Return to a City Inside Out in Second Life

City Inside Out Phase II: "Stories"
City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” – LEA 20

In March I wrote about Haveit Neox’s visually stunning City Inside Out, a full-region installation at LEA 20, which is displayed as a part of the 8th round of the Artist In Residence series.

On Saturday, May 30th, a new element in the installation, City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” opened, and takes the visitor down under Haveit’s remarkable cityscape, where stories await.

City Inside Out Phase II: "Stories"
City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” – LEA 20

To briefly recap on the original build, as per my initial post about it:

This is a city we’re asked to see through the eyes of the homeless, the dispossessed; those who have nowhere to be, nowhere to go. For these people, the city is a very different place to the one we know. It’s a place where everything is strange, alien, and threatening. A place bad enough in daylight, but as Haevit further explains, becomes much, much worse at night…

As I noted at the time, this premise of seeing a city somewhat in reverse, as a homeless person, makes for a remarkable  – and is some places uncomfortable – place, where nothing is quite as it seems, be it the had offering money or the man walking his dog; threats real or imagined and spurred by fears and a sense of separation, can be found everywhere…

City Inside Out Phase II: "Stories"
City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” – LEA 20

With Phase 2 of the build Haveit incorporates a series of short stories written by other Second Life residents on the subject of homelessness in the physical world as they perceive it. These  are laid-out in an underground labyrinth sitting beneath the lowest level of the main build, and are arranged as a series of seven chapters reached by following subterranean paths.

There are a number of different entry points to these paths – simply walk onto one of the moving roadways and follow it, and you will drop into the underground world. However, to follow the chapters roughly in order, the best point to start is to walk to the dual carriageway that lies just behind the landing point information boards, and follow it eastwards. It ends in a slice in the ground that will lead you down to Chapter 1, which sits directly under the roads. Do note, however, that the route through the chapters from 1 to 2 to 3, etc., isn’t necessarily linear; spurs and turns can lead you through the middle chapters in different ways, depending on the route you take.

City Inside Out Phase II: Stories
City Inside Out Phase II: Stories – LEA 20

The paths also provide a hint of narrative as well the the story boards located along them. As you walk through them they change from a trench-like cutting to what could be long-abandoned mine workings or the underground vital intestines that keep a city alive,  through to vast subterranean chambers suggestive of a city that has built over itself time and again, burying or hiding its past from view – just as we so easily can blot the homeless around us from our view.

This is a fascinating addition to what was already a brilliant installation, both in terms of the build and the stories it contains. It is also one in which you can play a role; Haveit is still accepting pieces on the subject of homelessness, and will add them to boards throughout the underground world as they are submitted. Simply send him your words via note card together with an IM notifying him you have sent something. Additions to the narrative will continue through until June 25th, and both phases of City Inside Out will remain open until June 30th.

If you haven’t already visited, I urge you to do so; and if you have been before, do make sure of a return visit and walk the underground paths.

City Inside Out
City Inside Out Phase II “Stories” – LEA 20

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Wine and Checkmate in Second Life

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

Checkmate is the homestead region designed by Amae Moriarty which is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most breathtaking places in Second Life I’ve yet visited. I first came across it as a result of seeing Goizane Latzo’s photos on Bitacora Vajera about a week ago, and they promoted me to hop over and have a look – only to bump into Ziki Questi, who had  the same idea!

The region description sums the place up perfectly, “a rambling vineyard enveloped by a hazy sky. Wander through the grapes as they soak up the sun, producing the best vintage of pixel wine on the grid” – or to put it another way, a beautifully crafted island that offers visitors a lot to see and enjoy, with rich scenery and plenty of opportunities for photographs, and for cuddles and chats.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

The arrival point sits above the vineyards atop a plateau to the south, on one of a number of rocky uprisings – which, in difference to the rest of the region, is partially awash in a very local shower of rain, making a pond of the landing point. Fortunately, it’s only a short walk to get out of the rain, although which direction you take is up to you;  I’d suggest heading a little northwards, and up to the edge of the cliff and a commanding view over the vineyards in the valley below.

For those who wish to climb a little higher, a set of stone steps leads the way to an old Edwardian folly and a view out to sea past the lighthouse. however, to get down to the vineyards, one must follow the switchback path down the side of the cliffs to the valley below.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

Here sit tidy rows of vines, heavy with lush red grapes ready for picking. Going on the scale of the operation, this looks to be a family operated business, specialising in reds. They clearly enjoy visitors – alongside the vines sits a square pergola where guests can sample the wine with cheese and meat slices while playing a memory game; further tastings can be had in the winery itself. A rounded pergola sitting amidst the vines suggests the folk here enjoy a good end-of-day dance and music, while in a small bay, protected by a beachy headland sits a dock and a Loonetta 31, ready for those days off and trips out into the opens waters.

