Lab looking to meet Linden Homes houseboat demands?

The new Linden Home houseboats have proven exceptionally popular – so popular that demand has exceed demand

With most of with eyes fixed on Fantasy Faire (you can catch my own shorthand guide if the mood takes you). Daniel Voyager was looking in another direction, and tweeted an interesting find.

It seems the Lab and the Linden Department of Public Works could be busy working to address the demand for more houseboats within the new Linden Homes continent, with Daniel identifying a new 48-region SSP development being put together south of the original SSP development area.

There has been no official word on whether the new regions are being developed in response to the demand for houseboats, but certainly, that demand has been strong enough to warrant this, with repeated disappointment being voiced over the fact the houseboats initially made available were very rapidly snapped up. As such, it seem a reasonable deduction to see this latest SSP development as a move to meet at least some of this demand.

The new SSP regions under development appear geared towards providing more space for the Linden Homes houseboats

The new regions form a series of sandbars with extensive moorings of the same general type seen within the new Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria, strongly suggesting they will provide space for more of the new houseboats (see right). Some of the waterways between the sand bars look to be a little too narrow to fit houseboats and piers – perhaps these are intended for use by float planes and the like, if not to form a natural break to prevent the regions from feeling overcrowded.

There is no available date on when the new regions might be added to Bellisseria – again assuming the intent of their development is to meet demand. Nevertheless, it does bring with it a couple of questions.

The first is: where might the new development sit in relation to Bellisseria’s existing land mass? While I have nothing more to go on than instinct, my own thoughts are the area to the south and east of Bellesseria would seem the most likely. There is plenty of space for further regions to be dropped in there (south of the lower eastern tip of the continent), whilst still leaving room for the “unfinished” line down the east side of the continent’s western “finger” without causing any feeling of crowding. Or perhaps the new regions will eventually be placed to the south of that western finger, although that might put them a little too close to the channel running to Jeogeot (unless they are linked directly to it).

The second question is more intrinsic to Bellesseria as a whole. It is clear from even a causal glimpse at the Map that the landward houses simply are not capturing people’s hearts and minds in the same way as the houseboats. Simply provisioning more houseboats isn’t going to solve this, and doing so possibly runs the risk of the continent’s land mass remaining under-populated unless they are made more inviting.

Is it simply that the current selection of houses isn’t seen as attractive enough, or is the lack of interest in the landward houses down to something more fundamental? A lack of ability to link them to the continent’s road structure, for example or – as I noted in Making a (Linden) houseboat a home – is it the general lack of additional amenities people might appreciate having, such as a few airstrips scattered around to offer people the attraction of being able to rez and fly their light ‘planes off of the grass. Or perhaps some of the houses along the rivers could have small boat access to the water (although this could create issues of its own).

Time will tell on both of these questions, but in the meantime – and again assuming the move is to address the demand – the potential of more houseboats becoming available in the (hopefully!) not too distant future could well be as welcome as the recent moves by the Lab to deal with issues of banlines across the new region.

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Making a (Linden) houseboat a home

The landscaping within the region offers communal areas to encourage people mix – such as the beach alongside the houseboats in the group where mine is located

As I reported that the time, Linden Lab launched their new Linden Homes on Monday, April 15th (see: Lab launches new Linden Homes), and according to reports I’ve received, they are proving very popular, with the first allocation of houseboats in particular running out.

So what are these new units like as a potential home? Well, pretty bloody good, actually. While I can’t speak for the town house designs, the houseboat styles offer good variation between them in terms of looks and space, and many of the parcels offer a fair about of flexibility for boat / seaplane moorings.

My Windlass boathouse with additions – fireplace flue, two sets of exterior stairs, moorings, etc., and (inset) how the default Windlass looks

While it is pot luck on the parcel you are allocated (and remember, you can abandon and re-try), I was pretty lucky on my first attempt: a parcel on one of the outer sandbars of Bellisseria, offering a nice view over the strait to the continent on one side, and a public beach and open sea on the other. The houseboat also sits with a beam-to-land orientation, leaving me with a body of water on the parcel that has a good breadth and depth, and avoids feeling quite so hemmed-in by the houseboats on either side.

With a land capacity of 351, there is a lot that can be done with these parcels in terms of decorating and (in the case of the houseboats) plonking down a boat or two (or three) or some boat / floatplane combination. For my part, I felt the Windlass houseboat offered the most flexibility for internal space (I particularly liked the fact the little nook under the stairs to the roof suggested itself as a good place for a fireplace).

