A touch of sci-fi at WQNC in Second Life

WQNC, January 2023 – click any image for full size

Update: well, that went well. As noted by Gino Wanderer Elf in the comments, it appears that as of Sunday, January 29th, WQNC is no more, and the region has reverted to Dream Seeker Estates. As a result, SLurls have been removed from this article.

It was back to  WQNC – formerly Wo Qui Non Coin -, the region held and generally designed by Maasya and which I first visited a year ago, and then again at the end of 2022. The reason for so recent a return is that the design for the region is updated every two months, and the first iteration for 2023 is available for people to enjoy.

Every iteration of the region brings something new and different, and for the start of 2023 Massya presents an engaging take on the world of science fiction / fantasy with a little hint of Roswell thrown into for good measure. For purposes of my own – and as teleports are open in the region – I’ve opted to give an arrival point for visitors going there from this post which stands apart from the region’s landing point.

WQNC, January 2023 – “Are these the droids you’re looking for?”

Instead, my choice of landing point sits on the black surface of a road stretching across a desert landscape, high mesas and mountains standing around it like sentinels. An advertising hoarding for the SL equivalent of a popular lemon-lime soft drink. However, this is not what holds the attention for those arriving here.

That belongs to the scene spread across the landscape: a town-that-is-not-a-town; a place with a high-rise of stacked cargo containers and towers pointing into the sky topped by parabolic and microwave dishes and large wind turbines provide power.

WQNC, January 2023

And that’s just the start of things. This is a place watched over not only be the surrounding peaks, but also giant steel balls cut to form mask-like faces and marked by aged roads with equally aged road vehicles close by, huge and heavy power cables, hover cars and hover bikes.

This is a place of strange residences and and businesses; a place where gigantic vents sitting above the sand have been turned into homes, where a bric-a-brac store sits sells R2 units alongside of Nintendo games consoles, old PCs and television sets, somewhat lewd arcade games and more.

WQNC, January 2023

Two crashed flying saucers sit within the “town’s” boundaries, one of them possibly responsible for downing one of two warp gates that once faced one another along the length of the dust-saddled main road. Now toppled and smashed into the road’s surface, the broken gate appears to retain some power running through it, but it leaves its twin at the other end of the road as the only remaining fully powered gate for suitable vehicles to use.

Exactly what this place may be and where it might exist is up to your imagination. Answers might be found at the bar sitting under the tallest of the towers within the setting. Or perhaps you’ll only find cool alien or oriental beverage awaiting you, served by the bar’s interesting mix of staff.

WQNC, January 2023

“Interesting” is probably the best term to define the fusion of ideas and influences apparent here. As well as elements from Star Wars, the Roswell-like aliens, and the oriental touches, visitors might again a hint of Ernest Cline in the shipping containers in their “high rise” and an echo of Ghostbusters in the presence of Mr. Stay-Puft, and so on. All of which made careful eyeballing of the small details within the region worthwhile.

 

WQNC, January 2023

A Highland Retreat on Second Life

Highland Retreat, January 2023 – click any image for full size

Clifton Howlett, often working in collaboration with friends, is a region designer who always produces something very special to visit and appreciate. Over the years, I’ve written about the various regions designs he has produced / co-produced, from those celebrating Walter Moers’ Zamonia series, which I wrote about in 2020 and again in 2021, and his “hidden” regions (Hidden Lake and Hidden Bottle, which I covered in May and October 2021) and onward. So it was a good deal of delight that I headed off to visit his latest Homestead region design, Highland Retreat.

Built with the support of Coralile Resident, the region is described as:

An idyllic Scottish island perfect for relaxation. With picturesque landscapes, cosy cottage and hidden secrets, it offers a peaceful escape from daily life. Ideal for nature lovers and tranquillity seekers.

– Highland Retreat About Land

Highland Retreat, January 2023

Which is actually saying the very least about this rural, almost pastoral setting; a place rich in inspiration and with a rugged and natural beauty which draws visitor in and invites them to stay.

