A Chocolate Factory in Second Life

Chocolate Factory, December 2020 – click any image for full size

Justice Vought, co-owner of the excellent :Oxygen: (see: Getting some :oxygen: in Second Life), and who earlier in 2020 lightened hearts with his homage to Second Life’s famous Greenies (see: Once upon a (Greenie) time in Second Life) sent an invitation to Caitlyn and I to visit his latest creation, an it is once again a setting that is likely to bring a smile to many faces with its sense of fun and interaction.

To put it in a nutshell (which will undoubtedly be assessed by squirrels…) Chocolate Factory pays homage to 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, and 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore and, most broadly, to Roald Dahl’s timeless story.

Chocolate Factory, December 2020

It does so by presenting visitors with a tour of the legendary chocolate factory (golden tickets available, but actually entirely optional), which takes you from the gates to the factory through its various rooms and assorted places, and back to the the landing point. Along the way, there are rides, things to do and try, and vignettes that pay homage to both films, with perhaps a lean more towards the Gene Wilder version, all of which should be visited with local sounds enabled (the starting point also recommends the audio stream be on, but this isn’t strictly necessary).

The starting point is a little town square where sits a shop in which you can try your hand in obtaining a golden ticket via a L$1-a-go gacha machine. For once the gods of SL fortune were with me, as I got one first go, although Caitlyn received a Wonka chocolate bar she could nibble on while we explored. From here, visitors (with or without a golden ticket) can pass through the warning sign and follow the road towards the factory – reached via a short tunnel – which also offers a chance to pop into Charlie’s house along the way. Once at the factory, visitors should proceed through the gates and into the factory to Wonka’s office, where an Anywhere Door will start them on their adventure.

Chocolate Factory, December 2020

The Anywhere door is the first of the teleports that carry visitors through a series of rooms / locations representative of elements from the story, including a blueberry / bubble room, the squirrel room (where the aforementioned nut assessments take place), the TV room, and so on. These are visited in a certain order (but at the end of the tour there is the opportunity to teleport back to any one of the locations visited, and the teleports between scenes work both ways). note that teleports might be doors, portals of other objects – the latter indacted by 3D arrows.

The Anywhere door delivers you to s Candyland, evocative of the production values fro Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here one can follow the chocolate path over the lush grass and across the bridge spanning the  river of chocolate that flows from high falls to split the landscape before vanishing into a dark tunnel. Candy sticks and multi-hued mushrooms mark the land and giant butterflies flap their wings. Those with quick eyes may spot the Wonka boat rezzer sitting in the flow of chocolate – but don’t be too hasty to rez one and sit: there are numerous things to discover in this seemingly simple garden – from taking the twizzler rope across the river as an alternative to the bridge, to body surfing in the chocolate or simply sitting on a chocolate biscuit love seat – and more besides – be sure to mouseover things carefully, and not always at ground level!

Chocolate Factory, December 2020

When you’re ready to proceed, rez a boat (if you have problems spotting the rezzer, look along the flow of chocolate near to where a group of coloured balloons are sitting, close to the bridge) and jump in – you may have to be quick, as the boat doesn’t hang about. This will take you on through the tunnel ride to the fizzy pop store where you can have a light refreshment (emphasis on the “light” – for which I should perhaps use the American “lite” – you’ll see why whn you ignore the warning and take a bottle!), then follow the teleport arrows through the window and onwards.

I’m not going to spoil things here by describing every place you’ll visit, suffice it to say you’ll encounter the odd Oompa Loompa or three along the way (actually starting in Candyland) and experience (as noted) aspects of the films, each with its own interactive elements, including a further ride atop a Wonka Chocolate Bar to reach the final location and experience teleport.

Chocolate Factory, December 2020

A light-hearted homage, Chocolate Factory makes for a fun visit, and if you’re feeling like you’ve had enough of the year or are feeling the onset of Christmas Blues, a visit could be just the ticket to cheer you up (did you see what I did there? 😀 ).

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Selen’s Gallery in Second Life

Selen’s Gallery, December 2020

Selen’s Gallery, owned and curated by Selen (Selen Minotaur), opened its doors to the public on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020, offering visitors the chance to appreciate her photography and art. A long-time resident of Second Life, the gallery is a further step in Selen’s evolution as a Second Life artist, coming a year after she decided to create a Flickr account, which has (rightly) been building a following among other Second Life users  on that platform.

