A return to Green Acres in Second Life

Green Acres, August 2022 – click any image for full size

Back in March 2019, I dropped into Green Acres, a Homestead region designed by Alsatian Kidd with assistance from Iniquity Constantine. At the time, the setting presented a slice of rural Americana in a very photogenic setting, one I enjoyed exploring and photographing (see A Trip to Green Acres in Second Life).

Three years is a long time in Second Life; it’s a period sufficiently long enough that it can see many changes take place. This is certainly true with Green Acres; much has changed, making a re-visit (as suggested to me by several people over the last couple of weeks) very worthwhile; although at the same time, the changes are such that they show a natural progression for the setting in its rural appeal, rather than a complete revolution in its style and sense of place – a fact that makes a revisit even more appealing.

Green Acres, August 2022
Green Acres provides the three R’s. Rustic. Rural. Retreat. This adult-themed region has open vistas providing opportunities for photography, horseback riding, and hanging out. Explore the farm with livestock, crops and a farmers market.

– Green Ares About Land Description

The land retains its split between rugged grassy uplands and equally green lowlands. The former run from the south-east corner of the region and point their way inland and northwards. Nestled to the east of them sits the landing point, located between a copse of trees and the main path which runs around most of the island.

Green Acres, August 2022

The path partners with a stream originated the foot of falls which drop from the inner highlands, the two running north before parting way once more, the stream turning to follow the foot of the hills and then joining a broader river flowing along their west side, the path continuing to run close to the coastline as it also turns westwards.

Go south along the path and it steps its way up onto the feet of the hills, offering a climb up wooden steps up to the hilltops and the large pond nestled there, reaching the water by way of the deck and cabin facing it – the cabin being a public space. For those who prefer, the point at which the steps commence also offers a grassy climb up to the spine of the hills.

Green Acres, August 2022

Westwards, the land is largely flat or low-lying compared to the hilly east. The majority of it is separated from the hills by a rocky escarpment and a river which flows north from a broad lake at the foot of the cliffs. This land is home to the Green Acres farm, the farmhouse set back overlooking the west coastline, the farm’s outbuildings – barns, farm produce store and greenhouse – all scattered around, set between fenced meadows where livestock and horses graze, and  where crops grow.

A point to note here is that while the farm’s outbuildings are available to the public, the farmhouse itself is a private residence, so please keep that in mind when visiting.

Green Acres, August 2022
There is no direct route over the hills from the landing point to the farm; if you want a safe way to go from one to the other, it have to be by following the footpath north and then west. This brings visitors to Sahar Point, occupying the north-west corner of the region, and Constantine Harbour.

This is marked by a broad, dune-waved beach nestled in a small cove watched over by a lighthouse sitting between it and the river estuary that forms the waterfront for the harbour, the wharf and harbour buildings the home to a seafood market. A stout bridge spans the neck of the river just before it broadens into the estuary, presenting a crossing-point to reach the farm.

Green Acres, August 2022

Rich in places to sit – just check the annotated map at the landing point -, with wildlife waiting to be found throughout and finished in a fitting soundscape, Green Acres remains a beautifully photogenic visit.

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A Miskatonic Dragon Rising in Second Life

Miskatonic Town

So, I’ve probably mentioned I’m really not one for the whole “Halloween season” thing, but a couple of years ago I dropped into Miskatonic County, the themed Full region held by Tobiath Tendaze, and tried their Halloween / horror first-person adventure / shoot-’em-up. As it has been a couple of years since that visit, I decided to drop back and see what has changed with the new adventure, Tales of Miskatonic County: Dragon Rising.

In the shadows and back alleys of Miskatonic, evil has returned. Cultists have raised portals and called forth horrors from the abyssal plains to attack the city. Their goal is to restore the reign of the Great Old Ones. This Halloween, a titan will rise!

– Introduction to Tales of Miskatonic County: Dragon Rising

The HUD: The compass and bio monitor “sidebar” with Inventory option (1); The health status monitor (2); and the information display (3), which can display information according to the button at the bottom of the sidebar.

Visitors to the region are delivered to a landing point where the essentials can be picked up – a HUD and a revolver. Both of which are available via boards on the walls of the landing point.

