Saturday, April 30, 2011

Unofficial Recommendations: Isle of Lesbos

In a couple recent posts (here and here), I added my two cents about "Ten Photogenic Places" that Linden Lab recommended on their blog (here) and promised to post about several places that I'd recommend. While I often write about my explorations, I'll try to focus on the most photogenic ones. My first pick is a highly-biased one, the Isle of Lesbos (women only; SLurl), a wonderful place for women to relax without many of the usual pressures found elsewhere in-world.

The latest incarnation of The Pride Club
The bias is that I work there and have called it a home since my first days in Second Life. I am fortunate to be one of the landscaper/builders (amongst other tasks) and have spent most my time in-world today building The Pride Club, pictured above, for a week's worth of events to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Isle. In the background is our sister sim, Menagerie Isle (open to all; SLurl), home to my boss's breedable pet farm, and an integral part of our landscape. My blog has featured many pictures of the Isle over the years, just look to the top left for the search box and type Lesbos to find the posts, but here are two more new pictures:

Dancing and cuddles in the Secret Garden
A recent addition is the Secret Garden, a fantasy-themed sky box where our "magical" visitors can feel right at home or anybody who would like to visit someplace a little different. Our building staff has been making fewer original pieces of late as we find some truly spectacular things made by others to enhance our home as you can see in the Garden here. But we try to have the very best and listen carefully to our sisters on the Isle as to what they like.

In fact, you'll often see me in my office right at the landing zone planning on things I can slip in without asking permission first, so say "Hi" and let me know what you think of Lesbos.

Feed me cheeseburgers and I'll keep working

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Official Recommendations: The Next Five

In a post yesterday I wrote about visiting five of the Ten Photogenic Spots in SL as recommended on the Official SL Blog. The next five, all but one being very darkly themed and executed, also include places I'm familiar with, including Innsmouth, an eerie role play region (SLurl) that is so darkly textured and darkly lit that you'll be tempted to switch on full Noon daylight just to get around. Don't. Anything that needs to be lit will be and viewing the region in brighter light spoils the atmosphere. You visit Innsmouth to be creeped out so roll with the darkness and you won't be disappointed. Just don't judge all of New England by this reconstruction. We've advanced some since then and aren't quite as ... um ... dark. Last Halloween I bought a copy of the Inn from Innsmouth and used it as the basis for my haunted farmhouse dark ride (Web).

I'd rather not see what is playing at this theater
The Vanguard Research Base (SLurl), the next stop on the tour, is also a role play sim, but it is much more brightly lit on the Official Viewer. Then again, it is the depth of winter when you arrive so you'll be too busy with the cold to notice the light much. Everything is beautifully textured in shades of gray so that you are easily immersed in the scene. If you have one of the third party viewers that automatically changes to the region's prefered Windlight settings, then it is even better because the texturing is greatly enhanced. If not, change to Blizzard (I'll let you figure out how) and start exploring. Winter is not my season and military role play is not my style, but the region is so well put together I found myself spending more time than I had planned. A couple players were concerned for my safety. I guess I should have looked harder for an Observer tag/titler to wear.

Easily navigated by the color blind if they are cold tollerant
When you first land at Farstar New Earth (SLurl), you are in a totally alien landscape. Then it gets bizzare when you ride the teleporter to the Parallel Worlds area. You can join the group to get a Cthulu which you can fly around or just explore on foot. Liquidy spheres are everywhere ... golden globules filled with organic shapes and amazing reptilian-insectoid-metallic textures in an oddly coherent riot of forms. No particular Windlight setting is recommended, but I instinctually switched to Midnight for my exploration and the pictures. Of the ten sights in my two blog posts, Farstar/Parallel Worlds is easily one of the top three "must visit" pieces.

I imagine the artist was a fan of The Beatles and Yellow Submarine

I was too awed to do my usual *click-to-see-how-they-did-it*

The scale is humbling.
After an hour I tore myself away to visit S.I.C. (SLurl), another combat role play region and one that my friends in the Lucky Kitty Crew seem to frequent. While it is yet another dystopian region in Second Life it is probably the best I've seen. You will immediately think about the movie Blade Runner (if you've seen it, and if you haven't then log out of everything right now and find this cultural masterpiece) and when you think further, you'll see that the true similarities are in the passion shown for creating an atmosphere. The little details make the build and you'll find them in every corner. The only thing that holds back this build is the limits of Second Life itself.

