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)

A Binemust winter in Second Life

White Binemust, December 2020

I’m rounding out my 2020 region explorations with a return trip to Biné Rodenberger’s Binemust, which Caitlyn and I last visited in September. At that time, the region was dressed as a representation of Bungenäs, a region of Sweden’s largest island, Gotland (see: Bungenäs at Binemust in Second Life).

That design is still available at ground level, but for Winter 2020/21 Biné has added a sky platform – White Binemust. As its name suggests, this is a place dressed as a winter setting that is nicely Scandinavian is style, whilst also lending itself as a snowy setting from almost any suitable mountainous region in snowy latitudes.

White Binemust, December 2020

Blending seamlessly with a snow-capped and off-region mountain range on all sides, the platform offers a richly wooded environment – a familiar element within Biné ‘s designs, both and above water level, as she has often demonstrated an imaginative use of space within her region that has included woods and copses below sea level as well as on  land -, the setting sits under a lowering sky that suggests a lot of snow is awaiting the opportunity to fall on top of that which has already settled.

The woods hide the fact that this is setting of two levels. The upper, home to the majority of the woodland, also forms the landing point for this winter setting, sitting as it does close to a junction of pathways visitors are free to follow. One of these, marked by an avenue of arched trees, leads to a snow-bound country chapel, an icy path links the chapel with a glass and steel igloo, both of which are watched over by an unexpected guardian: and oriental-style flying dragon.

Binemust, December 2020

A second path leads to a large house overlooking the lower aspect of the region (of which more anon). Of a modern, clean design, with large windows and cosily furnished, the house is suited to this snowy location, and appears to be open for visitors to explore – as do all the buildings to be found with White Binemust. The icy path running to the house ends in a circular pond, its surface frozen, revealing the smooth path may itself be a stream caught beneath the ice. A small cabin sits close by the pond; in warmer days it might form a summer house converted from a greenhouse; for now it presents a cosy den / bar.

A tiny cabin and a shed offering Christmas trees round-out the high-level section of the platform. Below them, reached via a path than descends via a line of steps, and a more open space, the woodland ending at a line of trees at the foot of the slope, having marched down it to meet a rutted track that follows the contours of the hill.

Binemust, December 2020

The selection of buildings here – focused on another clean design of a wood-framed ranch house –  has the feel of a farm caught in the depths of winter about it. Shaggy highland cattle graze in a fences field, a wagon of hay close-by should the snow overcome the grass of the field. Across the snow and ice sits and A-frame cabin, perhaps offered as a holiday home by those who own the farm. Sitting outside of it is a little snowman offering a reminder of a more unpleasant aspect of this past year.

Although sitting below the landing point, the farm and its buildings art nestled on the edge of a mountain valley, one suggestive of being formed in the ancient past by the passage of glacier that encountered a hard table of rock that forced it to split, giving rise to the plateau on which the setting is located.

White Binemust, December 2020

It is within this valley, visible from the large glass frontage of the farmhouse, that another of one of Binemust’s iconic elements can be found: the wreck of a Viking long ship. It’s a piece Biné uses as an emblem for her designs, a visualisation of her Norse / Scandinavian heritage.

While there are touches of Christmas to be found within the setting – decorated trees (one of them of a most interesting design), lights festooning tree branches and so on. However, this is far more a delightful winter setting than Christmas focused, thus it offer an ideal seasonal visit with which to see out the year (as it did for me) or as a winter setting in which to see in the new.

White Binemust, December 2020

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Capturing some still memories in Second Life

The Isle of Elar, December 2020; click any image for full size

Second Life blogger and photographer Rig Torok led me to Shayn Mackenzie’s Full region, The Isle of Elar, for what will be one of my last region visits for 2020.

