Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Caledon Downsizing A Few Sims

 By Bixyl Shuftan
On Tuesday April 4, the Caledon community got a little sad news from it's leader, Governor Desmond Shang. Four of the estate's sims, three regular and one homestead, would be closing soon.

Now that I've got notices out to everyone in Kittiwick, Tanglewood, and Cay, this is a general announcement that we are cutting back 3 standard regions and one homestead (tbd due to possible swaps).

Caledon is one of the largest, and oldest, steampunk-themed communities and estates in Second Life. It began in 2007, quickly growing to almost thirty sims, and would gain some more over the next few years. But the place hasn't been immune to the real-life troubles of it's residents, and has cut back some sims over time. At the start of the month, it had 22 sims.

I would get in contact with Desmond with a few questions, and he had some answers.

    Of the sims closing down, I assume the population in each of them is fairly small?

Desmond: In most cases.  One region had just three people left and far too much vacant land.  The one that had the most had nine people, but on small parcels. It boils down to economics; basically the overall budget has to be balanced.  Some regions can be subsidized for a good while, but eventually, only so many can be carried by the rest.

    Over time, Linden Lab has been lowering the price of sim tier. Could that have allowed these sims to last longer, or would they have closed earlier if it wasn't for the tier reduction?

Desmond: Lowering costs is a good thing overall.  Had my costs lowered too, of course that would have helped.  But only to a point.

When Caledon started, most people lived on the mainland.  It was more difficult on the mainland back then: griefing, and things like 16 meter parcels for sale at high prices with 'irritant' builds used to extort residents.  We were a very attractive alternative, for some.

Also, most people sold though inworld shops back then; now the commercial real estate market is far less significant.  And now it's entirely possible to get a lovely Victorian home in a beautiful area, with a rail system across hundreds of regions, direct from our platform provider.
    Of the upcoming rearrangement of sims, what if someone has an issue with a new neighbor, such as if a sim has thunder noise from constant storms that can be heard in adjacent sims?

Desmond:  As much as disputes sound awful, it's impressive the amount that gets worked out, without anyone even contacting me.  99% of the time there is a solution, either technically, or by just talking.  Sounds can be limited easily, for example.  But yes, I help sort things out now and then if necessary.
    Do residents of Caledon have to worry about more sims closing down later on?

Desmond: The residents of Caledon are largely in control of this themselves ~ they do the spending, not me.  Naturally though, for various reasons, people move on.  Often due to things taking precedence in their personal lives, that took their time away.  The most relevant factor however, is that we aren't getting a lot of new people like we used to.  We have been cutting back regions since 2010, when we had 51 regions; this is not a new thing.

The bigger 'worry' is not really the size of the country.  Sure, I could grow the estate if I slashed prices, let anyone come in and do nearly anything (the present residents would probably flee in that case).  The bigger concern, to my mind, is the quality not the size.  We could grow to be 200 private, unconnected tropical islands, for instance.  But it wouldn't be recognisable as Caledon at that point.  This was never about making the most money or the biggest estate.  Anyone can copy the big estates to do just that.  Clearly that was never the plan.  No matter what size we are, we have history, a sense of fun and an unmistakeable character.

    Was there anything else about the issue you wished to say?

Desmond: Yes.   Seventeen years ago, my 'real life' business wasn't as busy, but it really took off around 2013 or so.  What that has meant, is that time spent on Caledon is competing, if you will, with billable hours.  From experience, it would take at least an additional 40 to 80 hours a month of involvement to do significantly more for Caledon.  I'm already working 55-65 hour weeks as it is.  So that is a limiting factor.  I would love to have more time, but this is the situation.

Sending an alt to Caledon's Tuesday night party on April 11, there was some talk about the sims about to fade away. One person wondered if the Lab had raised operating cost. Someone joked, "So long as there isn't a toll booth at region boundaries." One resident who lives in New York in real life commented, "Don't give my Governor any ideas." It was felt by one that the trains in the estate would temporarily stop running until they were rescripted to follow new patterns. 
Eventually, someone looked at the map and noticed, "Caledon Cay just *poofed*."  "The guhnah was just warning that." "Just a big flat underwater place now." "What would have happened to them if they had stayed in Cay when it poofed?" "Well there's still green dots there." "I think the map hasn't fully caught up yet." Then DJ Cynthia started playing, "The Final Countdown." Someone mused, "What a timely song for Cay."
Only a fraction of the talk was about the upcoming sim closures. Someone joked about making her place it's own island, then, "I'm going to experiment on turning animals into human like minded creatures." One anthro fox mused maybe instead, "turning unsuspecting hoomans into furries."
Near the end, someone thought, "I'll drop by the Moors border on the way out and watch Cay sink into the sea." One resident wasn't too worried about the situation, "Caledon actually has quite a few regions, so even if there is some downsizing, while it's sad, I think there's still enough left." 

On a personal note, a number of the residents of my own home area, the Sunweavers, have friends in Caledon. A couple have second homes there. And the one who talked yours truly into coming to SL was a Caledonian. So what goes on there is of some concern to me, and other "Sunnies." But while it is a little sad to see the sims go, the rest of the land, of a fine community, goes on. And it should continue for many years to come.

Bixyl Shuftan

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