A little rock climbing in Second Life

Rock climbing / free climbing in Second Life

A while back Yasmin (YouAintSeenMe) mentioned to me that she was considering a rock climbing system for Second Life. Being one who doesn’t particularly handle looking over the edge of extreme tall / high things in the physical world, it struck me that a) rock climbing would not be my first recreational pursuit, and b) but why not have a go in Second Life where bones don’t get broken?

So, armed with a follow-up note card from Yasmin on the subject, I toddled off to try out a climb she’s set-up on the west face of Nitida Ridge, Heterocera.

Nitida Ridge – 100m of cliffs to climb!

Here, at the foot of the ridge, sits a little base camp established by Yasmin, with tents, food and a warm fire. Close by is a sign that both introduces the climb(s) up the rock face and provides visitors with the necessary kit when touched. The latter is free, and comprises:

  • An abseil harness (worn invisibly, just ADD to attach to the stomach attach point); information on the climbing HUD, a note card on the routes up the cliffs – direct or extended; and an image of the cliffs overlaid with the routes up (green) and abseil descents (red).
  • The climbing HUD – clicking the sign will cause a pop-up asking for this to be attached so your avatar can be animated during a climb.
Starting my climb

The HUD attaches towards the lower right of your screen by default – although obviously can be repositioned.  It is colour-coded as follows: Blue (generally the default) = ready; Green  = active climb located / engaged; red = disabled. In addition, touch the HUD brings up a dialogue box. There are a handful of points to be remembered when climbing, and with the HUD in particular:

  • It is still an in-development system, so not all features may be present and the occasional bug might try to put you off your climb.
  • Not all the options on the dialogue box may be fully functional at present.
  • The ones you are most likely to want to use are the climbing speeds (Faster / Slower) and the avatar position options (In  / Out) – the latter to move your avatar either further away from the rock face (so you’re not up to your elbows inside the rock, for example, or climbing air).
Taking a breather and a look around at 170 metres above sea level and …. Eeep! It’s a long way down!

Climbing is a matter of finding the first pitch along the foot of the ridge. To do this, it is suggested that you examine the image of the ridge and then zoom out with your camera and align things visually. This can be a little difficult (but then, it’s not like people hang signs on rock faces that say, “Start Your Climb Here!” – you pick your start point by eyeballing the best spot to make an ascent), so for those who may get frustrated in trying to work out where to start, there is a direct SLurl link.

When you’ve found the correct point, the HUD will try green to indicate you can start to climb. Use the Up arrow key to climb – turning off any AO system can be an advantage here to prevent conflicts. When pressed, your avatar will start what is effectively a solo free climb. Releasing the key will pause you, but shouldn’t cause any backsliding.

Taking a rest in a bivvy and inset, where it sits on the climb….

The nature of SL may mean at times you might get stuck. Should this happen, release the Up key and they resume. Similarly, you may “slip” and assume your default falling pose – again, releasing the Up key should revert your avatar to the “rest” pose. Also, sometimes using the Left / Right arrow keys can help a little – but take care. Left / Right can help you crab diagonally sideways in the climb, but use one of them too much and you’ll leave the “climbing path” – your HUD will turn blue and you’ll take a fall!

After the first 15 metre climb to a very broad ledge, you’ll have a choice: the direct route, or along the “bivvy” (bivouac) route. The latter is the more challenging, and requires you channel your inner Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible 2) for some diagonal climbing across the rock face to reach various ledges – including one with the tent, allowing you a little respite from the exertions of climbing – and additional vertical ascents.

Abseiling down the Nitida Ridge (note ropes added in post-processing so I don’t look like I’m simply sitting in mid-air!

The direct route is just that – straight up the cliff, using a natural fold in the rock, just as a real climber would. I admit to having a little trouble at the top of this – the climb animation refused to release, so I’d reach the top, fall back a couple of metres and resume climbing, reach the top, fall back… A double-click TP resolved this.

For those prone to a little daring-do, the Nitida Ridge climbs also include a couple of high lines (shown in blue on the climb image), where a little tightrope walking can be, um, enjoyed, using Yasmin’s tightrope kit.

