Playing in a Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland - race track, rinks and Ferris Wheel
Winter Wonderland:  race track, rinks and Ferris Wheel

On Thursday, January 29th, Linden Lab announced the opening of the Second Life Winter Wonderland theme park. Encompassing four regions, the park offers a range of activities for regular and premium members to enjoy – and having popped over, I have to say, it’s a lot of fun.

Those with a keen eye may well have noticed that something called “Winter Wonderland” was coming – there has been a gateway under construction at the Portal Parks since before Christmas. These gateways are now open as well, and form an alternative to reaching the Winter Wonderland to the main SLurl provided in the official blog post.

The four regions of the park offer a range of attractions, comprising (taken from the blog post):

  • Village of lights: “Pay a visit to this fantasy styled icy village and enjoy company, calm, and the wonderful winter feel! In the heart of the village you will find a variety of celebratory gifts await you. Be sure to stick around for the fireworks that light up the sky at the top of every hour!”
  • Ebbe, Get Your Gun! - my first encounter at the park was a snowball gun toting Ebbe Linden!
    Ebbe, Get Your Gun! – my first encounter at the park was a snowball gun toting Ebbe Linden!

    Snowball Warzone: “Atop the hill outside the village awaits a great cold wasteland where you and others will buckle down in the trenches of warfare: SNOWBALL FIGHTS! Claim the top of the towers for great vantage, or rule the castle walls with friends. Choose from two weapons, or if you are a Premium member, equip your Premium token for access to the ultimate snowball fight arsenal! You may even catch a Linden or two participating in the snowball shenanigans.”

  • Icy Race Course: “Strap on your helmet, hold tight, and rev those engines! On the outskirts of the Village of Lights are free vendors where you can pick up a snowboard or a mighty snowmobile. Premium members can access upgraded vehicles by equipping their token. Hop aboard and race around the four-region wide race track full of bumps, hills, jumps, and more! Grab a friend and see who can best the turns and cross the lines first. Be sure to turn on Advanced Lighting to see the track nicely lit up as you cruise the snow!”
  • Skatetown Area: “In the heart of this region are two skate arenas for the enjoyment of everyone. Grab a pair of skates from the free vendor, strap them on, and give them a spin! Execute athletic jumps and twirls, and glide your way around the ring. In the front vendors here, Premium members will find an extra prize full of customization options to fit your style and avatar.”
  • Winter Ferris Wheel: “What better way to see the region than to sit, relax, and rotate your way to the top of the view.  The Ferris wheel will give you one of the best – and most romantic – views in the region.”

Both the SLurl provided in the blog post and the Portal Park gateways deliver you to the Village of Lights. Here you’ll find gifts to collect in the village square (check the official blog post for details). Two main paths lead from the village to the major attractions.

Winter Wonderland Village of Lights
Winter Wonderland: Village of Lights

Of course, me being me, I took a short cut and found my way to the snowball fight arena somewhat unarmed. As a result, I promptly got shot by the decidedly well-armed Ebbe Linden and Marianne McCann! Of course, as Ebbe pointed out, arriving in the arena unarmed really is “not the way to show up for a fight!” Snowball fight guns can be obtained from the giver at the foot of the stairs leading up to the arena from the village, and as everything in the Wonderland is Experience Keys based, the gun will auto-detach on leaving the arena area.

Head westward from the Village, and you’ll come to the race course. Here you can pick-up a snowmobile or snowboard and zip around the course on your own or race others – but be warned, both are pretty zippy (the snowboard has a turbofan engine mounted on the back, and the animations include the ability to jump and perform a trick. Trying either of them in Mouselook is quite a challenge! Within the loops of the racing circuit, which crosses the regions of the park, sit the ice skating rinks and the Ferris wheel.

The Snowball Warzone arena
Winter Wonderland: the Snowball Warzone arena

Materials have been used to good effect within the builds, and allowing for the fact i got there relatively early, and possibly before many have read the official blog post, lag was barely noticeable, although the Ferris wheel is a little juddery and possibly a tad slow for most people’s tastes.

If you’re a Premium member, you can hop over the any of the Premium Gift kiosks and grab your tie-in gift, which opens up “upgrades” to the Winter Wonderland activities and gifts. Just wear your ribbon with pride prior to returning to the Wonderland regions!

All told, Winter Wonderland is very well put together, and offers some good fun to be enjoyed with friends  – so why not drop in and see for yourself? My thanks to Alexa, Ebbe and Vitae Linden for the added fun 🙂 .

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

Note that the opening of the Winter Wonderland coincides with the Lab’s latest Premium Membership special offer (50% off the first quarter’s payment if you sign-up to the Quarterly payment plan for Premium membership. This run through until  08:00 SLT on Monday, February 16th, 2015.

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Coastal views and Borderlines

Borderlines, LEA24
Borderlines, LEA24

Oberon Omura, who helps me keep abreast of things that are happening in the SL art world, sent me a little missive about Lemonodo Oh’s new installation at LEA24, which opened on Thursday, January 28th.

Borderlines is described by the artist as being inspired by the walks across SL organised by Vanessa Baylock, which caused him to come up with “defining a three-dimensional study area of a coastal region in maps and translating it to 64 sq m meshes and flat prims as appropriate.”

Borderlines, LEA24
Borderlines, LEA24

The result is what I’d define as an interpretation of a stretch of coastline, rather than a representation of that coastline. While the images used on the mesh and prim elements may well have been drawn from images available on Google Maps (and from, I believe, California), when put together as a whole and viewed panoramically under the right lighting, they could easily be part of the coastline from almost anywhere in the world; for my part, and while twiddling around with windlights, I was very much reminded of parts of both the Devonshire / Cornish coastline in the south-west of England and also of the Yorkshire coast.

Scattered across the low-lying areas of the installation are a number of dramatic photographs which, if not of the same areas of coastline as represented in the model, bear a strong resemblance to them in places. These are cleverly hidden from view until approached, when they slow fade into view, and add a striking new depth to the piece.

Borderlines, LEA24
Borderlines, LEA24

Lemonodo notes that while the project hasn’t worked out entirely as conceptualised, it nevertheless involves a number of borderlines – hence the title. Some of these may be obvious, others not so, Lemonodo doesn’t enter into specifics, so it is up to observer to hypothesize. Several did suggest themselves to me, including the use of the region boundary between this installation and that of the Medici University on LEA23 (which involves Vanessa Baylock whose grid-wide walks initially inspired this piece, remember).

I confess to being more intrigued by matters of perception and contrast, particularly when looking at the coastline from various distances and camera positions, and the manner in which it presents itself to the viewer and the (perhaps untended) questions on perception and depth raised by the inclusion of Lemonodo’s quite beautiful photographs (of which I’d frankly like to see more) against the background of the somewhat “flat” appearance of the Google Maps images when see up close and as they form the backdrop to the photos.

Borderlines, LEA24
Borderlines, LEA24

However you look at Borderlines, be it as art or an experiment in modelling or perception, Borderlines offers an intriguing addition to the current selection of Artist In Residence builds at the LEA.

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