Visits start on a small isle to the north-west of the region, linked to the larger isle by a small bridge as it spans the narrow channel between the two. A track meanders gently over the undulations of the main island from this bridge, pointing the way generally south-east and passing between and open-air events space using what might the flagstones of an otherwise demolished building or the stones taken from the older walls of the building across the track from it or for the dance floor area.

Highland Retreat, January 2023

The building from which these stones may have come sits on a shoulder of rock, looking over the track and event space to the island’s eastern coastline. The track itself twists around the rocky side of this bluff-like hill to reach the entrance to the building, branching a couple of times as it does so.

To say this it is quite magnificent in design would be an understatement; it is one of the more unique structures I’ve come across in Second Life just for its mix of architectural sensibilities and clear sense of age and semi-organic growth. Called the No Cottage Bizar CM Build, it is by Marcthur Goosson, and while I’ve seen several of his buildings used in public regions across SL, this is the first time I’ve encountered this particular design. It suggests a fortified manor house of the kind common to the north of England and to Scotland, which had been naturally extended during its long occupation, prior to falling into ruin and abandoned (leading to the re-use of old stone for the dance area mentioned above?), only to be given a new lease of life courtesy of modern building materials and engineering techniques.

Highland Retreat, January 2023

Sitting on the island’s highest point and overlooking the channel separating the landing point from the rest of the region, this building has a lot to offer visitors and is highly photogenic in its own right, indoors and out – more, in fact, than might first be apparent. A boardwalk runs outward from the small garden on its west side, connecting it with a large deck built out over the cliffs of the channel. Also on this side of the building, and a little further south from the garden, is a smaller ruin. Built from bricks and mortar, it appears to have been constructed much more recently in the island’s history – but not so recent that it also fell into disuse at some point, the single surviving window suggesting it might once have been a little chapel.

These chapel remnants overlook the sweeping curve of one arm of the track as it passes around a rocky outcrop to reach a small meadow. This is home to a series of standing stones, suggesting the island has been occupied from the earliest times, the stones roughly hewn and lacking the more regular finish associated with more famous henges. A long, altar-like slab of rock sits within them, its top carved, its base wrapped in a low-lying mist. a swirl of wind sweeping a spiral of blackened petals up into the air, sparking the imagination to think of sacrifice and burning…

Highland Retreat, January 2023

To the east of this, the land slopes gently down to the south-eastern coastline, the grass connected to another arm of the island’s track by a further boardwalk. From this headland, complete with bench seat, it is possible to look back along the curving eastern shore and the shallow arc of its bay to where a dock sits out over the water, a motor launch tied-up alongside. The southern coastline can also be partially seen from here, birch trees obscuring some of the view, as it sweeps back west and then north, a little camp site and fishing raft just visible, encouraging visitors to walk to them.

Just as this part of the coast starts to turn northwards, so to does the land rise, forming a grass-covered shoulder to protect the standing stones from sea-spray. Rocky, sloping cliffs drop to the water from here, partially masking the island’s secret: a set of drowned steps sitting above a great archway carved from the living rock, a shimmering blue portal within its span forming a gateway to a hidden cavern – which I will leave to you to visit.

Highland Retreat, January 2023

Set under a suitably dour sky mindful of the weather in Scotland, Highland Retreat offers itself to many EEP settings (I took the liberty of taking some of the photos here under my preferred “travelling” EEP settings), and offers multiple places to sit for those who wish to tarry within its borders either on their own or with someone close to them. Needless to say, opportunities for photography abound, and the entire setting is rich with a sense of place which makes visiting a joy.

In this latter regard, wandering across the grass, poking at the ruins and standing stones, I felt mindful of places along the north coast of Scotland, notably close to the coastlands of Caithness and also, conversely, parts of England’s Northumberland coast (a part of the country I deeply love and have spent a lot of time exploring). In this, Highland Retreat continues the tradition of all of Clifton’s designs in setting free the imagination and letting it roam through the landscapes he and his creative collaborators provide.

Highland Retreat, January 2023

Definitely one to catch while it is available.

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A visit to a hidden Library in Second Life

The Great Library of Eruanna, January 2023 – click any image for full size

Sam Rougefeu, by way of Twitter, alerted me to The Great Library of Eruanna, located close to the south-western coast of the northern continent of Gaeta. Occupying a quarter of a Full region, this is an imaginative build by Amara Shino, forming both her private home and a place open to exploration by visitors and  light role-play is welcome.

