Waterfalls of Dreams in Second Life

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Waterfalls of Dreams recently popped up in the Editor’s Picks section of the Destination Guide, and has prompted a lot of interest from visitors as a result – including from Caitlyn and I. A homestead region designed by Jeramy McMahon, it is around two years old and offers something of a neo-classical look that those of us who have been in Second Life a fair while might find particularly reminiscent.

A place intended for romance throughout and with a fantasy  / fae lean, a good proportion of the region utilises prim builds – the docks, the raised dance floors and walkways overlooking the region from the east, the various pavilions and floating islands. In turn, these use shine on surfaces rather than materials and textures. All of these, together with the use of sculpties, give the region a sense of “old school” Second Life history.

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

Which is not to say mesh is not present within the region, just that its use has been minimised. This is a conscious decision on Jeramy’s part to “reduce lag”. How well this works is perhaps debatable  – lag itself is a highly subjective subject, given the volume of non-SL influences that can affect it; but it is an interesting approach to take. I will say I found my own experience in three visits to the region no better nor worse, performance-wise, than when visiting many other regions, prim or mesh in nature.

However, for me, what makes a visit to Waterfalls of Dreams attractive is that sense it being a place built upon that historic style and approach to design; one that has in some ways passed. It offers a deep sense of nostalgia and a sense of history, all the way through to the use of pose balls within some of the seating.

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

The landing point is located down at the harbour, which itself offers something of a faint echo of the prim docks in Nautilus – although those docks are more Greco-Roman in feel. A teleport board here offers the way up to the elevated dance floors, while a Teagle horse rezzer sits close by for those who fancy a ride around the region’s lowlands, or a balloon ride located on the far side of the piers presents the opportunity for an aerial view of the region.

Paths wind around the lowlands, leading to various points of interest – pavilions offering places to sit and  / or cuddle, statues to admire, and rivers of flowers to roam amongst. The waterfalls of the region’s title tumble from the cliffs behind the high dance floors to feed the waterways that also wind through the region. Their presence is augmented by falls tumbling from the more distant mountains of the sim surround (although issues of alpha blending can leave these bleeding through the sculpts of the region’s trees, requiring a considered use of edit linked and derender when taking photos under certain lighting).

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

The dance floors are watched over by two huge angel-like figures standing to the north and south of the high walkways. The dance areas are themselves split between two levels, a large blocky tower sitting to the east behind them forming a bath house that in turn holds aloft a large crouched angel under a domed roof. However, this is not the tallest structure in the region; that honour goes to a great tower rising to the north-west. Reached via teleport board from the dance floors, it offers places to sit and to pass the time with a loved one or for the adventurous, the chance to fly around the region da Vinci’s glider via the rezzer.

A flair for the exotic is also offered within the region through the use of elements by Elicio Ember and Noke Yuitza. There presence is few, which makes coming across them all the more effective; Elicio’s rune stones in particular give a certain air of mystery and suggestion of fae that is well in keeping with the overall tone of the region and its statues whilst also offering an otherworldly aspect to the setting that adds to its depth.

Waterfalls of Dreams, January 2020

An unusual and engaging location with opportunities for dance, rest and photography.

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A return to the Countryside in Second Life

Countryside, January 2020 – click any image for full size

It’s been 3.5 years since we last visited Countryside, the full region designed by Dick Spad (see A trip to the Countryside in Second Life). I’d been attracted to the region as a result of visiting Dick’s The Back 40 even earlier (in 2014 to be precise), and as it has been a fair amount of time since our last visit to Countryside, I suggested to Caitlyn that we hop over and see what has changed. The answer turned out to be “rather a lot”, but in a way that preserves the look and feel of the region as it appeared back in June 2016.

In 2016, Countryside appeared as a farming location surrounded by a rolling, hilly off-sim landscape that joined with the region to suggest the setting is far inland. Marked by a train line to the north and a cut by a stream towards the south, the bulk of the land given over to crop rich fields and woodlands to the north and south, and Dick’s private home tucked into the north-east corner.

Countryside, January 2020

Much of this is still true today: the sim surround remains in place, the stream still cuts through the region from the falls and pool not far from the landing point, and the rail lines and fields remain. However, the differences are also present. For one thing the landscape is caught within a late winter, the snow slowly receding, although deep banks remain – presumably cleared from the tracks that run through the woodlands and around the fields.

