SL9B: Let the festivities begin!

We all know the story by now: Linden Lab announce the theme for Second Life’s ninth birthday and at the same time withdraw from participation; given the 11th hour nature of the announcement, it seemed that even with the potential for celebrations spread across the grid, much of the impetus and feeling of celebration would be lost without some focal-point to the festivities.

Taking the “A” Train: Grace McDunnough and I ride into the SL9B regions on Donpatchy Dagostino’s magnificent SL9B Express

Fortunately, some people were unwilling to let matters go so easily. A core group of dedicated individuals stepped into the void left by Linden Lab, and for the last month they’ve been working night and day  to try to ensure that there is a nexus for celebrations of SL’s ninth anniversary and a place for people from across the world to come together to mark the event.

Their determination saw an outpouring of support from across the grid: Dream Seeker Estates donated no fewer than 10 regions to the event, an anonymous donor came forward with an offer of six more, then Fruit Islands and Kitty CatS provided a further 2 sims apiece; Lilith Heart of  Heart Garden Centre fame gave the organisers access to her entire range of trees and flora to help with the landscaping requirements of the regions, and nEoStreams came forward to supply all of the necessary music streams for the event.

And of course, an army of willing volunteers came forward determined to ensure the event is every bit the success people would like to see.

The 20 regions of SL9B (credit: Harlequin Rhodes)

The results of all this are stunning:

  • 20 regions of celebratory exhibits, entertainment space, and special areas such as the hub and time capsule display area
  • FIVE stages for live entertainment (one more has been added to meet the demand!)
  • Some 350 exhibits and stands spanning the breadth and depth of community in Second Life
  • For the first time ever at an SLB – underwater exhibits and entertainment stages both over and under water!
  • A hub where people can learn about – and visit – other SL9B celebrations taking place across the grid, such as the SL9B Story.
An aerial view of the dramatic, all-mesh Lake Stage

Efforts have been made to minimise the rules and regulations around building, and those that have been set do make sense and – I believe – will help make people’s experience when touring the regions perhaps a little more pleasant.

The Main Stage

As someone who has been fortunate enough to be peripherally involved in organising the event from a PR standpoint. During the last couple of weeks I’ve been popping in and out and gathering shots for my Flickr stream (and uploading what I think are perhaps the “better” ones to the official SL9B stream). While wandering, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the enthusiasm with which people from across Second Life – and around the world – have responded to this, the first Second Life anniversary celebration that is genuinely by the residents, for the residents. I’ve also been privileged to witness the volume of work volunteers have poured into the core SLB in-world groups to communicate with, inform, and help fellow residents be a part of this event and to ensure they are not left without assistance or information.

And now, everything is set. On June 18th at 11:00 SLT, the doors will open and the festivities will begin!

The Community Hub – your point of arrival

The place to commence your explorations of the regions is The Community Hub. From here you can pick-up your SL9B teleport HUD prior to commencing your explorations – which you can do on foot, by flying or by availing yourself of SLB Pod Tour.

The teleport HUD, created by Bo Tiger (Bourne Denimore) provides direct access to the main exhibitor regions as well as to all of the main entertainment stages, the event auditorium area and back to both The Hub and the pod tour.

Using it is simple enough – WEAR it (default position in top left of your screen, although it obviously works fine at any attach point) and adjust it to best suit your needs (if required). The buttons then work in one of two ways:

  • Either it will open the Map in your Viewer, allowing you to see your destination and use the Map’s teleport button to reach it
  • Or it will display a dialogue box offering a number of destination points within the named region. Clicking on one of the dialogue buttons will then open the Map, allowing you to teleport.

There are instructions included with the HUD, including a suggestion that in order to ease the collective lag (there is going to be a lot going on collectively across the regions), people only wear the HUD when actually using it, and otherwise remove it when touring regions / exhibits. You can also minimise the HUD by clicking the “***” button – just be aware that if you have manually moved the HUD to another position on your screen, it will default back to the HUD attach point used to initially display it on your screen.

The Pod Tour cars follow a route through the sims that enable you to sit back and enjoy the ride – you can hop on or off any passing pod that is empty, as well as picking one up from the terminus at The Hub. Every effort has been made to get exhibitors to submit information on their builds for inclusion in the pods, which will be relayed to you in chat as you pass the various parcels.