I say imaginative, as it takes the form of a stone castle sitting over a honeycomb of tunnels, caverns, halls and rooms – all of which is sitting on and within a giant floating island of rock. As such, despite the apparently small land area for the setting, it has – literally – a very real sense of depth to it.

The Great Library of Eruanna, January 2023

The landing point sits on one of the walls of the castle, immediately before one of the more notable of its towers (not that many are not noticeable!) and offering a view down into the main bailey.

The architecture is a curious mix, the design suggesting this is a place which has grown organically rather than any planned development. The tower immediately in front of the landing point perhaps offers the first curiosity, a tampering, angular finger topped by a single-story house extending beyond its narrow top on a wooden platform.

Across the grass sitting outside of the castle walls is another tall, angular tower, this one offering a sense of mystery to it, being the home of an apothecary / alchemist, the vapours from cauldrons within its the ground floor escaping under the front door. Stairs climb the inside of this tower, allowing an escape from the vapours to the upper levels – including an enclosed bridge spanning the gap between this tower and a great shoulder of rock rising over the bailey of the castle.

A Hobbit-like front down sits at the foot of this shoulder (one of two Hobbit houses backing their way into the rock, each furnished in a manner that should keep orc, dwarf hobbit or human in reasonable comfort), while the flat top is home to more spire-like towers with conical roofs of another castle awaiting exploration.

The Great Library of Eruanna, January 2023

This upper castle can be reached in one of two main ways: via the narrow tower rising from the keep of the lower castle, or via a path winding up the shoulder of rock itself. Both of the castles present multiple rooms to explore, one of the rooms in the lower keep hinting at the use of the building as a library, the walls lined with cabinets of scrolls.  But this is just the start.

The real secrets of this place  lie within the tunnels and caverns below the towers, keeps and little houses, together with the rooms they contain. These tunnels can be can be accessed from more than one point, but I’m not about to spoil things here by listing any of them; you’ll have to visit yourself to find them. All I will say is the majority – but not all – can be found within the castle.

The Great Library of Eruanna, January 2023

Once within the tunnels, you’ll again find there is much to explore, including the great library itself, tucked away in the depths of the rock. Spanning multiple levels and comprising several rooms, this is an ideal setting for casual role-play. Part of it even comprises a tower built within the living rock, its floors linked by wooden stairways and an open-sided elevator passing level after level of bookcases.

The lowest level of this “tower” accesses another larger hall; at one time, this may have also been a used to store books and scrolls, but it now stands empty, the upper floor broken, and only the side rooms remaining in use.  But books are not all that might be found here; some of the caverns have been turned into catacombs where mummified bodies lay at rest – those of past librarians perhaps? You decide

The Great Library of Eruanna, January 2023

I could write more here, but as noted above, this is a location thoroughly deserving of exploration – and as such, I’ll break off here and encourage you to do so!

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A wander through Gothbrooke Forest in Second Life

Gothbrooke Forest, January 2023 – click any image for full size

Sitting within one-eighth of a Full region (which utilises the Full Private region land capacity bonus) is Gothbrooke Forest, a public setting designed by Myka Winchester (Dremonawolfe) as, to quote the setting’s About Land description:

A gorgeous rustic themed forest complete with a serene pond and plenty of places to cuddle with your partner or simply take photos.

– Gothbrooke Forest

This is a gently relaxing setting, comprising a house – Cory Edo’s excellent Noa Ranch Cottage, which I’ve had my eyes on as a possible purchase for personal use (so get ready for a blog post on modding and using it that might be forthcoming) -, woodlands in autumnal colours, and a large body of water around which the trees have gathered.

Gothbrooke Forest, January 2023

The landing point sits close to the house at the eastern extreme of the parcel, alongside sign board offering group membership and / or a teleport up to the Mysteria store. At the time of my visit, I was not sure if the house was open to the public or not – while there were no signs to indicate it was not, I erred a little on the side of caution. However, Myka has since contacted me to let me know that it is indeed open for people to explore.

