Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Hodge Podge of Second Life History

The Box for my Hippo Avatar by Daryth Kennedy & Stickman Ingmann (moderate)

I've been rereading Lalo Tellings great series on Second Life history and it occurred to me that there are a few things that form part of our collective consciousness that newer residents might not be familiar with.  Nothing world shattering but the sort of thing many of us take for granted and assume everybody knows.  I thought I'd highlight just a few.

One of them is the reason for the prevalence of hippos on the grid.  If you just arrived and wondered why the apparent fascination with them there is an explanation and the easter egg we were used to in the original viewer was added to V2 just so this bit of history didn't get lost.

Climbable Beanstalk (general)

The story goes that "Linden World was opened to a trickle of Beta users in March 2002; the first to register chose the dubious name "Stellar Sunshine" for her avatar.  As the Linden staff exited the warehouse office for the night, they left Stellar alone to wander the world ... The next day they got to see what their first citizen had made." (source The Making of Second Life by Wagner James [Hamlet] Au)

What she had made, in part, was a giant climbable beanstalk.  You can still see and climb her creation and visiting this first example of "user created content" should be a requirement for all of us.

Governor's Mansion (general)

Stellar also built the Governor's Mansion, now a heritage building in Second Life.  You can visit here and take a dip in the pool imagining the "old timers" having a barbecue on the deck.  What you really ought to do is find your way into the basement and look at some of the early photographs.  Holding on to those memories is, I think, important.

SL Historical Museum (general)

This is the SL Historical Museum.  It's a horrible photo but a fun site to visit.  Volunteers created and maintain this build and it's a great place to learn something about the early experiences inworld.  In fact, this is where I first found out why there were so many hippos all over the place. My first visit was a few years ago but I still return just to remind myself of the grid's roots and envy the early explorers.  That sense of "one community" doesn't really exist now but I wish it did.

Blue Bay (general)

As a last location today I'd love to be able to send you to the notorious Corn Field - but that's not possible.  It sometimes is opened to the public and I hope you take advantage of that opportunity should it arise.  

I can, however, share with you one of the many little discussed "truths" about the Second Life grid.  Blue Bay is an innocuous name for a vital piece of our infrastructure.  You've certainly rezzed a plywood box inworld and I'll bet you didn't stop to wonder where it came from.  Think about it, there are millions of them on the land, in the sky and in inventories but they have to come from somewhere.  It might look like a quasi oil derrick but this is, in fact, the factory which churns out thousands of our favourite building blocks a day.  The machinery is well oiled and I hope well maintained.  If it ever stops working we're in deep deep trouble.

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's 1891 & Jack the Ripper isn't the only threat in Second Life

1891 (moderate)

If you want dark role play but don't want futuristic cyber spectaculars then consider the Victorian Era.  Specifically, consider the Benighted Quietus.   This destination and its sister Beyond Darkness exist in the Victorian England of 1891.  Home to Legacies 1891 Role Play it is claimed that you will finally learn the truth about Jack the Ripper.

1891 (moderate)

If you go to their website you will learn that "Legacies is a beautiful, dark universe for the demented and twisted either residing here or exploring here. Mature, No Holds Barred,  extremely dark and cold, no mercy is found here. Leave your inhibitions behind, open your mind, your imagination and simply let go. We here, exist beyond darkness deep in the crevices of the disturbed."

Beyond Darkness (moderate)

The sun doesn't shine in this forsaken part of the universe.  The journal explains what happened but I suspect it will take much time and effort to free this lost place.  What then what would they do or think if they returned to us?  That is a problem for future generations to consider.

Beyond Darkness (moderate)

For the experienced role players I can tell you this is "Free-form RP using LaRPS. VTM, WOD, D&D, dice-rolls" and includes Vampires, Nekos and Demons. (you'd think Jack the Ripper would be enough right?)

