Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Halloween Places in Second Life

By Gemma Cleanslate

insert Dench 002
It is spooky time in Second Life again. I was beginning to run into ghosts and pumpkins along my travels so I thought I would check out some places to get prepared for the big day for your region or home. Fun experience places to visit will be on  my list too.

I visited Apollon Island where I found a plethora of items for decorating.. The greeter goblin said  “May your Halloween be scarier than what goes on every night on the news.” Spiders appeared from the ground almost enveloping me as I walked around. Ghoulish pumpkins awaited me and so many frightening animesh creatures danced. Some great cemetery items are available from ghosts to tombstones to crypts. There are loads of costumes for any style there. I found the prices very good for the quality.  Don’t miss the carnival rides.  Go take a walk to see all the offerings.

Wonderland Beach is another place to visit for more decorations. There you will find many little shops, each offering different oddities. I saw some interesting Halloween food in one shop. In another shop all things witches from hats to jewelry. Across the way was a coven of Witches stirring their cauldron. On this region is the main store of Ali & Ali Hair. Take a look in there for some varied color hair for the big day! Tucked over in the northwest  corner of the region I found my first haunted house of the season. Have fun but take care.

At Botanica Holiday Home and Garden take the Scarecrow Row walk. All along the way are fun items for more decorating and at the end you enter a cemetery that is the beginning of a hunt. Grab the notecard at the entrance for clues.There are 21 prizes to collect and one more Grand Prize at the end. 

I stopped in at the Cafe Nevermore on the Row and had a delicious buffet before I left. Some ghosts and ghouls in there too were serving food.

One of my favorite places to visit for free stuff for many holidays is Amanda Dench store. I ran over to see what was available for Halloween and was not disappointed. Upstairs I picked up a companion Halloween dancer , a flying witch with bats and a trick tree for 5L. Amanda has really fantastic animesh dancers that dance with you, or vise versa, and many other moving creatures.

I love the skeleton band. When you go  make sure you check upstairs where the bargain corner will get you some great inexpensive decor. The horror picture is from Dench Holiday Store also.

I will be visiting haunted places and and taking tours and letting you know about the frights and fears.

Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, September 20, 2021

Hill Top Blues Club

By Bixyl Shuftan

Recently a friend suggested I check out a certain Blues club, Hill Top Blues in the Sandy Creek sim. Heading there, I ran into it's owner, Remo Williams (Remo1Williams Resident). Among the first things I noticed about the club building was it's appearance. From above, it looked like the lower half of a guitar.

"I am a real-life blues musician," Remo told me, "And I wanted a club that reflected that. As you can see, the club building is a guitar." He pointed to the door under the "Open 24 Hours" sign and invited me in. He pointed out pictures of various musicians on the sides, "I am from Chicago where there at one time the home of all of the blues greats. Many of them are displayed on the walls. The club never closes and there is always good music playing. I begin streaming the moment I log into Second Life, as I am at this moment." Besides his avatar picture on the music stream board, there was a real life picture by the DJ booth of an older man with a guitar and a beret. Remo confirmed it was him, "That was my signature look."

Bringing up the shape of the venue, Remo pointed out, "Everything here at the club is guitar based." He pointed out the pool, which was in the outline of one, "Even the pool is a guitar. We have a lot of fun here and I have some awesome people in my group." He did add that while blues music was played most of the time, it wasn't all the time, "But not only do we play the blues here, there are many times that we jump genres." While we were talking, songs were playing such as "It's A Sin To Be Rich, It's A Low-Down Shame To Be Poor" by Lightnin' Hopkins, "Love Should Never Lose" by J Sintoni, "Chill Out" by Melvin Taylor, "Wrong Side Of The Road" by Claudia Bettinaglio, and "The Blues Ain't Never Gonna Die" by Mike Griffin.

The club has been around for only a few months, "I first opened (on) 11 June of this year." The club itself was built on day one, "I did all of this in one night." But on the recreation area just outside the venue, he had added some games and other details over time, "I just added something new last week. It's a crazy game that people love. ... But we also have Greedy, and a couple of other games to play. I will show them to you." We went to a couple just outside the club, him pointing out one that looked like two identical pictures, with one split into many squares that were scrambled, "Okay, this one is a take off of an old childhood game. You have to slide the squares about until you make the complete picture. It is just a time waster. BJ finished one in 17 minutes." He then pointed to the other, which was a picture of a lady avatar on a base with the words "Strip Dice." Remo commented, "The other game is just pure luck of the dice. The object is to undress the stripper. My people seem to love it."

"This is a very nice place to just hang out." Remo told me, "I have a few members that work from home and they come here to just sit and listen to some blues while they do work. We have parties both inside and here on the deck. I'm still growing. It all takes time." He pointed out the nearby shore, "The overlook of the sea is very nice. We are very social here, everyone gets along."

