Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Halloween Haunts on the Grid

There is just so much Halloween fun going on the Grid, there just isn’t enough time to see it all, let alone write on it.

Although haunts are fun to see alone, sometimes the best trips are taken with friends. And one my friend Jasmine Dawn found out about and invited me (and blogger Treminari Huet) to see was “The Art Door Nightmares, at Rendervisions Isle. Near the entrance is a HUD, which the main effect was to distort your vision to make the place spookier, but was probably also needed to hear messages and get prizes.

"Nightmares" was not simply hallways and rooms, but a series of closed rooms accessible by a portal one had to find, which was not always easy. One room had dozens of doors, all alike. Another was an abandoned sanatorium one had to navigate blocked passages and holes in the walls. while looking for the portal door out, there were also a few prizes to find, including a spooky typing animation that went well with my friend’s zombie avatar.The final scene was a graveyard with the names of some of the last people to go through the haunt. The exit led back to the beginning. "Art Door Nightmares" is at Rendervisions Isle (180, 75, 601)

One haunt I kept hearing about was “The Flesh Game.” Taking place in the Pulse sim, one enters the set of a reality TV show, but things are not quite right. To play this interactive horror game, one needs a HUD. If you’re having trouble with attachments due to SL bugs, like I did when I had a chance to see it, the game is incomplete.But for those able to play it, there are chances to get prizes. Several people I talked too had good things to say about this particularly scary game. Plus there was also a thread in the Linden blog about it, with a machinina trailer and several positive reviews by residents.

“The Flesh Game” has a resume of builders behind it, “Developed by the Pulse/Snatch City/Nomine Team,” with the story & plot by Toxic Candy Games (Formerly Vixen Games).To play, go to Pulse (215, 55, 29)

Another haunt I heard of was the Mulberry Horror. It’s not a new place, but was around last year, Sam Nightfire calling it a truly scary fright. It’s back again, “just as dark and gory.” But there are some changes to the “series of bloodcurdling, horrific sites that are so terrifying, you wish you brought a flashlight.” The place has it's own website as well, describing the haunted orphanage with the spirits of "unwanted" children, the abandoned penitentiary with it's ghosts of the most twisted and deranged of inmates, and other places. To visit, head to Club Holland (10, 182, 31).

A fairly new haunt I heard about the weekend is the Rackingham State Hospital. “Circa 1852, Theodore Racking opened the Rackingham State Hospital as a beacon of hope for families who had to deal with a mental illness in their family. In the early 1900's, the Racking family, latching on the trend of the times, promoted the hospital as a "restful retreat." It is now 2011 and the abandoned Rackingham State Hospital is far from restful.” Rackingham is at Somnolenta Sea (90, 134, 28).

For more haunts, check out the Destination Guide on the for more. You can also check the Linden Blog for “The Best in Second Life Halloween.”

Happy Halloween everyone,

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Sites and other Dark Sims

Only on Second Life can you pick your level of Halloween fun. Rez on a costume and brave the SL traffic. Visit a haunted house, go on a scary ride or explore a sim with a few twists, turns and screams around every corner. Or choose something simply because of the detailed setting. Here's a few to consider:

Octoberville 2011
PixelTrix (24, 200, 27)

At the helm of this creative sim is Master Kaos and his partners at PixelTrix. When Kaos was learning to build, he was interested in creating a fall forest with a campfire. The memories of his childhood in a small farm town in Kentucky surfaced seven years ago. Once a year, his friends recreate Octoberville. They want to incorporate into the build the fall experience.

"I set out to create an atmosphere for people to enjoy and feel a bond with," explained Kaos in a recent interview on the sim Octoberville. "Not everyone gets the chance to see beautiful fall foliage or go trick or treating."

Kaos stated that Octoberville isn't just a fall photo opportunity. It's also an interactive mystery game that is realized through a scavenger hunt type of gameplay. Cherub Spectre and Nathan Oddfellow are his partners in pixeltrix and they do the programming, scripting, website and some building and design. Kaos is the designer, artist and DJ at the night club.

"This is a private sim that we have our main business on and open up every year as Octoberville, free to everyone in SL," he said.
"We have created helpful business solutions and other useful products for SL residents to purchase. Such things as calendars, bulletin boards, mailboxes, furniture that you can store your inventory, clothing, etc. in."

