Aech’s Basement: a new Sansar RPO experience

Aech's Basement, Sansar; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Basement – click on any image for full size

Thursday, March 29th marked the US opening of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, the film based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name. Few can fail to have heard of either film or book – which features a VR “metaverse” made up of thousands of worlds, called OASIS. To mark the opening of the film, but with much less fanfare, Sansar Studios, the 3D / VR modelling and experience design team at Linden Lab, recently opened Aech’s Garage in Sansar.

Described as being “interpreted from the original ILM design for Ready Player One, from Warner Bros. Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Village Roadshow Pictures.” Aech’s Basement is the second Ready Player One experience to be presented by Sansar Studios, the first being Aech’s Garage (read here for more).

Aech's Basement, Sansar; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Basement

I can’t speak for the movie as I’ve not seen it yet, but in terms of the book, and with one or two liberties taken to ease avatar movement, the experience hits pretty close to home. And like Aech’s Garage before it, there is a wealth of detail and subtle touches packed into it which are – for those with a keen eye and love of sci-fi and films or the 1980s – a treat to find.

Aech had named his chat room the Basement. He’d programmed it to look like a large suburban rec room, circa the late 1980s. Old movie and comic book poster covered the wood-panelled walls. A vintage RCA television stood in the centre of the room. hooked up to a Betamax VCR, a LaserDisc player and several vintage video game consoles. Bookshelves lined the far wall, filled with role-playing game supplements and back issues of Dragon magazine.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One, Chapter 3

Aech's Basement, Sansar; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Basement

Unlike the book, where avatars visiting Aech spawn at the top of the stairs leading down to the Basement, visitors to Aech’s Basement in Sansar spawn in the basement itself.  Walls panelled in wood, as per the book, it is literally chock-a-bloc with 80’s references. The RCA TV is there, although it has been moved against a wall, rather than occupying the centre of the room, its place taken instead by a sofa. However, the consoles are there on the floor in front of it – two Segas and what looks like (from a very quick Internet search, I confess to being no expert), a Mattel Intellivision. The 80’s posters are on the wall celebrating films of the era, and albums by popular 80’s musical artists are scattered around.

A little liberty has been taken with the video tapes, as they are VHS rather than Betamax, while against a wall near the spawn point sit racks of audio cassettes. The rest of the space – in suitably 80’s style lighting – is furnished as one would expect a den to be – large, plump sofas, armchairs past their prime, a games table and – against one wall, a bar.

Aech's Basement, Sansar; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Basement

The Easter eggs are to be found all over – from the posters , albums and VHS films, through to models from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Battlestar Galactica, to space invaders climbing down a ceiling support – and more (I’m just not going to spoil the fun of finding them for yourself). I particularly like the election poster for Wil Wheaton (he of Star Trek the Next Generation fame, as well as a respected blogger, narrator of the Ready Player One audiobook and – in the novel – the vice-president of the OASIS User Council).

Connected to Aech’s Garage by a door at one end of the room, the Basement is a lot smaller than that experience, and can great a little crowded with more than half-a-dozen avatars in it; however, it is as visually rich. Sansar’s quirky interactive capabilities do mean things can get thrown around, but hopefully, this will improve as those interactive capabilities are refined.

Aech's Basement, Sansar; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Basement

Sponsored by Intel, and licensed by Warner Brothers Entertainment, Aech’s Basement and Aech’s Garage make for an ideal joint visit to the world of Ready Player One, whether or not you’ve seen the film and – in the case of the Basement – especially if you’ve read the book.

Experience SLurl

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2018 SL project updates 13/4: TPVD meeting

Cuivieenen; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrCuivieenenblog post

The majority of these notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, March 30th 2018. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. Time stamps in the text below will open the video in a new tab at the relevant point of discussion.

The meeting was reduced to under 15 minutes,with minor topics of discussion taking up the latter half. Please refer to the video for these.

Server Deployment Update

  • The Main (SLS) channel was updated on Tuesday, March 27th, to server release 18#18.03.14.513292, containing the new off-line IM and Abuse Report capabilities (see below).
  • The Magnum and LeTigre RC channels were updated on Wednesday, March 28th with server maintenance package 18#18.03.27.513831, containing internal fixes and the new off-line IM and Abuse Report capabilities (see below).
  • The BlueSteel RC was updated on Thursday, March 29th with server maintenance package 18#18.03.27.513838, comprising internal fixes.

