A Captain’s Retreat in Second Life

AustinLiam’s Captain’s Retreat boathouse / house on display with accessories at his in-world store.

While I like to build in SL – particularly my own homes – I’m always on the lookout for units made by others that might suit our needs or be up for a bit of kitbashing. One of those I’ve had my eyes on for  a fair while is AustinLiam’s Captain’s Retreat, and moving to a home literally just across the water from Austin’s in-world base of operations has tended to sharpen my interest in having a play with that design.

For those unfamiliar with Austin’s work, he produces a range of commercial and residential units and accessories ideal for those wishing to build a waterside setting or who live on / near the water. Most are of a wooden design, and so well suited to being used in a variety of settings.

AustinLiam’s Captain’s Retreat integrated into Isla Caitinara

The Captain’s Retreat is a split-level building well suited to a coastal locations or on the banks of broad rivers / the edge of lakes. It’s an over-the-water design, the lower level forming a boathouse suitable for small or modest sized powered boats, with the upper  level offering a large open-plan area providing some 20 square metres of accommodation space (including 2 balconies) that can easily and comfortably be split into two living areas,  and is well-lit thanks to large windows on three sides of the building, two sets of which incorporate sliding doors to access balconies that bracket the building.

At 84 LI, the building is supplied without a rezzer – you just unpack it and drag it out of the resultant  folder (which also contains a single armchair, a flag pole and a bearskin rug referred to as “bear … already dead” 🙂 ), then place it. This is handy for those who don’t like messing around with rezzers; however, for those who (like me) enjoy kitbashing / modding designs, thought has been given to making this a flexible design well suited to modding. The fireplace elements, for example, can be easily selected and relocated within the house. External lighting is supplied as a part of the build, the lights individually switchable, while the boathouse has a door that can be raised / lowered and has piers for easy access to any moored boat.

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The interior living space can be comfortably split into smaller areas to suit needs. Borrowing from Austin’s approach, I used a room divider rather than full-height walls, and added slatted blinds from additional privacy between “day” room and sleeping area

In our case, the mood nature of the design allowed me to add external decking around two sides of the house, and then split the main living area into two areas – one a general living space,  with more than enough room for a sofa and armchairs, a dining  area and even a gallery kitchen. Taking a leaf from Austin’s in-world show home for the Captain’s Retreat, the remaining half of the room became a bedroom area,  overlooking the open waterway passing our Second Norway island.

The mod nature of the house allowed the fireplace to be relocated as noted above, whilst also allowing me to add greater depth to the two balconies and the glass awnings over the top of them. While it is not vital, I also modified the lighting supplied with the house, removing the supplied  scripts and replaced them with a system integrated with the room lighting I added to the house, with a script to activate all lights a SL sunset and turn them off at SL sunrise.

The living area of the house has balconies on either side, served by sliding window doors. The modular design of the build means that these balconies can be made deeper if required to provide more space, and the supporting beams of the house frame adjusted to match

At  L$1680, this isn’t a design that will break the bank – but it can provide a surprisingly comfortable living space. Thanks to Ydille’s Multi Scene Rezzer & Multi Scene Erazer Pro V5 I reviewed last month, the Captain’s Retreat house now forms a 4th option of house we can have at Isla Caitinara whenever we feel like a change – and for those looking for a house they can easily mod and / or create a cosy home on the water, I’d have no hesitation in recommending this design.

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House changing with a scene rezzer in Second Life

A rezzing system makes it easy to swap between house designs and furnishings, and the Multi Scene Rezzer & Multi Scene Erazer Pro V5 makes it an exceptionally low-cost option

While hardly new to SL, rezzing systems are something I’ve written about on a few occasions as a means of making convenient use of space, and being quickly able to swap between house interiors with things like Linden Homes (see: Saving your Bellisseria house designs for re-use with a rezzing system) and / or being able to swap back and forth between vehicles within taking up too much in the way of LI by keeping them rezzed all the time (see: Adding a little vehicle space with a rezzing system).

I’ve used such systems extensively throughout my SL time, particularly with reference to house / landscape designs, where I’ve tended to lay out house and landscape and then drop everything into a rezzer so that we’ve always been able to swap back and forth with house and garden options relatively easily – with the usual caveat that anything placed in a rezzer must have Copy  / Modify capabilities.

