Rain, sand, surfboards and go karts in Second Life

Totem Beach, August 2019 – click any image for full size

Totem Beach is a Homestead region designed by Tlaloc Beresford designed to give visitors a range of land and water activities for their enjoyment.

Nestled along the Pacific North West, Totem Beach awaits those enjoy the ocean and forests of the region. Surf the waves, dive the canyons, or walk through the forest and lay down some roots of your own in this beautiful region.

– The About Land description for Totem Beach

The ground level of the region is largely given over to water – a rocky bay caught in the arms of tall hills. These lie partially open the sea to the west, but curl around to the east to form a backdrop to the region’s single landmass, a range of high cliffs oriented north-to-south, overlooking a west-facing ribbon of sandy beach.

Totem Beach, August 2019

The setting embraces the Pacific North West’s  reputation for rain, which falls from the sky to the beach and the cliff top woodlands alike. Up on the cliff tops, the rain causes a ground mist to rise, which lurks around the trunks of the trees.

The woods are cut by a path that follows the western lip of the cliffs that connect various tepees, tents and cabins that are available for rent (note that those that are rented nay have parcel access control enabled, and thus blocked from public access.

Totem Beach, August 2019 – Mario Karting with power-ups!

Another path winds down to the beach, where surf boards and a jet ski rezzer await those who join the region’s group (which includes rezzing rights), allowing them to enjoy time out on the water and surfing on the region’s incoming waves.

For those who prefer quieter pursuits , there are places to sit and watch the action along the beach and up on the cliffs, while those who like their action on land can take any of the region’s teleport points up to the go kart track area hidden in the sky.

The latter offers two courses to race either against the clock or other drivers – or both. The system is based on the Mario Kart franchise, including the ability to chose one of several of that game’s Karts (I opted for Yoshi’s because – well, Yoshi  🙂 ). As it is based on Mario Kart, it also includes power-up boxes that provide weapons to take out your opponents (bursting the balloons on the back of their karts with each hit) and bonuses, allowing for something of the full measure of the game to be met.

For those looking for a public region that offers things to do that aren’t too taxing, Totem Beach offers an easy-going diversion that can be fun when visited with one or more friends.

Totem Beach, August 2019

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Paper folding and letters in Second Life

The Sim Quarterly: Orizuru

The Sim Quarterly is a new artistic endeavour by Electric Monday. This homestead region is intended to offer artists a three month period in which to display their work.

Art and the virtual world, Second Life© are very similar —you are able to both find yourself and immerse yourself (and maybe even lose yourself) in something totally unlike what you already know. The experiences you gain help you grow and form new opinions about the world. That is what I hope this sim can provide over time. I am very excited to bring to you a quarterly art project by way of The Sim Quarterly.

– Electric Monday, describing The Sim Quarterly

The Sim Quarterly: Orizuru

For the first installation Electric presents Orizuru (“folded crane” or “paper crane”) by Kaiju Kohime with Electric Monday. With a focus on origami that plays into the use of paper as a writing surface and its use in  artistic expression, this is the story of two people who communicate entirely by letter and in the hope of meeting.

The landing point for the installation is in the sky, where an introduction can be found, together with a teleport down to the installation proper.  Here the story begins at a little pair of houses and an ice cream van, where two figures stand back-to-back, symbolising the story’s protagonists, Elise and Henri. Sheets of paper drop from the hands of the male figure, pointing the way to the water where the first two letters between the couple can be found.

The Sim Quarterly: Orizuru

Follow the stepping stones to the nearby island, and further pairs of letters between Elise and Henri can be found, their story unfolding on the written pages. Colours beneath the water tehn lead visitors onwards to more of the story as it unfolds across the installation.

Will Henri and Elise meet? That’s for those who visit to decide.  The landscape, meanwhile, with its folded cranes, origami birds and paper rocks and trees, with paper clouds floating overhead, presents a visually attractive setting in which to follow the story.

The Sim Quarterly: Orizuru

Those wishing to keep up-to-date with events at The Sim Quarterly can do so via the website and photographs can be submitted to the region’s Flickr group, which is also hosting a photo contest – details available in-world at the region’s landing zone.

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Drune IV: an Aftermath in Second Life

Drune IV: Aftermath – August 2019 – click any image for full size
In January 2019 we visited 2019-XS by zee9. At the time, I noted:

The region has an adult edge to the role-play, and is intended as an extension to her previous (and now departed) build Drune. I’ve not seen that design, but will say that while compact, 2019-XS has a certain ambience that is hard to define, but has seen me make three visits to it in order to fully appreciate the ambience and setting.

Well, we’ve recently had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Drune design, as zee9 2019-XS has been remodelled into the fourth chapter in the series, Drune IV: Aftermath.

Drune IV: Aftermath – August 2019

Maintaining much of the look and feel of 2019-XS (and previous Drune builds) in terms of general layout, Drune IV Aftermath presents an environment in which it is clear that, as the region name suggests, some form of cataclysm has befallen the city.

