A return to Alpha Tribe in Second Life

Alpha.Tribe

Miro Collas recently pointed out to me via Twitter that it’s been over three years since I’d last visited Alpha Auer’s region, Alpha.Tribe (see Finding fool’s gold in Second Life for more), and suggested a return visit might be in order – and he was right!

From the region description, it would seem the current region design is a follow-on from the one I visited back in 2015, and carries a number of echoes of that build whilst presenting something new as well. Captain Nemo remains well represented, for example, with not one but two copies of his Nautilus present – both of them serenely circling the sky, making an interesting trio with a steampunk airship.

Alpha.Tribe

This time around I wanted to build a sim that (unlike the previous version which was around for a very long time) did not have any gold whatsoever – at least on the ground level, since the golden Blueprint City is still around on one of the sky levels. While the previous rez was called “fool’s gold” this one now is called “The Straits” because of the strait that runs through it. I am not sure that it has a theme, as did “fool’s gold” but I know that you folks will be spinning your own tales as you wander around.

– Alpha Auer describing the current Alpha.Tribe

Part of the ground area is an amusement park – the rides can be tried and Alpha recommends the visitors “thoroughly plunder the grab a duck kiosk”, but I’d caution on using the bumper cars: when I tried, the ride was … bumpier … than might be expected.

Alpha.Tribe

Also to be found on the ground level is the aqua gym, located within a floating geodesic dome, which Alpha notes goes all the way back to aqua gym that dates all the way back to her Syncretia region. Close by is a “chemistry garden” (look for the departing galleon), while towards the centre of the region is another reminder of the previous build: the crazy cat parlour.

Island float above, and in sight of, the ground level, while higher up, alpha has retained her Blueprint City, together with a new build, Midnight Wastes, which Alpha recommends viewing into the altitude windlight (Wastes Midnight). This is a stunning city-style environment built on a glass platform, its “reflection” visible below, ornate buildings and structures raised on stilts and platforms.

Alpha.Tribe

Getting around the builds is best achieved by walking / flying at ground level, and using the teleport cylinders that are scattered around to reach the sky builds (and which also connect to the ground-level areas). As with past builds this incorporates elements by Arcadia Asylum, which Alpha has re-textured and re-purposed to  suit her design and which share the region with works by other Second Life creators.

Always fascinating, rich in curios, Alpha.Tribe remains an artistic expression and pleasing visit. However, do be aware the region can impact viewers that are running with high draw distances, shadows enabled, etc.

Alpha.Tribe

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Touring CandleWood in Second Life

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandlewood – click any image for full size

We received two suggestions to visit CandleWood, a Full region making use of the 10K additional land capacity, almost simultaneously (thank you AJ and Miro!). Designed by Adalynne Romano (AdalynneReed), who also runs the region along with her partner, Doc Romano (Doc Battitude), this is a picturesque region with an About Land description that is certain to pique the interest.

Destination and community Sim. A whimsical journey of love and care with mystery, romance, and inspiration riddled everywhere.

CandleWood’s a treat for the eyes to see, come out and make your own story.

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandleWood

The About Land description goes on the note there are rentals in the region – but these are not excessive enough to make public visits a chore. In fact, and in a manner akin to Puddlechurch which we dropped into recently (see Exploring Puddlechurch in Second Life), CandleWood has been designed as a place to visit, with the eight rental units, forming a natural part of the landscape and placed in such a way as to not interfere with general exploration.

“I designed it to be a destination sim but for people who would like to live here, that option is available too,” Adalynne informed me as we visited. “There are five town houses for rent and three regular parcels.”

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandleWood

The five town houses are located in CandleWood’s little corner “town” on the south-west side of the region. Setting atop low cliffs rich a foliage and with their backs to the sea, the sit across a short paved road from an old railway station – this being the landing point for the region.

The layout of the street makes it clear that while it might once have been a busy place of commerce, it now experiences quieter times. The station itself is no longer active, with one of the aches glass roofs that may have once protected a platform from the elements has been converted into a covered seating area, nestled between station and the local tea house. The remaining platform also clearly isn’t in use any longer; the train parked within it is now more a feature for plants to grow against, and the single remaining track running down from the back of the station is now little more than a path pointing the way to explore the rest of the region.

