SL15B: Cities, bears, corn, space probes and role-play

The main festivities for the SL15B anniversary celebration are now over; the parties have all happened, the DJ and live performers have left the stages – but the regions remain open to visitors through until July 1st, 2018.

This being the case, and with the numbers packing some of the regions likely to decrease, now is an excellent opportunity to visit some of the resident built exhibits within the anniversary regions, so I thought I’d offer a short series of looks over the next few days at some of the ones that caught my eye.

Celebrating SL’s 15th and Bay City’s 10th

2018 is not only the year in which to celebrate Second Life’s 15th anniversary but also the 10th anniversary of one of the Mainland’s most established and vibrant communities: Bay City.

SL15B: Bay City – see some of the attractions within Bay City – and then pay them a visit!

Developed by Linden Lab and opened for residents in early 2008, Bay City offers an urban-style environment on the continent of Sansara. It is intended to reflect “the American urban experience, between 1940 and 1965, perhaps best typified by Chicago circa 1950 and marked by a distinct deco influence.” Today it is home to the The Bay City Alliance, a resident community founded by those moving into Bay City in 2008, and who promote the Bay City regions, and hold regular events there as well as helping newcomers (to both Second Life and to Bay City) who come to the regions.

Over the years, Bay City has become home to a number of famous landmarks – the Hotel Falmouth, the Channel Island Mental Hospital, Hairy Hippo Fun Land, Bay City Municipal Airport and the Bay City Fairgrounds,to name but a handful within the 40 or so regions of Bay City.

Visitors to the Bay City exhibition at SL15B can discover more about some of these landmarks in Bay City, as well as something of its history. Designed with an eye to detail and presented in the style of a tourist information centre, the exhibit is another fine example of the architecture to be found within Bay City as well as being (for me) exemplifying what makes an engaging SL15B build: it is not pretentious or overstated, it avoids the temptation to try to dwarf surrounding spaces, it avoids lots of glow and / or unsightly textures plastered all around it and it is informative, rather than looking like an advertising hoarding. You might argue that such a build risks being overlooked – I’d disagree, being personally drawn to the more understated and interesting designs.

SL15B: Bay City – if you’ve ever wondered what the main grid would like like if presented as a globe – make sure you drop in here!

Corn and Bears

The Cornfield is a place of myth and legend; a place where misbehaving avatars were once sent, back in the early days of Second Life. Sitting under a starry sky, it was inspired by the 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled It’s A  Good Life. Avatars deposited in the cornfield were cut off from communication with the rest of the grid, and had only one another and several televisions and tractors for company.

The original Cornfield still exists – to the north and west of Shermerville, but access is restricted. However, there are various duplicates which can appear in-world and are open to the public.

SL15B: The Cornfield – the old “sin bin” of Second Life

One such duplicate has been used in an experience led game. Another  Another is located at the southern end of the SL15B regions. the latter Cornfield offers people a chance to experience (albeit with modern conveniences such as windlight and media on a prim) the life of a citizen confined to the sin bin. It’s also a region where the Lab’s more recent experience-based game, Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches can be played, for those who have a game HUD.

Alongside the Cornfield, and making a popular return to Second Life, is Bear Island.

It was Nicole Linden who started the Linden Bear tradition – having Lab staffers make an in-world bear which residents can request (or sometimes obtain by completing a challenge or receive as a gift). It’s a tradition that continues through to today. The Lab still runs courses for staff on bear making, and many of the available bears are based on Nicole’s original – although some Lindens don’t necessarily make a bear, preferring to have other animals such as a frog or something. Not all of the Linden Bears represent individual Linden staffers – there have been bears to celebrate Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween Bear, and so on – some of which may still pop-up in-world at the appropriate time.

SL15B: Bear Island – How many Linden Bears have you collected over the years?

Bear Island is a celebration of this tradition, offering visitors to see many of the bears made by Lindens past and present – and also recapture snippets of SL history (such as the arrival of Viewer 2.0). I confess that I’m not that much of a bear collector, but Bear Island is an interesting place to visit to experience one of the more eclectic aspects of Second Life culture and history.

The Parker Solar Probe

While we’ve not formally met, Diamond Merchant and I share an interest in space exploration and space science. She has in the past presented SLB events with models of famous space probes (such as Cassini, the probe from the mission of the same name which spent 13 of its nineteen-year mission exploring Saturn and its moons).

SL15B: The Parker Solar Probe

For SL15B, and on behalf of the Leeward Cruising Club, she presents the Parker Solar Probe mission, and overview of the upcoming NASA mission to the Sun scheduled for launch at the end of July / start of August 2018. Named for physicist Eugene Parker, the mission is billed as the first to “touch” the Sun, as it will come to within 8.86 solar radii (6.2 million km or 3.85 million mi) of the Sun’s photosphere (or “surface”).

