Monday, September 27, 2010

The Rotterdam Virtual Market

I love finding new things in SL, and today I found a virtual flea market at Rotterdam Virtual (43, 130, 21). Every Thursday vendors show up early to claim a stall for the day. At Rotterdam Virtual Market there is a smorgasbord of items, and you never know what you will find. I saw vintage clothes, flowers, make-up for nails and eyes—a little bit of everything. Like the markets we have here, there are bargains to be found. The vendors get their stalls for free on Thursday, and most have passed the savings on to us.

The first stall I came to sold stereo speakers and chairs. An odd combo perhaps, but this is flea marketing at its best. In another stall, Jos Joszpe offered "Tree of Life Readings” and Personality Analysis. Readings are done by appointment, and also for donations rather than a set price. It looked interesting so I tucked his notecard away to check out later.

At the far end of a row I met resident Sirena Penucca, who makes and sells lovely “Earth Inspired Jewelry”. On this Thursday she had come to the market at 3 AM SL time in order to get a stall—and she got the last one! She explained that the sim is Dutch, and that 3 AM SL time translates into noon RL time in Holland. She also told me that the Market had music earlier, but it had ended by the time I arrived.

Sirena started making jewelry in SL in January of this year. This summer she was able to increase her work when she found more time to spend in-world. She also makes jewelry in RL, too. In SL, however, she is able to make more complex designs because she is not limited by working with silver. Here her imagination rules. One of her specialties involves messages enclosed in a bottle, heart, diamond, or other shape and worn as a necklace. The person who buys the necklace can personalize it by writing a note, inserting the note into the shape, and giving it to their loved one or special friend. Only the person who receives the gift can open it. Messages can also be passed back and forth between these two special people. The necklace comes in versions for either men or women.

If you can’t make it to the market on Thursdays, or if Sirena missed out on a stall that day, you can visit her shop, Elemental Earth Designs. She has two locations: Elemental Earth Designs @ Australia Rocks and Elemental Earth Designs @ Galleria Of Glam.

The Rotterdam sim is owned by Sas Offcourse, and has a large mall as well as other things to see and do. When I visited in the mid-afternoon SL time, there weren’t many residents around. But if you find yourself up in the middle of the US night, Virtual Rotterdam could be hopping. I saw a dance floor and lots of clubs and restaurants for residents to enjoy.

Grey Lupindo

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium

Longtime residents of Los Angeles California, and fans of the movie Xanadu, are probably familiar with the Pan-Pacific Auditorium. This landmark structure with it’s futuristic design has seen some incarnations in Second Life as Xanadu-style clubs. Recently, a replica of the iconic building was constructed on the Grid, at the appropriately named Pan-Pacific Island.

Second Life’s Pan-Pacific Auditorium is a massive build, the building and the grounds just around it taking up the width of the sim. Those walking up to the building will walk find decorative fountains in the front walkway, mixed with palm trees. The building’s four iconic towers, considered one of the best designs of “Streamline Moderne” architecture, stand prominently above the entrance. A notecard states the green and white facade was built to resemble sweeping aircraft fins. Four flags fly high above the building. Two searchlights pan around, particularly visible at night.

The building is just as well designed on the inside, with much attention to detail. Passing the lobby, one finds themselves in a huge interior space. Around the interior are 1950’s style advertisements, from automobiles to Elvis Presley concerts. There are also some cars of the era on display. One corner has a tribute to the real-life structure with some photographs of the building. on the west end, stairs lead up to a diner, where one can order a drink from the (bot) waiter on duty.

On the east end of the auditorium are where events are held. Both times when I came by on weekends, the place was packed, once with 49 avatars. At one end of the open space for dancing is a DJ booth with equipment. At the end of the building is an impressive, wide stage that between parties displays pictures of the real Pan-Pacific building.

While there once, I ran into one of the co-owners, Amxscott Hammill, “It is based on the actual footprint of the real-life building, which was huge. The web master of the Pan-Pacific Playground web site helped me a lot. ... I have always liked the building, and had actually recreated it in a now closed world called It closed before i got to open it. (laughter) ... A lot of my friends have come here since There closed.”

