Taking a drift through Tokyo in Second Life

Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMitsumi-Town in Tokyo – click any image for full size

Stretching across the skies of three Full regions (each making use of the additional 10K LI allowance available to private region holders to increase their overall capacity to 30K), is Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo.

Designed by a team led by Eripom Moonwall, it’s a meticulous build, one which has taken several months to bring together, but which is stunning in its look. Blending together elements powerfully evocative of modern-day Japan and periods from the city’s earlier history, it is awash with detail, and only lacking an active population- hopefully that will change over time.

Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMitsumi-Town in Tokyo

As the build is spread across three regions, it can be a little bewildering to find your way around – and there is a heck of a lot to see and discover. The middle of the three LMs for the city – which delivers visitors to the Morpire City downtown area – is a good place to start, setting visitors down in a small open air area alongside a cafeteria-style restaurant (the Mitsumi-Town LM disconcertingly drops visitors in the middle of one of the city’s expressways). The restaurant provides access to a shopping mall awaiting occupation, and is bracketed on the other side by an elevated train track paralleled by part of the city’s impressive road system, while skyscrapers push their why into the heavens beyond.

The road system winds its way around, over, through, and under the city, slicing it into blocks and districts, which can vary in look and feel – just like no two areas of a physical world city really resemble one another beyond superficial similarities in building height, possible road layout, etc. It’s a system which can also – with consideration and care – be driven along. Rezzing in the city is (at the time of writing) allowed, and auto-return is set to five minutes.  This being the case, I pulled out the Beverly 812 that so far has only really seen one outing as a prop, and we took a little drive around the streets.

Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMitsumi-Town in Tokyo

However, exploration on foot is perhaps the best way to fully appreciate the overall design. Head westward from the landing point, for example, and you’ll pass through canyons standing between high rises towering overhead, pass entrances to subway stations and then – suddenly – come to the “old town”, where the skyscrapers have yet to encroach.

This is an area where the buildings are clearly of an older period – the 1960s or 1970s, perhaps. Advertising boards are mounted on walls, awnings shade doorways and vending machines, street lamps fight off the long finger shadows from the neighbouring towers of steel and glass. Among these older building, the streets are narrower, often lined with ranks of power distribution poles bringing electricity to the shops and apartments.  Little arcades vie with low-level plazas to tempt the wandering feet into exploring.

Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMitsumi-Town in Tokyo

Here and elsewhere, many of the buildings are accessible. Climb the stairs in one and you might find your way to a roof garden or all the way to a rooftop coffee-house; ride the elevator in another, and you could find yourself in a dragon-decorated restaurant. Teleport disks might also be found here and there, waiting to whisk you some place, while pedestrian walkways and travelators offer competition to the roads and rail tacks in pointing ways around the city.

Some businesses are already talking up residence in Mitsumi-Town. Eripom’s own combat weapons business sits towards the east end of the city, with fashion stores close by. To the west, hanging in the sky over it is the huge glass and steel edifice of the R2 Fashion headquarters. This looks down on the hanger-like hall of where US military hardware can be found. Other building look like they are awaiting occupancy – although this is an assumption on my part.

Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMitsumi-Town in Tokyo

What helps to make this build immersive is that it actually extends beyond the boundaries of the three regions on which it sits. Off-sim builds have been used to extend the look of the city to great effect (so much so that on a couple of roads, it’s easy to miss the fact you’re heading towards a region boundary until you bounce off of it!). The most impressive of these off-sim areas – which appears to be still under construction – is to the north, where two massive bulk carrier vessels lie alongside the makings of a docks area.

Presented under a bright sky in which horizon haze has been used to good effect, softening the more distant views over the city, Mitsumi-Town is a magnificent build offering plenty of scope for photography – and perhaps more over time. Certain more than worth a visit!

Mitsumi-Town in Tokyo; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMitsumi-Town in Tokyo

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The beauty of Digital Arts in Sansar

Digital Arts Gallery: from left to right – Natalie Shau, Ben Heine, Keith Webber Jr (far wall), Grégoire A. Meyer, and Martina Stipan

While it is still gaining form, Sansar is already attracting both artists and those with an interest in art, and I’m slowly working my way through the art-related experiences currently available in the Atlas and dropping into whatever catches my eye. Places such as the Digital Arts Gallery, designed and curated by Mad Max, and which focuses on the work of digital artists from around the globe – which I admit piqued my curiosity for a very specific reason when I saw the Altas entry.

The setting is well conceived and executed. Visitors arrive in a small lobby area with windows to three sides offering a view of a late evening sky – it’s as if we’re high in a skyscraper somewhere, about to enter an exclusive gallery space. A larger hall opens off this foyer space, neatly dissected by a central display area of alcoves, and which offers choice of routes through the gallery: right and through the Featured Artist display, or left through the “collected artists” section.

