Pemberley: beauty and music in Second Life

Pemberley, December 2021 – click any image for full size

You won’t find Fitzwilliam Darcy waiting to host you at Pemberley, the Full region in Second Life held by Jude Mortensen and NataliaLinn. Nor, to be honest, will you find any grand manor house ready to captivate your gaze from afar, or signs of the gardens and English countryside across which  Elizabeth Bennet first caught sight of the house.

What you will find, however, is a public region landscaped by Dandy Warhlol (Terry Fotherington) that presents a rich rural environment  dusted in snow, surrounded by icy mountains, and watched over by the remnants of what might have been a once great manor – or, possibly, a fortified house or even a church.

Pemberley, December 2021
It is Pemberley, but not of old, time has passed, and the land has grown wild, and yet the magic lives on at Pemberley.

from Pemberley’s About Land description

The latter stands to the south of the region, on a table of rock that forms the main highlands for the setting but which is cut off from it via an narrow, stream-like channel that connects the east and west sides of the region’s surrounding water. Whilst rocks and debris offer various points where this little channel can be crossed, the primary means of doing so is via two bridges, one to the east and one to the west.

Pemberley, December 2021

It is the former – eastern – bridge that offers the most direct way up to the ruins. Constructed of stone, it links the snowy slope leading up the the broad steps of the ruins with a rutted road that meanders northwards to connect with the farms, homesteads, smaller ruins and other structures along the east and north side of the region on slightly elevated land. The core of the island remains mostly low-lying, a mix of small fields, outhouses, ruins and fences, interspersed with trees, shrubs and spaces where horses can roam.

The landing point to the region sits within these lowlands, lying towards the north-east. Its position means that explorers have the opportunity to freely choose where they want to go within the region. Paths are available that lead to various locations in the region, such as the little shingle beach on the east side, or the broader sandy beach to the north-west, and which comes complete with a rocky overlook, or the western cove with its old lighthouse. There’s also the promontory running between cove and water channel to reach a more recent lighthouse (with its own little footbridge connecting it with the slopes below the manor house ruins).

Pemberley, December 2021

But to return to the main ruins on the island. These form a point of interest not just for there visual impressiveness and photogenic nature, but also because they are the venue for the region’s music events. Details of these can be found both on the Pemberley website, as and when they are announced, or within the region’s event calendar. However, given this is New Year’s Eve, here are some highlights for those looking for something to do to celebrate, here’s some highlights:

  • Friday, December 31st:
    • 18:00-20:00 SLT – D.J. Mist.
    • 20:00-21:00 SLT – Samm Qendra live.
    • 21:00-23:00 SLT – D.J. Cati.
  • Saturday, January 1st, 2022:
    • 15:00-16:00 SLT – Fly Kugin live
  • Tuesday, January 4th, 2022:
    • 13:00-14:00 SLT – Tay live.

Pemberley, December 2021
The direct SLurl to the events space is provided at the end of this article. In the meantime, the region offers an engaging environment with many opportunities for photography. It also – at the landing point – presents visitors with the opportunity to join The Nature Collective group, described as:

The Nature Collective is a Second Life group created with the goal of cultivating a community around sims, spaces and projects which share a common focus on nature and nature conservation/preservation. It is our hope to foster a movement to help people engage and reconnect with the wonder and joy of nature, in the virtual world and beyond.

Click the poster on the the wall at the landing point for more information on the group. And for me – I’ll see you in 2022, when I’ll be resuming my travels through Second Life.

Pemberley, December 2021

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Note that Pemberley is rated Moderate

Bay City New Year 2021/22 prim drop in Second Life

Bay City Prim Drop 2021/22

Friday, December 31st 2021 will once again see Bay City celebrate the turning of the year with their annual Prim Drop festivities.