Another change can be found with the fields. They are now less regular than before and bereft of crops – the latter point hardly surprising given the time of year represented in the region. More than this, however, is the the fact that two of the fields no longer appear to be used for crop growing, having become home to the region’s mix of diary and meat cattle and horses. A third looks to have been flooded, the water still frozen to offer a skating rink.

Countryside, January 2020

The farm is still much in evidence – the workshop and windmill still sit to the north-west, beyond the end of the rail lines. They have been joined by a line of grain silos I don’t recall from 2016, which give a new edge to the east side of the region. Also to the north, the field the cattle used to occupy appears to have at one time been the home of a winter market or faire, but which is now all but cleared out, with just a few things awaiting their time to be put away.

The woodlands in the region seem to be more extensive than I remember from our 2016 visit, and there appear to be more places to sit across the region – a further camp site (with a cave close by), a tree house, and  places that sit close to the local wildlife – perhaps a little too close in the case of the bears around the beaver pool!

Countryside, January 2020

A nice touch with the region is the placement of pose points. These use traditional poseballs (gold for singles, coloured for couples) – a point in their favour, as it makes them easier to spot among the tress and rocks – and I particularly liked the balancing act along the rail lines. For those who like a view from the air, a static hot air balloon is tucked into one corner of the region, offering a mix of singles and couples poses. While it might not offer the best sight when looking immediately down – that of the little rail yard – it does offer good views over the trees and back towards the landing point.

Another aspect with the current design that continues the core theme of the region is the feeling that this is really part of a much larger setting. It is possible to wander the tracks and trails and feel like you’re walking for miles, while all the points to sit encourage visitors to perhaps tarry a while and appreciate the views and the sounds, while there are lots of little touches that make careful exploration worth the effort.

Countryside, January 2020

I will admit to having a few minor niggles with the landscaping – some of the plants could do with Full Bright being turned off, and some of the snow banks appear to be floating over the ground on which they should be sitting – but these issues are easy to overlook or – when taking photos – avoid. While the default windlight appears to be set to early evening / night (or at least, it didn’t change during the course of three visits), the region really does naturally lend itself to a range of windlights; for the picture her I tried to set one that suggests a crisp winter’s day, in keeping with the snow on the ground, but with enough sunlight to sit with the idea of the snow being in a state of thaw.

Overall, we found our visit as pleasing and enjoyable as the first time we dropped in back in 2016.

Countryside, January 2020

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Grauland’s touch of Japanese Zen in Second Life

Grauland, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Grauland has been a place we’ve regularly returned to since first discovering it in March 2019 (see Art as a landscape in Second Life). A Homestead region held by JimGarand and home (in the sky) to his M-1 Art Poses, the region has in the past been the home to builds that offer something of a blending of landscape and art to offer very individual statements (see also A return to Grauland in Second Life).

For the start of 2020, the region appears to break with this tradition when first seen, appearing to lean towards a more “traditional” landscape design with less of an emphasis on art than has previously been the case. However, first looks can be deceptive.

Grauland, January 2020

The region sits as a group of four islands, split west and east and north and south. The south-eastern, and smallest, island looks as if it had once been a headland extending away from the largest island in the group, but which has become isolated as a result of time and tide wearing at its rocky finger, eventually bringing a part of it down. What is left is a dramatic promontory that forms a stunning piece of Nature’s own art.

Facing it from the west across a shallow channel is the second of the region’s two large islands, home to the default landing point (although this is not enforced). It sits with a grove of palm trees that climbs a gentle slope to the south, to another subtle statement of art; one with a hint of the orient: a zen garden. Sitting on a circular table of rock itself ringed by sand and manicured grass, it offers a place of peace and contemplation that blends nature and design to make an artistic statement of its own.

Grauland, January 2020

North of this sits a piece of landscaping that has been something of a constant with each Grauland design: Cube Republic’s marvellous Basalt columns. They sit on the coast of two of the islands, with a narrow channel between whilst extending out to sea like Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway. A bridge sits just behind them spanning the channel to link the south and north islands, with the latter also connected to the largest of the islands in the group via a rope bridge.

The region hosts two structures within it. One offers a hint of Japanese design as it forms a bathhouse / massage hut. The second is a more traditional style of a walled Japanese house, complete with a bamboo grove within the gardens and a small summer house. The bamboo continues beyond the wall of the garden, marching alongside a path that leads away from the house to run to where the former headland points the way south over the sea.