Of course, getting up a climb is half the story – there is also getting back down. For this, Yasmin has included abseil options. Just find the anchor points located at various places on the cliff face (again, use the supplied image to help in locating them). Each is a square metal plate fixed to the rock with a carabiner hanging from it. Touch the carabiner and you’ll abseil neatly down the rock face.

Ropes for abseiling are invisible (a particle system would likely complicate matters), but the animations are fun to watch, and in keeping with climbing (I assume at least, not being an expert in any way whatsoever!) the shorter descents are more hand-over-hand.

This system is  – as noted – still somewhat in development, but it is simple and clean – and works. Obviously, you can add to the feel of climbing by dressing appropriately if you wish – I was tempted to add either a rucksack as a climbing backpack, or at least a bum bag to double as a chalk bag, but in the end just opted to get on with it.

Yasmin offers a number of alternate possible climbs within the HUD instructions note card, but as the HUD appears to be temp attach, you’ll need to keep it in place in order to try them, or return to Nitida Ridge to affix a new one before visiting an alternate climb. Overall, however, the Nitida Ridge climb is the most well-rounded in terms of climbs and features.

High lines offer the opportunity for some tightrope walking …

You still wouldn’t get me hanging off the side of a cliff at the end of a length of rope in the physical world, but within Second Life, free climbing / rock climbing like this is fun, and Yasmin has put together an excellent package that can be enjoyed individually or with friends. The kit isn’t (yet?) commercially available as it is in development (a further reason to try it at Nitida Ridge!), but I would suggest that if / when it is made commercially available, anyone with reasonable cliffs and highlands (say 15m or greater), it could be an attractive addition as an activity.

SLurl Details


Tackling an Evening Star in Second Life

Playing with the Evening Star Linden Houseboat. Note the additional “window” towards the stern and the spiral stairs

My playing around with the Linden Home houseboats is something of a matter of record in this blog. I’ve previously written about the result of my fiddling with the Windless (see here and here), and the Barnacle (see here).  In all, I’ve come up with half-a-dozen different interior layouts for three of the available houseboat designs (including the Wallower).

But there is one I’ve tended to avoid: the Evening Star. There are several reasons for this: of all four designs, it perhaps has the smallest interior space (although this could be a toss-up with the Wallower); the use of ladders to reach the rooftop deck really doesn’t appeal (nor does the narrowness of the gap between the ladders and the lower deck railings).

The Evening Star interior can be divided into two and the upper skylight area converted into an upper “floor”

I’m also no fan of the way the majority of the windows are crowded towards one end, leaving the “skylight” area at the stern of the design to provide a glimpse of natural light. Even the skylight itself strikes me as a “wasted” (if possibly small) space, and like the Barnacle, the Evening Star has a curved wall that I’m not particularly fond of.

But, these are the things that niggled me: could something be done to overcome them? As it turned out, the answer is yes.

Despite its apparent small size, the raising ceiling area of the Evening Star can be converted into a reasonable bedroom, and a spiral staircase reduces the amount of floorspace a staircase might otherwise need

Take that skylight space, for example. Small it might be, but it only takes a few prims to create a suitable for on which a bedroom can be established. Further, said prims can be extended to provide a non-plank ceiling for the deck below, if needed, Add a suitable spiral staircase, and you have a compact way to get between the two “floors”.

The same design of spiral stairway (which I’ve previously used on one of my Windlass designs) solves the problem of avoiding the Evening Star’s ladders by adding a copy to the front of the houseboat, connecting the open upper deck space with the docks I slipped in at water level. A pair of Anywhere Doors (also used with the Windlass designs) solves the problem of accessing the upper deck from the bedroom.

The new “bedroom door” to the upper deck (a Curio Obscura Anywhere Door pairing) and a couple of additional prims to “fix” the truncated window.

One of handy things about these houseboat designs is that as unique as each of them might be, all of them naturally lend themselves to using similar components like this.

