Frogmore: more Swedish memories in Second Life

Frogmore, November 2019 – click any image for full size

We first visited Frogmore in August 2019, when it was located on a Homestead region. It has now relocated to a Full region that include the 10K land capacity bonus, and we were invited back to take a further look at the expanded setting by Bengta’s SL partner, Atze Boucher.

In the original build, Frogmore offered a focused interpretation of a childhood in Öregrund, Sweden. with the new Full region installation, that focus is broadened somewhat, with Bengta and Atza noting, ” we share with you a touch of life in Sweden and the magic that is Scandinavia”.  This has resulted in a location that blends much of what will likely be familiar to those who visited the original Frogmore with much that is new, thus presenting a setting that carries with it a sense of returning to a familiar place in life, whilst also offer more opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Frogmore, November 2019

For those who have visited previously, that sense of familiarity is imbued on arrival: the cinder road is still there, forming the landing point and pointing the way between wooden buildings sitting on a narrow waterfront with the sea on one side and rugged steps of hills on the other. The ocean-facing wharves are still there as well, but a walk along the road will reveal that the buildings fronting them have been a little thinned out, before the road arrives not at a rocky headland, but at a large harbour market that may well be past its prime.

I say “past its prime”, because the main pier looks to be in need of repair, and the waters next to it don’t appear that welcoming to fishing boats (there’s even a poor piano caught in the detritus floating there), while the buildings on the headland look tired, with a couple now given over to entertainment, rather than serving market buyers with fish and produce. Even what might have been a large, solid warehouse looks to be in the process of being re-purposed as a art gallery.

Frogmore, November 2019

Elsewhere, other familiar sites await discovery. The rocky stream bubbling its way through one of the original setting’s two main islands, and which drew my attention during or first visit is still waiting to be found – although I don’t recall it being blocked off at both ends.

Other familiar elements include the need to scramble over rocks to get from place to place in some part of the region, which can give a sense of being on a hike when exploring, while the oyster bar still stills above that main cinder-topped road.

Frogmore, November 2019

The move to a Full region has also allowed for expansion, with several new areas appearing in the new design. There are coastal camping cabins, inland paths switch-backing through the landscape between rocky spines and hills, leaping narrow brooks with the aid of bridges and fallen tree trunks. An old cable-car system runs somewhat diagonally across the largest island, while the two smaller island to the north and east show signs of more occupation that I recall from our August visit.

All of this makes the “new” Frogmore – or as Atze termed it to me, “Frogmore 2.0” – well worth exploration, as there is so much that is new – including multiple new spaces to sit on your own, share with friends or experience a little intimacy with a lover. However, it does come with a caveat: perhaps a little too much has been packed into the region in terms of unique textures and volume of mesh, as a visit can really impact viewer performance if you have options such as shadows enabled or have a mid-to-high draw distance (e.g. 120m or more).

Frogmore, November 2019

I also found the issue of the region surround taking time to render to be apparent here (an issue I experienced and other commented on with the original Frogmore). In my case it took some 70-80 minutes for the surround to pop into view, hence why it is absent in the majority of images here – all of which were taken in that time period. I’ve no idea how common this issue might be with this build – but a lack of the surround doesn’t unduly spoil the region’s looks.

However, those points noted (both of which can be dealt with by either ignoring the surround, or by making some adjustments to the viewer), the new Frogmore is as photogenic as the original. Those who do take photos are invited to submit them to the Frogmore Flickr group.

Frogmore, November 2019

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More hopping through Bellisseria

Everfaire Coffee Shop, Bellisseria

Back in May 2019, I produced a piece called On the Road in Bellisseria. At the time, it was intended to be the first in a series of “road tours” around the continent to various public places that form a part of the continent, and also a look at some of the public facilities – pubs, cafés, galleries, show homes, etc., that have been opened by Bellisseria residents.

For a variety of reasons, that idea didn’t go as planned, and given Bellisseria is a dynamic place, constantly growing in terms of physical size and population, offering a road tour isn’t easy. So instead, here’s a short list of places I’ve dropped into of late that might be of interest to those wanting to take a hop around the continent.

Many of the public places provided as a part of Bellisseria  – the Fairgrounds, for example,or Campwich Lodge, added with the arrival of the Trailers and Campers and the Bellisseria railway lines (see: Bellisseria: of Trailers, Campers and trains in Second Life) and original airstrip, together with the various bars, pool, beaches and undersea spots – are all reasonably well-known, so I’m again focusing on a handful of resident-provided spots.

Picards Wharf contains one of several undersea sites around Bellisseria, this one comprising the ruins of a sunken lighthouse in two parts, with accompanying undersea caverns (seen in the background)

These are perhaps a little harder to keep track of, simply because people have the freedom of choice with their Linden Home styles, that they can easily swap designs and purposes – so a house that might be a café for a time might later be switched back to being a cosy home, whilst a houseboat might switch from home to gallery and back again, depending on the owner’s desires. Nevertheless, the following were all current at the time of writing.