Grauland, January 2020

Throughout the region are multiple places to sit – on the beaches, in and around the buildings, in the gardens, offering plenty of opportunities to appreciate the landscape. there’s also a gentle sound scape to accompany the design that adds to its depth. However, the most intriguing element present in the region is to be found on the eastern beach just down from the landing point.

It is here that a group of four jet skis can be found. Open to anyone to use, these promise the opportunity to ride them beyond the boundaries of a standalone region up to a distance of 700m. This appears to be a viewer-side effect with scripted intervention on the server to present the visual appearance of travelling beyond the region boundaries to the rider and other avatars in the region whilst the rider remains anchored at the point they “crossed” the boundary. However, I’ll leave it to better minds than mine to comment on the technical aspects of such a system and its ins and outs.

Grauland, January 2020

As picturesque as previous iterations of the region, this build – subtitled Okinawa Islands –  offers a soothing landscape worthy of exploration, and as ever, makes the region worthy of a visit, whether for the first time or as a returning visitor.

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A Grey Magic Winter in Second Life

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Grey Magic is a full region designed by SL partners Kimmie Rayna and CHRlSTIANGREY that offers a mix of public spaces and private rentals. For those still feeling in the mood for winter scenes and snow, the region is currently dressed for the colder months, a blanket of snow covering most of it and the central pond / lake has a frozen surface which, going by the condition of the top of the ice, has seen use as a skating rink.

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

The east side of the region, together with the central body of water, form the region’s public areas, with the east side laid out as a street from a small town, lined by small businesses and town houses.  Most of the buildings are empty, although at the times of my visit, one of the shops was functioning as an SL fashion store outlet and the pub offered indoor seating and an outdoor table games area.

Six rental properties lie to the north, west and south of the region, with the central body of water forming something of a buffer between the public streets and the private homes, with the houses closest to the town setting located far enough back from the roads to give them privacy. Entrances to them are clearly marked as private property to help avoid accidental trespass.

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

The town and lake offer nicely photogenic settings – although I worried about a steam train and a tram occupying the same set of rails and, from their positions, only being able to head towards one another. However, given the distance separating them from one another, they both offer potential locations for photography.

While the lake is frozen over, I didn’t notice any ice skate vendors around the shore, but there are buckets of snowballs for those looking to have a friendly fight – and visitors can likelyalways use their own skates if they have them. For those who do, the hot chocolate bar alongside the lake offers the chance for a hot drink – and to listen to a very unusual round of Christmas songs from the nearby … umm … “carollers”  –  this is actually not to be missed (I still have their take on Frosty the Snowman hovering around in my head 🙂 ).

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

Finished with a day / night cycle and matching sound scape, Grey Magic offers a balanced mix of public and private spaces (I understand that there is a waiting list for the houses, although one appeared to be vacant when I dropped in) with plenty of opportunities for photography as well as numerous places to sit. As such it makes for a pleasant, easy visit for SL explorers and photographers.

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

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Exploring The Cold Rose in Second Life

The Cold Rose, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Designed by artist and blogger Oema and her SL partner Van Lopen, The Cold Rose is a public / residential homestead region that opened its doors at the start of 2020, and which we dropped into over the weekend whilst out exploring.

Nestled amongst a group of off-sim islands, and itself split into a number of rocky and low-lying isles, the region has the feel of being a small group of islands perhaps seated in the more northern latitudes, and a place caught between the passing cold of winter and the warmer times of spring. The About Land description states the region is “perfect for photographers and bloggers”, and there is certainly much that is photogenic about the setting. However, I’d suggest this is tempered somewhat by the five private properties also to be found within it.

The Cold Rose, January 2020

These five properties – a private residence for Oema and Van Lopen, occupying the top of the large island to the north-east, and four rental properties occupying the western islands of the group – take up the majority of the space within the region, being located in large parcels that once occupied, might be considered “off limits” to visitors to ensure the privacy of those occupying them. Indeed, the private residence is denoted by ban lines should visitors stray too close, while the rentals are equipped with security orbs that, when active, will presumably cover the entire parcel occupied by each house.

This tends to limit exploration to the islands to the south-east and east of the region, and the tracks skirting around those occupied by private houses. Even so, this still gives people a fair amount to do, and numerous opportunities for photography, with several nice little touches await discovery.

The Cold Rose, January 2020

The landing point sits on the low-lying south-eastern island that is almost a shale bar that has been built up over the passage of time such that it can keep itself above the coming and going of the tide – or perhaps it is all that remains of the low-lying land that once connected the islands one to another. It is here that details of the rental properties can be found, with one of them visible just across the water on what amounts to the “middle” island of the group.