I’ll be covering the mission in a Space Sunday report in July and ahead of the launch. For SL15B, Diamond presents another of her beautifully detailed prim models, positioned over the disc of the Sun, with boards around the outside of the exhibition space providing details on the mission, etc. Those wishing to experience the view from the probe and sit n one of several blue spheres placed at ground level around the exhibit. Make sure you have the audio stream on as well to help you drift away in space.

XeoRealms

There are numerous role-play, role-play related and fantasy exhibits across SL15B, but I was drawn to Xelm Snowpaw’s ** The XeoRealms ** 15 Years of Second Life For Everyone because of its charm and narrative.

It’s another build that eschews fancy glow, towers and other assorted brashness and instead presents a path winding through a corner of story land, which visitors are invited to follow. Along the way are information boards containing assorted information – including one or two surprising tidbits of information (how about SL being the home of over 300,000 hours of music and entertainment?).

SL15B: ** The XeoRealms ** 15 Years of Second Life For Everyone.

Beautifully executed and with a fair amount to see and enjoy, The XeoRealms makes for a worthwhile stopping point in your explorations at SL15B.

SLurl Details

(All destinations rated General)

 

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A vision for the mind’s eye in Second Life

Aphantasia; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrAphantasia – click any image for full size

Update, August 27th: Aphantasia appears to have closed. SLurls have therefore been removed.

The rolling echo of distant thunder reverberates between high peaks, a bass backdrop to the much closer dusk-time voices of nature that rise from between the tall fingers of shadowy trees clustered across the tops of a little archipelago of grassy islands. The waters from which these rise are turned brown under a sky heavy with an evening haze through which a lowering Sun tries to reach and which those thunder reflecting peaks into shadowy guardians surrounding this little grouping of islands.

Such is the aural greeting awaiting visitors to Aphantasia, a wonderfully atmospheric Homestead region designed by Benny Green. The region’s name is taken from that suggested for a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye, and so cannot voluntarily visualise imagery – the face of a loved one, a favourite place, a shop down the road, and so on.

Aphantasia; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrAphantasia

It’s an interesting choice for a place that is, in two words, visually stunning – although perhaps to be fully appreciated during an initial visit, it requires a slight tweak to you viewer’s windlight so the beauty of the region can be seen under daylight. The landing point, rich in those night-time sounds (themselves joined by the soft clucking of a chicken or two perhaps nervous at the approach of darkness), sits upon one of four islands in the region, a home for a circular cottage and a well. It is anchored to the largest of the islands by a rope  bridge, one of two ways to explore the location (the other being the teleport trapdoors to be found at several locations in the region).

Across the bridge, the large island offers a richly wooded setting, paths winding under tall conifers and smaller trees, directing people with to two further bridges or to the ruins of an old house where a bathtub sits among tube plants, toadstools and flowers, watched over by a snake coiled lazily around an old tree branch.

Aphantasia; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrAphantasia

Travel through the conifer-crowned and rugged south-western finger of this island, and you can make your way to the haven of a houseboat moored in the lee of a high cliff. Here can be found signs of occupancy  – possibly by an artist / musician, going by the paraphernalia on the rear deck.

Of the two bridges mentioned above, one offers the way to an island devoid of human clutter, but offering a grass pate on which to wander, watched over by the imposing bulk of a great oak tree. The second bridge provides the way to reach a round plug of rock rising from the water and just about big enough to accept the cosy stone folly sitting on its head. But this isn’t the fourth island in the group.

Aphantasia; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrAphantasia

Set well aside from the others, the fourth island in the group lies to the north-west. No bridge connects it to the others, so reaching it requires the use of one of the teleport trapdoors at the landing point, the folly or the houseboat. It is home to a grand conservatory with some interesting furnishings within (mind you don’t find the wheelchair too head-turning an experience!).

Atmospheric and enchanting, Aphastasia is richly detailed, visually and aurally. There are numerous places to sit and relax or cuddle throughout the sitting. Do note the region’s description does state some mild adult activities might take place – although none were witnessed on our visits. There are also a couple of points on the largest island where some of the trees need converted to phantom as they can unexpectedly bump people sideways when encountered – although keeping to the tracks seems to avoid collisions.

Aphantasia; Inara Pey, June 2018, on FlickrAphantasia

For those who take photos of the region, there is a Flickr group where they can be shared (and which interestingly show a hall / cavern of some description being present quite recently, although we found no sign of it on the ground, under the ground or in the air). Also, if you appreciate the region as much as we did, please consider making a donation towards its upkeep at the landing point.

SLurl Details

  • Aphantasia (Serena Nova Zembla, rated: Adult)

With thanks to Shakespeare and Maxie for the pointer.