Running parallel to the front of the house is a gravel path leading to the first of the setting’s cuddle-spots: a small pergola among the trees. Here blessing can be had from the small figure of Buddha and which, under the shroud of Midnight, can be romantically lit by a parade of candles.

Gothbrooke Forest, January 2023

Before reaching it, a junction in the path leads west to the parcel’s waters (or back to the house if you prefer!). The waters are fed by tall waterfalls to the north, and as the path leaves the shade of the trees a wooden boardwalk stretches over them to what at first appears to be an island, but which is in fact a small headland jutting from the western extreme of the parcel. Steps can be found along the boardwalk allowing a descent into the waters, and rubber rings are available for floating around for those who wish to take a dip.

On the far side of the water, a mix of decks, gravel and log-supported paths climb up to a ring of trees and and an outdoor seating area beyond which sits a small café.

Gothbrooke Forest, January 2023

Prior to reaching the clearing, stone steps climb over the rocky headland and descend into a gravel-floored depression and another secluded spot for couples, this one furnished with a pallet table on which wine, cheese and crackers has been provided. It’s a cosy spot, but slightly spoiled by the fact that while the shrubs and logs ranged around the outer side of the depression give it a greater sense of privacy, they also block the view out over the water.

The latter extends two wet fingers into the land either side of the headland, both of them reach almost as far as where the café sits above them. Each is home to a water floater complete with its own sun shade. The café is a cosy place, two floors within a wood-framed building, and carrying with it hints of both Halloween and Christmas. As well as the outdoor seating, it offers comfortable armchairs downstairs and more traditional table-and-chairs seating upstairs.

Gothbrooke Forest, January 2023

The ribbons of land running along the north and south of the parcel to connect the eastern end with the house and the western end and the café offer no footpaths – which is not any loss to the setting. Instead they are rich in trees and rough ground, giving the entire setting a sense of being deep within a forest, as the parcel’s name suggests.

Small, rich in places to sit and pass the time, Gothbrooke Forest offers itself for a range of EEP settings (as well as its own – I actually used one of my custom settings in the images here), and multiple places to sit and relax. All of which makes for a pleasant and engaging visit for Second Life explorers.

Gothbrooke Forest, January 2023

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A Lyrical visit in Second Life

Lyric, January 2023 – click any image for the full size

An entry in the Editor’s Picks section of the Destination Guide for Lyric recently piqued my curiosity, although I found it a struggle when it came to blogging about – not because there is anything wrong with the setting; it is simply that I’m cautious about writing-up locations that might public spaces and rentals, as is the case here. However, the setting is photogenic, so I decided to take some photos and offer a brief write-up.

Lyric is inspired by the Caribbean Islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, where the architecture of different eras meet the uniqueness of the Island’s natural landscape. It is composed of three regions streamed together to offer its residents and visitors an opportunity to sail between them. Come live, love, and play!

Lyric estate About Land

Lyric, January 2023 – click any image for the full size

This is in fact a couple of regions within a small estate. The first is a Full region utilising the land capacity bonus. Split between public spaces and rentals; it is joined on its eastern side by a Homestead region, both of which have been designed by Algernon (Algernon Bamaisin). A further point to note – as indicated at the landing point via local chat – is that Group membership (free to join) is required to use some of the sit points, etc., found throughout the public spaces.

Speaking of the landing point, it sits on the main road circumnavigating the region. Sitting on the west side of the setting, it lies between an advertising board that repeats the greeting found in the About Land description and the local harbour, with the latter offering the the colourful mix of architecture referenced in that description can be found in the form of shops to rent. Above and behind these sits a small town square dominated by a church and, to one side by a nightclub space offering open-air dancing.

Lyric, January 2023

It is here where private and public spaces overlap: the loungers and seating at the club space are restricted to group access, whilst the east side of the square is dominated by two rental homes, the path between them leading to more rentals – these in the form of beach cabins – below, while steps climb the southern highlands to the region, where more rentals are located, public paths winding through them.

