30 December 2011

Xen Closing

Quite a few Second Life businesses have announced their closings recently, and a couple times I somehow missed them, along with the last chance to pick up some of their items. So today when Xenius Revere sent out a note that XEN is shutting its doors I thought I'd post a note. In addition to the lovely sculpted items for sale this is a cool sim to visit—a nice place for photos—so stop by to see it before January 5th even if you're just playing tourist. There are a few free 'thank you' gifts available at the landing point, and lots of lovely sculpted items—ranging from a fairy-tale-like prefab house to cyber club spaces to steampunk goggles to a florescent aquarium—still for sale.

14 December 2011


Milvus is crazy, as if a hurricane has swept through it, leaving a bewildering array of things swirled about in its wake. And I mean that in a great way—creators Mandarine Scofield and Koad Sewell, who have built this place bit by bit, sometimes together and sometimes apart, provide one of the most dazzling sites in Second Life. "Rien n'est pas veritablement organizé," quipped Koan. How they've created this on a homestead sim is beyond me—there are only 3,079 prims here as I write, but you'd swear there were many more. And Mandarine tells me they built the entire place in just 10 days!

The sim is so packed with material that I struggled to figure out how to even shoot photographs (click to zoom in). As you explore, be sure to visit the interior of the globe, where there's a delightful spot to dance. Everywhere you turn there are richly textured sculpted objects, so much so that it's easy to lose your orientation. (Oh, and there's a tip jar, so please lend Mandarine and Koad a hand!)

06 December 2011


Recently on Flickr, where I post a lot of Second Life images, I was thumbing through some by other people (there's a huge SL community there), and a photo by Ella Avro of a sim called Venexia happened to catch my eye.

I love great city builds. (I miss some old ones—I was really saddened that Virtual Krakow left, because it was remarkably true to the old town square.) So off I went to Venexia...and...wow. This is a masterpiece. This is the sort of place to which I'd drag any new Second Life resident.

I'm not into vampires at all, and this is a vampire roleplaying sim, but visitors are warmly welcomed. You can pick up a visitor tag (good for three days, and you can get more of them) at the entrance. The roleplay here is complex, based on interaction between gangs—there are a bazillion notecards you can pick up as you arrive—and the sim apparently has its own economy and currency.

Venexia, which opened on November 7th, is the creation of Baal Zobel and Kora Zenovka, who also created Kingdom of Sand, Golgothica and Nomos. Baal states in a note, "Venexia is gothic interpretation of Venice, a specific time period is not given. It is no earlier than middle ages, the times of the great plagues, and no later than pre industrial Victoria...This is a grey Gothic rather ugly interpretation of Venice. It is not supposed to look like Venice in the bright Italian sun light, where even the dirt and decay can look beautiful. It's more like Venice on a cold misty morning in winter, so bring a coat. At the very least we hope it is an original setting for role play. Leaving behind the standard dark city or fantasy castle set that is repeated over and over in SL."

I can't imagine attempting to building anything this complex (well, then again yours truly isn't exactly a builder). Baal says, "This was a killer, and I must admit to almost giving up many times, even nearing completion. This is possibly the last big project we will do before Mesh crashes in and changes the way in which big builds are done. This is rather regrettable as I actually came to SL to get away from that detached building style, where all the work is done off line in a dead cold 3D editor."

To get around, you walk by foot or teleport to one of several locations using the gondolas that are sprinkled about. The detail and complexity of Venexia is astonishing. I was so in awe of the place as I walked around and explored that I suddenly realized that I hadn't even entered any buildings. They're every bit as lovely and carefully executed on the interior. Above is a shot of an inn called The Slaughtered Lamb, and below is a large mansion library. (Click on images to zoom in.) If you want to get to the top of St. Mark's Campanile, the huge bell tower, there's a door on the first floor you can click to get a teleport up.

The music here is refreshingly appropriate too: Telemann, Mozart, Vivaldi...a nice mix of Baroque and Classical repertoire. And windlight settings—well, the creators suggest ShadowSet, but for photos the ones I found were most fun were [TOR] Sunrise - Farmatronic sepia, [TOR] Sunrise - Frenlite, AnaLu - Outdoor City, and, well, lots of others—experiment. :)

No wonder the Lab is promoting vampires. As always, please tip if you can—there are places here and there for contributions.

01 December 2011

Old Second Life: Governor Linden's Mansion

A long, long, long time ago, before there was Second Life, there was a place called Linden World. And one of the residents of Linden World, one Steller Sunshine—who later became the first resident of Second Life back on March 13, 2002—built a remarkable house, or at least remarkable for the time. Linden World, as it was known, was the alpha for what later became Second Life, you see. And this house was one of the very few things ported over from Linden World to Second Life. So, if you want to get a glimpse of that era, there's no better option. A gift from Steller to the Lindens, it's known as Governor Linden's Mansion, located in the old sim of Clementina. (I actually remember being at demonstrations here!)

If you saw someone building a house like this now, in 2011, you'd probably laugh and say, "Go learn to work with textures!" But back then, this was the most cutting-edge work you could imagine. Over the years, many things have been lost from the mansion, and some restored. There's something of a museum in the basement, complete with a bunch of archival photos, a copy of a 2003 time capsule and some other goodies. On the upper floors you'll find a kitchen, a living room, a game room, an outdoor pool, and so on. On the one hand, there's not much to do here, but on the other hand it's a remarkable place to reflect on how far virtual worlds have come in ten years, and to appreciate the great debt we owe to people like the early Lindens, Steller Sunshine and the many other early residents who paved the way. Plus, it's nostalgic as hell.