The interior space (shown empty in the inset) offers plenty of flexibility: room for a raised bedroom and lower lounge (or vice-versa)

Another aspect of this design I like is the split level nature of the living space, which naturally lends itself to various options. With a little custom work, it’s easy to produce a railing system that nicely separates the two halves of the living space, or even add full internal walls, depending on your preference.

Décor-wise, the interior and exterior walls, floors, etc., can be “repainted” via the house control panel. For this Windlass, this can lead to an interesting half-and-half look which breaks up the colour scheme. Additional textures can be obtained from the house / houseboat selector, so any elements you add can easily be blended in.

Another view of the interior, showing the fireplace tucked under the stairway

For me, the only issue with my Windlass is that the door is on the landward side of the house, and the shape of the parcel meant a trek around the houseboat and along the public piers the set between the parcels. However, the design is such that it was pretty easy for me to add more direct access by dropping in my own piers for mooring, and adding a couple of stairways: one up to the houseboat’s “balcony”and thence inside, and the other to the roof.

Given there is a total 351 LI to play with, adding details like this doesn’t mean you’re “eating prims”; but if you are worried about counts, remember that if you build yourself, a considered use of prim and mesh and Convex Hull accounting can help reduce LI cost. The stairs, railings, room divider and moorings (and lighting) I added, for example, weigh-in at just 30 LI combined (I used Kriss Lehmann’s Botanical Brick Path kit with a little bit of re-texturing for the moorings, simply because I had it to hand and linking works will with Convex Hull physics. The stairs came from Jed888, and are full perm).

The windless offers options for adding steep to reach moorings, if required, while the other houseboat designs offer water access from their decks, albeit with smaller interior spaces

As noted, the land capacity is more than sufficient to allow a boat or two (or more) to be rezzed. However, me being me, “one or two” is never enough given I change out ‘plane and or boat more times than I change my outfits :). So, I had to install a rezzer so I can pick and chose which boats / planes are rezzed with ease and without the need to drag, drop and position from inventory. It also means I can easily clear space friends to be able to moor when visiting. (For more on this see: Adding a little vehicle space with a rezzing system.)

Adding to my original post on the new Linden Homes, everything has been pretty well-considered. The houseboats and houses offer plenty of scope, the region offers a lot of general interest to see when exploring (with more to be added inland, as it is expanded in the  future) and it’s good to see the public areas include interactive elements to make them more interesting.

Potentially, my only critiques are in two areas: there should be more rez points for vehicles. There’s plenty to see when exploring by road / water, but the limited number of rez points tends to put people off taking a break and having a look around. There are certainly places where one might expect rez points – such as the little boathouses around the coast.

I’m actually surprised the little boathouses scattered around the coastline done offer rezzing points

Rez points are also helpful when region crossings go wrong, so having more (even just the road sign style on mainland highways for road vehicles) would be useful. My other critique is that a region of this size really should have a small airstrip or two, again with rez zones. A couple of grass strips suitable for small aircraft to get in and out of would add further depth to Bellisseria, both for people living there and for curious visitors who would like to fly in and take a look.

But the key question is, does my new Linden Home make me want to abandon my existing private island home? Well, truthfully: not yet; but that is only because things are still new, and I want to see how neighbourhood develop and communities grow. In the future, it may well be that a swap back to living in a Linden Home might well be on the cards.

I’ll let you know!

Footnote: When drafting this article on Tuesday, April 16th, I did actually gripe about the allowance of parcel banning / banlines within Bellisseria. This had already started impacting activities on and over the continent (try landing a ‘plane on water when your only option is to approach a channel over the tops of houseboats and then run slap into banlines …), and there were complaints at things like the LL Governance User GRoup on the matter. With my gripe, I mused on why LL hadn’t supplied a simple / regulated security system for the new homes, and disabled the use of parcel banning at estate level. However, as per a forum post by Constantine Linden, it turns out this is precisely what the Lab is doing in response to the general level of disappointment raised over the issue. So, kudos to the Lab for responding so positively and quickly! (And my thanks to Duckie Dickins for pointing out the forum post as we were discussing things!)

Lab launches new Linden Homes

Bellisseria – New Linden Homes

On Monday, April 15th, Linden Lab launched their new Linden Homes for Premium subscribers. These new Homes, each located on a 1024 sq metre parcel, are located in a dedicated new continent – which, as I revealed in my March preview, is called Bellisseria – situated between Sansara and Jeogeot.

The continent itself – like the homes on offer – is a significant step up from the original Linden Homes and lands first introduced in 2010. Landscaped, and offering a degree of infrastructure: roads, rivers, paths, coastal regions with beaches, offshore-lighthouses, and so on. All of which offers an environment that is pleasing to the eye and make for a pleasant environment in which to live.

