Friday, February 19, 2016

Uhre, Dragon Realm

By Becky "Sha" Shamen,

After spending a week developing Sunny Beach, this reporter was so full of been there,done that, she couldn't find another adventure to tempt readers with. Sha comes from a big family. Long before we discovered SL, we created a series of animated 3D characters, of which Katzu Quattle was a favorite. Katzu is a somewhat scary-looking, large purple dragon, who is actually a very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful Makara. When not growling and breathing fire, his voice sounds like Sean Connery's ( bottom video). By getting the Guardian Dragon avatar in our alt account, we were able to bring Katzu into SL. Katzu has already been featured in past Newser articles, including one in which he made the longest, one way flight possible in SL (about 25 miles). We brought Katzu back from his long vacation, to see what kinds of dragon adventures he could get into. We'll let him tell, in his own words.

* * * * *

I knew, as soon as they let me out of inventory, the first place I wanted to visit. In Sept. 2013, Sha wrote about a fantasy roleplay area, which she called "Vanwenia" (from the Elven word for Hello). The collective of sims, then numbering 39, is only about five kilometers West of the Sunweaver Estates and was divided into realms. There were areas for Elves, Dwarves, Humans and Dragons. Comparing the maps from then with those from today, we see there are now only 34 and some have moved or changed names. Where Sha had visited all the realms and made friends with Kings and Queens, she had seen few dragons. I was determined to meet the local dragons and see life from their perspective. 
As it turns out, on my first visit I managed to have my first meeting with the local king, Tsargoth Runeclaw, who was giving hunting lessons to a young dragon. At 7.6m tall, when on two legs, I thought I was the biggest dragon around, but Tsargoth made me look like a VW bug, parked next to a passenger airliner. Tsargoth welcomed me to the realm and I spent several sessions exploring all the sims I could get into, without use of a TP. The terrain is beautiful, thickly forested, with mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, caves and hidden valleys. Flying above the mountains, I would swoop down and land at points of interest. If you like castles, you're gonna love this place. On my latest visit, I spotted a group of dragons and flew up to the caldera, where seven were hangin' out.

Given the location, this group was doing anything but chillin'. Three of them were big adults and two children played around and nibbled the claws of adults. Another adult, closer to my size and a human sized biped completed the group. I asked what name I should put on my map for their realm. It is called Uhre and they pulled out a map to show the 12 connected sims (highlighted on map), that make them the largest realm in the area. I listened to their conversation, for a while, to get a feel for how locals interact socially, then brought up that on Sunweaver sims locals seem to like gathering for theme parties, to shake their tails on the dance floor and tell silly puns. I was informed that they too..."might" shake their tails....but that is a secret.

Picturing these massive creatures dancing together got me thinking. I did a search and found an adult dance club, called Dragon Spire. On my first visit to the club, I was alone and noted that the doors were big enough and hall spacious enough to host a large group of dragons. I returned several more times, at different time slots, to see if the club got any traffic or regulars. As I met dragons there, I learned that the club is always open, although probably gets more traffic from noon to early evening. I even made a few new dragon friends there.
So there you have it, my friends. In Second Life, if you can imagine it, there are sims and clubs for it, somewhere on the grid. I'll be sure to join you on the next fantasy, as soon as I've had a bit of rest, upon my hoard of gold coins, which Sha paid me.
"Sha" (and Katzu)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The New Sunny Beach

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

Over the last few years, we have written many articles about great adventures to sims that are fun to explore. The stories are written from the perspective of a person, going there for the first time and what fun can be found there. Since most of the research was done between midnight and six a.m., there were seldom any avs to question, as to the back story of how the sim came to be.  We usually give the impression that the reader can follow in our footsteps and have the same adventure and fun. Where this story of sim development goes, few readers can follow. The opportunities to remodel an entire sim are rare and the politics involved are more than most would dare to get involved in. Still, it is a story worth telling.