An outdoor, black tie attire and/or full dress event, the Prim Drop is open to all Second Life residents, with festivities opening at 23:00 SLT at the Bay City Fairgrounds in North Channel. Marianne McCann will be providing the music and fireworks in a 2-hour extended DJ set, and food and drink will be provided.

This will also be the final opportunity in 2021 to donate to Child’s Play Charity,  a US 501c3 non-profit organisation which helps seriously ill children around the globe during their hospital stays with the purchase of games and gaming equipment. So even if you can’t make it to the event itself, do please consider taking a couple of minutes out of your SL day and stopping by the Bay City Fairgrounds and making a donation via one of the collection bins there. 2021 has already seen over L$450,000 raised for Child’s Play – can the Prim Drop carry it through LS500,000? Why not hop along and join the fun and help push the funds even higher!

Bay City Prim Drop 20211/22 – get your photo taken on the red carpet!

About Bay City and the Bay City Alliance

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab® and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest group for Residents of Bay City.

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Hera’s Drune Giger City in Second Life

Drune Giger City, December 2021 – click any image for full size

Hera (Zee9) forwarded an invitation to visit the latest iteration of her Drune City design – Drune Giger City – which she has just opened on the ground level of her region.

If you read the name “Giger” and think of the late Swiss artist, Hans Ruedi (H.R.) Giger, perhaps most famous for his work on the original Alien film (with elements of his work – notably the alien itself – being used in the subsequent films in the franchise), you’d be absolutely right; this is a build that openly draws inspiration from Giger and his work – not just the Alien franchise, but also other elements of his extensive portfolio as well.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

The city is reached via Hera’s main landing point, where a brief introduction to the setting can be obtained, using a poster-sized teleport board to complete a journey down to the city proper. Before making the trip ourselves, I would point out a couple of things: make sure you accept the local environment settings for the region and that you have Advanced Lighting Model enabled, and do be advised that in taking its lead from Giger, the region is in places somewhat explicit in some of its elements.

The city retains the general layout found within the various iterations of Drune, but this time under a distinctly alien sky. However, this does not mean the buildings are in any way derivative of earlier iterations. As I’ve noted before when writing about her work, Hera goes to extraordinary lengths with her designs, using her own meshes and textures – and this is very much the case here. As such, I do recommend spending time and looking around carefully, as there is a lot of Giger-esque details to be appreciated, not all of them at first obvious to the eye.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

The city’s landing point again takes the form of a docking / landing station for aerial vehicles to one side of the cit. It is home to an alien vehicle, potentially a single-seat spacecraft, entirely of Hera’s own design but entirely in keeping with Giger’s approach to design.  The walkway from this landing area gives the first direct example of the richness of Hera’s texturing: the mural is clearly homage to Giger’s bass relief style of art. This is continued through the outer walls of the buildings, the streets and elevator doors that provide teleport access to street-level in the city.

The streets themselves undulate around the buildings, here and there offering exits to the road that runs around the exterior of the city. The architecture of the buildings carries more of the Giger bass relief style of texturing, together with stronger hints of his work: xenomorph heads extending gargoyle-like above covered walkways, and strangely designed oval doorways that have the edge of genitalia to them  – and these doorways / tunnel entrances are not the only sexualised elements.


Drune Giger City, December 2021

Scattered across the city and its surrounds are further suggestive elements – phallic growths and extrusions in the hills around the city (offering hints of Giger’s Landscape series), more obvious references to female genitalia on what look to be some form of machinery, a refreshment stand offering drinks from nipple-like dispensers. This vendor also offers novel seating – the “eggs” from which one of  Giger’s Facehuggers once leapt and made a mess of John Hurt’s day. More of these eggs are laid out along an alleyway – with one open, so be careful when looking inside!

In keeping with past Drune cities, this one again features a night club. With more phallic elements, this also includes something of a homage to the holographic navigation systems used by the Engineers of the Alien films, while the interior as a whole has a Giger-like fluidity to it, with a further sexual undertone that goes beyond the phallic elements.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

Across the road from the club is a small lounge bar (replacing the hotel that has been present in some earlier iterations of Drune) where the sheer beauty of Hera’s work is on full display in a form that not only encompasses clear inspiration from H.R. Giger, but also to one or two sci-fi franchises.

