Exploring Jilin’s DYNASTY in Second Life

DYNASTY at Peony – Jilin Estates, August 2021 – click and image for full size

It’s been two years since I first visited Jilin Estates, the Full region design by Jin Zhu (KidDreamz) and his SL partner, Li Zhu (JamaicasianBaby). It was a visit I can still recall and enjoyed at the time, so when Jin extended a personal invitation to drop into the latest iteration of Jilin – DYNASTY at Peony – Jilin Estates – ahead of the official opening, I was delighted to accept.

For those who remember the 2019 Jilin build, this latest iteration – which opened its doors to public access on at midnight SLT of the 21st / 22nd August, 2021 – is very different in presentation, but still retains the same Far East themes throughout, and more than maintains Jilin Estate’s to present an engaging design. With this new setting, the rural focus of 2019 is completely absent, replaced by a setting suggestive of a city borough or precinct, the shining towers an gleaming apartment blocks of the more affluent parts of the city forming the surrounding horizon / backdrop.

DYNASTY at Peony – Jilin Estates, August 2021

The focal point for the build is the tall, modern headquarters for Dynasty, Jin’s brand of oriental furnishings together with décor items and avatar accessories. North and south, this is bracketed by two squares, one of which forms the landing point for the region, the other the home of what might have been an old Shinto temple, now protected by a huge Tori gate even as more recent buildings attempt to hem it in on three sides.

Roads completely surround the Dynasty building, separating it and the square that is home to the landing point from what is clearly a much older neighbourhood, one perhaps looking down upon figuratively as well as literally by the distant shining towns of the city’s heart, that mixes utilitarian concrete blocks of buildings old than the glamming skyscrapers but more youthful than the wooden places of business and homes with which they mix. Besides the main square of roads around the landing point, this a neighbourhood rich with side street and alleyways and smaller squares (some one always obvious) that mark it as a veritable melting pot of ideas and opportunities for photographs.

DYNASTY at Peony – Jilin Estates, August 2021

It is also a place dominated by advertising, suggesting a society in which consumerism is the main deity. Along the side streets and alleys, neon signs hang much as up might expect them, but along the broader streets, the advertising is almost overpowering: great screens give life to adverts for faster, sleek cars, military careers, shows, and more. Not even the tall fingers of what have might once been the towers guarding former city gates have been spared, their faces covered in smooth cement on which still and animated advertising hoards have been hung, the spread of the city having long ago rendered the need for protective walls moot, their presence washed away in the drive to develop and grow, the towers left behind given a new lease of life.

Nor does the advertising end with hoardings, boards and signs: drones periodically swoop along the main roads, “pushing” holograms before them, deftly avoiding the traffic lights that also hover aloft, periodically directing traffic that many or many not require the surface roads and local expressway. These drones, together with a Deckard-style decommissioned Spinner parked alongside the landing point, suggest this is a place sitting in our not-too-distant future, a future that is refreshingly less dystopian in presentation than can be the case within SL.

DYNASTY at Peony – Jilin Estates, August 2021

The advertising perhaps initially suggests Japan as being the home to this city scene, but exploration around the landing point is likely to lean opinions more toward China. Places like the Yu Hua and Tai Fung Lau restaurants help with this push, as does the presence of  Fu dogs ornamentation around some of the building, lending them a degree of Feng Shui  protection as Chinese lanterns hang from rafters ore are strung along or across alleyways. But the truth is, this is a blending of oriental themes to which a soupçon of western elements have been added to provide a perfectly balanced mix of ideas that is both rich without in any way unpalatable.

And for those who might feel intimidated by all the advertising, a trip down one of the side streets / alleys might offer comfort thanks to the words DON’T PANIC! appearing above the roof of one building in large, friendly letters. One of these signs actually overlooks a small Cybermart – but whether the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation has a stall there or not is open to debate (see, two Hitch-Hikers Guide references for the price of one!).

DYNASTY at Peony – Jilin Estates, August 2021

But the advertising is not the only thing to be found here – there is a wealth of attention to detail to be found through the build, from the appearance of several of shiro0822’s delightful Maru Kado cats (including a couple serving behind the counters of the Izakaya food bar!), through the detailing in the various restaurants to the placement of little market stalls, vehicles and other elements that bring the setting to life as a place, and all of which await the patient explorer.

As well as being offering for exploratory and photographic delight (if you join the region’s group for L$250, you can also have rezzing rights for props – just please make sure you clean up behind yourself!), the region retains opportunities for rentals; Jin informed me there are apartments available, and that commercial opportunities are available, be these “regular” stores or pop-up opportunities. Those interested in either should contact the Jilin Estate management team for details.

DYNASTY at Peony – Jilin Estates, August 2021

In terms of viewing the city, I will say it is pretty heavily loaded with textures, and these can take a while of render, particularly if you have Shadows enabled in the viewer. As such, it might be easier to toggle these off except with taking photos. Given the lighting employed through out, I would recommend you keep Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) active, or you enable it on arrival (Preferences → Graphics → check Advanced Lighting Model). And while the setting works under a range of EEP settings (I used my own for several of the images here purely for illustrative purposes), do make sure you enable Use Shared Environment (World menu) to see the region as Jin and Li intend it to be seen. Finally, do make sure you have local sounds enabled – it’s worth it to hear the supplied sound scape, which is perhaps not quite what you might expect in places (the robot commentary in particular!), but it again adds a further layer to DYNASTY at Peony.

Another engaging and photogenic design by Jin and Li, well worth the time to visit and appreciate – any maybe pick up some household / personal bits from Jin’s store!

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