With our recent move to Second Norway (see: Farewell, Isla Pey, hello, Isla Caitinara), I again wanted us to have the freedom to swap between houses, but not quite to the same extent as with our old island. The latter was totally based on mesh landforms (due to limitations of terrain texturing available to us), so it was easy to have house designs, furnishings and landscaping placed within individual rezzers. With the new island, the layout is such that given we may want to change the house and some of the grounds from time-to-time, the gardens are pretty much as we want to keep them. Therefore, using a single rezzing system containing multiple house options makes a lot more sense. However, while the RF Scene Rezzer I’ve previously used does support this kind of approach could be used, it does rely of on coalesced objects to create a scene, and these can be tricky to manage when they comprise a lot of objects.

The broad design of the islands in Second Norway make them very amenable to tucking away houses, be they a relatively large design like our “skytower” …

So, whilst looking for a further alternative, I came across Ydille’s Multi Scene Rezzer & Multi Scene Erazer Pro V5. I’ll confess that when I saw the price – just L$49 – I was sceptical as to how well it would work. For that I owe Ydille an apology, as this is actually one of the most capable personal rezzing systems I’ve yet used, offering the kind of capabilities normally reserved for systems costing ten times the fee.

In short, the system provides the following capabilities:

  • Storing and rezzing up to eleven individual scenes (e.g. house, furnishings, gardens, etc.).
  • Auto-clearing a currently rezzed scene before rezzing another.
  • Rezzing multiple scenes side-by-side.
  • Easy updating of individual scenes, or adding further scenes to a rezzer up to the maximum of 11.
  • Using one than one rezzer in a single location.
  • Options to:
    • Manually clear all currently rezzed scenes.
    • Relocate the rezzer without impacting object placement.
    • Set access to the rezzer to one of owner, group or public.

In addition, the Pro V5 rezzer includes the ability to configure the rezzing options menu with unique names via note card.

For our purposes – easily swapping between different house options – the system is absolutely perfect, and set-up couldn’t be easier, comprising two main steps: creating your scene(s) and then updating the rezzing menu.

….Or something a little more cosy, like a stone cottage – note the change to the grounds in front of the house as well

Creating A Scene

  • Lay out the items to form a scene (in our case, the house, its furnishings and fittings, and the immediate surrounding plants).
  • Edit each object in turn and:
    • Rename it in accordance with the system’s object naming convention (see below).
    • Drop the system’s Position / Eraser script into it.
    • Allow the script to record the object’s position (region X,Y,Z co-ordinates and rotation).
  • When the Item is ready – the script’s hover text will flash in yellow – Take the object back to inventory.
  • Drop the updated object into the scene rezzer’s contents.
  • Repeat for all remaining objects in the scene.

Object Naming Convention

Items for a scene must use the correct naming convention. For the first 9 scenes in a unit, this takes the form of “S1_[name]”, “S2_name”, etc.

  • So items for the first scene might be: called “S1_house”, “S1_sofa”, “S1_chair”, etc.
  • While items for the second scene might be “S2_house”, “S2_sofa”, “S2_chair”, etc.

Items for the 10th and 11th scenes follow a similar convention, but without the underscore (so S10House, S10Sofa, etc.).

Updating the Rezzing Menu

Ydille’s Multi Scene Rezzer & Multi Scene Erazer Pro V5 provides a customisable scene rezzing menu.

By default, the Pro V5 rezzing system has a pre-configuring scene rezzing menu (“Skybox”, “Pool”, “Clouds”, Plants”, etc.). These names can be updated to more meaningful terms by editing a note card contained in the rezzer itself. To change them:

  • Edit the note card in the rezzer.
  • Delete the 11 single-line entries in the top portion of the card (“Skybox”, “Pool”, “Clouds”, Plants”, etc.).
  • Replace them with your own names, one per line.
  • If you have less than eleven scenes, you must add additional lines (use a space or period), so the list is always 11 items long.
  • Save the note card.

Note that you can update the note card as you add further scenes to your rezzer.

Using the System

When you’ve loaded one or more scenes:

  • Click the rezzer.
  • Click the Rez Scenes button to display your available scenes.
  • Click the button of the scene to be rezzed.
  • Allow the scene to rez.

By default, any current scene that is rezzed will be deleted. This can be toggled off / on via the Pre Erase button on the the rezzer’s main menu. Access options can similarly be set by clicking the Access button to toggle between Owner, Group and Public. Please refer to the system’s documentation for further notes.

