Monday, July 22, 2013

Reader Submitted: Continental Tour - Exploring Second Life's Mainland

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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sneak Peek at the RFL Track

The Relay For Life Weekend is almost here, and the buiders have been busy at work across the forty-plus sims. I was able to get an early look at the track, and take a few pictures.

 The completed "Sunbeamers" plot at RFL Research, which was written about a couple days ago when mostly complete. Now, the new team's flag has been added, and proudly flies over the exhibit.

Read more about the Sunbeamer plot (here).

Still in RFL Research, at the Breedables plot, with one of the critters playing about before curling up for a nap.

 Just south of the Sunbeamers was "Team Lag's" build, a 50's bowling alley.

Inside, one can do a game of bowling, and stop at the soda joint for ice cream.

To the north was the designer sim RFL Screening, by Photon Pink.

The space had been empty just a couple days earlier. The builders worked fast. As I saw a couple avatars flying around, they might not have been finished.

RFL Spirt was also a designer sim, a forest with lots of lanterns, by Lemondrop.

Well, not just lanterns, but also some noodle bowls.

One corner of the sim had a marina by "Sail For Life." There, one can bid on a boat for charity.

 Or you can take one out into the RFL Reflections water sim.

And where there's water, there's sometimes a lighthouse.

In RFL Strength was the Knights of Avalon plot.

The "Rocky Beer Brigade" plot. The holographic sign says, "Sanctuary Rock proudly presents The Track Into The Future to live long and free of cancer."

The Goreans For Life plot. Somewhat infamous for their community's mature roleplays, the team consistantly ranks among the top fundraisers every year. Their build is made of amusement park rides and wooden ships.

The "Teletus Titans for a Cure" build, the fourth plot in RFL Strength.

A quick trip to the RFL Hope sim in the southeast corner of the track revealed this gearwork build.

To the north in RFL Hero was this exhibit, "Knowledge is the Key."

That's it for now with the Relay plots. If you want to see more, the sims will be open to all members of the Relay For Life Volunteers group tomorrow at 2PM SL time. And after the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow at 10AM, the sims will be open to all for the Relay Walk.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, July 8, 2013

Visiting Down Under: SL Australia

By Grey Lupindo

      Recently I took a trip to SL Australia, located at Australia (165, 82, 28).  This sim is owned by a group of Australians who wanted to have an Aussie meeting place, as well as a place where people from other countries could come and enjoy life down under.   They have created a fun as well as informative site.   

       One of their notecards states that Australia is the sixth largest country in the world.   Like its RL counterpart, SL Australia is also very big, with lots of unusual things to do and see.     There’s a lot of free transportation to help you get around, including a monorail, bicycles, jet skis and more. 
         I started out at the Sydney Opera House, where I also found information about the Sydney Harbour Bridge and some other landmarks.   From there I biked across the plaza to the stores.    
       The shopping area is small, but it had some unusual stores.  “Stellar”, located on the corner sells, among other things, both drapes and vampire ears.    Another unusual store is “Dingo Mojo” where you can buy Aussie plants, including an Aussie Beer Tree that gives out bottles of beer.   They also sell lorikeets, cockatoos and other Australian birds.
         Located in the middle of the shopping area is Ritchey Sealy Art Studio, which is owned by a RL Australian artist.   In SL he is Ritchey Jacobus, and he has been a resident for over 6 years.  His studio is very large and filled with paintings of Australian beaches, the sea, and some towns.    They are all for sale at a very reasonable price, $50L.   My favorites were of life in Moruya, a town that I had never heard of but looks like an interesting place.  When I visited, Jacobus also had paintings on display behind one of the monorail stops at Australia (175, 6, 47).  Here there were paintings of other aspects of Australian life, including kangaroos.  It’s always interesting to see a RL artist come into SL, especially when the subject matter is different and as well done as these paintings are.
          In RL the Great Barrier Reef is located on the northeast coast of Australia and is home to exotic sea life.  In SL Australia you can rent scuba equipment from a dive shop located near Australia (37, 96, 22).   I rented their equipment for $20L for 10 minutes, which was plenty of time for me.   Although the coral and plants were pretty, I saw a Great White Shark that sent me topside.   But for braver residents, the equipment can be rented for longer periods of time.   When the HUD is worn, gauges and other instruments appear.   I have never used scuba equipment in RL so I don’t know how authentic this HUD is.   But it was fun, at least until I saw the shark.  Inside the dive shop is a stylish wet suit that is a freebie, whether or not you rent the scuba equipment.     
            Jet skis are available for free so I hopped on one to tour the harbor.     While I was touring I spotted a diving cage exhibit that looked interesting and a 7 Seas fishing area located at The Shed, Australia (75, 180, 21).   I stopped to fish long enough to catch a Common Green Clownfish and an Uncommon Ultra Violet Mutant.   But I decided to save the diving cage for a future visit.   I had had enough of sharks for one day.
           I stopped by the Dingo Bay Hotel, which appears to be brand new.   There were plenty of tables and chairs, a dance ball and lots of room to use it.    No one else was there when I visited, probably due to the time difference between my RL location and RL Australia.   There’s a sign where anyone who is interested can get notices of upcoming events.  
         My vacation time was nearly up, but I wanted to ride the monorail before I left.  I climbed the steps to the platform and waited for a train.  It came quickly, but I had trouble getting into it.  I slipped between it and the railings on my first try and landed in the harbor below.   I climbed back up and waited for the next train.  This time I boarded by going directly into a seat instead of trying to walk into the train car.  This approach worked perfectly.  The monorail is great.  It shook and made noise just like a real train.  It goes pretty fast, and you can get a quick overview of the site.  
       I rode the monorail around a couple of times without any problem.    As I rode, I could see that there were many other places that I will have to return to visit.    I plan to do that soon.
Australia (165, 82, 28)
 Grey Lupindo

