Thursday, May 14, 2009

Plays to Place

Lately real life has been keeping me plenty occupied, so my time in Second Life has mostly been spent relaxing: playing trivia games, going to concerts, and generally not going anything productive. But I've still done a few things (and taken a few screenshots) that I thought I'd pass along.

Second Life's basic object and texture capabilities are pretty limited, but builders and creators still manage to put things together in interesting ways. Arguably the best water effect in Second Life is the Linden's own water, available to parcel owners (I think) in every sim if they lower their land far enough. With the right client settings, it has reflects and ripples an motion and does a passable job of imitating standing water. It doesn't react to objects moving through it (so no wakes) and doesn't lap against shores or anything. But it can look pretty good if your computer can display it properly.

But if you want to build a fountain, a pool, a waterfall, or something like that, you can't use Linden water: you have to use standard prims and textures and try to fake your way through it. And if you want weather—SL has limited wind, but no precipitation—you really have to work. So I like to keep an eye open for nice efforts at water and other environmental oddities.

So I'd heard that a spot called Nah had some nice atmospherics and rain effects in a skybox/store area, I had to go check it out. Although Nah is not large, it's a nifty, evocative, atmospheric build.

Portrait of the artist as a slightly damp avatar.

I also had to go check out a build called Templum ex Obscurum—and I think it qualifies as the darkest, swampiest place I've seen in Second Life. I need to go explore it more, but I have the sense it's more of an environment than a theme—and by Second Life standards, you can practically feel the water oozing down the rocks.

Lou swears she saw something moving in that pool.

Lollygaggers represents a different sort of environment entirely…it's a heap. Literally, in places. Unlike many nifty builds, Lollygaggers is on the SL mainland—and seems to have some issues with its neighbors because they mostly have giant scrims up to attempt to blog Lollygagger Lane from view. Why? Because it's a dump. Livestock roams the streets, a fetid ditch by the side of the road is filled with stagnant water, rot, and…you don't want to know. The buildings—if they are buildings—are dilapidated lean-tos and shacks. Litter fills the street along with discarded furniture and junk. And…unlike almost anywhere else in Second Life, dust and litter literally blows down the street:

Foreground, a newspaper blows down Lollygagger Lane. Background, Lou considers breaking into a furniture joint.

On an entirely separate note, I couldn't bear having the only picture of Buccaneer Bowl ringmaster Lillian Shippe in my blog be the one where she's all distorted and a million feet tall. I was recently invited to an event in the steampunk sim Armada Breakaway where I managed to get a picture of Lillian in her everyday glory, along with Rach Borkotron and Lette Ponnier.

It's like Lillian knew I was behind her angling for a screenshot.

We were all there to watch our buddy Mako Kungfu take part in a synchronized swimming exhibition—as a merman! I don't know much about Armada Breakaway, but it's apparently modeled after the steampunk novels of China MiĆ©ville…and merman, half-mechanical folks, and floating wooden cities apparently figure into it. I haven't explored the sim fully yet, but it's a gorgeous build, and while it is a role-playing environment, everyone has been very welcoming.

Mako (purple merman on the right!) and troupe put on a show.

And as for what's been taking up all my Second Life time otherwise…I hope to have an update on that real soon. Stay tuned!


  1. Heh, thanks for showcasing my extremely rare and undoubtedly ridiculous stumble into mer-ness and synchronized swimming, Lou. (cringes slightly, then tries to suck it up because it all was for charity). Ah well, what am I here for if not to provide some entertainment.

    Meanwhile, have never been to Nah -- looking forward to checking that out!

  2. I have also been to Templum obscurum, and left the results of my excursion in my flickr stream. I found it to be a singularly beautiful but rather depressing place. As much as I wanted to stay there and take photos, I found myself overwhelmed by sadness when I was there, and had to leave. I think that when a sim has such a visceral effect on me, the creator has achieved something truly magnificent, even if it is difficult to put one's finger on it.

    And thanks for the beautiful image where I'm not suffering from SLG (Second Life Giraffism)...


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