The passing of places in Second Life

Venexia; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Venexia (Flickr) – click and image for full size

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.

Goatswood; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Goatswood (Flickr)

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.

Goatswood; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Goatswood (Flickr)

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.

Venexia; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Venexia (Flickr)

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; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Venexia (Flickr)

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).

Venexia; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Venexia (Flickr)

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.

Goatswood; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Goatswood (Flickr) – click and image for full size

SLurl Details

With thanks to Miya and Thinkerer Melville for the pointers.

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25 thoughts on “The passing of places in Second Life

  1. All three sims are stunning environments ……….. like you Goatswood is my particular favourite. Although I am not a role-player I enjoyed every single visit I paid to all three place.
    It’s such a dreadful shame that future residents of SL will never know the beauty, and breadth of vision that Venexia and Goatswood have offered.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it is terribly sad that places that are so beautifully created and that many look for to explore… places that showcase the best of SL… are not supported by Linden Labs. These are the kinds of sims that should receive support because they are outstanding examples of stunning landscapes and design as well as a place where you can join a community. Second Life is the poorer because they need to leave because of tier. As a sim owner myself I am constantly juggling whether the place I provide for the public can remain alive or not. It is a shame that they do not grandfather the tier of establishments that have been providing a place for the public for periods longer than say 5 years. These are not new establishments but ones that have been dedicated to providing something for the public for a LONG period of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sansar is coming and High Fidelity developing into its promises.. seems running off to a stagnated OS is unwise & foolhardy.. they should take the time to turn those gorgeous prim & sculpt builds into mesh while thinking of reopening in the near future with those remastered things in new & opportunity places instead.

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  4. I think this demonstrates how far Opensim has improved and grown that a long standing RPG builder from Second Life feels confident to branch out. There are two distinct advantages on cost and control. Setting up an Opensim grid costs a fraction of the tier for a single SL region and even a full grid you control yourself can be built with many regions for less than a single region in SL. Having your own grid, a loyal following and much lower overhead makes this a sensible move with a lot less risk than trying to survive in Second Life alone (and they are keeping KOS in SL anyway). This way some of their best builds can continue and regardless of what HiFi & Sansar promise people tend to stick with what they have grown use to and Opensim & Second Life are almost identical now. Role players like a great scene but it is the role play that they are interested in foremost. Some players don’t even like combat meters! So, while the next generation of virtual worlds will surely appeal to video gamers who want to mix sex & socializing with their shoot-em-up’s it wont necessarily add anything to role play environments that they don’t already have in Second Life or Opensim worlds now. Moreover, Opensim is already well developed for interconnected worlds (something HiFi is pitching for) and has well developed advantages like variable sized regions which make such a difference to sailing and flying. And there is still a long way for Opensim to go in development which may well include voxels and such. Certainly the physics have come on leaps and bounds. The beauty of Opensim is that it is open source and open to all kinds of development. And the user base has grown a lot in the past two years with many SL users in both worlds now. A casual look at the growth in Google Plus communities dedicated to Opensim is an eye opener.

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  5. I never realised that these places existed until I saw this report on their demise. I just had to go and visit Goatswood and I am so glad that I did. The sim is such a beautiful place and it has been designed so professionally. It is so sad that it did not receive the support needed to make it viable. That is going to be such a loss to Second Life indeed. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to look around the place before its closure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the visit. It is sad when things like this happen; but as with the physical world, things here have their time and their passing…

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  6. So sad to see these two sims go, and received a group note saying Kingdom of Sands will stay opened till the end of the year. Also many RPers I’ve talk to are not making the move to their new world – since much has been invested in SL.

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    1. This is the problem, with one or two notable exceptions (such as Elfclan’s move away from SL) facing any proposed move away from SL – that of carrying the interest of those users previously engaged in the environment / activity when it moves.

      As you say, people have made a considerable investment in their time in Second Life, especially in terms of friends. Many of them simply won’t make the move unless they see their friends doing likewise. And even those that do spread a foot into both “camps” (SL and OpenSim), I think it fair to say the vast majority remain more entrenched in SL than in OpenSim, again because of the friendship factor and also because (rightly or wrongly) the perceived fiscal investment in their inventory.

      That said, I’m still interested in NeverworldX (although really not a role-player myself). I really like the concept Kora and Baal have put forward, and while some of their aims might be ambitious, I think that the basic idea could work, if it can be properly promoted to SL and OpenSim users. As such, I’m actually debating signing-up just to see how things go, and if accepted, might well end-up reporting from there from time-to-time!