SL Viewers

Viewer Pipeline

Note: At the time of the meeting, the viewer had just been approved for issue, but it wasn’t clear if it would be released before or after the Easter weekend. However, it was in fact issued after the meeting – see below.

[00:24-3:02] At the time of the meeting, the viewer pipelines were as follows:

  • Current Release version 5.1.2.512803, dated February 23, promoted March 1 – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC – No change
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Off-Line and Abuse Reports Capabilities

[0:44-1:36] Two new capabilities are now grid-wide:

  • The new IM cap is to overcome of off-line IMs failing to be delivered when a user logs in. Currently, these are delivered via UDP, whether or not the viewer is ready to receive them. With the new capability (once grid-wide and implemented within the viewer), the viewer will request off-line IMs, which the server will package and deliver to the viewer via HTTP.
  • The new abuse report cap will replace the need for the viewer to have AR categories hard-coded into it. Once fully deployed, and a viewer update released, it will mean the view will request the current list of AR categories from the server when starting up, making the management of the list easier, and hopefully reducing the number of ARs filed under outdated categories.

However, both require further revision, and they require viewer-side updates as well. These should be appearing in the next Maintenance RC viewer issued by the Lab.

Bakes on Mesh Project Viewer

The Bakes on Mesh project viewer, version 5.1.3.513936, was released on Friday, March 30th after the TPV Developer meeting had concluded.

From the release notes (link above):

Bakes on Mesh is a new feature to allow system avatar baked textures to be shown on mesh attachments. Currently you will need a special project viewer to use it. Bakes on Mesh does not depend on simulator code, so it should work in all regions and all grids.

Basic features

  • Any face of a mesh object can be textured using one of the server baked textures.
  • The corresponding region of the system avatar is hidden if an attached mesh is using a baked texture.

Benefits

  • Avoid the need for appliers -> easier customization workflow
  • Avoid the need for onion avatars -> fewer meshes, fewer textures at display time
  • Avoid the need to sell full-perm meshes. You can customize any mesh you have modify permissions for simply by setting the flags and equipping the appropriate wearables.

Avatar wearables are baked into six different textures (BAKE_HEAD, BAKE_UPPER, BAKE_LOWER, BAKE_EYES, BAKE_SKIRT, BAKE_HAIR) by the baking service. You can now apply these textures to your avatar’s object attachments’ diffuse texture slot. Right click on the attachment, click edit and from the edit face menu select textures. Click the diffuse texture icon to open up the texture picker. The texture picker has an extra radio button mode called ‘bake’ for selecting server bakes. The ‘bake’ radio button mode has a drop-down for selecting BAKE_HEAD, BAKE_UPPER, BAKE_LOWER, BAKE_EYES, BAKE_SKIRT, BAKE_HAIR server bake textures. When an attachment is using a baked texture, the corresponding base mesh region of the system avatar is hidden.

If a mesh face is set to show a baked texture but is not attached to an avatar, you will see a default baked texture. If you are using an older viewer without bakes on mesh support, then faces set to show baked textures will also display as the default baked texture, and base mesh regions will not be hidden.

Known Issues

Detaching a mesh object that’s using BAKED_HAIR, does not make the base hair region visible. You have to log back in or teleport again. This will be fixed in next release.

A filter for Bakes on Mesh JIRAs has been created by Whirly Fizzle.

 

This Weekend in Second Life Dance

Guerilla Burlesque - Cirque de Nuit - March 28 2018

Hi there. R. Crap Mariner, not just anybody’s Dance Corresponent… your Dance Correspondent. (Marvel insists on my not saying “friendly, neighbourhood” because some kid who throws globs of sticky gunk at criminals has it trademarked.)

Idle Rogue’s Cirque de Nuit opens this weekend. I hope you’ve got your seats booked.

I’ll be posting dance performance schedules, similar to Inara’s posts about Seanchai Library readings. We’ll start with the weekend events for now.

Let’s get started, here’s the events that I had on the calendar as of press time…


(All times SLT)

Friday, March 30 2018

6:00PM Elysium Cabaret

Elysium Cabaret – Welcome to the Weekend!

