Of time in Lutz City, Second Life

Lutz City; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLutz City – click any image for full size

Update: it appears the landing point had been temporarily reset to deliver people to the events venue mentioned into this article for a live event. The default landing point is in fact the railway station on the south side of the city.

Lutz City, which opened its doors on November 16th, 2018, is the latest is a series of region designs by Luis Lockjaw, another of Second Life’s superb creators of regions and setting that capture the imagination and sit within the mind’s eye long after a visit. In in, he continues his tradition of presenting captivating settings under his Templemore banner.

I first encountered Luis’ work through Hesperia of Templemore, although sadly, I never got to blog about it – although I did get as far as writing about its sister region the Isle of Mousai, also by Luis, and made sure I did not miss out on his Elysium City of Templemore (which you can read about here). Lutz City very much carries on many of the traditions seen within these previous builds, as Luis notes in his own description of the region:

As a celebration of art, Lutz City continues the Templemore tradition of offering the greatest musical experiences. The live music venue features a grand stage where musicians become part of a living painting that reaches out to your very soul. Lutz City of Templemore isn’t just a sim, it’s home for your creative spirit.

Lutz City; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLutz City

And it is with the musical element in mind that visitors arriving in the city find themselves in one of the major venues for the city, the Lutz Theatre, standing block-like on its own island on the west side of this magnificent Full region design. Just how magnificent a build it is only requires stepping out through the foyer of the theatre to the cobbled road outside.

This is a place cut neatly into blocks by waterways that flow along brick-sided channels, the water passing under the bridges that connect them and occasionally through tunnels. Aiding them in the division of the city are the roads, sometimes running parallel to the canals, at others sitting at right angles to them, extending over the stone bridges to link distracts one to the next whilst also denoting their boundaries.

Lutz City; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLutz City

There is an air about the design of Lutz City that gives it very much a feeling of being a place, part of something larger, but invisible, lying beyond the high mountain peaks that surround it. While separated from these by surrounding water, Luis has cleverly made the city feel a part of the mountains through the use of an off-sum tunnel and steel bridge that carries a railway track to the south side of the city, where a rural-looking halt waits to greet arriving trains while the tracks pass onward over a second steel bridge and vanish into yet another tunnel at the foot of the southern mountains. At the same time, the region has been cut to roughly match the three channels of open water dividing the mountains, giving the feel that the land on which the city stands has been as much formed by the action of water as the mountainside gorges.

There is also a wonderful sense of age and development imbued in Lutz City. Bracketed to the west and east by the massive forms of music venues, the central area has the feeling of evolving as a modern centre of commerce, art and music. a grand brick-built gateway facing the railway halt across the bridge lying between them. But to the north, the buildings are more mixed in age and style, some becoming more careworn and tumble-down until the paved road gives way to a rutted, dry dirt track running under trees and between purely wood-built houses, and shacks, all bar one of which have seen better days, time having moved on to the city’s newer stone and cement heart.

Lutz City; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLutz City

What I particularly like about Lutz City is the design lends itself to a sense that it has different neighbourhoods. These may be defined by the age or style of buildings within in (such as with the north side), or by the way they are divided by road and water channel. Not only does this give the design a feeling of being somewhat bigger than its 256 metres on a side, it also helps flesh out another aspect of the city Luis references in his description:

Beyond the iron wrought gates and stone sculptures that usher you past the brick archway lies Lutz City of Templemore. True to its name, you’ll find yourself immediately immersed in a whimsical world reminiscent of Peter Pan and Hogwarts. But Lutz City goes beyond that. Here your imagination can be engaged in a place and time that defies the limitations of such concepts. Every detail of Lutz City tells a story, every building creates a unique experience.

Lutz City; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLutz City

Caught in the colours of autumn and by default under a dusty evening sky, the setting also has a certain atmosphere about it for the weaving of stories. But, if I’m honest, I found it came more to life under a brighter sky – hence the pictures here – which breathed more life into the narratives the buildings suggested as I walked and cammed by them, and helped bring their voices more to the fore.

For those who enjoy photography, Lutz City has a huge amount to offer – including a Flickr group for sharing pictures with others. Those wishing to keep abreast of the music events in the region can do so by joining the in-world group – there is a joiner board within the landing point theatre, together with a tip board where appreciation can be shown for the region and assistance given towards its upkeep.