When obtaining the HUD, may be asked to join the region’s Experience. This is a necessary part of the activity, so you should click on the Yes button. Don’t worry about the control permissions being granted over your avatar – these are necessary to the game and will be revoked when you leave the region (those who have previously accepted the Miskatonic experience need only touch the board to receive a fresh HUD).

Once the Experience has been accepted, the game HUD will automatically attach to your screen, and – unseen – a character sheet is created for you, if one does not already exist. This records and saves your progress, and allows you to leave the experience at any time (removing the HUD), and then re-join it at a later time, your progress being automatically uploaded to the new HUD. If you wish to delete all of your progress and start over, click the red cube at the landing point.

I’m not going to explain the HUD in all its glory here, as it includes an option to receive an explanatory note card, so I’ll leave you with a quick image-based overview (right). Do note that the three numbered elements of the HUD can be moved independently around your screen.

Once the HUD is attached, click the Pistol sign on the wall to obtain what looks to be a Colt Python .357 Magnum. While this may not be “the most powerful handgun in the world” (as a certain cinematic cop might say through gritted teeth), you will need it to blast the various nasties you’ll be encountering, preferably before they do you a serious mischief.

To find said nasties, take the teleport portal just outside the landing point down to the ground level and the edge of the town of Miskatonic. On arrival, you’ll need to switch to Mouselook to aim and fire your gun (left mouse-click). The nasties themselves may be wandering the various locations, others might be spawned via a “gateway” and others may burst forth in front of (or behind) you unexpectedly. When they attack you, they will cause damage to your health, shields and armour – so shooting sooner rather than later is advised. Such damage will recover over time, but should your health reach “zero”, you’ll be teleported to the town’s care centre where you can use a hospital bed to recover.

You can also help recover your health in several ways: by consuming the food and drinks that might be found within some of the buildings (which you can move around in 3rd person view as the nasties do not enter them), or by collecting any first aid kits you might find, or by using the energy vials some of the nasties might leave behind when “killed”. In all three cases, left-click the object in question to “add” it to a slot in the HUD’s inventory, then click the slot itself to “consume” the item it contains.

It is possible to simply run around blasting nasties, using the teleport portals (tunnels and covered bridges) to move between the town’s different locations to locate them. However, there is also at least one story awaiting discovery by touching various books, etc., and then reading the contents via the HUD.

However, there are also NPCs – non-player characters – awaiting discovery. Touching one will open a “dialogue” conducted via the HUD that will both provide information (possibly via more than one touch or by clicking the HUD info panel), and one or more quest options, including a list of possible quests which you can opt to complete. (you can select up to 5 quests at a time, opening opportunities for varied game play).

Interacting with an NPC via the HUD – clicking the NPC or the HUD’s information area may display further information from the NPC, which may be displayed over several “pages” of the information area of the HUD – click on it to move through (1). There may also be an options list where you can click on individual items for information, including any available quests (2). Click a quest adds it to your task list; completing it removes it from the task list

Quests vary in content from continuing the shoot-the-nasty format through to performing rescuing or finding items. Again a note card available through the Help options in the HUD will provide information on the various quests that many be available.

All of which adds up to the opportunity for first-person entertainment.  As with 2019, I found that while the instructions on using the HUD, following quests, etc., to be very detailed, the broader brush-strokes of the main story seem to be poorly presented. What is the coming “titan”? What role does it play in the actual activities within the region? Perhaps this is only discovered by completing all quests, etc., which admittedly I have not done.  I will say that I found the shoot-’em-up aspect oddly addictive – as I did in 2019 -, although this was tempered by the fact that the game HUD seemed exceptionally slow to respond / update, even when I was the only person in the region.

Nevertheless, if adventure games / hunts are your thing, Dragon Rising may well be worth the time poking at.

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Summer at Mimmo in Second Life

Mimmo, July 2021 – click any image for full size

Elise Sirnah is not only an established Second Life photographer, she also has an eye for region design, something she has demonstrated with Mimmo, the Homestead region she co-holds along with Grace Shade (graice2). It’s a place that I’ve visited on a number of occasions, although this is just the second time I’ve blogged it, the first being back in 2019.

