Exploring Dagger Bay in Second Life

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay – click any image for full size

Dagger Bay offers visitors a taste of Bruges and the Flemmish region of Belgium. A full region using the full 30K LI allowance, it has been designed as something of a team effort, led by region holder  Jaysun Dagger,  and it is a joy to visit and see.

We invite you to visit the beautiful Village of the Beguinage of Bruges and surrounding countryside. Please enjoy a walk on the forest path or relax in the coffee-house along the canal with a snack or something to drink.

– Dagger Bay About Land

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

A visit begins on the north side of the region, close to a bridge linking it with South Haven Bay, a Homestead region that appears to be an extension of Dagger Bay. As it also appears to be the location of private homes, exploring it should be taken with care to avoid trespass.

A second bridge spans one of the canals mentioned in the region’s About Land description, leading the way via grand gateway possibly once belonging to a manor house, to a gardened courtyard. What were once most likely outhouses lining two sides of the courtyard have been converted into places of business: a museum, a tea house, a studio, together with a cosy apartment, some of which have large modern windows cut into walls to offer views out over the water between the regions. Facing the gateway across the courtyard with its free-growing flowers and grasses, lies the manor house, now a residence on its own, but with the family chapel still adjoining it.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

The grounds of this white-walled house and its outbuildings is neatly proscribed by more canals, along  which stand the tall, high gabled town houses of the kind anyone who has visited Bruges will recognise. The grandest of these suggest they were once the homes of wealthy merchants who kept goods in the cellars under them, wooden doors just above the canal waters providing a means of them to be easily moved between storage and barge.

Beyond the town houses to the south, the land opens out. Broad waterways run through the middle of the region, the water breaking over weirs between low-lying islands. Wild looking, and rich in autumn’s colours at the time of our visit, these central islands can be reached via footbridge or a ford (do take note of the warning on the fallen sign alongside the ford!). Reaching these islands demand an exploration of the rest of the lands.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

This can be down by heading east from the landing point, along the shoreline separating the two regions. A cobbled path leads the way around a rocky hill that itself offers a look-out point across the region. It converts to a gravel path running between tall trees to where another brick bridge that carries it over another water channel.

From here, explorers have a choice: continue to follow the path to the imposing house occupying the south-east corner of the region, or take a right turn where the wooden fence marking one side of the path end, and thus find the way through the middle of the region, hopping from island to island.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

The big house doesn’t appear to be private property – there were no visible warnings as we approached it – but care should probably be taken in case it is. Certain its name – The Cloister – has a suggestion of quietness and privacy about it.

For those not wishing to risk trespassing, the path passes around the south side of the house, below the hight brick walls, to meet with a pair of bridges spanning the widest water channel cutting into the region. These lead the way to an imposing pavilion, screened by trees and with sheep and horses grazing peacefully around it. Furnished in an 18th century style, it has the feel of a refined summer-house offering a place to sit and appreciate the region, perhaps over a little tea.

Dagger Bay; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrDagger Bay

Fabulously designed and laid-out, albeit it with a couple of rough edges that could be smoothed out, Dagger Island is a joy to visit; a marvellous palette of colour and design to explore, photograph and enjoy.

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Dropping into Sisi’s gallery in Second Life

Sisi Biedermann

Sisi Biedermann is a prolific and exceptionally talented artist. Her work is quite unlike art produced within Second Life or uploaded and exhibited in-world. In a sense, thanks to Sisi’s imagination, style, and rich use of colour and ideas, to me it straddles the two. So many of her pieces could depict settings and situations waiting to be created in-world, whilst all offer doorways into fantastical worlds that come to life as virtual places within our imaginations.

As I’ve noted before, Sisi’s work is broad-ranging and so skilfully executed, it is possible to become lost in her techniques (which, I’d hazard a guess mix both traditional and digital approaches), so I was delighted when Caitlyn and I had the opportunity to visit Sisi’s gallery in-world to view some of her most recent work, which went on display at the start of November 2018.

Sisi Biedermann

Sisi notes her art and her time in Second Life are closely intertwined, and not just because of the numerous exhibitions in which she participates:

I joined Second Life in 2007, and back then I never realized how much this would mean to me. I started taking photos in Second Life in 2008, and have developed my style ever since.

Back then I had just started painting with acrylics after a very long break where I raised my children and looked after my family and my work. Today, I have painted several hundred paintings, and I still get a lot of inspiration from nature, second Life and northern islands such as Faroe Islands and Iceland.

All this brings me to where I am today and I hope you will enjoy my pictures.

– Sisi Biedermann on her art.

