Time at 2019-XS in Second Life

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS – click any image for full size

On the advice of a number of people – starting with Annie Brightstar – we recently visited 2019-XS, defined as “a sci-fi sim in Second Life with a cyberpunk feel, inspired by films like Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and Neuromancer.”

Designed by Hera (zee9), the region has an adult edge to the role-play, and is intended as an extension to her previous (and now departed) build Drune. I’ve not seen that design, but will say that while compact, 2019-XS has a certain ambience that is hard to define, but has seen me make three visits to it in order to fully appreciate the ambience and setting.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

While the region is described as being inspired by the likes of The Fifth Element and Blade Runner, the setting feels more potentially “sci-fi / dystopian generic” than these films would suggest. This is not to demean the region in any way; rather it’s an acknowledgement that it has a broader feel to it than a narrow focus on a specific film or films.

For example, while the design has a vertical feel to it, with a street level and upper walkways, all with plenty of neon on display, the overall feel is perhaps too Asian, too industrial / metallic too clean to perhaps fit it fully into the streets of the 2019 Los Angeles witnessed in Blade Runner. Then the narrowness of the streets, the cluttering of their canyon-like forms and lack of aerial traffic doesn’t entirely sit with a Fifth Element vibe.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

Nevertheless, there are motifs from both films. There are buildings that have an older, stone-built look that echoes places like the Bradbury building as imagined in Blade Runner, for example. There are also the spinner-like vehicles (both commissioned and decommissioned), while the elevated walkways between the buildings offer a suggestion of a crowded city, again a-la Blade Runner and the TV Series Total Recall 2070 that took many of its visual cues from the film.

That said, were I to point to a particular film influence on the setting, I would sway towards Neuromancer. Whilst never made (the film is still characterised as In Development by IMDB), the concept art from that production offers takes that do reflect the setting within 2019-XS. But even then, I’d suggest that the region be allowed to stand on its own, free from any frame of reference that could lead to specific preconceptions.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

The main streets are laid out simply enough – but in doing so, they hide the complexity of the setting. There are back alleys to be found; stairs and elevators to the upper levels, while private clubs lie behind heavy doors or at the bottom of outdoors steps leading down to a basement level. On the upper levels can be found more eateries, small apartments and hallways.

Role-play is, I believe, of a free-form nature; but again, be aware that there is a lean towards more sexual play, so the setting might not please everyone. For photographers, there are numerous opportunities to take photos – both avatar studies or cityscapes. There is also a Flickr group where images can be displayed, and which also includes pictures from the earlier Drune.

2019-XS; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
2019-XS

For those seeking an urban, sci-fi setting to explore and photograph, and allowing for the sexual element, 2019-XS may well be well worth a visit.

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North Providence, Second Life

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

I was drawn to North Providence, a five-region role-play estate after seeing a photo by fellow SL traveller and blogger, Wurfi. Defining itself as the year’s best choice for modern role-play, the estate is both new (the regions are all less than a month old) and an ambitious environment offering something of a reproduction of New York – both the city and the State.

The role-play is somewhat adult-oriented (the About Land description includes urban, violence, drugs, crime, gangs, sex, with all but one of the regions Adult rated), but the environment is very well thought-out and presented, openly public, but with spaces for small businesses and those wishing to experience role-play in a modern setting.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

North Providence prides itself on a one of a kind experience you cannot find at just any role-play region, from its plethora of preset locations for you to build your story in or the available rentals to explore your savvy business side, North Providence has it all, and it’s the perfect place to call home.

– From the North Providence website

The estate includes a fairly detailed website – although there appear to be issues with SLurl links in the business directory (I couldn’t get them to work in Firefox or Chrome). This includes the expected rules (including an interesting set of vehicle and vehicle registration rules!), and the expected applications to be a part of the community.

The layout is well-considered, offering as the text above suggests, a series of preset locations, all of which are carefully formed into a cohesive whole. It includes elements of Manhattan, notably in the presence of both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building (both with apartments inside), together with Columbus Circle. There are also suggestions of outlying area of New York City, complete with elevated sections of the subway, housing and projects, and even hints of up-state New York with open spaces, woodlands and hills.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

A map of the city is provided, but this by no means reveals the full extent of the estate, particularly the up-state areas of Brooks County and the board walk seafront that could be South Beach or Atlantic Beach. So, there is a lot to explore – including underground, where a network of service tunnels can be found. These might offer the potential for the more criminal aspects of the role-play to be enhanced, although again, I didn’t fully explore them, so I’ve no idea how often they connect with the rest of the estate.