I’ve no idea how many times the region’s looks may have changed since then, but July 2021 saw me hop back to take a look. What I found was an interesting setting that brings together mixes of tropical and temperate environments and public and private spaces – the latter placed in such a way that it is relatively easy not to confuse them as part of the public areas – into a single setting.

Mimmo, July 2021

At my last visit, Mimmo had the look and feel of a garden and extended grounds of a Tuscan style villa that occupied one side of the region, the rest of the landscape flowing outwards from it. With this iteration, the region offers far more of an island-like setting, offering numerous discrete point for photography, all of which more-or-less flow together as a continuous whole.

When looked at on the map, the region has an an intriguing look, resembling some kind of vast sea creature basking on the surface of the sea, its head to the north-west, three of its flippers outstretched and a bulbous tail to the south-east. Two of these “fins” are formed by headlands, one stumpy and sandy, the other sinuous and heavy in trees, with the largest of the off-shore islands forming the third, and another of the rentals making the bulbous “tail”.

Mimmo, July 2021

The use of smaller islands as homes for the rental properties helps minimise the risk of accidental trespass, the private spaces they represent only reachable via stepping stones through, and bridges over, the coastal waters. These smaller islands, together with the southern end of the main island give the region that more tropical feel, with sand and palm trees much in evidence. North and east, the rest of the main island is far more temperate in looks.

The north-west of the main island is dominated by a curtain of cliffs together with a large body of fresh water below them. A stream proceeds from the lake, forming a “spine” through the region as it runs south and east to reach the sandy coast and a fallen lighthouse that once overlooked one of the region’s rental isles. Paralleling this stream for part of its course is a rough dirt track, which also circles through the region’s landing point whilst also presenting obvious paths to follow when exploring.

Mimmo, July 2021

The landing point sits within the fenced grounds of a large wooden cottage / farmhouse that looks highly suited to the role of a studio gallery.  It shares it grounds with a small potting shed and old British-style telephone box. This cottage is one of two large structures on the main island, with the second reached by following the track north and west from the landing point and over the single formal bridge spanning the stream (there is also a makeshift bridge made from logs also available further downstream).

The second structure takes the form of a barn – or possibly warehouse, given the paved waterfront it is built upon – conversion sitting on the west side coast of the region. At first glance, this looks like a private residence, but on examination it can be seen this is not the case; rather it presents a cosy home with furnishings and fittings by Grace (that is already giving me ideas about a possible new place on the home island!).

Mimmo, July 2021

Balancing this house to the east of the stream is a gently sloping landscape that sits as something of an extended garden, complete with an old folly, places to sit, sculptures, and a geodesic dome for those who need a little shade from the Sun. More places to sit and past the time can be found throughout the setting: along the coast, or just back from it (or even out on the water), off along the north-east headland with its small hill (note the little island just off this headland is another rental property, not part of the public spaces), and also on the stubby western headland, where a little café sits.

There are some rough edges to the the landscaping – rocks and mesh not fully blended into the terrain so they either float or leave gaps, the odd floating plant, etc., but nothing that serious detracts from the overall photogenic nature of the region, or the opportunities to visit, sit, dance and / or swim. Those wishing to have rez rights can join the local group for a fee of L$150 –  but do please clean up after use! Also, do note that a local chat extender is in use within the region, and can be disabled by using channel /999.

Mimmo, July 2021

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  • Mimmo (Pomerania Park, rated Adult)

Returning to Nostalgia Falls in Second Life

Nostalgia Falls, October 2020 – click any image for full size

Exactly a year ago, we first visited Nostalgia Falls, a Homestead region designed by Noisette Haller. At the time I noted the region was both photogenic and also the kind of place those who prefer Halloween themes that have a lighter touch might also enjoy.

Given it is the first anniversary of that visit (and given the region has a new home), I decided to hop back and have a look around, and was both surprised and please to see that the region offers both a familiar look coupled with more than enough changes to give me a comfortable sense of recognition  whilst also presenting a lot that is new and ready to be discovered.