For art, two places in particular come into mind. There is Diamond Marchant’s Beckridge Gallery, and Ladmilla’s Gallery, which might be regarded as a “branch” of her much larger gallery, THE EDGE.

Ladmilla’s Gallery

Both galleries offer slightly different approaches to displaying art, with Beckridge offering a more “gallery” style environment at the time of my original visit (see: Celebrating Apollo 11 in Second Life and Sansar), where the focus is on the art, with minimal emphasis on furnishings. Ladmilla’s offers a more studio style of gallery, where her own work – including some of her images-with-poems, produced in collaboration with her SL partner, Eli Medier – is displayed in comfy settings with sofas and armchairs. Other galleries within the continent include The Little Gallery (RuffertasAlt), and Bellisseria Squirrel (Halo Rain).

Those seeking café or pub-style environments might be interested in Cain Wycliffe’s Bellis Blues Café. Taking full advantage of Chic Aeon’s add-on elements specifically for Linden Homes, Bellis Blues is presented as the continent’s only Blue-oriented café / club, and features regular events on Tuesdays (10:00 – noon SLT), Fridays (14:00-16:00 SLT) and Saturdays (20:00-22:00 SLT).

Bellis Blues Café

Staying with the café theme, those exploring the Trailer and Campers regions by train, truck or (most enjoyably) horseback might want to drop-in to Mitchel Torok’s Mitch’s Hideaway, a place that demonstrates just how versatile the trailer homes can be. An added attraction at the hideaway is the inclusion of a Teaglepet Animesh horse rezzer, allowing visitors to take a horseback ride on a choice of mounts – just remember to turn off your own AO!

Other cafés and pubs I’ve enjoyed dropping into are Soulgoodie’s Everfaire Coffee Shop and the Queen’s Head pub, run by North Crannock, one of the driving forces in the Bellisseria Citizen’s group, and which is modelled on an English country pub. A point to note when visiting resident created public places is that some may also include bicycle rezzers, giving visitors the opportunity to take a ride through the streets and along the paths of Bellisseria.

Mitch’s Hideaway

Further places of interest within Bellisseria include the The Drowned Mouse Arcade for video games, Jupiter Projects, promising “a series of limited engagement interactive environments” and the Pearl Dreams Business Compound, offering a “Surf Shack Café & Bakery, with Chopper Tours” and other elements. I can’t really vouch for any of these or how active they might, be as I’ve only paid them very brief visits courtesy of a landmark list provided by PrudenceAnton.

As with my previous piece on places to visit in Bellisseria, this article is hardly complete – and as noted, places may change purposes over time. However, whether you have property in Bellisseria and want to explore more or are simply curious about paying the continent a visit and looking around, hopefully what is listed here might help you. Those interested in events in Bellisseria might want to take a poke at the Bellisseria Citizen’s Group, which is free to join.

Drune: a further visit in Second Life

Drune: East of Eden, November 2019 – click any image for full size

For the third time in 2019, I dropped into Drune, this time on the recommendation of reader Robin Lobo, although it is a place that has been getting a lot of attention of late due to a photographic competition that is running through until November 27th, 2019.

Designed by Zee9, we visited the region at the start of 2019 and then during the summer (see: Time at 2019-XS in Second Life, January 2019 and Drune IV: an Aftermath in Second Life, August, 2019), although Zee9’s designs go back beyond either of these dates. Throughout all of their iterations, Zee9’s builds have focused on a sci-fi / cyberpunk feel that incorporates certain key motifs drawn  – as the About Land description notes  – from the likes of Blade Runner and The Fifth Element, Neuromancer, and Altered Carbon.

Drune: East of Eden, November 2019

This latest iteration of the design is called Drune: East of Eden. Whether or not the title is a reflection of Steinbeck and the underpinning themes of his novel I’ve no idea, but given the dystopian state of human civilisation seen particularly within Blade Runner, and the novel’s examination of humanity’s capacity for self-destruction, the link would seem to perhaps be apparent.

Focused on a single, neon-lit street, complete with Spinner-style police cars buzzing and hovering around, the build perhaps leans more towards Blade Runner than the past two builds offered – although equally, there is less of a feel of the multi-level nature in the setting than previous builds that also move it a little away from that film. However, there are numerous nods and touches to a range of influences beyond the films named in the region description (one of the more obvious being Sulaco Corporation – a name that would seem to draw on the Alien franchise).

Drune: East of Eden, November 2019

There are familiar elements from earlier builds to be found as well – notably the subway that serves as the landing point, some of the vehicles, the little hovering robots, the night club and the bar. These help to give a sense of continuity to the setting that eases those familiar with some of Drune’s past iterations (such as 2019-XS) into this one, such that the feeling is not so much that this is not so much a new build, but another part of that city.

