The NO Cottage Bizar in Second Life

The NO Cottage Bizar installed at Isla Myvatn

Courtesy of a visit to Clifton Howlett’s Highland Retreat (see: A Highland Retreat on Second Life), I became acquainted with an absolutely engaging (for me) building design by Marcthur Goosson, which immediately set my little mind churning as to the possibilities lying within it for a little kitbashing.

The build in question carries the rather awkward name of NO Cottage Bizar, which really doesn’t do the building justice – although the tag to the name does help illuminate things: medieval restored ruin with modern materials. In short this is a structure that evokes what may have started as a medieval castle or fortified house, which as the years passed was extended as the need for fortifications faded prior to being abandoned, only to be rediscovered in more recent times and once again built-out using modern materials to form a unique home.

The original build – it is delivered as a complete 99 LI build, without a rezzing box, and the Copy-Mod version includes a set of shadow maps to help with the production of custom textures. There is also a full permissions version

This sense of history is imbued through the care in which this 99 LI design has been put together, notably with the use of textures and maps. Stand before the building, and it is possible to see the most aged part of the building, with its irregular stonework and masonry to the left, gradually giving way to later elements with their faced and squared stonework and more managed mortar, some of which bricks-up what might have been older parts of the building’s lower level, before returning to an older wall once more, something resembling a curtain wall that might have once enclosed a courtyard.

Within these elements are the “modern” aspects of the building: the courtyard (if that is what it was) has been full enclosed with cement walls and roofed over to turn it into a large room, the roof forming a balcony reached via the stairs of a still-standing tower which may once have opened onto the original wall. Elsewhere, the interior spaces have been built-up with brick and cement walls, new cement beams keyed into them or the original stonework, in places supported by upright beams in order to support new upper floors. These can be accessed either via the old tower stairs or by iron stairways which, with the iron reinforcements visible in places, give the rebuild something of a post-modern industrial look.

Some of the original rooms within the NO Cottage: two on the lower floor, linked by the large wooden doors. Below these are pictures of the two upper floor rooms

All of this provides a total of five rooms – two up and three down; two of the latter linked by imposing wooden doors which perhaps marked the limit of the original keep, and more modern glass doors. Together, these rooms provide living accommodation of a highly individual kind, whilst the care of the design means that if the finish on the internal walls is not to your liking, you can safely replace them; something I’ll come back to in a moment.

“But hang on a minute!” I hear you cry, “didn’t you blither on about kitbashing a new house just a few days ago? And now you’ve got another one?” Well, yes I did, and no, I haven’t. The modified Tromp Loeil Noa Ranch Cottage I recently reviewed / documented is still the main house; but I have a thing for old ruins in the grounds of my homes, as I’ve mentioned in the past, and on seeing the NO Cottage, I was stuck by a) how marvellous it looked, and b) how it it could make an interesting focal point for the island home, not as a house but as … a swimming pool / summer house. And once the idea entered my head, it became and itch I had to scratch.

Top: the original entrance to the NO Cottage and delivered to a purchaser. Bottom: my conversion as a part of installing the swimming pool – an area with sunken jacuzzi and a shower, with the walls re-textured in an off-white and a new partition added for the jacuzzi

As I’ve previously noted when discussing kitbashing, before starting any project, the first step is to ascertain exactly whether or not the end goal can be reasonably achieved. So off I toddled to the Marcthur’s in-world store and play clicky-click on surfaces, checking faces, parts, etc., to satisfy myself what I wanted to do could be done.

Fortunately, Marcthur designs his builds with the intention that they might be modified (he even sells full perm versions of structures like the NO Cottage so that, subject to a license agreement, they can be made a part of another build and sold); as such, I quickly confirmed this build could be modified and so went ahead and picked up the “standard” Copy / Modify / No Transfer version (L$1499).

The upper levels of the NO Cottage as delivered (top) and after my mods. I kept the original walls in one, but retextured the floor and duplicated the supplied fireplace and resized it to fit (this room is still a WIP at the time of writing). Top open-out the pool area, I removed the floor of the second room entirety, and di some minor touch-up / fixing around the iron stairways

I’m not going to bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the transformation; hopefully the images here will explain. Suffice it so say, with the add of a few prims, the removal of a few parts (the bars over some of the windows, the internal doors an upper floor, the replacement of the lower floors (with the aforementioned prims, and some duplication of parts to provide additional detailing + some re-texturing of a room and the addition of some internal lighting, I ended up with something that I think worked out quite well, and which fits with the rest of the garden and which only increase the base build’s LI by 4.

