WillowWood’s wild beauty in Second Life

WillowWood, July 2022 – click any image for full size

WillowWood is the name given to a Full private region leveraging the additional Land Capacity bonus which is held by Doc Battitude. Largely open to the public, it features landscaping by Dandy Warhlol (Terry Fotherington) and at the time of my writing this, it was a feature location in the Editor’s Picks section of the Second Life Destination Guide.

The About Land description for the region sits slightly at odds with the design of the land – describing this region which is mindful of a wild coastal region somewhere in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere as, “a once thriving town reduced to ruins and secluded happy places”. However, while there is little sign of any former conurbation within the region, there is absolutely no doubting its beauty and restfulness.

WillowWood, July 2022

The landing point sits toward the south-west of the region, and sits before a table of rock on the west coast which is home to a mansion-like private residence with oceans views directly to the south and west. Accessed via a single drive guarded by walls and gates that are clearly marked as Private Property, the mansion is the only no-go area with the setting; the rest is otherwise fully open to explorations, including the little café sitting a short walk from the landing point.

The rest of the land is cut through by little streams and creeks. These break it up such that the easiest way to find your way around its to follow the trails and paths to the little bridges that span the water, with the land as a whole given over to a rugged set of low undulations rich in trees and wild grass.

WillowWood, July 2022 – “Tunnel Vision”

Scattered throughout this landscape are signs of civilisation – but nothing that would denote anything like a town being close to hand anywhere. Instead, the coastal areas offer signs that the locals make a living fishing, with a slightly run-down wharf looking west from a southern headland, and little fishing cabins and a boathouse lying further around the southern coast, while away to the north lies the wreck of a coaster that came too close the region’s sandy shallows.

A sense of age is added to the setting thanks to the inclusion of a pair of ruins – the Ruined Chapel by Markus Inkpen (a personal favourite structure that naturally lends itself to modding), and the Studio Skye Temple Ruins by Alex Bader (which have tempted me a few times, although I have yet to purchase and fiddle with it). These sit across the region from one another, the latter overlooking the north-side beach, and together they give the region a sense that it once held significant religious meaning.

Throughout the setting are numerous places to sit and / or spend time awaiting discovery. These range of wooden gazebos located above streams and water holes, to benches sitting alongside the paths and trails, to places to relax on the beachy headland and along the waterways. In addition, there are multiple places to enjoy a dance or two, including within the chapel ruins and at a small outdoor events area tucked into the north-east corner of the region.

The overall lay of the land helps given the region a feeling of being much bigger than the usual 256 metres on a side, the paths meandering up and down the hills and between them, often leading to more little surprises and touches that bring the setting further to life. These range from dry stone walls to pieces of sculpture, and even a hint of what might once have been a World War fortification.

WillowWood, July 2022

Given this is a design by Dandy, you might expect my usual warning about performance (mesh + textures), but with WillowWood, I didn’t encounter any significant issues; even with Shadows enabled, my FPS remained in the mid-teens rather than dropping to single digits, whilst for general flycaming around with Shadows disabled, FPS was generally around the mid-to-upper 20s (I’m currently using Firestorm without any auto-tuning enabled, and (obviously) without the Lab’s own performance improvements), giving me a reasonably comfortable experience.  Even so, you may find you need to make some adjustments to your viewer, as is oft the way with SL builds.

Finished with a subtle soundscape, perhaps with default environment settings a little on the dark side for some (I varied between it and using my “default” avatar-attached EEP settings for photos) WillowWood is an engaging, picturesque region design.

WillowWood, July 2022

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