Ridley Scott would recognize this street.
The last stop on the official recommendation list is INSILICO (SLurl), a creation of the incomparable Skills Hak (I'm biased as I've known her for some time). Her singular vision and immense creation skills (pun intended) have long made INSILICO a top-rated attraction in our world. Though I favor harmoniously natural places in Second Life versus bleak, futuristic builds such as this, I can still appreciate the brilliance shown here. The scale is epic and can't be appreciated in simple photos. In fact, I got lost (again) and gave up looking for the best shot out of so many possibilities. I was lucky to be able find my way back to The Blue Ant to get a drink out of the 166 prim bartender (OMG the detail! The detail!).

Waiting for my Blue Ant Pilsner
Soon I hope to post about some of my favorite places that are not on the official list (or post again as I've written about many of them before). First I'll have to find my way out of INSILICO and back to a warm forest. In the mean time, set aside parts of your busy schedule to visit these truly deserving places.


It just occurred to me that maybe I could blog from my iPad. Yes, it works, but I can't post images :( And I can edit only in HTML mode.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Official Recommendations: The First Five

The Official Second Life blog recently had a post recommending "Ten Photogenic Spots" to visit in-world. So I did, heading to spots I've seen before and ones that I've never visited, such as the Grand Canyon (SLurl), a beautiful build that takes some liberties with reality. Black bears outside a campsite might seem plausible, but I highly doubt alligators are to be found in the seemly abundant waters at the bottom of the canyon in the adjacent Crater Lake region. I'm not going to get into the dinosaurs. I had fun nonetheless, exploring the whole sim, including the snow skiing resort section with more bears, a working ski lift, and free sledding. Other activities abound, including Zip Lines for moving from the canyon rim to the floor, motorcycles, boats, skydiving, dancing, cuddling, games, and lots more. But the views are impressive. You will want to set your graphics to Ultra if you can, to make sure you see as much of the scenery as possible.

Crater Lake from the Canyon Rim

Lake Tahoe from the Summit
Next I visited the Eiffel Tower, one of many in-world, though this version (SLurl) is one of the better renditions. It actually uses two of four connected regions to fit in all the prims needed for it's beautifully accurate re-creation. The setting represents Paris circa 1900 with "statues" of people in period dress, appropriate textures, and a general lack of anything more modern outside the shops. Yes, as you'd expect in Paris, there is a lot of shopping to do with clothes and jewelry everywhere, but you can even buy souvenirs such as a L$10 model of the tower. Dancing is everywhere, including at the top of the tower, which you can also jump from with or without the free, high-quality backpack parachute (it's actually SL-competition capable) provided.

Hard to find a bad view of the Tower in Paris.
Then I went to San Francisco, home of the famous Golden Gate Bridge (SLurl). Like Paris above, there is more than one 'Frisco and bridge in SL and again like Paris, this one is mighty impressive because it is a multi-region, highly-detailed re-creation including such familiar sights as Golden Gate Park, the Castro, Fisherman's Wharf, and the infamous Alcatraz. Someone has spent an awful lot of money and time on this build and its accuracy. For some reason, though, I found the Monitor, a US Civil War era iron clad ship in the bay. I'm not sure if there is one there IRL, but it makes for a nice picture here.

Sunset on the Golden Gate Bridge from the deck of the Monitor
Another beautiful place that I've explored before is in the official recommendations: La Perla II, and old Italy homage (SLurl). There always seems to be someone dancing when I visit or wandering around one of the many shops in the labyrinth of alleys that make up this townscape. And it is refreshing to see a shopping area with near 100% occupancy. The goods are primarily geared toward men, which is also refreshing, though you will find little cafes, a souvenir shop, and stalls that are simply for enhnancing the atmosphere. Exploration here is fun as the short sightlines makes the region feel much bigger even when a fair chunk is set aside for private use.

An island town in La Pearla II in the bay just off the a larger town
F R O S T in Alirium (SLurl) seems to be one of those gorgeously landscaped regions laid out as a showcase for the products of a small store that takes time to find. I could be wrong, but I wandered for a while without finding the shop and when I did, the wonderful landscape items I enjoyed during the journey were all there. I like this approach to retail, though I have no idea how anyone can afford to do it ... a whole region depending on the income from just a few items? Amazing. Especially as the items seem to be so inexpensive for the quality. However, this is a bit misleading. When you land in the well-textured wooden shack there is a Teleport to Ground option that if you ignore you can wander the winter-scape in the next picture, but if you follow the teleport (to SLurl) you are surrounded by giant bunnies atop a humungous tree trunk. Follow the butterflies down the well then head down through a trap door for access to another landscaping shop, again with value-priced goods, and a doorway to a fabulous spring-scape at ground level (2nd picture next). My pixy alts are going to love this place.

