A winter’s Magical Mystery in Second Life

Magical Mystery, Folk Town; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Magical Mystery, Folk Town – click any image for full size

“Magic and Mystery await around every corner,” Joonie Jatho says of her Homestead region, itself called Magical Mystery. “Come explore and see if you can find all the enchanted, secret places!”

It’s an enticing invitation, and one well worth taking the time to accept. Designed on Joonie’s behalf by the combined talents of Kaelyn Alecto (responsible for  It All Starts With a Smile (which I last visited here), LuaneMeo (who designed Luane’s World – see here – with Kaelyn, and most recently opened Luane’s Magic World – see here), and Gorba McMahon, Magical Mystery presents visitors with a lot to see and discover.

Magical Mystery, Folk Town; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Magical Mystery, Folk Town

This is a rugged landscape, icy and cold – but it has a warm heart waiting to be found by those who seek its secrets. Tall shoulders of rock and flat-topped plateaus surround the centre of the region, cut through by a deep gorge itself spanned by rocky arches. Snow caps the tops of these high, seemingly impassable cliffs, whilst encircling their feet is a low-lying realm of ice and snow.

Visitors arrive on the south side of the region, where a path of snow-covered slabs forms a “T” junction. To the left and right, it points the way across the ice, while northward, it directs one’s feet into the deep cleft of the gorge towards a set of stone steps over which hang three great Fae bubbles, the hint of buildings lying beyond.

Magical Mystery, Folk Town; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Magical Mystery, Folk Town

Which route you take in exploring is up to you; go east and you can enjoy the frolics of penguins waddling over ice and belly sliding down snowy slopes. Go west and a bridge suspended between coloured balloons leads to a small island. Boats bob on the water close by, offering cuddle spots, and a frozen pond sits in the middle of the island, watched over by snowy egrets and pink unicorns. A sign warns of the danger of thin ice – but find the right point and you can plunge through the ice and into another world.

The northward route, through the gorge, leads you under the gnarled form of an ancient tree, bent with age, lie a tired sentinel at the gate of the deep cleft. Across a stretch of glittering ice, the stone steps lead the way to a little village hidden and safe within the enfolding might of the rocky walls surrounding it.

Magical Mystery, Folk Town; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Magical Mystery, Folk Town

Here the aged, bent trees clinging limpet-like to the near vertical walls of the gorge give way to firs trees, the largest of which is festooned with lights, the houses colourful and bright beneath it. A pond offers an opportunity for skating. Beyond the houses, more steps visible through a stone arch invite the visitor onwards and upwards, passing through a frosted wood to where a church sits on a finger of flat rock, reached via a sturdy wooden bridge.

But this is not all – far from it. Before the church the path again branches left and right through the trees, presenting visitors with more chances to explore – and those who take them will find more to explore, and that diving through broken ice isn’t the only way of finding the hidden magic of this region;  more to be found underground and up on the rocky peaks. Throughout it all, the local wildlife also awaits discovery, and there are places to sit and places to cuddle, opportunities to slip inside and warm up after the cold. For those who feel a little more active, skating and sledding is also to be found.

Magical Mystery, Folk Town; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Magical Mystery, Folk Town

Magical Mystery makes for a rewarding visit. Should you enjoy your time there, do please consider making a donation towards the region’s continued enjoyment by others.

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Flying the CLS Ryan Navion (via Firestorm) in Second Life

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion
The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

Firestorm recently held their Christmas Party, and as a part of it, they’ offered Firestorm users holiday goodies in the form of a pet leopard and a CLS Aviation Ryan Navion aeroplane in the Firestorm colours.

I’m a bit of a flying fan in Second life (albeit not necessarily looking for full realism, just the fun of getting into the air and pootling around), and as I’d never actually come across CLS Aviation before, I cheekily saw the opportunity snag the gift and see what the plane was all about.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion
The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The retail variant of the plane is prices at  L$1,099 at the time of writing, and is supplied Copy / Mod – the accompanying photos showing it can be re-painted (although I have no idea if templates are supplied – so check before buying). The Firestorm version, for obvious reasons, is supplied No Mod, locking-in the Firestorm paintwork, but otherwise it is the same aircraft model.

The Navion is a post-war single-engined light aircraft with a tricycle undercarriage and seating four, many of which are still in use today. Wikipedia informs me that CLSA model is based on one of the later variants of aircraft, which had wing-tip fuel tanks.  The model weighs-in with a Land Impact of 77, a physics weight of 2.2, and a render weight of 49072.

CLSA Navion instruments: legible and reflect aircraft's operation
CLSA Navion instruments: legible and reflect aircraft’s operation

The Firestorm finish is pretty good, with the exterior of the ‘plane looking quite eye-catching. Elements of the finish continue inside the sliding canopy cockpit, where the trim on the seats and instrument panel includes colour nods to Firestorm. The instrument panel is fully readable and the instruments  respond to flight movements, making it perfectly possible to fly and navigate in Mouselook and using keyboard / chat commands.  For those who like HUD-based flying, one is also supplied, offering access to essential controls and instruments and gives access to the plane’s menu, which can also be used when flying.

Usage-wise, touch the canopy to open it and hop in (it opens automatically on shutting down the engine). A headset is supplied for those who like that kind of touch, and the “usual” control options apply (“s” / “start” / “stop” for the engine, WASD / arrow keys for turn / climb / dive; PAGE keys for throttle, etc). Multiple camera pre-sets are offered as well, accessible via chat (“c0” through “c9”, which can also be selected by menu (accessed through the HUD) or cycled through via the HUD.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion
The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

I found the plane handled reasonably well in the air, although turns felt a little “flat” and lacking roll at times while acrobatics such as looping felt a little on the “tight” side (albeit with nice camera motion). Allowing for the current state of region crossings, the Navion handled things reasonably well, although recovery did at times seem a little sluggish. Camera scripting in particular seemed to try to handle slewing issues on crossings by giving a forward view of the plane then gently panning around to the over-the-tail default. This mostly avoided instances of finding the camera pointing into the side of the plane after a rough crossing, but when these did occur, cycling through the camera pre-sets generally cleared it.

Flying in Mouselook  / via instruments was more than acceptable, although I need to practice my landings in this mode! And on the subject of landings, a novel aspect of this plane is that while it senses Linden Water as water (listen for the splash), it will nevertheless quite happily land on it even though devoid of floats – and will also take off from Linden water as if it were a runway, feeling very much like the Terra Stingray in the process.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion
The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion: works on water! 😉

Overall, not a bad ‘plane, particularly if you’re looking for something to start out with. One small word of warning – should you go ahead and buy this plane (any plane?) from CLSA, or get the Firestorm variant (whilst available), make sure you rez the package in an open space. I rezzed mine in the living room and almost squished myself between it and the wall!

And, also, as this one is in Firestorm colours, are we going to see a Firestorm aerobatics team form? 😀 .

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