Also at The Hub are details of other SLB events taking place across the grid during the week. To see these, hop on the carousel; as you are carried around, posters of other events will pop-up in front of you – click on the radial black bars under the poster to receive a landmark to the event in question.

The Hub carousel – details of other SL9B events across the grid

An entrance to DJ Egypt on Shindig

The stages themselves are quite stunning, and I love both the Lake Stage and the Main Stage. The former is a wonderful work of art in mesh with a dramatic causeway leading up to the stage itself, with the lotus blossom-like form of the main stage is equally a work of art in prims, which has the added feature of forming part of a “9” when seen from above / on the map – thus emphasising that this is SL’s ninth anniversary.

The Cake stage is stunning different this year. Situated (as usual) at the junction of four of the regions, it has been designed by Mikati Slade and carries something of an anime theme to it.

The Cake Stage

I also found myself very much drawn to the water-based exhibits. Having the option to go underwater this year is pretty much a first for SLB, and exhibitors have gone to great lengths to make use of the opportunity. The quayside feel to Gala also tended to attract me rather a lot; it’s a great place to look out at the Lake Stage and the combination of exhibits both above and under the waves is appealing.

Safe Waters Foundation: above and below (credits: Serafin Galli) – click to enlarge

Given this year’s events are about community, it is in some ways unfair to focus down on individual exhibits at the expense of others in a preview, but there are some that drew me simply because of their charm and / or their support of the rich diversity of people engaged with and in Second Life. There’s also the fact that more than a few friends are deeply involved in community-focused activities in Second life and are also participating in SL9B; people like People Like Crap Mariner.

Crap has, for seven years now, been one of the major supporters of, and contributors to, SL’s wealth of written and spoken stories and writing, through his 100-word story events, his readings and in providing a canvas for writers in SL to share their work. He has tirelessly promoted the written and spoke word in SL – and is also a talented builder. I therefore cannot help but drawn attention to his exhibit at SL9B; it is a real celebration of the written and spoken word in Second Life, and is a must see for anyone who loves writing and / or reading stories.

Crap Mariner’s utterly brilliant and informative exhibit

Some parcels within the regions did, somewhat sadly, remain unclaimed by those who applied for them. Some were, I understand offered to people who had initially failed to obtain a parcel, but some remained empty. Rather than let the latter lie fallow, the organisers have set-up one or two fun “exhibits”….

KT Syakumi’s “History of Invisiprims

All-in-all, there is a huge amount to see and enjoy at SL9B, and from Monday, starting at 12:00 SLT with Zak Claxton live on stage, there will also be entertainment  to enjoy, which will continue right throughout the week on all five stages.

Given this, lag is going to be an issue for people – and while the organisers and builders have done their best to minimise things as far as possible server-side, if you do encounter serious lag, remember that the vast majority of lag occurs within the Viewer – so try taking a few simple steps such as lowering your Draw Distance (especially if it is above 128 metres – you can always slide it back up for the occasional panoramic snapshot), and perhaps turning off lighting and shadows and / or ambient occlusion. Doing so will lighten the load your computer is processing, and hopefully give you a more enjoyable SL9B experience.

Don’t forget as well that if you have rezzing issues with builds etc, following a teleport between regions, try sliding your Draw Distance down to 32m for a second or two, and then sliding it back to something reasonable – this should encourage your surroundings to rez properly.

Painting and Pose Project (credit: Flor Nachtigal)

Finally, some words from Doc Gascoigne about the event itself:

We were told by LL “This year we will focus the spotlight on community events” and to go out and show our creativity. This is our creativity, yours, mine and ours. Community is not just a word it is an entity; a living, breathing entity. An interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location. Our common location is Second Life.

In putting SL9B together in such an incredibly short space of time, the organisers, volunteers, builders, exhibitors, their helpers, the sponsors and donors to the cause – all have created an incredible environment in which to celebrate SL’s ninth birthday and shown very much that the spirit of community is alive and well in Second Life. I’m looking forward to joining in – and reporting on – the events of this coming week.

The Sunken Stage

I hope you will take the time to visit and share in the celebrations and entertainment as well – and that you’ll take the time to visit the other events occurring across the grid throughout the week.

Happy Second Life 9th Birthday!

Related Links

Two more images of Donpatchy Dagostino’s magnificent SL9B express, outside and in (click to enlarge)

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