By Becky "Sha" Shamen
Do you enjoy exploring? Most people in Second Life are not so bold. On average, they will have, at most, a dozen sims that they visit, on a weekly basis. Add to this, their favorite shopping sims and other, occasional divertisments and the number goes up to 20-30 sims visited per month. In most cases, they only visit a small part of the sim, unless it's a shop that takes up the whole thing. The common method of getting to these other sims is by teleporting, via Landmarks stored in their inventories. After being in Second Life for a number of years, you might have collected several hundred LMs. Most of these seldom, if ever, get used again and many of them don't even work any more or you find the place you were looking for has moved to a new sim or gone out of business.
Teleporting is not the only way to travel. Unless confounded by private property or banned areas, you can walk to most places on a sim. On the majority of sims, you can also fly like Superman. This too has it's limits. You cannot fly into restricted areas and, unassisted, you cannot fly above a set altitude. With the aid of a Flight Feather or other flying craft, I have yet to see any maximum altitude in my experiences. Flying crafts come in all shapes, types and sizes and can hold one or many people.
In addition to walking and flying, there are a number of other ways of riding from place to place, in SL. You can ride on horses and other animals, in wheeled vehicles and boats. To use these, you click on them, select to sit, or ride, board, drive, depending on the menu given, then control direction and speed with your arrow keys. Some boats depend on SL winds to propel them. To use these, you must determine the wind direction and set your sails and rudder to get you where you want to go.
All of these other methods of getting about have their limitations. In most of the vast area, covered by Second Life, you cannot travel between sims by any means other than teleporting. However, if 1) two sims touch side to side (not corner to corner), 2) you have permission to go there and 3) there is solid land, a bridge or roadway or a water way between them, you can cross over, without teleporting. From my home sim, I can travel to seven other sims, without need of teleporting. I am also a member of a motorcycle club, that allows me to visit 12 interconnected sims. You can spend days, weeks or months exploring these larger areas and finding new things for the first time. Want more? There are still larger places to explore.
The Continents of Second Life
A continent, in SL, is made up of hundreds of individual sims and square miles. There are seven major continents and a handful of smaller ones. The seven major continents are; Sansara (the original "Mainland"), Heterocera, Jeogeot, Corsica, Gaeta, Nautilus, and Satori Maebileia. There is also a large sea, known as the Blake Sea, connecting hundreds of islands. Of the lesser continents, little will be included here, save to mention one, Zindra, an all adult continent, said to also be home to "monsters".
Travel on the continents is much like that on sims, but on a much bigger scale. When we choose to travel, as opposed to TP, we are not as concerned about what is at "point B" as we are about finding new and interesting things between points A and B. While preparing maps for this topic, I was free flying, testing a passage route between continents, when I noticed, on my world map, the sea floor texture looked "un-natural" below where I was flying. I flew under the water to discover why. On the bottom, I found two treasure chests. One contained a jeweled crown, the other a shiny sword. Looking up at the menu bar, I see I am in a place called "Treasures of the sunken city.....". This location was not posted in the destination guide, advertised, or marked on any map, and I found and enjoyed it. I wasn't thinking about what was at the end of the journey. I was enjoying the trip itself.
Yes, I mentioned flying from one continent to another. Like travel on sims, there are things you can and can't do. You will find areas that will not allow you to enter. On the continental scale, these are never very large, so it's easy to find ways around them and then get back on course. When you get to the edge, coastline of a continent, you cannot go any farther. The vast majority of "seas" in SL exist as place holders for possible sims. At this time, there is no computer server to hold the sky, sea, earth and everything on it, for you to see on you computer. However, there are "sea sims" that you can move about on. Like regular sims, they can be found single or in small clusters, all over SL. You can travel between ones that are connected, but can only TP to get to others. Sea sims can also be gathered together on a continental scale, allowing for much greater trips. The Blake Sea is the largest collective of sea sims. It is an entire sea world and it also connects the continents of Nautilus and Satori, with beautiful Nautilus City between them. There are four other locations where sea sims are joined, end to end, to form a passage between continents. Use your world map to find the exact locations. Sim seas will show water waves and the sea floor, non sims are just a solid color. There is a passage between Sansara and Heterocera, called ANWR Channel. There are two passages between Nautilus and Corsica, on the East and West ends of the sea between them. The final passage is between Corsica and Gaeta. Three passages and the Blake Sea link up four of the seven continents.
Around the World
In the 10 years that SL has been around, has any brave explorer ever attempted the longest, greatest adventure possible in SL; a journey across 4 continents and back (and lived to tell the tale)? When making such a trip, you might want to do some preliminary scouting, to find locations where you can pause your trip. The location needs to allow you to rez your vehicle, so that you can continue where you left off. You can switch to other forms of transportation, to suit the terrain. If you are free flying, make sure flying is allowed at your rest stop, otherwise, you might have to walk to the next sim. Make a LM of the location, so you can return there, if the viewer is unable to return you to your last location. A long trip, such as this, might take anywhere from a few hours to days, depending on your viewer, computer, INTERNET connection and SL stability, so it's a good idea to have a few plan B's available. There are any number of trips to experiment with, among the continents, but if you want a really long one, try this. Begin at the southern tip of Santori and zig-zag your way North on the western side of the continent. Cross the sea to the continent of Nautilus and work your way up it's western side. Next, cross at the Western Passage to Corsica. Snake your way East, on the northern half of Corsica and then cross the passage to Gaeta. Tour that continent and return by the same passage. Work your way along the southeastern portion of Corsica, until you get to the Eastern Passage. This is where I found the sunken city. Proceed South on the passage to Nautilus and tour it's East side. At the bottom, go East and tour the Blake Sea, returning to the northeast corner of Satori. Tour the eastern part of that continent and then return to the starting point at the southern tip. If you are planning on telling others of you adventure, make a copy of the map and draw your route on it. I know I would like to attempt it, but perhaps there is a Columbus, among the readers, who will get there first and tell us about it, in an ongoing series of articles, like in the good old days of newspapers.
About the Map
The map was adapted for this story from an original, found on the marketplace, created by Aley. I only used the continents and names. The original is much more ornate, made to look like an antique nautical map. I have made the land sims brown, because, until they've been explored, they're just a lot of dirt. I show the seas in two colors. The blue-green is areas that contain many sims, which are not interconnected. I placed a square, the size of one sim, at the bottom right of the map, for comparison. The navy-blue areas contain connected sea sims and can be traveled on. The continents are in the same scale and relative position to each other, but have been grouped to include them in the frame. An insert, on the right, shows their true positions.
We have been talking about continents and seas and very long journeys. I may have made it sound a bit impossible to undertake such a journey, but, for the following reason, it's not as hard as it sounds. SL continents are big, but not when compared to RL continents. The map measures 77 SL miles square. That makes a continent, like Satori, about the size of the city of Chicago, in RL. So, although SL continents are not as big as you thought, I'd be willing to bet, everywhere you've been, so far, would easily fit on one continent, with room to spare.
Becky "Sha" Shamen