rides, places to rest or snuggle, and games scattered both inside the pub and throughout the grounds. "People come to play the many free games," remarked Saul. "We welcome all types of avatars here: furry, child, petite, whatever. Just no griefers! There are also free to copy items scattered throughout the parcel. We've been tweaking the place for nine years now, and we like how it has developed." Come on by, hang out a bit, or take a ride on a spaceship and tour the surrounding area. If you enjoy your visit, there is a tip jar located just inside the entrance to the pub.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mainland Really Does Matter, or Why Kinn Has Not Been Blogging

I've not done a lot of blogging this month - first, because I was on vacation in Ireland, and second, because Ziki and I decided we should put our money where my mouth is, and we purchased a very large parcel of Mainland on the Atoll. The photo below, left, shows the parcel at the time of purchase, and right, after the very fabulous Isa Messioptra did a fair amount of landscaping for us. 

The parcel is not quite ready for visitors, mainly because we are still working on decorating the interior of the house and adding details to the land. Below, Ziki can be seen working on the interior decorating in her own, unique way. ;) It has been an awful lot of fun exploring what is in our inventories to find what might work here.

Below, you can see a glimpse of what this place will look like once it is finished. The trio of wooden elephants was a housewarming gift from Cica Ghost, and the only item, besides the house, that we told Isa she had to incorporate into the landscaping. The more time I spend here, the more I love it, and it is already starting to feel like home. Stay tuned for a more complete post once the parcel itself is more complete. We are excited about the opportunity to show everyone that a beautiful and welcoming home is possible on Mainland!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

"Hallelujah, I'm A Bum"

On the Western shore of the inner delta of Heterocera is a unique and whimsical place called Lollygagger Lane. Created and administered by Firery Broome, Raskolnikow Roffo, and paramparamm Papp, the Lane is a jumble of different things that work well together: a Hobo Safe Camp, the home of the Hot Stilt Bitches of Burning Life, and a newcomer friendly slum hangout with a lively arts and music scene. I asked Raskolnikow what gave them the idea to start the community, and he replied, "We had a friend with land and we were just playing around. Before we knew it, we had rezzed a couch to be lazy on. The rest is all just stuff that ended up here over time. We always make plans to clean and sweep the street, but we never actually do, so it stays dirty and sandy here."

But I know you are wondering, as I was, what exactly is a Lollygagger? Rask passed me the Lollygagger Manifesto, which states, "According to the dictionary, a lollygagger is a lazy person, one who lollygags; a slacker, ne'er-do-well. We prefer to see ourselves as those who take their time to smell the daisies. And the best way to enjoy life is to smell them together. The word lollygagger was meant to label people, but we wear the name in pride. As we lost our haste, we now see what this world really looks like. And how it might be better. Like a flower growing from the concrete, the Lollygaggers want to show you and everybody in the Metaverse the aspects of humanity that we tend to forget about in the rush of our daily lives."

In the photo above, you can see me wearing a Hot Stilt Bitch costume on the shores of Lollygagger Lane. The Hot Stilt Bitches of Burning Life group was formed by Kilara Balnarring in 2009 for Burn2, the Second Life version of Burning Man. According to Kilara, the group’s goal, besides having lots of fun, is to support the Second Life art scene by spontaneously appearing at events. In addition, the Lane in general is certainly a place that supports the arts in Second Life. Currently, they are hosting a large-scale art show which also happens to include the work of my partner, Ziki Questi (pictured below). Stop by and see the art, which is spread out over several locations, and make sure to grab the free gift from Ziki while you are there. The show ends on July 23rd, so hurry!

In addition to the regular art exhibits, Lollygagger Lane has shops, small shacks for rent, and one large annual music event. "Every year we organise an event called Slumrock," remarked Rask, "and we give all Slumrock tips to a good cause. We have donated to A Liter of Light and to homeless shelters, and more! We also have a camp at Relay for Life called 'Walking Tall For a Cure'. Getting together and working together for a good cause is one of the coolest things in Second Life, we believe. To keep informed it is handy to become a member of the Lollygagger group, since we indeed use notices to inform and invite everyone."