This latter might be coincidental, but for me, it looking at the figurehead between the pair of xenomorphs, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the death mask used in the opening sequence of the first season of Stargate SG-1, with the patterns on the walls a little mindful of hieroglyphs and runes often seen in that series. Elsewhere, the bar setting that first seen (I believe) in Drune: Sleazy Street has been give a perfect redress to further enhances the further Giger / Alien vibe.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

Atmospheric, strange – yet familiar, alien – yet identifiable, and rich in detail, Drune Giger City might be a little discomfiting for some given some of the sexual motifs present, but that does not change the fact it is another work of art from Hera. So, if you have a love of her work and / or of H.R. Giger and / or sci-fi, this is a build not to be messed.

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Sansar: the Wookey in ex-CEO lawsuit

Stock image via MGN

Sansar, the platform for live virtual events originally created by Linden Lab, had something of a scare in later December 2021, when all services, including the platform’s website went off-line for a period of time. This prompted a round of speculation / rumour (and in some cases, indignation) that the platform had been shut down without warning.

As we all know, Sansar went through an intensive development cycle from 2014 through 2017, prior to being (prematurely, I tend to believe) launched on the world at large. It then – being brutally honest – went through a period in which Linden Lab flip-flopped in direction and purpose for Sansar as the bubble of hype surrounding consumer-based VR (unsurprisingly) burst. Finally, in March 2020, after having laid-off the majority of staff involved in Sansar at the end of 2019, Linden Lab sold Sansar to what appeared to be a start-up company, then called Wookey Projects (eventually to be come Wookey Search Technologies Corporation (operating as Wookey Technologies). For a time, this seemed to bode well for Sansar’s future: the majority of laid-off staff were re-hired, development work resumed, etc., and Sansar event hosted some large(ish) events in 2020, such as Lost Horizon’s Glastonbury Shangri-La. But really, Sansar continued to struggle to build a genuine audience.

Then, on Wednesday, December 22nd, Sansar’s presence on the web abruptly vanished, with the website returning a 404 error, and the client left unable to connect to any servers. As the hours passed, so speculation grew that perhaps the plug had been pulled, particularly in light of the comments that had been doing the rounds that all Sansar technical staff had been placed on extended furlough since some point in September 2021 (which, given the company’s total number of direct employees is put at just 22 by RocketReach and others, could represent a something of a significant portion of staff).

Sansar Discord channel screen capture, courtesy of Dr. Fran Babcock

Having heard the news about the outage, I decided to wait things out for at least 24 hours to see if the situation changed, or if any announcement were to be made. As it turned out, things did start to change in that time, as Sansar’s services began to come back on-line on December 24th, starting with the website, with the avatar service about the last visible service to re-surface prior to log-ins resuming.

Exactly what went wrong is unclear – being completely transparent, I’ve not actually been actively involved in Sansar since the end of June 2020 – but so far as I’m aware, nothing official has been stated beyond a Discord channel statement from “Steve from the Wookey management – Sansar team” (displayed on the right), from Steve Moriya. VP of Business Development (with thanks to Dave for the pointer).. Given we are on the year-of-year-break; perhaps something will be stated in the New Year – but time will tell on that.

However, the outage did prompt me to return to information that came my way in September 2021, and which I (again) opted to withhold from blogging about at the time, in order to see how developments progressed.

Coming by way of Cain Maven, a Second Life creator and individual not given to hyperbole or rumour, that information was / is that Wookey Search Technologies Corporation is engaged in a long-running dispute with its former CEO, Mr. John Fried. He has been seeking recompense from the company that could amount to something over US $1 million.

