It’s finally that time — I broke out the Christmas decorations for my Linden Home in Second Life! Unlike Halloween and Thanksgiving, a number of the older pieces I had for Christmas were still low prim and looked appealing enough to use this year. I did add a few new pieces to my decoration collection, though, one of which I’m pretty excited about.
It’s a little harder to do a winter theme in Bellisseria because the neighborhoods there are enterally green (or whatever color the area is – some have rock or sand instead of grass). Technically, you’re allowed a “light dusting” of snow, but you’re not supposed to go all out and turn it into a winter wonderland.
I tried to keep within the limits by only putting a light layer of white over top of the grass – though I did drop a snow mound as decoration. I also couldn’t resist stringing lights up along the roof, and (while you can’t see it here) frosting the windows slightly to give the feeling of a chill.
What I was most impressed with was an outdoors projector – just like the kind you can get IRL (I want one). It projects a neat image on the outside wall of your house. But the cool thing is, it comes with a HUD where you can adjust brightness, color and choose from something like 20 different holiday images. It’s super cool and looks great in person!
Aside from that, just a number of fun outside decorations.
Inside, is the fun traditional decorations – tree, garlands, stockings and different foods.
Happy with how it came out considering I only had about 50 prims to work with!
I knew the holidays were going to be fun for decorating my Linden house in Second Life, and I have been right. While it’s no where as fancy as what I had for Halloween, I’ve pulled down the spooky and put up the turkey.
I had almost no decorations for Thanksgiving upon looking at my inventory, so I went out and did a little shopping on the SL Marketplace. One of the things I knew I needed was a live turkey in the front yard, preferably one that wanders.
The Jian turkey fit the bill, though it’s a bit high in prims. This creator always makes lovely animals of all types, so I was willing to sacrifice a bit of room for a really nicely animated turkey.
Aside from that, I pulled up all the flowers and put down leaf covering. I can’t control the color of the grass, so scattered leaves for the fall feeling is the best I can do. I suppose I could put down a large mega prim and texture it, but that would lose the natural feeling of the area around the house. So leaves and various other decorations it is!
Inside, I added some decorations…
But mostly the standard food-type things.
I have had some visitors at my Linden house the past month as the Posse has been back into playing dice games. I already owned a Greedy Greedy, but then came the request for a Pentadee table as well, so I picked one of those up for the backyard deck.
I might add a few more things to the house decoration-wise, but they would have to be very low prim if I did. I think most of this is going to have to do for Thanksgiving. Absolutely looking forward to what I can do with it for Christmas!
Though we usually spend some time on the haunted house ride and in the cornfield in Second Life for Halloween, this year, the Moles created something new to entertain us.
I’ve been writing here and there about my Linden Home, which is part of the newer Bellisseria neighborhoods, and much better than the old Linden Homes you once got with a SL subscription. This year, they took an entire neighborhood of homes in Millbank and decked it out in Halloween style.
When I say they’ve decorated for Hallween, I don’t mean putting some pumpkins on the porch. Each house in the neighborhood is themed around something – from a spooky lab, to a Cthulhu shrine (complete with a Cthulhu sighting), to a house that “murders” you repeatedly in different ways, to a cemetery with many surprises to discover.
The starting point also offers free flashlights that animates your character in Scooby Doo style and a red balloon (straight out of IT) tour of the entire grounds. I’ve been through the grounds a couple of times with different people and discovered something new each time – like the creepy porcelain doll named Annabell who followed me down the stairs from the second story of a house and out on the freakin’ porch! I should have taken a screenshot, but I was too busy shooing her away!
It’s really nicely put together and lots of fun to explore! Nice job SL!
One of the things I’ve been looking forward to with the string of holidays coming up is decorating my Second Life cabin this year. Living in one of the Linden neighborhoods, there are some rules about how soon you can put decorations up and how late you can leave them up – no Christmas lights in March, folks!
Friday, I sat down and started poking through all of the Halloween decorations I’ve stashed away for years in SL. I discovered that most of these were the freebies that the Lindens give every year in a pack. These are nice enough, but more high prim than I could afford with the amount of decoration I’ve already put towards my cabin.
