Friday, September 6, 2019

Frolicking Deer Cay

By Bixyl Shuftan

Second Life is full of many action-packed places, such as combat areas and clubs with the latest rock and pop music. But sometimes one is looking for someplace more peaceful, such as a tropical island. One reader mentioned one such island to me: Frolicking Deer Cay.

Enjoy a peaceful Caribbean beach vacation at Frolicking Deer Cay, a quiet, rural, resort island in the Bahamas. Family roleplay, LGBT & furry friendly, wheelchair accessible. Boats, marina, swimming, sailing, DFS, family beach. By Lupinia Studios

"I wanted to build a relaxing paradise," explained Natasha Petrichor, the builder and owner of the island, "I was doing a lot of in-world building and administrative work at the time, and I wanted a quiet place where my team and I could just chill and not be 'on the clock.'  And I really wanted to be at the beach, so I built a beach (smile)."

Natasha had been Second Life for some time, "I first heard about it from some forum posts (I forget where exactly), while it was in beta; I had a beta account. But I couldn't find much engaging at the time, so I canceled the account and figured it would never amount to anything.  An incredibly stupid decision, in hindsight. I then created another account in 2004, when a podcaster I listened to at the time started talking about all the cool things furries were doing in SL.  I had recently discovered the furry fandom in real life, and eagerly wanted to find more ways to be part of the community, and in the process, I finally found something in Second Life that was engaging and fun (smile).

"I also quickly learned how to build things, a skill I used for numerous passion projects, and I also built a couple of businesses in-world, mainly making cars, and designing custom buildings for people/ And then I made this account in 2006 as a personal account, since I was all-business on my other account, and the other one gradually became less expressive of who I am, so this one took over as my primary account, and now here I am (grin)."

As it turns out, the island has only come to Second Life this year. "The vague desire for this sort of spot started percolating in March," Natasha informed, "and the specific inspiration - a private island with a Caribbean beach vibe - started to form in April, during some unusually dreary and cold real-life weather during what was supposed to be a pleasant spring.  We broke ground on the project at the end of May, over Memorial Day weekend, and had it mostly finished and officially 'open' in mid-June (smile).

"This was one of my fastest sim-building projects, partly because I spent a considerable amount of time planning it in advance; by the time I was ready to get started, I had already nailed down all of the details. This was also one of the only projects I've ever done entirely using prefab assets.  I usually prefer to build things myself, but I was overloaded with other building projects at the time, and I wanted to just make this exist as fast as possible, without spending months designing custom structures."

Since the place was opened, a few buildings have been worked on, "I've done some customization, yeah, and there are some ideas for custom buildings that I'd love to build here. But it'll take some time before I have the free time and energy for new custom designs. I've also been rather busy with real-life work for the last couple of months, but I'm catching up on that and spending more time here now (smile)."

I brought up the description of the place, "a quiet, rural, resort island in the Bahamas." Natasha admitted, "To be honest, I've never been to the Bahamas, or any other island in the Caribbean, but one of my closest friends regularly visits Barbados with his family, so that was a big influence in the idea. ... The biggest reason why I chose the Bahamas as the setting, instead of any other Caribbean nation or leaving it vague/undefined, is because I wanted to create a venue that felt like a real place, without appropriating the culture and/or identity of a location I have no real connection to.  The Bahamas has the largest number of privately-owned islands, and many of them are owned and managed by outside resorts, so presenting this as one of those seemed like the safest way to walk that line."

The entrance to the island is the "Harbour Office," which informs visitors who the three people who run the island are, Natasha, CandiceBabi Resident whom is an estate manager, and Mike 1945 Resident whom is the Security Director, and gives some basic information. Vehicles drive on the left side of the road, and no one is permitted to drive fire department equipment without the Security Director's okay. Talking to Natasha about other points of interest, she answered, "This welcome center has kinda become the island's main anchor point, but the marina next to it is a fantastic place for boating. Plus we have a mostly-water sim to the north, Fawn Bay, so that boats have somewhere to go.  The other key feature of the island is the public beach along the southwestern edge, which has plenty of space for parties and events, as well as swimming, without everyone being bunched up on top of each other.  And the main road between here and there, Ocean Avenue, is where you can find all of the shops, restaurants, and public services, with a mix of roleplay businesses/services and actual in-world stores."

Looking around later, the areas along the road have a mix of shopping areas, both those for show and actual inworld stores. There are also souvenir Bahamas flags one can get for a a few Lindens as well as a box of free beach supplies. One can also grab a segway (and maybe a bike) to go around. Fawn Bay has a bridge going over much of it. There are also a few small islands, one with a small home. East of the main sim is a residential area, Amethyst Moon. "Amethyst Moon is separately owned and managed by one of my closest friends and business partners, because she wanted an entire Homestead sim for her SL family," Natasha explained, "But Linden Lab doesn't sell Homestead sims to anyone who doesn't already own a full sim. So I bought it for her. ... We worked out a lease agreement for it, but yeah, I'm not interested in being a for-profit landlord, I just want to make cool things and help others do the same (smile).

"And that was an influencing factor on this whole project as well. There are a few rental properties on the island, in case new people show up and want to stay for a while, because rentals make residency easier and more transparent for everyone.  But the public areas of the island are truly public. The auto-return time is 4 hours, and no one is under any obligation or expectation to spend money here.  If they want to, then cool, but if they just want to hang out on a beach for a while, that's cool too (smile).

Natasha had active the title "Lupinia Artist." Asking about that, she answered me, "Lupinia Studios is the 'brand name' I've been using for my creative work since the early 2000s, both in Second Life and real life.  So, outside of Second Life, Lupinia Studios represents my photography and occasional writing. And in SL, it represents my architectural design work and other building projects.  So it's a handy default title when I don't need to wear a different hat (smile). And I have a website that puts all of my creative and professional work under one roof (when I remember to update it): I actually wanted to be a journalist in high school, and briefly made a name for myself writing columns for publications that wanted to spotlight youth voices, but I couldn't really get a foothold beyond that.  I also wrote a lot of fiction for a while, but I haven't finished much of that in a long time.  So most of my writing nowadays is basically just whatever I feel the need to write an essay about."

By coincidence, the real Bahamas had just been battered by Hurricane Dorian, wrecking the place. "I've been keeping a close eye on the situation," Natasha told me, "and the devastation there is horrifying.  It's the worst storm in the nation's history." She had set up a couple donation jars around the sim, one at the welcome center. I'm still working on signs to go with them.  Those donation jars have always been there, and they usually go toward the island's operating costs.  But for the month of September, all proceeds will go toward Hurricane Dorian relief efforts.  I also put out an announcement to all members of the island's group yesterday, urging everyone to directly contribute if they're able to.  The Bahamas is not a fantasy setting or an exotic vacation spot, it's a real nation with real people, and they need help right now to recover from this tragedy."

While we were talking, a few people did stop by the sim. Natasha greeted them, and after a short chat they headed to the beach. "Indeed, these are some of our wonderful residents," she told me.

Eventually we told each other goodbye and went our separate ways.

Frolicking Cay Deer is at the following location:

Bixyl Shuftan

1 comment:

  1. Oh hey, this is my friend's island! Great interview and look at the work she's done, the place looks fantastic. Thanks for writing this up!