Companies being sued by former employees isn’t precisely unheard of in the United States (Linden Lab themselves has faced it – or the threat thereof – at least once), and can be subject to settlement without ever reaching a formal court case. Hence why, when Cain pointed me to the matter, I decided to hold off on commenting, and await developments.

However, case number CGC20584302¹, filed with the Superior Court of California, San Francisco, does now appear to be on course for a potential trial by jury, following demands to do so were filed with the court by both parties at the end of November 2021.  

The situation has been developing since shortly after Wookey acquired Sansar in 2020; at its heart, is a claim by Mr. Fried that Wookey failed to honour commitments they allegedly made to him concerning salary and reimbursement of relocation fees (from Florida to California), and further failed to honour an alleged US $1 million bonus payment for which he is also seek recompense. It’s a case that has seen both sides file claim and counter-claim, motion and counter-motion; but as noted above, both parties filed demands to move to a trial by jury in late November 2021. As a result, the court issued a Notice of Time and Place of Trial at the start of December 2021, and unless anything else arises, the trial will commence: June 27th, 2022, and it will be heard in the court of the Honourable Suzanne Ramos Bolanos.

That said, a settlement may still be reached – a conference to attempt to see if this is possible remains scheduled for March 16th, 2022, having been postponed from its original December 8th, 2021 date. But the In the meantime, both parties are moving to the Discovery phase of the case  – which may also bring requests for continuance before the judge, further delaying the trail, or altering the direction of the case.

I offer no direct conclusions on the matter here – I’m not a lawyer, after all. However, given Wookey Search Technologies appears to be valued at around  – as of September 2021 – US 3.78 million, were the case to go all the way, and a judgement made in favour of Mr. Fried, it could put a significant dent in the company’s finances. As such, I’ll continue to track the case and look to provide updates in 2022.

  1. Note that this website requires multiple responses to a Captcha system, and can time-out relatively quickly, requiring additional Capcha confirmations.

A visit to a Scarlett Hotel in Second Life

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021 – click any image for full size

If you are seeking something different from a winter-themed region might want to pay a visit to The Scarlett Hotel, a full region designed by Jaimy Hancroft and the Death Row Designs (DRD) team – although you may need to do so before the end of December 31st, 2021, as I’m been informed (unofficially) that that is when the little adventures on the region may draw to a close).

The setting offers what might be taken as a coastal township caught in the midst of winter, snow lying so heavy on the ground, a snow plough is required to keep the local streets clear, and even the local fishing wharves sit under the snow’s thick blanket. Dominating this township is the eponymous hotel, its broad front carrying a certain similarity to the Overlook Hotel from Kubrick’s The Shining (or if you prefer, the Stanley Hotel, Colorado, which was used for many of the exterior shots of the hotel seen in that film).

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

Not only does the hotel give its name to the region, it is the location for a set of adventures that set this winter setting apart from others. There are 12 in all that visitors to the region are invited to participated in; and those who complete all 12 can earn a reward. In all there are 12 individual adventures – or stories – in which people can participate, and completing all 12 will reward people with a prize.

For those who do wish to participate in the quest, the best way to do so is to touch the Tutorial sign mounted on the wall of the landing point. This offer the opportunity to visit a browser-based tutorial (and also a web page of general rules), which forms a fairly good guide to getting started. The key points of this is that you must accept the local DRD experience and join the DRD group. Both of these actions can be achieved at the landing point. However, if you have problems with getting an invitation to join the experience (as I did), you can go to Me / Avatar in the viewer menu bar, click on Experiences → Search, make sure the search maturity is set to Moderate and search for “DRD Experience” (no quotes); this should display the experience name – double-click on it to open the experience profile, then click on Allow to join it. You’re then ready to obtain the game HUD.

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

Once players are set, the next stage is to head for the hotel and trigger a story. This is done by finding a story introduction – which is displayed in local chat (generally at the entrance to a room), and then clicking around objects and surfaces (including drawer and cupboards) to find the start point – once you have done so, the active story/ies (you can have more than one active at a time) will be indicated by a gear icon in the checklist of the HUD.

