Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blake's Seven Seas

A while ago the Lindens opened a new continent—not Zindra, the brand new Continent of Dildos and Heaving Bazooms (© and ® Lou Netizen, all rights reserved, thank you very much!)—but the formerly brand-new continent of Nautilus. Nautilus was basically intended to be land like any other in the Second Life mainland, in that anyone who could walk, fly, or swim (or buy, rent, or sell land) elsewhere in SL could have a go.

Honest, Officer, I swear the plane was like that when I got here!

However, Nautilus was different from other Second Life mainland in that the Lindens spent some time building the place out before they let residents loose to do their own things. As a result, parts of Nautilus have a Linden-owned theme apparently built around a lost civilization of stoneworking, metallurgically-savvy dolphins…or something. I don't really get it. But there's an old harbor and a funky dolphin lighthouse-temple thing with a secret submarine base, and some sewers/secret passages for dolphins, and other stuff. Nautilus was supposed to be primo virtual real estate without the gaudy garishness of the existing mainland, and maybe have a theme that would appeal to new residents who come from other virtual worlds. I guess. I don't know, I don't really get it.

Anyway, Nautilus's theme and builds were controversial because they put Second Life owners Linden Lab in the content creation business, competing directly with their customers to build sims and places people might want to rent or buy for themselves.

One project related to Nautilus was the Blake Sea, a series of ocean sims that connect the Nautilus continent to the pre-existing Second Life mainland. Unlike other Second Life ocean sims that were either owned by Linden Lab as public spaces or owned by private account holders, the Blake Sea sims represented a partnership between Linden Lab and a private group of residents who (I think) were really into the idea of virtual sailing. Again, this was kinda viewed as a case of one group of residents—in this case, an in-world sailing community—being given preferential treatment by the Lindens to the exclusion of other in-world communities. Hey, Linden Lab—where's the Trivia Continent? Or the Live-Music-that-Doesn't-Die-in-Lag Continent? Why don't the communities I care about get special treatment? You get the idea.

Anyway—there are a million bazillion sims in Second Life—OK, there are probably just tens of thousands—but, not being a sailing person, I didn't give the Blake Sea much thought. However, a friend TP'd me to on of the larger islands in the Blake Sea today (complete with a not-really-hidden underground cavern with Linden-y sword you can use to menace, um, pirates?), and I did some poking around. To my surprise, the Blake Sea isn't a desolate expanse of boring water: it's got a lot of rocks and atolls and birds and a big lighthouse and a pirate-y hideaway and other stuff to keep things interesting…again, all are apparently examples of Linden Lab competing with its own customers to develop virtual real estate and attract people to Second Life. Somewhat to my surprise, people were actually sailing the Blake Sea: probably half a dozen small boats went by as I popped from island to island, and several folks shouted "hello!" (and "ahoy!") as they passed. There was even a steampunky derigible thing floating around for a while.

I'm not a Second Life business owner or land owner, so I don't have much of an immediate stake in the degree to which the Lindens compete with in-world businesses with efforts like Nautilus or the Blake Sea. And I gotta admit, while the Blake Sea builds have some clever pieces and nice corners, they don't have a lot of depth and are...well, they're a little blah compared to many resident builds (like, say, Immersiva or Kowloon or AM Radio's stuff or…). But it's kinda nice to know there are a few picture-postcard-y spots in SL I can take friends or clients for a quick chat or walkaround that are just simple, and where I don't have to worry tremendously about lag, huge crowds, or server load. It's like having my own little atoll…crashed plane and all.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard the mer-types buzzing about the Blake Sea, I guess they go there too -- probably an unintended infiltration (especially when the invaders are the dark and weird mer of the Armada variety and not the sunny Barbie mermaids you find elsewhere on the grid), but they have made use of the place for pics.

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