The Alpha and Omega of SL

Update: Alpha and Omega Points have both closed.

Alpha Point and Omega Point are two stunning builds in Second Life created by Masoon Ringo and Sweetlemon Jewell. Occupying a full sim and a Homestead sim, they form a marvellous build that combines fantasy and science-fiction in a way that simply demands exploration. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do so; there is much to see – and much that can be so easily missed if you rush things.

I was introduced to the regions by Himitu Twine, who spends a good deal of time at both, wandering and exploring – and after the first time I joined her at them, I could well understand why. The combined build is simply glorious. Nor is it entirely static; Omega Point has altered over time, and I’ve no idea as to how permanent the current layout is. So, if you’re reading this piece six months after it is written, don’t be surprised if you follow the SLurls and find things have changed; it simply means you have a new experience to enjoy and will still have much to see and discover.

Alpha and Omega Points

Before you do pay a visit, make sure you turn your draw distance up as far as you comfortably can in order to get the fullest impact of the build; I recommend a setting of around 300m. Also, like a lot of regions nowadays, both Alpha Point and Omega Point have their own Windlight presets, and I recommend you keep to them after you’ve arrived.

The current teleport co-ordinates are such that whether you travel to Alpha Point or Omega point, you arrive at more-or-less the same place: an arrivals area that spans the boundary between the sims, high up and central to the build as a whole. While a marker clearly defines the sim boundary itself, I suggest you wait until things rez before moving around too much, least you find yourself bouncing off the boundary itself (although crossing between the sims, providing you do so at walking pace, is generally very smooth).

Once rezzed, cam out a little and orbit around your position. What appears to be a spired city, with trees and waterways below and a storm-laden sky above surrounds you, and you get the first indication of the complexity of the place. But don’t go camming too far out and peering into windows and doorways – you’ll simply spoil what is to come. This is a place that is best discovered through exploration.

The arrivals areas themselves have a series of teleport panels to get you to many of the points of interest and beauty in the build. At Alpha Point there are also a couple of flying options you can use to get around. However, I do suggest you ignore both flying and teleports to start with.

Teleport arrivals: Alpha (l) and Omega (r)

The arrival areas also have stairs and walkways leading from them, and if you really want to experience the build, then you should really start by using Shanks’ pony: take the stairs and start your explorations on foot.

At the time this article was written, the stairs from the Omega Point arrival area lead down to a lower level from which you could make your way to the huge central tower, crossing a gargoyle-lined bridge, or you could carry on down even further to other walkways, landings and stairways until, eventually, you reach the ground. From here, it is possible to wander among trees and fallen sections of the build, long forgotten and half-buried that point to a story yet to be told about the passage of time in this place. There is much to be discovered while down among the trees, so don’t be afraid to wander wherever you will.

“Climb the stairs, Jim!” – yes, that’s me at the top!

Take the long staircase down from the Alpha Point arrivals area, and you’ll come to a walkway that leads the way around a stunning view of a waterfall. Follow the walkway further, and you’ll pass back under the waterfall, and so enter the labyrinthine lower levels of the build. Here hang paintings and images high up along tall walls, each with a story of its own. Here too, are stairways leading both up and down…

Sims extensions – cleverly used (click to enlarge)

One of the things I love about this build is the imaginative use of off-sim phantom prims to create an even more fantastical realm. In places, it’s as if the build never actually ends; it simply continues beyond our reach, down a hall, along a path or around a corner. It’s so tantalising; the effect engages the imagination and leaves one with a sense of “if only”; if only we could walk around that distant corner and slip under that shadowed archway, or reach those distant doors! What would we find, what wonders would await us – what stories would we have to tell? Lying beyond our reach, these parts of the build demand we fill their hidden promise with people, places – and creatures…

Never knowing quite where you are going to end up is another reason I like visiting; follow a route down into the bowls of the build, and it is quite possible that if you take enough stairs and turn enough corners, you’ll find that the way you thought lead back to where you came from has actually lead you somewhere else entirely. Just do be careful where you do walk, however, some of the walkways appear to lead you towards a destination, only to end abruptly, as if a section has fallen away; whether through age or other reason is up to you to decide.

Flyers – a great way to get around

Should you tire of walking, but still have no wish to use the teleports, you can opt to take one of the flying options mentions earlier (so much more fun than free-flying on your own!). Find them back on either side of the Alpha Point arrivals area and teleports.