Footpaths pass around the island, providing an easy means to explore, encompassing as they do the local house with its own beach. In fact, beaches are aplenty here, each of them nicely situated to offer those using them a degree of privacy one from another as they sit and chat. My favourite sits at the end of a path turning between the tall rocky cliffs, where an old garden atelier sits on the rocky edge of a beach, and which has been converted for comfortable uses and pastimes, such as painting.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

Throughout the region there are plenty of places to simply sit and relax, be it in a seafront cuddle space such as the atelier or the little cabin nestled under the cliffs, or sitting from a bough-hanging bench swing for two. For those who like to hike, the plateau to the  north-east offers a hot tub to make the wake even more worthwhile, the cosy fireplace in the old converted greenhouse nearby presenting a place for warm, after-tub chats in old, comforting armchairs, or the opportunity to catch-up on some reading.

Such is the delight and design of Checkmate, it seems that where ever you go whenever you visit, there is a new charm waiting to surprise you. For the romantics, for the explorers, for the photographers, the is a place that offers so much; so don’t be surprised if you find yourself tarrying a lot longer than you’d anticipated when paying a visit.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

And the wine? Most assuredly the best pixel vintage available on the grid!

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Second Life project updates 22/2; server and viewer

Obedience, LEA 1 - blog post
Obedience, LEA 1blog post

Server Deployments, Week 22 – Recap

The planned RC deployment scheduled for Wednesday, May 27th was rolled back as a result of a back-end issue. This currently leaves grid as a whole on the same server release.

Commenting on the roll-back at the Server Beta User Group (SBUG) meeting on Thursday, May 28th, Simon Linden said, “there was a minor issue but it was worth reverting; some internal tools weren’t running right and sending postcards was broken. [However] that code will likely be back next week, [as] I’ve already fixed the bug.”

These issues aren’t related to the region restart issues / caps failure people have noticed with some regions following a rolling restart, and as reported in my week 21/2 report, and which Simon indicates have yet to be looked into in-depth.

SL Viewer

Thursday, May 28th saw the Avatar Layer Limits viewer, version 3.7.29.301305, updated to the de facto release viewer. This viewer removed the limit of only being able to wear a maximum of 5 items per clothing layer (e.g. a maximum of 5 jackets and 5 shirts and 5 pants, etc), with a global limit of 60 layers which can be worn in any combination (e.g. you can wear 58 jacket layers, a tattoo layer and a pants layer if you wish).

This leaves two RCs in the release channel at present: the Avatar Attachment fixes RC (aka Project Big Bird and currently version 3.7.29.301943), and the Experience Keys viewer (currently version 3.8.0.300963, and which is awaiting the completion of back-end updates to the Experience Keys services). Both of these viewers will be updated to match the new release viewer, and it is anticipated that they will be joined by a new Snowstorm RC viewer in the near future (see below), which is currently awaiting some fixes prior to release.

General

Project news coming out of the Lab is a little light at the moment. This shouldn’t be taken to mean there isn’t a lot happening with Second Life. There are several projects that are in the pipeline – Viewer-Managed Marketplace and Experience Keys (/ Tools) being two that people are aware of.

The Lab don’t talk too much ahead of time as to what is going on, but it’s clear to see from Simon’s back-end work around avatar counts in regions, that there are various things which are being looked at. Again, we only recently had it confirmed that the Lab have, as a part of continuing work on improving the CDN services, shifted to another provider – and they are looking to move the delivery of more asset types to the CDN in the coming months.

In the meantime, we can expect to see more RC viewers appearing  – notably the next Snowstorm RC viewer with Avatar Complexity, and which should include STORM-2082, the ability to save and load graphics settings to assist with viewer performance, depending on the environment you’re in.

Jonathan Yap is working on the ability to various graphics settings in the official viewer, allowing users to quickly change between saved settings depending on their performance needs - this should be appearing in an upcoming Snowstorm contributions viewer (note the finished panel may not resemble the one shown left, above)
Jonathan Yap is working on the ability to various graphics settings in the official viewer, allowing users to quickly change between saved settings depending on their performance needs – this should be appearing in an upcoming Snowstorm contributions viewer (note the finished panel may not resemble the one shown left, above)