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandleWood

It is in wandering along the street, passing tea house and café, peeking into the folly-as-a-photo-studio at the end of the road, that a part of the backstory Ryanna Foxclaw has written for the setting, and which can be found in Adalynne’s Profile Picks come especially to mind.

Just off the mainland lies and isle hidden in a thin mist of forgotten time. A busy town once driven by the railway and exports brought in by the ship, now gives way to a quieter, simple life. The fresh air from the sea, the wind blowing in the trees, and if one listens carefully they may hear the forgotten train whistles melody.

– Ryanna Foxclaw describing Candlewood

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandleWood

Perhaps the easiest route of exploration is via the old door at the back of the railway station (a second door is hidden behind the little tea house  and reached through the covered seating area. Going via the back of the station provides access to the old railway line that, as noted, offers a route of exploration. It also reveals just how extensive the town’s use of rail transport once was. Leading the way past old warehouses, it forks several times, often disappearing into what appear to be tunnels, offering a choice of possible exploration routes. Follow it far enough, and you’ll wind your way through the heart of the island to reach an old sliding, long overgrown and marked by a forgotten shipping container and a broken remains of a car, now used as a snuggle point

Note, however, this is only one possible route through the region, turn off the track in the little cluster of old commercial buildings, and you can follow the path around an aged warehouse looking out over the deck to the sea, and then along a shingle beach that skirts much of the region. This will take you to where a quaint little cottage sits to the south-east of the land. pen to the public, this can also be reached by follow a spur of the railway track close to the inland commercial units and passing through the short tunnel where it apparently ends. Two similar tunnels sit within the region, one in the north-east the other to the north-west – but take care with these as the former leads the way to two of the rental parcels in the region, and the latter marks the start of the Romano’s own home, so privacy should be respected.

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandleWood

The remaining rental property stands a grand house atop a table of rock near the centre of the region, commanding views on every side, water cascading from a pool to feeding a further pool below. This, in turn, feeds two narrow and crooked fingers of water as they flow outward to the sea, dividing the land between them.

And that is really just a beginning of all that is to be found in CandleWood; a place that deserves time and care when visiting, as there is much more to discover, including the elven-like dance area, the many places to sit and relax, the signs of semi-abandonment, the impressive footbridge, and more, all of which sit neatly within the backstory mentioned above.

Candlewood; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrCandleWood

Yes, the load placed on a viewer can make a visit a little heavy going if you have a lot of bells and whistles running, but don’t let this deter you. For photographers, the region is rich in opportunity, and Adalynne notes she and Doc run a weekly contest where they will pick one photo from those submitted to the CandleWood Flickr group for display at the landing point, and the photographer awarded with L$500. I also understand from Adalynne larger photo competitions might also be in the planning – so if you are interested, be sure to join the region’s group (which will also grant you rezzing rights – just be sure to pick things up after!).

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A return to Tokyo Street and a visit to Umi

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrUmi – click any image for full size

In October 2018, I wrote about our trip to Tokyo Street Subway Entrance, created by Paradox Ivory under her Dox brand and about which you can read more here: Emerging from a Tokyo Street Subway Entrance. Since then, Paradox has been busy extending this full region, both up in the air and down on the ground.

The main landing point remains unchanged, delivering visitors to the subway entrance from which the sky build takes its name. This leads up to the same street level, with its tall buildings and side alleys and roads, but whereas the tunnel at the far end of the road once ended in a blank wall, it now provides access to the extension to the sky build.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrTokyo Street South

Here, laid out around a grid of narrow roads are further buildings, including the Tokyo South Gallery, a small carnival area (with a tunnel linking to a temple on its far side, an apartment building and surface railway station. As with the original build, the attention to detail is excellent, complete with an atmospheric sound scape, with the outlying building shells giving a further sense of depth.