Take Blush Bravin’s Party Boat add-on, for example. Designed for the Barnacle, I’ve used elements with both the Windlass and the Wallower. And with the Evening Star, the “brick” panel allows me to overcome that curved wall at the rear of the lower deck, squaring things off nicely for the kitchen (a combination of items from [DDD] ~ Dysfunctionality and Trompe Loeil). The addition of a faux doorway against this wall adds the illusion of there being a bathroom at the back of the boat. The slatted room divider from Blush’s kit also allows me to split the lower deck into two without leaving it feeling totally closed off.

One of the faux windows showing the “blinds” drawn from the outside.

Even so, splitting things can leave the back of the boat feeling a little “dark”. So why not add a couple of faux windows? Just 4 LI apiece and with suitable internal / external textures, and that can be made to look (from the outside) as if the blinds are drawn, and from the inside, they offer “views” of the “sky”. OK, so the inner and outer appearances of the windows don’t actually match one another, nor do the “windows” actually admit light – but they do help give a sense of brightness to the back of the houseboat. A quick bit of scripting also means the “inside” sky images are automatically swapped with images of the drawn blinds during the local SL “night”, avoiding the “view” from them clashing with what can be seen outside!

Dividing the interior into two isn’t necessary, but for me, it makes things a little more cosy and offers distinct living spaces – lounge and kitchen / dining. However, given the sheer amount of glass at the front end of the Evening Star, it leaves a small problem of where to hang pictures. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to add a couple prim walls to block-in two of the windows – and these can run back toward the rear of the houseboat, covering both the wall panelling on the inside (which I mentioned I wasn’t too fond of) and the weird black semi-circle on the outer walls.

The Evening Star showing my mods (forward spiral stairs, upper side door to the new bedroom area, new side walls and “windows”), compared to the original look, inset.

I think it fair to say the Evening Star  – like the Wallower – surprised me. What at first seemed to be a potentially awkward living space with limited options, is actually pretty flexible and capable of being modified in a fairly low land impact: 82 LI including all the ceiling, walls, lighting, pictures, kitchen, kitchen fixings and docks for my boats and planes (of course, a custom vehicle rezzer for the latter finished things off 🙂 ).

I continue to be impressed with these Linden Homes and the sheer flexibility they can offer. Put it this way, I now have a different houseboat for each day of the week 🙂 .


Still messing about in (house)boats in Second Life

Yes, I’m playing with my Linden Home houseboat again. Note the “extra door” on the side of the Windlass design, about which more below

A lot has been written about the “new” Linden Homes and their continent, Bellisseria – I know, because I’m one of those doing a lot of the writing 🙂 . However, the truth is that with four styles of house or houseboat to play with (and the promise of new types of both on the horizon), it’s really hard to stop playing with them and trying different interior layouts – as can be seen in the ever-growing forum thread on interior designs.

I started with the Windless, which has the largest interior floor space of the four houseboats initially offered by the Lab, using a simple open-plan design. From that I moved on to the Barnacle, playing with various designs, one of which I inflicted on you in a blog post. More recently, I’ve played with the Wallower – but I’ll spare you that! – before returning to the Windlass once more.

The Windlass actually has a high-ceilinged element which can, with care, be turned into an additional room

My reasons for going back to the Windlass rather than playing with the Evening Star – the forth design in the current houseboat styles – come down to the facts that, a) I’m actually not that keen on the Evening Star; b) I really wanted to see if I could come up with a Windlass design that’s a little more “cosy” thsn my original open-plan design; and c), I’ve been intrigued by the way people have added an “upper floor” to the Windlass.

For those unfamiliar with the design, the Windlass offers a split level layout, with one end having a raised ceiling so that it is possible to access the open-air roof deck via an internal staircase.

On the one hand, making this raised space into a room of its own is a simple matter of slapping in a new ceiling / floor. On the other, it’s a bit of a pain, because the newly-created space cannot be directly accessed from the existing staircase. This means either installing a teleport between the two floors, or giving up some of the available floor space “upstairs” in order to add a second staircase. But, teleports are terribly passé, and even allowing for losing some floor space, having two stairways relatively close together in a living space can look … odd.