From the Lollygagger Manifesto, an invitation: "Do you want to meet interesting people and hang out in a honest place where you are respected and the people are friendly? Want to build, and learn from other builders? Want to organise an event, a party, and you can't find a location or a stream? Want to sell your creations at Lollyggager Lane? Do you want something but you don't know what exactly? If you do, you must be a lollygagger!" Rask commented with a grin, "Sometimes there are also members of Hobo Junction at the Lane, since we Lollygaggers kind of are hobos too." In that spirit, enjoy this Utah Philips version of  "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum." In Utah's inimitable style, he takes the sarcastic tone of the original hobo song and makes it his own, interspersing stories between the verses about the joys of "going on the bum." A perfect soundtrack for bumming around Lollygagger Lane!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Little Yoshiwara

Explorers traveling on the eastern coast of Satori, the Japanese continent, might happen upon a tranquil Japanese community called Little Yoshiwara. Xuemei Yiyuan, the owner of the sim, commented, "I founded Little Yoshiwara in July of 2007. Starting out as a Geisha tea house and Shinto shrine on a 2048m block in the Milarepa sim, it has grown into an Edo Period (1603-1868 AD) Japanese town covering the entire region, as well as a substantial portion of the adjoining Ribush sim. The growth of the town would not have been possible without the invaluable contributions of past and present group members Shashe Neva, Faye Kawabata, and Soresu Romano." While this lovely and well-designed area was created for role-play, Xuemei told me that her primary aim is to have a place to celebrate traditional Japanese culture. "While those involved in the social groups do role-play on site," she said, "our general group members and visitors are not expected to role-play unless they wish to do so. In addition, visitors may dress any way they want, as long as it doesn't infringe upon the PG nature of the sim." 

According to Xuemei, "Within the town are a number of social groups which not only role-play those social roles, but learn about those social roles in classes held at the 'group schools' in their home buildings or training areas. Each of the schools uses traditional ranking systems and conduct regular classes and training in the chosen role. These schools include: Yoshiwara Okiya group for Geisha; Yoshiwara Uji Dojo group for Samurai; Yoshiwara Jingu Association group for Shinto Priests and Miko; the Ichimura-za Kabuki Troupe group for those interested in performing traditional Kabuki and Noh plays; the Doujoji Zen Temple group for Buddhists; and the Yoshiwara Yokai group for those choosing a super-natural (or non-human) role. The sim also welcomes anyone wishing to establish any new group schools (e.g. Sumo, Ninja, Yakuza) provided they are prepared to put in the time and energy needed to train their members and provide classes."

The town features sitting and picnic areas, a dance area with modern music, hot baths (onsen) for bathing, and rooms for playing the game 'Go'. Visitors are welcome to enter role-play group areas, such as the tea house (ochaya) run by the Geisha, the Samurai training areas, including the traditional archery range (kyuudo), the Zen Buddhist Temple (Zendo), and any of the 8 large and small shrines belonging to the Shinto group (these include our Grand Amaterasu Shrine in Ribush region, and smaller shrines for Tsukuyomi, Susano-o, Uzume, Izanagi, Inari, Hachiman, and Takemikazuchi). There are some home rentals on site (clearly marked and locked), and visitors are asked to respect the privacy of those areas. Otherwise, wandering throughout the town is welcomed. You might even stumble across a haunted forest and abandoned execution ground! The sim-wide teleport system is located in pillows scattered throughout the grounds.

Xuemei concluded by stating, "Little Yoshiwara welcomes, and is happy to provide the venues for, anyone wishing to hold events or seminars about any aspect of Japanese culture, which will be facilitated and advertised by our Admin team. The sim also has a gallery for art or photographic exhibitions. We invite everyone in Second Life to freely attend our cultural events and classes, and enjoy the amenities of the town and its general relaxing ambience." 

Every time I encounter a place like this gorgeously landscaped town which has been home to a number of active and vibrant groups since 2007, I am reminded again that the Mainland is a place of hidden beauty and tight-knit communities. Take a trip to visit Little Yoshiwara, and find out for yourself how true this is!