Another look at the cottage – a design from Domineaux Prospero we’ve not used in a few years

Observations

Considering it is only L$49, the Multi Scene Rezzer & Multi Scene Erazer Pro V5 packs in a lot, as noted, and is extremely easy to use. Given I didn’t really want to dramatically change the overall layout of our new island home, but wanted a quick means of changing the house space, it has already proven to be absolutely ideal for our needs on Isla Caitinara, Certainly, if you’re looking for a low-cost personal rezzing system – if you’re looking for a system to sell items, you’ll need to look elsewhere – this system really cannot be beaten – and it is capable of packing in a lot large scene areas than we”re using.

Consolidating PAC: 52 studios, 2 galleries, 1 shattered builder!

Cherished Melody: the waterside walk and Featured Artist gallery beyond, with one of the new studios just visible to the left

A week ago I wrote about one of the things that is keeping be busy – the consolidation work to unify the Phoenix Artists Collaboration (PAC) into a single location.

Well, a week is a long time in Second Life 🙂 , and it finally looks as if the major work is over and I’ll be getting back to more regularly scheduled blogging. The core of the building / landscaping is now done, and the work of transitioning artists from Holly Kai Park to Cherished Melody can shortly begin.

The view from the events space outside the PAC Gallery

It’s been an interesting project; with some 31 artists at Holly Kai Park, and 22 at Cherished Melody within an established setting, it was important we try to bring things together in a way the maintained the look and feel of what Audie had already established, whilst acknowledging we would also need to find space for at least one gallery for group exhibitions, and provide an events space for openings, etc.

Overall, and if I say so myself – and allowing for the fact a little bit of squeezing had to be carried out – thing seem to have turned out pretty well.

In all, Cherished Melody now has 52 indoor studios and two outdoor display areas for our 3D artists. In addition, we’ve actually managed to fit not one, but two gallery spaces into the location. One of these will be the PAC group gallery for exhibitions featuring group members, the second a Featured Artist / special exhibitions gallery (although the space can potentially be re-purposed to provide additional indoor / outdoor studio space, if that becomes a requirement). I’ve also bee able to work in a garden area for pop-up art displays by group members and their friends – although again, the current layout of this area is subject to revision, as it needs a little more brainstorming!

The revised Cherished Melody layout from the air

Most importantly, the work has allowed the water aspects of the setting to be maintained, particularly to the west, but also on the east side as well, with the two bodies of water connected through the water around the landing point that I hope adds to the sense of space within the setting. Admittedly, some of the new studios had to be places somewhat closer together – such is the nature of things – and this can be seen on the south side, where I took a courtyard design Audie used as my lead, but even in these spaces, incoming artists from Holly Kai Park should have a greater sense of space than their former home.

If you are a PAC member at Holly Kai Park, you’re welcome to hop over an take a look – but please, not we’re not quite ready for artists to start claiming spaces, so don’t lay down prims or anyone or start setting up just yet: we’ll let all of you know once we’re ready. Those who are curious about what’s been going on at Cherished Melody are also welcome to come have a look around.

The PAC Gallery, which has an open-air event space before it

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Farewell, Isla Pey, hello, Isla Caitinara

Isla Caitinara, August 2020

I recently mentioned that things have been a little hectic (both in the physical world and SL) such that my blogging frequency has been a little down this last week-ish.

One of the reasons for the slow-down as the decision to say farewell to Isla Pey after some 6 years of using it as an in-world home. Six years is a long time in SL, and while moving elsewhere hadn’t actually been something we’d mulled over in depth, circumstances aligned in such a way that an opportunity to relocate to somewhere slightly larger with the same LI and at a lower cost came up that combined with other changes so as to make a move advantageous.

Isla Ciatinara, August 2020

While living at Isla Pey had been fun – access to Blake Sea, sitting on the very edge of the grid, and so on., there were some disadvantages, and while these didn’t weigh heavily on the decision to move, they have been overcome by making it. In particular, the increased space means the house, gardens and grounds to be properly integrated without feeling cramped and being split into what was effectively three separate parts: north island and gardens, house, and south island, due to the shape of the parcel.

The new location, sitting in a corner of the renewed Second Norway estate – which I’ve had the pleasure of being completely revitalised by Vanity and her team – offers the same benefits as Isla Pey, while allowing house and gardens to be more properly integrated in a parcel that – like all those in Second Norway are offered with (optional) landscaping – a stream, a rocky backdrop in one corners, etc.