With life being what it is right now thanks to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic refusing to to leave us alone and limiting opportunities for physical world interactions and getting out and about, coupled with various personal matters that have left me feeling I could do with time in the outdoors, wandering unknown paths under boughs heavy with leaves, The Isle of Elar proved to be just the ticket.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

Rugged and split by streams fed by waterfalls, with rocky plateaus, shingle and sandy beaches, woodland trails and open spaces, cabins and ruins, deer and rabbits – and even a dragon awaiting discovery – the region genuinely offers something for everyone to appreciate – blogger, photographer, explorer or someone looking for a little space and / or peace a quiet.

From the landing point on the north side of the region, a path cuts its way south, apparently heading directly to the southern coast of the region before peeling off to cross the two streams via wooden footbridges. It presents the most direct means to start any exploration of the region, and a horse rezzer just off of the track presents a means of transportation for those who prefer exploring without necessarily relying on the use of their own pedal extremities.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

However, it is not the only path to take; others are awaiting discovery, winding their way to numerous places of interest, be it old chapel ruins among the trees or a farm shop with camp site or garden chair overlooking the ocean, a greenhouse overlooking the main trail, a walled garden, and steps and an elevator that wind and lead their way up the rocky highlands of the region. All of these, and more besides, await visitors.

This is a place rich a detail, obvious and subtle. Some of the more obvious I’ve noted above. The more subtle include a little faerie garden, complete with magical ring, sings of various kinds awaiting discovery, a highland bench watched over by a friendly weasel, a raft in a little cove, rabbits enjoying the peace of the old chapel and the aforementioned dragon. All of this is supported by a fitting sound scape that encourages relaxation when making use one of the many places to sit waiting to be found throughout the setting.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

The wealth of detail available within the region makes it easy to lose oneself during a visit, the sound scape encouraging cares and concerns to slip away, or to reminisce – hence the Still Memories part of the region’s name – whilst bringing to life the promise of its About Land description:

Elar is a woodland themed region depicting natural beauty all around you, Here you can explore, be romantic, spend time with friends, or take creative photos. 
The Isle of Elar, December 2020

Whether wandering alone or with a loved one, The Isle of Elar makes for an ideal destination, and visitors who take photos are invited to share them via the region’s Flickr group.

Not a destination to miss.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

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A Dickens of an art display in Second Life

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – CybleMoon and Silas Merlin

The Dickens Project 2020 Edition enters Christmas week with two art exhibitions for visitors to appreciate. Each is located in a different part of the Project’s Victorian townscape, offering those who visit the opportunity to explore the streets and discover more of what the Project has to offer this year.

Located in the church sitting to one side of Dickens Square, the Project’s main landing point, is the Open Art Exhibition, featuring artists who accepted the Project’s invitation to display one or two pieces of art that have created on a Victorian Christmas / Dickensian theme.

The Dickens Project: Open Art Show – VanessaJane68 and Jezzamine2108

In  all, seven artists responded to the invitation, and between them they offer an engaging series of images on the themes. The artists are: Jessamine2108, VanessaJane66, Stevie Morane Basevi, Dawn Greymyst, Banshee Heartsong, Evelyn Held and Vita Theas.

Together their images capture the spirit of The  Dickens Project Past (e.g. Evelyn Held: A View From Dickens Harbour Lighthouse, Jessamine2108: Dickens Harbour), images with a decidedly Victorian feel (VanessaJane68 with Christmas Hall and Tower Lane; Dawn Greymyst: Holiday Preparation), and others with a clear Dickens influence (e.g. Vita Theas: Kids, Evelyn Held, Magic of Christmas Past).

The Dickens Project: The open Art Show – Evelyn Held

All of the pieces are evocative of the period they represent and the Dickens Project theme.

Off to the east side of the town, and between the clock tower and the harbour, sits a warehouse that is home to the Invitational Art Show. Open since the event started (the Open Art exhibition having opened its doors on Friday, December 18th), the participating artists for this exhibition comprise CyebelMoon, Iris Okiddo, Silas Merlin and … Yours Truly. Again, the overarching theme is of reflecting, Dickens, Victorian England and the Dickens project.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – CybeleMoon

Both Cybele and Iris offer evocative (as always!) pieces, that richly reflect these themes. Within Cybele’s pieces,  entitled Winter Solitudes are a set of marvellous captures of past Dickens Project scenes, beautifully processed such that each encompasses its own story that captures both the romance of Victorian Christmases, and the settings found through The Dickens Project.