As for the major attractions of the sim, that would be a custom haunted house, which features numerous clues to the story of Octoberville and the mad Professor Dalton and his family. The place to hang out and party there is called the "Crowbar." Check out Rashburn's trailer, the Witch hut in the swamp, the farm house and hop on the tractor driven by a ghost.

"Yes, Octoberville is shrouded in mystery! The Dalton family moved in and the crazed professor has tortured and murdered the people of the quiet farm town to fulfill his desires to bring his parents back to life," said Kaos.

Check out the wall of fame at the entrance where visitors finish the game/hunt and their names go up in the order they finish. They also gain new ranks/achievements each year for finishing.

Another friend of his assisting in writing stories for Octoberville is Wordsworth Scribe. Kaos stated that Octoberville is a labor of love and he wishes to thank his fans who have been amazing over the years.

Alice in Wonderland Dark Ride
Black Pearl Beach, (103, 186, 23)

Rez the gondolla and click the club to start the ride. You travel through a bottle, then a kitchen that seems warped, through a waterfall and past various Alice in Wonderland scenes. A lot of creativity and it moves throughout the building, but at times is difficult to see. Falling down you go to another level of darkness, huge cards, colorful and creative. But I wish I could have seen more.

Hell House - Haunted House
(Adult) Bad Romance (10, 243, 21)

From the creators:
This dark and dreaded place is not called Hell House for nothing. It is, indeed, a very disturbing and twisted "Palace of Perversions" filled with nightmarish and sometimes sexually explicit imagery. So if you are likely to be offended by such an environment, please don't subject yourself to the many sensual and not-so-sensual sights and numerous frightful occurrences which abound within the walls of Hell House. This experience is NOT for the faint of heart and is very much FOR ADULTS ONLY.

You have been WARNED.

Now, having gotten that out of the way...

Welcome to the infamous Belasco House in Maine's fog-shrouded Matawaskie Valley.

Built in 1919 by the illegitimate multi-millionaire son of an American munitions manufacturer -- the notorious Emeric Belasco, known as "The Roaring Giant" -- this ornate, five-story New England mansion has come to be better known as "Hell House" because of the private hell which Belasco deliberately created there in the years following its construction.

Hell House is an immersive, fully interactive, 3D experience, so be sure to take your time as you explore its many rooms and myriad terrors. There are many small clues in drawers, on table-tops, and in cabinets, so be sure to "zoom in" on small objects and Click on anything you can if you want to find out more about Belasco and his horrific legacy. And allow plenty of time. Keep in mind -- to see ALL that Hell House has to offer will take between 2 to 3 HOURS, so you may need to make more than one visit to experience each of the myriad apparitions and numerous paranormal events.

Also, for best effect, set your world to Midnight and make sure your Sounds are enabled.

Halloween at Old Europe Village
Old Europe (8, 206, 22)

Love the very detailed old world setting. Take the bat tour set up by the owners and creators of this sim: Up4 Dawes and Rux Anatra. Built in 2008, it changes with the seasons. Sites include the gypsy camps in the forest, where numerous events have been held. There's a park and ponds, Gemma Melunes Halloween parcel, a haunted house, houses to rent and the village square with a ferris wheel and a cargo ride.

Netera Landar

Monday, October 17, 2011

Luskwood Turns Eight

From Friday October 14th, to Sunday October 16th, Luskwood, one of the oldest communities in Second Life, celebrated it’s eighth anniversary. At the Lusk Tree and nearby Perry Amphitheater, the residents celebrated with music events, and a couple gifts.

At eight years old, Luskwood is the oldest "Furry" community in Second Life, and among the oldest across Second Life reguardless of genere. Besides being the location of a social area that always seem to have at least a few people over even in odd hours, it's also the location of the first company of avatar makers, Luskwood Creatures. Because of it's longevity and strictly enforced rules against lewd behavior, Luskwood is often the first place in Second Life science fiction and fantasy fans head to after being told about it by friends. Due to it's close proximity to a newcomer entry area, it's also the unintentional first social area of many others as well. Although a few newcomers are a bit intimidated by the residents' non human appearances, all are welcomed except griefers.