I'm not easily spooked .... OK, yes I am and this place got to me.  I think my photos would have been much better if I hadn't been running so hard while I took them If you seek the dark and dangerous then 1891 should be on your list.

Oh and one last note.  They've been invaded by demented squirrels.  I even found them underwater when I was hiding resting my camera.

1891 (moderate)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Ridiculous, Sublime and Impossible in Second Life

David Rumsey Maps (general)

I thought that, before I return to the dark role play type of destination in Second Life, I'd show you a couple of old friends and a few new ones just to "cleanse your palate" (as it were).

The David Rumsey Maps has grown in size since my last visit - it now covers 4 sims.  This "Library and Exhibition of old maps from the David Rumsey Collection" is a fascinating build.  If you love old maps from different times and places this is your opportunity to actually walk on a topographical realization of some classics.  More information on the collection can be found on their website and I encourage you to consider it one of those places you must explore at least once in this life.

Photon's Castle (general)

Photon Pink's Castle is ridiculous.  It is fun and bright and cartoonish and fabulous.  One of the really irritating things about it, if you're a builder, is that it's so well done.  The attention to detail is incredible and if you like taking fantastical photographs you'll love the castle and the island.  You can find outrageous items for your home here and once you've spent some time getting into the spirit of the place you'll want everything.

Heart of Dragons (moderate)

If you're afraid of heights be prepared when you visit the Heart of Dragons.  This medieval kingdom has been built on a series of floating islands connected by thin wooden suspension bridges.  There is an En Garde arena for those addicted to the game (or those who wish to learn), shopping, a ballroom and more. 

Sialimonus (moderate)

If you want to experience space age bumper cars - or in this case Zipper Cars - go visit Sialimonus.  360 Racing offers you the chance to race inside the globe sideways, upside down and however you feel will work.  The cars and racing are free and up to 8 of you can compete at the same time and try for bragging rights.  I had my usual luck with an inworld vehicle, which is to say I can't steer for sh*t and I'm glad nobody was watching.  sigh

GreenBurg (moderate)

Finally today I bring you a perfect location to rest after all that exertion.  The Garden of GreenBurg surprised me.  I initally thought I might have to conclude it was cliched or "precious" but there are enough surprises and different touches that it's a joy to explore.  Keep your eyes open for evidence that the builders have a really quirky sense of humour.

I'll get back to wonderfully realized dark role play tomorrow.  Today I think you should go experience some of the random excellence available inworld.  :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"The Next Day" is Dark in Second Life

The Next Day (moderate)

I'm starting to accumulate yellow stickies all over my desk again - yellow stickies with the names of places I want to visit and share with you.  Two of them are futuristic role play sims that I've been hanging onto for a while.  I'm sure cowardice had nothing to do with it and I'll prove my "intrepitude" by visiting both this week.

The Next Day (moderate)

The Next Day is part of a 3 region build known as the City of Doom.  This is a CCS Sim so if you're going to engage in role play you must wear one of the CCS Meters distributed for free at the arrival point.  If you want to just have a look around don't wear the meter but make sure you follow all the rules.  You will receive a notecard when you move into the City and one of the critical phrases is that Ignorance is no excuse here.

The Next Day (moderate)

This is probably the most complex and detail rich build I have ever visited on the grid.  It feels enormous - and that's without getting to all three parts of the City.  There are back alleys and different zones and even multiple levels.  The work required to design and build this site is mind boggling.

When you leave the landing area and head towards the teleport to the City there is a sign which reads "No IM Rescue".  I have no idea why they thought I'd need rescuing but as a way to get you in the mood it's a nice touch. :)

The Next Day (moderate)

You'd have to be a better photographer than me to show you the tiny bugs committing suicide on this lamp but they're there. I found some interesting little surprises like the door I tried to open but couldn't because I didn't "have permission".  A few beats later I was asked if I'd like to break it down.  :)

If you love dark role play you need to go visit this City.  If you just love great builds you really need to go see what they've done here.  The Next Day is fabulous.

