Wo Qui Non Coin in Second Life

Wo Qui Non Coin, September 2021 – click any image for full size

Shawn Shakespeare recently passed on a landmark to me for a Homestead region design by Maasya entitled Wo Qui Non Coin. Given my interest in the orient (and parts of Asia!), the region’s About Land description – simply “Japan” – had me intrigued enough to hop over and take a look to get a start to the week – although admittedly, I was already curious about the name given to the setting.

While I’m very far from an expert in should matters, I gather the name Wo Qui Non Coin belongs to song from Cowboy Bebop, and animated Japanese franchise covering television, movies and assorted media cantered on the adventures of a gang of bounty hunters in space. In particular, the song is sung by Radical Edward (aka Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivruski IV as she likes to call herself), originally from Earth and who hacked her way aboard the show’s titular spaceship, the Bebop.

Whether or not the setting is designed as a reflection of the song or Edward’s earthbound origins or because Maasya is a fan of the series or simply likes the term, I have no idea – but the name is certainly catches one’s attention!

Wo Qui Non Coin, September 2021

Although it sits within its own Homestead region, the setting actually takes up perhaps half of the available landmass, forming a central island separated from a surrounding ring of off-region mountains by water. Caught under a default night-time sky, the island forms a long finger pointing west to east, with the landing point – although not enforced – sitting at the western end.

Two routes across the island extend outwards from the landing point. The first runs pretty much due east along a busy street lit by lamps and signs; the second arcs around the northern coast, a paved footpath that follows the line of the land under lights that float in the air like drifting pollen, its waterside edge marked by vertical light posts formed from hollow bamboo.

Wo Qui Non Coin, September 2021

The latter ends in a small shrine – although reaching it to light incense might need a little care, as a small field of katana has been planets on the path and just to either side of it, and a couple of stone cats look like they might make an objection or two should you try to move the blades!

The path though the rows of shops and businesses, however, has no such obstacle blocking it as it proceeds eastward, lit by more of the bamboo posts as well as the lanterns strung overhead and the neon signs on walls and over doorways. Most of the buildings are simple façades, but they do carry a sense of place: seats stand or are folded outside of some, suggesting that when business is slack during the day, the owners might take to sitting outdoors. Others remain tightly shuttered or gated – which is not surprising, given the setting is caught under a night-time sky, suggesting business hours are over for the day.

Wo Qui Non Coin, September 2021

Towards the eastern end of the street the path rises by way of steps to pass between two businesses one might reasonably expect to be open at night. The first of these is a small open-air bar which faces the, second, the local cinema. Going by the posters outside and the wording on the awning over the entrance, the latter is showing a series of films showcasing action movie stars, although the most notable film on offer (or at least featured on a poster) is 1983’s Blow the Night! (more fully: Blow the Night! Let’s Spend the Night Together), a docu-drama exploring the youth street gang culture of Japan in the late 1970s / early 1980s.

Beyond the bar and cinema, further steps lead up to a walled garden, the way barred by a gate (touch the left side to slide it open).  The garden is caught in the colours of autumn (colours that can be found beyond the garden walls as well), the ground carpeted in fallen leaves. A small, lightly-furnished house sits within this garden to offer a reasonably comfortable living space, although the cats in residence might have a say in where you sit and what you do when visiting :). Behind the house, the garden drops quickly to a small beach.

Wo Qui Non Coin, September 2021

The island is a cosy, inviting setting that encourages exploration, and while it is by default sitting under a night sky, it does allow itself to be imaged under different environment settings – as I hope one of the images here shows. There is also a a local sound scape, but it is not the usual sounds of birds, waves and the like. Rather, it is a low hum mixed with a repeatedly whistling sound that fades in and out of hearing. It’s an unnatural sound that sits at odds with the rest of the setting. Whether it is intended to represent power humming along the overhead power lines or give a sense of alienness to the setting (or indeed has something to do with Cowboy Bebop, I’ve no idea; what I will say is that for me, it was the one distraction in a setting I enjoyed visiting – but one easily solved by turning off local sounds, and not something that should deter a visit.

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A trip to The Rock in Second Life

The Rock, September 2021 – click any image for full size

There are likely very few of us who have not heard of Alcatraz, the sitting within San Francisco Bay, just 2 km from the nearest shore. As well as being the home of the legendary prison of the same name that operated from 1934 through until early 1963, the island also served as the location of a lighthouse marking the island and the rocks around it and a military fort and barracks that also served as a military prison (notably holding Confederate prisoners of war during the US Civil War). It was in this latter capacity that the island received what is still perhaps its most famous landmark: the great prison block that straddles the island’s spine to this day, construction of which started in 1909.