Amxscott told me the auditorium took close to a month to build, “Decosta Builders built the structures based on my photos and pesky input. I decorated the interiors. I think I drove Razor and Lusti crazy with all my changes along the way. ... things like can the towers be more rounded? ... Being new to Second Life, I had no idea what was possible. ... The right colors and textures on the walls, just a lot of little things that I saw in my mind trying to translate it to them. Everyday I see something else cool I want to try. I was just talking to the lighting system designer about the house lighting controls. We were swapping out the boards and moving things around.”

Amxscott was more than happy to have live music at the club, “It is very cool to have these acts in my building and to see people enjoining them and learning a bit about the building, live music as well as changing exhibits in the rest of the hall over time.” Amxscott told me in the future, he may host art shows, “the real-life building was used for just about anything so I hope to do that here. This is large enough to display just about anything. ... my building manager JME Couturier is busy booking acts for the next month now. I did not know how to go about the booking so she is running that part of this venue and I am learning a lot.”

Besides the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, there is an apartment building to the southeast built in the style and colors of the famous building, the tower stretching into the clouds. The interior is still under construction. The remainder of the sim is wilderness, trees, river, and a small mountain.

The real Pan-Pacific Auditorium opened in 1935, and for more than 30 years hosted a variety of events from sports, to car shows, to political rallies, to live music, and more as Los Angeles' primary indoor venue. It was closed following the opening of a larger convention building in 1972. The building was occasionally given some public attention, such as it being included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and when it was shown as an abandoned building made into a disco club in the 1980 movie Xanadu. But it was left to deteriorate until it was destroyed in a huge fire just six days following it’s 54th anniversary, the smoke visible for miles. The location is now Pan-Pacific Park.

To get to the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, go to the Pan Pacific Island sim at (126, 107, 23).

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Second Life Jalisco, Mexico

Nothing says Mexico like Tequila and Mariachi music, and the home of both is the Mexican state of Jalisco. Located at Opera Joven (133/17/21), SL Jalisco captures the sights and sounds of this RL Mexican city so realistically that you might find yourself trying to exchange Lindens for pesos.

As soon as you arrive, be sure to turn on your music. Mariachi, as well as other Latino music, adds to the festive mood. Next, hop on the Tequila Express train. It will take you to all the best spots and type fun, informative facts about each site in the chat. It will even stop and wait if you want to sightsee or snap a few photos.

The first scheduled stop is Chapala Lake, the largest lake in Mexico. Next the train travels through the Blue Agave fields. The world-famous agaves are both beautiful and useful. Tequila is made from this type of agave.

In the town itself, there is an opera house where concerts and other events are held. Next to that is a colorful market. When I was there, I found a sale on Charro and other Mexican outfits, as well as free t-shirts. There were colorful Talavera dishes and pots, hammocks, textiles, and furniture to give your own casa or beach a Mexican flavor. You can even buy a piñata here.

Near the market is a Mexican restaurant where you can pick up tacos and other goodies. In the restaurant and outside are plenty of chairs for you and your friends to sit and relax. Complimentary tequila shots are available, too. Be sure to take a few minutes to visit the Museum of Jaliso, which is located above the restaurant. The museum is small, but packed with interesting displays about the history and culture of Jalisco. All of the information is in English, too. Other important sites, such as the Basilica of Zapopan and the Colima volcano are represented here, too.

The RL Jalisco is centrally located in Mexico and bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Naturally there is a beach in SL Jalisco, too, that you can reach by train. Don’t forget your sunscreen and beach towel.

Grey Lupindo

Monday, September 6, 2010

The WW2 Combat Roleplay

One of my friends recently invited me to a place and group in Second Life aimed at those with an interest in history and combat gaming, the World War Two Roleplay aka WW2 RP. With several groups participating, the 400th member having recently signed up, it is an active RP with scheduled exercises and impromptu battles with sudden invasions marked by calls for help and reinforcements rushing in. Players fight using tanks, planes, ships, and of course rifles and guns.

Players interested should head to “The Channel” sim at (120, 20, 3479), where they should appear at a sky platform high in the air. Players can find information to read up on the two sides, Axis and Allied, as well as find an American and a German uniform available for free, each with a couple weapons, bazooka, M1 Garand rifle, and BAR for the Allies, and an MP 40 submachine gun, Mauser rifle, and Panzershreck for the Germans. The uniforms also come with a tag, which is to be worm in combat.