Lutz City; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrLutz City

Seeing the Templemore tradition return to Second Life is a treat; my thanks to Shakespeare for passing word to me that Luis has been building again, and thanks as well to Luis for once again sharing his vision and passion with us.

SLurl Details

  • Lutz City (Templemore City, rated: Moderate)

A touch of Frost (and more) in Second Life

The Vordun: Frost: Visions of Winter

Wintertime in the northern hemisphere is when thoughts turn to snow and holidays, and within Second Life, this is no exception. Many regions take on a winter look and feel, the ground, trees and buildings caught under white blankets or dusted with snow, even as more often falls from the sky. For many in the physical world, despite the cold, it is a time of joy and for treks through virgin drifts of snow or – in the case of the younger at heart snow fairies, snowmen and sledges and sleighs.

Celebrating this time of year is not new; people have always found enjoyment with winter and the changes it brings to the world, and right now we can witness this for ourselves at a recently opened exhibition of art at The Vordun Museum and Gallery, created and curated by Jake Vordun.

Entitled Frost: Visions of Winter, it offers selected reproductions of classical pieces of art spanning 500 years, celebrating winter in all its glory, as the introductory notes explain:

In this exhibition, you will see twenty painting, drawings, prints and manuscripts depicting different aspects of the season. Be it landscapes, winter costumes or feasts by the fire, these pieces will show you glimpses of winter from the  15th century to the 20th.

The Vordun: Frost: Visions of Winter

The Vordun has a reputation – thoroughly deserved – for bringing high-quality reproductions of physical world art, properly licensed, into Second Life. This exhibition, located in the gallery’s rearmost hall, is no exception. Including paintings and drawings by the likes of Francesc Masriera i Manovens, Jacob van Ruisdael, Sebastiaan Vrancx, Claude MonetJean-Baptiste Pater, Francis Wheatley and Hendrick Avercamp, this might at first be considered a wholly European view of winter – but not so; America is represented via James Abbott McNeill Whistler, as is China through the ink on paper Winter Forest in Flying Snow by Wen Zhengming, with Scandinavian artists also being present among the images.

I really cannot stress the quality of these pieces, which together with the environment in which they are set. As I noted when it first opened in July 2016, The Vordun beautifully recreates the experience of visiting a physical world art gallery – so much so that it one of the those select Second Life experiences that leaves me regretting we cannot have fully immersive virtual reality in Second Life. Certainly, for those building in Sansar, it is perhaps the model of how to plan and build a virtual gallery space.

The Vordun: Frost: Visions of Winter

This is not only because of the look and feel of The Vordun, but in the way Jake has developed a visit as a Second Life experience in the technical sense of the word, presenting visitors with the opportunity to view the works in the main hall exhibition of European Masters: 300 Years of Painting as immersively as possible, via scripted camera control and the use of both voice and text to impart information on each piece on display.

Sadly, this aspect of The Vordun doesn’t extend into Frost: Visions of Winter, but that is not to say the latter is lessened in any way; rather the reverse. Frost stands as a captivating exhibition in its own right, while for those who haven’t visited The Vordun before, the presentation of European Masters: 300 Years of Painting, makes a visit to the gallery doubly worthwhile – and also gives the opportunity to appreciate two other long-running exhibitions there: Pictures of the Floating World and Dutch Proverbs (both of which you can read about here), which are as equally stunning as Frost and European Masters, and sample Postcrossing, a celebration of the website of the same name and the use of postcards to bring half a million people around the world a little closer together.

The Vordun: Frost: Visions of Winter

SLurl Details

November executive town hall: summary and audio

Xiola (l) with Oz, Patch and Grumpity Linden
On Thursday, November 15th, 2018 Linden Lab hosted a further Town Hall meeting at which questions were put to three of the Lab’s senior staff: Oz Linden, Grumpity Linden and Patch Linden.

Those wishing to ask questions were asked to submit them via a Town Hall meeting forum thread (now locked from having further questions added, but remains available for viewing). The following is a summary of the answers to questions asked during the Town Hall session, audio extracts and video time stamps provided as reference. The video is embedded at the end of the article.