From the start, the strong currents and cold waters of the Bay were seen as the most effective means of keeping those confined to the island on the island, thus leading in part, to the prison’s reputation when it became a federal prison. Intended to house the those prisoners who repeatedly caused problems in other federal prisons, it quickly gained a reputation for unforgiving firmness – the warders being trained purely in matter of security and control, but on in support and rehabilitation – that eventually lead to the expression that is one of the first things modern day visitors to the island – a US National Historic Landmark since 1986 – read on their arrival:

IF YOU BREAK THE RULES, YOU GO TO PRISON. IF YOU BREAK THE PRISON RULES, YOU GO TO ALCATRAZ
The Rock, September 2021

These are also the words Justice Vought uses as a tag for his latest region design, The Rock, which recently opened its gates to visitors in-world, and to which he invited me to pay a visit. And as with all things Justice does with his region designs, it offers mix of reality, art and mystery, whilst being highly photogenic as well as catching much of the spirit of the original.

Like the physical world’s Alcatraz, this La Isla de los Alcatraces (“Island of the gannets”, to use the original name coined by Juan Manuel de Ayala but which is oft given as “The Island of the Pelicans”), this one is reached via a ferry boat ride from the edge of the region as it abuts Justice’s main setting of :Oxygen: – just click on the red block over the water at the wharf landing point, then take a seat on the ferry when it appears.

The Rock, September 2021

Chugging away from the wharf, the ferry curves out and across the waters of the region to arrive at The Rock, coming alongside at Building 64, which originally served as a residential building for the military officers and their families living on the island, following its construction in 1905.

Recreating the entire 22 acres of the island  – or  just the 12-ish acres given over the prison – is not really feasible within a single region of 65,536 square metres total area, But what Justice has produced more than captures the core essence of the island: Building 64, the main prison block (sans mess / dining hall), the parade / exercise area, the lighthouse, the power generation building and its chimney and the water tower that forms one of the three major vertical structures on the island visible from the shore (alongside the aforementioned chimney and lighthouse).

The Rock, September 2021

Both Building 64 and the prison block have interior spaces, the former celebrating the legend of the prison and its cinematic history, the latter containing some of the tiny cells in which inmates were confined for the larger portion of their day, and the stark signage used to remind them that beyond food, clothing, shelter and access to medical attention, they had zero right to anything. The are cells made famous by latter-day day and night tours of the island, with visitors getting a brief opportunity to experience what it was like to be within the cells with the doors shut. Within the Rock, we can experience something of the same – and a little more.

Part of the fable of the prison is that, officially, no-one ever escaped alive – but up to three men may have actually done so (Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin), although their actual fates remain a mystery. However, like them, Justice offers visitors the means to make their own escape; only in this case, the escape route appears to make use of historical remains only discovered in 2019 by means of ground-penetrating radar – a “bombproof” shelter, tunnels and ventilation shafts under the former parade ground / exercise yard. Find the way into these, and route to a boat on the shore (rather than a raft, as with Morris and the Anglins) might be found, giving a way for people to get back to the “mainland” of :Oxygen:. I’ll leave you to find the way into the escape route, however!

The Rock, September 2021

Finished with a sound scape reflective of the physical island, the cry of gulls, the crash of surf on rocks and the plaintive call of a foghorn and caught under a lowering sky, The Rock offers a nicely atmospheric visit, one very different in tone – but no less appreciable – to that of :Oxygen: itself as it sits within its latest iteration.

However, a tour of :Oxygen: is a treat for another day and another article. For now, my thanks to Justice for the invitation and the opportunity to make the visit.

The Rock, September 2021

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Lana’s seasons in Second Life

LANA, September 2021 – click any image for full size

Valarie (Zalindah) in a region designer whose work I have covered on multiple occasions in this blog; working on her own or with with Jayden Mercury, she has created a series of memorable region designs over the last few years, all of which I have enjoyed visiting So I was delighted to visit her most recent design for 2021, which opened in August within a Homestead region.

A solo design by Valerie, LANA presents a rich, and in places quirky, setting. The name she has chosen for the setting is rich in its potential meanings – loyalty, wool, an alternate form of the names Alana or Helen, the name of a village in the Tyrol region, and so on. Here, Valerie offers her own definition for the word for the name of her design:

To be ‘calm as still waters’ or ‘afloat’, holding on and inhaling what the world has to offer despite experiencing loss. Allowing nature to take over, seasons to tease you and animals to be our friends. 

