Taking a birds-eye look at Bellisseria

Plane sailing: over the Capitol Springs bridge and a boat passes under it

I decided to take a little time off on Easter Sunday and go for a flight around part of Bellisseria, the new Linden Homes continent, and have another look at it. However, rather than taking a ‘plane or helicopter, I decided to see things in a more leisurely manner, flying my Ask 13 sailplane.

Regular readers will know I picked up one of these sailplanes, made by Rene Underby and based on the Schleicher ASK 13, just over a year ago (see Plane sailing in Second Life: the ReneMarine Ask 13). Since then, I’ve been aloft in it on numerous occasions, both on my own and with Caitlyn. It’s a great way to fly in SL, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has a love of flying in Second Life.

The Winchester: one of the two 2-storey home designs n the Traditional type of Linden Home

However, getting off the ground in the new continent isn’t that easy. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there are no airstrips, and sailplanes are not intended to get airborne off of water 🙂 . Fortunately, the Ask 13 comes with its own aerotow, so with a little cheating (rezzing the saiplane on the roof of my houseboat and then calling up the tow plane) I managed to get airborne. Not ideal, but it worked and got me up to an altitude where I could release the tow.

To be honest, I really wasn’t sure how far I’d get; as we all know, region crossings – physical or TP – have been something of a roll of the dice of late, and on a boat trip on Saturday I ended up losing my boat every few region crossings, so that  after the fourth time I ended up dumped and having to re-log, I gave up. However, Sunday’s trip was nothing short of superb.

Over the north-east coastal regions

As my houseboat is down in the south-west of the new continent, I headed east and north, tracking the local thermals and taking time out here and there to grab a snap.

One of the critiques levelled at the land houses in Bellisseria is that they are “cookie cutter”; I’m not sure this is an entirely fair assessment. Sure the select of houses is, at present, limited to four styles in a single theme, and the parcels are all fairly regularly set, but coupled with the general road infrastructure, trees, etc., to me give a feeling of suburbia. And while it may not always be obvious from ground level, the blending of the suburban housing with the coastal areas and the houseboats is actually nicely handled; there’s a good sense of the grasslands giving way to more sandy ground that gently merges into beaches and water.

The Adams, one of the single-storey homes in the Traditional range

I’m not going to cover the houses in great detail here, because Ricco Sanez has written an excellent piece on them, looking at all four styles. What was interesting in passing overhead was being able to see what use people were making of the garden / yard space, including some imaginative use of off-parcel placement of items along some of the waterways. These left me a little curious as to the view the Lab might have of them; from my perspective I felt they added to, rather than detracted from, the general environment.

Airborne also gives you a sense of how much space remains within the continent – and equally – how crowded it might come to feel, depending on the way in which future developments are handled.

Circling a thermal to gain altitude

Overall, my trip by air was fun – very much helped by the fact I managed my tour without getting thrown by a bad region crossing – actually, the second flight I’ve made over the continent since it opened; my first being a powered flight around the coastline and was actually equally successful – up until I hit the dreaded banlines whilst trying to make a water landing.

And landing this time around? Well, that was easy. After running the thermals along the western mountains before turning inland between them, and setting down in one of the undeveloped SSPE regions. Nevertheless (and to repeat my old chestnut) it would be nice to have an inland airstrip or two. These, with the odd park and hiking  / riding trail (if not already a part of the planning) could, as I’ve previously mentioned, add further attractiveness to the inland districts.

Is it a bird…? Is it a …? passing over Belliseria in my Ask 13

 

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Lab looking to meet Linden Homes houseboat demands?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second question is more intrinsic to Bellesseria as a whole. while houses along the cost are being picked up – they did so after the houseboats had gone. So, simply provisioning more houseboats possibly runs the risk of the continent’s inland areas remaining under-populated unless they are made more inviting.

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

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

Making a (Linden) houseboat a home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll let you know!

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

Lab launches new Linden Homes

Bellisseria – New Linden Homes

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

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

Bellisseria – New Linden Homes

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

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

Bellisseria – New Linden Homes: coastal community space

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

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

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

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

Applying for a Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Information

New Linden Homes Preview

New Linden Homes preview – available until Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Friday, March 15th marked the opening of the 2019 Home and Garden Expo in support of Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

I’ll have a report on this year’s event coming up soon, but for this article I’m focusing on a special element within the event: the preview region for the new Linden Homes continent that will be dĂ©buting very soon for Premium members (Patch linden indicated it is just “weeks” away now) as a long awaiting “upgrade” to (and eventual replacement of)  the old 512 sq metre parcel Linden Homes.

I hopped over to the preview region – which is presented just as one of the regions in the new continent will look – as Patch Linden and members of the Linden Department of Public Works were available and taking questions. Rather than go on at great length, I’ve attempted to summarise the key points below.

Note that the preview region will remain open until the end of the Home and Garden Expo on Sunday, April 7th, 2019.

