When your curiosity is piqued in Second Life

Update November 22nd 2013: Taka no Sakaru has relocated. My review of the new build is available here.

Every so often you can stumble upon a region quite by chance which immediately captivates you. Whether you’re out shopping in-world or flipping through Destination Guide categories or simply happen to come across an interesting name somewhere, you can never tell when or how it’s going to happen.

Taka no Sakura
Taka no Sakura

Such is the case with my discovery of The Krull Empire. I came across the name entirely by chance and, while I could think of nothing other than the fantasy adventure film Krull which I saw when I was a lot younger than I am now, I felt my curiosity piqued and decided to go take a look. I’m glad I did.

Far from being a fantasy sim, The Krull Empire is home to Taka no Sakura, a Japanese Edo period village created by the Taka no Sakura team led by Misaki Yoko. And it is, in a word, exquisite.

Taka no Sakura
Taka no Sakura

Those who know me know I have a strong affinity with the far east, notably Hong Kong, Singapore and Sri Lanka. While I am no expert in its history or culture, ancient Japan also holds a fascination for me, so it was with a real sense of delight that I set about exploring the region.

The arrival point is to the south of the village itself, with an open market area. From here you can wander into the village – please do be aware that some of the buildings are private homes and respect people’s privacy. At the north end of the village, separated from it by a narrow channel of water spanned by a bridge, is a walled royal household (which I believe is open the to public) and which includes a small, walled flower garden. Alongside the royal house, but outside of its walls is a large pavilion, built out over the water on wooden piers.

Taka no Sakura
Taka no Sakura

Go west from the village, again crossing a channel of water, and you’ll come to formal Zen gardens and beyond them a smaller pavilion again standing over the water, and another formal garden similar in style to one to be found in the royal house grounds. The remainder of the region is landscaped into open spaces which perfectly complement the buildings.

I’m not sure if some of the buildings in the village are intended to be stores – several have that look about them, although they are currently empty. If so, all I can say that they are attractively designed. I’m also not clear on whether the region is intended to be used for role-play; if so, I’d say it’s not set to period, as there is a little boat with an outboard motor available for pootling around the waterways of the region, and the little vending wagon with a wood-burning stove had decidedly un-period setting bicycle wheels and tyres :). These, to me, mean that the village is one which has survived to see modern times.

Taka no Sakaru
Taka no Sakura

Whatever the period, this is a fabulous region for anyone who appreciates builds which present an immersive feel and / or who enjoy SL photography. The attention to detail is very good, and the mix of built-up and open areas, together with the considered use of water makes it a pleasant place to simply wander around. The default windlight for the region is Bristol, and I’d venture to say it is perfect for the build. If you have it included in your viewer-side windlights, you can flip over to local windlight and adjust the sun position for a range of lighting options without losing anything of the look and feel of the place in terms of how the Taka no Sakura team intended it to be seen.

To me, this is one of the regions which would really showcase materials. There is already a rich and complementary mix of textures here  – wood, plaster, stone – that it is already eye-catching. Add normal an specular maps to some of the surfaces and I can’t help but feel the “wow” factor would be  sky-high.

Nevertheless, even without materials, this is a picturesque and balanced region which is well worth the time to visit.

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Calling all Firestorm users: get ready for an emergency update

firestorm-logoUpdate July 2nd: version 4.4.2 has been released by the Firestorm team, and Firestorm 4.4.1 has been blocked from accessing Second Life. If you have previously installed Firestorm 4.4.1, you can install 4.4.2 without needing a clean install. If you are updating from Firestorm 4.4.0 or earlier, a clean install is strongly recommended. The downloads can be found on the Firstorm website.

Firestorm 4.4.1 was release on June 27th. However, it will shortly be superseded with Firestorm 4.4.2.

The reason for this is explained in a new Firestorm blog post, but the short version is that due to a slight mishap, some additional logging capabilities which had been enabled during the beta release of 4.4.1 and which were intended to help Linden Lab gather information for the forthcoming release of Server-side Baking / Appearance were not removed from the viewer when it moved to release status.

As a result, the system the Lab uses to gether data on viewers is now being completely overwhelmed by the amount of data Firestorm 4.4.1 is sending to it. Although it has taken a few days for the problem to be identified and the Firestorm tem notified, the result is that they are now taking some emergency corrective action:

  • With immeidate effect, version of Firestorm has been removed from the Firrestorm download page
  • A new version for Firestorm is being prepared for release. This version – 4.4.2 – will be no different to 4.4.1 other than the removal of the additional statistics logging code
  • When the new version is released, and to ensure the LL service is no longer inundated with excess data, Firestorm release will be blocked from accessing Second Life.

It is therefore essential for everyone who has updated to Firestorm 4.4.1 keep an eye on the Firestorm blog an update to Firestorm 4.4.2 when it becomes available. This should not require a clean install (as was the case with 4.4.1) – but please double-check with any associated blog post which is forthcoming when the release is made.

Again, it is essential that all users of Firestorm 4.4.1 update to Firestorm 4.4.2 as soon as it becomes available.

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Viewer release summary 2013: week 26

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.

Updates for the week ending: June 30th, 2013

SL Viewer

SL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

Additional TPV Resources

Depreciated / Discontinued Viewers

  • SL Development viewer – depreciated as of version April 24, 2013
  • Zen Viewer – discontinued by developer and no longer available, January 27th, 2013
  • Phoenix viewer – development and support ended on December 31st, 2012

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