I also cannot speak to the role-play within the estate on the basis of a single visit. However, there were a fair number of people within the regions during my time there, only some of whom appeared to be casual visitors. Those wishing to keep up with news of activities and events within the estate can do so via The Hutson Street Journal, the community newspaper. There is also a calendar, but whether this is for recording local events is unclear. When examining the estate, do keep in mind this is a new community, and one that is still in the process of finding / growing its audience  – something that might also be reflected in the status of the website.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; North Providence, January 2019, on Flickr
North Providence – click any image for full size

North Providence is an interesting new role-play estate; I did encounter some issues with texture loading at times (so reducing draw distance in places might be needed). It will be interesting to see how the estate and the role-play within it develops.

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A visit to the Grumpy Troll in Second Life

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll – click any image for full size

Update: since writing this article, Ty and Truck have taken up my suggestion for horseback riders visiting the Grumpy Troll! There is now a hitching rail close to the café, as is a horse rezzer, so those using the Calas WaterHorses can now take a break at the Grumpy Troll, then resume their ride along the Calas coastal trail. Thank you, Ty and Truck! 

We’re fans of the Calas Galadhon Park in Second Life. Run by Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith with their team of dedicated associates, the park offers a magnificent ten regions of open space, maintained through a combination of donations from visitors and out-of-pocket money.

Within the regions, each of which takes its name from Tolkien’s mythology, there is much to see and do. There are regular events both at the ground level Dolphin Bar, and in the air overhead at the estate’s club, Oz. Within the park are trails to be followed either on foot or via horseback, boats to be taken out on the water, places to dance (and in the winter, skate), picnics to be enjoyed, together with fabulous views, and plenty of time to get away from it all, balloons to ride – and more.

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll

It’s also a park that is constantly evolving, and a recent new addition comes in the form of the delightfully named Grumpy Troll, located, appropriately enough, in Dimrill Dale.

Now, to be honest, when we received word about the Grumpy Troll, we both though it might be a local pub – the name ranks right up there alongside Tolkien’s Prancing Pony. However, the name in fact belongs to a little waterside café, just off the Calas coastal trail for hikers / horse riders. But the fact that it isn’t a pub doesn’t make it any the less visit worthy when travelling through the park.

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll

With a delightfully “home-made” rustic look, and sitting on a wooden deck, the Grumpy Troll looks westwards over the waters and open spaces of the Gulf of Lune, Belagaer and the Grey Havens, perfect for spending time with a friend or friends, enjoying the view and appreciating the sunsets as the day draws to a close, or watching the land come to life as the sun rising behind you gradually bring light and warmth to the hills and waters.

Refreshments can be enjoyed both indoors and out on the deck, with the titular Troll looking suitably grumpy – if smaller than expected! – standing by the door. His mood is possibly due to his size and the fact a kitten and mouse appear to be using his sack to play with one another. On the grassy banks just outside the café can be found a blanket spread under the shade of an aged tree, and a dance system for those in the mood for a little romance / exercise.

The Grumpy Troll; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
The Grumpy Troll

For those following the Calas trails, the Grumpy Troll makes for a tempting and almost ideal stop. I say “almost”, because for those on horseback using the park’s horses, stopping means dismounting and losing their horse; it would be nice if a further rezzer was placed close to the café – say by the sign pointing to it (perhaps with a hitching post, to give a further invitation to riders?). That way those on horseback can enjoy a break at the Grumpy Troll and then be able to resume their ride without having to return to either Mirrormere or Glanduin to collect their horses.

For those interested in reading about horse riding in Calas Galadhon, please read A little (Bento) horse riding at Calas Galadhon in Second Life.

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Petit Lac Des Cygne in Second Life

Petit Lac Des Cygne; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
Petit Lac Des Cygnee – click any image for full size

Petit Lac Des Cygne (“The Little Lake of Swans”) is a private estate that recently opened to the public for several days of each week (it is closed to public access on Mondays and Tuesdays). This is a stunning Full region utilising the 30K LI allowance designed by Cougar (Cougar Sangria). Were I to sum it up in two words, they would be: quite magnificent.