So I went on a Halloween shopping spree and came up with a number of really cool things on the lower prim side. I still have room for a bit more, but I generally don’t like to use every last prim if I can help it — need to have some rez room, after all!
The outside got most of my decorations, naturally, from the awesome fog covering that hovers over the ground to spooky trees that chuckle darkly to black cat light strings and a welcome mat with a sound bite from the Haunted Mansion. This was all great fun to put together!
What else are you gonna do with giant overlook windows for Halloween but something like this!
The inside also got some new pieces, but most of this was pretty toned down compared to the outside.
I invited the Posse over to check out my decorations this past weekend. We dropped a few dice games on the back porch and also romped around the new Haunted Neighborhood, which was really cool. That deserves a post to itself, and so it’s on my to-write list!
I had second thoughts about keeping my Second Life sub going earlier this year, but now I couldn’t be happier with my Linden house cabin and the overall neighborhood structure we’re getting on the grid.
And then there are some things I own in the world, such as this memory-cat of my late Sebastian, that have sentimental connections to them now.
Anyhow, looking forward to doing some holiday decoration shopping for Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas, too. For now, I’m pretty content with the setup I have for Halloween!
I mentioned in a previous post that I was reassessing whether or not I’d pony up for a subscription renewal for Second Life this year. I wrote about how the price hike for the sub was a bit of a turn-off. Though to be honest, if you pick up a year’s sub, you’re only paying $8.25 a month for a premium account, which isn’t all that expensive as far as MMO type games go. It used to be $6 a month, though.
I also discussed selling off my old land, going to a rental plot, and playing around with claiming one of the new Linden homes. Seeing that owning land is the major perk I pay a sub for, it was really going to come down to how much I liked the Linden home that came with the sub.
I tried out a traditional house style, and it was alright. I was curious, so I released that house to try one of the Victorian house styles — this was a bit cooler with some wall coloring features the traditional didn’t have. But really, Victorian is not my vibe.
They released some really cute campers, and I would have loved that style. But the problem was, these were only 512 lots, using only half your land allotment, and gave you half the prim count. Sure, I could have gotten two at that rate, but I’ve always felt more prims was better, and would have rather had my full 1024.
So, as it was the last time I wrote, I was still up in the air about what I was going to do.
Along Came the Cabins
The day after I wrote that post in February, the new log homes were announced for Second Life. This caught my attention as it’s much more the style of home I was interested in. However, it wasn’t until April that the log houses were actually released, so that was a good month of waiting to see if this was something I wanted, and hoping to even get to snag one at all.
Well, I was fairly lucky in that when they released cabins, instead of being a trickle of areas like it had been for the others, they pretty much dumped a huge amount of land all at one time for people to claim. It actually took a few days for people to snag these houses, though now you won’t find any again unless someone has abandoned or there’s a zone release.
I abandoned my Victorian and did a bit of hopping the first day — you can only claim 5 houses in a day, so you have to be careful how many times you abandon. I even hit my limit that day — some of the log houses were nice, but either I didn’t like their location (sandwiched between two other houses) or the name of the area.
I was a bit worried that there wouldn’t be houses left in 24 hours, but thankfully there were. That’s when I got my lot at Chuckle Pond. I love the name of the area, first of all, and I lucked out to actually have a nice natural pond across the trail in front of my house. The lot is also on the corner, so I have a bit of privacy.
All in all, I was happy with my catch, and have sat on it for a few months with only some sparse decoration. Then, June rolled around and before I knew it, I was facing the question of whether I was going to release this house or sub again.
I guess the title of this post clued you into what happened. I decided to keep it. Not only that, but I decided I was really going to go all out in decorating it, too.
While I’ve owned several places in SL over the years, I can’t say that I ever really customized and decorated a house in full. This was because my prim limit was often taken up by things like breedable pets or a little shop.
That’s not the case this time. While I do have a few pets on the lot, I’m not breeding much anymore. And Linden homes are residential, so you’re not suppose to set up a shop.
Therefore, the total prim count can be focused on decking the halls. And that’s just what I did.
Welcome to my cabin at Chuckle Pond!
