Mystical delights in a winter’s dream

Mystic Winter Dream, January 2014
Mystic Winter Dream – click for full size

It’s been a little uppy-downy in RL. Christmas and New Year are always taxing, thanks to the greater number of my relatives using the house as the “halfway” meeting-place, leaving me with people coming, staying or going from the week before Christmas right through until the week after New Year (as I write, the last of them are still here, and again looking like they’re about to put down roots!).

Not that I dislike my relatives, you understand. It’s just that it gets a bit, well, much over the course of 2+ weeks. And as is invariably the case, someone has decided that even though they have returned northwards to their own home, they’d leave me with their cold as a reminder of their stay.

Mystic Winter Dream, January 2014
Mystic Winter Dream – click for full size

When this happens, one needs a place to lose oneself in; a refuge from the maddening (family) crowd. I have several in SL, but after reading Honour’s post about Mystic Winter Dream, I forgot about going finding one of my regular haunts and hurried over to Smoky Cape instead.

The home of Adonis Lubitsch, Mystic Winter Dream is just that: a beautiful, winter-locked dream – or perhaps dreams might be a better term, given the overall look and feel of the region.

There is much here that commends itself to the explorer. As well as being Ado’s home, the region offers a beautiful ballroom which has its own air of fantasy: the stone flags of the dance floor peeling upwards in places, small groups of them suspended in mid-air as if frozen there after gravity looked the other way and then forgot to order them back into place.

Mystic Winter Dream, January 2014
Mystic Winter Dream– click for full size

Art is a huge feature of the region, as Honour points out, and I agree with her. The manner in which Ado has folded pieces by Cherry Manga, Rebeca Bashly (who is always sure to draw my attention) and others into the landscape is a real delight.

The entire composition of Mystic Winter Dream is a masterwork of design. While the region is almost completely open, everything within it exists on it own; each scene or vignette an individual piece, yet all of them coming together to present a complete immersive whole, wrapped within the arms of tall mountains. All-in-all the perfect place in which to lose oneself – and perhaps also rediscover oneself after the holiday excesses.

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Kitely pricing restructuring now complete

Kitely-logoOn December 15th 2013, Kitely announced the first phase of a major overhaul of their pricing structures. That announcement covered the introduction of their new account types (Regular and Premium) and their Metered world options which have replaced their “time-based” system of payment options.

I covered that announcement in some depth at the time, noting that there would be further clarification to come from Kitely on elements of the new Regular account, as well as information on the new Fixed-price options. On January 1st 2014, Kitely followed-through on their promise of providing this additional information when they issued a further pricing update.

More on Account Types

As I reported in December alongside of Kitely’s initial blog post on this subject, the company  has introduced two account types, Regular and Premium. The salient points to note on these are that:

  • The Regular account is free of charge and includes a single Metered region and a one-off  6-hour trial period which can be used in developing their Metered region(s)
  • The Premium account costs $19.95 a month, and includes up to five Metered regions with the ability to visit any metered region on Kitely (their own or anyone else’s) for free
  • Either type of account can be used when joining Kitely
  • Either type of account can be used when purchasing Fixed-price world options (of which more late in this article)
  • Either type of account can add further Metered regions at the rate of 10 KC per day per Metered region (+ access costs for Regular accounts, where applicable).

Metered Regions and  Regular Account Visitors

The key point to grasp here is that the time anyone with a Regular account spends visiting any Metered region (including their own) must be paid for by the region holder. This means that someone with a Metered region will be charged at the rate of 1 Kitely Credit (KC) for each minute a Regular account holder spends visiting that region.

The only exception to this is the initial 6-hour trial period Regular account holders are given in order to start developing their own Metered region. Once this trial period has been used, a Regular account holder can either continue to pay for their time on their own region(s) at the rate of 1KC per minute, or opt to pay for one of the Fixed-price world options (there is no charge for anyone visiting Fixed-price regions) or opt to upgrade to Premium (both of these latter options are open to Regular account holders at any time).

Because there is a cost involved in having Regular account holders visit a Metered region, Kitely has included an option for region holders to block Regular accounts from accessing their Metered regions if they so wish, thus preventing the build-up of unwanted costs in respect of such visits. The Kitely blog post elaborates in detail on how this access restriction can be set.