Nostalgia Falls, October 2020

The sense of familiarity is born from a number of aspects: the region retains a similar L-shape to the one it sported in our first visit, with the north-south arm the home to a railway line hosting the Polar Express steam train by DRD as it sits at a station, a single railcar in tow. However, the landing point is now in the station building rather than on the train.

Across the tracks is a waterfront area complete with a trawler moored on one side – although the growth of reeds around it suggests it may not have seen open waters in some time, given rotating propeller blades would likely cut them down to size – and a carousel sitting on a broad terrace, a wall separating it from the buildings beyond.

Nostalgia Falls, October 2020

One of these houses sits ablaze. Quite why is unclear, but perhaps it is the result of a gas explosion, as appeared to be the case at our last visit. However, this time around, the blaze is given a new twist: the wreck of a 1930’s ear car and the threat of an unexploded bomb amongst the fallen brickwork suggest the house has fallen through time from the period of the Blitz.

Beyond the burning house lies a relatively open space – albeit marked by trees to one side. It is the home of an aged and broken plaza topped by a broken rotunda.Home to a winged angel, the rotunda is being circled by a murder of crows that, together with the aged dead tree next to it, set a darker tone than the angel’s presence would otherwise offer.

Nostalgia Falls, October 2020

An avenue of trees to one side of the rotunda shelters a horse-drawn hearse heading towards the tall, slim form of a 3-storey mortuary that has some strangeness to be found within it, a ghostly figure awaiting the hearse outside. Opposite the tree avenue, steps climb up a short slope to the imposing form of a grand house complete with cemetery behind, suggesting it is a family home of some age – although it and its grounds have clearly seen better days, with the interior of the house in particular a statement in mouldering age  – and more than a little taste of creepiness.

Beyond this ageing house, and also reached via the carousel-bearing waterfront, the land opens out into a brighter, happier setting rich in the colours of autumn. Horses graze here, having doubtless been brought down from the barn that sits up on the flat head of a promontory that – again, like the time we last visited – extends southwards out into the waters surrounding the island.

Nostalgia Falls, October 2020

A sandy track winds out from the barn to drop down to the western finger of the land, where sit three little houses, all cosily furnished and set out with lamps, jack-o’ lanterns, pumpkins and more in readiness for Halloween. Even the crows sitting along the telegraph lines overhead have entered into the spirit of things – although eyes might inevitably be drawn to the the fact that a witch has apparently come to a sudden telegraphic halt whilst testing her broom.

With mist hovering out on the waters between the island and the region surround, and the lightning flickering around the old house accompanied by the rumble of thunder, this iteration of Nostalgia Falls carries a rich sense of atmosphere. However, the open spaces, with their horses, deer and places to dance, together with fine dining on the train (albeit serenaded by a sax playing skeleton!) together with places to sit, Give this iteration of Nostalgia Falls a further touch of romance. And of course, it remains a richly detailed, photogenic region in which to spend time.

Nostalgia Falls, October 2020

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Mimmo’s garden setting in Second Life

Mimmo, December 2019 – click any image for full size

A group design led by Elise Sirnah with LeviCord and Shadeng Krokus, Mimmo is a Homestead region “designed for those interested in photography”. It’s a location we’ve visited a couple of times, although this is the first time I’ve written about it here.

The design of the region has changed between those initial visits and its appearance as seen here. Whether this is a sign it is renewed at regular intervals or not is hard to say: there are now a couple of rental properties within the region that may limit future terraforming efforts (at least in part) if they are retained.

Mimmo, December 2019

At the time this most recent visit, the region presented a summertime setting with a temperature / tropical feel and a very defined north-south lay to the land. To the north, the land is raised into high hills and a curtain wall of cliffs, beneath which the landing point sits on a broad shelf of rock that is also home to a photographic gallery and information about the region.

This shelf offers a view out over the rest of the region as it drops away to the south, cut in two by a stream flowing south and east from falls that drop to a pool below the north-side cliffs. The stream forms a neat divide between the inland grasslands and the south coast beach.

Mimmo, December 2019

Both parts of the landscape include numerous points of interest, with the inland area laid out in a way that suggests it is all part of the same property, marked by a Tuscan villa / farmhouse to the east, the ground flowing to the west past a fenced meadow that is home to grazing sheep and goats, to arrive at a small summer house matching the general style of the villa as it looks out over the sea to the the south-west and one of the two rental properties, sitting on a small island.