All-in-all the The No Cottage Bizar is a genuinely eye-catching design and well-put-together build, one which makes the L$1,499 price very reasonable. It is evident thought has gone into designing it to be both flexible in use as well as ready-to-use. While the shadow maps are something of a specialised inclusion (the full maps – diffuse, normal and specular – are available with the full permissions version), they do offer the means to provide your own textures for use in the Copy / Modify version, and making the finished look more unique to yourself.

Top: the original “main” rooms of the NO Cottage, and bottom, how things look post pool conversion, complete with the installation of beams to properly support the archway and stairs

More broadly, I hope this piece shows that there are some superb builds available which, with time and imagination, can be made into ideal homes or – with a little application and care for modding, can be made into something personal and unique, be it simply decorating it as a home, to getting ambitious and looking for a way to fit something more unusual – such as a swimming pool!

And, of course, for my part, I now have another unit I might one day convert into a house 🙂 .

The four shots of my lower floor mods put together

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The Trompe Loeil Noa Ranch Cottage In Second Life

The Trompe Oeil Noa Ranch Cottage, as modified by me for Isla Myvatn

So, a week or so ago, I visited Gothbrooke Forest, a charming setting in which is located a copy of the Trompe Loeil Noa Ranch Cottage (see: A wander through Gothbrooke Forest in Second Life). At the time I noted the house was one I could end up purchasing for personal use and – as is my way – modify.

Well? Guess what this post is about (if you hadn’t already from the pretty obvious title…!).

Cory Edo is one of my go-to house designers for a number of reasons; many of her builds are light and airy, her work generally (but admittedly not always) lends itself to a fair degree of modification / kitbashing, and her prices are more than competitive. All of this is certainly true of the Noa Ranch Cottage. Although that said, It is also pretty big for a “cottage”, at least by UK terms…

The original Noa Ranch Cottage and my modified version, inset. Note that I also replaced the deck and base of the house to better suit my needs, and added the deck railings as well as re-textured much of the house

With a 122 LI, a footprint of 37 x 24 metres and priced at L$625 (with a “snow” option available for a separate purchase price of L$100), the Noa is an highly induvial style of home well-suited for modification. It comprises a large main room with large windows to the front aspect and a curved roof which extends out of the front deck. This room is split into two parts, defined by a 3/4 height diving wall running part way across it.

To the front is the living area, complete with a large brick fireplace. A basic kitchen sits in one of the back corners of this room, whilst the space behind the dividing wall alongside of it offers space for a dining area. A narrow hall runs behind the kitchen, between it and the rear wall of the house and serving one of two back doors accessing the rear deck.

To either side of the fireplace are sets of double doors. Those towards the front of the house provide access to a second ground floor room of a fair size. The second pair access a small hallway with three doors: one to the rear deck of the house, one to a further ground-floor room and one back to the second front room. This hall also provides access to the stairs serving a small landing and the single, large upper floor room. On the opposite side of the main room to the two storey section of the house is a further small rectangular room with wooden walls on three sides and a single large front window.

A view of my modified Noa Rach Cottage, showing the opened-out main room (see below) with internal lighting added by myself

It’s a design which offers plenty of opportunities for furnishing “as is”; but for me, the kitbashing opportunities and the two-floor section were just too tempting to ignore.

As I’ve noted in previous write-ups of houses I’ve bought, Isla Myvatn has a “split level” landscape, lowlands to the west, and a raised garden atop cliffs and rocks to the east, with the house offering something of a divide between, generally with the upper floor opening onto the back garden, and the front lower floors facing west.

The upper floor landing provided me with the means to replace a window on the house with a sliding door to provide access from the house to the back garden.

One of the attractions of the Noa is that with its upstairs bedroom and landing (the latter with large windows to the rear aspect), it fit the design well, requiring only the addition of a home-made sliding door to replace one of the the windows, as shown above.