And that was a quick pictorial walk through of my cabin in Second Life!
I’ve been subscribed to SL with a premium membership on and off over the time I’ve had an account here. I made my avatar back in 2004. The most recent subscription streak for me has been since I returned in March 2018.
But that may be coming to an end this summer.
What happened two years ago that brought me back to SL? They doubled the amount of land tier afforded to premium members. Since the major aspect I love about SL is owning land and decorating it, this was a huge draw that pulled me back to sub instantly.
I picked up my first parcel in a rather historical area of SL in Gandymede. Then, when my next door neighbor sold the lot right next to mine, I picked up a second lot, for twice the amount of land. You can see that pictured in the header.
Now, to own double the land meant that I paid my sub and some cash monthly on top of it. But at the time, I was paying $7.50 a month (with a quarterly sub), and grandfathered into a good weekly stipend of L$. In fact, I almost broke even on my sub from the stipend alone should I have cashed out the L$ for money — something that was the case for many, many years.
I then discovered Bento avatars and eventually Water Horse rideables. There was a fun community of folks surrounding the Water Horse product, and I learned how to make coats and accessories for the horses and unicorns. I set up a shop in the mall, and started to do fairly well at moving product.
I was pretty happy with my land setup and a creative outlet that would more than support what I wanted to do in game.
Second Life Price Hike
Last year, SL dropped the bomb on premium members that there would be a substantial price hike. They tried to pad it by saying they added more value to the sub through more groups and IMs and whatever.
I’m not a super social person in SL — as I said, land owning and creative things are my draw there. So I don’t care about the number of groups I’m in or how many IMs get capped (others might care, of course).
My quarterly sub just jumped up $10. That means that SL would cost me $40 more a year. Plus, they’re trying to phase out the quarterly sub on top of it. Monthly and yearly alone really aren’t good options.
But to further soften this blow, they allowed current members to lock in the old pricing for one more renewal. I opted to lock in a year at $72. But come July, I’m going to get hit up for $99 if I choose to sub again.
The first thing I did when I saw the price hike last year was sell half my land. Since they were going to hit me up for an unexpected $72 dollars for a yearly sub (I never sub yearly to anything), I opted to drop the extra land fee. This was about $7 a month on top of the sub — so that almost came out even.
I was lucky that my neighbor bought the plot up really quickly. Sometimes when selling mainland, you can sit there and wait and wait and wait for months before someone buys. The only other option is to abandon it — you get no L$ because you didn’t sell, and then the land goes into this limbo of being owned by the Lindens until it gets parceled back out to use again.
I am waiting to see if LL will do anything to make a price increased sub worth it to me this year. So far, they haven’t. It’s February, and I have until July. However, as I noted before, selling land can take a long time to come to fruition. So, in preparation for going free to play, I sadly put the last of my land up for sale last week.
My plot cleared and up for sale:
I’m going to miss the good times we had there, but really, we haven’t been using it all that much the past year or so.
Luckily, my neighbor again snatched it up within a few days of putting it up for sale. She’s now got it rebuilt into a nice forest path. So I’m glad my plot will be enjoyable to someone else.
Cashing Out for Free to Play
The second thing I did, after putting my land up for sale, was cash out a significant amount of L$ I had in my account. This turned out to be $453 worth… which they took a chunk out of in fees (oh yeah, they also upped transfer processing fees during this price hike).
So in the end, my PayPal got a nice $428 credit after all of the products I’ve sold and monthly stipends have built up over the last two years. I think that mostly pays for what the sub cost was… maybe even a bit of a profit (though that was never my intent).
The Future of SL for Me
I still rent out a shop at the Water Horse mall, which is a fairly reasonable weekly cost. As long as I continue to sell products that cover the cost of my rent there, I will continue to sell there. I’m not sure how long that will be.
After the redesign of the mall last year, traffic has significantly dwindled. I don’t know what all happened, but it seemed to be some kind of upset in the community… I just know there’s hardly anyone there when I visit, and there’s more shops vacant than in use now days. However, I’ve still been earning enough from shoppers to make it worth my rent there. So I will stay.
