Once again we are entering the twilight months of the year when the celebrations start to stack up: Halloween, Thanksgiving for Canada and America, Christmas and then the New Year. With so much going on, and themed regions popping up across Second Life, a real highlight of this time of year is a visit to the Calas Galadhon themed builds.
Every October and December, Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith bring us fabulous themed builds under the Calas Galadhon name, which allow Second Life users to fully enjoy both Halloween scares and Christmas good cheer. And this year, we have something very special: not one, but two regions offering a spook-tacular visit for Halloween.
Neverland takes its name from J. M. Barrie‘s Peter Pan and gives it a decidedly dark twist. Yes, there are pirates, Lost Boys, fairies and mermaids, but so too are there spiders, alien-esque jungles, imps, and creepy caves, all wrapped up in a journey of discovery. Spread across the full and Homestead sims of Esgaroth and Erebor – the names continuing the Tolkien tradition of naming Calas regions – Neverland is a place to be experienced, not written about; but you will need time to do so, as there is a lot to discover – more than might first appear to be the case – and an expansive tour aboard an elven boat to enjoy.
As is common with Ty and Truck’s builds, the landing point offers plenty of advice to get you started, and the information boards should be read. You can pick up a torch here as well, which may prove useful in your explorations, and the boat tour is sited alongside the boards. Whether you take the tour first or come back later is up to you – but I do recommend you do take it at some point during a visit, as it will reveal sights and places you might otherwise miss.
Travelling on foot takes you through the Pirate Cavern – complete with the steady tick-tick-ticking of a clock, the shadowy form of an enormous crocodile close by – and then through a dimly-lit tunnel where creepy-crawlies lurk, before pointing the way towards the jungle. Your goal here is to find the Portal, the gateway to the Calas Galadhon Halloween events pavilion (where a whole range of entertainment will be taking place throughout October). Signposts will help you along the way, be sure not to miss the other locations the signs direct you towards, be they up winding paths or ladders, over bridges or across fields of rustling grass. And don’t miss the tunnels under the Lost Boy’s camp (and the Lost Boys themselves aren’t quite what you might expect!
There are numerous places throughout Neverland where you can simply sit and catch your breath: camp fires can be found on the edges of gorges, nestled under rocky overhangs or close to the mouths of shallow caves, benches and seats at the sides of pools or under faery canopies. Ty and Truck’s impish humour is also awaiting discovery, while the Mermaid Grotto and the alien gardens surrounding it offer a burst of colour and light in the midst of the darkness and mist.
While instructions on how best to enjoy the build are available at the landing point, I will re-state some of them, and add one or two of my own. If you take the “journey cloths”, with their Cthulhu-like images, keep in mind you may well hop past places to visit – and when taking the boat tour, keep an eye our for clues to places that might otherwise escape a visit on foot later. Do make sure you have local sounds enabled with exploring (there’s also a carefully selected audio stream), and keep an eye out for ladders and bridges and stairs; not all of them may at first be obvious, and some lead to interesting little spots, such as up in the temple ruins.
If you run the viewer with shadows enabled, you may want to flick them off when exploring, otherwise the performance hit can be pretty heavy. The lighting in the region is such that disabling them won’t spoil the visual ambience (just keep Advanced Lighting Model enabled), and should you need shadows for photography, you can always flick them on and then set them back to None when done.
All told, Neverland is another marvellous gift to Second Life residents from Ty and Truck, one in which it a possible to spend an enjoyable hour or two exploring and discovering the various routes around and through the regions. It is very much a destination one which should be on the list of places to visit for anyone who enjoys Halloween – and do please consider a donation towards both the regions and Calas Galadhon as a whole when you drop in.
News on events at Neverland can be found on the Calas Galadhon Park blog, and the regions will be open through until the end of October, after which they will be closed to be made-over for the Calas Christmas theme.