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Monday, November 21, 2016

A Visit to Gee's Wonder Island

There are many magnificent builds in Second Life.  My fellow blogger Inara Pey just posted about the return of one such, Mont St. Michel.  There are even more tacky builds.  But there are very few places that can lay claim to being both!  Recently, I found one on my very doorstep.

As many of you know, or suspect, I'm not a great explorer of Second Life.  I'm a homebody, and spend most of my time on my home region of Masocado or at Caledon Oxbridge University.  A few weeks ago, I noticed that the large parcel in Impish Glee, the region just to the north of Masocado, that had been up for sale had been purchased.  And soon I began to notice some building activity going on there.  Would it be a competitor offering rentals?  Another marina?  Something atrocious like the ninety meter tall pink Barbie castle that had infested the parcel for a couple of months?

A few days ago, my curiosity got the better of me and I popped over for a closer look.

It was an amusement park.  I love amusement parks, and have visited some really great ones in SL, so I wandered about and started playing with the rides and attractions.  The first one I rode was an enormous roller coaster with loops and a 360 degree roll.  The cars ran on a pink track.  The ride was properly thrilling, and at several spots I threw my arms up in the air and challenged gravity and speed to do their worst!

There was a Tornado, a tower that blows a column of air up and lets you skydive while hovering stationary.  An archery game.  A water pistol arcade challenge.  A gypsy fortune teller.  There was a rocking Pirate Ship, a Beanstalk, and a hoverplane ride.  There was The Geyser...a platform that got blown aloft atop a powerful fountain of water.  A Ferris Wheel.  And of course, the Clown College Bumper Boats.

In fact, the place seemed to have just about every carnival ride that ever caused a preteen to lose her funnel cake, and they were all scattered about without much rhyme or reason.  In nooks and crannies between the rides were kiosks selling drinks, hot dogs, hamburgers, and all manner of junk food...the better to help you enjoy the rides, of course!  There were also pleasant gazebos and other places to sit and chat and rest up for another go at the rides.

Clown College Bumper Boats, Beanstalk, Ferris Wheel

Eeek!

I See Motion Sickness in Your Future

Mine Ride

Skating Rink...and skates!

The Tornado Tower

Gee's Wonder Island


In addition to all this, there was a large open space with helipads, to accommodate visitors arriving by air, and spacious docks for those arriving by boat.  If you forgot to bring your own vehicle, there were rezzers to try out various forms of transportation, and a number of vendors with helicopters and aircraft for sale.

At about this point, I met the author of all this, Geetaraa...or "Gee" to her friends.  She explained that the place was called "Gee's Wonder Island" and offered to show me the rest.  "There's MORE?" I said.

And, as it turns out, there was.  All that I'd seen was only the ground floor.  There are three sky platforms in addition, which boast even more coasters and rides, plus an ice skating rink and a War of the Worlds game.

Gee's Wonder Island is laid out with absolutely no discernible plan or theme.  It's a hodgepodge.  But there is, I think, an underlying motif:  Carnival Tacky.  The place conveys the unmistakable air of an old fashioned traveling carnival.  You can practically smell the caramel corn and the sawdust, and feel the soles of your shoes sticking to the pavement.  Gee herself describes it as "unique, one of a kind," and it is most certainly that!  Besides which, it's a ton of fun!

Wonder Island is living proof that you don't need the latest Mesh models, or have to be an incredibly talented architect or 3D artist to create something of worth in Second Life.  Gee obviously put a lot of effort into it, and just as obviously had fun doing it.  I think if you visit, you'll have fun too.  But don't wait too long; Gee told me that unless the visitor traffic justifies keeping Wonder Island open for a while, she'll move on to new projects in a few months.

Gee's Wonder Island SLURL


Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Horizons Homes

For a long time now, Linden Lab has offered a free Linden Home to Premium members of Second Life.  These were always intended to be "starter homes" and as such, they have a number of limitations.  The most obvious is, they're small.  They are on 512 square meter parcels, and until recently only allowed 117 prims (the recent prim limit increase to Mainland regions has raised that to 175.)

Besides being small, you can't get rid of the Linden Home and put a house of your choosing on the parcel, or place a skybox above it.

Linden Lab is attempting to address these limitations with a new offering in the Horizons regions.  The Horizons Experience is a quest-type game against the clock, featuring a number of challenges.  But besides the game, the new Horizons regions offer residential parcels.  These are 1024 square meters in size.