Bellisseria – New Linden Homes

For the initial release, two types of house are available: traditional suburban houses and houseboats, each of which comes in a total of four styles apiece. These four styles offer a varied set of looks that is enough to ensure neighbourhoods have a mix for looks. All come with a land impact of 351 LI, offering a lot of opportunity for furnishing.

It’s important to note that the houses / houseboats are not 1024 sq m in size; this is the size of the parcel on which they sit: and all have been designed to provide a degree of garden / yard space or waterside moorings for boats. The roads within the continent are driveable (although houses are not supplied with a driveway to link to the roads), while the waters are navigable in many places and a channels links the continent with Joegeot and Sansara.

Bellisseria – New Linden Homes: coastal community space

Unlike the older Linden Homes, these have controls built-in via a panel on the interior walls close to the front door. So, no going to a website to change the decorative style, set the window shutters, etc., everything can be done directly from the control panel – including getting a pack of extra fixtures, should you want to use them, and a box of textures that can be used so that any additional elements – room dividers, walls, etc., – you might want to add can match with the overall décor.

Individual style of house and houseboat are selected from the outside mailbox / life buoy. An interior control panel can be use for the window blinds, door control, etc.

To say these new Linden Homes are a major step up from the originals isn’t really saying a lot; the old Linden Homes  – as noted – are around 9 years old, and a lot has moved on in Second Life since then. However, the attempt to create a sense of community within the new continent is impressive and potentially goes some way towards reversing the “build and forget” approach to Linden Homes seen in the past – although how well it succeeds in terms of getting people not just to take the houses and engage within the develop to create local neighbourhoods / communities remains to be seen; and the matter really is up to those of us who take up the houses.

For my part, I like the approach, and several of the designs. Yes, the use of rooms in some can make them feel a little cramped, and some of the houseboat designs might not strike the right of aesthetic note, but there is no escaping the fact these are properties with potential, and if you are a Premium subscriber, they may well be worth taking a look at, even if you already hold land.

Applying for a Home

Note: for full details on the new Linden Homes – prerequisites for obtaining one, the application process, and so on, please refer to the Linden Homes wiki page.

If you have not used your default allocation of free tier – (1024 sq m), then a new Linden Home is yours without any additional payment. Otherwise, the standard Premium tier rates apply.

As with the original Linden Homes, the new homes are obtained through the Linden Homes registration page – which, at the time of writing still includes options for the existing Linden Homes, although these are to be gradually phased out. However, unlike the “old” homes, you only select with you want a house or a houseboat, not the actual style of the house / houseboat you prefer; these are selected in-world, via a mailbox for the houses or a life buoy for the houseboats. These controllers also let you change the style of your house / houseboat at any time, presenting another flexible option not available with the old Linden Homes.

The new Linden Homes are available through the existing Linden Homes registration page – just make sure Bellisseria is selected in the Theme drop-down (arrowed) and select your choice of house or houseboat by clicking on the buttons shown in the red square

The selection process is straightforward, and you’ll be required to accept the Linden Lab Terms and Conditions prior to being able to receive the details of your new home.  These are presented on the web page – just click the Go To Your Home button.

(Unsurprisingly) I’ve already claimed my new Linden Home. Being an aviator and sailor, I went for a houseboat, selecting what I personally think is the roomiest of the options, the Windlass. Split-level it offers a good feeling of space, with a rooftop deck, and good opportunities for customisation. Sitting on one of the numerous sandbars surrounding the coast of the new continent, it opens out onto a nice community beach on one side, and presents plenty of mooring space on the other.

My new Linden Home houseboat with one of my motorboats moored alongside. Note that the water in front of the houseboat is also part of the parcel, offering more mooring space, but the wooden piers are not part of the individual properties.

Using a houseboat means I also have room for boats and planes on the water – particularly through the use of a rezzing system that allows me to select which vehicle I have rezzed (up to the land capacity, obviously). For those interested, I’ve previously covered this approach to having vehicles available without using up all your land capacity in Adding a little vehicle space with a rezzing system.

Overall, a nicely done new environment. It will be interesting to see how things grow here – and how it might affect rentals among private estates for Premium members, given the overall attractiveness of this new continent. It’ll also be interesting to see how LL handle the retirement of the “old” Linden Homes, including any possible relocation among Premium subscribers who opt not to move voluntarily.

The launch was accompanied by a new video from the Lab, which I’ve embedded below.

Additional Information