Luskwood's celebrations began with what was likely their most noted event, an hour of the musical duo Jaycatt Nico and Frogg Marlowe, better known as “Jaycatt and Frogg” or just “F & J, “ playing on the stage near the big tree at 7PM SL time. From the stage, they played several songs, Jaycatt on the piano and Frogg on the guitar. From the seats, both their mostly human-looking regular crowd and the furred Luskwood locals cheered them on. Afterwards, they talked a little with the audience, Jaycatt jumping down from the stage. Founder Michi Lumin had a little something for him: a “LW8B” (Luskwood 8th Birthday) baseball hat and T-shirt.

Jaycatt Nico: Okies, love the hat. (smile)

Michi Lumin: We'll likely have stuff on and off all weekend, most of it tomorrow, but thanks as usual F & J. for. doing this for so long. (smile)

Jaycatt Nico: It's been a pleasure.

Reignick Deakins: Glad to hear you every time.

Ranlei Random (ranlei.jewell): F&J are part of what makes Luskwood family.

Maurice (maurice.mistwallow): Frogg and Jaycatt should make a sing along blog.

Jaycatt Nico: We love playing here, it's kind of an honor for me. Hehe. ... I normally don't look good in a hat, but this one does better than expected.

Ranlei Random (ranlei.jewell): It's a cool cat hat, so it looks cool on a cat.

Michi Lumin: We kinda made it at the last minute, (grin) people wanted something to wear, heh.

Following Jaycatt and Frogg, Burr Lehane DJed for a time at the Big Tree. On Saturday, live singer Keeba Tammas performed at the auditorium at Noon SL time followed by guitarist Shannon Oherlihy at 1PM. at 3PM, it was constant DJ music by local residents, such as Luskwood member Chippingham Millions. There would be one more music event on Sunday.

In the past, anniversary events at Luskwood would sometimes remain crowded to very late at night. Although late, the Friday and Saturday celebrations did not quite go as late as some. This was anticipated by founder Michi, “This year's birthday probably wont be as eye-exploding as the other years just because, well ... when we hit 10 years, *that'll* be a big one. (grin)”

Luskwood got some praise at the event, a Ranlei Jewell sayin, “I love Luskwood and everything about it. I rarely feel welcome in any one spot for long. So Luskwood’s a haven.” Michi responded, “We do appreciate it guys. We know Second Life is big and, people come through, come and go and stuff, I just hope we have helped some around the grid. And we'll keep doing this as long as we can. ... I think Second Life is growing again a bit; maybe not in population but I think the communities that are here are becoming more solid and meaningful. ... It goes in circles, communities are organisms, they consist of people, people come and go, it takes time for new people find their place in community, so it ‘breathes.’ ... Body count isn't everything though. And, time and place for different things. Sometimes folks are in the mood for head pounding action, sometimes not.” DJ Burr joked, “Sometimes they’re just in the mood for ... (pause) nevermind. (grin)” Ranlei added, “Fads come and fads go. Clubs grow and fade. But communities thrive.”

With the anniversary celebrations over, things at the Big Tree return more or less to normal, as a social area that can be a little quiet, but one is sure to find at least a small group even at odd hours.

“Even if you've got another place that's your home now, you’re always welcome to come back.” - Michi

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ZZ Studios Opens Sim-Wide Venue: “The Hideout”

On Friday, September 30th, The adult media company ZZ Studios officially opened their new place: “The Hideout.” The region consists of an entire sim of a coastal urban environment. The grid map shows the name Static Nightclub.

“The Hideout” is really the nicknames of the nightclub there, the sim also being called “ZZ Studios Zin City.” But it has a number of locations. Next to the landmark I was given at Static Nightclub (113, 119, 25). to the north was a zombie maze. To the west of that was a "Strip Mall" with some goods for sale, none at the time I visited were adults-only items. Next to that was the movie theater. Further west of that at the edge was the nude beach, with a fishing pier to the southwest. to the east was a city park full of trees, with a number of cuddle spots here and there.

Around the north, south, and west edges are urban buildings, with both cuddle spots and secret hideaways where couples can do more than just cuddle. On the south was one noticeably tall building, the new Club Stripes, where one could dance to music, or watch the poledancers. The tallest of the buildings is the ZZ Studios office building at Static Nightclub (224, 92, 25). It was there ZZ Studios owner Cindy Babii invited me over to talk.

