Sometimes, it’s better to wait

Yet more house play

The other day I wibbled on about the home island and fiddling with my Fallingwater build. Well, as it turns out, that write-up aged about as well as a political tweet…

The problem with me – well one of the problems with me – is that at times I have a half decent idea, and the half that would make it an actual good idea hides in the back of my mind while I try to ignore it because, well, sometimes things take a while to percolate inside my nogging. I’d say it’s an age thing, but…

Back where it should be, over the the water, and with one of the terraces back, with a slight mod

Anyway, that’s been the case with the “Fallingwater” build. In pulling it out of inventory, I decided (stupidly) that I didn’t want to make a huge number of changes to the island – despite the fact the grounds already included a stream fed by a waterfall. So I moved the house to the waterfront, made my changes and then wrote about things.

And then the thoughts of house, waterfall; waterfall, house, started circling between my ears. So, to cut a long story short, I’ve ended up flattening and rebuilding the home island, placing the house so that it could once again stand with waters dropping from an upland pool to flow, as they should, under the front terraces  before dropping away and out into the surrounding waters of Second Norway.

The TLG Chapel Ruins – a little night-time retreat, statue via ArtemisGreece and the plants via Alex Bader’s Zen Garden Kit

I’m not going to bang on about all the changes, suffice it to say that I think that this time, I think I’ve got the balance right; the house looks a lot better – I’ve even found a reason to put one back of the terraces I hacked out. The changes meant shunting the Chapel Ruins from their hilltop setting to the waterfront, but a little bit of terrain pounding means it can sit on a little headland next to the new moorings. But rather than prattle on, I’ll leave some photographic self-indulgence here.

But, any echoes of muttering you hear when looking at these pictures is probably the sound of me calling myself names for not having re-ordered things from the get-go, saving me more fiddling and an excess of blogging. Because sometimes, it’s really better to wait 🙂 .

The waterfalls may not be as high as those at the actual Fallingwater, but they work
And one more, just because 🙂

Getting back to Fallingwater in Second Life – well, sort-of

Yeah… house building … again

As regular readers know, I tend to flip and change with houses on the main island home. Those who have poked at this blog over the years will also know I have an affinity for the Kaufmann House (aka Fallingwater) in southwest Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, as designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and now managed by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; so much so that over the years I’ve reproduced it to varying degrees for personal use, as well as building a reproduction of the entire property from main house and Bear River through to the garages and staff quarters.

Fallingwater is this one-plan, but this works

The latter is far too big to use practically in SL, but over the years I’ve pulled out the main house from time-to-time and fiddled around with it to produce something distinctive by way of living space – and, well, these two aspects of my SL have once again converged.

For the last few days I’ve been skipping on the blogging in order to play housey with the version of Fallingwater I last used in 2018, when I tweaked it somewhat to offer home more in keeping with the old island space.

The TLG Chapel Ruins make for a great garden set-piece

For this iteration, I’ve been pretty harsh with the house, in terms of changes. Not so much to reduce the LI, but simply because much of the previous designs didn’t get much use. So with this version, I’ve lopped off a couple of the terraces completely, and dropped a third (which I’d previously converted to a swimming pool(!) to garden level, where the pool makes more sense.

I’ve made some internal changes as well, whilst keeping the overall look of the Great Room with its unique hatch down to the water (or in this case, the boat moorings). However, I’m not sure it is deserving of the name “Fallingwater” any more given the changes; maybe something like “Dripping Faucet” might be more appropriate 😀 .

Across the back garden

Along with the re-working on the island and the house, one of my other favourites, the TLG Chapel Ruins by Marcus Inkpen has made a return, this time to form an enclosed garden within the wildling garden that makes up most of the island. I also couldn’t resist the ~BAZAR~ Geo Dome after encountering it during a couple of recent region visits, so that now forms a little hideaway in the garden as well.

