Last Dove: a western homage in Second Life

Last Dove, November 2019 – click any image for full size

Created with love in the spirit of West Texas honouring those that came before, those with us, and our future.

So reads the About Land dedication for Last Dove, a Homestead region designed by Erythro and Shannon Cardalines. And while there are many western-themed role-play regions, Last Dove is something special, as Shannon noted to me as we discussed it after Caitlyn and I had made our initial visit.

It was designed for a set for Erythro to make machinima he wants to show at film festivals in real life. We based the sim on the novel and screenplay of Lonesome Dove. The characters you see here are all bots that Ery scripted to work as his actors.

– Shannon Cardalines describing Last Dove.

Last Dove, November 2019

For those unfamiliar with Lonesome Dove, it was the title book (although technically the third instalment of the story) of a series bearing the same name, written by Larry McMurtry. It started as a film script collaboration between McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich, but after languishing in development hell for over a decade, McMurtry purchased the rights to the script and turned it into a novel, first published in 1985 and winning the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The story did eventually reach the screen – albeit the television screen – in 1989 in a CBS 4-part mini-series starring Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Diane Lane and Anjelica Houston among a long list of notable actors. It is a particularly memorable story not so much because of its western setting, but because it is a tale that intertwines themes of old age, death, unrequited love, and friendship – something reflected in the dedication for the region.

Last Dove – riding into town – November 2019

As well as being the title of the novel and series, Lonesome Dove is also the name of the Texas town where the story begins. It is this town – the set of which still stands – that serves as the inspiration for Last Dove; and it is no exaggeration to say that the region marvellously captures the spirit of the location, with several of the notable buildings being reproduced along the dusty main street. The echo of The Stockman’s Hotel, for example can clearly be seen in Last Dove’s Dry Bean Saloon.

In addition to recreating the town, Ery has also scripted a number of characters from the book / series. These may vary between visits – there is a control board for the bots hidden away in one of the building. However, when visiting, you’re more than likely to come across the two principle characters, Captain Woodrow F. Call (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the CBS mini-series) and Captain Augustus “Gus” McCrae (played by Robert Duvall) – with the latter looking particularly reminiscent of has actor alter-ego!

Last Dove – after a day in the saddle, even a girl needs a drink! – November 2019

Given Lonesome Dove is set against the backdrop of a cattle drive to Montana, other touches reflecting on the film include the bunkhouse and a small herd of Texas longhorn cattle, complete with a cowboy bivouac, suggesting the drive out on the trail. In addition, the great plains of Texas are represented by the region surround, which directly abuts the region on three sides, offers scrub grassland  that rolls gently off to the horizon and the hazy slopes of distant hills. This gives Last Dove a tremendous sense of depth, with the west side of the region separated from the surround by a span of water that perfectly echoes the Rio Grande, which features in both the story and the town (the set for Lonesome Dove is located near Del Rio, West Texas).

While inspired by Lonesome Dove, I have to admit that initially, the setting put me in mind of Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter. There was something about the plains rolling away to those haze-softened hills and the town on a shoreline that put me in mind of Eastwood’s ghostly Stranger (Death) on his pale horse, riding out of the shimmering haze to  mete out vengeance. So much so that, in looking across the plains of Last Dove, I wouldn’t have been surprised had a horseman slowly materialised riding towards the town! In this respect, I did feel a bit of a twit when Shannon explained the actual inspiration – I’d been looking at the Captain Call character with the name ringing bell, but unable to place where I’d come across it.

Last Dover, November 2019

It’s important to state (again) that Last Dove isn’t intended as a role-play region per se. However, it is ideal for photography and for getting into the spirit of the old west, as I hope a couple of my pictures here suggest! Rezzing is also permitted for props – but please ensure you clean things up afterwards.

This is genuinely a superb setting, richly evocative of the story on which it is based. Its offer plenty of opportunity for horse-riding, easy exploration and – as noted – for photography. Absolutely not a setting to be missed. Those wishing to see more of the Lonesome Dove set as it looks in more recent times can do so via the Lonesome Dove Remember link, below.

