Taking wing with Made in SL

Marianne McCann gets a little Top Gun as she discusses aviation in Made in SL

The latest Made in SL video launched on Thursday, January 23rd, with a look at the aviation scene in Second Life, and featuring Second Life long-term resident, aviation enthusiast and SL historian, Marianne McCann providing the commentary.

Second Life aviation is a genuinely broad and layered subject to try to cover in under three minutes, but thanks to Marianne’s expertise in the subject, Aviation Made in Second Life packs a huge amount into its brief running time. We get a brief peek at SL history, with names like Garth FairChang and the legendary Cubey Terra rightly popping up, (Cubey actually got me into SL skydiving, which is kind-of related to flying 🙂 ), as well as touching on the range of aviation communities and flying-related role-play in SL by touching on the Passengers of SL group (a good way to get flying with the many airlines and charter flight operations that offer point-to-point services in SL) and a look at the work of the Second Life Coast Guard (SLCG) role-play group that combines airborne and marine vehicles and role-play in places like Blake Sea and its surroundings (I’d personally note that the Get The Freight Out community also encompasses flying – see: An inside look at Get the Freight Out in Second Life).

Also given the short time frame of the film, coupled with the breadth of aircraft content available in SL, Marianne wisely focuses on just a couple of options for getting into the air at the controls, pointing to Sherwood aviation – an ideal for those who wish to have a high degree of simulated realism in their flying – and to Arduenn Schwartzman’s Warbugs, which have been design purely for fun and to allow single-region air combat (I actually wrote about Warbugs back in 2012 in Bitten by the (War)bug, but I confess I’ve not flown my own Warbug “seriously” for about 3-4 years).

Flying in SL takes many forms and includes many different aircraft and aircraft styles. I don’t really have any good examples of “unusual” flying machines, but the Piaggio Orion autogyro is both fun (and challenging at times!)

However, given the range of aircraft is so vast, getting to grips with what to buy can be difficult. Hence, Marianne points to some of the more popular or bigger airports, many of which have vendors offering demo versions of aircraft. In this, places like Hollywood Airport and Hona Lee Field can be particularly helpful, as they sit on the edges of the wide open skies of Blake Sea, where having to compete with skyboxes occupying the same piece of sky as you is removed. Many aircraft makers also have their own airfields where demos are offered, so when parsing the Marketplace for ideas, allows be sure to click any link to an in-world location and go see what demos might be available and give them a go.

As a keen aviator in SL myself, I’d probably also add to Marianne’s thoughts by saying those seeking to ease themselves into SL flying and want to have fun without worrying too much about things like instrument flying via Mouselook or having to learn the correct start-up sequences and so on, might want to try the likes of DSA (available at Hollywood Airport, noted above) for fixed-wing light aircraft flying (I’ve covered several of the DSA aircraft in these pages, and as I noted back in A look at my most-used SL vehicles (thus far!), one of them remains one of my preferred aircraft today; while for rotary flight, the likes of Spijkers Aviation & Marine (just across the channel to the west of Honah Lee Field) offer a range of helos that are pretty easy to master and are a good way to get started.

Airports like Hollywood Airport and airfields can be found throughout the Second Life continents and along the interconnecting waterways and places like Blake Sea and its surrounding private estates

Of course there are some drawbacks to flying (like any other form of SL travel), such as region crossings. However, and like everything else, the best way of dealing with these is by practice and gaining familiarity with the grid’s behaviour. Certainly, fear of region crossings should be a reason to put you off.

All told, a great promotional / introductory video.

Waterfalls of Dreams in Second Life

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Waterfalls of Dreams recently popped up in the Editor’s Picks section of the Destination Guide, and has prompted a lot of interest from visitors as a result – including from Caitlyn and I. A homestead region designed by Jeramy McMahon, it is around two years old and offers something of a neo-classical look that those of us who have been in Second Life a fair while might find particularly reminiscent.

A place intended for romance throughout and with a fantasy  / fae lean, a good proportion of the region utilises prim builds – the docks, the raised dance floors and walkways overlooking the region from the east, the various pavilions and floating islands. In turn, these use shine on surfaces rather than materials and textures. All of these, together with the use of sculpties, give the region a sense of “old school” Second Life history.

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

Which is not to say mesh is not present within the region, just that its use has been minimised. This is a conscious decision on Jeramy’s part to “reduce lag”. How well this works is perhaps debatable  – lag itself is a highly subjective subject, given the volume of non-SL influences that can affect it; but it is an interesting approach to take. I will say I found my own experience in three visits to the region no better nor worse, performance-wise, than when visiting many other regions, prim or mesh in nature.