The main challenge with the house is that really, it is supposed to occupy an elevated position over water, but while Second Norway offers various rocky island and waterfronts, I didn’t want to build the home island up that much; so the result has been a compromise in that I’ve had to install a little rocky table (doubling as a place topped by garden lawns) and lose a little in the way of waterfront moorings. But it least the helipad got to stay 😀 .

The ~BAZAR~ Geo Dome (with some additions), makes for a neat little garden hideway

So anyway, I’m not going to rabbit on; while I have another project that’s in progress (swapping from Maitreya  + Lelutka to Slink HG + Catwa), I’ll not bore you with that, and well be getting back to more usual blogging fare instead 🙂 .

Riding a Moon Shadow in Second Life

My winLab/Dogma Moon Shadow, in my own hull / superstructure finish, moored at Isla Caitinara

Oh, I’ve been ridin’ on a Moon Shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow –
Cuttin’ the waves on a Moon Shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.

OK, so the words aren’t quite how Yusuf Islam (or Cat Stevens, as he was at the time) wrote them in 1970, but they have been bouncing through my head the last few days.

The reason for this is that I was recently contacted by Spartaco Zemenis who, among his many talents, is a creator, a scripter and a member of the Firestorm Italian support group. Following our conversation, he kindly sent me – in no expectations of any review, but as a simple “thank you” – a couple of items he has put together with Dogma9.

One of these is the Moon Shadow motor cruiser, a vessel somewhat larger than I’ve used – at least, up until now. Curious about it,I decided to give it a go, and in the process it joined the ranks of my regularly-used vehicles, which in turn qualified it for a review.

Heading out to Blake Sea Channel from Second Norway

Comprehensively packaged and packed with features, the Moon Shadow can be purchased in two variants: one with a default black hull and superstructure, and one with a default white finish – which is the versions Spataco sent me. Included in the package – which comes in the form of a boxed model – is the boat, a pair of HUDs (one for driving the boat, and and optional one that works with camera positioning), and a detailed user manual.

Priced at L$7,000, Moon Shadow is a 25m class cruiser with a beam of 7.2 metres and a keel-to flying bridge height of 8.5 metres. It is an exceptionally attractive vessel, nicely proportioned, with a hull clearly designed to cut through the water rather than riding over them.

The main cabin, showing the table set with the breakfast meal option and the open fridge

The main cabin takes up the majority of the interior space, offering comfortable facilities complete with galley, a dining area, forward seating and a cockpit area for piloting the boat. Forward of this is a single sleeping cabin that has a fair amount of space, and includes a working bathroom, closets, and a double bed. Over the top of this cabin is the traditional forward solarium common to cruisers of this type. Aft of the main cabin, and separated from it by a glass screen and sliding door, is a small swim platform area with seating and access to the large fantail swim platform itself, as well as steps up to the flying bridge / lounge. A working panel in the floor well of the swim platform seating area provides access to the engine bay. The flying bridge itself is roomy  and helps classify the Moon Shadow as a sport-fly, with both curved bench seating and a solarium alongside the upper cockpit area.

Moondancer: my version of the Moon Shadow

The boat’s features are impressive, comprising:

  • The ability to carry up to 10 avatars (region crossings allowing!), although I’ve thus far not gone beyond two.
  • 30 multi-purpose seating positions, and an animation system providing 120 couple and 80 single animations, the majority managed by a on-board servers (rather than multiple animations per seating area). In particular, this allows for:
    • Avatar movement between seats without the need to stand up.
    • Use of a manageable suite of animations across all suitable seating areas – lounge seats, top and forward solariums, etc.
    • The ability to add your own animations.
    • (Note that the above excludes the galley, which utilises its own animation.)
  • 75 interactive objects,  including:
    • A selection of meals that can be rezzed on the main deck table and drinks and snacks that can be rezzed from the fridge.
    • Items that can be rezzed when working at the galley.
    • Rezzable mooring piles and lines.
    • An extensive audio video system, including a large deployable screen at the rear of the main cabin, a small deployable screen in the lower cockpit, a flat screen TV in the sleeping cabin.
    • The starlight spotlight, controlled by the boat’s main HUD.
  • A projected light system (requires Advanced Lighting Model to be running on the viewer) for internal illumination.
  • Scripted dynamic control system that can be used to adjust boat handling (stability / performance balance) to suit your driving needs.
  • Automated resource management with manual override: when the engine is running, all scripts deemed unnecessary to motion / navigation are turned off to reduce the vessel’s simulator resource use.