Winter in the Sky at Alirium

Spring at Ground Level in Alirium
Next entry, hopefully tomorow, will be the other five on the official recommendation list. if you can't wait, check out the post here, but I'm going to spend some quality time in these regions for the rest of today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Body Physics are Active (so to speak)!

Body Physics are now in the Official Viewer. The SL Wiki has more information about this and other changes plus links for downloads. You may also see an update request upon log-in. My earlier post on the topic can be found here.

Meeroos on Menagerie

A Fantasy Theme on Menagerie Isle
Real Life has left me little time to do much in Second Life, which is sad because I have 12 adorable Meeroos romping around on Menagerie Isle (SLurl) and I feel like I'm neglecting them. You may have heard of these new breedable pets that aren't bunnies or kitties or horsies or ... whatever else is out there that is breedable. If not, check out the official blog or even do a Web search because lots of people are writing about them.

At this time the program is in an Open Beta period where thousands of your fellow Residents, each with six or more 'roos of their own (depending on how many alts they've enrolled in the program ... I have six and Zyx Flux has six). It doesn't seem to me that many folks are spending much time with the animal's backstory (there's a whole mythology), many of the social aspects (you can get "points" for certain activities), or too many things beyond wondering about breeding and the things you often associate with other virtual breedable pets.

I suppose that is understandable as I had the popular bunnies for long enough that certain habits are ingrained. One of which is thinking that the critters are real and have feelings. Yes, I've assigned personalities and feelings and such to each, not hard when they sometimes walk up to you and ask in chat to be cuddled. So I'm getting all emotional again and wonder what I'm going to do when the last of Beta period approaches in about two weeks.

For now I'll just pet them and cuddle them and have fun with them. I know that at the end of the Beta all the critters go away. From the outside I told myself and others that at most I'll get one for me and one for Zyx Flux so the critters can play with each other when I'm not in-world. Maybe this will limit how attached I get and certainly save me a lot of money on food. Look at these pictures, though, and you'll see how hard it will be to keep myself limited.

Visualizing the roaming range of the four "stump" homes. Eight 'roos can live in each stump and as some of the critters are mating up now, I'll need the room soon.. My stumps are to the left and Zyx's are to the right.

Micro Zyx is visiting at the Isle of Ewe, the home of some friends and their 'roos.

Zyx is back home with our herds and keeps on eye on Sadie as she checks out the camera. Each 'roo has personality traits that can be bred as well as size and color traits, not just the personalities that I assume they have.

McCuddles is asleep. The clever programmers have set the critters to follow the region's day/night cycles. I wish the eyelids were lighter, though. Their asleep look strikes me as a bit creepy.

Zyx is cuddling Reagan, a "large" meeroo but probably not at his full size yet. The size trait runs from teacup-sized to giant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Easter Egg Contest

Last year, after After having worked ahead on what I thought was a really nice display, I was so disappointed that there was no official Second Life Easter Egg Decorating Contest. In hindsight, I probably missed the announcement. I almost missed this year's announcement, too, and nearly gave up thinking I wouldn't have time to work on anything. Then I remembered last year's unused effort, did a little tweaking, and submitted it today. Please wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mystara Rebuild

The Mystara role play community (SLurl) has grown another region and used the process to add to the whole community's story line. A massive storm unlike any in living memory lay ruin to the original land, but providence shined when additional land rose from the sea and the gods whisked created a larger, more complex settlement in the hills of the new land. Or something like that. The whole thing was very complicated and I haven't spent enough time in-world to really grasp the whole thing. Besides, as a mermaid in Mystara, I'm mostly concerned with the the waterways and for now, not much as really changed beyond new rivers and a few expanded areas. But the head honcho, Annie Ibanez, has promised exciting things for the Merfolk.

In addition to the new wasters, I have explored the land areas, both as a land walking mermaid (Sirens, you know, can take human form for short periods) and as my tiny pixy, Zyx Flux. Here are some pictures from today, starting with the new Merfolk Queen's throne.

This is near the line between the two regions, near an existing set of ruins. The storm did not seem to affect the depths in the previously existing region all that much.

A major new area for Merfolk and for the a new shipping company has been added. The shark-infested waters feature a seabed dotted with dangerous stalagmites. A path from the docks leads to the hilltop village.