As a fan of large, open spaces in a house, the Noa’s design also allowed me to make some changes to the main room, taking out the the double doors and the wall supporting them to create a bigger space, with a new wall and doll installed to allow me to keep two additional lower floor rooms. With the fireplace relocated slightly, this allowed me to create a new entrance to the door, replacing one of the windows with my home-built sliding door (a further copy of which replaced the original front door at the opposite end of the main room).

A basic floorplan showing the design of the original with the main room and 3 side rooms, and my modified version, with one side room removed and the others revised to create a larger main room and an new entrance hall

After this, all that was left was to replace the back wall and door and blank off the passageway to the second back door behind the kitchen, as neither were required, given the house backs up against the raised garden. Once that was done, I opted to remove the small room off the side of the house the the front door and install a new side wall.

All of the above should indicate the Noa makes an ideal house for modding, and while there are some issues with faces, it can also be re-textured relatively easily, as I hope the images here demonstrate, allowing the house to be further personalised.

Two further views of the interior of the Noa Ranch Cottage from two angles. The house following my modifications, seen from the kitchen, and (inset) the original viewed from the front door

As noted, Cory Edo is one of my go-to house designers, her builds offer imaginative and rich designs, and with the Noa (and the Jura Waterfront Cottage before it, which inspired my own scratch-build for private use), she has provided a superb house for use out-of-the-folder or for kitbashing. It I have any issues with the Noa at all, it is that not all of the walls have individual interior / exterior faces, meaning that some retexturing is limited, and with due respect to Cory, some of her textures are a little rough in places when it comes to my tastes – notable the decking and the outside of the curved roof; both of which were easily fixed.

An overhead view, showing the house and the raised back garden. The deck is not part of the original Noa build, but my own replacement, the the roof areas have been re-textured (with the flat roof replaces to allow texturing on two sides) as has the chimney 

All-in-all, for those looking for a new house and who have the space for it, the Noa Rach Cottage makes for a good purchase.

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Slink et al: Siddean shutters her brands in Second Life

Siddean Munro has been a long-term content creator in Second Life, having joined in 2007 (and as a point of trivia, is one of the few Second Life residents to have to also have an entry in IMDb!). She has perhaps been best known for the Slink mesh bodies, which have been popular among many Second Life users, myself included for that least few years.

As a brand, Slink has always been at the forefront of innovation in Second Life – notably with regards to mesh: in 2011/2 she released her mesh hands and feet – the latter of which, replacing the system feet, did much to ignite the mesh shoe market in Second Life – and the release of the first of her mesh body types, Physique Original, in 2014.

As such, the sudden announcement made on January 1st, 2023 that, with immediate effect, her Slink brand, together with her more recent Cinnamon & Chai body and her One Bad Pixel brand, have been shuttered, and Siddean herself has withdrawn from Second Life.

As a Slink Hourglass user myself – I moved to Slink from Maitreya on account of Slink being somewhat kinder on the viewer when it comes to rendering the body (and allowing for the complexities and quality of attachments and rigged meshes also worn, of course) – I admit to being shaken by the announcement. For those who made the move to Cinnamon and Chai, launched just 12 months ago, the news is likely to be even more of a gut-wrenching lurch.

However, before, anyone starts stamping feet or getting upset at the apparent forewarning (although I could be wrong about the latter), as Siddean offers good reason for why she has made her choice, and there are also a couple of points to bear in mind.

Following two stressful years of pandemic which I am sure we have all been affected by in one way or the other, I suddenly lost my mother in September of 2021, my grandmother in January of 2022 and my cat Cleo in June. I have been unwell and enduring a lot of chronic pain. I have to be very honest, my spark has dimmed a little and I no longer have the energy to pour into this business like I once did.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching over the last 18 months and have come to the very difficult decision that for my own physical and mental wellbeing, I need to move on from Second Life.

– Siddean Monro

In coming to this decision, Siddean also notes that the break is needed as she wants to focus on a new endeavour – as is her right, and we shouldn’t begrudge her this change in direction.