When Remo's friend B.J. D'Angelo (BJAngel Resident) came back after being away from keyboard for a while, he asked her for a hand. Then he showed me what looked like a boxing ring, "I made a boxing ring , and there is a free mallet and we beat hell out of each other. The women are the most violent (laughter)." They both stepped in, got huge plastic mallets, and began wacking one another, with Remo getting the worst of it. He would comment over voice, "She's always kicking my *ss." Speaking in text, "Like I said, we just have fun and a lot of laughs here. And always good music."

Remo would say that he had "over 300,000 songs in my drives. I am constantly adding to it. So far there are only 2 dj's here , DJ Wolfy and myself." B.J. would speak up at this point, "We like to play stump the DJ, but that man hasn't been stumped yet." He grinned, "I don't see that ever happening." "Plus with his knowledge of all the people in the industry he can come up with an educational time as well." "But it is fun when they do try." "Haha, especially when he pulls out two or three different versions of it."

He would say of the club regulars, "The members here are from the world over. I am quite proud of this place because it is so different and out of the norm. I have been playing music for all of my life, even while I served in the army I would always find a band to play with on my off duty times. ... I get many song requests, and for the nost part the requested song is there rapidly. I never turn down requests. I make sure that anyone that comes here is made to feel welcome. There are no strangers here at all." B.J. would say, "Oh and a big thing about Remo. When your here, you're like family."

Remo pointed out a car next to the club and deck, a Mini Cooper, "There are two things that I have great passion for: my music and my Mini Coopers. ... I own a couple of them in real life as well." Talking to him, on the occasions he leaves the club, it's usually to drive his Cooper around.

Of what Remo plans for the club, "My long term plans are as follows: I want to expose as many people as I can to great blues music. The blues is worldwide and a style or genre of music that will never go away. And from my travels I have seen this first hand. My other this is, that I am not trying to compete with other blues clubs here in Second Life, because there (are) plenty of blues to go around. I have talked about opening a blues club for nearly three years. ... Its a very cozy place. The members and visitors seem to make it that way. I have never heard any complaints about this place. Even some of the hard core blues fanatics have given me a nod of approval.

"And another thing. My sets seem to always go over the two hour time frame, a six hour set is the norm around here (smiles). Well, when the people are digging the music, it gets me going and I dont quit. There are times when I have stayed here for 20 hours ... my dear friend BJ forces me to stop and at least go eat some food. That's the kind of fun that we have here." B.J. grinned, "Yea, sometimes you need a stick to get him to stop and eat."

"Like I said, I am quite proud of Hill Top Blues," Remo stated. "This is a very social place," B.J. added, "and Remo is a social person, and he loves to share his music." He went on, "One of the cool things with my people is that they always look out for me. Most know that I fought cancer just one year ago." "And won," B.J. reminded. "And I so admire that they do look out for me," Remo responded, "It is another reason why I made this club. I don't ever want the blues to die."

It was soon time to end the interview, and Remo would wish me well, "My club is open to all people, There are no borders here. You are welcome here anytime."

Sandy Creek (204, 208, 35)

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 3, 2021

Animal Crossing Sim of Retroville

By Bixyl Shuftan

In the past few years, the game "Animal Crossing" and it's sequels have gotten more popularity. So it's no surprise the game has a few fans in Second Life. One such fan made a place in Second Life clearly modeled after the game: Retroville. Hearing about it, I decided to take a look.

The entry area is the Retrovile welcome station. The sim rules are what most would expect of a family friendly sim, no griefing, no nudity (at least none showing bits), etc. Diapers are also not allowed, and while not specifically prohibited, it's a given moderators will be unhappy with hearing any profanity. You'll also get an experience HUD for the sim and two gestures (more on those later). There's also a single piece of cabbage that when clicked on will say and do something, notably cover the room with more veggies, "Cabbage for all!"

Activating one gesture will bring up the HUD, which shows you what materials you've gathered (which of course at the start is zero). The other will carry out actions. One example is if you're next to a tree, activating the action gesture will cause you to shake the tree and cause sticks and sometimes fruit to drop (or a coconut if you shake a palm). Going up to the dropped items and doing the action gesture again will cause you to pick them up, and add them to your inventory HUD. There are also a few large rocks with small rocks next to them, and you can pick up the small rocks. Next to one building, "Gam's Cranny," there's a workbench where you can craft items. With just rocks and twigs, you can only make a few items at first, such as stone hatchets and simple fishing rods. But with the stone hatchet, you can chop trees a few times to get some wood, which can be used to make more items like wooden shovels. Digging at a rock with a wooden shovel, you may find some ore, which can be used to help make a metal hatchet or metal shovel.

There is of course more to the place than just crafting. At the north edge of the sim are the shops (watch out for that train). Some of the shops are empty and available for merchants to rent, but there are a number that are active. Gamatech is the main store, owned by the owner of the sim Gama UwU, and usually has a bot there. Over much of the sim, there are roads and rivers. There are houses that people can rent and make their homes. There's a sandbox area where group members can rezz items. There's also a soccer field, and a playground area. To the south is the beach area with palm trees. There's a boat next to a dock, but I wasn't able to ride it around.

