Halloween 2021: Haunted Hummingbird Isle

Next is The Haunted History of Hummingbird Isle which is by the same designer as Once Upon a Spell, but it feels a little smaller. I totally love the environment settings here, a thunderous sky with appropriate sound and rain.

The pirate ship isn’t boardable, but it definitely makes for great scenery on the beach before you proceed up the steep steps to the gardens and house.

From up here you get a great view of that cool sky again before you walk through the rain to the house.

I opened the doors and stepped through, immediately recognising the building was the same as one I saw at Dead Mans Island last year, however while the layout is the same the interior and contenst of the rooms is different so still worth exploring!

Landing Point: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Hummingbird%20Isle/200/26/23

Outfit Credits:

This post was featured on the SecondLife Community Blog on Monday 11th October 2021.

Halloween 2021: Skullingtown

After blogging several spooky places last year, I thought it would be fun to do the same again this year. First up is 80Days-Skullingtown.

The arrival point is in front of a tall pair of gates that instinctively you might proceed through, but wait! I did as I always do and look behind me on arrival, you should do the same here. There is a graveyard and a massive pumpkin patch back there to see first.

As you explore you’ll hear an appropriately tinny version of a tune from the film The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is quite haunting and coming from the creepy merry go round near the entrance.

Heading through the main gates you’re in small town square with lots of appropriately spooky paraphernalia scattered about around and inside the houses and towers. Some of these are just scenery, but several of them you can enter and explore. I picked the house straight ahead first, stopping at the bottom of the steps to admire its creepiness for a moment.

Looking up at the looming house I realise how damn short this sexy skirt is, good job it comes with undies!

I then had a wander around the other buildings to see what surprises were in store!

Builder: Camila (Camila Runo)

Arrival point: https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/White%20Widow/146/149/34/

Outfit Credits:

This post was featured on the SecondLife Community Blog on 6th October 2021.

Vortex of Lust – Part 1

I came across Vortex of Lust through a post in the Cyber Alliance discord server,which included the description below.

The refugium known as the Vortex has a wide variety of geographic features, from the familiar to the fantastic.

The centre of it all, both proverbially and literally, is the Free Market, which rests on a floating platform anchored to a derelict mass of rock that floats above the surface.
Above the Free Market the Battleship Aurora rests collided with another splinter of levitating rock, hosting a portal to the Floating Islands, a place of beauty and mystery high above the Vortex.
The surface is a wild and dangerous place with frozen seas, endless mazes of tunnels, treacherous swamps and far more treacherous inhabitants. Travelers to the surface should be well prepared.

This description had me very intrigued and the images more so. The locations appear to range from steampunk through urban and into cyberpunk, dressing for this place could be a challenge!

Given the mention of battleships and ice lakes I thought a full body protective suit seemed the best option, along with a few survival accessories.

First view on arrival

I like a clear uncluttered landing point with clear signage and as little surplus stuff as possible. The Vortex has this, however it also has a lot of information to be shared prior to entering the RP area. Most of this relates to the HUD used here, which auto-attaches as soon as you accept the regions Experience permissions. There is a new players area that talks you through it all. Once you go through there you are guided to an are that tells you about the multiple locations here.

The New Player Area

The different locations

You leave this are via the Vortex at the centre.

You emerge through the Vortex into a new area that feels quite steampunkish at first glance.

A rather impressive portal
You arrive here through the Vortex

This is the area known as  Central Market. Despite modern aspects like the grage door and submarine, inside things are quite antique or industrial.

Behind the garage door is a study type room with old book cases and antique desk, but with a full tech suite upstairs.

Heading over to the submarine it only seems to serve one purpose, the local jail.

Around the corner I find signposted The Jolly Harbor Tavern and The Surface, I take the Tavern first. I reminds me of Drune Diesel in atmosphere for some reason, maybe that’s due to the piano in the corner, but looks like an interesting place to roleplay.