The last two point are particularly useful when driving the Moon Shadow. At 150 LI (248 prim), and a 146 server load (29.6 physics), this is a “heavy” vessel when it comes to region crossings, so minimising resource use and managing performance are important aspect in ensuring crossings are as smooth as possible. Maintaining a reasonable throttle speed also helps – I’d personally recommend not going above 60% of throttle when carrying multiple avatars.

Main HUD

A key aspect on managing the Moon Shadow is the main HUD. This provides access to the majority of the boat’s controls, as shown in the image below right.

The Moon Shadow primary HUD. Courtesy of Dogma Creations /  winLAB

In  order to work, the HUD needs to be synced to a copy of the boat. This is achieved by wearing / adding the HUD  and then sitting on the boat as the driver.

The HUD is pretty self-explanatory, but some of the options are worth going into further here:

  • Show / Hide Sit Panel: displays a panel denoting the core deck / cabin sit points (shown in the lower right of the HUD). When displayed, sit points can be enabled / disabled by clicking on their icons.
  • Camera mode: clicking this displays the Camera Mode dialogue, allowing your camera position to be slaved to the boat and then positioned via the camera mode options. A separate (and relatively compact) camera HUD reproduces the options on the dialogue box to provide an alternative to managing camera positions. Note that once engaged, the Camera Mode needs to be turned OFF to release your camera.
  • Set and Go: these allow you to set a mooring point, with GO jumping the boat to it when in range.
  • Transmitter: if you are unseated from the boat, clicking this will send a request to the boat for its location, which is returned in local chat as a TP link, allowing you to teleport to the boat and rejoin it. This works with the currently synced version of the boat, or the last rezzed version. I can say from experience, this works.
  • Show / Hide Moor Structure: this rezzes a couple of mooring posts off the stern quarters of the boat with lines connecting them to the stern cleats.
  • Privacy: simply darkens the cabin windows.

Continue reading “Riding a Moon Shadow in Second Life”

Getting cheeky with a Stilt Home design

My reproduction of the linden Tortuga house at Isla Caitinara

It is pretty well known to readers of this blog that I particularly like a couple of things: kitbashing house designs for personal use, and mucking about with ideas for use with the Linden Home designs I’ve used. In particular, this has led to frequent changes of house style on our home island, and a recent piece on how the Linden Home Tortuga style of Stilt Home lends itself to a far amount of modding (see Modding a Linden Stilt Home).

All of which recently led me to a cheeky idea: could I recreate the LDPW’s Tortuga design in we could on our Second Norway home island. And the answer is pretty much, yes, helped in no small part by the Moles themselves.

My “Tortuga-inspired” house at Isla Caitinara and the original (inset)

In order to recreate a Tortuga style house I had to initially construct a template marking out the overall floor size of the house, the window & door positions, and to set a height for the ceiling. Once this was done, it was a simple matter of cutting the prims and gluing them together (I’m not a Blender user, so a mesh build is currently beyond me).

An advantage of building a personal variant of the Tortuga is that it allowed me to make some additional changes. Those who read my piece on modding the original Tortuga will remember I split the larger of the two through rooms to create a smaller living area with a vestibule to the front of the house.

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Building my own variant meant I could include this directly into it. Texturing was made a lot easier thanks to the texture packs Linden Lab supply with Linden Homes, with a selection of textures from this pack, plus a couple of my own, and I had things pretty much set.

