Of islands and ideas in Second Life

Yet more island changes :)
Yet more island changes 🙂

So yeah. The island home; aka the job I’m always prattling on about, or “just when you thought it was safe to read this blog…” We hadn’t actually planned on changing things. Honest. But then I mentioned to Caitlyn that while the new layout worked, it was also a bit flat, She agreed. Thus, cue the unpacking of landscaping bits …

After spending time trying to integrate the northern and southern ends of the island into a “whole”, going back to rocks and cliffs might sound like things are being broken up again. However, what we’ve settled on  – we think – returns some of the character to the island, giving it more depth (or should that be height?) while retaining a unified feel.

The base of the cliffs - retaining the pond
The base of the cliffs – retaining the pond

In essence, the gardens and beach at the north end of the island have given way once again to the Fanatik Rocky Island. If I’m totally honest, this isn’t my favourite piece of landscaping; the baked textures aren’t entirely to my liking, and the lack of differentiation between vertical and horizontal faces means it cannot be reasonably re-textured. But in terms of natural look, with paths and differing levels on the plateau, I’ve yet to find anything in SL that matches it.

The upper two levels of this are now the location for our little stone cottage, with front lawns, cypress trees and back patio / lawns and just a little touch of the old castle ruins. Alex Bader’s Tiered Wall Garden set allowed for a degree of landscaping on the lower two levels of the plateau, allowing us to add lawns and the Trompe Loeil Dorina Outdoor Hangout, converted back to use as a pool.

The Trompe Loeil Outdoor Hangout makes a nice vantage point to watch passing boats
The Trompe Loeil Outdoor Hangout makes a nice vantage point to watch passing boat races through the channel south of us

One of the other positive aspects of the Fanatik rocky island is that it comes handed, so slipping it into the island and having the switch back path leading up one side match the moorings for our two ‘planes was nice and easy – and provided a route from house through island in the process. At Caitlyn’s suggestion, Alex’s Boardwalk set provided further integration between cliffs and fields by providing a wooden path around the rocks and over one side of our pond.

We also recently thinned-out some of the ruins, and shunted the old chapel across to the east side of the island. So in re-arranging things, we’ve been able to include an open grassy area at the base of the cliffs, Alex’s Ancient Stone Wall building set dividing it neatly from the “wilder” woodlands while a Stepping Stones set from Cube Republic offers a nice pathway to link everything together. Finally, a gift from John and Eles Briana means we now have a little “summer-house” in the form of the Trop Loeil Outcrop Hut, where we can watch the passing boats in the local sailing races.

I'm not the world's greatest fan of the Fanatik Rocky Island, but there is no denying its dramatic potential
I’m not the world’s greatest fan of the Fanatik Rocky Island, but there is no denying its dramatic potential

So, once again, a few more nips and tucks  – and a very big rock – at home. Now, onto the next project!

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ragVR: imagination and expression in Second Life

ragVR
ragVR

RAG Randt is a content creator and designer who is perhaps best known for his work with MadPea, having worked on many of their games over the years. However, he recently departed the MadPea team to focus on his own work, and as we’ve been friends for several years, having worked closely on a project together, I was delighted to receive an invitation from him to see what he’s been up to within the region he’s been working on for the past few months.

“I’ve been putting together a portfolio site,” he explained as I arrived next to a DC3 sitting at the edge of a long runway, a fitting arrival point for visitors to his island. “Some of it is still under construction, but I’ve opened it to the public.” Called ragVR, the region is a veritable tour-de-force in RAG’s skills as a scripter, creator, builder and environment designer – and makes for a completely engaging visit.

ragVR: arrival
ragVR: arrival

From the airfield landing point, a flight of steps leads visitors to the stunning Art Deco frontage of an elevator tower rising above the sheer cliff face against which it is built. Two kiosks stand before the doors to the tower, one of which invites visitors to click it, thus getting one into the habit of touching similar kiosks across the region to obtain information on the various locations one can visit. The second kiosk provides background information on RAG himself and the region, and should be read.

Summoning the elevator via the button next to the doors will bring the first of many smiles to your face, as the distant sound of the lift clunking and purring into its descent is gradually mixed by music in keeping with the Art Deco look of the tower, which gently grows in volume as the car approaches – as one might naturally expect. When the elevator doors open, so the music naturally increases in volume again, but not painfully so, inviting you to step inside. When you do, you’ll find this is no ordinary elevator. In keeping with the Art Deco look and feel, it retains a skilled (and charming) operator. Touch him to select your destination, and watch him operate the elevator’s control lever.

ragVR: pigs really can fly! RAG's gacha flying pig collection
ragVR: pigs really can fly! RAG’s gacha flying pig collection

On arrival at the upper floor, and with the elevator’s music fading behind you as the doors close, you’ll find yourself on the first part of a self-guided tour of the region and RAGs work. This starts with a retrospective of his early 2D work in SL, which built on his experience as an illustrator. Once again, a kiosk offers background notes on the display, together with a comment that while visitors are free to wander around the region whichever way they choose, the recommended route to take the exit to the left, relative to the elevator station, and follow the path.

Winding between trees and bushes, the path will take you by way of hill, dale and building, around and over the region, and the displays of RAG’s work. To list all of them would be to spoil a visit. However, as a few points of note, there are the gacha goods booths with delights such as RAG’s flying pigs (I have one at home 🙂 ), the MadPea centre where sets RAG build for a number of MadPea games are on display, and the model of the school Live And Learn Kenya  / Feed A Smile are building for Kenyan children, and which was the subject of a major MadPea fund-raising drive.

ragVR: celebrating MadPea
ragVR: celebrating MadPea

“There will be teleporters to skyboxes as well” RAG informed me, “And models of some of the items I will have on sale.” For those interested in the Horizons community, these items for sale will include two house styles designed to fit in with the theme  – and I’ll hopefully have more on these in a future piece on Horizons. “While the region is primarily aimed at people who need a builder, and who want to see what I can do,” RAG said as we wandered the footpaths of the region, “I hope it is also a fun place for people to visit and discover as well.”

Nor do RAG’s skills end with physical objects, be they furniture, creatures, buildings or machines. The entire region design demonstrates his ability to create and landscape an environment, and select windlight settings to add to the overall ambience. Outside of the flora, vehicles, a handful of rocks and tower crane found in the region, almost everything you encounter, including the footpaths, stairways and cliff rocks, have been built by RAG.

ragVR: the LLK / FAS Kenya school model
ragVR: the LLK / FAS Kenya school model

Whether or not you’re looking for someone to execute a custom design or build for you, a visit to ragVR is a demonstration of all that is possible in Second Life from prim (do not miss the Alien Ice Cream!), through landscaping to mesh and scripting. It reminds us that SL can be both an entertaining environment through games and gacha whimsies, and a place which can support physical world activities, such as building a school in Africa.

And if you are looking for a superb brewer of fine mesh, an expert shaper of prims and artisan sculptor of land, then taking a tour a is doubly recommended, as RAG could well be your man. You can contact him about projects and ideas and to discuss rates via IM, notecard or through e-mail (rag-at-ragmedia.com). A website in support of RAG’s work is also in development, and I’ll be adding the URL here once it is up and running.

SLurl Details

  • ragVR (Devil’s Moon, rated: Moderate)