Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

Hello, again!  It's been longer than usual since I've posted in these pages, so I'll try to make up for it a bit with a longer-than-usual post!

Tomorrow (Monday, June 18) will mark the start of the huge, ten day long, celebration of Second Life's Ninth Birthday...or SL9B, for short.

In past years, Linden Lab has set aside some regions for the annual Birthday celebration, and then served as the central organizers (or at least, the top level organizers...much of the work has always been done by Resident volunteers.)  This year, there was considerable consternation when LL announced that they would not be setting up birthday regions.  They simply announced the Birthday theme, "Community", and encouraged residents to create celebratory builds and events on their own land.

I want to group-hug the Residents of Second Life.  What happened next was an extraordinary justification of the whole Second Life meme..."a world created by its users."  Some 20 regions were donated by private residents and arranged into a huge mini-grid.  Other Residents stepped up as event organizers.  A website was created.  People started to sign up and were assigned exhibit spaces on the sims.  And in just three weeks, a huge and dazzling World's Fair of Second Life rose up from those bare regions.
This Says it All!

Not only that, but other Residents created SL9B builds of their own in many other locations across the grid, and the event organizers have done a lot of work to make sure those regions also get noticed, and visited.

Today, the Birthday sims were opened to the Second Life press and blogging community.  It's utterly impossible to convey the variety of the various builds and exhibits, but what struck me over and over again was the sheer scale of many of them, particularly the main stages.  Here are some suggestions to help you keep track of what's going on, when, and where...

Schedule:  For the most up to date information about SL9B (plus tons of pictures and machinima), bookmark the SL9B Blog

Look for this Logo!
I recommend you start your visit at the Hub.  Here you will find two tools to help you find your way around -- an SL9B HUD, that makes teleporting to the various central venues quick and easy, and an actual Hub.  This device rotates you as if you were riding a merry go round.  As you turn, pictures of various venues OUTSIDE the central sims appear.  You can click the spokes of the Hub to get landmarks to these other celebration areas.
The Hub!  HUD vendor box shown lower left
The Cake Stage
The Cake Stage is the largest venue at SL9B, sprawling across four entire regions.  The stage itself is INSIDE the cake.  The creator of this multicolored extravagance is Mikati Slade, and her garb reflects her design theme.
Mikati Slade, Cake-Baker

The main stage isn't quite as large as the Cake Stage, but it's still awfully impressive.  The stage itself is inside an enormous flower.  Note the full scale train and trestle in the background for scale...
The Main, or Lotus, Stage

Egypt is another of the main stages.  Here you'll find ancient pyramids and sphinxes set in a wilderness of blowing sand.

An Art Experience


Art is everywhere in SL9B.  One of the most intriguing exhibits is a gallery of "interactive" art.  You can sit on any of the displayed pictures, and become a part of them.  Here, I'm sitting in the hand of a fairy princess as she strokes my cheek...

  Many of the sculptures are lit up in bold, glowing colors.  This Firebird caught my eye...
Firebird...the statue is animated, and turns its head

An interpretation of the "Community" Theme
A beautiful French build
This beautiful sculpture is titled "Heart Gravel"

In addition to the more serious builds, you'll find the humorous and whimsical.  I stopped by the First Church of Rosedale...
The First Church of Rosedale

Some of the main builds are on, or under, the water.  One of the stages is completely submerged, and you can find Giant Clams and haunted shipwrecks there.  Sadly, my camera leaked and ruined the film, so I didn't get pictures of'll have to visit and see for yourselves!

A note about lag:  At past Birthday celebrations, the lag has been truly epic.  During my Press Day tour, I found the SL9B regions to be relatively lag-free, with the exception of the Lake Stage region.  Of course, with the sims full to bursting with avatars, that will probably not be the case.  When you visit, please dress your avatar to minimize lag...take off heavily scripted items, wear system hair instead of that pretty flexi hairdo, take off your AO and other HUDs, remove any attachments you can possibly do without.  It's all about Community, and responsible citizens of the SL community will want to do what they can to make the experience great for everyone!

Special thanks to David Abbot and Saffia Widdershins for organizing and conducting the Press tours of the SL9B builds, and to Bo Tiger (tiny but mighty mentor, builder and scripter) for creating the SL9B navigation HUD.

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