Iris, meanwhile, presents her own take on A Christmas Carol, presenting eight images  in which she takes on the role of Ebeniris Scrooge and offers her interpretation of some of the damous scenes from the story. Thus we see her sitting miserly in her cold house, walking with the Ghost of Christmas Present, revisiting her lonely past, glimpsing a possible future, embracing a happier, brighter future (with, I think I’m correct in saying, Skippy Beresford getting a co-starring role), and more; all of the images again richly presented for our enjoyment.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – Iris Okiddo

Silas offers sculptures both indirectly and directly connected to the Victorian / Dickensian era, including barefooted street urchins, Oliver Twist, and a bust of Charles Babbage. For my part, I’ve offered a series looking back over The Dickens Project builds between 2015 and 2020.

Two engaging exhibitions in a setting that offers much to see and do – see my preview of this year’s Edition of the Project for more on the event.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Arts show – Silas Merlin

Links and SLurls

Note that The Dickens Project regions are rated Moderate. Note that SLurls will be available for use from 07:00 SLT on Friday, December 4th.

A little Swedish inspiration in Second Life

Snoweeta, December 2020

Sitting within a homestead region deep in snow, lays Snoweeta, a charming winter build that is engaging in its simplicity of presentation. Designed by Kaja Ashland, it offers people a little hint of Sweden, specifically taking as its inspiration the southern most county (or län) of Skåne; a place that is a relatively new county within Sweden, having been formed in 1997 – although it is named for the much older historical province of Skåne, from which it takes its coat of arms.

Whether or not Kaja has based the setting on an actual location within Skåne is open to her to tell. However, while it appears to sit on the road linking the small Baltic townships of Ystad and Simrishamn, it is perhaps not where this snowbound setting might actually be that is important, but rather the stories waiting to be found beneath the pale evening sky.

Snoweeta, December 2020

Central to these tales is the farm house sitting at the end of the long drive leading away from the road, the lane forming the region’s landing point. Lit from within, the house offers a sense of warmth and welcome, with the dining table set for dinner – but is it a family dinner, or are visitors anticipated for a gathering of friends? And who uses the garage alongside the main house, converted as it is into a cosy snug, warmed by a log stove? Is it a little work space for readying plants for the garden when spring arrives, or a teenager’s place to get away from Mum and Dad for a while?

Beyond the house are more vignettes around which stories might be woven: just how did the tractor, a vehicle designed for operating over rough ground and muddy fields come to be bogged down whilst returning to the farm? And who is responsible for the boars gathered under the false shelter of the bare tree caught in its own little snowstorm? Are they a part of the farm or wild residents of the area?

Snoweeta, December 2020

Those who prefer not to contemplate such question can instead snuggle up on the benches in the farm’s garden or inside the house or the cosy garage. Or, if preferred, a walk can be taken over the snowy field to where a low hill offers a retreat for trees within the farmlands, its top crowned by a little camp site. Here, a boiling kettle suspended over the flames of a fire, invites people to stop awhile and sup, while down the far slope of the hill is a frozen pond, prompting questions of skating and outdoor fun – although I wouldn’t recommend trying; the pond is beyond the edge of the region.

How far this place might be from either Ystad or Simrishamn is unclear, but the presence of a police car parked on the road’s shoulder (again, beyond the region’s edge) leaves one wondering what has happened to attract the attention of law enforcement – and whether the occupants of the patrol car are sitting in its relative warmth awaiting the arrival of Henning Mankell’s dour-faced Inspector Kurt Wallander,  who might yet be driving his Volvo down the road from Ystad, where he both lives and works.

Snoweeta, December 2020

Simple and attractive in its design, Snoweeta offers an attractively different winter-themed visit.

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