      Thanks so much for your original article, which Thinkerer pushed to one of my G+ circles and which prompted me to go poke my nose in!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. With the best will in the world, the Lab cannot step in to every situation that arises (granted, they did recently with the SS Galaxy, but that, and places like Svarga are the exception rather than the rule). Why? Simply because it is not economically viable for them to do so whenever a region or group of regions we see as being “important” to SL come under threat of vanishing from the grid. Even the idea that they might is fraught with issues.

      For example: how do you define where and when the Lab should do so? What criteria is to be employed to say that region A should be saved and region B let go, when both are perceived to be equally “beautiful” or “long-standing” or “important” to Second Life? Should a region perceived as being of outstanding beauty gain a greater right to remain in SL when compared to those regions we don’t perceive as being so pretty? Should a region which offers people activities people can engage with deserve the Lab’s attention more than a place where they can just go and sit and stare at the sea?

      Then, how do you avoid the inevitable splits in the user community as a whole with claims of “FIC” or “special relationships”? How do you counter the claims (as surfaced following the SS Galaxy announcement) that the Lab is simply “procuring” the art and artistry of the content creators whose goods are used in the creation of these regions?

      Also, why should it be left to the Lab to step in and take action? If we feel so strongly about the loss of such regions, why don’t we gather together, step forward and offer financial help and support? Let’s face it, the reason these two regions are closing is not just a case that “the tier is too high” – it’s the fact that interest in using them among the role-play community appears to have dwindled to the point where they are no longer economically viable. So if we want them to continue, then surely we should play an active role in trying to see that they do? It’s not just a responsibility for the Lab.

      Sorry if this sounds like I’m coming down on you – that’s not my intent. But the “rescue” of regions isn’t necessarily as straightforward as may initially seem to be the case.

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      1. I take your point completely Inara.
        I was always saddened by the lack of care that seemed to prevail on the sims. Such a dreadful waste.
        So I guess the demise of these places may make way for others equally beautiful…..but perhaps better managed and marketed.

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      2. Inara, I think you make a perfect point in that it’s not for the lab to save
        them! its for the community to save them if they want them to stay. It’s been
        interesting to watch many places that are roleplay locations follow this same
        path. They often only appeal to a smaller cut of the community and anyone
        visiting a Roleplay sim may do so once or twice, but as they can’t really
        interactive with the community with out really getting into the story they
        often don’t come back after feeling they have seen the sim. I feel that OOC
        tags which you are often made to wear in RP locations send the wrong message
        to new visitors. They are basically saying you can only passively observe,
        but you can’t interact or participate in the community. So OOC visitors don’t
        really speak to people in the community or attend events there. If you don’t
        feel you can do this how can you get hooked in the life these sims offer by
        joining the community. I’m sure that people in a RP community would rather
        have a nice active sim of new people they can interact with instead of just
        seeing OOC tags and knowing the person is just there to have a quick look
        around. Roleplay sims should really re-think the message that OOC tags send
        if they want to grow their communities by having new people see what life is
        like in a RP environment.

        I do think there is a middle ground. There are many sims/estates like my own
        (Angel Manor) and places like Berlin that are not RP as such but “themed”
        These can still have back stories and people that RP but are more welcoming
        and invite people to participate in the community. Rules such as dress code
        are not often an issue as a well designed sim as a great power to influence
        people to dress in a fitting manner. People in a themed sim often don’t feel
        right dress in modern clothes. I know many who visit Angel Manor that want to
        change clothes right away and that’s just the effect of the sims environment
        that does that. It can also be a lot of fun for a RP person to interact with
        a new person that may not of tried RP before. And getting people to try it
        can be a great way to get people into RP. Apposed to just seeing the OOC and
        letting them walk by (Which has been my personal experience with the OOC
        tag).

        I guess in short I’m just saying there may be some lessons to be gained from
        this. Virtual worlds need to evolve and find creative ways to have a strong
        themes and RP, but ensure they are still welcoming to new visitors. And don’t
        use measures to protect their community at the cost of isolating people who
        visit and may indeed be potential new community members and financial
        contributors.

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        1. The OOC tag is a good point, abnd actually works both ways. There have been occasions when visiting a RP region with tag over my head that I’ve felt at best tolerated, rather than welcome – although equally, in others, I’ve received the warmest of welcomes, to be sure. But it is a hard nut to crack; how do those engaged in the RP distinguish between active players and visitors without some outward sign? Even joining a group isn’t necessarily an answer – people might feel put out by having to use a group slot even temporarily.