I have always been passionate about art in general and therefore, like many of us, I appreciate the beauty and all the opportunities for creativity that this amazing virtual world allows.
I started photography years ago and did more than 500 photos before daring to open my own Flickr account in December 2019. I like to explore many different styles depending on the mood, playing with Windlights or setting my own lights (I use Lumipro), adjusting or creating some poses (with Anypose) and post-editing each image using several editing tools (Kvadphoto+ pro, Photoscape, Photoshop express and a bit of Gimp).

– Selen on her art

Selen’s Gallery, December 2020

Offering two floors in which to display her art, the gallery presents as its opening displays two selections of Selen’s work: Dreams, Moments and Desire on the lower floor, and a series of black-and-white on the upper. Unsurprisingly, given Selen’s own description above, these are predominantly avatar studies, although some feature within the lower floor display are focused on the sculptures of Mistero Hifeng.

Whether monochrome or colour these are all expressive pieces, offering individual studies  – some touching on the risqué -, some touching on fantasy, and others offering a marvellous sense of period within the black-and-white studies, with many offering a hint of narrative to them, making both collections a richly rewarding visit.

Selen’s Gallery, December 2020

As well as working with 2D images, the gallery is home to 3D art – some by Selen herself, other pieces by some of the artists she most admires, all of them further increasing the depth of art to be appreciated.

In addition, and as well as using lighting to good effect within her 2D art, Selen also uses it for further visual effect within the gallery – so when visiting, be sure to make sure you have Advanced Lighting Model (ALM → Preferences → Graphics → check Advanced Lighting Model) and, if your system will support it, shadow rendering enabled to add to the overall lighting effects.

Selen’s Gallery, December 2020

Engaging and rich in content, Selen’s Gallery is a welcome addition to the Second Life art community.

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A Calas Christmas Dream in Second Life

A Christmas Dream – Calas Christmas 2020

Officially opening to the public on Wednesday, December 2nd – although you can enjoy a sneak peek ahead of that by joining the Calas Galadhon in-world group – is A Christmas Dream, the 2020 Calas Galadhon Christmas region put together by Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith, ably assisted by the Calas team.

The Calas Christmas events are now as traditional a part of the end-of-year festivities as turkey dinner and decorated trees, and each year Ty, Truck and team never fail to present an environment that even the most “bah, humbug!” amongst us cannot fail to appreciate and enjoy – and 2020 is no exception, although circumstance means this year things are a tiny bit different from recent Calas Christmases, at Ty noted to me ahead of the opening.

It’s been more of a challenge this year with all going on out there in the real world, but we did want to do another Christmas. Things being what they are [limited region availability and all], we were only able to rent one region this year. But we hope it will lighten the spirit and heart in our visitors.

Ty Tenk, discussing A Christmas Dream

A Christmas Dream – Calas Christmas 2020

The fact that this year’s Calas Christmas is restricted to the one region actually offers a glimpse back to Calas Christmases of times past, before Ty and Truck took to utilising two regions for their winter celebrations. This gives this year’s setting something of a nostalgic feel for those of us who have been enjoying their seasonal hospitality for the last several years.

Perhaps more importantly, whilst limited to just the one region, this year’s setting has lost none of its appeal, both in terms of things to see and things to do, and most of the expected aspects of a Calas Christmas are present: the main landing point with its sleigh tours; the walks and the skating; the Pavilion where events will be taking place through the month; the balloon tour; the places to sit and cosy-up or dance, both indoors, and more.

A Christmas Dream – Calas Christmas 2020

Also waiting to be found are the little touches that make each Calas Christmas so endearing. Wander the snow near the frozen lake, for example, and you will discover that – just for Christmas, at least – a penguin not only has Happy Feet but can fly (or at least take to the air and hover!), whilst a walk further afield might yeti allow you to discover a mythical creature (and yes, I do appreciate he’s is not actually an Abominable Snowman, but I’ll do (almost) anything for a pun, however bad!).

Meanwhile, for those who find the snow and crisp air a little too much hot chocolate can be had from the Calas refreshment stand (watched over by a reindeer) or romantic meal can be enjoyed at the Calas railway carriage. Or, for those who enjoy the winter air and you have a wearable horse, riding is welcomed – although please do keep off the ice, as the presence of a horse might cause problems for the skaters.

A Christmas Dream – Calas Christmas 2020

Entertainment will, as always, be presented presented at the Pavilion – for dates and times, refer to the Calas Galadhon blog once A Christmas Dream is fully open to the public.

The Calas Christmas regions are always a popular destination, so when visiting, please do consider the following:

  • To help lighten the load on resources, it is requested that active scripts are kept below 100Kb. So please, do remove unnecessary HUDs and accessories.
  • Often the heaviest load placed on the viewer is that of heavily-loaded avatars, so p;ease do try to dress accordingly to try to minimise not only your script load, but also your texture load (e.g. by avoiding items that contain multiple unique high-resolution textures).