If it’s Friday, it’s Elysium Cabaret! Fancy some imagination? In The Empire Room at Copperhead Road, every Friday at 6pm SLT the dynamic performers of Elysium Cabaret take the stage to bring you a solid hour of entertainment! Featuring elaborate sets and choreography sequenced to an eclectic genre of music, Elysium Cabaret offers something for everyone. Grab your friends and get their early because the sim fills. Come celebrate Friday! Welcome to the weekend!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Copperhead%20Road/74/64/2754

Elysium Cabaret - March 23 2018

7:00PM Idle Rogue’s Cirque De Nuit

Directed by Blaze DeVivre, with the assistance of Sho Kyong, and produced by chryblnd Scribe, this year’s production will feature new acts, new dancers, new art installations and perhaps a little something we haven’t done before.

Billed as “a steampunk circus in black and white”, Le Cirque de Nuit pays loose homage to The Night Circus, a novel by Erin Morgenstern, which tells the tale of an enchanted circus travelling the globe during the Victorian era. Our production features dance acts with themes of circus, illusion and steampunk, and the strictly black-and-white acts are interspersed by colourful art installations from Second Life artists and musicians.

Oh, and there’s a blog post.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Idle%20Rogue/63/242/3980

Saturday, March 31 2018

1:00PM Elysium Matinee

Elysium Cabaret is thrilled to present a matinée show for your entertainment pleasure, starting at 1pm! Featuring the very “Best Of” the past month’s shows plus special guests! We look forward to sharing our love of music and dance with you!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Copperhead%20Road/74/64/2754

3:00PM Idle Rogue’s Cirque De Nuit

Directed by Blaze DeVivre, with the assistance of Sho Kyong, and produced by chryblnd Scribe, this year’s production will feature new acts, new dancers, new art installations and perhaps a little something we haven’t done before. I’m just throwing this sentence in to see if you’re actually reading, okay?

Billed as “a steampunk circus in black and white”, Le Cirque de Nuit pays loose homage to The Night Circus, a novel by Erin Morgenstern, which tells the tale of an enchanted circus travelling the globe during the Victorian era. Our production features dance acts with themes of circus, illusion and steampunk, and the strictly black-and-white acts are interspersed by colourful art installations from Second Life artists and musicians.

Have you read the blog post?

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Idle%20Rogue/63/242/3980

6:00PM Whymsee Noir

For the Let’s Dance show, we trade in our sets for MORE dancing and LESS wait time between songs! There will be lots of wiggling, dancing, physics, and a little dazzle thrown in for good measure! Dance along with us or have a seat in our comfy chairs, we like it when you watch! No naked avatars, just dancing. Come to the show and see what all the fuss is about!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Whymsee/96/192/3286

7:00PM Moulin Rouge

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Moulin%20Rouge/172/131/31

7:00PM Idle Rogue’s Cirque De Nuit

Directed by Blaze DeVivre, with the assistance of Sho Kyong, and produced by chryblnd Scribe, this year’s production will feature new acts, new dancers, new art installations and perhaps a little something we haven’t done before.

Billed as “a steampunk circus in black and white”, Le Cirque de Nuit pays loose homage to The Night Circus, a novel by Erin Morgenstern, which tells the tale of an enchanted circus travelling the globe during the Victorian era. Our production features dance acts with themes of circus, illusion and steampunk, and the strictly black-and-white acts are interspersed by colourful art installations from Second Life artists and musicians.

Please, for the love of God, read the blog post.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Idle%20Rogue/63/242/3980

Sunday, April 1 2018

Nope. Nothing at all. Go up to your skybox and clean your inventory… okay, lamest April Fools joke ever.

5:00PM – Winds Of The Sahara

Each Sunday we have a shiny, new show at Winds of the Sahara Theatre. Our dances range from burlesque to performance art and you are sure to be amazed at all of the wonder that sets, costumes and music can create. We’ll put sparkles in your eyes and leave sequins on your shirt collars.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Aladona/124/193/2001

7:00PM Idle Rogue’s Cirque De Nuit

Okay, fine. You don’t love me enough to read the blog post. I get it. I’m okay with it. I’ll find some way to survive.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Idle%20Rogue/63/242/3980

7:00PM The Art Factory

The Art Factory presents: The Greatest Showman! A show about Phineas T Barnum’s start with the circus we know today! This show will leave you inspired to be yourself! We promise to leave you stunned with razzle dazzle and songs that will make you dance in your seat! The show starts at 7pm slt but you may want to come a little early for a seat.

