Tag Archives: My SL

The dragon, the rune stone and the ruin in Second Life

Three composite creations by Morgan Sim Designs with me alongside to give a sense of scale with each one. From the left: the Dragon Garden, the Rune Stone Garden and Among the Ruins – Isolde

Whilst visiting Spring Spirit recently (see: A Spring Spirit in Second Life), Caitlyn and I were both taken by a magnificent red dragon seated upon a rock amidst a spray of grass and flowers. Taking a peek at it, via the Edit floater, we were led to the Marketplace store of Morgan Sim Designs (MSD). While the name may be familiar to some, it was a new and virtual treasure trove for us – as it is likely to be for anyone looking to add some special touches to their landscape and / or garden.

Operated by Chandra Pelazzi, Morgan Sim Designs is a Marketplace-only store specialising in composite designs. That is, designs which bring together the full permission works of other creators to design and present a unique finished product.

Buying from the Marketplace without the means to check creations in-world can at times be a hit-and-miss affair: will the item really live up to the photos? Is there perhaps some unseen flaw or issue which might others dissuade a purchase? We’ve all likely had such feelings. From what we’ve seen (and purchased!) so far from Morgan Sim Designs there is absolutely no need to worry. The elements used in MSD creations are all good quality pieces from established creators, with the completed pieces by the MSD demonstrating a keen eye for colour, design and detail.

The MSD Dragon Garden on our home island

Take the dragon mentioned above, for example. Called the Dragon Garden, it combines a full perm dragon with plants by Better Gnomes and Cauldrons / Krikket Blackheart, and additional plants and flowers by Decor Depot / Styx Maven and Daffy’s Gadgetmania / Daffy Proto. Offered as Modify / Copy for just L$190, it is a marvellous feature for any garden, weighing in a 22 LI in its default size (as a Modify item it can be resized, which will reduce the LI if downsizing, or increase it if upsizing). We now have one, slightly reduced in size and LI (16), sitting in the “wilder” part of out gardens, keeping an eye on the lower lawns nearby.

Another MSD item now included at home is the Rune Stone Garden. This combines a central full perm version of a rune stone from Otherworld / AnnabelleApocalypse with flowers and plants again by Styx Maven and by Mesh Plants / Reid Parkin (a creator I’ve used in a number of builds), What A Mesh / Dennie Ling, and T-Spot Mesh / Teresa Matfield. At 21 LI in its default size, it is also supplied Copy / Modify, and we now have one sitting on the trail winding through the wooded part of the island, where (if I may say so), it looks superb 🙂 .

The MSD Rune Stone Garden in place on our island home

Another composite from MSD which sits well in out overall design is Among the Ruins – Isolde. A much larger piece, featuring the square tower of a castle by S&M Designs / Mikael Blogger, plants and flowers again by Reid Parkin and Teresa Matfield, together with Bad Katz / Katz Republic. It comes with a 40 LI impact in its default size, and includes a statue by DMC Creations / x1XDanteX4x, which stands amidst a spray of flower inside the tower.

Taken complete, these MSD designs and the others in the range, add a great amount of character and depth to a scene. As most are supplied Modify, not only can they be resized to deal with LI concerns, if required, they can be tweaked better suit specific needs. For example, we have an ancient stone wall running across part of the land which has needed something to bring a little more colour to it. Enter one of MSD’s Medieval Wall Ruins Cottage Garden sets. It was a simple matter to pull out the supplied wall section, slip in a section from the existing wall, and job done. Colour where it is needed, and everything nicely integrated. Even had some base rocks I could re-purpose!

The MSD Among the Ruins – Isolde tower at home on our island

If you are looking for little scenes and pieces to add colour  or interest to a part of your garden, parcel or region, and you’ve not come across Morgan Sim Designs, then the Marketplace store is well worth a perusal. Everything is very modestly priced; everything mentioned here was just L$190, which is something of an average price for the store. Even as I finish this article, another kit from MSD has slipped into my inventory, and will shortly appear in the garden 🙂 .

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Celebrating the Oscars at Caitinara Bar, Second Life

The limos start to arrive at the spotlights roam the skies outside Caitinara Bar

The limos start to arrive at the spotlights roam the skies outside Caitinara Bar

On Wednesday, February 8th, we opened the new look Caitinara Bar with our monthly Music With Anthony theme night – an opportunity for friends and guests to dress up and come along to the bar and have a little extra fun and conversation.