In addition, I could adjust the layout to suit my needs – such as by reducing the archway of the large through room, when using the smaller half as a bedroom – again, the use of a handy rezzing system means I can switch elements of the layout with ease to suit moods.

My take on the Tortuga from the garden

There are a few things working in prims didn’t allow me to reproduce – the detailing of the roof sidings, the curved coving in the rooms, etc., but overall I’m pleased with the outcome.  At 137 LI (utilising Convex Hull physics), it is lighter on the land than the original (221) – although admittedly, I’ve yet to add some of the materials featured on the original.

Of course, all this is a bit of a cheek – given the original design does belong to the LDPW (my apologies in particular to Magic Mole, who appears to be responsible for the Tortuga design). In my defence, I can only sat that it’s a design I like, and the version I’ve created is purely for personal use. Certainly, with a couple of minor tweaks to Isla Caitinara, and the house fitted in quite well, even if I do say so myself – and I hope the pictures here demonstrate.

So, that’s the latest house to come to Isla Caitinara; a little different to my usual, but one that could be sticking around for a while – although I have said that before.


Modding a Linden Stilt Home

My Linden Stilt Home on an evening …

One of the things I like doing in SL is messing around with houses and homes, kitbashing and modding – as I’ve often yabbered on about in these pages. This fiddling has also included those Linden Homes I’ve utilised, again as I’ve tended to record here as well, as a part of my general coverage of Linden Homes in general.

I currently have an over-the-water Stilt Home, to which I applied a modest amount of modding to produce something a little more individual. However, the release of the Chalet style of Linden Home with its open-plan variants of each house style got me thinking about doing something more extensive by way of mods,  notably with the Tortuga style of Stilt Home, the single-floor, largely open-plan layout of which just cries out to be played with.

So, over the past couple of days I’ve been fiddling around with ideas and looking at what might be done with the design.

Now of course, given the time the Stilt Homes have been out and available, there are likely a lot of conversion / add-on / bolt-on kits for this Theme that can be had through the Marketplace – just as there are for the Houseboats, et al – and these can provide the easiest solution. But fiddling for yourself can result in something far more personal, particularly if, like me, you having a rezzing system such as Ydille’s Multi Scene Rezzer & Multi Scene Erazer Pro V5 (reviewed here) in which to store your layouts so you can swap back and forth between them whenever you wish.

For those unfamiliar with it, the Tortuga Stilt Home is a single-floor design, with a large primary room and single separate room to the front. That large room, split somewhat by a rectangular arch is simply ideal for modding. In fact, that’s where I started: putting in a “proper” dividing wall and door within the existing arch.

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However, rather than put in a solid wall, which would look odd given the wooden trim around the archway, I opted to put in two wood-framed windows and matching sliding door. To achieve this, I used the 2 x 6  windowsfrom the ER Sunroom Windows Mesh Multipane kit by Ecko Riven (EckoRiven). At L$200 full permissions, this is an excellent and flexible builder’s kit that I’ve used in a number of my own conversions and scratch-builds. These I rotated through 90° to stand them vertically, with a third offset to form the central sliding door for which I wrote a simple script – if you’re not up to doing so yourself, take a look on the Marketplace, there’s bound to be a script there that will work for you.

With the “window” sections linked, a simple room divider of this nature weighs-in at just 3LI. And as a side note, given the additional doors provided by LL for use with the Stilt Homes come in at 3 LI apiece, I opted to duplicate my “sliding door” and use it for the single additional room in the Tortuga, changing the “glass” texture on it for something more “frosted” as I use that room as a bathroom. So, for 1 LI more than a supplied Stilt Home door, I gained a room divider and two doors.

As I said, a simple solution, splitting the Tortuga along obvious lines to provide a large “main” room space and a “bedroom” space. But for me it was just the start – the “main” room still felt a little too big, so I opted to split that as well.