New Linden Homes preview

Launch and Availability

  • No precise launch date has been announced, but Patch indicated it is now “weeks” away for the initial deployment.
  • When launched, the new Linden Homes will be available to all Premium members, and will not be tied to any new Premium tier option.
  • Obtaining a new Linden Home will follow similar lines to the current Linden homes – using a web page to make an initial choice of home type, before selecting the style of house when in-world.
  • Premium users will be able to swap between house types, just as they can with current Linden Homes.
  • When launched, the new Linden homes will be made available on a new continent  – apparently to be called  Bellisseria (according to the covenant).
    • This continent will form a “bridge” between two of the existing Mainland continents (which continents has yet to be announced) to form “a larger contiguous continent”.
  • In time, as take-up of the new Linden Homes increases, the existing Linden Homes mini-continents will be retired and removed from the grid, with those remaining on them rather than obtaining a new linden Home being encouraged to move.
The new Linden homes include houseboat options, couple with moorings for boats

Parcels and Houses

  • Linden Homes (and houseboats) will be provided on 1024 sq m parcels.
    • Premium members must have 1024 sq m of available tier to obtain a home.
    • Premium members are limited to one Linden Home per Premium account.
    • Parcels will have a total of 351 LI for use by those using them (houses and houseboats do not count towards the total).
  • Parcels will be made available in themed areas, and house types will be in keeping with the theme.
    • Parcel terraforming is not permitted.
  • Each parcel will be managed by a mailbox, which will offer four house styles in keeping with the overall theme / type.
    • Houses may not be removed, modified, exchanged, set or deeded to group, or transferred.
    • All of the house styles are deigned to provide garden / yard space.
    • Houseboats include moorings for boats.
  • Additional buildings or structures are allowed as long as they are in theme and meet the height restrictions.
    • Privacy walls or fences should match the theme and extend no more than 4m above ground level.
    • All other structures should not extend higher than 15m above ground level or sea level, whichever is higher.
    • Note that house styles are presented with boundary walls / hedgerows / both for privacy
  • The interiors of Linden Homes can be decorated to residents’ likings. The exteriors should always remain in theme.
  • Types and styles of houses / houseboats include interior / exterior dĂ©cor options, working curtains / blinds and house control system.
  • Skyboxes are permitted, providing they are above 2000m altitude.
Individual house styles (4) for a given type can be selected from the mailbox associated with a parcel

There is also a new covenant for these linden home, that can be viewed via About Land when visiting the preview region.

General Impressions

The new houses are well presented and offer a good choice of style  – unsurprisingly a good step up from the very long-in-the-tooth current batch of Linden Homes (first introduced in 2010), and I’m personally quite enamoured of the houseboats with their moorings.

Providing infrastructure to the new regions – roads, parks, coastline, beaches, rivers, etc., will hopefully help build more of a community feel to the new Linden Homes than the approach taken with the first series, and in this, providing houses that sit within their parcels and with privacy boundaries (walls / hedgerows) to me both increases the sense of ownership and also the look and feel of these developments being a residential development. True, the privacy is only visual (you’ll need parcel privacy) and the shape of the houseboat parcels tended to make these feel a little crowded, but on the whole, the layout appears to work.

Patch’s indication that the new homes will be part of a “bridge” between two existing continents came as a surprise, and seems to suggest the SSP regions where Linden home development work is being done may be relocated prior to the new Homes starting to be offered.

The Linden Homes preview offers some hints as to the landscaping found within the new continent regions

SLurl Details

SL Halloween: of house tours and premium gifts

The Haunted Halloween Tour is back, with new twists

On Tuesday, October 2nd, Linden Lab announced the seasonal re-opening of the Haunted Halloween Tour together with a further Premium member’s gift.

Now in its fifth iteration since being unveiled in 2014, the Haunted Halloween Tour is an experience-led ride through (and under) an old house that echoes the Bates residence from psycho (I’m still surprised there isn’t a trip through a bathroom somewhere along it).

Reached via either Portal Park 1 or Portal Park 2, this latest take on the tour keeps the house, the usual coffin “cars” to ride in, and takes a familiar route through the house. But, as with previous years, there are a fair few new tweaks and changes to things.

We’re all probably familiar with Experiences by now, but do remind you need to grant permissions to the Tour in order to enter it. These are revoked on your departure

As the Tour is experience-led, those wanting to try it will have to accept the experience prior to passing through the Tour’s portal at either of the Portal Parks. This sometimes causes concern, partially due to the large dialogue that is displayed by experiences which indicates control of some aspects of the user’s viewer will be taken (see right).

There’s actually no reason to fear these dialogues: they are there to inform users over what is likely to happen and offer reassurance that it is all correct and proper (although admittedly, the dialogues could perhaps be made to be a little less threatening). And at the end of the ride, all permissions are automatically revoked until the next time you join the Tour.

However, if there are lingering concerns after taking the ride, the permissions can always be manually revoked – just go to the Avatar / Me menu (viewer 5+), selected Experiences, locate HA2014 in the list, click on it and select Forget. Should you do this, you will have to re-allow the experience on your next visit to the Tour.

I’m not going to dwell on the tour too much – there are new wrinkles, as noted. What I will say is that since 2015 and the first return of the Tour, I’ve tended to find it perhaps a touch too long, running for about 15 minutes. This variant is roughly the same length, but I (mostly) didn’t feel as if time was dragging as I have done with past iterations.

The Premium Gift comprises a camp site with tent, open fire and logs set around it for seating, the basics of the camp might suit any number of locations. The Halloween element comes with the inclusion of a spooky tree, pumpkins and grave stones.

The entire LI for the set is 85, but this can be reduced by only rezzing the items you require – so, for example, the tent, fire and seating could be used year-round, as the pumpkins could be removed. The gift is supplied with a rezzer in the form of a radio on a tree stump, which will also “read” stories in chat – one story is supplied and more can be added, if desired.

The 2018 Halloween Premium gift camp site. Credit: Linden Lab

I’m admittedly not a great fan of this type of Premium Gift – I much prefer practical benefits, vis more group slots, etc.). However, high LI aside (when compared to other mesh camp sets), some could find this one has use well beyond the Halloween season, although the static animations might be seen as a little limiting.

Premium gifts can be collected from any of the kiosks located in the Premium sandboxes.