As February is the month of the Academy Awards, we’d decided to have our own celebration of the music and songs from award-winning films over the decades, as well as music and songs from this year’s nominees. To help set the mood, we did a little decorating as well: spotlight swivelling across the skies outside, a red carpet extending from roadside into the bar, complete with photo backdrop for those wanting to grab a snap or two (we kept the paparazzi outside!), and Oscar himself adorning the walls.

Ylva, Patti and Kerena

Ylva, Patti and Kerena

As people began to arrive, so the music started to play – Anthony had selected some of the more recent hits from major award-winning films, and as more arrived so the requests came in as well. Of course, there were the classics, like Moon River (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), When You Wish Upon A Star (Pinocchio), Windmills of Your Mind (The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968), to the songs we perhaps grew up with, like Up Where We Belong (An Officer and a Gentleman), through to more recent ballads, such as Adele’s Skyfall – and many, many more.

Everyone took to the evening in style, the gents looking dapper and dashing, the ladies glittering in frocks and gowns, and the conversation flowed around the music. sadly, we didn’t get the red carpet photos we’d hoped, but the sekrit camera was floating around the dance floor, allowing me to capture the odd shot or two :). If you’re not included in the pictures here, my apologies – I’ll make sure to catch you at the next event!

Bou, Anthony, Sam and Sister

Bou, Anthony, Sam and Sister

If you couldn’t make it to this month’s special event, our next is on Wednesday, March 1st, when we’ll be featuring the music of the New Romantics.  BUT! Don’t forget we have music and dancing at the bar every Wednesday and Friday, from 4:00pm through 6:00pm SLT on each evening, with Anthony Westburn providing the tunes on Wednesdays and Joy Canadeo playing them on Fridays.

So, why not make a note in your diaries and come along and join us? And don’t forget as well, Holly Kai Park is always open for visits, complete with our regular art exhibitions and displays.

Caitlyn and I pause for photos on the red carpet!

Caitlyn and I pause for photos on the red carpet!

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This article also appears on the Holly Kai Park blog.

Of islands and ideas in Second Life

Yet more island changes :)

Yet more island changes 🙂

So yeah. The island home; aka the job I’m always prattling on about, or “just when you thought it was safe to read this blog…” We hadn’t actually planned on changing things. Honest. But then I mentioned to Caitlyn that while the new layout worked, it was also a bit flat, She agreed. Thus, cue the unpacking of landscaping bits …

After spending time trying to integrate the northern and southern ends of the island into a “whole”, going back to rocks and cliffs might sound like things are being broken up again. However, what we’ve settled on  – we think – returns some of the character to the island, giving it more depth (or should that be height?) while retaining a unified feel.

The base of the cliffs - retaining the pond

The base of the cliffs – retaining the pond

In essence, the gardens and beach at the north end of the island have given way once again to the Fanatik Rocky Island. If I’m totally honest, this isn’t my favourite piece of landscaping; the baked textures aren’t entirely to my liking, and the lack of differentiation between vertical and horizontal faces means it cannot be reasonably re-textured. But in terms of natural look, with paths and differing levels on the plateau, I’ve yet to find anything in SL that matches it.

The upper two levels of this are now the location for our little stone cottage, with front lawns, cypress trees and back patio / lawns and just a little touch of the old castle ruins. Alex Bader’s Tiered Wall Garden set allowed for a degree of landscaping on the lower two levels of the plateau, allowing us to add lawns and the Trompe Loeil Dorina Outdoor Hangout, converted back to use as a pool.

The Trompe Loeil Outdoor Hangout makes a nice vantage point to watch passing boats

The Trompe Loeil Outdoor Hangout makes a nice vantage point to watch passing boat races through the channel south of us

One of the other positive aspects of the Fanatik rocky island is that it comes handed, so slipping it into the island and having the switch back path leading up one side match the moorings for our two ‘planes was nice and easy – and provided a route from house through island in the process. At Caitlyn’s suggestion, Alex’s Boardwalk set provided further integration between cliffs and fields by providing a wooden path around the rocks and over one side of our pond.