(Short shameful confession: At first, I thought it said “The Greatest Snowman.” I need new glasses.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Josina/188/161/22

The Art Factory - March 21 2018


I assume there will be a few more shows this week… folks are just taking their time getting the notices in, finishing up their routines… that sort of thing. I’d prefer to error on the side of caution and just post the ones confirmed at press time.

Check with the Dance Queens event calendar for updates and additions to the weekend’s schedule, as well as the many events that happen during the week. And then, next weekend… something extra-special is happening: The Festival of Saint Put Up Or Shut Up!

So, folks, is this useful? Let me know. Drop me an IM when you get to a show and that you enjoyed it.

Guerilla Burlesque - Cirque de Nuit - March 28 2018

The Ruins of Deepmarsh in Second Life

Ruins of Deepmarsh; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrRuins of Deepmarsh – click any image for full size

The Ruins of Deepmarsh is a Homestead region designed by River (Moya McCallen) as “a tranquil haven for those looking for an out-of-the-way place to hide for a while, especially with someone special. ”  It’s an open, rather eclectic region in looks, mixing the outdoors with art, places to relax and little curios to discover.

A visit begins at the landing point, a little isle in the midst of a group of islands. A telephone kiosk stands on this little piece of land, watched over by a greyhound and bunny. It forms a teleport system – but only for those who are part of a private group based on the region; for casual visitors, it is the surrounding islands that are open to the public.

Ruins of Deepmarsh; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrRuins of Deepmarsh

These are linked together, for the most part, by a network of bridges which offer a way – at least in part – to explore the landscape. Three radiate out from the landing point itself, and which you take is entirely up to you. To the north sits one of the larger islands. Broad and flat, it is home to a wooden deck built around an oak tree. More bridges link this island with its smaller siblings sitting on the north side of the region, while an old ruins sits atop an off-sim island, watching over all of them.

Curling around to the west, and then running south, the large island breaks into a series of headlands or is inset with little coves, each with its own feature waiting to be discovered. All of them are dominated by the bulk of a large Moon literally rising from the sea; on the headland before it a window frame floats serenely above the ground at the end of bridge (careful when crossing the latter!), offering a pose point from which to take pictures (at midnight, perhaps?) with the moon as a backdrop.

Ruins of Deepmarsh; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrRuins of Deepmarsh

South of the Moon and the old watchtower facing it, the weather becomes wetter. Thunder grumbles and lightning flashes, while an old rowing boat is suspended from telegraph poles rising from the turbulent waters, offering another place to sit, cuddle and / or take photos.

To the east, the weather is fairer, while the islands offer more places for sitting and cuddling, be they on a beach, inside an old cabin build up against a grassy dune, within a cavern reached by yet another bridge, or simply atop a dune. Several are watched over by sculptures by Mistero Hifeng. Elsewhere there are swings and benches upturned boats wedged in place and with cushions and blankets beneath, while gulls pass overhead, critters run through the grass and herons stand like butlers awaiting a summons.

Ruins of Deepmarsh; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrRuins of Deepmarsh

The majority of the landscape is open to the sky, the trees few and scattered, some with backs bent from long years in the wind. However, one of the islands is crowned by a copse of oak tree through which a sandy path leads to another piece of art, a secluded swing next to it.

The eclectic nature of the region comes from things like the telegraph poles and their suspended rowing boat seat, a bridge held above the water by a trio of hot air balloons, the biplane alongside the deck near the landing point, the single island with its touches of Buddhist mysticism – even the landing point’s telephone booth. These also at first seem a little out-of-place among this nesting of islands – but so to do they feel a part of it, adding to the personality of the region.

Ruins of Deepmarsh; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrRuins of Deepmarsh

The Ruins of Deepmarsh – as the description suggests – offers an excellent getaway for those looking for somewhere quiet in which to relax or to hide for a while. Photography is welcome, and the region has a Flickr group for those wishing to submit their images. Should you enjoy your visit, as we did, please consider making a donation towards the region’s upkeep at the landing point.

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2018 SL project updates 13/3: CCUG summary w/audio

A rally of (Animesh) raptors on Aditi

The following notes are primarily taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on  Thursday, March 29th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT. For the purposes of Animesh testing, the meetings have relocated to the Animesh4 region on Aditi, the beta grid – look for the seating area towards the middle of the region. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

There is no video to accompany this update, notes are taken from my own audio recording of the meeting.