The once pristine roads, neon-lit by business signs, cleaned by robots and home to electric vehicles, now lie broken and slowly being overcome by plant life. Power cables hang and lie in disarray, and the once bright buildings are slowly being overcome by vines and creepers.

Drune IV: Aftermath – August 2019

Exactly what has come to pass is hard to say: is the disaster man-made or natural? Did the city bring it upon itself, or has some external factor played a role? These are the questions that roll through the mind in exploring the elevated walkways, the roads and the alleyways.

But it is clear that human life has not entirely abandoned the city. Some of the street lights still work, and free-standing floodlights illuminate stairways and other areas, drawing their power from generators that must have some form of fuel supply or means to be recharged, even as more light is shed from many of the windows peppering the tall towers.

Drune IV: Aftermath – August 2019

More signs of habitation can be found along the shadowed streets, where makeshift stalls have been set-up by people trying to eke out a living. Some of these are lit by neon signs, again suggesting an operating power source, while others rely on lamps suspended from the beams of the elevated road sections.

The lifestyle of those who remain has perhaps taken a turn towards post-apocalyptic hedonism, going  by some of the market stalls, while a nightclub similar to that found within 2019-XS appears to still be in use. It sits at street level almost in reflection of another dance space sitting atop the tallest of the city’s towers. Elsewhere, follow the faint sounds of a piano playing and you may eventually be led to the entrance of what might once have been a plush club, but which now sits behind broken doors, squatting in its own gathering mould.

Drune IV: Aftermath – August 2019

The region used to be open to free-form role-play, and while I’ve no idea if this is still the case but the region certainly still captures elements of a range of sci-fi / cyberpunk films, including the likes of Blade Runner, Neuromancer, and Strange Days and even, despite its presentation of nature victorious, the Fifth Element. And even without the role-play, Drune remains an engaging visit.

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A touch of HollyWeird in Second Life

HollyWeird, Hotel California – August 2019

HollyWeird is the name he’s given to his latest design Schmexysbuddy has given to his Homestead region of Hotel California.

This is a region that tends to change on a monthly basis, which keeps visits fresh and interesting. We first visited in April 2019 – see: Welcome to the Hotel California in Second Life – and while I try to avoid writing about a region again so close to having previously blogged on it, Schmexysbuddy’s August design is so out-of-the-ordinary, it deserves both a visit and a write-up.

HollyWeird, Hotel California – August 2019

There is no obvious theme to the region, which is one of the things that makes it intriguing. There is a reference to the name on which it draws on, with the appearance of the famous Hollywood hillside sign in the north-east corner of the region, complete with the relay tower rising behind it. But does that make it unique? Well no – until you consider the giant fox that’s leaping into the air beside it.

And that’s just the start. Travel the region and you’ll discover the remnants of a fun fair lying alongside a field of giant plastic flowers (where I’ve arbitrarily opted to set the SLurl in this article). This points the way into the region, passing two huge walls – and two even bigger clowns. Fortunately, the latter aren’t the, “just wait there while I sharpen my meat cleaver” type of clown – they are the genuine  funny article. And if you touch one, he’ll happily play the maracas he’s holding, while the other will bang his snare drum.

HollyWeird, Hotel California – August 2019

The landscape itself maintains something of a thematic design with some of the past Hotel California designs by Schmexysbuddy: a semi-flooded and broken, complete with the ruins of buildings and elevated roads and a smattering of trees. Mixed within this are platforms topped by with the most unusual and garish buildings. They rise from the (shallow) waters like bizarre oil or gas platforms except where the former would have derricks rising from their backs, these have trees and windmills.

All of this makes HollyWeird immediately attractive – but there is far more. The fun fair, the platforms and the Hollywood sign and its fox form what are really mini-scenes within the region; vignettes if you will. And there are more to be found across the region, many of them focused on elements of art by the likes of Bryn Oh (including the flowers mentioned above), Cica Ghost and CioTToLiNa Xue.

HollyWeird, Hotel California – August 2019

There’s even a touch of science fiction and sci-fi movies that both folds into the Hollywood motif as well as standing on its own. This can be found to the south-west of the region, and includes “greys”, a flying spaceship, landed “flying saucer houses” and is completed by a collection of Cica Ghost’s characters either greeting or saying farewell to the ship overhead.

Most of the buildings and ruins within the region are empty  – but make sure you visit the old theatre, as it sits partially flooded. This contains a beautiful and simple vignette of pieces by Bryn Oh.

HollyWeird, Hotel California – August 2019

It is this art content and the vignettes and motifs it brings with it that I find particularly attractive within the region – particularly the way in which the details can suddenly pop out where you least expect them. These, combined with the sheer unusualness of the region make it a genuinely unique setting that really draws visitors into it.