Now to explore in the other direction towards “The Surface”, following the signs direction I see a crashed plane and crane above some kind of gantry.

There’s also a buildy to the left that I thought I’d check out first, I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of the machinery is, but the other peice of hardware in the room hints at some not-so-innocent activities.

Carrying on my journey I head towards the gantry to see what awaits, a lift that descent to the surface.

At the bottom is an interesting place that looks like it’ll be fun to explore, you can see in the first snap that the place extends quite some distance before the view is obstructed by trees, which instantly makes it feel more mysterios.

Since the Central Market is essentially in the middle of the region, in terms of elevation, there’s also the airship Aurora to be explored above. There is a similar lift next to the submarine that takes you there.

I’ll show you some more of the Surface and Aurora roleplay areas in Part 2.

Click Here for Part 2!

Landing point: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Vortex%20of%20Lust/59/124/3017

Website: https://www.vortex-of-lust.com/

Discord: https://discord.gg/6n7VmeRKtB

Outfit Credits:

This post was featured on the SecondLife Community Blog on 6th August 2021.

Burn2 – Burning Man Festival in SecondLife

Burn2 is the the virtual presence of Burning Man in SecondLife. While it’s been around for many years this is the first time I made it to one of their events.

The event consisted of a torchlit procession around the perimeter amog various diffent community built structures, then a fire dancing performance, followed by the “burning” of a virtual wicker effigy.

People were encouraged totake part in the procession, so I did.

The Fire Dancing..

Burning The Effigy..

With appropriately atmospheric music and dancing following the “Burn”, it was really good fun. They have quite regular events that you can read more about on their website, I’d recommend going along to one if you have the opportunity.

Website: https://www.burn2.org/

This post was shared on the SecondLife Community Blog.

Another Earth

I came across Another Earth while searching for something else on the SL forums. It was an invitation for anyone to come join their cyberpunk dystopian roleplay.

“Enter an alternate reality Earth where magic, high tech, cybernetics, the supernatural, and faith in the gods collide in Chicago, the City of Dragons. We are going to have live events, RP sessions, and book readings from the author, a quarterly fashion event, and so much more!”

Book readings from the author kinda jumped out at me, since I regularly attend the SL Book Club. So I picked out a suitable outfit and headed over to the slurl in the post.

The Arrival point was your standard collection of staff online boards, discord invite etc, but also posters of book covers (with links to their kindle versions on Amazon.com).

You get around to the various different locations in the region using teleporters in the form of yellow cabs, sitting on the one at the arrival point will give you a few destinations to choose from, I chose “Applebriar Square”.

Your transport

It’s a nice spacious city build in different styles in different locations, from shiny corporate to more rundown dystopian feel. Applebriar Square is more the former, lots of shiny buildings and tech everywhere. I explored several of the buildings, making a circuit of the place, around on the roads and then back through some eco domes with connecting tunnels. This route took me back to the cab I’d arrived by, so I next went to Mitchigan Avenue.

This place is more of the latter style, cracked roads and graffiti alongside rundown houses.

As is usual for me when I’m doing my explorations the place was pretty empty, since most of SL is asleep. I was informed however that they have regular rp sessions on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 5pm SLT.

There’s plenty of lore created for Another Earth (a Books worth!) and the website gives you a brief glimpse of it, indicating that all races not just Humans from Trolls to Faeries to Orcs, Elves and Vampires can be played here. A dice roll system and detailed character stats system has been created and can be found on the site too.

I left plenty of the place unpictured for you to explore and discover for yourself, so go check it out.

Arival point: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Another%20Earth/212/80/1005

Website: https://dellefson1976.wixsite.com/my-site

Credits:

Featured on the SecondLife Community Blog on Tuesday 6th July 2021.

Something a little different – Fallout: Wormwood (CLOSED)

Wormwood has CLOSED.

(More precisely the community I blogged about has moved on or disbanded, I don’t know the details. However the location is still there, if you vistit now (August 2021) it’s a lovely garden location.)