Digital Arts Gallery: Adam Martinakis – Golden Boy and Materialised

The Featured Artist at the time of my visit was Adam Martinakis. It was seeing his name in the Atlas entry for the experience that caught my eye; I first encountered his digital sculptures in 2012 through a piece written for Don’t Panic. I was immediately struck by the depth of his work: digital it might be, but it carries with it a realism and texture which truly makes it physical and tangible. It’s hard not to look at them and feel you’re looking at a 3D creation, one which if you could touch them, would reward you with the feel of cut stone or slick paint finish beneath your finger tips; there is a marvellous quality to the filigree elements of Golden Boy (featured in this exhibition and seen above left) which is so beautifully rendered it presents a wonderful sense of it own existence in the physical world.

The images selected for this exhibition span Martinakis’ work from 2011 through to the present. Alongside of Golden Boy, and among his more established works offered here are Love for Light,  The Departure of Innocense [sic] and The Remains of a Memory. His more recent work is also represented, and I found myself strongly drawn to Adam, rich in substance and metaphor, while Last Kiss is simply mesmerising. I do admit to hoping to see Baptised by Fire – Prometheus or The Divisions of Pleasure offered here, but only because both pieces made such an impression on me when seeing them for the first time five years ago. However, their absence in no way detracts from the exhibition.

Digital Arts Gallery: Adam Martinakis

To the left of the entrance the gallery displays selected works by Keith Webber Jr., with a focus on his Abstract Fractal series, the remarkable and simple absorbing, Martina Stipan, who at just 19 years of age is already renowned for her digital landscapes, Natalie Shau,and  the remarkable Ben Heine with a trio of his remarkable digital portraits. To the rear of the gallery is art from famous music albums and series of panels by Zoran Cvetkovic and Zdravko Girov, tracing the history of Skopje from earliest times to the 20th century.

Digital Arts Gallery is beautifully minimalist in approach, offering the perfect environment in which to showcase the work of these artists. The lighting is almost perfect, thanks to the considered use of emitters (“almost” because Ben Heine’s Marilyn Monroe was unlit at the time of my visit). Even the looped music track feels appropriate to the gallery (although I’m admittedly biased towards music with a new age Celtic leaning, particularly when a Bear McCreary like hint weaves through a part of the music, as it does here).

Digital Arts Gallery: Grégoire A. Meyer

This is an exhibition which can be visited and appreciated with or without a VR headset. When visiting in Desktop mode, I would suggest moving to first-person mode (F3) and touring the gallery to more fully appreciate the art. If you’re adept with Sansar’s (still basic) camera controls, then F4 and flycamming offers another good way to appreciate the art here (in fact, I admit to spending a lot more time flycamming in Sansar than walking or running at the moment!).

Mad Max is open to feedback on the gallery, and to suggestions for future artists he might exhibit there. I have a couple of names I’ll endeavour to get to him for consideration. Should you visit and think of an artist you’d like to offer to Max, contact details are on the rear wall of the gallery.

Digital Arts Gallery: Martina Stipan

Experience URL

SL project updates 39/1: server, viewer

The Mill; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrThe Millblog post

Server Deployments for Week #39

As always, please refer to the server release thread for updates and the latest news.

  • On Tuesday, September 26th the Main (SLS) received the server maintenance package previously deployed to the BlueSteel and LeTigre channels. 17#17.09.14.508549 comprises improvements to address some problems that could degrade simulator performance in rare cases.
  • On Wednesday, September 27th, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
  • BlueSteel and leTigre were still “TBD” at the time of writing.
  • Magnum should receive a new server maintenance package, 17#17.09.22.508905, containing improvements to e-mail verification logic (IM to e-mail) which sees the system checking whether the receiving e-mail address is verified or not. Sending to unverified addresses is not blocked – as yet.

In light of the Magnum change, those who have not verified their e-mail address, should seriously consider doing so.

SL Viewer

The Wolfpack and Maintenance RC viewers were updated on Friday, September 22nd; however the updates were pulled to allow time for Microsoft to assist with resolving an issue with Windows SmartScreen flagging new releases of the SL viewer as possibly “unsafe”. This matter (due to the expiry of a code-signing key) was resolved over the weekend, and the two updated RCs  were once again made available through the Alternate Viewers wiki page on Monday, September 26th.

This leaves the current viewer release pipeline as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.0.7.328060, dated August 9, promoted August 23 – formerly the Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC viewer, version  5.0.8.329115, dated September 22.
    • Wolfpack RC viewer,version  5.0.8.329128, dated September 22 – this viewer is functionally identical to the release viewer, but includes additional back-end logging “to help catch some squirrelly issues”
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.508209, dated September 5
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, dated September 1
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7. This viewer will remain available for as long as reasonable, but will not be updated with new features or bug fixes.