          Goatswood tried to tackle the situation by encouraging those even considering joining to go OOC and spend time visiting and exploring, using the available n/card givers within the region to familiarise themselves with the story and setting, visit places where events might occur, etc. Thus, newcomers and observers are encouraged to interact (without breaking the RP), and – I assume – “locals” encouraged to engage with those visiting and asking the occasional question.

          It is a tough nut to crack, however one goes about it – and the points you raise on creative approaches and offering welcome are very valid, and liable to become more so in the future; particularly with the likes of Sansar, where creators of RP experiences will be able to invite people directly into their activities as new users to the platform as a whole. There’s no reason why those lessons cannot start to be considered now.

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  7. Open sim is far from being stagnated.
    Sadly due to our decision to only focus in Second Life, i’m not full aware of how Npc’s, physics and any other, had improved over the years there but i know that is almost au pair with Sl.
    For role players open sim is for sure the best choice now, Hf and Sl v2 and whatever have a long way to go, if…. before being open to public.
    Open sim is at same dev stage of Sl in 2011 in many features, far away in front in others (npc’s and scripts, mesh) while closing in physics and with a big advantage, it is free if you want to host, with all the powers that it means, saving your full regions or all your content at will at any time, traveling to other grids via hypergrid and so on.
    And with kitely marketplace, user generated content can be sold to all grids if you wish.
    Lack of content id not a problem anymore, as more and more creators of Sl are moving there.
    But for us, Sl, due only for a reason, mainland and its connected regions, is still the only place we are, even if we keep our regions open since 2011 in Osgrid, so it is sad to see some of the most lovely sims disappear, mainly when they are moving to open sim.
    I still think that those regions could be still in Sl if instead of being on closed private sims, where placed in mainland, perhaps Liden Lab could think of a alternative, less expensive, then a private full region, to move those to mainland,
    Just think of these 2 connected to blake sea or on the north atlantic group of sims!

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    1. Really? zzpearlbottom you think that..LOL .. the Sim on a Stick developer will no longer update to new releases while core OS has only a few part time developers with no clear road map to leave alpha stage..OS was great when it was the only alternative.people in OS will not even back WhiteCore OS when it is a stable beta version.
      High Fidelity is here to replace OS but you die hard hold outs will not open your eyes that your almost 10 year old alpha program is soon to be left behind.

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  8. Why i need to open my eyes? I use and enjoy Second Life and will wait till Hf lets me have the same pleasure, till then i bet on what i know and i can use at will, like open sim.

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  9. Reblogged this on Magick Thoughts SL and commented:
    I am reblogging this because Venexia is a love of mine and it will be gone soon. Please go there while you can!!!! Grab an OOC tag and make some memories… go!

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  10. And i did visit Goatswood and agreeing that is a stunning region, after being there it makes much more sense that they are moving to open sim.They can have a much bigger scale regions, build without restrictions and use npc’s at much smaller cost.

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    1. The problem isn’t so much the cost of OpenSim vs. SL or respectively capabilities per se (although cost obvious is a factoring influence), but in numbers of players. Goastwood and Venexia survived quite well for a number of years due to the engagement users had within both regions.

      The risk in moving to a separate environment is how many people who previously used both will see fit to register and carry on using using the NeverworldX brand of RP environments, particularly as interest seems to have dwindled, giving rise to this situation. At the end of the day, if an experience isn’t gaining the numbers of players / flow of revenue needed to support it, it doesn’t matter what the advantages are of the environment to which it is moving – be it overall costs, technology, greater freedom.

      Nevertheless, NeverworldX is an interesting concept; one that is highly focused and which could, with proper promotion, have appeal to both those who are predominantly SL focused and those who have move more to OpenSim, offering everyone a dedicated and themed series of RP environments they can dip into an out of as and when they like. I’ll be endeavouring to keep an eye on how things there go.

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      1. If the main goal is to profit i do doubt open sim is the solution.
        if the goal is keeping alive the regions and roleplaying on them, then as Lani’s Dune Rp regions shows, it is more then adequate to make the move.
        But yes is some to keep an eye on.

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  11. Was just reading the NWX blog and they have announced a “re vamped” Venexia on OS. I got to see Venexia 2 days before it went and was jaw droppingly stunned by the beauty and craft displayed in the build. As a newcomer to SL (from OS funnily enough) it was great to see someone using SL that much to it’s potential. It is amazing news that we should be able to see it again on OS.

    Like

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