– LANA, About Land description

LANA, September 2021

It’s an interesting introduction to the region, suggesting as it does this is a place of recuperation from loss, together with the idea of renewal and recovery, of giving space. Almost all of this is present within the region, which offers itself for rest, exploration and enjoyment; but whether drawn to it out of a sense of loss or not is really down to personal circumstance, although there is  more than enough within the setting to allow memories free passage as we explore.

This is also place, as the description notes, that teases visitors with the four seasons, from a tropical summer in the south-east, through warmer summer greens around the middle of the setting that rise to a large northern hilltop rich in the sense of spring. These are balanced to the west by an autumnal setting that surrounds a small pair of roads and their buildings and, north of this, an avenue of trees that carry the darker green of later summer days as they skirt the base of the springtime hill to reach a small winter’s headland.

LANA, September 2021

It is on the western side of the region, sitting in the bay between autumn and winter, that the landing point sits. This has the first quirk in the region, a short spur of rail line that extends into the water to end in a photo backdrop and on which a single railcar sits. The latter blocks the walk to shore and must be waded around, although this is not an inconvenience, as it reveals the first hint of the oriental touches to the setting in the form of lanterns floating in the water.

Further oriental touches can be found across the setting – such as in the winter headland, for example, where torii gates lead the way to to the upper part of a pagoda sits on a rocky outcrop or up on the springtime hilltop, ripe in Sakura blossom that surround a koi house and its little garden. Not that the far east is the only influence here. The route from tropical beach to hilltop spring, for example is marked by ruins that might be considered medieval in looks – but could also be from central or southern Asia (as well as having a slight elven lean to that as they reach up to the Japanese-style bridge that spans the hilltop’s bubbling stream.

LANA, September 2021

The animals mentioned within the About Land description take multiple forms, from the familiar to the fantastical. Most seem to be standing guard or observing what is going on close by. For example, a floating market in the central lake that carries echoes of Indonesia is being watched over by tigers, while, the route between beach and hilltop appears guarded at various points by a black panther (bringing forth thoughts of Bagheera, Mowgli and India) within the ruins, an albino lion along the path leading to the Koi house and between them, on the bridge, a flying (if wingless) dragon.

To the west, in the little urban setting with is overgrown streets and tumble-down buildings, deer away discovery, watched over by the statue of a Chinese dragon sat before a torii gate, whilst overhead, a chinthe-like dragon hovers with lazy wing flaps. Even the path from the landing point is watched over by a red panda – albeit it one of the stuffed toy variety (and a little oversized!). More animals await discovery, but I’ll leave them for you to find.

LANA, September 2021

Throughout all of this are places to sit and relax, some in the open, others at the townside cafes or in the Koi house, and one neatly tucked away under a hill that might be missed by the hasty. Needless to say, there are also numerous opportunities for photography.

Finished with a gentle sound-scape, LANA adds-up to an engaging visit rich in detail without feeling crowded, with room to explore without feeling you’re constantly bumping into others.

LANA, September 2021

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More time at Bella’s Lullaby in Second Life

Bella’s Lullaby, September 2021 – click any image for full size

I returned to Bella’s Lullaby in September after hearing from Shawn Shakespeare that region owner Bella (BellaSwan Blackheart) has given her Homestead region a make-over. I was pleased to find that in redesigning the setting, Bella has retained much that made the region so appealing at the time of my first visit in June 2021 (see The Calm of Bellla’s Lullaby in Second Life), most noticeably the feeling of openness and sense of space, which in this iteration is undoubtedly aided by the split between land and water within the region, the latter splitting the former into three islands.

This openness allows for the largest of the three islands to be the home of a small waterfront business district that doesn’t crowd out the region in any way. It sits on a brick-built promontory that extends out over the water to provide a view to the west out over one of the smaller islands as well as being the home of the region’s landing point. All but one of the premises in this little precinct have been outfitted, giving them an added sense of presence, the one that has been left empty (the result of LI limits being reached?) doesn’t look out-of-place, thanks to the clever placement of a For Sale by Owner sign stuck in a window.

Bella’s Lullaby, September 2021

Behind the main parade of shops to the east, and at the end of the little cobbled roadway that leads around them, stand a pair of metal gates those familiar with the previous iteration of Bella’s Lullaby might recognise (one of several items carried forward to this iteration, allowing a visual sense of continuity between the two). These gates provide access to a stony path that rises to a grassy, tree-shaded trail that runs southward behind the main buildings, a friendly This Way sign marking the way, the northern end of the path being marked by an artist’s studio, guarded by a group of vociferous chickens.

