Update: 2019-XS has closed and Zee9 has relocated her Drune build – see Drune: a further visit in Second Life. SLurls have therefore been removed from this article.
On the advice of a number of people – starting with Annie Brightstar – we recently visited 2019-XS, defined as “a sci-fi sim in Second Life with a cyberpunk feel, inspired by films like Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and Neuromancer.”
Designed by Hera (zee9), the region has an adult edge to the role-play, and is intended as an extension to her previous (and now departed) build Drune. I’ve not seen that design, but will say that while compact, 2019-XS has a certain ambience that is hard to define, but has seen me make three visits to it in order to fully appreciate the ambience and setting.
While the region is described as being inspired by the likes of The Fifth Element and Blade Runner, the setting feels more potentially “sci-fi / dystopian generic” than these films would suggest. This is not to demean the region in any way; rather it’s an acknowledgement that it has a broader feel to it than a narrow focus on a specific film or films.
For example, while the design has a vertical feel to it, with a street level and upper walkways, all with plenty of neon on display, the overall feel is perhaps too Asian, too industrial / metallic too clean to perhaps fit it fully into the streets of the 2019 Los Angeles witnessed in Blade Runner. Then the narrowness of the streets, the cluttering of their canyon-like forms and lack of aerial traffic doesn’t entirely sit with a Fifth Element vibe.
Nevertheless, there are motifs from both films. There are buildings that have an older, stone-built look that echoes places like the Bradbury building as imagined in Blade Runner, for example. There are also the spinner-like vehicles (both commissioned and decommissioned), while the elevated walkways between the buildings offer a suggestion of a crowded city, again a-la Blade Runner and the TV Series Total Recall 2070 that took many of its visual cues from the film.
That said, were I to point to a particular film influence on the setting, I would sway towards Neuromancer. Whilst never made (the film is still characterised as In Development by IMDB), the concept art from that production offers takes that do reflect the setting within 2019-XS. But even then, I’d suggest that the region be allowed to stand on its own, free from any frame of reference that could lead to specific preconceptions.
The main streets are laid out simply enough – but in doing so, they hide the complexity of the setting. There are back alleys to be found; stairs and elevators to the upper levels, while private clubs lie behind heavy doors or at the bottom of outdoors steps leading down to a basement level. On the upper levels can be found more eateries, small apartments and hallways.
Role-play is, I believe, of a free-form nature; but again, be aware that there is a lean towards more sexual play, so the setting might not please everyone. For photographers, there are numerous opportunities to take photos – both avatar studies or cityscapes. There is also a Flickr group where images can be displayed, and which also includes pictures from the earlier Drune.