The setting in modelled after the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of south-west France, and is stated to lie some 100 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 kilometres from the Spanish border with France – both as the crow flies. Originally located on a Homestead region, the setting had only recently located to this Full region, and has been expanded upon by Cougar in the process to provide a rich setting, in which resides the lake of the title, a château, and plenty more to explore.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
Petit Lac Des Cygnee

The introductory note cards, provided automatically at the landing point, might read a little forthright, but the requests made within them are not unreasonable, and do state matters clearly. The region is open to rezzing props for photography; those who do so are asked to ensure they pick up their items after the fact, with repeat offences not being tolerated. A backstory for the setting has been written in two parts, and is available here (part 1) and here (part 2) on Cougar’s blog; I recommend reading both as they add further immersion to a visit.

Surrounded by the peaks of tall mountains free of the grip of snow, and whose slopes roll down to meet the region’s edge, this is a setting that very much has the feel of being located on the French side of the Pyrenees in, as Cougar points out in her backstory, the département Pyrenees Altantiques (which is also the adopted name for the region’s simulator).

Petit Lac Des Cygne; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
Petit Lac Des Cygnee

A track winds its way from the landing point, lazily meandering between tall grass and trees. It present a route around a local farmhouse (actually the Le Petit Café Cygne – about which you can read more here), complete with outdoor produce stalls, to the walls and gates of the château. Of modest size, this is nevertheless a fine house, with large courtyard to the front and formal gardens to the rear.

The path to the lake is to be found within the château grounds, and despite its name, it is of a reasonable size. Here, swans gently pass the time on the water, sheep graze along the lake banks, and a little outdoor café offers refreshments as it extends out over the water. All of this is watched over by a pavilion and a folly, standing as silent sentinels either side of the water. The latter is the studio for an artist, the former the setting for a small formal area amidst the wilder grasses, complete with astrolabe, statue and seating.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
Petit Lac Des Cygnee

The château is elegantly furnished, wonderfully representative of a house that has been restored with care and love, again in keeping with the region’s backstory. The formal gardens are carefully laid out, a modern swimming pool set back and below the main house so as not to spoil the period feel, while chess can be found on one of the side lawns. Close by, a summer-house perhaps offers space for formal balls or receptions, the doors thrown wide in summer, allowing music and laughter to drift over the gardens.

Cougar describes the region as a labour of love for her; one that has taken several moths to achieve. This is very evident in the care and attention to detail that has been taken throughout the design. There is a natural look and feel to Petit Lac Des Cygne that is simply sublime; perfectly topped by an ambient sound scape (do make sure local sounds are enabled); it is beautifully presented, whether your interest is in exploring, photography  and / or simple admiration. Places to sit can be found throughout, and make for welcome spots by which to pass the time.

Petit Lac Des Cygne; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
Petit Lac Des Cygnee

While there is a lot going on within the region that might affect viewer performance, Petit Lac Des Cygne is a destination that rewards patience, and which really should not be missed.

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A Moochie winter in Second Life

'Tis the Season - Winter Wonderland at Moochie; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
‘Tis the Season – Winter Wonderland at Moochie – click any image for full size

As thoughts among many in SL turn towards spring now the New Year is here, I thought I’d be a little contrary and pay a visit to a region still caught in the depths of winter – at least for the time being.

Maia Gasparini’s Homestead region of Moochie currently presents itself as a winter wonderland, even to the point of still showing the last vestiges of Christmas in places. It is a simple setting in terms of content, elegant and very snowy – although be warned that the amount of snow falling from the sky might adversely affect viewer performance.

'Tis the Season - Winter Wonderland at Moochie; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
‘Tis the Season – Winter Wonderland at Moochie – click any image for full size

Set within a broad wilderness, ‘Tis the Season – Winter Wonderland at Moochie lies richly wooded and blending neatly with the hilly, snowy sim surround. The landing point sits to the north of the region, alongside an old railway track emerging from a tunnel and with a couple of rail cars parked on it. Here visitors can get a map (texture) of the region that records points of interest. For romantics, the board also offers a walking rezzer. The landing point also advises using the local windlight setting, although I admit I flicked over to one of my preferred Annan Adored settings for the photos here.