The recent history of the kitchen is a sad and tragic one. In 2002, an excited young chef from France named Claire Ménard started her career right here at the Scarlett Hotel. Her dishes that she wrote in her personal recipe book were fresh, new, and exquisite, but Head Chef Ernest Cunningham was not a fan. He was well respected in the culinary world and didn’t take well to a newcomer changing his beloved menu. It is reported that he was quick to temper and abusive with staff. Ever since The Accident, there have been reports of banging noises coming from inside the walk-in freezer…

– An introduction to one of the stories from The Scarlett Hotel

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

However, even for those not interested in the adventures, the region offers opportunities for photography and the introductions to the various stories to do tend to whet the appetite.

So, if you do fancy something a little different when exploring, why not check into the Scarlett Hotel and see if you can solve some of the mysteries there – or just and a wander and take a few snaps? Just make sure you do so before the end of 2021, just in case the rumour I heard is right, and  things change.

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

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A Cathedral and Silent Beauties in Second Life

The Cathedral and Sinful Retreat – Fly Kugin: Silent Beauties

In September 20221, I visited Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat art hub to witness The Falling Leaves, a series of watercolour paintings by Fly Kugin (FlyQueen), uploaded by the artist for presentation in Second Life (see: The Falling Leaves: Fly’s watercolours in Second Life). At the time, the tone of the notes with the exhibition and Fly’s own Profile gave the impression she was taking a possibly extended leave of absence from Second Life. I was therefore surprised – and delighted – that just before Christmas, I received an invitation to visit a further exhibition by Fly, which is once again being hosted by Chuck and Jewell, this time on the Sinful Retreat adjunct region, Angel’s Rest.

Silent Beauties features Fly’s second collection of watercolours to be displayed in-world, and it is one that continues her exploration of watercolour painting as a means of expression through the creation of pictures depicting flora and flowers. However, where The Falling Leaves focused more on the former, Silent Beauties presents twelve simply gorgeous paintings of garden and wild flowers.

Offered as individual pieces for one-time sale (no copies), with each flower simply presented on a white canvas, the fifteen pieces in this collection are genuinely captivating – as is the setting for their display, which should be seen as a work of art in its own right, as I’ll come to in a moment.

The Cathedral and Sinful Retreat – Fly Kugin: Silent Beauties

The majority of Fly’s pieces are individually hung – the exception being Rose Effect, a group of four paintings of a rose presented in a single frame. Most of the paintings are offered with a single dominant colour / tone that reflects its title and / or emotional essence, including the four paintings of the rose to be found in Rose Effect. Taken individually or together, they demonstrate that Fly has, in the 6 months since she commenced her experiments with watercolours, become an accomplished and expressive artist in the medium (a further proof of which is the fact that all of the pieces have already been sold, and the exhibition only opened on December 21st).

The space in which Silent Beauties is being exhibited is The Cathedral, a build that might be said to be a piece of Second Life artistic history. Originally designed and created in 2009 by Patch Thibaud, it was textured by by DB Bailey utilising alphas to create its distinctive crystalline look. In 2020, Djehuti-Anpu (Thoth Jansen), an immersive, multi-media artist whose work I’ve long appreciated and admired, joined with DB to add media textures to the build, magnifying its depth and richness.

The frames for Fly’s art are displayed along the columns of the cathedral’s knave, one or two per column. These columns also feature some of the media surfaces Thoth has added to the Cathedral. To witness them in all their glory, together with the rest of Thoth’s artistry, (which blends well with Fly’s paintings), enter the Cathedral and enable media playback (click the movie camera in the top right corner of the viewer, alongside the media stream button and those for camera and graphics presets). The image below offers a sample of what you will see.

The Cathedral and Sinful Retreat – Fly Kugin: Silent Beauties

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