I opted to solve this by minimising the impact of a second stairway through the use of a spiral staircase from VL Designs by Veronica Lockwell. I’ve used her Mesh Spiral Staircase – Walnut kit in the past and find it highly adaptable. It’s also well made, with low LI, good LOD, and a small overall footprint, allowing me to minimise the amount to floor I has to “lose” in the new bedroom.

The spiral stairway leading up to the new bedroom space, together with the walls separating the Windlass interior stairs from the rest of the design, and which create a space for the kitchen.

To overcome the issue of have two open-plan stairways in the houseboat, I installed a couple of new walls to separate the “built-in” stairs. Doing this had the additional positive of allowing me to create space for a gallery-style kitchen, as shown in the image above. In addition, dropping in a simple prim block (partially obscured by the spiral staircase in the image above) and false door allowed me to create a faux bathroom.

However, this left me with another issue. What’s the point of having an “upstairs” room adjacent to the huge roof deck on the Windlass if you can’t easily get from the bedroom to the roof?  You can’t easily use the houseboat’s own roof door due to the intervening banister wall.

The new bedroom, reached via the spiral staircase in the left corner

I solved this through the use of the Curio Obscura Anywhere Door by Pandora Wrigglesworth in fact. Sure, it’s a teleport system, but it gives the illusion of “walking” through a doorway rather than just being teleported, and can be modified with ease.

A pair of these mounted on the side wall of the new bedroom (one inside, one out), complete with a set of images added to suggesting showing the “indoors” or “outdoors” views when open, and presto! instant bedroom access to the roof deck!

Using an Anywhere Door to add roof deck access from my Windlass bedroom

The Anywhere Door system also solved another annoyance I have with the Windlass: it only has one “ground level” door. If you have a parcel like mine that places your houseboat “beam on” to the shore, this can make getting to the waterside mooring a nuisance. Either use the front door and walk around, or drop in additional piers and steps from the small lower deck balcony on the Windlass. I find neither approach particularly attractive.

So, with the simple expedient of two more Anywhere Doors (again with suitable images to added to suggest the interior and exterior views when the doors are open), I created a way to get from inside the Windlass to the moorings and my boats / planes with relative ease, with one of the Anywhere Doors forming a “back door” between kitchen and “bathroom”.

Borrowing a section of Blush Bravin’s Party Add-on for the Barnacle Houseboat and combining them with prims, allowed me to neatly section-off the raised part of the Windlass floor space to create a cosy lounge area, complete with a little entrance are fr the front door. To further add warmth to this space, I also blanked of a couple of the large windows at that end of the boat to create additional “solid” walls, providing space for a fireplace on one side and a little corner for my piano on the other.

Looking across the lounge area towards the front door from the fireplace, and peeking over the top of the carriage clock on the fireplace mantle

I’m still not 100% sure about using my Linden Home as a “full-time” living space, but as it is I think I now had enough variations of designs for three of the houseboat types to keep living there interesting, should I end up going in that direction! 🙂 .

Saving your Bellisseria house designs for re-use with a rezzing system

A rezzing system / scene rezzer can allow you to save all the décor designs you create for your Linden Home / Houseboat and have them available each time you opt to re-use a particular style of house.

As we’re all now aware, the new Linden Homes are provided via a rezzing system, allowing their owners to live in any one of four styles of home for each type – and to freely swap between house styles whenever they want. This makes the new Linden Homes both flexible and user-friendly: tired of the house you currently have? Then simply clear it out and replace it with another from your parcel’s mailbox or lifebuoy (or swap the house / houseboat style and re-orient your furnishing to suit).