For me, the enclosing region surround give this iteration of Drune a depth perhaps lacking in some previous versions – and it is clear that Zee9 has taken a huge amount of care to ensure the the edges of the region break up the surround such that the high-rise buildings of the latter feel like a genuine continuance of the setting, adding to that feeling of depth noted above. It is as if one could walk through one of the road tunnels, the canyons between those skyscrapers would indeed lead to some of those past Drune designs, sitting as further outliers of the city.

Drune: East of Eden, November 2019

Always evocative, wonderfully thematic and rich in colour, Drune always offers a setting worth visiting and appreciating – and for photographers, the photo contest mentioned above gives an added incentive for visiting. Details can be found on an ad board in the landing point subway.

Recommended – and thanks to Zee9 for the chat.

Drune: East of Eden, November 2019

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Somewhere Else in Second Life

Somewhere Else BKLYN, November 2019 – click any image for full size

Somewhere Else BKLYN is a region design that’s be getting a lot of attention of late, offering as it does one of the more unique settings for Second Life photography.

Designed by Littlesquaw and ToXxicShadow, it presents an urban setting (the name suggesting it might be drawn from Brooklyn, New York), looking across a narrow stretch of water (the East River) towards the shining towers and sky scrapers of a city’s beating heart.

Somewhere Else BKLYN, November 2019

The region – a Homestead – offers its own high-rise buildings, but these are dwarves in comparison to those across the water, and they are sa lot shabbier. They form what appears to be little more than a thoroughfare for traffic that is busily trying to get among, or coming from, the gleaming spires of the city. Two busy roads run into the scene from a single bridge that reaches out towards the city’s promise of wealth and (literally) high life, the occupants of the vehicles cramming them perhaps unaware of the place they are attempting to drive through and the fact that it has life of its own.

Perhaps they prefer not to dwell on thoughts of those living in this seedier setting that sits between plush office and outlying suburban home. Which is a shame, as there is the promise of life all around in the side streets and alleys here; even if it does form a mixed bag.

Somewhere Else BKLYN, November 2019

Down one street, for example, sits an oriental market, complete with open air food stands where meat sizzles on hotplates above naked flames and seafood broils in a broth. Elsewhere, a sign sitting atop a building, but at a distant eye-level from the roads here offers the promise of Little Italy, while flashing neon signs entice with offers of food or other distractions.

This is a place where art comes in the form of wall-covering graffiti and where age is always apparent – not just because of the grime and stains of automobile exhausts and decades of wear-and-tear on road surface, sidewalk and building, but also in the way old-style wooden advertising hoarding rub shoulders with their more modern electric counterparts.

Somewhere Else BKLYN, November 2019

It’s clear that this is also a place of commerce – the subway station is proof of that, the maw of its entrance busy with the hustle of people coming and going; but it’s also clear that this is a place past its prime and wanting a little TLC: refuse lays piled here and there, some of the streets are littered and uncared for while poverty is embodied in the lone waterfront sentinel of a bag lady’s shopping cart laden with the bric-a-bric of things she has acquired and which to her offer a meaning for life.

Packed with detail larger and small, and given life through the  many characters to be found in its streets, Somewhere Else BKLYN offers an immersive environment (have your local sounds on) environment that is easy to explore and rich in opportunities of Second Life photographers.

Somewhere Else BKLYN, November 2019

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The growth of Bellisseria

Pootling through some of the new Bellisseria continent regions by rail

It’s been a few months since I last wrote about Bellisseria, the Linden Homes continent. At that time, the trailers and campers selection of homes had just been deployed – and proven as popular as the Traditional homes and Houseboat ranges before them.

Since that time, as has been reported elsewhere, the continent has been expanded with a lot of new regions slotting into the southern side to fill out much of the “missing parts” when compared to the SSPE “test continent” used to initially develop Bellisseria’s layout.

These new regions have dropped into Bellisseria fairly close to where my houseboat is located, and I’ve tended to take the occasional look at them as things have been under development (see A little Culprit Moonwalking in Second Life, for example). However, as this a is quiet Monday, I decided to drop in to the regions at a time when I’m unlikely to get in the way of the Linden Department of Public Works (LPDW) as they continue to build-out the regions with everything from landscaping though flora and infrastructure to the Linden Homes themselves.

The new regions bring together a mix of Houseboats, Traditional houses and Trailers and Campers

The majority of the regions continue with the current themes of Traditional, Houseboat and Trailers and Campers homes. This means – on the surface –  that the new regions could be dismissed as “more of the same”, but as my Monday trip through some of them – by rail and horse – shows that while they may contain the same types of houses, they have their own unique character and look.