On occasion, I could hear a gust of wind, and looking up there was a wrapped box tied to a balloon floating across the sim. Those with slingshots can try to shoot them down and get a prize.  Sometimes, you may hear a dragonfly buzzing around. You can try to catch it with a net if you have one. And you may see fish in the water. If you have a rod and reel, you can do some fishing.

When I was at Retrovile in the summer, there was another sim next door, Carrington. It was the home of "Camp Pocket." Around the place were a number of small RV campers. Dropping by in September, however, the sim was blocked. It may be it was just temporarily down for some remodeling.

Eventually, I would make contact with the owner of Retrovile, Gama UwU. When I asked him how he came up with the idea of Retrovile, he answered, "A multitude of reasons, really! I'd often see people in Second Life complain that they were bored, that there was nothing to do. Since I spend most of my time scripting in SL, it seemed like the perfect excuse to see what Experiences were capable of! Another complaint was that it was hard to earn Linden dollars other than Linden Realms, so I wanted to try to create a fun way to earn L$ that was supported by the community itself and thankfully it seems to have worked out. The theme itself was due to restrictions. At the time I couldn't afford full region so I was limited to only 5000Li in a homestead. I've always loved Animal Crossing, and it's simplistic style was the perfect fit for a limited space like that."

When asked how long did it take to develop the sim, Gama answered, "They've been around for about three years now I think? I've never reached a point where I've felt "That's good enough" and left it as it, it's constantly being worked on an improved! The Experience HUD itself has had two iterations, the most recent of which took around four months to complete and was how I spent my time in lock-down."

I then asked about the HUDs and gathering materials, and what else was there to do. Gama told me, "You start off gathering materials from trees and rocks as you said. You can then use the materials you've gathered to craft tools such as bug nets for catching bugs, fishing rods for fish, axes to gather wood, shovels to mine for ore or slingshots to shoot down present balloons! Anything you gather can be sold at the shop in the north-east of the sim for Bells, our sim currency. The Bells you earn can be used to purchase furniture that's only available at Retroville, or you can trade in your Bells for L$ at the ATM. You can earn up to 49L$ a day just by having fun.

"In the past we've had Fishing Tourneys where all the fish you catch are measured and prizes awarded, a similar type of event for Bugs, we have yearly Halloween event where Jack visits and gives you a Trick or a Treat depending on which items you bring him, snowman building in winter and a few spontaneous ones. You can go back through the Announcements channel in our Discord server to look back on most of Retroville's history, including some pictures from past events (smile)."

I then asked about the homes. Gama responded, "They're designed to be super customizable, renters can do things such as change the roof/mailbox colors, wallpaper, flooring, add/remove doorways or windows or add new rooms all with a control panel on the wall inside. I don't feel super creative myself when it comes to homes, but some of the interiors people have created really blow me away. There's also the choice of private or public access homes, so if you find one that lets you I'm sure the owner doesn't mind you looking around. (smile)"

When I asked about Camp Pocket, Gama had this to say, "It serves a few purposes. I've crammed as much functionality into a single script as I can for the HUD itself, meaning memory is sparse. Because of this, most events take place in Camp Pocket! As the shop & ATM are in Retroville, those parts of the script are removed while in Camp Pocket and that leaves enough memory free unique events. The RV's are a kind of budget-home, too but pretty unique. Once rented, you can drive them around and park them anywhere you want. Entering it TP's you to it's interior (a skybox above) so I THINK they're the only homes in Second Life where you can freely choose where to live. ... they were free to drive and park them anywhere in Camp Pocket! If they fell into water or tried to enter Retroville they reset their position back to the RV parking lot where their rental meters are.

"For a while there was a trend of RV stacking. People would drive them of off cliffs to land and park on top of another RV. Then someone would park theirs on top of that RV and so on ((big grin). It was pretty entertaining to log in and see stacks of RV's, always interesting to see how people use the things you create in ways you'd never imagine."

I then brought up the shopping area. Gama informed, "Yeah, that's inspired by the Main Street from New Leaf. There's lots of video-game items in general there, as you'd expect (smile)." When I brought up Gamatech, "That's me! Sad to say I've not added much to it recently, most of the things I make for SL these days go straight into the Bell shop to give people things to buy with their earnings (smile). SparklingSheep is next door and is my partners store best known for the Puchimono avatar. People often think the avatar was made FOR Retroville, but it was a complete coincidence that I made a sim based around small animal people while she made an avatar that fit the theme perfectly (smile)."

Gama stated that anyone with questions was free to message him. People are also free to join the Retrovile SL group, or the Discord channel. Besides Gama and co-owner Sheepy Cloud, there are three moderators: Vinny Mold Littlepaw (m0ld Resident), Loppy Bunny, and Ambi (Ambialin Hapter).

Bixyl Shuftan

Note: I planed to write about the place in late July/early August. But real-life has been kicking my behind a lot lately. Sorry for the delay.