This is a first for me. While I was busy blogging about Fantasy Faire I received a random notecard. It was an invitation to visit and maybe blog this place. The location is based around the Fallout games, while I’m aware of them I’ve never played any of them. That means I’m really going into this blind and means I’ll probably miss any references to places names or locations, so you’ll have to forgive me for that.  Kinda how I like it when exploring in SL really, usually my only research of a place is just enough to ensure I’m dressed appropriately. In this case that resulted in a combat suit with weapon accessories. I did consider a helmet, probably would have been advisable for an IC visit due to the environment, but I just couldn’t find one that I felt worked with the suit.

The all-important landing area that gives your first impression is a small fenced area clear of clutter, just staff online boards, information about Factions, vendors for a group gift outfits and a table that offers free weapons:

[04:57:42] Second Life: Free Weapons Giver owned by Bishop Slade gave you '10mm Pistol 1' .
 'Carter Knife'.
 'NCR Standard Issue M16'.
'NCR Standard Issue M16 (Slung)'.
'10mm Pistol'.
'US army Mag Pouch'.

There’s also a rentals board but it’s thankfully relatively discreet and there’s no nagging signs to ruin the atmosphere.

Heading through the nearby archway you arrive on the street where you get a very clear idea of what kind of place you’ve come to, cracked tarmac, boarded up ruined buildings and most noticiably, a green sky. That’s what suggests some kind of natural disaster, that there’s a story, seperating it from many other post-apocolyptic style locations.

I headed down the main road checking out various places along the way, but not exploring inside yet.

When I get to the far end there’s a large “This Way” neon sign. Presumably it meant the nearest doorway which opened into what seems to be a power station control room. Here you meet one of the several NPC’s that are dotted around the region. (Of course it could also have implied using the stairs, although that takes you to a rental, but also a good spot to jump over the wall into the power station yard, if you didn’t want use the doors.)

Unsubtle guidance is sometimes useful
[10:23:40] Engineer Sophia: Hey! I need someone to go check the power lines for me. Can you head out to the Wastelands and check they are all looking ok? I'll pay you for your time of course. Here, take this radio with you so we can communicate out there. Head up the main street, take a right at Slocum Joe's, head straight through the tunnel and then you'll be at the Wastelands. You know, the desert? Check all the lines on the right side of the street. Theres 12 lines in total out there. Make sure you check all 12 before you come back here, I'll radio you when you can come back.

So I did as she asked, followed the directions and went to check all the powerline poles in the “Watelands” which are appropriately named. Out here is very dusty and barren like a scene from a Mad Max film.

[10:37:13] Power Line 1/12: You check the line for any signs of damage, it looks fine.
[10:36:54] Power Line 2/12: You check the line for any signs of damage, it looks fine.

After clicking all the ones that gave a response I heard from Sophia:

[10:53:22] Engineer Sophia: *RADIO STATIC* ~~ Looks like that's the last one. Come on back and I'll pay you. Over and out ~~ *RADIO STATIC*
[10:54:57] Engineer Sophia: Good job out there today, heres 20 caps.

Caps here referring to a HUD system the region uses, it’s automatically attached when you accept the SL Experience upon arrival.

I then started to explore a bit more there being a small alley adjacent to the control room, I headed down it to see where it led. Through some undergrowth, on what used to be a back street, littered with broken down cars I come through some fencing onto a basketball court. Either end is fenced so I cut through the building opposite, between some more cars and undergrowth onto a main street.

The street ended in one of the teleporter arches leading to an out of town forested area on the coast. If it wasn’t for that green sky you could easily have thought you’d returned to somewhere normal, but it is a lovely landscape to explore.

Seems I’m headed to Bear Creek

All these explorations were along the West side of the region (the teleporter arches taking you to different altitudes), perhaps the opposite side has similar locations to explore behind the row of abandoned premises, but I’ll leave that to you to discover, along with the odd npc or two located inside some of them. If that’s not enough there is a whole second region to the North to explore! The quickest way to get  there is by clicking on the signs to the left of the teleport arch at the arrival point.