Cindy commented she couldn’t help but notice the new office building was larger than the entire grounds of her company’s first location in Second Life. She told me that she had been offered the sim about a month before. Since then, she had been busy setting up the place, “working on a 17 hour day,” with help from her team, “Kehf, Rhin, Kris and Kaebora, couldn’t of done it without them.”

There were a few pranks going on, “You missed the battle I had with a tank from my rooftop.” Cindy told me about a German WW2 tank that was rezzed, and began moving about creating mischief, “tank drove up to my front door.” She then whipped out a huge anti-tank gun shown in the interview from months earlier, “he drove to the beach trying to get a shot on me after I bounced his tank all over the place.” The huge gun was never used after that, “just me snipping people with my nerf gun.”

Although Cindy was willing to play around with the tank driver, one thing she takes seriously is the issue of photography. No photographs of avatars within Studio grounds are permitted without the permission of the subject (or by Cindy). The penalty is being banned from sim grounds.

Cindy also brought up the zombie maze. I had given it a try earlier, with a couple others. Free shotguns are provided upon entry, though a variety of weapons can be used. We made our way in, battling numerous zombies and an overgrown spider. Finally we made our way to a manor. Going inside, there was an arcane symbol drawn on the floor, and after some moments there was a flash of light over it, and several demons emarged and attack. Fortunetly, 2 shotguns plus an automatic were enough. Then the spirit announced it had been freed, and offered the players a gift. I got one good only for girls. Cindy told me there were over twenty prizes available, some “custom made by the studios builders,” including “a huggable Thundertank.”

And what of the old ZZ Studios place at Falcon Valley? Cindy told me it was not going to be renewed, “I’m going to miss Falcon Valley.” And recently, the quarter sim it once took up was wiped clean of all objects.

Cindy had plans for the sim’s future, near and in the coming months, “We are working together to make the best furry place in SL. ... We wanted to get some things set, and now that were here we can change things.” She planned to build a bathhouse, “I remember the one a lot of furries hung out at,” thinking it might have been at Furnation, “I think this one closed down.” The zombie maze wasn’t just a one time thing, but there would continue to be holiday-themed and other special events throughout the year. For instance in November, she planned a turkey shoot.

The main entry port to ZZ Studios “The Hideaway” is Static Nightclub (121, 139, 25)

“You ready to be blown away?”

Bixyl Shuftan

*Addition* The ZZ Studios zombie maze is now listed on the Destination Guide, under the name "Z Mayhem."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rendezvous – The World of Mermaids

If you’re looking for a romantic setting, far from the crowds, explore the undersea mermaid domain of Rendezvous. Benoit Lednev established five French gay sims and two Wild West, before he incorporated some of his own interests into Rendezvous with help from his friends.

“This is the mermaid domain and above is the world of sirens. I wanted to do a marine park,” said Lednev, as I and musician Lars Mistwalker received a personal tour of this colorful corner of Second Life. “I was in the Navy and I love animals. This park is the one sim most like me.”

Those interested in morphing into merfolk need only click on the outfits provided free of charge. The park consists of a welcome area with a Roman tavern, the Ulysses Neptune statue and a mosaic theme that depicts a scene of Ulysses, where the hero is chained to resist the songs of the sirens. The classic Neptune comes from Pompeii art. The sounds of whales communicating and the motion of the waves surround you.

“Next you can ride the octopus or seahorses. There’s also a cave with romantic places to cuddle, areas where you can dance and homes for lovers,” said Lednev through his translator. “My greatest challenge was locating different types of fish to the area.” There’s also a Roman arena where the spectators are fish. He considered adding Roman animations of fighting but knew it would take away from the romantic qualities of the sim. He would love for both straight and gay couples to explore the depths of his and his friends’ creation.

The tour of the sim ends at the statue of a mermaid. Above Lars and I get a preview of a town inspired by Halloween. We are teleported to Salem Village and immediately get goose bumps on the arms of our real life avis. The eerie atmosphere is expertly captured as one enters a haunted house. Hollywood directors would love this virtual representation that you’d never want to live in. First of all, you’re greeted by a zombie that thinks you’re dinner. Inside there’s a talking Ouija board, a séance table, an empty rocking cradle and ghosts singing patty cake. When the girls ask why don’t you play with me, you’re ready to run out the door.

Rendezvous, (40, 188, 1)

Netera Landar