However, for me, what makes a visit to Waterfalls of Dreams attractive is that sense it being a place built upon that historic style and approach to design; one that has in some ways passed. It offers a deep sense of nostalgia and a sense of history, all the way through to the use of pose balls within some of the seating.

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

The landing point is located down at the harbour, which itself offers something of a faint echo of the prim docks in Nautilus – although those docks are more Greco-Roman in feel. A teleport board here offers the way up to the elevated dance floors, while a Teagle horse rezzer sits close by for those who fancy a ride around the region’s lowlands, or a balloon ride located on the far side of the piers presents the opportunity for an aerial view of the region.

Paths wind around the lowlands, leading to various points of interest – pavilions offering places to sit and  / or cuddle, statues to admire, and rivers of flowers to roam amongst. The waterfalls of the region’s title tumble from the cliffs behind the high dance floors to feed the waterways that also wind through the region. Their presence is augmented by falls tumbling from the more distant mountains of the sim surround (although issues of alpha blending can leave these bleeding through the sculpts of the region’s trees, requiring a considered use of edit linked and derender when taking photos under certain lighting).

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

The dance floors are watched over by two huge angel-like figures standing to the north and south of the high walkways. The dance areas are themselves split between two levels, a large blocky tower sitting to the east behind them forming a bath house that in turn holds aloft a large crouched angel under a domed roof. However, this is not the tallest structure in the region; that honour goes to a great tower rising to the north-west. Reached via teleport board from the dance floors, it offers places to sit and to pass the time with a loved one or for the adventurous, the chance to fly around the region da Vinci’s glider via the rezzer.

A flair for the exotic is also offered within the region through the use of elements by Elicio Ember and Noke Yuitza. There presence is few, which makes coming across them all the more effective; Elicio’s rune stones in particular give a certain air of mystery and suggestion of fae that is well in keeping with the overall tone of the region and its statues whilst also offering an otherworldly aspect to the setting that adds to its depth.

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

An unusual and engaging location with opportunities for dance, rest and photography.

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A Daughter of Gears and a Rabbicorn in Second Life

Bryn Oh: Standby

Currently open – for a while longer at least – within her home region of Immersiva, is Bryn Oh’s three-part tale of a mechanical girl and a rabbicorn (part rabbit, part unicorn, all mechanical). It’s a complex, multi-faceted story rich in detail and themes that requires time – and not a little patience – to be witnessed and followed in full.

The three parts of the story stand as individual installations that should be visited in order. One sits at the ground level of the region, the remaining two up in the sky. They commence with The Daughter of Gears, and then progress through The Rabbicorn Story and conclude with Standby. Within them, they enfold matters of love, lost, fear, life, death, longing, companionship, human nature, feature of technology / progress, and sacrifice, as well as demonstrating how all of Bryn’s pieces share a relationship with one another, being set within the same universe – or perhaps “Ohverse” might be a better term.

Bryn Oh: The Daughter of Gears

The three installations between them also have a long history, as Bryn points out in discussing their origins.

Daughter of Gears story was originally created years ago when I was commissioned by a company called Rezzable to make something for an existing region called Black Swan … The second and third parts were hosted by IBM when they were actively within Second Life.

Originally when the stories were created in prims they each were close to 20,000 prims for a grand total of around 60k. Far more than a sim can hold. But yay! for mesh which has allowed me to reduce the footprint down to 19683.

Bryn, commenting on The Daughter of Gears and The Rabbicorn Story

Bryn Oh: Standby

Bryn covers the unfolding story at length through her blog, so I’ll restrict myself to just outlining things here. All three installations are framed around a series of three poems, the stanzas of which are spread through each of the installations and presented in such a way we can only visit them in the correct order.

For The Daughters of Gears, this involves climbing a high tower to uncover a story that might be said to have, as a seed, within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus – although the two are very different in content. Here, a mother faces the death of her one daughter by building a mechanical body into which she can transfer her child’s soul. Unfortunately, the locals, scared by what she has done and regarding her work as an abomination, come to her high tower to put a stop to things. Ultimately, they fail – but at the cost of the mother’s life, leaving the Daughter of Gears alone.

Bryn Oh: The Rabbicorn Story

The story is told by climbing the tower itself – individual stanzas set on different levels. Now, to be honest, climbing the tower isn’t easy – to the extent that some might find it frustrating  – it is easy to mis-step / jump and find yourself back at the bottom of the tower (and I’d recommend using Mouselook in places, as the camera angles can be tight); however the scenes the climb reveal are more than worth the effort.