Website: https://falloutwormwoodsl.wixsite.com/main

Landing poing: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Heather/250/16/701

Outfit Credits:

 

This post was featured on the SecondLife Community Blog on 21st May 2021 (Just hours after publishing, which is another first I think.)

Valhallah – The Ritual

 

Ava reaches the valley of Valhalla weary but energised by the sight of the great waterfalls and towering statues, she is home.

Rounding the bend in the path she sees the waterfall in it’s full glory and the platform at that top which is her destination.

Her destination awaits
Glad to be home

She scales the mighty steps for the first time in a long time and enters one of the great halls.

She takes a moment to refresh herself and change out of her travelling clothes before taking a seat in the hall.

She doesn’t intend to spend long there, she knows she has a ritual to prepare for! Once she feels rested somewhat she leaves the hall and makes her way to high platform of the tree.

On her way down she pauses to admire the valley in all it’s glory.

Credits:

Location: Valhallah

Travelling clothes:

Ritual Outfit:

This post was featured on the  SecondLife Community Blog

 

The Blogger Room..and what it means to me

Now this may be a very strange thing to be posting about, it’s not particularly glamorous, or something you can buy but it’s important in another way to me. (For those new to my blog, I post about stuff that happen to me in my SL not just things or places, this I think is one of those significant moments.)

 

I’m in the “Blogger Room” of Fantasy Faire 2021. It’s not located within the Faire regions (we have to keep out of there til the 21st) and its location is only known to the organisers, merchants and official bloggers. This is where merchants put review copies for the bloggers to use in their posts about the event.

This isn’t just special because it’s my first time in the Faire blogger room, it’s also the first time I’ve been an official Blogger for any event and therefore first time in any Blogger Room, so quite milestone I think!

 

Fantasy Faire is I think unique in the amount of freedom and flexibility it gives to its bloggers. We’re not given quotas of x items from x number of shops and so many posts like some events. Its not all about shopping like those events, although obviously that plays a large part with all the cool new stuff merchants release and to raise money for RFL. The fantastic landscapes and crazy environments the World builders create are what I love and the stories and adventures they inspire.

Combining what the generous merchants have left for us with the no-doubt beautiful lands, I hope to have some fun posts for you. I suspect I shall be making several trips here, since as you can see in the image above, there are still lots of unfilled boxes and another wall of them out of shot, the room is less than a quarter full, so I look forward to seeing what other delights we are offered!

Credits :

Featured on the Second Life Community Blog on 19 April 2021

Avatars, Brands and Personas

 

My avatars online persona started with an email address.

This way I could separate SL related, avatar specific, mail from other day to day RL stuff. These days such things can be acquired in just a few minutes for free.

Then I thought it would be fun to tell people about my adventures in SL, so I bought a website domain for a blog, although I didn’t start using it for quite some time. When I actually started using that, a Twitter account to promote it followed  as well as a Flickr account for photos I took inworld.

I was gradually unintentionally building my avatar into a full online persona or psudonym, to the point they have more of an online presence than my RL identity.

But when does a persona become a “brand”? Is it based on the number of people that know of you? Number of “followers” or customer sales if you have an actual product.

To make things more confusing I discovered this term “brand-persona”, where a company creates a persona for their brand, without the actual person part. A fictional figurehead that doesn’t have a person behind it, but a marketing team. Sure we’re aware of these things, but I wasn’t aware there was an actual term for it.

An article I found on this suggested that individuals, while having or being an actual brand, don’t consider themselves as such. Whereas with business it’s completely the opposite,but that’s not surprising.

This lead me to think about these people known as “Social influencers”. Just the term makes me cringe, because it makes me think of “Reality TV” show participants that suddenly achieve “celebrity” by doing not a lot, certainly not anything worth being celebrated. But maybe that’s a misconception.