This latter point is doubly true in that while her decision is somewhat sudden in its implementation, it does not mean that it is the end of the road for the Slink ecosystem as a whole; the bodies still work, and there is a wealth of mesh and applier-based clothing still available on the Marketplace and in-world, the bodies still work with Bakes On Mesh, and so on. This isn’t all just going to vanish – so there’s no need for panic.

Of course, there is a risk that a major change with the avatar skeleton will “break” Slink avatars somewhere down the road on the basis that the avatars are no longer maintained – but there is as yet nothing on the horizon that threatens to do this – and it may never happen; as such, things are not going to vanish overnight. There is also a risk that creators entering the mesh clothing arena may opt not to support the brand and focus on Maitreya and Kupra, etc. However, the entire mesh clothing ecosystem has been skewed towards Maitreya, so this will unlikely make things any worse for Slink users. That said, things may be somewhat different for Cinnamon and Chai users, simply because of the newness of that brand; however, I’m simply not familiar enough with that body to know the potential repercussions, so will not speculate here.

As it stands, I don’t plan to move away from my Slink Hourglass any time soon – although I’m fortunate in that I have a Maitreya body “in reserve”, so to speak, so swapping away from Slink isn’t hard for me were I to decide to do so.

But what I will do here is pass on my thanks Siddean for all her work over some fifteen years in supporting Second Life users. I hope her new endeavour brings her as much success and – despite the rigours of the last 2+ years – all the enjoyment most of her Second Life has brought her.

With thanks to Soft Linden for the pointer. 

The InVerse Nizza house in Second Life

My modified InVerse Nizza: re-textured throughout (bar the water of the pool!) at Isla Myvatn

As is my wont, I started getting the itch to fiddle around with another house design at Isla Myvatn. As regulars to these pages know, I tend to shunt my way between house designs roughly every 5-6 months, if for no other reason than the fact I enjoy kitbashing (as well as scratch building).

My recent choices have revolved around matching the house with the “split-level” design on my island home, with its low-lowing front lawns, gardens and boat moorings, and raised back garden and hills, the house sitting between the two with a two-storey front aspect and the upper floor opening on to the garden to the rear.

As a result, my two previous house choices came from Novocaine Islay’s InVerse brand, as they pretty much suited the lay of the land in terms of vertical dimensions and the minimal changes required to the land to get them both to “fit”. And after looking around, I happened to settle upon another InVerse house for this rebuild: the Nizza.

My Nizza house with, (inset) the original – note that I didn’t bother using the gazebo supplied with the house and seen in the foreground of the inset image. Also note the changes to the upper floor left-side room, and general re-texturing.

Featuring a roughly rectangular footprint of some 41.3 m by 13.85 m, including the large overhanging upper floor balconies, the house has a total of 6 rooms: a large living area accessed directly from the front doors, with linked dining area and kitchen opening off to one side with an angled frontage. Above the latter is a bedroom and adjoining bathroom; the bedroom and dining being linked by a spiral staircase. Above the lounge, and separated by a small upper floor hallway, is a smaller room with balcony access. The hall itself provides access to a roof deck and swimming pool via a second spiral stairway.

At L$449, the house represents very good value, including as it does  3 variants: an unfurnished version (with additional plants and lighting) at 118 LI; and two fully furnished versions at 253 LI, one of which has baked shadow textures and the other doesn’t, with all three coming with a gazebo and various plants and basic indoor / outdoor lighting. InVerse furnishing are passable if not outstanding, so for those looking for a “first house” with all the basic trimmings and who have at least 2048 sq m or land, the house represents pretty good value.

The Nizza living room as modified by myself with the fireplace divider and an added window to the side aspect, with the original (inset) showing the supplied finish and furniture and the window to the rear aspect, which I removed as it would effective be “underground” and below the level of my island’s back garden.

That said, InVerse build quality can be a mixed bag; texture choices can be a little off-putting, and this design in particular has some overly-glossy specular maps applied that result is some weird finishes to surfaces under various ambient lighting (e.g. stonework looking like it’s been coated in plastic). This wasn’t an issue for me, as I have a tendency to re-texture things, but if you have a fussy eye, then little niggles like these make taking a look at InVerse homes at their in-world store essential when considering them as a purchase if you are fussy-eyed like me.