We also recently thinned-out some of the ruins, and shunted the old chapel across to the east side of the island. So in re-arranging things, we’ve been able to include an open grassy area at the base of the cliffs, Alex’s Ancient Stone Wall building set dividing it neatly from the “wilder” woodlands while a Stepping Stones set from Cube Republic offers a nice pathway to link everything together. Finally, a gift from John and Eles Briana means we now have a little “summer-house” in the form of the Trop Loeil Outcrop Hut, where we can watch the passing boats in the local sailing races.

I'm not the world's greatest fan of the Fanatik Rocky Island, but there is no denying its dramatic potential

I’m not the world’s greatest fan of the Fanatik Rocky Island, but there is no denying its dramatic potential

So, once again, a few more nips and tucks  – and a very big rock – at home. Now, onto the next project!

Flying the CLS Ryan Navion (via Firestorm) in Second Life

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

Firestorm recently held their Christmas Party, and as a part of it, they’ offered Firestorm users holiday goodies in the form of a pet leopard and a CLS Aviation Ryan Navion aeroplane in the Firestorm colours.

I’m a bit of a flying fan in Second life (albeit not necessarily looking for full realism, just the fun of getting into the air and pootling around), and as I’d never actually come across CLS Aviation before, I cheekily saw the opportunity snag the gift and see what the plane was all about.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The retail variant of the plane is prices at  L$1,099 at the time of writing, and is supplied Copy / Mod – the accompanying photos showing it can be re-painted (although I have no idea if templates are supplied – so check before buying). The Firestorm version, for obvious reasons, is supplied No Mod, locking-in the Firestorm paintwork, but otherwise it is the same aircraft model.

The Navion is a post-war single-engined light aircraft with a tricycle undercarriage and seating four, many of which are still in use today. Wikipedia informs me that CLSA model is based on one of the later variants of aircraft, which had wing-tip fuel tanks.  The model weighs-in with a Land Impact of 77, a physics weight of 2.2, and a render weight of 49072.

CLSA Navion instruments: legible and reflect aircraft's operation

CLSA Navion instruments: legible and reflect aircraft’s operation

The Firestorm finish is pretty good, with the exterior of the ‘plane looking quite eye-catching. Elements of the finish continue inside the sliding canopy cockpit, where the trim on the seats and instrument panel includes colour nods to Firestorm. The instrument panel is fully readable and the instruments  respond to flight movements, making it perfectly possible to fly and navigate in Mouselook and using keyboard / chat commands.  For those who like HUD-based flying, one is also supplied, offering access to essential controls and instruments and gives access to the plane’s menu, which can also be used when flying.

Handling-wise, touch the canopy to open it and hop in (it opens automatically on shutting down the engine). A headset is supplied for those who like that kind of touch, and the “usual” control options apply (“s” / “start” / “stop” for the engine, WASD / arrow keys for turn / climb / dive; PAGE keys for throttle, etc). Multiple camera pre-sets are offered as well, accessible via chat (“c0” through “c9”, which can also be selected by menu (accessed through the HUD) or cycled through via the HUD.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

I found the plane handle reasonably well in the air, although turns felt a little “flat” and lacking roll at times while acrobatics such as looping felt a little on the “tight” side (albeit with nice camera motion). Allowing for the current state of region crossings, the Navion handled things reasonably well, although recovery did at times seem a little sluggish. Camera scripting in particular seemed to try to handle slewing issues on crossings by giving a forward view of the plane then gently panning around to the over-the-tail default. This mostly avoided instances of finding the camera pointing into the side of the plane after a rough crossing, but when these did occur, cycling through the camera pre-sets generally cleared it.

Flying in Mouselook  / via instruments was more than acceptable, although I need to practice my landings in this mode! And on the subject of landings, a novel aspect of this plane is that while it senses Linden Water as water (listen for the splash), it will nevertheless quite happily land on it even though devoid of floats – and will also take off from Linden water as if it were a runway, feeling very much like the Terra Stingray in the process.

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion

The Firestorm CLSA Ryan Navion: works on water! 😉

Overall, not a bad ‘plane, particularly if you’re looking for something to start out with. One small word of warning – should you go ahead and buy this plane (any plane?) from CLSA, or get the Firestorm variant (whilst available), make sure you rez the package in an open space. I rezzed mine in the living room and almost squished myself between it and the wall!

And, also, as this one is in Firestorm colours, are we going to see a Firestorm aerobatics team form? 😀 .

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