A simple plank bridge links the landing point with another low-lying island to the north, a place home to horses, a couple of them Animesh and suitable for sitting (if not, at the time of our visit, riding). Beyond this, things get a little more physical for explorers – the route to the northern island is via rope slide, with a second connecting it with the western islands. As noted, the north island is topped by a private residence, so on crossing to it via the rope slide, it is best to turn right and follow the track around the base of the hill and the island’s north side to reach the second rope slide and the western islands.

The Cold Rose, January 2020

Of the rental properties, three are clearly marked by gates / gateways that lie to one side or across the paths that run through and around the islands, making them easy to identify. At the time of our visit none were occupied, so wandering their parcels wasn’t an issue. However, this might not always be the case, so please check ahead and be respectful of privacy. The remaining rental sits at the southern end of the “middle” island, and rather than being reached by track, it has a bridge reaching out to it from the western isle, the end of which might best be considered denoting the start of private property.

Set under a moody sky by default, and rounded-out by a gentle soundscape, The Cold Rose includes several places for visitors to sit and could present those seeking a private home in SL with a picturesque, quite environment they might enjoy.

The Cold Rose, January 2020

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The hills and waters of a Lost Lagoon in Second Life

Lost Lagoon, January 2020 – click any image for full size

We last visited Lost Lagoon in July 2019, drawn to it by a bewitching description of a lost south seas island, and held captive by its rich design and looks (see:  A Lost Lagoon in Second Life). We were drawn back to it after hearing whispers that it has been redesigned to offer a new outlook for visitors; and I’m pleased to say the new look to the region is every bit as a attractive as it had been in July 2019.

The work of knight676 and Jana Guyot, Lost Lagoon has moved on from the look and feel of a south sea island to present a “lonely swamp Island. Witnesses of bygone days and paradise for those who seek solitude and nature.” As such, it presents a haunting landscape, split between low wetlands and higher peaks; a place where time perhaps hasn’t been overly kind to the buildings scattered across it- but where warm and comfortable welcomes can still be found.

Lost Lagoon, January 2020

The landing point is located in the south-east corner of the region, sitting on a deck over the water that has all the looks of a ferry stop. It affords a fine look across the rest of the region, with its lowlands to the south and east, the land rising to the north and west.

The terminal-like building is connected to the rest of the region via a raised wooden walkway. From here, visitors are free to wander as they please. Directly north along the coast is a place where the first of those warm and comfortable greetings I mentioned can be found. It is here that a large deck space and summer house has been erected, offering plenty of space to sit and pass the time, enjoy a drink or fuss the cats and dogs.

Lost Lagoon, January 2020

West and south of this the lowlands are cut by a broad bay watched over by a tall windmill and two more wooden huts, each of which offer cosy cuddle points for visitors to enjoy, while a small sandy area on the inland side of the bay offers an alternative sitting / resting point, marked by the wreck of a crashed ‘plane. Beyond this, the land becomes more marshy, the water choked with reeds and grasses, wooden walkways crossing them to provide access to sandbars and running past old buildings that have fallen victim to the sinking land – or the rising water level.

The marshlands are fed by water falling from the region’s highlands. These are homes to points of interest At first, the way up to them would appear to the by following the gassy slopes as they rise on the east side of the region.

Lost Lagoon, January 2020

But while there is indeed a path up through the greener hills that leads to a small folly nestled on their shoulder, it is best reached by going inland from the landing point and picking up the broad track the winds into the hills from alongside the old shack at the back of the bay. The path up to the folly branches directly from this track, which continues onwards, passing via a rocky arch and board walk to reach a northern headland, home to an eye-catching setting of its own.

Further to the west, where a toe of the hills pokes out towards the bay, carrying the shallow cut of a stream on its back, steps and second path can be found, offering a route by wooden stairs and platforms to the upper reaches of the hills. Gated and going via a single finger of rock, this path eventually arrives at what might appear to be a disused observatory but which is in fact a bath house. This again offers a warm welcome to visitors, complete with an old piano and stuffed armchairs.

Lost Lagoon, January 2020

There are a few issues in the region – places where plant physics should perhaps be disabled or the plants made phantom, performance can be a little uneven if there are a lot of other avatars in the region and I personally the default windlight a little dour. But these don’t interfere with the fact that this iteration of Lost Lagoon is as eye-catching and highly photogenic as the build we visited in July 2019.

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