Monday, December 31, 2012

Roadside Attractions: The Diners of Second Life, Part One

By DrFran Babcock

Why do we love diners? Well, it’s three o’clock in the morning and I want breakfast, my friend wants spaghetti, and my other friend wants a roast beef sandwich and French fries. There is only one place where we can all be satisfied, and that’s the diner. It seems that lot of people agree with me, and must love diners, because they abound in Second Life.

The original diners were old railroad dining cars with their wheels removed so they could stay in place and serve meals. The diners in Second Life come in all shapes and sizes, but they share some common themes. Most of the diners reviewed here stick to the tradition of being done in an Art Deco style. The color red dominates, and shares the bill with chrome, 1950s, rock and roll and roller-skating. Almost all of them have freebie food or gifts. They all embody the spirit of America, and in my biased view, the joys of living in New York or New Jersey where the best First Life diners can be found.

 Come with me on a grid wide tour of some of the diners of Second Life. Please let me know of any I have missed, because there must be a lot of them.

The Silver King Diner – This classic spot shows up first on a Second Life search for diners. I love the location on the very north of the Heterocera Atoll Continent. What’s great is that it’s bordered by roads where rezzing is allowed. You can pull out a ride and zip into the parking spot in front of this chrome and red deco building. Outside there are a few cars you can sit in, and inside, take a seat at the counter and point to a picture of food on the wall, and it will be delivered to you. If eating is not your thing, there are dance machines and dance pads (they may or may not be paying Lindens).  The music stream is old fifties rock and roll, that matches well with the old movie posters on the walls. This is a really nice place to come for a Second Life date, especially when you realize that you can get a free pair of roller skates outside, and roll off into the sunset with your sweetie.

The Silver King Diner is located at: and was built by Bubba Biberman (Bubba B.)

The Starship Diner – I know the owner and creator of this diner. It is none other than Holocluck Henly whose skill as a DJ is well known in Second Life. He has a reputation for taking care to tailor his playlist to suit the theme and attendees at events at which he spins tunes. He also bears a striking resemblance to a well known British doctor. So, it is no surprise that the diner is a cool one. Of course, this being Second Life, there are some surprises. But, I won’t mention the chickens wandering around inside until later.

The Starship is built with Fifties sensibilities, and sports a huge sign outside that often lists upcoming events open to all. Once inside a vast, carpeted floor welcomes you to dance. The diner counter is chrome and sports the New York special—a souvlaki meat slab. And yes, chickens…Holo has always liked chickens, many folks still call him Clucky, so there are chickens wandering the inside of the diner. Go out the back door of the diner and you can pick up some freebies made by Holocluck himself.

The best time to come to The Starship Diner is when there’s a party. Stop by to see what’s upcoming on the big sign out front.

The Starship Diner is located at: and is the work of Holocluck Henly.

Olivia's Creepy Diner – The next diner served up on our plate is a bit different from the first two offerings. Sure, there is the checked floor and old advertising signs, and art deco curved architecture, but that’s where the similarities end. The proprietor of this swanky spot, Olivia Scarmon lets you know in her profile picks that: The service sucks... Thats because I am usually on a smoke break. Feel free to make yourself a sandwich or something. Cold pizza is on the table if you prefer. Don’t step on my pet roaches.

I was lucky enough to run into the aforementioned Olivia when I teleported into the diner to make my report. She told me that she was a fan of horror, and this diner was her way to express this love. We spoke for a bit more, and then she promptly offered me an eyeball highball. Yum. The diner is a showplace, complete with dirty booths, spiders dropping from the ceiling, pet roaches in parade formation on the floor, and plenty of activities for hungry visitors.

Come to Olivia’s and you can engage in a horror trivia (with small Linden prizes), 7Seas fishing, dancing, eating (if you dare), and not least of all, drink in an environment that just might help with that New Years resolution to lose weight.

I highly recommend this place for its sense of humor, horror, and high level of things to do. I encountered residents at the place the few times I visited, and if I was not busy with reported for the venerated Newser, I might have stuck around and made some friends.

Olivia’s Creepy Diner is located at:  and is the work of Olivia Scarmon

Dear reader, join me next time as we continue our tour of the grid’s finest dining options, as we explore The Diners of Second Life.