Between the raised town square and the waterfront shops sits a narrow alley with a north-south orientation. Accessed where the road runs along the region’s west side, the alley is called, appropriately enough, Gloomy Alley, it is home to some of the seedier aspects which might be found in holiday / vacation spots.

Lyric, January 2023

To the east, a terrace with a large pool offers a view over the water to the Homestead region, on which more beach huts are arranged – although at the time of our visit, they did not appear to be for rent. Two smaller island lie off shore, again with seating set to Group. A rezzer down on the beach can provide boats to group members so that they can reach the eastern islands and land mass.

The latter forms long finger of land with the cabins to the south and a ribbon of sand to the north, home to a large pier. Beyond this lies a further full region which appeared to offer a mix of rental and private homes; however, whilst designed by Algernon, it appeared to be under a separate group ownership, so our explorations didn’t extend into it.

Lyric, January 2023

Open to a range of EEP settings which lend it to photography, Lyric presents an opportunity for gentle exploration and, perhaps for those looking for it, a home with a Caribbean vibe to it.

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A winter’s Aurelias in Second Life

Aurelias, January 2023 – click any image for full size

For those wanting to obtain a touch of small-town winter might want to visit Aurelias, a Full region private estate held by Gorgeous Aurelia, and primarily designed by Sparkle (Sparkely Sugar).

Covered in a blanket of snow at the time of my visit, and sitting under a blue sky suggestive of a crisp winter’s day, this is a place offering a sense of old-world Americana, centred on a small town square where town houses mix easily with small businesses. The square itself – at least at the time of my visit – was still dressed for the holiday season, with snowmen, present boxes and Santa’s sleigh watched over by his little helpers.

Welcome to Aurelias, a place for all seasons. As you stroll along our shoreline, watch the seasons change and be enchanted by the beautiful scenery. Our lovely town is glistening with holiday cheer and humming with activity.

Aurelias About Land description

Aurelias, January 2023

It is within the town square that visitors arrive – and will be offered a teleport HUD by which to travel around and which provides links to additional information, such as the Aurelias website. Whether you need the HUD or not is debatable; the region is easy to explore on foot, although the HUD does form a handy aide-mémoire as to whether or not all of the points of interest have been visited.

These latter include St. Aurelias Church, sitting on a hill above the town to the north-west; the Bumble Bee Café and gas station to the south-west the artists’ retreat of the Conservatory, the standing stones overlooking two corners of the coastline, and more.

Aurelias, January 2023

All of them are easily reached by following trails and footpaths through the snow, bridges large and small offering the means to cross the local stream. As a part of the seasonal feel, the region includes a skating rink – a destination not noted within the HUD’s list of teleport locations, whilst the farm that is listed within it appeared to be absent as I explored.

Whilst this is a winter setting, there are signs that things are started to thaw, that spring is not far down the road; three are turning green and the blanket of snow is here and there holed by grass, moss and flower poking their way through in a promise of warmer times to come.

Aurelias, January 2023

This promise of warmer days is liable to see the beach running along the west coast become a lot more popular than at the time of my visit. Cut by the mouth of the region’s stream, the beach runs from below a large (and public) mansion up to where the local church sits.

Following the beach past the church will cause visitors to climb a slope and around the north side of the region to one of those islands of green and colour bursts from the snow. Located at the end of one of the town’s roads, this presents a covered area of broken and uneven cobbles sitting above a waterfall, the townward side of which offers a horse rezzer for those who would prefer to explore on horseback.

Aurelias, January 2023

Continue along the northern coast to its eastern extent and you’ll find the Rainy Café, a place that switches from winter to a sense of being in a tropical location. The snow gives way to grass and gardens sheltered from any off-shore storms by a reefs overlooked by a tall lighthouse sitting just off the coast.

As the name suggests, the café sits within a gentle fall of rain, its interior offers a dry retreat, the terrace just outside protected by the wall-height windows that hinge around their upper ends, and the eaves of the roof above them – although the decks beyond the terrace might suffer from a soaking should the rain decide to move!

Aurelias, January 2023

A charming location with plenty of opportunities for photography, Aurelias makes for a charming, easy visit – and I look forward to returning later in the year as the seasons change.

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