Sisi Biedermann

On offer at the gallery are around 50 of Sisi’s paintings, each one of them stunning in their colours, composition and presentation. Where a number of her recent exhibition have perhaps leaned towards her animal and wildlife images, this collection focuses more on her fantasy work and human studies, touched with elements of the mystic and science fiction in places.

Every single piece on offer is testament to Sisi’s skill; each one unique and captivating. So much so, that picking out a single piece from this collection is unfair; but I admit there is one piece in particular that completely took away my breath.

Perfectly placed on the upper floor stairwell, and passing unseen until visitors make their return journey to the lower levels, is The Evil Wizard, and it is quite the most stunning painting of the late Heath Ledger in what was perhaps his most remembered role: that of The Joker in The Dark Knight. The positioning of this piece means that you cannot fail to immediately be mesmerised by such a captivating image of Ledger as The Joker.

Sisi Biedermann

A truly striking gallery, and not one to be missed.

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A trip to 18th Century France in Second Life

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte – click any image for full size

Magritte is a two-region estate – Full (using the full 30K allowance) and Homestead – offering Second Life residents the opportunity to travel back in time and participate in the life of the people of southern France in the 1750s, just over half-way through the reign of Louis XV.

Designed by Benoit de Montgelas (ZeustheImmortal) and Florens de Montgelas (EganObelius), the town and noble houses here are said to be located close to the town of Bergerac, a sub-prefecture of the Dordogne. The introductory notes for the estate point out that the south-west of France was somewhat independent of the king’s rule (in the time of Louis XIII, some of the nobility here had even tried to separate from the rest of France), and there was also much rivalry between families and houses, all of which makes for a rich backdrop for potential role-play.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

In terms of the layout, most of the estate reflects the wealth of the region: the houses of the wealthy and landed are proud and expansive, encompassing formal gardens, high walls presenting an air of aloft privacy as they face one another across wide, cobbled boulevards.

The largest of these fine houses sits to the south, forming a grand estate, Maison du Printemps. Modelled in the style of Robert de Cotte, this is a private setting  – one of several in the estate, so do be careful to avoid trespass. However, it sits on land open to visitors, where horse riding and archery are both available. The horse riding is available to most types of horses available in Second Life, and championship races and fox hunts are announced through the estate’s role-play group. The archery system can be used with all types of range weapons – although obviously, it is preferred that weapons are kept to the period, there is also a request that the weapons available from the estate’s blacksmith, operating out of dock-side marketplace, are used.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

Role-play in the region is open to anyone wishing to join, and roles can be among the aristocracy, the bourgeois or the peasantry. Details of RP are available from the information centre at the landing point. So too are period outfits for those who don’t have them – simply join the estate’s group and take either the male or female outfit and collect the Out Of Character (OOC) tag also available to make it clear you are just visiting.

The town and docks, located to the west of the estate, stands in strong contrast of the grand houses of the nobles. Here the building are huddled together, clustered around the docks, almost medieval in style. This helps to give the town a busy feel, and is entirely in keeping with the period, where many towns hadn’t really changed too much over the years when compared to the fineries of architecture afford by the wealthy.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

As well as the horse riding and archery, fishing can be had within the estate and – for the nobles, perhaps – there are also formal dances and, the estate’s notes offering the following:

The “Salon blanc” is a ballroom for concerts, banquets and dancing. Festivities will be announced in our groups.
If you wish to host your own event, like a ball or concert, please contact the Barons for further information and planning.

In addition, a pavilion on the southern estate offers a place where a pleasing rest can be had following a walk under the trees, complete with a view across the river to Margitte.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

There are perhaps a couple of small incongruities in the estate; for example, the docks are home to a sailing vessel that might actually have found it a little difficult navigating this far up the Dordogne (there’s also a second lying a little off-shore as well). But this is Second Life, and a little license is allowed in how ideas are presented, and the docks do help add character to the town.

Overall, the estate is genuinely photogenic, and during my visit there were resident players to be found (OOC visitors are encouraged not to interact in open chat but keep questions, etc., to IM). I’d certainly like to thank Le Baron de Magritte for his gracious hospitality during my time at the estate, and for asking after my well-being.

Magritte; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrMagritte

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Somewhere in Time in Second Life

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

Somewhere in Time is a full region held by Quinn Holsworthy (Zoey Drammond), who also lead the team responsible for landscaping it. In keeping with the time of year in the northern hemisphere, the region offers a winter setting, rich in snow, which covers the ground and clicks to rocks and trees even as more swirls down from the pastel sky overhead.

