A visit to a Small Town Café

Small Town Café, Luck; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr Small Town Café, Luck (Flickr) – click any image for full size

Every so often you happen across a place you weren’t expecting to find, whether it be purely by random chance, the nudge of coincidence or the chance remark. Insofar as this article is concerned, it was the latter: a chance remark I caught in open chat concerning places to photograph in SL, which led me to Small Town Café, an utterly delightful 1/4 full region designed by Mido (Mido77077 Liotta).

Most of the land is submerged bordered on two side by tall, plateau-like cliffs on two sides. Grass and tulips grow tall in the shallow water, forming islands of green and yellow against the blue, between which the water seems to snake, presenting the visitor with the feeling of standing at the mouth of a slow-flowing river as it meets the gentle currents of the sea – or perhaps a lake.

Small Town Café, Luck; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr Small Town Café, Luck (Flickr)

Through the middle of the water, almost cutting it in two and pointing east, a long wooden walkway winds its way from the  the landing point to the open water, where there is a subtle wash of mixing currents. A grassy path runs northwards from the landing point, marking the way to the primary signs of habitation here. Nestled in the shadow of the tall cliffs sits an empty town house or shop, a Tuscan cottage occupying the cobbles alongside it, both fronted by a paved footpath protecting them from the lapping waters.

Here the scene is almost urban; a scooter, loaded with bags and boxes, sit on the footpath, while the shop is fronted by the entrance to an underground station. Is it genuine, or is it something perhaps transplanted here on a whim, the boards over the entrance hiding the fact only more cobblestones sit beneath them? It’s up to visitors to decide. Here, as well, under a rocky arch, is a gated wall, suggesting a garden beyond, distracting the eye from the arched entranceway close by which provides access to one of the region’s genuine secrets.

Small Town Café, Luck; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr Small Town Café, Luck (Flickr)

Across the waters from these, on the south side of the region, and raised above the waters over which they stand is the café bar that perhaps gives the place its name, and red bulk of an old shipping container, now converted into a workshop. To reach these, you’ll have to do a little wading, and I strongly recommend you do so around the edge of the water; not because of any risk of drowning, but because that way you’ll find more little touches – such as the greenhouse converted into a little vinyl record shop. Just do try not to disturb the deer too much as you make your way to the café bar.

Music is obviously popular here; the café features an old upright piano, and guitars on their stands can be found here and there across the region, as can places to sit and pass the time with friends or a loved one. This is also a place where cats roam and play with puppies, content to let the mice enjoy the atmosphere unhindered, and even the big cats are wish to do little more than watch things from on high.

Small Town Café, Luck; Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr Small Town Café, Luck (Flickr)

Given my love of music, cats and watery scenes is Second Life, little wonder I was enchanted by Small Town Café. I’m sure that when you visit, you will be as well – and who knows, if I’m there, maybe I’ll play you a little something on the piano or if you prefer, strum a guitar for a while. If I do (or even if I don’t), please consider leaving a tip; not for me, but for Mido, to hep keep tranquil setting alive for many more to enjoy.

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GI Joe proves he’s a Block(sworld)head

G.I. Joe now in Blocksworld

It slipped out under the radar for most of us interested in such things, possibly because it occurred on the same day as the sad news came of Sir Terry Pratchett’s passing; but for those wondering how things are fairing for Blocksworld, the one remaining product in the Lab’s portfolio outside of its virtual world endeavours, the answer would appear to be, “Well enough to get an extension of LL’s relationship with Hasbro.”

On March 12th, the Lab slipped out a press release announcing that Heroes Will Be Made…with Blocks! G.I. JOE® Comes to Blocksworld®.

the release reads in part:

Through the relationship with Hasbro, six fun new G.I. JOE games will be available for all Blocksworld players. The games present an exciting new storyline in the conflict between G.I. JOE and COBRA that ends in a cliffhanger, and Blocksworld players will be challenged to create and share their own interactive endings to the narrative.

As well as the games themselves, the launch included a set of G.I. Joe building sets, available as in-app purchases, allowing players to extend the G.I. Joe related adventures by using them to create additional characters, vehicles and weaponry.

This is the third partnering between Linden Lab and game / toy maker Hasbro, with My Little Pony having been added to the Blocksworld stable in 2014 alongside of – in what must have seemed an obvious choice for the game – Transformers, coinciding with that particular franchise returning to the silver screen.  Another foray for Blocksworld into the world of films during 2014 came with the release of the  Legends of Oz sets of Dorothy’s Return (tying in with the animated feature of the same name), and Heroes of Oz.

Approaching eighteen months on the market, Blocksworld is proving to be something of a durable title in the cut-throat world of apps, where titles can rise and fall almost overnight at times. According to App Annie, it continues to enjoy relatively high rankings in countries like the USA, UK, Canada, and Japan. In the USA, it has consistently been in the top 10 in terms of revenue for “educational” games, and in the top 500 for games in general.

While “educational” might seem a tad bit odd as a category for the game to be listed under,  Michelle Vuckovich, the Director of Product for Blocksworld, points to the game’s educational value in the G.I. Joe press release. “Kids love playing and creating in Blocksworld,” she is quoted as saying. “While having fun creating anything they can imagine, they’re also learning to think like programmers, game designers, and engineers – something parents and teachers can appreciate.”

The Blocksworld Premium banner
The Blocksworld Premium banner

As well as the G.I Joe release in March, Blocksworld also saw a change in January 2015, with the introduction of something which might have a familiar ring to it for SL users: Blocksworld Premium.

This appears to be an in-app (presumably purchasable) upgrade which offers those joining the opportunity to “build epic creations with infinite blocks, actions, textures, and more!”. In addition, Premium users get Standard Blocks as soon as they are released, with (dare I say it?) a “stipend” of Action Blocks added to their inventory every week.

It’s still not clear if Blocksworld will move into the world of Android devices; but it certainly seems to be quite comfortable in the iPad world, and quite likely doing very nicely for the Lab while there, as noted.

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