News is spreading that two long-running role-play regions in Second Life are to close later this month.
Goatswood (first opened in 2012) and Venexia (first opened in 2011), are the work of Baal Zobel and Kora Zenovka. Both are exquisitely beautiful builds with a stunning attention to detail; Gostswood presenting a small, Victorian-era rural town, and Venexia a Venice-like city of rich and inspiring architecture divided by narrow canals.
While highly photogenic, both regions were created, as noted, for role-play first and foremost, and a huge amount of effort was put into establishing them as such, with extensive back stories to both of them (Goatswood in particular has had a very immersive storyline running through it, in which the town itself is very much a character), scripting and combat focused on the SGS system.
However, it would appear the more recently, activities within both have declined somewhat, as tends to be the way with role-play environments in SL as people’s interests ebb and flow. This has made meeting tier costs for both regions increasingly difficult; hence the decision to close them. News of this first came via a group notice from Kora and Baal, which reads in part:
We would like to say a huge thank you to all those who have over the years contributed so much time and creativity towards the great success of these projects. They have provided us with many lasting memories, and we have derived immense enjoyment from seeing them brought to life by those who have spent time playing there.
As a result of this decision, Venexia will cease operations on Saturday, June 13th and the last train from Goatswood station will depart on Friday, June 19th. The third SGS-based role-play region operated by Baal and Kora, Kingdom of Sand, will remain in operation for the foreseeable future, as it is still generating a good flow of traffic and interest.
The beauty of Goatswood (which I admit to being my favourite, having visited a number of times, but never with the confidence to do it justice with photographs) and Venexia cannot be overstated, nor can the care which has gone into their development and curation. This can be seen right from the moment you arrive in either, from the manner in which information is presented to you, through to the very means of teleporting from the arrival areas high over each region, down to ground level.
What I’ve always particularly enjoyed about Goatswood, other the the manner in which it reminds me of the Cotswolds here in England, is the take-your-time approach presented to those who have considered joining the role-play there. Rather than presenting people with rules and a pile of notes relating to backstory and character development, the approach has always been, “come in! take your time and explore, discover the nature of the town and the role-play here, learn about what goes on by visiting and interacting!”
To encourage this, visitors are provided with a 3-day pass, and little red mushrooms scattered through the town and points of interest in the outlying areas, provide additional notes and information in a narrative style which does much to further set the tone of the place.
Venexia, with a focus on lycan / vampire interplay is different in tone and setting, but the build is no less breathtaking in scope and design. Wandering allionf the streets, it is easy to imagine yourself transported to some dark and mysterious Venice of an age past; there is a beauty to the city which is laced with an edge of menace and danger that is quite atmospheric.
While both Venexia and Goatswood are closing, this is not actually the end of the road for Baal and Zora. They are currently engaged in developing an OpenSim environment called NeverworldX (being the name of the sim on which Goatsworld is located in SL).
This new environment, currently available for pre-registration, will present “a free-form role play/story telling ‘game’ set in a series of themed virtual fantasy environments. These environments usually consist of one or more virtual islands depicting a fully functioning role play Scenario Players create Avatar characters and develop these characters and their stories over time by interaction with other player characters, and by participation in the various events and scenarios that occur within their chosen Fantasy Scenario.” It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.
In the meantime, should you wish to visit either Goatswood or Venexia prior to their respective closures in Second Life, you are free to do so. Just make sure you obtain an OOC tag and 3-day pass from the vendors in the respective arrivals areas and wear it prior to boarding the gondola / train for the ground levels.
With thanks to Miya and Thinkerer Melville for the pointers.