Our thanks to Shawn Shakespeare for the nudge about this update to Hotel California.

HollyWeird, Hotel California – August 2019

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A return to Grauland in Second Life

Grauland, July 2019 – click any image for full size

In March we visited Grauland, the homestead region held by JimGarand and home (in the sky) to his M-1 Art Poses (see: Art as a landscape in Second Life). At that time, I noted that the region was one of the more unusual design we had visited.

Since then, Jim has redesigned Grauland to present a new look and theme, as Shawn Shakespeare nudged me about. So we hopped back to take a look at how things have changed, and whether the beautiful minimalism and artistic expression that was so attractive in March has been retained.

Grauland, July 2019

In terms of the minimalism of the region, this is still very much still in evidence. Now forming a C-shaped island surrounding a shallow bay, Grauland is low-lying and marked by a handful of buildings, most of them looking somewhat the worse for wear. They are scattered around the open ring of the island in such as way as to encourage visitors to step out and explore.

There are some carry-overs which help give a feeling of continuity for those familiar with the March design: the basalt columns, so mindful of the Giant’s Causeway on Northern Ireland’s northern coast remain, for example. There are also touches that offer familiarity by with a twist, such as the ranks of rock-like rectangles marching ashore from the small centre islet of the bay. These echo the concrete cubes once present in the courtyard of the gallery from the March design.

Grauland, July 2019

The gallery itself is no more, sadly, but the buildings replacing it offer a curious mix. There’s a cannabis farm within one, another looks to be the remains of what might have been an industrial unit, filled with assorted detritus (including some with adult poses). Alongside the landing point there is what appears to be the skeleton of a theatre, bare stage with graffiti filled back wall, wooden seats still ranged before it, while elsewhere, smaller buildings simply offer views across the water, both within the bay and out to sea.

Other places to sit can also be found scatter across the landscape, including the little islet in the bay, reached via an ageing board walk. This offers a good view of the trawler edging its way into the bay, ready to manoeuvre between some of the rock pillars and come alongside the island’s single pier.

Grauland, July 2019

I confess to missing the slant towards accommodating art that was far more present in the March build, but there is no denying Grauland in this latest iteration offers many opportunities for photography, and for simply relaxing, be it on the beach or elsewhere.

No actual landing point is enforced, so I’ve arbitrarily set the SLurl in the piece to a point in the north-west of the region, simply because it is there that the region’s gust book Flickr link and primary tip jar can be found, and because it perhaps offers the best point from which to start exploring the region.

Grauland, July 2019

Finished with a sound scape that includes the cry of gulls as they circle overhead or vie for space on the beach and which is mixed with the softer song of birds (some of whom add their own splash of colour for those who look closely enough), together with the plaintive warning chimes of a buoy at the neck of the bay, Grauland retains its delightful minimalist feel whilst still offering a lot so see and take in.

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Isla de Sol in Second Life

Isla de Sol, July 2019 – click any image for full size

A little while ago I received an invitation from Noirran Marx to visit Isla de Sol, her Homestead region, which I gather is open to the public. It took a while for us to get there, but we did in July and found it to be a quiet, balmy tropical island that makes for an easy, gentle visit.

At the time we dropped in, the island offered a roughly north-south orientation, with the clearest signs of human habitation at the southern end, most notably in the form of a large house sitting within a low walled garden, with two trailer-style homes sitting close by under the boughs of tree that might be more at home in more northerly latitudes than suggested by the rest of the island’s styling.

Isla de Sol, July 2019

To the north, the island is more open and tropical in looks. Grass sits under palm trees and a Greedy Greedy table sits bracketed between and old adobe building and the (rather incongruous) cone of a volcano that appears to be erupting…

The volcano forms the highest point within the region, but does tend to a look a little “glued on”, so to speak. To us, it was slightly jarring visual element in what otherwise is a pleasant low-lying island where the aforementioned Greedy Greedy can be enjoyed, and the outdoor decks offer places to sit, think, cuddle and  / or chat.

Isla de Sol, July 2019

So far as we could tell, the house is open to the public; there were certainly no security orb warnings on approach. It is cosily furnished, but the garden perhaps offers the best opportunities for those taken with photography.

Off to the west side of the island, behind the screen of fir trees, a four-legged platform rises from the shallows. A rusting lifeboat slide to one side of it suggests it might have once been some form of small drilling platform, but it is now given over to a shack in need of some renovation. The sea lions on the raft and rock below it don’t seem to mind its presence, tho.

Isla de Sol, July 2019

Small, quirky and perhaps needing some of the bushes and plants to be made phantom (we bounced off of some of the palm trees while trying to pass under them!), Isla de Sol presents an easy visit for the beach inclined. There are opportunities for photography (rezzing is possible with a 5-minute auto-return) throughout, and it avails itself to a range of windlight options (I again used my default takes on Annan Adored’s End of Silence and Morning Dream in the four images here.

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