DrFran Babcock

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Bastogne: WW2 in Second Life

By Grease Coakes
Second Life has endless ways to make use of a sim. You can have a rocking dance club, or others use a sim to hold prayers and build an ashram or church. Native Americans use a sim just to hang out at and express their culture and heritage. Another way to use a sim is for fun filled combat. Had a bad day at work? Blast your friend’s head off with a submachine gun, or even better use a bazooka.
Vickster Khun created a combat area in a sim owned by her, New Bastogne, which recreates a World War II environment based in France during German occupation in 1944. Nydia Tungsten and JessicaBelle Dayafter gave me a tour of the sim in a 1940’s armored car. When I first warped into the sim I saw a realistic room like a 1940’s office. Walking out, I was in an underground bunker. Jessica was a Lt. Colonel and Nydia was an under officer as a 1st Sergeant. Nydia played as her attaché being the driver while Jessica explained everything.
As I was in the back seat I saw destroyed buildings and old posters and cafes in giving the player or myself a historically accurate and terrible war like environment. The builders behind the sim did a great job in creating a realistic World War II recreation. In fact Nydia ran into an old style lamppost on purpose and it actually fell over and the same with chairs and table on an outside café.
 There are also sewers to go underground if you wanted to be sneaky and not be in direct combat. The goal of the sim, or rather the combat, was to capture flags and change them to your faction or nation. But of course as a combat sim you need firepower to overwhelm those nasty Germans, or you could be playing as the Germans trying to take control of Europe.
Nydia and JessicaBelle showed me where to pick up weaponry and a uniform so I’d be ready for battle. When I got the hang of it, I shot Nydia "killing" her by surprise. Sadly for me she came back and killed me several times going around the sim in fun filled combat. The combat scripts you put on only give you 25 hit points and allow you to put a flag above your head to show you’re an American or another allied nation. The low hit points add realism to the combat sim. Instead of taking 20 bullets before you die you can only take a shot or two before you die and respawn. To not be offensive the German sign is a red field with a cross, not the infamous Swastika used in Nazi propaganda.
A SMG isn’t for you? Well good news, there’s more. Unlike the first person shooter "Team Fortress 2" where you can pick a class to use certain weapons you stick with the basic rifle, however you can still use bazookas you just don’t start with full ammo like the solider in TF2. You have to pick up ammo crates to load your bazooka. That way not everyone is going around German occupied France with a bazooka you have to earn it by grabbing the ammo crates.
There are also vehicles to use as well to blast other players. You can grab a tank or even a fighter plane to blast away with. The tank gun made holes in the ground with a fiery after-effect and a sound effect of voices yelling German commands to fire. The plane itself was tricky to fly and I crashed into the sim next door. I had to laugh at myself in good fun.
JessicaBelle Dayafter wanted to show off the sim she likes roleplaying in and she wanted to vent some frustration at a group of people abusing the sim by bending the rules and not playing fair. Like Blizzard’s game "World of Warcraft," lots of players picked one side overwhelming the other faction. The game loses fun when this happens, in Jessica’s words. In fact when I brought up WoW she mentioned a lot of these unfair players may be also WoW players.
JessicaBelle Dayafter: “And all too often people would not use common sense of fairness. Like if you are fighting 3 enemies, coming over with 12 soldiers and 2 tanks is wayyy overkill, and totally unfair.”
Also people can become abusive getting too seriously involved in the sim. JessicaBelle Dayafter told me,  “Going back to the topic at hand of insults (sort of), another thing that drove many people off, is certain people take their RP waayy too serious, and bordering on being down right offensive/breaking rules of conduct set in place by LL.” 
As an officer, a Lt. Colonel, JessicaBelle tries giving orders, however her orders are often ignored by the other players. So by those upset by the cheating players she suggests going to LL to complain. Part of the problem is however is the managers and owner of the sim aren’t always sure what to do and her suggestions fall on deaf ears. I used the analogy of the NFL how when refs make bad calls against the home team you’ll hear boos resounding from the stands.
JessicaBelle Dayafter, "Some examples of shenanigans: spawn camping gathering large a large amount of troops, and waiting within line of sight or right outside the spawn areas, so anyone trying to re-enter battle gets massacred. A lot of it too was slinging insults to each other in combat, and not in a playful/meaningless way."
Sounds like some people want to ruin the game for others and bend the game to their will beyond reason and cheat. Which is sad when instead of enjoying the WW II sim in a fair way, they made the sim not fun anymore. This is just common sense or something you learn as a kid that other people do not like it if someone else cheats or plays a game whether a video game or a board game in an unfair way. Or if someone is winning by roll of the dice or just good shooting not to take offense and be a sore loser. That’s something to be reminded of in the holiday season when fairness and kindness show good holiday spirit. 
Check out the WW II sim when you get the chance readers of the Second Life Newser I had a fun time goofing off with Nydia and JessicaBelle.  That’s certainly part of the Christmas season just having fun.
Grease Coakes