However, it is on the ground level and reached via a separate LM, that the village of Umi is to be found, hugging the coast of a small island (so far as I could tell, there was not TP connections between ground and sky). This is where the city can be left behind and visitors can explore the beauty of a coastal setting.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrUmi

The village is a curious and oddly attractive design. A sweep of buildings are nestled under the steep slopes of the island, partially sheltered by trees and rich foliage. These face another arc of wooden and cement buildings standing on what might have once been a sand bar or a sweep of rocks, but which is now clearly a man-made breakwater.

Examination of the houses on the breakwater will quickly reveal they are perhaps a little unusual. Their lower floors are open to the sea on one side, offering moorings and work spaces for small boats, although some have been decked out to provide extra accommodation space, perhaps to offset the somewhat compact – some might say cramped – living spaces of their upper floors. Be aware that four of them – the cement-faced units – are available as private residences.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrUmi

To the west of the village are working wharves and a warehouse. Fishing boats are tied-up alongside, possibly waiting for the next tide and nets are set out to dry. To the east of the island is a fuelling station, it and the wharves neatly bracketing the village. Alongside the fuelling station is a pedal boat, if you’re careful you can ride own around the island – but take care getting off the boat, any attempt to double-click TP to land will bounce you back up the the main landing point in the sky.

When we first visited Tokyo Street Subway Entrance, we found it to be engaging, detailed, beautifully modelled and presented. That is still the case now – although I admit to finding the Tokyo Street South extension a little too hemmed in and claustrophobic in places. It does, however, provide an interesting contrast with the ground level village setting, which is eye-catching, taken together. they both sit as a visual reminder of the different faces of Japan.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrUmi

The one major complaint that might be levelled at the region is that of performance; there is a lot packed into it, and depending on local settings ant the use of things like shadows, a viewer and computer can take a hit and end up struggling. So, be prepared to make some adjustments to your viewer, should this prove to be the case. This said, for those with the patience, the region is worth a visit, and offers very different opportunities for photography within the ground and sky builds.

With thanks to AJ and Shakespeare.

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Dox, the region on which both city ad village sit, is rated Moderate.

Exploring Puddlechurch in Second Life

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurch – click any image for full size

Marty Triellis e-mailed me in late February with an invitation for us to visit Puddlechurch, the latest region design he and Cherish Demonge have developed. The invitation came almost exactly a year after we had visited one of their previous designs (see A NonStop visit in Second Life) and Shug Maitland also pinged me about the region via IM, we set off to have a look.

Described as a residential / photography region, Puddlechurch is beautifully conceived and executed. Some 14 rental properties of varying sizes are scattered through the landscape, but you’d hardly know this from a casual visit; such is the design and spread of the rentals – up on hill, down in dale, on the coast, over the water – that without a count at the rental office, you’re be pushed to tell the number was this high.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurch

The landing point sits close to the rental office, in a little village-like setting towards the north-east of the region. Largely deserted, the village is little more than bricked and boarded-up buildings, tumbled walls and a slightly forlorn little square, the rental office seemingly the last place of business still operating.

Three routes lead away from the square: east to a waterfront area (which I understand from Marty is still under construction). A similar path points west to the coast on that side of the region, while up a set of steps, a worn track points the way south, a tree-lined lane that passes the local chapel and graveyard.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurch

Which of these you take is up to you, but I confess, I found the westward path and the way it opens out to present the bay and buildings that reside there to be utterly captivating and beautifully natural. It is here that several of the rental properties are to be found, sitting close to the shingle beach or raised up on platforms build over the water and facing the mainland from the low-lying shingle bar that lies across most of the entrance to the bay, giving the impression this might once have been low-lying land that the sea has opted to lay claim to over time.

The houses out on the shingle bar are reached via wooden board walks. With a view out over the westward sea and the high peaks d the surrounding islands on one side, coupled with the view back inland on the other, these make for desirable properties for those looking for a home, their careworn looks adding a further layer of shabby chic to their attractiveness. Each sits within its own parcel, allowing parcel privacy to be used (each parcel additionally includes a security system) – a smart move given the close proximity of the public path running along the shingles betwixt houses and water.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurch

This approach has also been taken with the offshore units sitting on their wooden decks. Reached via their own board walks, these might be small, single room structures, but they also offer a little space for mooring boats (LI allowing!).