The Next Day (moderate)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When Shopping is a Pleasure in Second Life

Florencio (moderate)

I've never been able to enjoy a "mall" experience in any life.  I understand the need to maximize the owner's return on their investment but aesthetically it just doesn't do it for me.  I get cranky and frustrated and I don't spend a lot of time looking around.  But there are places that make me happy to spend both time and money.  If the store owner has gone to the trouble of creating an experience that pleases me, I'll go out of my way to explore their products and buy something even if it wasn't my intention. :)

Today's post highlights 5 very different locations, all of which are anchored by one or more stores and all of which are worth visiting just to enjoy the experience.

Grollwerk, La Cuesta (moderate)

Florencio a quirky, surreal sim.  This is just so much fun you know you're going to like the products in the stores. There are multiple stores but they're tucked into the landscape so well they don't detract from the design, they form part of it.

Grollwerk's main store is on La Cuesta and there is lots to see on the island.  I fell in love with the textures on these buildings - as usual my photo doesn't do the place justice.  Once you've explored the outdoors make sure you investigate the inn and then do your shopping for "Fantasy, SciFi & Horror based Avatars, Armor and Accessories".

Lusiadas (moderate)

Lusiadas is the wonderfully serene home to the shop Nordari.  If you want to escape and find peace this is the place to do it.  Low prim, prefab structures are available in a store surrounded by a fabulous woodland.

Shopping for skins and accessories might be the primary reason you'd visit Ethos, but the store Jomo is a great build on a beautifully designed sim.

Ethos (moderate)

My last location today is almost impossible to describe.  Kurohi Dagger isn't finished building Belial Japan but it's worth exploring now anyway.  Much of the design keeps you indoors in a dark, futuristic something - I'm not sure if it's a city or just a large multi-roomed complex but it's extraordinary.  And then there's this castle ....

The sim is dedicated to "the elegant, noble modern dark" and the website deserves some attention if you are interested in the project.  There are stores, relaxation areas and at least one location for concerts.  I noticed that Kurohi is not only linking this build to his website but also to every social network you can think of and he makes it really easy to connect from the site.  I suspect more and more builders will be doing the same.  This, along with the other four, is well worth a visit.

Belial Japan (moderate)

Monday, April 25, 2011

A New Garden of Art Opened Today in Second Life

Le Jardin des Ephemeres & Nitroglycerin  (moderate)

I saw this wonderful photo by Natsha Lemton on Koinup this morning and went inworld to find her other work.  Perfect timing as it happens, today she has officially opened her new gallery - Le Jardin des Ephemeres & Nitroglycerin.  This is one of those occasions when you simply must believe me when I say that my pictures do not convey the beauty of her work.

Le Jardin des Ephemeres & Nitroglycerin  (moderate)

I'd suggest you start your visit by walking out on the long broken pier.  There are a variety of large and small installations and some flying fish who will try and distract you - just don't trip on the broken walkway.

Le Jardin des Ephemeres & Nitroglycerin  (moderate)

One of the reasons her art is difficult to capture in a photograph is that most of them move and change and utilize light in magical ways.  I loved the gallery building - it's easy to navigate and provides a great backdrop for the variety of pieces she displays.

Wander around the outside of  the building to find more surprises.  This little guy in back was one of my favourites.

Le Jardin des Ephemeres & Nitroglycerine (moderate)

I'm feeling very lucky to have arrived on opening day.  Natsha is a talented artist and is now on my list of favourites.  Explore the whole island - you'll find lots of reasons to recommend this location to your friends.

I think is this a great addition to the gallery scene in Second Life.

Le Jardin des Ephemeres & Nitroglycerine (moderate)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

There's Whimsy & Then There's Whimsy in Second Life

Woods of Whimsy  (general)

You'd think a forest would be a forest wherever you go in any life.  Not so, particularly on the grid where you can take inspiration from just about any time and anywhere and build something fabulous for people to enjoy.