In The Rabbicorn Story, we follow the tale of a mechanical rabbicorn, it’s relationship with the boy form whom it is built, and what happens when others come to covet the uniqueness of a mechanical intelligence and how it might be used – for good or ill. The initial part of the story might be said to have a seed in a modern-day “classic”, this one Peter. Paul and Mary’s Puff The Magic Dragon (notably the lyrics dealing with dragons (or in this case Rabbicorns) living forever, but no so little boys). Forced on the run from, but tracked by, the scientists that covet it, the Rabbicorn eventually finds its way to the tower of The Daughter of Gears, and in the third part of the tale, Standby, we follow the attempts by the two of them to find a new home together, little realising they are being tracked.

Bryn Oh: The Rabbicorn Story

These latter two parts of the tale are navigated by teleport rather than climbing – although for obvious reasons, a section of The Daughter of Gears’ tower does appear. There is also something of a Transhumanist / The Matrix-like reference in The Rabbicorn Story, as revealed in Bryn’s notes on the installation: the merging of human consciousness with machines to make the latter operable.

It is also within The Rabbicorn Story and Standby that we particularly see how this tale is interwoven with other aspects of Bryn’s universe. This is most clearly seen by the the Rabbicorn being created within the same facility as featured in 26 Tines, while in searching for a place to live, The Daughter of Gears and the Rabbicorn come across Lady Carmagnolle, still standing alone on her broken stage (you can read more about Lady Carmagnolle and 26 Tines in A Lady and 26 Tines in Second Life).


Bryn oh: The Daughter of Gears and the Rabbicorn

Richly visual, deeply set in terms of themes and interpretation, these three installations offer an expressive visit in which it is possible to become thoroughly enmeshed within the unfolding tale. The outcome may not be what might be entirely expected – but again, it follows a tradition within storytelling and myth building.

Standby also has a link with another exhibition of Bryn’s art in Second Life, and I’ll be offering a few notes on that in an upcoming piece.

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2020 Simulator User Group week #4 summary

Souls of Dreams, November 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

  • There were no deployments to the main SLS channel on Tuesday, January 21st, although there are reports some regions were restarted.
  • An RC deployment is planned for Wednesday, January 22nd, but no details were available at the time of writing.

Simulator Issues

  • Some region holders are still reporting script runtime issues. There may be some work in the RC deployment to help with these issues, but again, this wasn’t clear at the SUG meeting, due to the lack of release notes.
  • There is some work to help manage scripted attachments and vehicles during region crossings, but no specifics given.
  • There have been reports of object_rez() events randomly failing. It’s not clear how widespread the issue is, but it is a known issue with the Lab, but a reliable reproduction of the problem has yet to be reported / found.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates to marks the start of the week, leaving the official pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version, formerly the Wassail RC viewer, dated December 4, promoted December 12. – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, July 16, 2019.

A return to the Countryside in Second Life

Countryside, January 2020 – click any image for full size

It’s been 3.5 years since we last visited Countryside, the full region designed by Dick Spad (see A trip to the Countryside in Second Life). I’d been attracted to the region as a result of visiting Dick’s The Back 40 even earlier (in 2014 to be precise), and as it has been a fair amount of time since our last visit to Countryside, I suggested to Caitlyn that we hop over and see what has changed. The answer turned out to be “rather a lot”, but in a way that preserves the look and feel of the region as it appeared back in June 2016.

In 2016, Countryside appeared as a farming location surrounded by a rolling, hilly off-sim landscape that joined with the region to suggest the setting is far inland. Marked by a train line to the north and a cut by a stream towards the south, the bulk of the land given over to crop rich fields and woodlands to the north and south, and Dick’s private home tucked into the north-east corner.

Countryside, January 2020

Much of this is still true today: the sim surround remains in place, the stream still cuts through the region from the falls and pool not far from the landing point, and the rail lines and fields remain. However, the differences are also present. For one thing the landscape is caught within a late winter, the snow slowly receding, although deep banks remain – presumably cleared from the tracks that run through the woodlands and around the fields.

Another change can be found with the fields. They are now less regular than before and bereft of crops – the latter point hardly surprising given the time of year represented in the region. More than this, however, is the the fact that two of the fields no longer appear to be used for crop growing, having become home to the region’s mix of diary and meat cattle and horses. A third looks to have been flooded, the water still frozen to offer a skating rink.

Countryside, January 2020

The farm is still much in evidence – the workshop and windmill still sit to the north-west, beyond the end of the rail lines. They have been joined by a line of grain silos I don’t recall from 2016, which give a new edge to the east side of the region. Also to the north, the field the cattle used to occupy appears to have at one time been the home of a winter market or faire, but which is now all but cleared out, with just a few things awaiting their time to be put away.