Isla Caitinara, August 2020

This supplied landscaping presented the opportunity to take the “skytower” house design we’ve been using, and move it more it overland and without having to put the various landscaping elements in beforehand. the cliffs also mean that the house – raised as it is above the ground – is also somewhat screened from view so as not to overpower the neighbours.

Positioning the house in a corner like this, a stream bubbling below it, means I could spread the main garden with its pond and zen elements, together with the old chapel ruins, out on the land directly below and in front of it, giving that sense of integration between house and grounds, whiles allowing the pond to be enlarged, and is now nicely overlooked by the infinity pool at the front of the house.

Isla Caitinara, August 2020

Of course the vehicle rezzing system came along in the move as well, so we can still easily change which boats aircraft as available for us without having to devote a huge amount of LI to keeping them rezzed or the annoyance of pulling the from inventory. If you haven’t read about using such systems, why not check out Adding a little vehicle space with a rezzing system.

Doubtless I’ll be making minor tweaks for a while, but for now it is – farewell Isla Pey, hello Isla Caitinara!

Shippe & Saille Harbor Master in Second Life

The Shippe and Saille Harbor Master (Bimini and fishing rods deployed)

As a rule of thumb, I tend not to seek copies of items for review in these pages; those I do produce tend towards items I have purchased. The reason for this is because I feel I can give a fairer review if I’m writing about something I’ve purchased. That said, there are a couple of of exceptions to the rule, and I’m about to make a third in this case.

LadyJane Shippe sent me the latest from her Shippe and Saille brand, the Harbor Master, a slightly rescaled model of the Harbor Master 19, a dory style hulled cruiser with a forward cabin space, and itself based on the classic open Outboard Dory 18. It’s a small, fairly nimble craft driven (in the case of this version) by a 50 horse power outboard motor.

The Shippe and Saille (r) moored alongside the Bandit 170 at home, with the Bandit 580 behind them both

The S&S Harbor Master is reportedly 15% larger that its physical world equivalent, so as to present enough space for all sizes of human  avatars within the cabin and the covered pilot house. It is not, at first glance, a particularly elegant boat when compared to other cabin cruisers; the snub bow, forward placement of the cabin and high roof to the pilot house tend to give it something of an ungainly look. But looks, as the hoary old saying goes, can be deceptive.

Outside of the increase in size – which given it is proportional, isn’t that noticeable – this is a faithful reproduction of the Harbor Master 19, fully capturing the shape of the dory hull, the cabin and pilot house. The latter offers bench seating for two, and the cabin basic sleeping space for two – although the boat will carry up to three.  Behind the benches, the open cockpit offers room for equipment stowage, etc. A cooler box sits at the back of the cockpit, which might be considered at keeping drinks on ice or used to hold any fish caught when out and about.

Fishing aboard the Shippe & Saille Harbor Master

Fishing, because the boat is compatible with a number of Second Life fishing systems – WZW fishing, 7 Seas, and Goldtokens rod. Two rods can be rezzed in the holders towards the stern of the hull, and the pose system also include fishing poses that will auto-rez (temp) fishing rods. In addition, the user manual provides instructions on swapping the latter out for any preferred rods an owner might have.

Rezzing the two rods on the boat increases the LI from 31 to 34, which still leaves the boat a modest count in terms of LI. Other options that are included with it are a cockpit Bimini “raised” and “lowered” by the pilot’s chat command of “Bimini”, an opening /closing cabin skylight or door, and an anchor that can be raised / lowered, as can the outboard motor (the latter of which is raised by default on a fresh rezzing of the boat)., and the boat’s fenders. All of these, bar the cabin skylight and door, are activated via chat commands (the skylight by touch).

If rezzed out of Linden Water, the boat will raise itself and rez a 6 LI trailer underneath to support it

Handling-wise the boat follows the usual lines: the majority of commands are chat based, although some  – such as the lights – use the switches in the pilot house. the arrow / WASD keys handle steering and the throttle. The latter has four forward and four reverse settings (dead slow, slow, half, and full) sitting either side of the idle setting. Additionally, the Page keys can be used to rapidly toggled between idle and half speed (forward or reverse). In terms of driving, the boat is extremely responsive and the chat command for the camera can be used to help recover the camera position should things go sideways on a region crossing (including the “cc” command for any passenger – a nice touch).