However, if you do like swapping between house / houseboat styles, manually re-doing things each time can be something of a pain. The most obvious way to avoid this is to use a rezzing system or a scene rezzer. Both sound the same – and some systems may well offer both functions, but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to differentiate them as follows:

  • A rezzing system allows you save the furniture and décor (and things like your garden furnishings, any add-ons you’ve purchased / made) for a house / houseboat as a single package, which you can pull from inventory and use to re-rez that particular design / layout whenever you opt to re-use the style of house / houseboat for which it was created. My personal preferences for tools of this type are:
    • Builder’s Buddy, a free system. You can get the raw scripts from the Second Life wiki (just copy / paste the two scripts from the wiki pages into appropriately-named new scripts in your inventory), or via the SL Marketplace.
    • The Rez Faux system by Lex Neva. Primarily intended for creating packages of goods you’ve created and wish to sell, this costs L$600, is available in-world, and works perfectly well with “personal” projects.
    • Note that I am not endorsing these options over other rezzer system products, they are simply the two I personally use.
  • A scene rezzer can allow you to save multiple design / décor layouts for multiple homes, and have them all available through a single in-world device.

Which approach you take is down to you:

  • Use of individual rezzers tends to be quicker and easier than using a scene rezzer, and offers greater flexibility when adding or changing things within an individual design.
  • Using a scene rezzer means you can quickly access all your layouts at the cost of only 1 or 2 LI without having to fiddle around with the correct placement of the individual rezzer. However, updating a saved design is a lot harder, as it can require re-saving the entire design, rather than just adding / swapping individual items.

However, the most important thing to remember is that, in order to work, the items placed within any rezzing system must be both Modify and Copy. You also need to have a basic understanding of editing objects in Second Life. Also note that due to the way the majority of these systems work, if you opt to physically relocate to another parcel in Bellisseria, you will most likely have to create new rezzers for that parcel. Also, note that I’m not referring to “temp rezzers”; these are both against the Bellisseria covenant, and should in general be avoided as they are horrible resource hogs.

The following notes have been written to help you use the above-named systems.

Builder’s Buddy and Rez Faux – Individual Rezzers for House layouts

Creating the Rezzer and Adding Contents

  • Builder’s Buddy: Create a default cube. Drop the Builder’s Buddy Base Script into it. This is now your Base Prim – the rezzer.
  • Rez Faux: rez a copy of the Create A New Package object – this is your rezzer for Rez Faux.
  • Both:
    • Rename your new rezzer according to your needs (e.g. “Winchester House With Party Add-on” or “Barnacle Houseboat Mango Interior” or some such).
    • Position the rezzer object you’re just created towards the centre of your parcel, then copy the X, Y, Z position coordinates from its Object tab and paste them into the Description field of the General tab.
When you use something like Builder’s Buddy or Rez Faux that uses positioning relative to the rezzing item, it is essential the X, Y, Z coordinates of the rezzer are saved (e.g. by using the General tab’s Description field). Note that two Edit floaters are shown in this image for the purposes of illustration only

Continue reading “Saving your Bellisseria house designs for re-use with a rezzing system”

I’ve been Eclipsed!

Eclipse Magazine May 2019 cover

In April 2019, I was approached by Trouble Dethly, the owner / publisher of Eclipse magazine with a request that caught me off-guard: would I like to be the cover feature in the May 2019 issue of the magazine.

I say “taken aback” because the request came out of the blue and also because the cover features in Eclipse are intended to “showcase … a group or resident that has taken the Second Life concept of “‘your world, your imagination’ to such extraordinary heights that it has greatly impacted the culture and lifestyle of this virtual community.” Leaving both false modesty and ego firmly locked in a biscuit tin hidden under the floorboards of my mind, I really don’t see myself fitting this description.

However, after discussing things with Trouble a little more, I opted to go ahead, and the May issue came out (for me, being in the UK) in the “wee  small hours of the morning” (so to speak) of Thursday, May 23rd, 2019.

Within it is a celebratory article on the team behind FaMESHed, as they mark their seventh anniversary – a piece that makes superb reading; a tour of featured Linden Homes in Bellisseria; a perspective on Moki Yuitza’s Into The Net (which I also examined at the start of the month) and a host of regular columns covering home and garden décor, photography, fiction, places in SL to visit and readers’ own stories. All of which adds up to a cornucopia of interest quite outside of yours truly.