The woodlands in the region seem to be more extensive than I remember from our 2016 visit, and there appear to be more places to sit across the region – a further camp site (with a cave close by), a tree house, and  places that sit close to the local wildlife – perhaps a little too close in the case of the bears around the beaver pool!

Countryside, January 2020

A nice touch with the region is the placement of pose points. These use traditional poseballs (gold for singles, coloured for couples) – a point in their favour, as it makes them easier to spot among the tress and rocks – and I particularly liked the balancing act along the rail lines. For those who like a view from the air, a static hot air balloon is tucked into one corner of the region, offering a mix of singles and couples poses. While it might not offer the best sight when looking immediately down – that of the little rail yard – it does offer good views over the trees and back towards the landing point.

Another aspect with the current design that continues the core theme of the region is the feeling that this is really part of a much larger setting. It is possible to wander the tracks and trails and feel like you’re walking for miles, while all the points to sit encourage visitors to perhaps tarry a while and appreciate the views and the sounds, while there are lots of little touches that make careful exploration worth the effort.

Countryside, January 2020

I will admit to having a few minor niggles with the landscaping – some of the plants could do with Full Bright being turned off, and some of the snow banks appear to be floating over the ground on which they should be sitting – but these issues are easy to overlook or – when taking photos – avoid. While the default windlight appears to be set to early evening / night (or at least, it didn’t change during the course of three visits), the region really does naturally lend itself to a range of windlights; for the picture her I tried to set one that suggests a crisp winter’s day, in keeping with the snow on the ground, but with enough sunlight to sit with the idea of the snow being in a state of thaw.

Overall, we found our visit as pleasing and enjoyable as the first time we dropped in back in 2016.

Countryside, January 2020

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A union of Art and Fashion in Second Life

Art and Fashion Union: Sisi Biedermann

Have you ever imagined a painting come to life? When the image from the canvas expands the frames and steps towards you? When do paints and brush movements turn into folds of fabric falling over a figure?

So reads the invitation sent to artists requesting they participate in Art and Fashion Union, and ensemble exhibition of art that opened on January 19th, 2020 at the Dragon Sanctuary Gallery. It was an intriguing invitation: to offer three pieces of art for display, with creators / models invited to use the art as inspiration to produce new fashion pieces that are to be featured in a special fashion show to take place on the last Sunday of January.

Art and Fashion Union: Alpha Auer

I didn’t have the confidence in my work to participate, but I’m pleased to say some 27 other artists weren’t so shy, and have come together to participate in the exhibition, with each – as noted – offering three pieces of art. The result is an intriguing selection of pieces from artists who may well be familiar to some, new to others and some of whom may not have exhibited that widely of late.

The complete list of artists comprises: Carelyna, Etamae, EvangelinaBurroughs, Jessamine2108, Lampithaler, LydiaFairmount, MTH63, Mylena1992, SecondHandTutti, ViktorSavior, Alpha Auer, Michiel Bechir, Sisi Biedermann, GeeJAnn Blackadder, Sheba Blitz, Zia Branner, Ilyra Chardin, Kayly Iali, Anibrm Jung, Silas Merlin, Saul Morigi, JolieElle Parfort, Melusina Parkin, Tom Prospero, Jamee Sandalwood, Talullah Winterwolf, and Callum Writer.

Art and Fashion Union: Kayly Iali

The display is presented across the two floors of the gallery, and given the nature of some of the pieces, it will be interesting to see the fashion items produced for the show. Will designers seek out an individual piece for inspiration, or see several pieces as a means to visualise a design, or will they be drawn to a specific artist rather than one or more pieces?

Thematically, the work of Sheda Blitz, Alpha Auer and EvangelinaBurroughs, as three examples, present pieces that might collectively inspire a fashion design, rather than one of the three pieces each presents forming a single point of inspiration. By contrast Sisi Biedermann, Lampithaler and Callum Writer – to keep the list to another three – perhaps offer pieces that individually encourage designs based on each of them.

Art and Fashion Union: Callum Writer

Exactly how designers will get to choose which work or works or artist they see as an inspiration is unclear to me. But regarding the art on display as potential incentives for design work isn’t the only reason for visiting the gallery during this month-long exhibition: each selection of three pieces by the participating artists offers a unique insight into their work and how they look upon art and Second Life.

Those wishing to attend the fashion show at the gallery can do so on Sunday, January 26th, 2020 at, I believe, 11:00am SLT.

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