So what’s a social influencer?

The website Influence Markering Hub describes it as:  “People who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views”.
They go so far as suggesting influcer types from “Mega”  down to “Nano”, based on their follower numbers.

However based on the definition above, I have friends in SL that are probaly influencers, but they don’t consider themselves as such. They’re not the ones that make me cringe, it’s those that identify themselves as such.

Maybe if we follow the suggested numbers, persona becomes brand when you reach a certain “type” of influencer, at X amount of followers. Since the definition of these characters changes frequently, presumably the answer to my query does too.

I really struggled with this idea though, it seemed very  wrong to base value of something or some achievement based on mere statisitcs. To help me try and figure some of this out I asked Draxtor Despres. Undoubtedly an avatar and he certainly influences people, however I’d never want to insult him by calling him a brand.

The questions do overlap but I couldn’t decide which one might get to the point of what I was trying to work out.

Q. At what point does and avatar persona become a brand?

Draxtor: A simple answer to that is if you are on an entrepreneurial path, if you have something to sell. Which is totally fine. The wonder of second life is that you can do a mum and pop type shop or create something and have complete power over how to market to sell it and that’s a wonderful way to do commerce. So I would say an avatar persona becomes a brand when there’s commerce involved.

Q. Is whether an avatar becomes a brand related to the number of followers they may have on social media platforms?

Draxtor: Follows has absolutely nothing to do with anything, the idea of followers to measure the importance of what you do in terms of success in a measurable binary sense is total bullshit. That’s the capitalist paradigm. The capitalist paradigm is trying to equate number of sales to the importance and to the validity and to the greatness of a product and that’s just total bullshit.

Q. Do you think using an avatar name outside Second Life as name of blog or social channel make it a brand?

Draxtor:  I would totally do that just for consistency. If you talked to somebody who studied marketing in college would probably say I’m talking about branding, probably I am but I just don’t like the word because the word to me is clouded and soiled frankly by the nefarious agenda to sell bullshit to people for monetary gain of a small elite.

So it would appear Draxtors thoughts on the subject, matched pretty well to my own. His assertion that quite a lot of it was bullshit resonates with my thoughts that it felt so wrong to place value or worth on something or someone based on popularity or how many people know or approve of them.

On the subject of influencers however he had this to say:

I do Linden Lab contracting work where I produce weekly videos highlighting destinations, creations and creative individuals in personal profile style videos. In that sense you could see me as influencer, since I am on the payroll of Linden Lab AND showcasing the best of the platform. I don’t have a problem with that classification (influencer)however I would like to add that with my specific contract I have tremendous freedom to choose topics and the way I visually present them.
It is maybe a bit like working for the local tourism agency of country XYZ where you LOVE all the stuff the locals do and you tell stories how they do it!

That now looks like a contradiction, since I said people that identify themselves as influencers make me cringe. The difference being here is that Drax hypes imagination and creativity in the virtual world, not things for sale.

But is it that simple? Throw in money and you go from a persona to a brand? I thought maybe I need some more input, a contrary view.
I asked someone that I thought fitted this description, that receives money via sponsored ads on their social media content. I asked if they felt they considered themselves a brand and if so, at what point they thought an avatar becomes a brand.

“I think our social media foot print is kind of like a brand. Any time you are blogging or vlogging you are branding your self, your image, etc”.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a reply to a follow up question for any clarification but thier response does match up with the finance argument Drax makes. Their money comes in through their social media postigs, because they charge for ad space, which therfore makes them a brand just by posting.

So maybe it is that simple after all.

Edit:
Coincedentally just hours after I posted this article Isabelle Cheren posted a spoof video called “That Cringe Social Influencer” which depicts very well the type of person I talk about above, give it a watch.

I’d love to hear any thoughts readers may have on this, so do please put your thoughts in the comments. (While you’re there, read the comment by Drax where he clarifies some points.)