Painting the boat can be handled in one of two ways. Those wishing to just change their Harbor Master’s name can use the hull texture included in the user guide. Those wishing to make more extensive changes can find a link to download a comprehensive set of texture and UV maps. As a copy / mod vehicle, this boat is also open to a degree of physical customisation – general guidelines are provided in the user guide for those wishing to do so.

The Shippe & Saille Harbor Master

Those who enjoy Get The Freight Out will find a GTFO option in the the Habor Master package. Once unpacked, simply add the script and GTFO item it contains to the boat’s contents, and your ready to use it with the game.

I’ve not used the Harbor Master extensively, having made fewer than a dozen runs in it – although three have been reasonably long distance across and around Blake Sea and along the coast of Nautilus. Throughout, I found the boat to be responsive, made good recoveries on region crossings and generally presented no real handling problems.  At L$1,900, it’s very well priced, and just the job for those looking for a modestly-priced, small-sized motor cruiser for open water or river cruising.

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Side-by-side, the SRV-210 and Little Bee on Second Life

The Piaggio Little Bee (l) and the Bandit SRV 210 (r) in custom finishes

As regulars to these pages know, I enjoy sailing, motor boating, cruising and flying in SL, and I sometimes review the vehicles I obtain. As a result, I often get asked for a recommendation from people curious about vehicles in SL.

Answering such questions isn’t easy, in part because we all like different things, but mostly because – in all honesty – my experience is not that wide-ranging; I don’t have a huge stockpile of craft, and I tend to restrict myself to just a handful of creators on a regular basis, so there is potentially a lot out there that I’m missing.

However, my preview of the Bandit 170, which will be on general release soon, has resulted in people asking me about what I would recommend as a versatile, fun boat motor boat that looks good and doesn’t take up a huge amount of space. There are potentially hundreds of such craft to be had in Second Life – and the Bandit 170 is definitely a good place to start, in my opinion, allowing for the final details (including cost) on it to be settled.

The Bandit includes a towable float tube

That said, the two boats that I find simply cannot be beaten  – and indeed, have actually stopped me from buying boats I’ve tried elsewhere, simply because they are so much fun – are the Bandit SRV 210 and the Piaggio Little Bee. Both of these boats offer so much, they are genuinely hard to beat in terms of use and value for money.

The Little Bee is the oldest of the two in terms of its time on the market, having been around since August 2015. It is based on a classic tender style speedboat design, giving it classic, clean lines. The cockpit offers plenty of space and seating, with three forward seats (including the driver) and a large rear seating area behind, with floor section that can be raised to form a bed. Two novel items with the main cockpit are the hand basin and the espresso machine with hotplate – which will deliver a brew!

The Little Bee with a custom paint finish

The SRV-210 has been around since 2018, and is built along the lines of the deep v-hulled fibreglass sports boats of the 1970s / 80s. The cockpit is smaller but broader than the Little Bee, and provides seating for up to 6, including the driver. The boat is equipped with a Bimini sun screen and a full tent, both of which are chat-enabled (as are many of the command with the boat, and some of the commands with the Little Bee). Two versions are offered – one with an enclosed forward cabin, and the other with an open forward cockpit (and which may have additional poses as a result – as I don’t have that version, I’m not familiar with its capabilities).

The two boats handle remarkably well and similarly, providing a good ride experience, although the SRV 210’s ride is a little more physical, in that the boat (and camera smoothness) respond to speed and wave force, which adds to the realism of driving it. The overall controls are pretty much the same, within the exception that the Little Bee has a hydrofoil capability;  this is both novel for a speedboat and makes it exceptionally fast with the foils deployed.

The SRV includes both diving and swimming animations, as well as on-board poses / animations

Each boat comes with a range of options some of which are common to both – paint files, media system, towing trailer, a towable floating tube other avatars can ride on, etc.. The SRV 210 is supplied with a full paint finish and a set of textures for the flag. The Little Bee is supplied with a basic paint finish, but comes with far more options, including a car to tow the boat and trailer (called the TugBee and resembling a VW Beetle), a float tube together with a wakeboard and a parasail (a wakeboard for the SRV 210 can be purchased separately), while paint options can either be applied manually or via scripted means. Rez it on land, and it will automatically rez a land cradle under it that it will sit on.

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