It is the breadth of housing style, as well as the landscaping that also makes Puddlechurch so appealing. If the small wooden cabins and houses on the west coast don’t appeal, follow the paths inland from beach or landing point (they all interconnect perfectly), and you’ll find a good mix of housing styles: a converted warehouse here, a town house there, a stone cottage in a corner; for those looking for an expansive property, there is even something of a manor house, and several of the properties have decks and / or planted gardens.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurch

Of course, what might be available for rent is liable to vary over time, so be sure to check the boards at the rental office, which will also furnish you with the rent and LI allowance for each property. These will also provide the estate’s rental guidelines, and I strongly recommend these are given a careful read through prior to renting.  When exploring, available properties are signified by a real estate (or if you are in America, a realtor) board outside, while memories of prices can be refreshed with the visit to the estate’s web page.

Cherish and Marty describe the setting as inspired by “British” countryside. By this I assume they mean a variety of influences from across the British Isles have informed the finished design. Certainly, there is no singular point of influence that appears to have gone into the design; rather, what is presented is singular and unique, carrying with it odd (and pleasing) little aspects of familiarity to anyone who has visited some of the more remote spots around the Irish and Scottish coastlines, or has visited some of England’s woodlands.

Puddlechurch; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrPuddlechurch

Whether or not you are looking for a place to live, Puddlechurch offers a pleasing visit and includes multiple opportunities for photography. Our thanks to Marty for the invitation and to Shug for the tip.

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A dip into Salt Water in Second Life

Salt Water; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrSalt Water – click and image for full size

I recently received an invitation from region holder Kye (Kyevaiy) to visit her Homestead region of Salt Water. The initial part of the region’s description certainly piqued my interest – “The cure for anything is Salt Water — in one form or another, sweat, tears or the Salt Sea”; but it was Kye’s invitation that captured my desire to pay a visit sooner rather than later:

I asked Tippy Wingtips to help me recreate a places I had recently visited in Mexico, Belize and the Island of Roatán. I sent her several photographs of my trip and she tried to duplicate many of them in order to capture the places I love.

– Kye (Kyevaiy) describing the development of Salt Water

Salt Water; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrSalt Water

Belize is one of those places in the world that has long fascinated me, and I was keen to see how elements of it had been interpreted in the region design, hence pushing a visit to the top of my list. Sadly, I can’t really speak for Mexico or Roatán – the latter was completely out of my ken until I looked it up, and my one visit to Mexico was limited to Sonora. However, what I can say is that, even without any in-depth knowledge of all the countries and locations used as inspiration for the design, Salt Water is marvellously conceived and designed.

The region presents itself as a rugged, tropical island that climbs slowly from a western bay up to high plateaus. It has also, at some point in the past, been split into two: to the north-east a narrow gorge break the land, spanned by a single rough bridge, looking for all the world like it has been cut over time by water action. Throughout the entire region, the attention to detail is stunning.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrSalt Water

“I loved doing this sim! It took me almost 3 months to get it the way I wanted it!” Tippy informed me. In spending several hours over the last couple of days exploring, I can see why.

The low-lying areas of the region to the west offer beach houses, sand, board walks over the shallow waters of the bay, open decks over both sand and water, all of which are woven together to present the most idyllic setting: the perfect vacation paradise. As the beach houses are presented for public access, there is no danger of trespass, and they offer additional places to sit and relax and become immersed in the setting as the westering Sun casts long shadows over sand and grass.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrSalt Water

As well as the waters of the bay, the west side of the island offers a small rock-encircled pool for bathing while the board walks continue over the sands, helping to form  – along with the bay itself – a natural boundary between the low-lying beaches and the island’s uplands.

The latter are reached via stone steps cut into the rocks  or an age-worn path, and rise in tiers, the trees slowly changing with altitude, with the palm trees gradually giving way to a small rain forest that hugs the upper reaches of the island. These tiers are cut by a the passage of water that cascades down falls and flows along rocky channels to feed the bay below.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrSalt Water

It is up on the highest level of the plateau, where the air is rent by lightning, the ancient Aztec ruins can be found, presided over by a large stone tablet raised onto its edge. These ruins, backed by the dense foliage of the rain forest, actually form the region’s landing point, and offer a marvellous lookout down and to the west to the beaches and the setting Sun.