Located just off the centre of the region, towards the west side, the landing point sits on the low-lying portion of the region, a place where snow-dusted terraces and flagstones surround a frozen pond ripe for ice skating  – as demonstrated by the penguins enjoying themselves on the ice. Wooden pergolas line two sides of the ice, while tall cliffs rise from the south side, crowned by the steel girders of a rail track.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

This track, bearing the weight of a steam train and its carriages, curves to the east and to one of the two tunnels marking its extremities. The tunnel occupies one side of a broad, rocky plateau, home to a white-walled chapel surrounded by a copse of fire trees. A finger of rock extends back inland from this plateau, forming another wall partially enclosing the ice rink. With a path winding down to the rink and its pergolas, this rocky finger is home to a social area lit by lanterns and warmed by braziers.

Lanterns are something of a motif for the region: more can be found floating among the trees or over the waters in places, more usually tacking the form of small hot air balloons bearing naked flames which presumably help keep them aloft.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

To the north of the region water flows freely through the landscape and trails wind through the trees, some  rutted and snow-bound, others bare dirt, connecting cabin to cottage to barn. Wooden platforms step down to the water’s edge. To the north-west, one of these paths rises to where a large house sits, a wrought iron fence guarding its snow blanketed garden.

All of this barely scratches the beauty of the region and the attention to detail paid in its design – those who have visited Quinn’s region of SilentRane (read here for more) will only be too familiar with her attention to detail. There’s the Christmas tree farm offering warm beverages (albeit with cars laden with trees driving towards it, rather than away from it as one might expect), the look-out point up towards the train-bearing cliffs, the deer, the horse-drawn sleigh awaiting couples, and so on.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

The amount of snowfall in the region can impact performance when exploring – in places I found my FPS bottomed-out at under 4 with shadows on, and didn’t climb too much higher with shadows and ALM disabled, so do take this into consideration when visiting. However, there is no doubting the photogenic quality to Somewhere in Time, and those taking photos are invited to submit them to the Somewhere in Time Flickr group.

Perfect for the season, picturesque, and with an imaginative design, Somewhere in Time makes for an engaging visit.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

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When Second Life might be a bit of a roller coaster

Master’s Amusement Park

I’m always of a mixed mind when it comes to amusement park themes in Second Life, never sure as to how well they really work in transmitting a sense of thrill / fun. This is not to critique the creators of such venues and the rides that go into them, but rather a reflection that for all its marvels, Second Life is still bounded by certain limitations that can impact the sense of immersion.

That said, there have been various roller coaster rides and theme parks I have visited in-world, and had fun doing so. This being the case, when Miro Collas suggested a visit to the Master’s Amusement Park, designed by Brick Masters (GeniusMike), I added it to my list of Exploring Second Life destinations, and on a sunny Tuesday morning (both SL and in the physical world!), hopped over to take a look.

Master’s Amusement Park

Occupying a sky build, the Master’s Amusement Park is a place of two halves. The “old” landing point can be found on the mainland, forming a “ticket office” and entrance. This informs visitors that the park is now “all new” (as of 2017 at least), and offering a “lifetime season pass” by joining the park’s group – although group membership is *not* a requirement to take to the rides. This landing point eventually directs visitors to a teleport that deposits them at the amusement park proper, a location I’ve used as the main SLurl in this article. I assume the split is due to the park having relocated from the Mainland to a private region in 2017.

A tram service from the latter landing point carries visitors up to the park itself, but I found this to be painfully slow, and on my return to the park after an initial scouting, simply used a double-click TP to hop up to the “surface” level. This is home to around 11 outdoor roller coaster rides, together with a log flume, indoor rides (some stacked one atop another, which I personally found visually distracting) and various other fun fair style rides.

Master’s Amusement Park

A local set of teleport disks link the major rides one to another, although reaching the majority can be achieved by wandering around the footpaths in the park. The emphasis is very much on the rides, so landscaping is fairly minimal, outside of the sim surround. The rides themselves appear to span all eras – prim, sculpt and mesh, some of which does give parts of the park a rather “old school” look.

The rides themselves run as smoothly as one might expect from SL, but whether they “work” for you is a personal choice; this kind of ride is one of the times when it’s hard not to feel that full visual immersion, were it possible, could only add to the feeling of being there – even in Mouselook, you’re still effectively looking at a flat screen depicting a ride, and while the sense of motion is there, it still lacks a little something to get the heart beating just a little faster.