A more obvious shortfall with this house for some (myself included) is that it has been designed with an “average” avatar height in mind. My avatar is far from oversized, but I did find that the arches linking several of the rooms were too low, as were the supplied lighting fittings. As such, I found it necessary to re-work the archways to eliminate the visual aspect of the top of my avatar’s head passing through the woodwork when passing “under” them, and to also replace the interior lighting with simple projected lighting.

The rear of the Nizza at Isla Myvatn: note the door to the garden I’ve added (just to the right of the garden statue), and further along the rear of the house, a spiral stairway linking the garden with the rooftop pool and deck.

Fitting the house into the existing Isla Myvatn landscape required a few adjustments to the garden space, but the changes to the house were relatively easy: the replacement of the rear windows and walls with blank walls on the lower floor, the addition of a rear door on the upper floor to access the garden (and which could be handily placed alongside the stairs to the rooftop area).

The interior spaces of the house are such that they offer a lot of internal space that can be used in a variety of ways – the furnished versions, for example, utilise the individual upper floor room as a house office, for example. For my part, I altered the position of the archway between the living room and dining area to create a little more space between it and the front doors to the house, and also added a fireplace room divider to the lounge to break things up a little  and offer a little space for my (inevitable) baby grand and guitar.

A closer view of the rear of the house, showing the added back door serving the raised back garden and the spiral stairs to the pool, compared to the original (inset), showing the “wooden” mid-point I removed to add the new door serving the garden

Overall, the Nizza is a fair design. Perhaps not as polished as either the Tarzana (reviewed here) or Orlando (reviewed here), my two previous InVerse houses in that it does require a little more work by the fussy-eyed (like me!) to adjust the texturing and some of the (minor) issues with the design, but nonetheless a good starter house / unit suitable for kitbashing. Plus, it again seems pretty mealy-mouthed to complain about the house given the price! Even so, and to repeat myself – do be sure to see the house in-world before committing to buy it.

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A further look at the Newbrooke Linden Homes Theme

Newbrooke – Coniston rear view

On Thursday, March 3rd, Linden Lab released the Newbrooke theme of Premium Membership Linden homes, which I’d previously previewed in December 2021, and took another quick look at the release just after it was announced.

As noted in the latter of the above two articles, the preview was very quickly withdrawn for “updates” – although I could (on the surface at least) see what was different between the release versions and those in the preview. Anyway, for only the third time since Bellisseria – the “home continent” for Linden Homes started rolling out, the new designs were enough to encourage me to make the move (I’ve previously held a houseboat – which I personally feel is still the best of the themes when it comes to making something of a unique mini-home in SL, as they offer the broadest opportunities for modding their interiors with additional walls, floors, etc., – and a Stilt Home.

The “good” points about these houses are the fact they are very light and airy – a lot of windows, and a good set of variants in overall style; the mix of houses sized for a 512sq m parcel sitting on a 1024 sq m parcel offers plenty of exterior scope – and some are already starting to take advantage of that. As well as the various house styles, these home come with there own contents pack, which includes a range of furnishings (indoor and out), all very basic and nothing to write home about; together with plants and planets and things like additional wall / fence panels for those who wish to either add a boundary to their land or do something else with them (patio walls, exterior dividers, etc.).

One thing that did strike me as new – although not having held a Chalet theme home and not being a regular on the SL forums, I’ve no idea if this is new to the Newbrooke Theme, or first surfaced with the Chalets – is the updated means of changing the colours of the interior walls directly through the use of RGB codes or the use of a colour picker HUD in addition to the usual selection of colour presets presented by a dialogue box.

The personal colour options for re-tinting the internal wall of the rooms in each house style

As with the pre-sets, the custom colours option works on a per-room basis, and is accessed via the My Colors button in the dialogue displayed by the house controller panel. For those with Linden Homes who have not previously seen this, the image above provides an overview.  The only addition is that when you click the Type <RGB> button, an input dialogue is displayed, requesting the desired RGB values.

Obtaining one of the homes also gave me a light bulb moment as to why these have been referred to as “container homes”. This is because as well as changing the exterior wall colours (as per other Linden Homes I’m familiar with through ownership) you can change the appearance to the finish of some of the wall elements – which I think is new with this release as an option. The three choices are: stucco (default on rezzing), wood, and metal (hence “container”).