In closing, I’d like to offer my thanks to Trouble for both the invitation to be featured in the magazine and for encouraging me to do so, to Cajsa Lilliehook for the interview and turning a veritable wall of textual ramblings from me into something coherent, and especially to Lessthen Zero for the time she took in photographing me – I genuinely loathe having my photo (real or virtual) being taken, and Lez did so much to put me at ease and produced some truly amazing (and flattering!) shots, and the unnamed photographer who toured some of my favourite SL locations to take additional photos for inclusion in the piece.

You can catch all issues of Eclipse on-line, with the May edition available directly here: https://issuu.com/eclipsemagazinesl/docs/eclipse_magazine_may_2019.


More houseboat decorating in Second Life

Trying on the Barnacle houseboat for size…

It’s now just over a month since I snagged my Linden Home houseboat shortly after the new Linden Homes continent was officially launched (see: Lab launches new Linden Homes). I initially settled on the Windlass houseboat design to turn into a second home (see Making a (Linden) houseboat a home), but this week, because I like fiddling with things, I decided to try out some of the other designs, starting with the Barnacle.

This is the only design in the initial batch of houseboats that has an actually room upstairs, giving it an interesting differentiator to the other three designs, and gives it a little extra floor space. This makes it an excellent choice for developing a cosy home design, hence my interest in it.

An element from Blush Bravin’s Party Pack for the Barnacle makes a great wall divider when creating a cosy lounge area, thw warmth increased by the Lab’s sunflower interior wall colour.

Another aspect in my decision to play the the Barnacle was Blush Bravin’s Party Boat add-on. This is one of a number of kits Blush has produced specifically for the new Linden Homes, all of which are available via her SL Marketplace store, and on the strength of the Barnacle kit, I’d say they are well worth the minimal investment of L$250.

For the Barnacle, the kit includes a range of items: internal room dividers, décor highlights, and external elements, such as a trellis for the upper deck and a porch for the front door, and a small room (bathroom?) that tucks into one side of the main floor. Everything is supplied in a rezzing system (which admittedly can require careful placement to avoid fiddling with bits post-deploy).

A snug living room

A HUD is also supplied for applying textures, although this didn’t want to work for me, so I relied on manual texturing. This wasn’t a problem as for my purposes, I only really required the room dividers and the brick wall panel from the main deck interior. One of these, with ceiling-height wooden slats, I combined with a humble prim to make a room divider to split the lower deck in two, giving me a lounge area and kitchen / dining space. The brick panel and smaller divider, became a breakfast bar for the kitchen.

I don’t usually go in for kitchens in SL houses (we don’t actually eat in SL after all), but there are some nice low LI mesh kitchen sets available, and I wanted to give the houseboat a homely feel so I picked up a nice kitchen and additional elements from [DDD] ~ Dysfunctionality: the Cozy County Kitchen wine rack, Christine fireplace, Heph’s Kitchen Counter, and Captain’s Lanterns, which together with my existing items from Cory Edo’s Trompe Loeil and a few other pieces from assorted sources allowed me to create the kind of look I wanted.

I don’t usually go in for kitchens and bit, but these houseboats call for them at times

Given there are four variations available with each house type which can be swapped with a simple set of clicks, swapping between them has already proven popular. Providing the fixtures and fittings used are both Copy and Modify, a rezzing tool such as Builder’s Buddy or those available on the Marketplace, makes the storing and placement of interiors for each style of house an additional breeze when swapping back and forth.

Just set your décor and layout items (piers, garden furnishings, etc.), use the rezzing system to record and store the pieces, make sure you also record the position of the rezzer (I use the Description field in the Edit floater), and – providing you don’t move to another parcel – you can swap between house styles and interiors in less than 5 minutes.

There’s even room for one of my beloved pianos – my Culprit Sonata Baby Grand. The small step between the two living spaces is to help break things up a little

The above is probably a case of preaching to the converted for some, but is does make swapping between house designs and layouts and lot more fun – and obviously, there’s no reason why you can’t have multiple layouts for any given house / houseboat type.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I might go and have a play with the Wallower houseboat 🙂 .