Again, this was most easily done by following the shape of the house. With it’s “stepped” design around the front door, it’s easy to put in additional walls to create a “vestibule” area between the front door and the rest of the house. So as not to have this feel too claustrophobic, I extended 2 solid walls part-way across the space, then created a rectangular archway in the same style of the one built-in to the house. This allowed me to again add elements from the ER Sunroom Windows kit to keep things feeling somewhat open between “vestibule” and main room, particularly as I didn’t add a door.

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With the divider mentioned above linked to the new wall sections, I’d taken what was effectively a 2-room house and split it into a 4-room space.

From here it was just a matter of adding wall décor and other bits to the basic layout to give a more homely feel. Things like rugs, pictures on the wall, light fittings, and so on – even the fireplace – were all  carefully linked into the overall design, helping to reduce the overall LI (see the notes at the end of Modding a house in Second Life: tips and pointers for info on what to look for when linking items like this if you’re unfamiliar with the technique, and what to avoid).

With an exterior chimney added to the exterior and in line with the fireplace, I had a complete interior for the house at 42 LI, sans actual furniture and kitchen fittings, but including a lighting system that follows the parcel’s EEP Day Cycle. The completed space offers a vestibule (which I used as a “home office”), a large open-plane lounge / kitchen / dining space in the main room, and a good-sized bedroom space.

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Nor is this the only option.

For example, if you’d like to keep more of the open plan feel to the house and don’t mind having a smaller bedroom, you can put a divider across the smaller section at the back of the house, creating a bedroom space that still has access to the rear deck, thus leaving you with a through room, allowing you have a separate kitchen, if you prefer or whatever else takes your fancy (in My case, room for my baby grand piano!).

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You could even, if you wanted, split this part of the Tortuga two ways, to provide an additional room between the “bedroom” and “bathroom” (if that’s how you use them) – but to me, this felt again very claustrophobic and can can leave the camera on the wrong side of one of the added walls / dividers.

I’ve admittedly not looked at the other Stilt Home styles to see just how amenable their interiors are to a similar degree of customisation – but I doubt the Santiago really gives much scope given its interior design, whilst both the Lauderdale and Havana both off some room for fiddling in the larger ground from room found in each. I might get around to having a play at some point, but to be honest, I think the Tortuga really is the most flexible of the four styles for those who like playing with things.

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From Kuga to home: a tale of 264 region crossings in Second Life

Using open water between Stilt Homes and Houseboats to try a turn of speed during my trip from Kuga to Second Norway

With the opening on the Alpine theme homes (see: Lab announces Linden Homes Chalet Theme released), Satori and all points north (including Blake Sea and Second Norway) have directly connected to Jeogeot and Sansara (and points north) via Bellisseria. This set me wondering what it would be like to complete an “epic voyage” by either boat or aircraft (or possibly both, and perhaps even with a land vehicle or two) through all or some of the connected lands.

I was by no means alone in this line of thought; in fact in just the last 24 hours Marianne McCann made a flight from Bay City to Hollywood Airport on the Eastern side of Blake Sea, a distance of 279 regions, as reported in the Bay City Post. So I thought I’d try a trip of my own.

Before setting out from Kuga, I make sure the boat was properly fuelled

So as not to simply follow in Mari’s prop wash, I decided to start from close to the location of my only Bellisseria Houseboat, on the western side of the continent and within throwing distance of the SS Galaxy. From there – or more particularly, the rez zone at Kuga – I’d attempt to cross Bellisseria by boat and air, and then continue onwards and around / over Satori, across the Blake Sea and finally back home to Second Norway.

For the first stage of the trip – Kuga to Pegleg Channel, I opted to take my Piaggio Little Bee. This classic tender style speed boat is still one of the best available in Second Life, packed with features and a joy to drive. My selected route took me south over relatively open water to Caladium, then along the river running west-east along the divide between the original Bellisseria regions and the first major land expansion.