Also, keep in mind that because the region might be popular, you may want to make adjustment to your viewer for your own enjoyment – reduce the maximum number of fully-rendered avatars, adjust shadows, and perhaps turn off shadow rendering, if used (other than for photography).

But above all, enjoy your visit!

A Christmas Dream – Calas Christmas 2020

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Note that Sincere Estates is rated Moderate.

A Moonlight Dancer’s story in Second Life

Moonlight Dancer, November 2020

Currently open at the Third Eye Gallery curated by Jaz (Jessamine2108) is Moonlight Dancer, an interactive exhibition by Jaz and Harry Cover (Impossibleisnotfrench). Now, to be honest,this is another exhibit I’m getting to somewhat on the late side (again due to RL commitments), and so it may not be open too much longer – but I do recommend a visit before it closes, as it is something very unique.

The focus of the installation is the story of a young girl who is suffering from Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP).  This is a genetic disorder that causes a decreased ability for the body repair DNA damage such as that caused by ultraviolet light. Visible symptoms include a severe sunburn after only a few minutes in the sun, freckling in sun exposed areas, dry skin and changes in skin pigmentation. These can also occur alongside physical and nerve-related issues such as hearing loss, poor coordination, and loss of intellectual function, while complications can include high risk of skin cancer (with around 50% of young children suffering from the condition developing skin cancer by age ten without preventative measures), cataracts / corneal blindness, seizures, and the potential for sufferers to develop additional cancer, including brain cancer.

There is no cure for the condition, and treatment (outside of cancer treatments, should these occur) comprises protective clothing and sunglasses when outdoors,remaining out of the Sun for as much as possible and vitamin D supplements. The average life expectancy of those diagnosed is around 35 years if no neurological complications occur, or around 28-30 years should neurological complications occur.

Moonlight Dancer, November 2020

Moonlight Dancer presents the story of the girl as nine interactive chapters, each contained within its own display area. Chapters initially appear as an open magazine lying on a bare wood floor that can be read “as is”, but if touched will invite the reader to rez a scene that matches the chapter, creating a 3D scene. Included in this scene is a larger version of the magazine (for easier reading) and a headphones icon.  Chick the latter, and you’ll be able to hear the chapter as read by Fionn Bookmite – just click the offered media play button.

Set in India – where XP has one of its highest incidences – 1 in 370 – and life expectancy is at the shorter end of the range  for those suffering from it, the story follows a young man, Raj who encounters the young girl (Priya), as she dances by Moonlight. Intrigued, he strikes up a conversation with her, and thus starts to learn about her condition. Thus a relationship is struck between them, and we are able to witness its growth whilst simultaneously learning about XP ourselves, and the life those who are afflicted must live, their world a place where not only sunlight can be lethal, but in which just about any source of UV radiation can take its toll: television, computer and mobile ‘phone screens – even electric lights.

I’m not going to give the entire story away – people should visit Moonlight Dancer and follow it for themselves. What I will say is that the story and the installation is exceptionally well done – and quite moving as it builds towards its ending. I’ll also say that it is not merely an info dump about XP: it is also a story of strength, love, hope and light shining within a (quite literal) darkness.

Moonlight Dancer, November 2020
I come from India. I was shocked to learn the high degree of prevalence. We always think that because we have darker skin, it will handle the sun better, but that is not the case. Harry and I were looking at XP casually when I read about the cases in India and it is sad. The heroine in this story is fairly well off, but when it is in the poorer sections of the society it is even worse … And most people are not aware that something like this exists, so Harry and I wanted to make people aware of it.

Jaz, on developing Moonlight Dancer

I understand that Moonlight Dancer will remain open until the weekend of the 5th / 6th December 2020 – and I do recommend you stop by; you can also find more information on XP, including world-wideorganisations helping to treat those affected with it, via Google.

With thanks to Jaz for the invite, and Cale for the reminder to visit.

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A little Aqua Breeze in Second Life

Aqua Breeze: November 2020

I tend to be very cautious in reviewing regions that have rentals on them, mainly because I don’t like the idea of encouraging visits that may result in invasion of people’s home and privacy. It’s a difficult balancing act, as very often regions do pop-up that are given over to rental properties whilst also enticingly landscaped, but offer very limited public spaces – perhaps a landing point and paths around the region and between the various properties therein. These make it difficult to blog, because of the aforementioned concern over accidental trespass / unintended annoyance.