A couple of places it sit can be found along the trail, whilst its southern end turns westward once more, providing access to a small cabin overlooking the southern waters, and a long headland. Here, the trees give way to a narrow meadow of wild flowers that offers more places to sit and relax, including a swing close to the water’s edge. Two small children’s windmills turn lazy sails in the breeze, while a little sail boat fashioned out of a piece of broken wood maintains remarkable calm in the face of the breakers close by.

Bella’s Lullaby, September 2021

Watched over by the tall white finger of a lighthouse and with the ghostly sounds of a piano playing, the headland is a restful place in which to spend time, A small deck extends out into the channel here, and the little motorboat sitting alongside it gave me cause to wonder if it could be used to reach the remaining two islands in the group – but no, it instead offers a further place to sit. Instead, the way to the other two islands appears to be a matter of wading / flying (as a landing point is set, an attempt to double-click TP will return you to it).

The central island offers low rise of grass topped by another reminder of the region’s past iteration: a trailer-built refuge that now sits alongside a small and quite spartan hut, the two perhaps set aside for a touch of fishing in the surrounding waters as well as for sunbathing down on the island’s cosy deck (and the cabin includes the essential requirement for fishing or lying in the sun: a cooler stocked with drinks!

Bella’s Lullaby, September 2021

The northern island rises from the water like a green dumpling, a grassy, rocky hump topped by shrubs, a weeping willow and an old chapel, apparently long deserted except for its own piano that will play when touched.

The best way to reach this northern island is via the shallows that sit between it and the north end of the main isle. It looks like a bridge might have once spanned this channel, but for some reason this seems to have been pulled up and dumped over the shrubs of the smaller island to form an overgrown route up to the chapel, watched over by a statue of a mother and her child. Or perhaps this wooden walk is all that remains of what had once been a more substantial link between the two islands; the story is yours to make.

Bella’s Lullaby, September 2021

Finished with a rich sound scape, with multiple opportunities for photography, Bella’s Lullaby remains an engaging visit,

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One Summer and a dash of Saltwater in Second Life

One Summer / Saltwater, September 2021 – click any image for full size

September has arrived and with it, thoughts in the northern hemisphere are once more turning to the Autumn, a fact reflected in the gradual seasonal change being witnessed across many public regions within Second Life. Given autumnal themes are now on the ascendant in-world, I decided to hop along to a double-header of regions that sit firmly rooted in the tropics and a world of Sun, sand and sea.

One Summer and Saltwater are a part of interconnected Homestead regions that share a continuous theme throughout: that of a group of rocky islands, an archipelago possibly created more by natural water erosion rather than having anything volcanic in their origins (although some of the rock formations making up the islands could easily be seen as having volcanic origins).

One Summer, September 2021

The regions sit in an east-west orientation, a meandering channel of water almost dividing them one from the other. “Almost” because a broad sand bar cuts cross the water at their southern extremes, providing a natural bridge between the two, although it is one that might not always be there. Dotted by shallow pools watched over by pelican and heron alike, all doubtless looking out for any snacks caught within the waters, the causeway has the look of being tidal in nature, and prone to vanishing as the latter returns.

The work of Krys Vita, her SL partner Tre (TreMeldazis), the two regions have individual landing points (which can be found jointly at the end of this article, rather than embedded within it), thus allowing for individual visits. However, to fully appreciate them, I’d suggest making the time to visit them side-by-side. They are also regions where donations are welcome – but not for their upkeep: funds are accepted by RFL kiosks located on the back of the signs for each region, allowing them to support the American Cancer Society’s off-season fund-raising in Second life.

Saltwater, September 2021

Of the two regions, One Summer is probably the easier to explore simply because its various islands (and saltwater swamp, the sandy floor of which also appears to have been exposed by the low tide) are connected by bridges and boardwalks. These provide the means to pass over the waters separating the island and reach the grassy trails winding around and over them and thus reach various points of interest. The latter range from small places to sit and relax through to the large beachfront spa located on the western side of the region.

Across the water / causeway, Saltwater offers a more diverse – if a little harder to get around – setting. Here the islands are fewer in number, and the larger two are somewhat sinuous in nature and without bridges connect them. The waters of Saltwater are also broader in nature – and given the extensive moorings and pier-built workshops, warehouses and café found to the region’s eastern extremes, deeper than those found within One Summer. Certainly, the piers are home to a number of vessels, including a deep keeled sailing boat and sports fishing cruiser, and more sail boats are anchored in a little bay nestled mid-way along the the sinuous island than forms one end of the causeway linking Saltwater to One Summer.