This post was featured on the Second Life Community Blogon 7th April 2021.

Thoughts on Emotional connections, Real and Virtual lives.

A few things recently have set me thinking about the nature of virtual vs physical realities.

The first of those came out in my post about Virtual Hugs, which seemed to be very positively received. In that piece I talked about the importance of emotional attachment to your avatar.

I’m not debating whether virtual spaces, activities or experiences are “Real”. We interact within them, do things and have experiences within them. So from that perspective, the fact the “place” is computer generated is irrelevant, its Real. They’re just a slightly different kind of real, but you can’t deny the interactions happened.

Shortly after my blog post about hugs, a thread started on Twitter by Loki Eliot (@Demonkid) about how virtual experiences may have affected the physical reality, set me thinking more.

He posed the question of how much of our virtual lives (whichever space that may be in) pervades into our physical lives to shape our perception of it. I would say that it may well be quite a lot. Or possibly more accurately it could be proportionate to the amount of time you spent on these spaces. I’ll start by sharing my responses:

“Belief whether something is real is exactly that, belief, which is something you feel. If something happens in a virtual setting it’s no different to your mind than a physical world [..]”

“Perhaps those that mocked you may see their error now they can’t go out, but you can still do all your regular recreational things. Re-creation being the perfect word. It’s all recreation of a type of Real but better and how we want it. “

Emotional connection to your avatar and feeling part of the virtual environment are sometimes known as embodiment and immersion respectively. Whichever terms you use these things are important to get the most out of these worlds, to feel connected.

Some people can spend years in Second Life and not develop this connection. I have a friend that was in SL for years, until it finally happened. I said something like “Welcome to the Real Second Life” playing on the line from The Matrix. Others including myself form the connection quickly, it’s different for everyone.

Some people that don’t understand the idea of places or environments like SecondLife say things like:

“Just log off and forget about it”

It doesn’t work like that though. The thing that bridges the Physical and Virtual worlds is yourself. Your mind that experiences both places, you can’t switch your thoughts off. If you have an argument with someone online, particularly if they’re a friend, if they say something nasty it hurts you emotionally. It hurts in exactly the same way as if a friend in the physical world did the same.

So you would probably log out, but those feelings are still there and the exchange could rattle around inside your head for quite a long time. Note I said “online” above, because these things aren’t limited to 3D worlds, people are always getting into arguments on social media too. It can also happen in the Physical world, something that upset you at work for example. This is something the “just log off” brigade don’t realise, it’s the same emotional triggers as when they have a squabble on social media,it can hurt.

Does that mean Virtual Worlds are “Social Networks”? Perhaps in a way, we socialise and we network with our friends and make more friends. That’s where the similarity ends I think. In SL there is much less tolerance for disruptive behaviour I believe. We (Second Life residents) have a simple all-encompassing term we apply to it, “drama”. If you start any, you’re likely to be removed (ejected) from the place/group fairly promptly.

Perhaps where the virtual overlaps into the physical, is how we deal with people. We may have fewer physical interactions right now, but for those that inhabit virtual spaces, life continues as it did before or maybe even more frequently.

We may even go as far to say that interactions in Virtual Worlds are more like the Physical world than things on social media. People have jobs they go to, places they socialise at and favourite stores they like to shop in.

Imagine you ran into an old friend unexpectedly while you were out, that friendship may be refreshed, you’ll have a catch-up chat and may arrange to meet again. That kind of thing doesn’t happen on social media, because they’re flat, 2D, boring.

It’s  exactly what happened to me recently, as opposed to the hypothetical situations mentioned earlier. I went to a club to hang out with a friend and by pure chance there were a number of people there I hadn’t seen for over a year, many years in one case.

So those overlapping emotions can be positive as well as negative. I’m now looking forward to a catch-up chat, a shopping trip and another event I was invited to,  with the various different people I met.

All from the comfort of my home in the physical world.

Featured on the Second Life Community Blog on 24th March 2021.