A notecard states the administrators prefer you contact one of them. Once a player choses a side, there are teleports down to the three sim battlefield below: The Channel for the Allies, and New Bastogne for the Germans.

There are a few rules for players. Among them, only weapons compatible with the VICE combat system can be used, except on certain days in which an alternative system is agreed on (more on that later). Players are also obligated to use the respawn balls (click and select respawn). Hospitals are considered safe zones, and shooting/ bombing there is prohibited. Harassment (aside from getting shot at by the opposition) and drama are also prohibited, as are discussions about politics. For the Germans, displays of the Nazi flag and plainly visible swastikas are “verboten.”

The landscape between the German and Allied starting areas have a number of flagposts. A soldier going up to one can trigger his side’s flag going up if it isn’t already, a white star on a green field for the Allied and a black cross on a red field for the Germans. While this “capture the flag” gives some idea what areas are held by who, the real objective is to clear the area of the opposition.

Besides the weapons given to beginning players, players can purchase VICE weapons for fighting, if they are of the WW2 time period, such as light machine guns. If a tank is brought onto the field, it must be used by at least two people.

Besides the main WW2 RP group, players can also commit themselves to a side and join one of the military groups. In my case, I was invited to the game area by a friend in the Luftwaffe group: JG 2 aka the Richthofen wing. The main German group is the Armee Heer Wehrmacht. I was sent an invite to join up with them before I tried applying to anyone after the main WW2RP group, which was a surprise to both my friend and a couple officers I talked to later. Those joining the group are given some extra equipment, but are expected to be respectful and listen to officers and NCOs.

I requested to join my freind's group, JG 2. Those wanting to join the Richthofens need to have had some experience in SL flying aircraft. You'll also be asked to attend a lesson on air combat tactics. For those getting in, there’s an Me109 fighter on the ground they can sit in and a temporary plane will rezz. It will vanish when shot down or the player lands. After a while, the pilot will get their own Me109 fighters, one with light machine guns, one with heavy. Heavy machine guns overheat faster, but do more damage. One experienced pilot preferred the heavy guns for the psychological edge, “If he sees you have heavy machine guns, he realizes he can be shot down in just a few hits and may panic.”

Besides their usual three sim region, the Richthofens sometimes spar with the Flying Tiger group. The Tigers are in a place with the following sims: WW2 Pacific, WW2 Battlefield, WW2 Battlefield, WW2 Green Hell. The group meets up at a Japanese carrier in the area, the Shinano, and flies off from there. The JG 2 group also meets up there on occasion for practice flights and training.

For players whom prefer furry avatars, different RP combat groups have different policies citing “historical realism.” On the German side for example, the Waffen SS won’t take them. The Wehrmacht will take furs, but has a policy of not promoting them to higher rank. And the Richthofens don’t care if you have pointed ears and a tail or not (which brings new meaning to the term “flying fox”). Naturally this steers these players to such groups, such as one lady whom became a bomber ace.

It’s notable that the German groups have a variety of player nationalities, French, Portuguese, American, etc, but I have yet to see a German speaking player there (funny to see someone in a Wehrmacht uniform swearing in French).

On weekends, the rules in the air get bent a little with “Freaky Friday.” Aircraft from any era can now be flown in the sim, or even space fighters. Lately on Fridays and weekends, there have been some drills and battles with the new “Blitz” combat systems, which allows for medics to heal wounded players. So far, it is available only to ground units. There are also non-combat events, such as a fencing championship held by the Germans.

As for how the two sides get along, roughly about as well as two opposing sides on a sports match. There’s a small amount of “trash talk,” but not much. And although players look for a slight edge, there is a strong sense of staying within the rules. I’ve even seen a small amount of funning around, an opposing officer RPing being drunk and taken prisoner.

A first class RP that both history and combat buffs will enjoy.

The rules and basic equipment can be found at The Channel (120, 20, 3479). The administrators are: Bradyn Halcali, Albrecht Firanelli, Sephiroth Reiner, Jerrod Mai, Duarte Koray, Neckrr Swords,Hideaki Komachi, Michale Dumont, Centric Koskinen, Reinhard Hiereichter, Octavian Drezetan, and Striker Arabello.

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UPDATE: The JG 2 group just today came out with their own webpage: Jagdgeschwader 2. This includes some of the history of the WW2 RP.

Bixyl Shuftan