I have to admit that while an interesting ability, I found both the wood and metal finishes a little two “bleah” for my tastes; to my eyes the panels of the forms looks to be too big and the materials finish overblown, and the metal just made the place look weird. As with all the exterior options – colour changing for the brickwork, etc., – these three options are available as presets on the house control dialogue menus.

The three exterior finishes (brickwork is also moddable, but not changed in these images): top – stucco; middle – wood; bottom – metal

After having spent the better part of a day trying to find the best “fit” with the Newbrooke styles (all eight of them), I settled on the Coniston, a 1024 sq m design as initially best suiting my needs – although I am also swayed towards the Heaton as well.

With its large central through-room, the Coniston offered me plenty of space for a living area, display cabinets and a fireplace – and one of my grand pianos. Similarly the second through-room provides a good amount of space for a kitchen and dining area. That said I have to admit to finding some of the rooms in most of the designs to being cramped.

The main room of the Newbrooke – admittedly re-floored

Within the Coniston, for the example, the smallest room looks to make an ideal bathroom – except that when it came to furnishing it, I found myself hearing the imaginary voice of an estate agent (realtor) saying, “Now this is the bathroom. As you can see, there’s room for a toilet and either a vanity unit or a bath…”  While I got things fitted, I did find myself wondering if part of the room size “problem” is down to camera positioning, and the difference between the official viewer’s default and the adjusted, over-the-shoulder views most seasoned users employ, and which can result in cameras ending up on the wrong side of walls in small rooms.

Another slight issue for me with these houses is the use of materials – not that I have anything against materials; it’s just that in places, these do seem overly pronounced  – such as the floorboards, the individual planks of which struck my as looking either poorly laid or poorly finished. Of course, this is somewhat including with the “Contain homes” aspect of the theme – but it would have been nice to have something a little more – graceful – as an option. As it is, I opted to lay my own floors, which can be seen in the images here.

The kitchen with a personal flooring and a divider originally created for the Windlass Houseboat

As is to be expected with a new release of Linden Homes, creators are already busy producing add-on kits for the various styles of Newbrooke homes – and doubtless more will be added in time. However, these are house than anyone with a modicum of building capability can have fun playing with.

But enough for now; suffice it to say, the Newbrooke homes do have a lot going for them, and I’ll likely retain mine for a while, and will likely have a play with at least the Heaton style as well!


The InVerse Orlando house in Second Life

The InVerse Orlando House – the (first?) arrival of 2022 at Isla Myvatn

So I ended up back at Novocaine Islay’s InVerse store recently, where I was supposed to be there helping her make decisions about a new house she’d been considering. But, unfortunately for you, whilst paging through one of the rezzers there, I came across a house design that piqued My curiosity. I say “unfortunately for you”, because after carrying out so checks and measuring, I realised it could be a good fit for the home island – and so here you are, wading through another house review 🙂 .

The house in question is the Orlando, modern style of house that has a certain look to it that whilst not “Scandinavian” per se, has a look that is well suited to somewhere like Second Norway. I’m not sure how long Novocaine has had it on the market, but it is currently only available via the InVerse in-world store. The living space is split over two full floors, each split into two rooms, with additional space provides by balconies and terraces, including a covered one to the side of the house that includes a swimming pool sheltered by the extended roof of the house.

The Inverse Orlando (furnished version) straight out of the rezzer

The overall footprint for the building is 26 metres wide by 22 deep, with added “tongue” to the front aspect forming a large step that brings the overall depth of the building out to almost 26 metres. Within this footprint, the interior living space is just under16.4 metres in width and some 18 metres in depth. The ground floor, served by a single front door, presents a lounge area running the full width of the front of the house and some 8.2 metres in depth, with the staircase to the upper floor to one side and large picture windows to both the front aspect and to the pool patio. Behind this sits a kitchen / dining area approximately 12 metres wide and 8 metres deep and with windows overlooking the pool to the side and to the rear aspect.