Table of Contents

When reading this summary, please note:

  • It is not a full transcript; rather replies to questions have been bullet-pointed for ease of reading.
  • Responses to questions have been grouped by topic, and are not necessarily in the order discussed at the meeting.
  • Some questions were very generic in form and as a result lacked any structured answer (e.g. Q: will Linden Lab be improving Groups? A: what would you like to see improved?). I have not included such questions in this summary, but have focused on those questions that yielded replies that offer insight on Second Life and Linden Lab’s thinking about the platform.
  • Audio extracts are provided. These have been cleaned-up in places to remove repetition or pauses, etc.
  • Both topic and audio extracts may concatenate comments  / responses to topics asked at different points in the meeting.

Specifically because of this last point, I’ve included time links to the points in the official video (also embedded at the end of this article) for those who wish to listen to the questions, comments and replies as they were recorded.

Also note that not all of the questions raised in the forum could be addressed at the meeting, so some may be addressed from within the forum linked to above by Linden Lab in the coming days.

Introducing Oz, Grumpity and Patch

Oz Linden

Oz is the Technical Director for Second Life, having joined in 2010 with initial responsibility managing the viewer open-source project and rebuild what had become a fractious relationship with TPVs, with his role expanding over time to encompass more and more of the engineering side of Second Life.

As work on Sansar started to progress in earnest, he pro-actively campaigned within the Lab for the role of Technical Director of SL, building a team of people around him who specifically wanted to remain solely focused on Second Life and developing it. His team works closely with the product and operations team to ensure SL constantly evolves without (as far as is possible) breaking anything – a process he refers to as rebuilding the railway from a moving train.

Grumpity Linden

Grumpity is the Director of Product for Second Life. She originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab. Grumpity was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).

She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.

Grumpity jokingly refers to herself, Patch and Oz as the troika, responsible for the development and direction of all aspects of Second Life.

Patch Linden

Patch is the Senior Director of Product Operations at Linden Lab. Originally a Second Life resident, he joined linden Lab in 2007, after being invited to apply to the company as a result of his work as a community leader and mentor from 2004 through until the invitation was extended.

His role is the only one of the three here that also encompasses Sansar, as he manages the respective support teams for both platforms. In this regard, he recently established a support centre in Atlanta, Georgia. For Second Life, his work also involves overseeing the content development teams, the Mainland Land Team, the Linden Department of Public Works – LDPW, aka The Moles, and managing the account support team.

The view from the stage as the audience arrives

Opening Comments: The Fifteen Reasons To Celebrate Blog Post

Elements Already Delivered

Grumpity Linden started with a review of what has been delivered:

  • Mainland costs: as has been stated at previous Town Hall and Meet the Linden events in 2018, Mainland tiers costs were revised in March 2018, together with a doubling of “free” tier size.
    • The Lab continues to be pleased with the response.
    • Mainland ownership is at levels not seen in some time.
    • Response continues to be positive.
  • Animesh: Animesh officially reached release status on November 14th, 2018.
  • Marketplace:
  • Games and Experiences (via Patch):
    • Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches has been enhanced.
    • A new version of Linden Realms has been deployed.
    • Further updates and ideas are in progress, notably for winter 2018 / 2019.

Video: 4:49-7:40

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Elements In Progress

  • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP):
    • Progressing rapidly, almost on a daily basis.
    • Lab keen to bring EEP out as whole, rather than bit-by-bit.
  • Land Auctions:
    • The updated land auctions were launched in July 2018.
    • There have been issues, which the Lab has been working to address, but this is taking time to fix as the auction system does involve people’s L$.
    • Resident-to-resident auctions are still coming, but probably won’t be deployed until early 2019.
  • Themed Learning Islands:
    • The Lab deployed the first of the themed learning islands in August 2018, and this is an ongoing programme.
    • The results have been “interesting” and provided a lot of ideas on what to provide next.
    • Because the Lab wants to have “clean” results from the work, this is not something that can be openly discussed in-depth.  However, Lab remains committed to improving the on-boarding experience.
  • Bakes On Mesh (via Oz Linden):
    • The last infrastructure updates (Bake Service) have been deployed.
    • Updates to the viewer should be appearing soon.
    • Its anticipated there will be further simulator / server deploys as well as viewer updates.
    • Users are encouraged to test the viewer as it moves forward and to provide feedback (see the Alternate Viewers wiki page).
  • Performance Improvements:
    • There have been a number of projects to improve performance, and more are on the way.
    • The viewer’s texture cache is being overhauled and improved.
    • The rendering system is being improved.
    • Region crossings have been touched, and more work in this area may be forthcoming in the future.
    • Performance is something the Lab is always working on.

Video: 7:45-13:00

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