This is a place where words of description are really superfluous; the natural beauty of the setting, coupled with its design and presentation means that the best way to appreciate it is to simply wander and discover. When doing so, do ensure local sounds are on, as the region is matched by an ambient sound scape that adds depth and can have you thinking about slipping into warmer clothes if you’re not already dressed for winter – as should be the case!

'Tis the Season - Winter Wonderland at Moochie; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
‘Tis the Season – Winter Wonderland at Moochie – click any image for full size

Among the things to discover whilst exploring are both ice skating and sledding, while the outdoor café (couple with little market) offers a place to sit and relax with a hand-warming drink while watching others skate or sled. Follow the sounds of singing, and you’ll be led to the local chapel, where a service appears to be in full swing.

Scattered throughout the region are places to sit and cuddle or chat, from sleighs to the backs of carts to sheltered seats or a camp site warmed by a blazing fire. But, as I said, this is a setting that’s best visited – particularly with a close friend or loved one – rather than described; therefore, I suggest that if you do feel like basking in another touch of winter, be sure to visit soon!

'Tis the Season - Winter Wonderland at Moochie; Inara Pey, January 2019, on Flickr
‘Tis the Season – Winter Wonderland at Moochie – click any image for full size

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A road trip to Maoz in Second Life

Maoz; Inara Pey, December 2018, on Flickr
Maoz – click any image for full size

Take a break from the cold and come hang out at Maoz! It’s a little tropical retreat that’s inspired by the idyllic, provincial life in the Philippine Islands. Take pictures, surf, play games with friends or just frolic in the water and the sand.

So reads the description for Maoz, a Homestead region I dropped into after seeing Loverdag’s images at the start of the year. Designed by Cate Ansaldo (CATEvogel) and Dylan Vogel (LordDylan Ansaldo), this is simple region with the design intended – as the description indicates – to reflect the provincial Philippine life. Surround by low-lying hills that don’t quite adjoin the region, it has the feeling of a coastal location through which a broad road passes, beaches to one side offering surf and volleyball, overlooked by a parking lot where it is easy to image passing tourists pausing to take photos.

Maoz; Inara Pey, December 2018, on Flickr
Maoz

Rising in uneven steps from west to east, the setting is marked by water tumbling through a series of falls, small shanty houses scattered between rocks and trees, and the ribbon of the road, which together with the vehicles scattered along it, gave me the impression I was perhaps on a road trip. Roadside huts and shops sit as possible distractions for drivers, promises of food and beer presenting the temptation for a stop along the way.

Tucked away on one corner of the region sits a small but homely house, a Toyota Land Cruiser parked alongside, doors open and roof rack laden as if someone is about to take to make a journey or has just returned from a trip to somewhere. Not far away is one of those tempting stops, the bicycle laden with platters of fresh fruit outside apparently enough to persuade one driver to swing across the road and pull up, the No Parking sign under which it has been parked clearly not a deterrent.

Maoz; Inara Pey, December 2018, on Flickr
Maoz

Off the coast to the west, reached by a long board walk clearly placed by the locals to avoid the rolling surf, lies a bar built within the confines of a rocky sandbar rising above the waves. A makeshift place, constructed in part from the fuselage of a wrecked ‘plane, it’s clearly a popular stopping point: the rusting flank of the aircraft is festooned with the autographs of visitors past. Those who don’t fancy the walk out to it can find refreshments and sweets at Linda’s Store on the beach, within easy reach of the volleyball net awaiting players.

Scattered around the region are numerous places to sit, indoors and out – including a caravan perched at the top of a steep track and offering views out to sea, and back over the waterfalls down to the rolling surf, or within (or on) the VW Beetle parked at the landing point. Rezzing is also open to visitors, making this an ideal place for photography. However, as auto return is disabled, please do remember to pick up anything you set out, should you choose to do so. There is also a Flickr pool open for submissions of images taken.

Maoz; Inara Pey, December 2018, on Flickr
Maoz

As notes, a simple, photogenic layout that offers a place to get away to while waiting for the snowy, winter regions to warm themselves up as thoughts now turn to spring in the northern hemisphere. It is also, apparently, a place given to occasional squalls of rain, so when visiting, you might want to keep a brolly handy!

SLurl Details

  • Maoz (Forbes Isle, rated: Adult)