The first forest I went to see today was the Woods of Whimsy  "A Tolkien-inspired park currently featuring an educational recreation of Stonehenge circa 1500 BCE." 

Woods of Whimsy  (general)

Attached to the two other islands owned by the James Madison University, this recreation of Stonehenge is a wonderful opportunity to learn and if you've ever wanted to know more about this ancient site but couldn't get there in person you will love this.  Detailed, easily understood information is available without large billboards or lectures.  If you'd rather just enjoy the woods you won't feel like you're skipping school.

If you've had your fill go next door to the Cultural Arts Museum and explore the Parthenon or visit the exhibits on everything from Egyptian mummifying techniques to Asian Art.

Woods of Whimsy  (general)

My second visit was to a destination I saw mentioned by Chestnut Rau.  Although the name might conjure up visions of one giant fruit bearing structure,  Orange Tree is actually another forest but inspired by a more romantic fantasy and I don't think there are any educational components. :)

Orange Tree  (moderate)

I loved the layout of the island.  There are tunnels that lead to surprising areas and, even if there are others there, it's easy to hide (if you wish) and enjoy the surroundings in peace.

Make sure to adjust your environment occasionally - midnight seems perfect for many areas.  

I'd recommend both of these destinations for somebody wanting to escape the noise and drama of any world.

Orange Tree  (moderate)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Exquisite Lost World in Second Life

Lost World (moderate)

Every now and then the intrepid explorer gets really really lucky.  Every now and then she will be flying across the (seemingly) endless ocean and find a true gem of a destination sitting quietly, just waiting for her.  And if it's really her lucky day one of  the gem's builder will also be sitting there in the middle of the ocean, in a field of fantasy, waiting to welcome her.

Siine Rainforest and Masaki Cambric are romantics.  Not saccharine, overtly precious romantics.  Siine and Masaki have the wisdom to show restraint and achieve atmosphere without using a sledgehammer.

Lost World (moderate)

At first you might wonder if there is enough in this minimalist build to attract visitors.  Three tiny low islands in that vast ocean.  Each one a feast of detail and beauty yes but again tiny.  Then it occurs to you to look below the surface.

Lost World (moderate)

Explore the sea bottom a bit more and you find those parts of the world that might have been "lost" if Siine and Masaki hadn't uncovered them.  A stunning garden appears.

Bar Yui-ga (moderate)

The garden surrounds the Bar Yui-ga - the riot of colour and texture in stark contrast to the simple beauty of the building's interior.  But the building has windows and even when you are in the center of that calm you can still see outside and feel drawn to the truly exquisite design that was once lost.

Bar Yui-ga (moderate)

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Impressive Underwater World in Second Life

Haven of Rogues and Mer Sanctuary (moderate)

I'm a little late in posting today but I got caught up in exploring 4 very cool sims.  I had promised myself recently that I would go visit one of the Mer destinations to practice my swimming and started with the "Haven" group.

 The first of the 4 "islands" on my journey was the Haven of Rogues and Mer Sanctuary.  As luck would have it I met Mack Darwinian very soon after my arrival - I wish this picture was better.  He really has a fabulous look - and his tail is extraordinary. I need to work on my underwater photography.  sigh

I understand from Mack that most Mer spend their time underwater here however there is a very complex build up above and you should really check it out.  It will, among other things, give you the more than 200 year history of the Haven and how it started.  The shipwreck inside the cave is worth the visit by itself.

Haven of Sirens (moderate)

The Haven of Sirens landing spot is just outside a mall which will give you an opportunity to acquire fins and a tail if you like.  Swim through to the other side and you're into another undersea wonderland.  My Lion Fish does seem more at home here than she does when I'm practising on my roof. :)

The Haven of Mermaids has some cozy little corners and a dance floor for romantic fin encounters.  It also has the most wonderful "flora", some of which are created from crustaceans.  As a gardener this was a thrill.