Some are easier  to blog, however, as they offer the minimum of rentals properties and enough open / public space to offer people the chance to explore without running the risk of encroaching on people’s privacy.

Aqua Breeze, November 2020

Aqua Breeze is one of the latter. Spread across the three islands that the region has been split into a total of seven rentals, offering plenty of space for roaming and photography. An eighth house is also to be found on the largest of the three islands, tucked into the south-east corner. We weren’t too sure if this was also private, as unlike the the actual rental houses, there was no sign at the top of the steps leading down to it – but we opted to treat it as private, in case it forms the home of the region’s owners.

These are Sunny (MinaNava), Christopher (Diafoirus) and Sunshiine (SummerSunshiine), who between them have also landscaped the region to present a rolling autumn setting  – although the About Land description warns of possible snow, so it is possible this may change in the near future.

Aqua Breeze, November 2020

The landing point is a stone bridge linking two of the islands. At the eastern end of this bridge is a little map of the islands, denoting the rental houses and the routes around them. However, the easiest way to discover the island’s secret is to follow the wooden board walks that wind their way over the grass of each island. Some branches of these do lead to the rental houses, but as noted above, a sign alongside the board walk will warn if you are about to trespass – aided by little picket fences on at least one side of each property, so it is hard to stray onto private land.

Scattered across the public spaces of the region are numerous places to appreciate the setting and enjoy yourself. Bicycles can be taken from the rezzer on the stone bridge for those who fancy a ride, and there are a number of places where a dance can be enjoyed. At the western end of the stone bridge is a little playground, together with a bubble rezzer for those who prefer an alternative to riding / walking.

Aqua Breeze, November 2020

Elsewhere, and awaiting discovery are little summer houses – one a possible venue for music events -, a greenhouse that has been converted into a café, picnic spots, and floating above one of the hills, a cuddle bubble, countered by a cuddle boat on the water, with decks extending out into the waters.

Enormous care has been taken to present the region as a natural setting, one tenants and visitors alike can appreciate and enjoy. Keep an eye out for the little details – such as the fox debated whether he should try one of the apples that have fallen in the orchard and the little wooden reindeer in the café, getting ready to celebrate the coming of winter.

Aqua Breeze, November 2020

Opportunities for photographs abound throughout the region – although do (again) keep in mind there are private houses scattered around the islands -, and Aqua Breeze makes for a charming, gentle visit.

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Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery in Second Life

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020

The Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery is a new gallery venture that has been established by Sevant Anatra to celebrate original Native American / Indigenous & other cultural artwork. Earlier in November, Sevant invited me to pay the studio a visit – and I must (again) offer an apology that it has taken me a good several days to follow-up on the invitation on account of physical world matters taking up a good deal of my time.

Sevant is herself is a contemporary fine artist of the Anishinaabe – a group of culturally-related Indigenous peoples that includes the Odawa, Saulteaux, Ojibwe (including Mississaugas), Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, and Algonquin peoples of the north American continent. The work she displays in Second Life is all her own, and is a reflection of the creativity that has been central to her entire life.

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020
My preferred subject matter is people, and I use soft pastels on black or dark surfaces, usually recycled black artigain paper. I use my art to process knowledge, memories and emotions of either myself or those who pose for me.
In  recent years I have been focusing on reclaiming my Native American heritage and culture one art piece at a time. There is a unique story behind each piece that I often try to express through the use of composition and colour.

– Sevant Anatra discussing her art

Currently, the Gallery is displaying Sevant’s work, together with a slide show of physical world photographs (touch the slide projector to advance the images). Her drawings are richly evocative, fully capturing her subjects in marvellous detail. Native American culture is celebrated within them through the use of traditional clothing, whilst also encompassing simple emotions – love, uncertainty, simple joy – with one also offering a glimpse of a creation story. If I had one niggle at all with this selection, it is that it is potentially too small – this is art that deserves an more extensive showing.

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020

The gallery itself officially opens on December 5th, and Sevant is seeking artists specialising in pieces representative of indigenous and similar cultural art and heritage. The closing date for being a part of the grand opening on December 5th is Saturday, November 2020 – although applications will also be accepted for slots throughout 2021.

Accepted artists will be allowed 30 LI to display their work, and general requirements for applications can be obtained via note card from an info kiosk in the gallery, or artists can contact Sevant directly in-world. When visiting, do take time to explore the ground, which have by landscaped to reflect the landscape of the Pacific North-west – there are several places t sit and enjoy the setting, and the corner studio is available for exploration.

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020

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