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Town

By DrFran Babcock

In my opinion, there are people in Second Life who get it. Laura Liberty is one of those residents who is able to use this virtual miracle to create environments that provide an immersive experience. Christmas Town is one of those places that is a must-see for anyone who wants the best that Second Life can offer.

 Christmas Town ( ) was created almost entirely by Laura Liberty, and it was designed to be an old-time Main Street with shops, parades, a castle, and so much more. The main street is a dreamy, idealized depiction of an innocent time that is lost in the First Life world of big-box stores and on-line shopping. The snow particles on this street are heavy and realistic. I felt underdressed in my skating outfit. However, I was dressed for skating, because that’s a big part of this glorious sim.

At the end of Main Street sits a huge, blue ice castle that is the site for an ice-skating ride that takes you through dreamy passages to scenes from beloved Christmas movies. Hop on a single or couple (if you are with someone) poseball, and you are transported effortlessly through the castle.  Sit back and enjoy the ride, because your avatar’s camera will be set to allow you to see the best of the scenes. It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas Story, and National Lampoon’s Christmas are the source of the scenes, and the experience is sights and sounds and you—twirling and flying through the air as you skate past the scenes. I was completely entranced by this ride, because it just worked. The textures rezzed well, and there were fun surprises towards the end. I don’t want to spoil if for you, but if you ever wanted to be a star, this is the ride for you. At the end of the article I have provided a link to a very short video I made of the ice skating through Bedford Falls, because words are not enough in this case.

But wait, there’s more. Jump off the poseball and wander down Main Street to feed your need to shop. There are many little shops selling all kinds of holiday items, even things to get the jump on New Year decorating. The shadows and lighting have all been created to be cozy and warm..

At the other end of Main Street Santa awaits your marching pleasure. Jump on board his “float,” and you can high-step through the town. Santa actually speaks to you at times, so he’s either a well-scripted bot, or a real resident.

I could go on and on, but Christmas Town is really a place to see. I suggest you get there now, and skate, shop, march, and experience the best that Second Life has for us. Happy Holidays, and much love to you.

DrFran Babcock

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Fun at Areo Pines and Wolf Mountain

 By Gemma Cleanslate

The Sixth Annual Winter Festival, which runs from December 1 through January 31, at Aero Pines is now open.  I am happy to tell you that the skating rink is busy and the winter decorations are all in place. This is a great region to visit and you can pick up some really nice free skating outfits or shop for some before you venture out on the ice. I kept mine from last year, but picked up a chinchilla coat to add to my collection.  It is right next to the skating pond. 
Cindy Bolero has so many events prepared for the two months that you can find on the festival brochure you will get. While you skate, you can watch the Nutcracker Ballet on the super screen and join in on the pose balls. One of the free outfits is a white ballet dress with tutu.  It is delightful. Here you may also take a cross country ski tour on eight sims, take a ride in the sleigh, and more. All directions to help you are on the brochure. It is always such fun to visit these sims any time of year, but winter is special. Anyone is always welcome here. The whistling snowman will greet you.
 I guess I have a lot of favorite places to ski and skate. My next favorite I have been visiting for 5 years, not only in the winter. Wolf Mountain Ski Resort has everything you want or need for winter activities. Here you can pick up a guide to activities and landmarks to help you get around. The lodge is so inviting that you will want to spend some time in there where you can sit by the fire, or take a dip in the indoor pool. I love the trip up the mountain on the ski lift and then coming down on skis or sled. 
You will find free skies at the top, or rezz a sled for you and your friends. . There are so many wonderful spots at both these recreation regions you can spend all winter visiting and finding new activities to try. I never tire of visiting either place. Enjoy. Look for more soon. 
Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, December 7, 2012