Haven of Mermaids (moderate)

The last of the 4 sims on my itinerary was the Haven of Pirates, "Open waters for Pirates, Rogues and Mer Folk".  Mack had warned me to beware of poison symbols - nobody tries to shoot you but you will die and be sent home if you are unwary enough to stumble on one of them. 

Haven of Pirates (moderate)

These 4 sims are joined and you can stay underwater and swim through them in a long and delightful exploration (poisonous traps notwithstanding).

If you don't have a Mer avatar you can still explore under the sea with the free diving outfit. One tiny caveat is that it doesn't deliver the parts in a folder so it takes a bit of fiddling to put it on. After getting suited up, hop on a sea turtle and swim through the expansive watery landscape.

Haven of Mermaids (moderate)

There is a huge underwater community in Second Life.  My Mer resource Mack told me that he was "home" the first time he fell in the water and you might discover the same thing.  It's beautiful, it's full of really really nice people and it's a great way to get out of any rut you may be in. I'm going to keep trying to improve my ability to take photos below sea level and I suggest you go try an underwater adventure.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Not Always Easy Being an Intrepid Explorer in Second Life

Dark Moon (moderate)

I know, the life of an intrepid inworld explorer sounds glamourous and exciting.  All that adventure and travel with just the push of a few buttons.

It isn't that easy my friend.  For one thing you have to pack for any possible weather or time period or potential threats (my weapons cache is notoriously limited and I seem to be a really easy target for those trying to "level up" - maybe I could rent myself out to those who have difficulty finding "kills", sigh).  For another, even when you think you know where you're going, the probability is often that you will wind up somewhere else.

Dark Moon Manor (moderate)

Allow me to describe today's effort to investigate and report on Dark Moon  - a romantic fantasy island you've probably seen blogged before.  I was intrigued by many of the pictures and thought I would go visit and then report back to you.  Instead of using a link from somebody who knew what they were doing I chose instead to use the Map.  I entered Dark Moon and got multiple results.

There was Dark Moon Manor - an island created just days ago.  They haven't done any terraforming or landscaping yet but I think they're having fun with their cars.

Dark Moon Bay isn't accessible to the public.  But there is Dark Moon Island.

Dark Moon Island  General

This is an interesting build - good for role play and it has some shops.  But it's not exactly what I was looking for. :)  The good news is that it's the first "dark" sim I've found with a General maturity rating so the younger teens have at least one destination where they can join the rest of us in that gritty grunge lifestyle we all know and love.

Dark Moon Isle (moderate)

Dark Moon Isle on the other hand, is one of those schizophrenic places we encounter frequently.  I think many of us are torn deciding which of our inner fantasies we want to express and so we figure out a way to do more than one without the expense of two regions. At sea level here you'll find the Montana back country, complete with a working competitive rodeo.

The region description however, tells you that somewhere up in the air is Abomination City  a "decrepit desert town, with Zombie compound and Bikers".  I didn't manage to find the City but I did find Club Abomination.  Maybe the zombies come out to see the DJ's.  :)

DarkMoon (moderate)

Things don't get any easier if you realize that people often spell the names of their regions as if spaces were not permitted between words.  So we also get DarkMoon Island, another recent purchase which isn't developed (or even public I think).  

And then there was DarkMoon.  Very close to the one I was looking for originally. However, if you're expecting romance be warned.  Leave out the space between the words and you will wind up in " the Pandora Swamp - avatar role play, under construction".  This looks like it might be fun but I don't think they'll have the same kind of pose balls you might be expecting and it's definitely going to involve weapons, fighting and injuries.

So head out there and explore.  Just keep in mind that it's not an easy life as grid wanderer - don't expect it to be all chocolates and champagne.  And do keep a first aid kit handy - I can't be the only one with a target on my back.