You can rez your choice of several pre-installed Horizons-themed houses (which don't count against your 350 prim allowance, similar to a Linden Home), or you can place your own structure.

Horizons parcels are NOT offered as a free Premium benefit.  You can, however, use your 512 sq. m. land allowance and apply it to your Horizons parcel.  That means that you will only pay tier on the remaining 512 sq. m., or $5.00 USD per month (in addition to your Premium membership fee.)

Horizons parcels are currently being sold on the Land Auctions page.  After they've been auctioned off, the only way to get one will be to buy it from another resident, or find one that has been Abandoned by its former owner and purchase it from "Governor Linden."

Surprisingly, the Horizons regions are rated Adult.  This is a departure from the Linden Homes, which are on Moderate regions.  I would never have expected LL to associate themselves so closely with Adult activities...heck, just a few years ago they scraped up all the Adult stuff on the Mainland and exiled it to a whole separate continent, Zindra.

For lots more about the new Horizons land parcels, see this Wiki entry: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Horizons_Parcel_Ownership

I'm sure these will be of interest to many people, especially those fairly new to SL.  But, as a landlady, I'm feeling quite grumpy about them.  Once again, Linden Lab is setting itself up in direct competition with the Residents.  Phooey.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Prim Increases - Pros and Cons

This week, LL increased the land capacity of Mainland regions, and they will shortly be increasing the capacity of Private Estate regions as well.  Here's a breakdown of the changes:



While full Mainland regions are getting a boost from 15,000 to 22,500 (a one third increase), full Estate regions will only go up to 20,000.  That's still a nice increase, however.  Plus, LL says that for an additional $30 initial fee and an extra $30 per month, Private Estates can increase their land capacity up to 30,000.

Homestead and Openspace regions will also be getting an increase, to 5,000 and 1,000 respectively, across the board.

What does this mean for us?

For the ordinary Second Life resident, it's terrific.  In effect, prims have just become about 33% cheaper.  Alternatively, you can think of it as being able to add 33% more Stuff to your home.

This is especially beneficial to those with small parcels of land, such as Linden Homes.  Instead of 117 prims, now you can have 175!

It's an incentive to creators to make more realistic content, too.  Regions can now support more Mesh objects with higher levels of detail.

On the other hand, I see some downsides.

For those of us who are in the land business, land has just, in effect, been devalued by a third.  The price we pay to LL has not gone down, but instead of being able to charge, say, $L 7 or 8 per prim for a rental, we'll now be faced with charging around $L 5 per prim.  We can make that up, but ONLY if our tenants are willing to rent more prims from us.  If they aren't, then we'll have to think about renting smaller parcels to our tenants, and squeezing more tenants into a region.  With SL slowly shrinking, I do not think this model is going to be very attractive.

Some landlords may not be willing to pass the additional prims or the lower cost of them on to their tenants.  This will probably result in some changes in who's living where, as people seek the best deal for themselves.

The additional prims available to Linden Homes and the owners of other 512 square meter parcels may reduce the incentive for them to upgrade to a larger parcel, or to rent additional square meters and prims from a landlord or Private Estate owner.  This will further increase the pressure to reduce rental fees, and could result in more landlords being unable to remain in business.

While we're talking about devaluation, you may also have noticed that the Linden Dollar has been devalued a bit as well.  A couple of months ago, the exchange rate for selling $L was about $L250 to $1.00 USD.  Now it is steady around $L261: $1.00.  (If you go back a few years, the normal rate was around $L270 : $1.00, so if you take the long view, this change may not be all that significant.)

One may speculate on any number of reasons for these moves on the part of the Lab:  for example, the coming of Sansar, or declining interest in SL.  Whatever the reason, though, SL is still alive and well and I expect it to be so for a good long time to come.  We'll adapt to these changes just as we've done for many others in the past.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

FLASH! Mainland Prim Allowance Increase!!!

Linden Lab is rolling out some changes.  We're told that the full announcement will be made this Thursday, November 3...but astute observers have already noticed one of them:  The prim allowance (Land Capacity) of Mainland regions has increased from 15,000 to 22,500.

This is wonderful news to those of us who suffer from Prim Addiction!  It means that for a 4096 sq meter parcel, you'll now have 1,406 prims available instead of 937, and on a little 512 parcel, you'll get 175 prims instead of 117.

Wow.