My choice of water route across Bellisseria in places left me grateful I’d opted to use one of my smaller boats …

Of variable width, this channel is fun to navigate in a small enough boat, offering excellent views of the Victorian Theme of Linden Homes on both banks and well as a chance to discover some of the “hidden” nests of houseboat that lie inland.

PegLeg Channel can be found well into Bellesseria, in what is effectively the continent’s inland sea. It’s significant in that it has a local rez zone tucked below the familiar lighthouse’ allowing me my first switch of vehicles with an initial 33 region crossings completed at various high and low speeds. From here I would take to the air to cross overland using my DSA G58 Baron in floatplane mode, heading by way of Log Homes to my own Stilt Home.

All change! At Pegleg Channel I switched to my G58 Baron for an airborne leg of my journey

This flight was relatively smooth, although I did find myself climbing to over 150 metres to try to escape the nagging of security orbs. I also slightly miscalculated my course, so I arrived at the east coast somewhat south of where I needed to be in order to cross into the Stilt Home regions. However, a quick bank and short run along the coast and I was back on track, turn north-east(ish, with variations) to get up and cross to the channel where my current Stilt Home resides, and where I planned to swap back to water transport.

Mooring the ‘plane with a further 55 region crossings made, I took to my Bandit SRV210 to strike east once more and, after a second error (bloody mindedness in refusing to flick to my browser to check a functional map), it was across open water and into the Alpine Homes regions, which are divided by some very broad waterways that make for easy and fast navigation. Clocking up 68 more region crossings, I arrived at Buffalo Springs, where a rez zone would let me take to the air again for what I expected to be the hardest part of my trip – getting across the Mainland continent of Satori. 

Banking over the Alpine Homes in readiness to come around a start my descent in Buffalo Springs

For this leg of the trip I  shifted over to my Spijkers and Wingtips MD-900 helo and encountered my first and only region crossing mishap – a complete disconnect trying to cross from Buffalo Springs into Carmine Sky. This was actually a convenient point to have the problem, given I’d just left a rez zone, so no massive back tracking. It was also ironic, as I’d literally just boasted to a friend in IM that I’d made 140+ region crossings without incident…

The flight across Satori brought my only other mishap: an encounter with an utterly aggressive security orb that left me like a freshly fallen lemon, standing on the edge of the region in question. Again, not wishing to backtrack, I checked the Map, found a GTFO depot several regions further along the highway that sat just over a region away, and use a wearable horse to ride over to the road and thence to the depot. Then, with a fresh helo rezzed, I was off again, eventually passing back over water to fly on to Meauxle Bureaux, then shortly after turn due north to reach Blake Sea Kraken – another 81 region crossings successfully made (I’m not counting the security orb as a failure). 

Passing over the home of the Moles …

Twelve crossings later I was at Foliage, a grass airstrip with over-the-water helipads. It’s an airstrip I’m fond of, so with a sleight of hand to allow for the rez zone being entirely on dry land, swapped the MD-900 for a Piaggio / WALT Searoo for the final leg – a run up the Blake Sea Channel and into Second Norway and thence home – a trifling 15 more crossings.

The elapsed time for the trip was just over 3 hours, including the detours and re-log. In all I completed 264 region crossings and experienced just the one serious issue (although obviously, there were the expected losses of vehicle control for a second or so after each crossing – but no additional issues of camera slewing, etc.).  As such I’m counting the trip a complete success.

Almost home! cruising into Second Norway in my WALT Searoo

I admit to being surprised by the use of so many security orbs in Bellisseria, rather than the supplied security systems. I wonder if this might be down to orbs generally being 1 or 2 LI and the Linden supplied controls around 5. I  was also surprised at the heights to which some reached; growling at someone just 30 metres over your head is understandable – but when they are at 130+ metres? That’s excessive.

But anyway, this was a fun trip, and one I might repeat in the future, likely with a different destination in mind and using different vehicles / craft.