Take, for example, the Bellisseria railway. While this was introduced with the release of the Trailers and Campers, the extension to the continent illustrates it in not to be restricted to regions containing these types of Linden Home – as has been hoped would be the case. Within the new regions, the tracks pass from “camping” regions into Traditional homes regions, and back into “camping” regions once more. Along the way the tracks also branch for what I think is the first time, presenting two potential rail routes through the regions, and one of the new Traditional homes regions has markings for what might be a more substantial station than seen elsewhere (or at least one directly served by road).

The new regions see the Bellisseria rail lines extend into Traditional house regions

Given the continued popularity of the Houseboat styles, it comes as no surprise that the coastal regions offer more moorings for houseboats – some of which have already been populated. But again in what might be an interesting turn where popularity is concerned, the new regions offer an extensive reach of the camping parcels along the coast, presenting people who like the Campers and Trailers with the opportunity to enjoy coastal living, rather than being restricted to just the banks of inland waterways and lakes.

The new regions also offer the first real “blending” of Camper and Trailer regions and Traditional House regions. Until now, the boundaries of the two have tended to be denoted by water. With these new regions, the two types of Linden homes draw together more naturally, sometimes with just low mounds between them, sometimes abutting almost seamlessly.

Trailers and Campers move to being along the coast with the new regions

There are perhaps one or two little things that it would be nice to see. The rail tracks for example run through the regions, passing Campers and Trailer and houses alike running over and under bridges and through deep cuttings; but there are are no tunnels – it would be nice to see one or two in the more hilly areas.

Similarly, while the Traditional house regions and the Trailer and Camper regions do more directly abut one another, the roads of the Traditional house regions and the tracks of the Camper and Trailer regions never actually come together; rather they each end abruptly with a stretch of grass between them, it would be nice to a a more natural joining, asphalt gradually giving way to a narrower, rutted track, for example. Or at least have a fence and (open) gate between them, rather than curbstones, footpath and pristine-looking grass.

Food for thought for Linden Lab, perhaps?

Visiting La Digue in Second Life

La Digue, November 2019 – click any image for full size

La Digue (“the dam”?) is a recently opened Homestead region offering numerous opportunities for photography and – with a little care – exploration.

Designed by Sablina, famous for producing the likes of La Virevolte (see here, here and here), Ponto Cabina (see here and here) and Field of Dreams (see here), this is a region caught in the changing of the seasons, the trees a mix of summer green and the reds, golds and brown of autumn. Beneath them, the land is cut by two large water channels that feed multiple smaller, canal-like channels that divide-up the land into a series of small islands and one large “central” land mass that also forms the landing point.

La Digue, November 2019

A large gatehouse stands atop the latter, standing guard over the region and is large island and watching over the landing point as it sits on the shingle shore. Surrounded by a sea of sun-dried grass, the gatehouse is one of a number of buildings within the region that collectively give it – along with its name – a feel for northern France (although one of the buildings is admittedly Tuscan in design).

Small bridges connect some of the smaller islands one to another, but to reach others some wading through the shallow channels between them might be required. With corn stalks and cattle grazing, the islands further suggest a rural setting.

La Digue, November 2019

To the north, a sender finger of land points westward and then turns south along a broader stretch of coast to a small railway station (sans tracks) looking out to sea whilst caught under its own rain storm. This crrokes streacth of road  and shoreline, coupled with the region’s name, brought to mind the long finger of La Digue du Braek, albeit without the sands on one side and the port of Dunkerque on the other. At the end of this the road, a bridge provides access to a small headland area where stands a lighthouse and work is apparently in progress building a sea wall.

However, what – for me – gives the region character is the broad north-to south channel that cuts through the region, separating the western run of road and its station from the rest of the region. This would appear to be a tidal run, given the dry stone wall supporting some of the land to one side. It is home to numerous wooden moorings alongside of which rowing boats sitting among the reeds and watery growths around the mooring piers.

La Digue, November 2019

This area in particular adds a huge amount of character to the region, rich in detail and photographic opportunity from pretty much any angle. Elsewhere throughout the landscape are further opportunities as well, but it tends to be the waterway that draws the eye and lens back to it again and again. The rowing boats, meanwhile offer numerous places for sitting and posing for photos or chatting.

More places to sit can be found across the region as well, from the little bar a short walk from the station, to benches and chairs, hay bales and more. Getting to some can be a bit of the aforementioned challenge, admittedly: some of the grass and other plants could do with being phantom – but this shouldn’t put people off exploring and wandering.

La Digue, November 2019

Sablina has a reputation for creating regions of beauty that capture landscapes in a most natural manner, and La Digue is further proof of this. It’s a place that invites wandering and spending time within it, the supplied sound scape rounding it out perfectly.

A region that has already caught the attention of photographers and artists, La Digue is not to be missed by Second Life travellers.

La Digue, November 2019

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  • La Digue (Sparrow Springs, rated Moderate)