You can choose from a flying bubble or a craft that resembles a dragonfly for your aerial excursion. Each carries up to two people, allowing a friend to share the experience with you. Full instructions are provided via hovertext, and the usual keyboard controls can be used to control direction / height. Both craft are rez-on-demand from the master version, and will de-rez when you stand up from them. They are certainly a great way to see the build from above, and both perfectly match the theme and design of the place. While crossing  between the sims is very smooth for the most part, it’s worthwhile keeping an eye on your co-ordinates and taking things gently as you do reach the boundary between the two.

Romance or solitude also await those who seek them

Nor is the build short on romance. You can dance the time away in a ballroom or among the trees or beside the tumbling waters of a fall; you can cuddle quietly in one of many sofas and seats to be found throughout the build, or amidst the trees and grass of a floating garden; you can spend time admiring a waterfall, sitting on the banks of a river or sharing a raft as the water cascades down from high above…

There are also stories to be found as well, if you take the time to seek them – or at least, the hints of stories to be told – such as that of the storm and the shipwreck.

The wreck and the waves

Whither sailed the ship before the storm caught her and tossed her toward the rocks? What was her cargo? Did anyone from the shore witness her sad fate – and what of her crew? Did they live to tell of her loss, or did they perish in the unforgiving arms of the sea?

The start of the story is there for you to see – but how it should end is down to your imagination, and your imagination alone – but you’ll have to find it by exploring in order to settle on your own tale!

Even with the flyer options, however, there are some places here that are best reached via teleport. One of them is the fantastic “Village to Heaven”.

Set high in the sky and surrounded by perilous mountain peaks, this is another stunning build, rendered in ivory, marble and ice blue, with gleaming cloud-ships sailing by, and  lush woodlands below.

“Village to Heaven”

The scale and attention to detail here is equally as stunning as the build on the ground, including the use of phantom prims to extend the beautiful fantasy of the place beyond the limitations of the sim boundary, again giving the illusion of places we cannot visit and stories we cannot witness.

Take the path from the teleport, for example, and follow it through the doors leading into a huge amphitheatre – a feast for the eyes in itself – then cross to the other side and open the second set of doors. Just where does the path, sloping upwards and guarded by pairs of white-cloaked statues, lead? What lies beyond the gilded doors at the far end of the climb? You can never know for sure, as they lie beyond the edge of the sim – but as you walk as far as you can towards them, you can be sure your imagination will be asking questions as to what might be there, and who the robed statues really represent…

Another stunning use of a custom sim extension – where exactly does the sim end? Walk the path and find out…

Teleports are available here as well, but you should take the time to explore on foot, there is so much to see. The Village comprises parts representing the four elements: Air, Water, Earth and Fire – and I found that Air and Water in particular put me in mind of Tolkien’s Imladris – and I expected to hear the soft lament of elves if I turned on my sound.

Cloud ships

The key here is, again, to take your time with your explorations. When you have seen all you wish to see, look around once more. The chances are there is a path or stair or doorway you may otherwise miss.

When you are satisfied with all you’ve seen, return to the teleport point and climb the stone stairs. These lead up to the a Fall Pod platform. Here, every few seconds a ball will drop and roll towards a tunnel-like chute. Grab one quick with a right-click and SIT, and take a ride back down to the world below. It will reveal things that have so far escaped your attention as you return to the Alpha Point arrival area.

If there is one problem with this build, it is that when it comes to reviewing it, there is simply too much to see. This article is already around the 2000 word mark, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the place. To try to capture everything in words and images would take a novella. But then, frankly, words and images alone do not do Alpha Point and Omega Point any justice. This is not something to be read about and looked at via static pictures; to do so would be like convincing yourself you’ve watched The Fellowship of the Ring on the basis of seeing and reading the film poster.

To really appreciate this build, it has to be visited; it is something that should be experienced, explored, enjoyed – and savoured – and I urge you to do just that. But be warned: once you have visited the Alpha and Omega of Second Life, you are likely to find yourself coming back time and again. The build is magnetic, inspiring…

…Addictive.

Omega Point

To further whet your appetite just a little more, here’s a machinina video JJCCC Coronet produced just over a year ago, showing how Omega Point looked back then.

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