Last Dove – meeting “Gus” McCrae (centre) and Woodrow Call outside the bunkhouse – November 2019

SLurl and Links

With thanks to Shawn Shakespeare and Alsatian Kidd for the region SLurl, and to Shanon for her time while visiting

April reports on the SL Marketplace mix-up

On November 4th, some users on the Marketplace who accessed their account page ended up seeing some account details for another user currently logged-in to the Marketplace at the same time.

The user account page gives a user’s SL account name, L$ balance, a small portion of their activity on the  Marketplace activity, their wish lists, received gifts list, and the obfuscated version of their e-mail address (e.g. i****@g****.com, designed to provide the user with enough information to identify their own e-mail address without revealing it to others).

Multiple bug reports on the issue were raised with Linden Lab, and at least one forum thread was raised on the subject, with some pointing to the Marketplace maintenance that was in progress as a possible cause – and they were right, as the Lab’s Second Life Operations Manager has revealed in a blog post (Report on the Recent Marketplace Issue), that reads in part:

We’ve been working to make the Second Life Marketplace more robust and handle higher numbers of page views at once. Due to a change made this morning, the user account page got cached when we didn’t mean for it to be. Once we realised what had happened, we rolled back the changes immediately and deleted all of our caches. No other parts of Second Life were impacted.

Our engineering teams are now working with our QA (quality assurance) team to make sure we develop better testing for this in the future. We want to make sure we catch something like this long before it makes it out into the hands of Residents.

We’d like to extend a really big thank you to everyone who reported the issue to us the moment they saw it! Because of your vigilance we were able to react really quickly and limit the time that this misconfiguration was live. (Seriously, y’all rock! 💜)

We’re sorry this issue happened this morning. We’re working to make sure it never happens again, and developing better test procedures for use in the future.

While the error was unfortunate, and might have been a little discomforting for some who encountered it, the Lab estimates that no more than 500 users visited the account page during the time the issue could occur, and not all of them were given the wrong page to view.

Where the issue did occur, April notes that it did so at random, and randomly selected the incorrect page to be displayed, so it was impossible for a user to “pick” another user’s information and intentionally view it. She also notes that it was not possible to either make purchases via an incorrect account page, or to make any changes to the page.

As always, details in full in April’s blog post – and many thanks to her again for providing an explanation of the issue and what is being done to hopefully avoid future repetitions.

Cica’s Rocks in Second Life

Rocks, by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

The Sim Quarterly, curated by Electric Monday, opened its latest exhibition on Monday, November 3rd, 2019, featuring a full region installation by Cica Ghost.

Entitled Rocks, it’s a homage to art itself, introduced by a quote by Juliette Aristides, founder and director of the Classical Atelier at the Seattle Academy of Fine Arts:

How you draw is a reflection of how you feel about the world. You’re not capturing it, you’re interpreting it.

Rocks, by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

In particular, this is a celebration of Cica’s love of art and a reflection of her own creativity in Second Life. As the names suggests, the installation features rocks, huge blocks of semi-regular shaped stone that rise for a mostly flat ground scarred with cracks as if the earth has long since dried out.

All of different sizes, the blocks share a common feature: each has a painting on at least one of its vertical faces. These paintings mirror aspects of Cica’s work in Second Life. Some, for example, present her tall, slender houses, others are home to her famous stick figures and paintings of her flowers. Mixed in with these are pictures of some of her fabulous creatures: a snail here, a fish there, sheep and chickens, while many include references to what might be called her familiars: cats and crows.

Rocks, by Cica Ghost – The Sim Quarterly

It’s a bright, happy place, the paintings bright and cheerful. If art is a reflection of how an artist feels about the world, then this is an installation that tells us Cica loves life and finds the world a bright, warm place in which she can feel at home. And visitors can share in that love and happiness: many of the stones can be touched and offer single and multiple dances, with some additionally offering sit points as well.

A genuinely engaging installation, rich in images and expression.

SLurl Details