Near the docks are some ruins adjacent to a mystical, mushroom-filled cave. Atop the mountain above the cave is a marvelous .. erm .. pavillion? Cathedral? All I know is that it is dragon territory and unless I want to become a meal, I need to stay away from it. Whatever it is, the structure is from Elicio Ember and Cerridwen's Cauldron Creations (SLurl), like much of the flora (particularly the swamp) that festoons the land.

Somehow the storm moved the swamp from the southern edge of the first region to the southern edge of the new region. Ours is not to wonder why, ours is but to prance like a happy pixy amongst all the beauty. This could be my favorite land-based area in all of Mystara.

If you had taken the path from the docks to the village, you would find a meticulously planned, terraced community with everything you need for a medieval urban life: Jail, magic shoppe, tavern, blacksmith, and more. Be careful around the sewer grates, though, for you can easily wind up in catacombs, the hidden storehouses of the black market, and other nefarious places.

The village also features cemetary, homes, a beautiful castle and fabulous views of the forest.

I'm very much at home in the forest, when I'm a pixy. The enormous trees are threaded together with rope-and-slat bridges and generous platforms. No one race claims the platforms, but you will see elven influences everywhere. Of all the Mystaran races, I hear the least from them but they seem to have a mighty impact.

When you come to explore, please wear an Observer tag, available free when you arrive, but be prepared to stay as part of the community. It is a free-form, high-quality role play with many active members and lots of opportunity.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My @#$%^Inventory

Sorry for the lack of posts, but as you can see here, I'm burried in sorting my inventory. I really need to post some tips here, starting with

1. Don't let it get out of control!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Real Me. Digital Life. Virtual Spaces.

After much consideration, I've decided that I'm not really a Virtual Girl as my blog subtitle has said for quite some time. Rather, I'm a Real but I live a largely Digital Life, often in Virtual Spaces.

My Previous Subtitle
Uccello Poultry is almost a brand representing me across the Internet, albeit a private one, as it populates accounts in various places in lieu of my meatspace name, most famously in the virtual space of Second Life. Yet, I exist digitally beyond that, as well, with presences in various forms. In Lego Universe I am ZyxFlux. As a NeoPet I have still another name. My email accounts, FaceTime registration, and so forth are all extensions of me, creating anchor points tethering a Digital Life to my Real Life.

So, today, I'm changing this blog from chronicling The Wanderings of a Virtual Girl to following Real Me. Digital Life. Virtual Spaces. The emphasis will still be on Second Life, but don't be surprised if I increase the number of occasional posts on other topics. You've seen a few before, but you will likely see more.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bounce Bounce

When a certain Third Party Viewer (TPV) added "Breast Physics" to it's bag of tricks, the idea of using a viewer not from The Lab became quite popular. Our World's biggest demographic, The Pervs, rapidly adopted the application en masse. And now the Lab is giving into the depravity trend by adding this feature plus Belly and Bottom Physics to an upcoming release. Hamlet Au broke the news a day or so after it blazed through in-world communications with his post yesterday and gives a bit more information. But as fast as things go his post is a bit out of date already. Here is what I know and then some, starting with a demo video:

The Snowstorm Development Viewer version as I write this is Second Life 2.6.4 (225759) Apr 5 2011 10:30:39 (Second Life Development) and can be downloaded from the Latest Development Viewers section of the Snowstorm Wiki. Check the version after download because for some reason I kept getting an older build even after getting the correct one (I kept at it for testing).

While you are waiting for it to download, head to Nyoko Salome's Marketplace page (or go in-world) to get a free "Bounce On Toes" set for animations to test the feature and a basic pre-set to wear.

Yes, wear. A new "layer" is added to your avatar so you can set how your breasts, belly, and bottom react to bouncing and swaying. The TPV feature was one general setting that made every set of breasts behave the same way. Now users can define how firm or saggy "The Girls" are, how much the trunk junk moves around, and how much slosh you have in your beer belly regardless of how others have set their preferences. Of course, those perving you will need to use a compliant viewer, but with The Lab making this a standard, the vast majority of Residents will enjoy (or be offended by) your tastes. Be sure to check all your adjustments with all the anims in your AO and other frequently used motion anims because the test ones from Nyoko only show up and down motion. My poor little pixy alt's butt bounced so much she nearly fell over.

No word on when this goes mainstream, but with the recent emphasis on fast release cycles, I'd say it should be soon. And word has it that the Kirsten's Viewer and the Firestorm Viewer will add this feature, but don't hold me to it. That's all hearsay right now.