On the upper floor are two interconnected room, each approx. 8.2 metres square, and both individually served by a landing that runs to one side of them. One of these rooms has a balcony to the front aspect, and both have windows overlooking the covered pool, a large skylight in the roof over the pool allowing ambient light into both. The second room also has windows to the rear aspect, and the upper floor is completed by a side balcony also accessed from a door leading off of the front-to-back landing hallway. The entire default finish of the house is a mix of wooden framing, white brick and grey and white stucco, with a tiled and highly attractive waveform roof.

The default furnishings on the Orlando’s lounge. Note the baked light / shadows from the windows on the flooring

As with many of Novocaine’s houses, two versions are included in the exceptionally modest price of just L$349. One of these is the bare-bones house with controller, and the other comes will furnishings and additional décor. Which you option to use is a matter of choice; the furnishings supplied are acceptable enough for those looking for an out-of-the-box home, although the style is perhaps more towards low LI than the finer aesthetics of design (although this didn’t stop me from using some of the elements from the furnished version!).

The bare bones house tops-out at 83 LI (including lighting and house control system), with the furnishings increasing this by a further 77, in the process offering drapes for most of the windows, plants, a lounge suite of sofa and armchair, a galley kitchen with basic 4-place tabled and chairs, a large bath with bathroom vanity fittings, a double bed with side tables and lamps, a fireplace with scripted fire and various sideboards and with rugs, plants and picture throughout, a basic web TV, with the majority of the fittings complete with animations – including for the kitchen and even in one of the rugs!

I preferred to use mix of the supplied furniture and fittings – sideboard and fireplace in the lounge, for example – with my own furniture. Note also, the re-textured floors to avoid the baked sunlight / shadow effects

Something new to me with this design is the inclusion of an additional control element in the furnished version: a texture changer than allows the user to turn the shadows cast by the furnishings on the floors on and off. This is only practical if you don’t move the supplied furnishings around (or replace them), but it’s a novel idea. A pity it didn’t also extend to the baked sunlight / shadows on the floors as well.

What attracted me to the Orlando lay in the overall build quality, which – with the odd caveat here and there – is pretty darned good – and the fact that, like the Tarzana I picked up in October 2021 and reviewed here, it is ideal for modding and tweaking.  For example, for anyone who has a waterfront home and who may not want the included swimming pool, it and the patio area under the roof can be removed, and, with the addition of a new house base and additional support under the outer wall of the pool space, a small, covered dock can be made. I found it offers sufficient space for a pier and a boat up to the size of my Bandit 460AK cabin cruiser (reviewed here) – and I came close to actually using the house in this configuration on the waterfront of Isla Myvatn.

The floor-to-ceiling height of the Orlando, coupled with the structure’s width meant it almost perfectly fitted the space vacated by the Tarzana, and matched the elevated back garden

However, and (again) as I’ve covered in these pages, I’ve spent a far amount of time building a stepped Zen garden and elevated spots at one end of the home island, integrating them with the upper floor of whichever house I’m using, starting with Fallingwater and then continuing with the InVerse Tarzana house.

On measuring things like floor-to-ceiling space, and overall size, I realised that the Orlando would more-or-less slot right into the space that had been occupied by the Tarzana and aligned with the paths of the elevated garden. All I needed to do were a couple of minor adjustments to the lengths of walls in the garden and add an extension to the garden down one side of the house to replace the pool terrace I put together for the Tarzana. The design of the Orlando also meant it was easy to install an additional door at the back of the house to access the gardens. Such was the fit, the mods and adjustments (with some re-texturing) took less than an hour to complete – so, lucky me!

Another view of the rear of the Orlando, showing the mods I made to the top of the stairs, adding an additional door to access the back gardens

The re-texturing was largely due to me wishing to remove the baked sunlight and shadows from the floors to the front of the house, plus some roughness of some of the wall and ceiling textures. Doing so isn’t essential, it was just a personal choice and down to the niggles I have with things like “sunlight” being baked on surfaces. Use of specularity is also a  little odd in places – such as on the roof – but again, easily fixed by setting it to None on those faces that do look out-of-place.

However, given the price of the unit, dwelling on the negatives is a little churlish – we’re talking the price of a cup of coffee overall! – and the attractiveness of the design is hard to overstate. Those looking for a house that offers cosy living space with some flexibility and a pool with poses, the Orlando could be just the thing.

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