Two paths – one at the foot of the steps cut into the rock of the plateau and which lead down to is first lower tier, the other running through the trees of the rain forest and then down through a rocky gorge, lead the way north to where that heavy bridge of felled (or fallen) tree trunks crosses the chasm separating the two parts of the region. Across it, more ruins await discovery while paths and steps wind down the land to the west, passing snuggle spots and look-out points until they reach the little beach of a headland.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrSalt Water

All of this only really scratches the surface of Salt Water. There is a wealth of detail to be discovered, from the way in which all of the snuggle spots, seating and look-out points offer views over and between trees to the ocean and the lowering Sun, to the inclusion of suitable wildfowl across the waters and in the air, to the selected sound scape.

A marvellous design, perfectly put together and well worth visiting and exploring. Photographs are welcome at the region’s Flickr group, and gratuities towards the upkeep of the region will be accepted by the monkey at the landing point.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrSalt Water

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A trip to Green Acres in Second Life

Green Acres; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrGreen Acres – click and image for full size

Green Acres is the name given to a Homestead region designed by Alsatian Kidd with assistance from Iniquity Constantine that presents a slice of rural Americana in a very photogenic setting.

The region is roughly divided into two parts: rugged uplands running roughly diagonally across the land from the north-west to the south-east, that presents an arc of cliffs to the low-lying lands forming the rest of the setting.

Green Acres; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrGreen Acres

The landing point sits on a low-lying table of grass eastwards of the hill, close to Cory Edo’s Yara Treehouse design, which is imaginatively built back into the stepped face of the rocky hills, water dropping in a sheet to one side, feeding  a pool at its feet where ducks swim, the water tumbling over a further small drop to meander away around the foot of the hills and through a narrow grassy gap between them.

This gap is shared by a path that winds along the stream’s bank, inviting visitors to follow. Beyond the cleft, the two part company, the stream continuing to hug the foot of the hills before it joins with a small river. By contrast, path branches before this confluence is reached, one arm linked to a snuggle spot nestled in the arms of the hills, reached via a little wooden bridge, the other running northwards over grassland. This path will eventually lead visitors to a lighthouse standing on a low promontory of rock and bracketed between a small beach nestled into a cove on one side and the estuary of the river on the other.

Green Acres; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrGreen Acres

The estuary is home to a small fishing wharf, while the river is spanned by a broad girder bridge, providing the way to reach the ranch that occupies rest of the region. The lands here are open to exploration, but visitors are asked to respect the privacy of the owners and not stray into the ranch house itself.

This house sits above the rest of the ranchlands on a low table of grass and rock that offers an excellent vantage point for keeping an eye on things, the house sharing the hill with grapes growing on the vine. Below them, the land presents fields and livestock grazing, with cattle, sheep and horses occupying the fields adjacent to a large barn. Close by, an orchard offers apple trees ripe for harvesting, while more rutted tracks offer a route around the ranch outbuildings.

Green Acres; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrGreen Acres

Beyond the ranch, the land closes back towards the hills, a large pool of water both fed by another waterfall and feeding the little river offering room for geese to swim and visitors to relax in a waiting kayak.

One of the things I like about Green Acres is the lie of the land potentially – and subject to respect and care – is one of those places ideal for exploring on horseback if you have a wearable / rideable horse. The trails around the region are ideal to follow, and the open grasslands offer plenty of room for grazing while appreciating the landscape from the saddle. But even if you don’t have a horse, the region offer a pleasant walk with plenty of opportunities for photography and for sitting and relaxing scattered around. There’s the kayak mentioned above, for example, a cosy little place on the beach, a picnic blanket spread on the grass, and the tree house near the landing point, to name but a few.

Green Acres; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrGreen Acres

With deer, bear, raccoons and foxes also to be found, birds overhead and a gentle sound scape to surround you while exploring, Green Acres is another  delight of a region to visit.

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