Fixed-price World Options

As of January 1st, 2014, the company has discontinued its original $40.00, $60.00, $80.00 and $100.00 fixed-prix options – although users already paying for these options can continue to do so if they wish. Three new Fixed-price options have been introduced in their place, referred to as the Starter World, Standard World and Advanced World options, as defined below.

Kitely's new fixed-price options, available to both Regular and Premium account holders (image via Kitely)
Kitely’s new fixed-price options, available to both Regular and Premium account holders (image via Kitely)

Both the Starter and the Standard World options come with slightly reduced resources, as indicated, while the Standard and Advanced World options include the ability to combine the regions included in those worlds into a single Advanced Megaregion. As with the old Fixed-price options, no-one is charged for the time anyone spends on a Fixed-price region.

Whether or not users on one of the discontinued Fixed-price options will want to change to one of the new options will depend upon on a number of things, such as the complexity of their build(s), and their typical numbers of daily users or their requirements for avatar-intensive events. However, the ability to swap is there for them to use, if they so wish.

General Feedback

It will be interesting to see broader reaction to the idea of Metered region holders having to pay for any visits made to their regions by Regular account holders – and how many Metered regions are closed to Regular account holders as a result (I have already closed my own Kitely region to Regular account access, for example). However, the initial reaction to these changes has been favourable, even allowing for the confusion which occurred when the initial part of the restructuring was announced in December 2013.

As it is, the new Metered and Fixed-price payment options continue Kitely’s tradition of offering competitive and flexible payment options, and may well serve to attract new users into giving the platform a try.

Asterion Coen at LEA28: a follow-up

In December, I wrote a piece concerning Asterion Coen’s full sim installation formerly at LEA28. While I do admire Asterion’s builds – as I said in that article, they are a veritable tour de force of prim construction, and clearly demonstrate that the prim is far from dead as a building material – the installation itself appeared to be bereft of purpose.

As such, I wondered at the time I wrote my review as to the purpose of the installation, and the ideal behind it; questioning whether things had gone a little off-course due to something like a lack of cohesive guidance from the LEA or some other issue had caused the purpose of the installation to have become a little lost.

A part of Asterion Coen's LEA28 installation
A part of Asterion Coen’s LEA28 installation, December 2013

Asterion has since contacted me on the matter, and his comments have helped put things into a better perspective. Here, printed with his permission, is what he had to say:

About the content itself, The project should be as described in the LEA form, but some unwanted and unavoidable RL issues in my company meant I was unable to spend time on my SL projects (LEA and others).

If the LEA28 sim looked unstructured and just showroom, with lot of parts everywhere, it’s because I didn’t have time to finish everything as I had little time available for SL. Things were made worse because an inventory issue meant I lost a number of sections for the buildings. The military vehicles, for example, were to be a part of a museum I originally built for Bourbon Island [now apparently closed], but which vanished from my inventory.

Those issues, in addition to my RL ones, made it impossible for me to finish the sim. Had the time been available, there would have been another platform about space and an underground moonbase (in lava tubes). This platform would have been accessed via a shuttle, a lift and other vehicles. The project would have meant people would not be allowed to fly, and would be asked to move around using the vehicles provided and along designated paths.

We can never predict how RL will impact our SL times and work; when matters take an unexpected turn, sometimes we have no choice but to re-prioritise and deal with some matters later. In Asterion’s case, problems with RL appear to have coincided with a period of his SL life that was especially busy, and unfortunately, the latter suffered.

Asterion Coen at LEA28, December 2013
Asterion Coen at LEA28, December 2013

While it would be easy to second-guess what might have been done differently or how things might have been handled better, the fact is that at the time, things were dealt with in the best manner that appeared to be possible. The result was less than satisfying for those of us visiting LEA28 and equally – if not more so – for Asterion himself.

For my part, I’d like to thank him for taking the time to contact me and let me know more of the circumstances surrounding the installation at LEA28. I certainly and sincerely hope that real life does settle down positively for him in 2014, and look forward to seeing more of his creations – particularly those with a “space” theme (!) – within SL in the future.