Animesh Project

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.

Current Progress

Vir now has a proposed revised land impact / tri count formula and test plan for Animesh. This will be going to QA, and if all goes well, the new formulas will be deployed on the Aditi Animesh test regions ready for public testing. No end-date for public testing on Aditi has been defined – the Lab want to ensure as many as are interested have to opportunity to test the new formula. Animesh attachment will remain limited to one per avatar, at least for the time being.

It is likely that server-side support for Animesh will reach the Main grid ahead of the project viewer reaching release candidate status – although this still won’t be for a while.

LODs and Streaming Costs

How Animesh Level of Detail (LOD) is handled is still being tweaked. Currently, Animesh objects sit between in-world objects and avatars in terms of the way their LODs are handled / swapped. The Lab is looking to adjust this, so that Animesh LODs are more consistently handled as they would be for in-world objects.

The broad plan is – for Animesh only – that the lower LODs will not affect streaming costs so long as they are not disproportionately large. Providing they get smaller by at least a factor of approximately 2 as they go down to the courser LODS, they will not impact streaming costs.

Note this work is not part of Project Arctan, which may lead to further changes in costs associated with objects at some point in the future – see below for more.

Project ARCTan

This is the code-name for the project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs (e.g. Land Impact and avatar ARC), led by Graham Linden as a part of the overall rendering system work. The aim of is to have the costs assigned to objects and avatar more accurately reflect the impact they have on people’s viewer performance.

The hope is that overall, by making a careful set of adjustments, not only can client-side performance be improved, but creators can be given positive incentives to build more performant content (a problem currently being that providing good LOD models – high, medium, low and very low – for mesh content can actually penalise a creator in terms of upload costs / Land Impact, encouraging them to skip doing so).

This project is still in the early stages, and the Lab is fully aware of the risks and concerns involved in potentially making changes to things like Land Impact (e.g. undesired object returns), and so are approaching the work cautiously. Right now, data is being gathered and internal comparative testing is being tried. There are no plans to make any kind of changes in the immediate future. When changes do start to be made, they will be done so carefully to avoid disruption, and users will be appraised of what is happening and when.

Bakes on Mesh

Project Summary

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing baking service.

It is important to note that this project is still in its preliminary stages. Any release of a project viewer doesn’t mark the end of the project, but rather the start of initial testing and an opportunity for creators to have input into the project.

Current Progress

The project viewer is still with QA with a couple of outstanding JIRAs awaiting resolution. The hope is that it will be making a public appearance soon.

When issued, this viewer should work anywhere, as it doesn’t require simulator changes. However, only those using the project viewer will see things as intended. Anyone on a viewer without the Bakes on Mesh updates will see placeholder textures, rather than the intended baked textures, on avatars trying the Bakes on Mesh capability.

Bakes on Mesh will essentially use the three avatar elements used by the baking service – head, upper body, lower body, eyes, hair, skirt), and applies clothing bakes for those elements to specific mesh faces, effectively “hiding” the corresponding base mesh region. This means for example, a head bake can be applied to a mesh head, an upper body to the mesh upper body faces, etc.  It does not at this point allow for more finely tuned applications – such as an individual jacket layer, or just to the hands.

Environment Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements involving simulator and viewer changes, and includes some infrastructure updates.

Current Progress

Rider is still engaged on infrastructure work, which he hopes to complete Soon TM. Once that is done, he’ll complete the work on assets in inventory.

Custom Pivot Points

Work is being carried out to provide custom pivot points for mesh objects (see BUG-37617). This will most likely appear in a Maintenance RC viewer, once ready. The exactly implementation details weren’t clear at the meeting; it’s believed the data for the pivot point is coming from the corresponding data for the highest LOD in the uploaded .DAE file. However, the pivot point must be inside the bounding box of the object, and remains the centre of the object. Steps will also be taken to prevent pivot points placed outside of the bounding box simply causing the bounding box to increase in size (as did happen in a mesh uploader error), as this tends to both increase the objects LI by a factor of at least 2, and break the associated LODs.