   My story began weeks ago, when an old sim mate began asking my help to arbitrate a dispute on the sim he now lived on. Both I and Dr. Philly counseled that, although we cannot force others to comply with our imagined futures, we can place a better picture in our mind, where everybody lives happily ever after and let nature build it for us. It was pointed out that there are large areas on Sunweaver Bay, as well as a whole homestead sim, near by, if he should desire to move. Long story, mercifully shortened, we learn that our friend, Erik Mouse, has retained some of his lots, while also renting all of Sunny Beach sim. I was asked to assist in shaping the sim to fit his imagination. Having some experience in sim design, the idea of designing and building a whole sim had "Sha Adventure" written all over it.
My first orders were to reduce the land area to an island in the middle of the sim. It was suggested that extending a corner of the isle, to keep it connected to the trolley, would open the possibility of having a public beach, to honor the sim name, so that land was left connected. Since we both liked the idea of a central waterfall, I began making some sketches. Selecting what had previously been a duck pond as the bottom of a waterfall, a stream was dug to the southern beach area, giving the island an inverted U shape. Now, the same amount of area has greater length than width, by being folded. The effect is enhanced by adding a backbone ridge of hills, which hosts three waterfalls, one of which has a secret room. While we were still in our Hillbuildy mode, three towering hills got raised. I'm kinda proud of my "Fiddly Bits." The view from each tower is fantastic. The South Tower has a gazebo to chill in, while the North Towers each have a cannon fortification, with working cannons. With a little practice, Doc Philly got to where he could bounce a cannonball off my hat. The balls do not cause any harm, unless they hit objects with scripts allowing harm. Perhaps we can host some ship sinking contest events, in the future.
 As the island took shape, three mesh beaches were placed and wind surfboard rezzers near each. The two beach sections on the South side are "Sunny Beach". There is a raised platform, tiki hut club, for beach gatherings.  On the West side, we find "Sunset Beach." Several incarnations previously, this sim featured a surfing wave. I often went there to try improving my skill, but sometimes would just sit on the beach, contemplating, to the sound of the crashing waves. A search on the Marketplace turned up a similar wave generator that would just fit the water area on the North side of the island. The wave was expensive and could not be copied or transferred. Having seen the sim owned by several, over the years, I was hesitant about gifting a wave to an owner, but if I owned it myself I could always keep it set up on any sim that was willing to host it. After several adjustments for position and depth, it began sporadically putting out waves. A notice, at the top of my viewer, indicated that the sim needed to be re-baked and some things might not operate correctly meanwhile. Shortly after, Rita showed up and restarted the sim. After that, the wave reached full functioning. 
A surfboard rezzer sits on the shore, near the boat docks. It takes a bit of practice, but you'll be doing tricks in no time. If you fly up to it, just above water level, the wave will face you in it's direction and push you ahead of it, in the air. The water area, all around the island, has been made wide and deep enough to allow for motor and sail boats. Because of bridge height, masts must be under 32m or be set to phantom. There is a LL freebie sailboat that is the ideal size. Travel around the island, by boat or foot is a treat. Erik and Lilly love when I take them on boat rides. I enjoy walking around in "mouselook". The whole sim has a very natural look to it, at ground level. If you fly up 150m and look down, the island looks like a giant koi fish, in a lilly pond.  As if all this beauty and beach fun wasn't enough, the owners have also placed a Stargate on the isle. Sunny Beach is a stepping stone to many new adventures. 

   Although the adventure of designing and building a great sim was unique, the new Sunny Beach is now an adventure that the whole community can share. I hope many will join me, in being a friend of Erik and Lilly.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Reader Submitted: A Little Treasure, Calas Galadhon Park's Glanduin

By Alysabelle Resident

I truly wish you would come inworld and see the place yourself. It's so remarkably beautiful. Its not just the house itself. Its everything around and about the entire area . In every corner you have one thing or another that you haven't seen before. Please note I'm not a writer and never will be, with the countless mistakes and grammar errors, that's me.
I took pictures for you, although trust me, they don't depict all of what this place looks like. I also send you the landmark inworld.  In January, Truck (truck.meredith) and Ty Tenk (tymus.tenk) who own the sims at Calas Galadhon Park, closed for the month of January for a much needed break, and re-opened the 1st of February . What I understand is that Ty Tenk (tymus.tenk) and Truck (truck.meredith) collaborate decorating and designing the sims for Calas Galadhon. Ty Tenk (tymus.tenk) is the landscaper, who I have to say does a beautiful job. I did ask him a few questions this morning on what his motivation of creating a farm on one of the sims called Glanduin in particular, he mention the motivation was a lot of idea's in his mind and that he lived in the country most of his life and that in the farm house itself there are picture of his actual ancestors .

I have to say the country farm land, which I call it, it's just the most loveliest thing I have ever seen. The most picture perfect country farm house/ barn  and so on that anyone would or could imagine. I have never seen anything so detailed in Second Life before like this place. I'll give you a few examples : the rope swing in the back of the house, the seating area with an outdoor fire pit. The swing set on the side of the house and the two seating area's on the rock nearby, with full animations. The front side of the house, you see a brown fence and horses, and the fence itself animates. Some poses bring you back to childhood example standing up with your arms outstretched tip toeing across the fence back and fort. Or sitting reading a love letter while you clutch the letter to your chest in remembrance of a loved one or love one hand written letter and that is just a few animations of many. There is also a black horse click sit and there is many poses as well , how sweet. 
As you keep going down the hill, you have a pond with gooses and a seating area overlooking the pond then there is the barn with the animals. There is a large pig, who won first prize at some country fair I imagine, rabbits, a turkey, chickens nearby, goats, cows, a horse rezzer nearby, the sheep in the back of the house, the cats and dogs in and outside the house, the ferrets even. There's plenty of plant life, the oak trees, cherry trees, the birch trees on the exterior, the countless flowers in and around the house, and more. In fact in the front of the house, how adorable, two pose balls that is written ' get to work.' You sit on them and choose a summer hat male or female as well as a rake and your avie animates to rake. There is even a clothes line with some clothes out to dry.

If you yourself lived on a farm in real life, or knew someone that did or even spent summers at your grandparents country home or someone else' grandparents country home, if you close your eyes you will, I'm sure, remember the smell of grandmother's  baked cookies. Walk into the house it may just evoke long ago memories. You feel transported in another time where life was simpler then it is today. And the conversational pieces that may arise amongst  one another visiting Glanduin and the inevitable question that usually arise "Do you remember when ...?" I'm sure it will bring a smile upon your face.

And if you're like me who never lived on a farm, but I imagine myself as my friends told their countless stories of summer's passed with their grandparents at their country place and the memories that they recounted. And I writing vicariously through their once upon a time storie.

Thank you,
Glanduin (135, 78, 26)