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Last Look at the SL10B

By Bixyl Shuftan

From June 16th to June 30th, the Second Life Tenth Birthday took place. An exposition as well as an anniversary, numerous exhibitors put up a number of builds. Although some were basically advertisements for stores, many showed much creativity and amusement. Earlier, we looked at several exhibits (Click here for the link). With the show now over, here's a few more.

The outside of the Auditorium, with it's large SL10B logo.

Caledon, a steampunk-themed community, had an exhibit. This one was specifically around Caledon Oxbridge, which has a newcomer-helper area.

Raglan Shire, Second Life's largest and most well known community of "Tinies," had one too, next to Qwark Allen's telescope. It had a few freebies, some comments by residents, and a slide down from the top. And at the top was a giant waffle (for those who don't know, there's a repeating gag among tinies about waffles).

A better look at Qwark Allen's telescope. Great for observing Saturn's ring around the collar.

A park area near the entrance.

A "ghost lion" also at the park area.

The "Now and Then Avatar Portrait Project," with the starter "Furry" avatar I first entered Second Life in.

And here's my own "Now and Then" picture. Actually, the "Fox News" look I'd had since about eleven months after coming to Second Life. While I've gotten other avatars, this remains my everyday look.

"Some things never go out of style."

DrFran Babcock's "Classy Souvenirs" build. I took one of the early maps as a memento.

Near DrFran's place was a mad scientist's lab.

A giant Fedora hat in one clothing store's build.

This exhibit near the "7Seas" build was about how to make a ring sculpture from a prim. It offered a freebie ring avatar.

This build from "Arcadia Asylum" you could take home, at least this part of it. Among the freebies given away was a copy of this. At least it was according to the picture. I forgot to open it to make sure.

"Kiddie Park," a child-avatar themed build. One's attention goes to the "Do Not Enter" building. But there was a hole in the roof, which allowed one to see in without entering. The interior remarked, "Isn't it amusing that the human mind automatically wants to do the things we are told not to do ... we're all like children inside after all."

The "Flying Saucers From Outer Space" build. This was made partly to advertise a radio show tribute.

I dropped in about the time Geo Meek was rehearsing one of the episodes. Unfortunately, the role of the old lady in the trailer park went to him, "what a drag."

From the Gatcha Arcade exhibit, one could get a landmark to their location of the month where one could put 100 Lindens into a game, and get a mesh sugar glider avatar. They can move about like a human or furry avatar, and they have some great flight animations.

A display of avatar progress throughout Second Life's history, from the "primitar" avs of Linden World to the mesh avatars of today.

The Roma build, from Second Life's Ancient Rome-themed roleplay community, which resembled a coliseum.

Inside was a workable chariot, which one could get on and ride around it. 

The "Elf Circle" exhibit.

One of the water sim exhibits, a mousegirl catching money falling from a tree.

Asterion Coen, a man who worked with some noteable builds in the past such as the NOAA sim and it's onetime neighboring "Virtual Earth" neighboring areas, had an exhibit there. Just press a button, and a build like these lunar vehicles would appear.

Asterion and I chatted for a while. It was his opinion that Second Life was lucky to have made it to ten years. Linden Lab, he felt, just didn't have the business sense to get the Grid more of an audience that it had, and poor decision making had driven businesses, and thus revenue, away.

And the center of the SL10B grounds, the cake stage, seen from above.

For more pictures on SL10B, check out the Flickr page:

That's it for now, our last look at the Second Life Tenth Birthday. It was a joy covering it, and we're looking forward to number Eleven.

Bixyl Shuftan