Other Items

Texture Caching

Work continues on trying to improve texture caching in the viewer – which has already been an educational process for the Lab. There is nothing on the horizon yet in terms of updates for the viewer, as the work is not seen as a high priority when compared to other projects. However, there is a belief that there is room for “dramatic improvement” in the way textures are managed.

Permissions System

The question was asked if there are any plans to re-work the Second Life permissions system to be more supply chain driven, as is planned for Sansar. Short answer: there are no current plans to overhaul the permissions system simply because it is so complex. Currently the only thing being considered with permissions is extending them to allow scripted permission changes (formerly known as mod keys), which are seen as important for enhancing Animesh capabilities. However, here are current no time frame in when / if these will be implemented.

Firestorm RenderVolumeLODFactor Setting / Object LOD Confusion

Some appear confused by the recent RenderVolumeLODFactor behaviour change (see here) and what it is doing, believing it is part of a change to object LODs in Second Life.

Essentially, the Firestorm update is purely a viewer-side change only, intended to encourage users not to use over-the-top settings in their viewer which can affect performance, because changes to this value are globally applied, affecting all objects within the viewer’s field of view, not just a specific wearable or object.

However, this change does not mark any kind of change to the object’s LOD data held on the servers (the content isn’t being “changed” in any way on the back-end); it purely alters the way content is rendered by the viewer in terms of which LOD model of the object it uses.

Date of Next Meeting

There will be a CCUG meeting on Thursday, April 5th, as the normal LL internal meeting has been postponed a week.

Another trip on Route 66 in Second Life

Motorheadz Café / Route6; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrMotorheadz Café / Route66 – click any image for full size

Route 66 has been a popular subject for region designs in Second Life over the years, and one of the more recent is called Motorheadz Café / Route66, which Shakespeare alerted me to recently. Designed by ROCKET (Rocket Biedermann), this Homestead region immediately put me in mind of  Mother Road, which Caitlyn and I visited in September 2017 (see here for more). Such is the similarity between the two, one might easily be the neighbour to the other.

Bracketed to the east and west by mountains, the region is dissected by the titular road, alongside of which sits the landing point. Take care on arriving – it’s easy to step out on the road, and as you’ll find out, this actually has traffic passing along it periodically – cars, pick-up trucks, police cars – even trucks towing semi-trailers.

Motorheadz Café / Route6; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrMotorheadz Café / Route66 – click any image for full size

The road is straddled by a small township that seems to have grown up here as a result of pharmaceutical plant that apparently started operations in 1886. The security guard at the gate suggests it is still in use, but perhaps it is now more of a storage facility than anything (and part of it is off-limits to visitors).

This might explain why the rest of the town is looking somewhat run-down; without a place of work, many of the local inhabitants may well have moved on to pastures new; what’s left is a handful of roadside business – an auto shop, the titular Motorheadz Café, a couple of stores, a doughnut shop offering competition to the café, and a run-down motel which hardly lives up to its name: Miami.

Motorheadz Café / Route6; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrMotorheadz Café / Route66 – click any image for full size

Behind these, again on either side of the road, lay a scattering of houses and shacks. all of them looking more than a little run-down – but going on the cars parked outside of them, several are still considered home by the locals.

What makes this region a little different is the work that’s been put into making it appear to be “alive”. There are the aforementioned vehicles zapping along the main road, while scattered around the region are posed dummies. There’s nothing new in this – such characters often turn up in many regions; but rather than having such dummies individually placed – at market stalls, behind counters, etc., Rocket has brought them together in series of vignettes.

Motorheadz Café / Route6; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrMotorheadz Café / Route66 – click any image for full size

There’s the couple outside of the auto shop, for example, apparently waiting for the car to be fixed; while outside the motel, certain negotiations appear to be under way. Further afield, the local motorbike gang are gathering at their club-house, and so on – but check inside the café for the best example of bringing these characters together to form a little story. Cats are also much in evidence, doing the things cats do – including perching themselves in locations that are unexpected – but typically cat-like.

Motorheadz Café / Route66 may not appeal to everyone, but I admit to finding it with its own charm. With rezzing open (5-minute auto-return), it makes an ideal environment for photographers looking for a more unusual backdrop, particularly if “extras” are needed. There’s also opportunities for photos in other parts of the region: alongside the train tracks, out in the fields, etc.

Motorheadz Café / Route6; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrMotorheadz Café / Route66 – click any image for full size

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