More Winter Fun at the Park Sims

By Gemma Cleanslate

Thanks to a landmark from a friend recommending a visit, I went to another spectacular region that is set for winter activities. Since it was new to me, I spent a long time exploring. There are actually 11  sims associated as the ‘Park Sims.’  At the time of this writing, four of the sims have  been turned into a winter wonderland. I ice skated through 4 sims on the ponds and rivers passing under covered bridges. As I glided along I saw farm lands with animals and buildings and large birds flew overhead. 
I stopped off at a “conservatory” style building that is serving meals. You have a great choice of breakfast, lunch , beverages depending on the time of day. If you see it be sure to go in for the full experience. All along the way I found sweet little places to stop and investigate or hang out. Since there are no rentals here, you may open any doors. I read that area is based on the early 20th century American coastal area and it is very true. I took a cross country ski tour and found a lovely stained glass church reminiscent of the the churches you see all around the villages of the New England States, even now, that date back to that era. You can enter the homes to see the furnishings that are also typical of that time. 
When you enter the sims you will find a set of rules to make your stay more enjoyable and tips for what to look for. The owners, Tymus Tenk and Truck Merideth  have brought these sims to SL just for the enjoyment of nature. I am amazed I have not found them before. They have also build an elaborate and elegant Christmas Pavilion at the Bay of Balfala where events will take place for the holiday season. It actually streches across the whole sim and is lovely! You can find that at Enjoy the events by joining the group for notices.
To begin the tour of the winter sims when  you land you will see pose balls for skating that will take you along the route with no effort. Pick up the notecards before you take off. I plan to take the tour again to see all that I passed by on my first tour and then venture into the other sims to take a look.
Gemma Cleanslate

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Around the World

by DrFran Babcock

What’s better than Christmas decorations, holiday traditions, food, and freebies? Probably, you can add to this list, but this pretty much covers it for me. All you need is a few good friends or a will to explore to go explore Christmas Around the World ( ).  This is such a good idea, because Second Life is the place where you can learn about people all over the world, and cultural diversity is celebrated and encouraged.

The best part about Christmas Around the World is that it’s not just a place to learn about how 30 other countries celebrate Christmas. It is also a place to see some of the best animated figures in Second Life, photo opportunity spots for your holiday snapshots, a place to shop for holiday items, a place to go ice skating, and a place to find some great freebies.

However, the real purpose of the sim is to give the visitor an idea of the variety of holiday celebrations. The different continents or areas are housed in charming cottages that encircle the ice skating rink. If you go inside any of these you can collect notecards with detailed explanations of the customs of different areas, and a whole collection of recipes from all over the world. There are houses for Africa, Europe, the United States, Slovakia, South America, and more. Chanukah customs and recipes are in the United States cottage. In addition there is a Santa’s Workshop, and the home of the sim owners to explore. The quality of the animated bots alone makes a visit worthwhile. Every direction in which I turned I thought: Oooh, what a great picture this would make. You will have no trouble finding a great place for a pose, if you send out Second Life Holiday cards,

Christmas Around the World is the work of Brendan Macarthur and Raegis Arrowmint, who open their home to you for this occasion, and with the help from many other people.

So, how is Christmas celebrated in Ethiopia? According to some of the information on the notecard I received at the African Cottage, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, and is called: Ye Ganna Bal (The Birth of Christ). Families go to church, play games, get practical gifts like clothing, and eat a stew called: Doro Wat and flatbreads. Another celebrations take place after this, on January 19th, called Timkat, which involves a procession, drums, and honoring of the baptism of Christ.  My summary here is only a small portion of the information on the notecard.  Each notecard ends with more notecards filled with recipes from different cultures. For example, the Slovak notecard has a recipe for Deep-Fried Carp. Maybe not one I would try, but interesting anyway.

Don’t miss this great build, and chance to learn and play. Come to Christmas Around the World and get multi-cultural.

Veselé Vianoce, or Merry Christmas in Slovak!

NOTE: The white dress I am wearing in the photo (left) is available FREE on the Marketplace: .

DrFran Babcock