There are lots of winter themed regions to visit at this time of year – I’ve already covered a number in these pages for 2018. So many in fact, it’s easy to end up with a mild case of snow blindness :). There is often a tendency to use many of the same elements in such builds – the DRD Polar Express train being one such example. So for this write-up, I thought I’d offer a couple of suggestion that are just that little bit different to the others we’ve visited thus far.
Hollyee is a homestead region designed by Agaras, offering a remote, wild winter setting. Surrounded by tall mountains shrouded in snow and mist, the central feature of the setting is an oval large frozen lake, its surface glittering like a star field and broken by a couple of islands.
The lake is set within a low-lying, wooded landscape, devoid of paths and get trails, but open to wandering under tree and over snow. The entire feeling is that of a remote mountain lake, well away from any major centres of population – but not so far away as to be totally in the wild.
This latter fact can be attested to by the presence of fresh hay that has been left out on the snow, offering horses places to eat, rather than leaving them to forage under the snow for grass. Whether the hay has been put out by a local farmer possibly living just beyond the landscape, or by whoever might live in the little A-frame cabin located in the south-east corner of the region, is up to visitors to decide.
The horses aren’t the only animals to be found scattered across the landscape. Wander through the snow as you circle the ice and you’ll find deer, rabbits, wolves and even polar bears – the latter both real and made from snow! Birds circle overhead while a lone owl hunts between the trunks of the trees. All of them serve to give the region a feeling of added depth, as does the local sound scape.
A skate giver is available close to the landing point, although if you have your own, you can obviously wear them. There are also skating poses available for use for singles and couples skating, while scattered across the landscape are a number of places for sitting and cuddling.
The second location I want to mention is Winter Dream. located over the home of Solo Arte, it is once again the work of resident artist there, Terrygold. Like Hollyee, Winter Dream presents a wilderness setting, beautiful in its snowbound, rugged beauty. It’s also another place where having local sounds on is essential to a visit.
Also like Hollyee, central to the design is a frozen lake, a flat expanse of ice from which the occasional hump of rock rises, and towards the middle of which a lone tree stands sentinel, boughs raised as if trying to ward off the steadily falling snow.
Around this lake is a rocky landscape, stepping upwards towards a surround rim of low cliffs. Two structures rise from the snow, the largest a two-storey stone-and-wood cabin, facing the landing point across the lake. Closer to hand, just to one side of the landing point and watched over by two snowmen, sits a wooden pavilion. A fire is blazing in the hearth here, with wooden chairs ranged before it, but the open sides suggest it might not be as warm as the fire might otherwise suggest.
The most direct route to the cabin is across the ice – but it’s also the boring way. It’s more interesting to head either north then east towards the cabin, or go east then north. Both routes will lead you via points of interest: deer at a feeder, outdoor seating areas, – including an old Ferris Wheel (although it could perhaps benefit from blanket to help keep those sitting in it warm! 🙂 ) and so on.
The eastward route will take visitors over some of the ice, which extends around this side of the landscape. So if you have your own ice skates, you might want to make use of them. It also offers a slight climb up to the cabin – but so does the route running north then east from the landing point. Once inside, the cabin offer a place to dance and a break from the weather by the fire places.
Both Hollyee and Winter Dream are quiet, winter settings waiting to be enjoyed. Both are well presented, although each has its own small niggles. Hollyee has a few floating trees and rocks that can make themselves known when taking photos, while the volume of animated mesh snow in Winter Dream can impact performance (particularly if you run with shadows enabled). So do take note when visiting – but don’t let either put you off.
Really, if the snow hasn’t gotten to you too much, it’s worth grabbing your skates, wrapping up warm and enjoying either of these quiet wintry corners of the grid.