Reached via two bridges – one of which is little more than felled tree trunks – the beach offers space for music, sitting, music and an open-sided bar to be enjoyed by all.

Mimmo, December 2019

The above barely scratches the surface of the region’s offerings. Within the circle of ancient stone walls sit an ageing piano, which although old, might still be enjoyed by those seeking a set for photography, the rose-entwined harp alongside it offering a suitable backdrop.  Another ruin that sits alongside the fast-flowing stream, offers another set for photography, partially lit by a portable movie lamp.

In keeping with the region’s photographic theme, a camp cabin towards the north-east and just below the land point rock shelf is set for photo-processing, with the suggestion of reporters being somewhere in the region: a video camera and an interviewer’s microphone are sitting on the worktables alongside the photo developing kit. Beyond it, and tucked into the north-east corner of the region under the lee of the hills, is the second of the two rental properties, iron gates marking the edge of the parcel.

Mimmo, December 2019

Those seeking a cosy corner in the region might want to direct themselves to the east side behind the villa, where creative use has been made of two sections from the f8f Storyteller’s Burrow to create two sheltered sitting spots linked by a small cobblestone patio, sitting above a narrow ribbon of sandy shale beach.

There is still more to be found within the region, but the above should be enough to whet appetites. Finished with a matching sound scape, the region has a natural flow to its design and layout, and while there are some odd rough edges to the build, Mimmo in no way fails to deliver on the promise of offering a photogenic location.

Mimmo, December 2019

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  • Mimmo (Pomerania Park, rated Adult)

A late summer at La Clef des Champs in Second Life

La Clef des Champs, December 2019 – click any image for full size

It has been some time since I’ve paid a visit to La Clef des Champs (literally, “the key fields”), the region setting by Rose Siabonne. When last I visited, in June 2018, Rose had relocated the setting from a Homestead to a Full regions (see: A return to La Clef des Champs).

Part of my reason for not re-visiting is that some time after that last visit, the region appeared to close, and Rose later offered the homestead setting of Hors du Temps (see: An Out of Time experience in Second Life). However, in the latter half of 2019, La Clef des Champs made a return to Second Life (the region details show it as returning in August 2019), and with it,Rose has once again created a photogenic, somewhat Adult-oriented  region – one that was, as the time of my end-of-year visit, still caught in the warmth and colour of summer.

La Clef des Champs, December 2019

As with past iterations of the region, this is a place where Adult activities are allowed, provided they are kept indoors and do not spill over into the gardens and open spaces of the region. As such, some of the buildings scattered across the landscape particularly given over to adult pursuits (notably the two white, modern houses). However, those who prefer not to witness such things shouldn’t be put off from visiting: there is more than enough to see and do without entering the various houses, and some of the buildings – such as the pavilion on the uplands to the south-east.

This pavilion, as with a number of other points across the region offer echoes of previous Les Clefs des Champs for those familiar with previous builds (in this case the piano), without ever being derivative of past builds.

La Clef des Champs, December 2019, December 2019

Water plays a role in the overall design, with the setting split into a primary large island with three smaller isles spaced around it. The largest of these, to the north-west, has a cottage atop it, and while there is no indication the parcel is private, the décor and furnishings with suggest it may well be – so perhaps a little caution should be used when exploring to avoid undue trespass.

Elsewhere, a river cuts through the region, almost splitting it in two has it runs from a set of inland falls and to the east coast. In addition, beaches serve the two white houses, while to the south a bay offers rowing boats and a little café. These help to break up the landscape with places to sit and relax.

La Clef des Champs, December 2019

There are some rough edges to the design, but nothing that spoils the overall effect of the design, while the centre lowlands offer a pastoral setting, complete with farmhouse (unfurnished) with geese, chickens and goats. Between this farmhouse and the (furnished) Tuscan house set a little back from the river, horses roam the grass.

As ever, La Clef des Champs retains an eye-catching design that offers rich opportunities for photography and appreciation of the outdoors.

La Clef des Champs, December 2019

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