Master’s Amusement Park

The big advantage with Second Life is that the realities of gravity, inertia and simple physics and the like aren’t a major constraint on rides, and thus some of those offered at the park can go that extra step: a truly vertical drops, exceptionally tight turns and track arcs allowing a lot to be packed into relatively small spaces, a log plume with turntables for reversing your direction of travel without the worry of water slopping everywhere, etc.   Whether it was actually a placebo effect or not is open to debate in my head, but it did feel as if the mesh rides – notably Olympia Looping – felt a lot smoother and more engaging than some of the other rides; but that could simply be because of a subconscious reaction to its more modern, sleeker looks.

As noted above, whether amusement park rides work for you in SL or not is matter of personal choice. I admit to that were it my choice, I’d perhaps opt for fewer rides in favour of a little more landscaping and avoiding the “double stacked nature of some of the rides; but for those who are curious about roller coasters and amusement rides in SL, Master’s Amusement Park certainly offers a lot to be tried out in a single location.

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A little Scottish Soul2Soul in Second Life

Soul2Soul Highlands; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Highlands – click any image for full size

Shakespeare and Max alerted me to the opening of the latest in the Soul2Soul series of Homestead region designed by Minnie Blanco (Minnie Atlass). As with Soul2Soul Bay and Soul2Soul River (see here for more), Soul2Soul Med (read more here) and Soul2Soul Falls, Minnie’s latest – Soul2Soul Highlands – is primarily a rental / residential region, but providing visitors keep to the public areas, there is a still a lot to be seen and appreciated as part of a casual visit.

As its name implies, Soul2Soul Highlands takes it lead from the Scottish highlands – or more particularly, as becomes apparent on arrival, the Scotland’s rugged northern coast, where the wind can blow cold, and islands look at one another across the chilling waters of the Atlantic and the North Sea.

Soul2Soul Highlands; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Highlands

With a series of off-sim islands scattered around it, the region immediately put me in mind of the Orkneys, although there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be representative of the Hebrides or the Shetlands (in fact Minnie states her inspiration for the region came from Skye and the Inner Hebrides). There is a wonderful wildness about the setting that fits the Scottish isles perfectly, not matter which of the major groups comes to mind.

The landing point is set well to the east of the region, where bicycles can be rezzed by those not wishing to walk. From here, the semi-paved, single-track road winds around the island’s central hill, curling up and over a low shoulder to the west, then following the contour of the land to sweep south and then back east to where a fortified manor house with distinctly Scottish looks about it stands on a small islet, reached by a single bridge – an ideal defensive point in times past.

Soul2Soul Highlands; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Highlands

Rental properties are set back from the island’s main road along tracks there are marked as private, making them easy to identify from the roadside. However, as the waterfront areas are also open to the public, some care should be taken to avoid trespassing when wandering the sands at the water’s edge.

As well as offering rental properties, the region is also bought somewhat to life by the presence of static “tourists” and “locals”. These can be found on the shoulder of the hill where the road turns and dips to the south: a couple wrapped against the wind as they walk through local sheep, two teenagers exploring the banks of a tumbling stream nearby.

Soul2Soul Highlands; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Highlands

Further along the road, a couple have stopped their SUV and are showing their little child the view out over the sea. More such characters can be found at and near the fortified manor house, all combining to give the feeling Soul2Soul Highlands is a place (while also piquing my curiosity to hop back to Soul2Soul River et al and see if their have gained some local characters as well).

One of the joys is visiting Minnie’s region designs is the care with which she establishes a location, and Soul2Soul Highlands is no exception. The blending of elements and kits from a variety of sources to create a ruggedly beautiful setting exceptionally mindful of the islands that inspired it. The houses are precisely the kind of properly one might reasonably expect to find along a stretch of Sottish coats: solidly built stone cottages, walls thick to keep in the heat of the fire, the aforementioned manor house with its crenelated roof, through to more modern wooden-framed homes that speak of wealth moving out from the towns and able to take advantage of modern building materials to keep interiors warm, and the inevitable barn conversions that are so often a feature of the countryside in the British Isles.

Soul2Soul Highlands; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Highlands

Public paths are not restricted to just to winding road or the coastal areas, either. Walk far enough along the former and a set of old stone steps will invited you to walk up over the humped back of the island’s spine to where a fell-like shoulder of rock offers a place for deer to roam and a view out towards the manor house to the east. A paths slopes gently down to from here to rejoin the road and it curls about the eastern end of the hill and so arrives at the bridge leading to the manor.

Another truly delightful design from Minnie, set beneath the perfect windlight sky and with an ideal sound scape to finish it. Whether you are seeking a new place to live (rental information available from a sign board near the landing point), or are simply looking for a new place to explore, Soul2Soul Highlands is an ideal destination.

Soul2Soul Highlands; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Highlands

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