One Summer, September 2021

I didn’t spot any boat rezzers or similar in bouncing and camming around Saltwater (which is not to say they aren’t there; fallible me is fallible me), so getting to / from the southern island and the causeway connecting it to One Summer and the other islands in the Saltwater group appears to be a case of flapping your arms or camming to a convenient chair and sitting in it. However, the island with the region’s landing point is connected to the sand bar east of it by way of a low board walk, and a further board walk connects sand bar to the piers and moorings, thus making exploration on foot and between them possible.

The local environments for the two regions aren’t quite in sync – whilst similar, the Sun does go for a brief walk across several degrees of sky on crossing between them -, and I did find myself bouncing off of the odd plant here and there as well as being able to walk on the water at one point (all in One Summer). But while these elements made for interesting distractions, they didn’t in any way spoil my visit. As seen in the photos here, as well, both regions lend themselves to environment settings other than their own.

Saltwater, September 2021

Finished with a matching sound scape and, as already noted, offering the opportunity to support ACS / RFL of SL, One Summer and Salt Water make for an idyllic tropical visit.

With thanks to Shawn Shakespeare for the nod to Saltwater.

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Hear How Your Landscape Should Sound in Second Life

Hear How Your Landscape Should Sound, September 2021

As regulars to these pages will know, one of the aspects of region design I tend to keep an ear out for and appreciate, is that of a well-crafted ambient sound scape. In fact, not only do I listen for local ambient sounds when visiting regions, I also use them in both my public and private builds; hence why I was intrigued when my Redoubtable Region Spy Shawn Shakespeare (SkinnyNilla) passed me an LM to Hear How Your Landscape Should Sound, and decided to hop and take a look (and listen) sooner rather than later.

Designed by ElizabethNantesJewell and region holder Electric Monday, the region – which I’m going to abbreviate to HHYLSS, even if that does sound like a riff on Douglas Adams’ The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy – is intended to offer a demonstration of how the considered use of sounds can enhance a setting, notably by using Electric Monday’s Bunyi brand of ambient sounds (her store can be found tucked into a corner of the region and is used as the landing point in this article).

Hear How Your Landscape Should Sound, September 2021

Beyond the store, the land is split into a number of interlinked environments that form a natural, rolling landscape in which collections of related sounds can be found, each element of which can be purchased on encountering it via little tree-trunk pedestals that also provide a description of the sound being heard. These sounds for a small selection of those found in the store, and range from bird song to the sound of water bubbling through a brook to the buzzing of bees, the call of sheep and lambs, and more. As well as hosting these sounds, the setting itself offers plenty of opportunity for rural / pastoral photography, including as it does woodland, rolling fields, a Zen garden, and a climb up a stubby finger of rock to the cabin at its peak as attractions.

The landscaping itself comes from a number of creators I particularly appreciate as I use their work myself. These include Cube Republic, Alex Bader, Lilith Heart Sasaya Kayo (Happy Mood), and there reside here together with elements by the likes of Kendra Zaurak (Fanatik), Cari McKeenan (The Little Branch), Krystali Rabeni (Love) and more – all of which means the regions is also ripe with potential landscaping ideas. In some instances it would seem that these creators may have inspired Electric in her range of sound systems – her Zen Garden sounds, for example would mapper to offer a good fit with  Alex’s Studio Skye Zen Garden kit (a personal favourite of mine).

Hear How Your Landscape Should Sound, September 2021

Of course, a lot of landscaping creators also provide sounds of their own to go with items they sell: Alex, for example provides the sound of flowing, tumbling water in his river building kits and his waterfall kits come with sound systems as well, but what Electric and other creators like her offer are broader sounds, individual and in collections, that can help add depth to a setting, be it an entire region or a modest parcel, and – in Electric’s case at least – offer sounds based on geographical locations – North America, Eurasia, the tropics, etc., helping to focus an ambient sound scape on any theme represented by a region / parcel build.

That said, I would emphasise this article should not be seen as an endorsement of the sound found within the region. Not because I have any issue with them, but simply because as I have a system I’m long familiar with and which offers the range and flexibility of use I require, I’ve no pressing need to add others sound emitters to my inventory, no matter how reasonably priced. So, if you are considering purchasing anything from the Bunyi range, I recommend you do your own homework first to ensure you’re happy with your choice.

Hear How Your Landscape Should Sound, September 2021

Nevertheless, HHYLSS offers a good example of the considered use of local sounds and their placement within a region / parcel, and presents a place that has several opportunities of photography, thus making it an interesting both to visit and as a generator of ideas.

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