I still want a place to put down a house and sell a few kittens. So I did some searching and found a nice land rental platform at a place called Fernynook. The cost vs. the prims is acceptable. While I haven’t fully decorated just yet, I have put a house down, along with my virtual cats.
Since I still have a few months left to my sub in which I have a land allotment, I decided I might as well use it. One thing I’ve wanted to look into, but haven’t had a chance to until now, are the new Linden homes.
These made a pretty big splash last year, especially since the supply didn’t meet the demand for these houses. They’re quite nice, fairly customizable, the land around has been nicely formed, and most of all, there’s a strict HOA type set of rules of what you can and cannot do with it. So no gaudy flashy floating prims all over the place allowed.
But also no shops or commerce — which is why I needed a rental somewhere else to sell my kitties.
These houses are pretty hard to get your hands on. You have to stalk the Linden Homes page and refresh, hoping that someone who currently owns a house will release it.
Well, I lucked out. Not even half an hour after I realized my land had sold, I managed to snag a new Linden Home. I haven’t fully explored the area yet — it’s on a corner lot right across the street from a forest campground that I’d like to ride through one day.
I’ve done a little bit of decorating with it, and I’m happy with the location and how the neighborhood looks. But I’ll be honest — I was hyped about these houses last summer. Now that I have one, I’m going to be very seriously weighing whether my sub is going to be worth this house… as it’s the only thing I will lose when I go free to play.
Right now, as nice as the house is, it’s just not going to be enough. I can release the house with no pain on my part since it’s not like land that you have to buy and sell — Linden Homes are free to your account as long as you have the land allotment to use on them. If I ever wanted to sub again, I can just pick up another house after I hunt one down.
I’m really sad that it’s come to this, to be honest. I know there are hard working people in SL, like the Moles who are diligent in bringing out new Linden Homes. I know that they’ve continued to try to improve SL with things like bakes on mesh and animesh releases.
But for a rather aged and often laggy system, I’m having a hard time justifying a $30-$40 price hike each year. Especially given that I pay a sub for FFXIV, and that’s not going anywhere. On top of things like Netflix, etc…
Now, if they surprise my by July with something that absolutely delights me, I might still reconsider. But as of this time, I’m on a track to drop my sub come this summer, and just keep my shop and rental platform with the L$ that I still have stowed away from selling my land. That will keep me doing well enough for quite a while.
Well, the Animesh horses released live last weekend, and the Sim remake has also happened. The whole place looks great – major kudos to the Water Horse team for really refreshing the shopping experience! This means I have a new shop location there!
The move happened on a Friday/Saturday a few weeks back, and I was ready for it. I managed to get into the sim pretty quickly when it re-opened for shop owners to choose a spot, and I got a location that I’m quite happy with. It’s far better than the spot I used to have, which was on the backside in an area that folks didn’t travel as much.
Sales have been pretty steady since the Animesh version was released, but the truth is, I really need to sit down and work up some new coats. I have a whole line of Heavenly Bodies that I haven’t fully completed, for example! I have been touching up some of my existing coats – though they say the body textures for the bento should work for the Animesh exactly, I’ve found some issues around the base of the ears I’ve had to fix.
It seems word is getting out about the Water Horse Animesh release, because folks at Second Life put out an official blog post in the featured news about them, including an aesthetics video. I learned about this earlier this week from fellow SL equine artist, Claire at Lunistice, who alerted me to the fact that my shop was included in the official video that went along with the blog post (thank you!).
I went to watch, and sure enough, starting at about 0:21, a guy is standing in my shop, looking out the window. I think they were more attracted to the “Unicorn Xing” sign in my shop, because the video focuses on it for a moment… then pans away to a gal riding a unicorn. So having the sign there helped to mesh the concepts together.
Ironically, when I made the move to the new shop, I almost didn’t put this sign back in. I guess it was a good thing I did!
Anyhow, you can view the full video below:
Unexpected things like this are always neat!
I’d like to spend some more time in Second Life with all the events coming up in that world – Easter is a time for great egg hunts, the Fantasy Faire is in the works, and a Second Life birthday celebration will hit the grid this summer.
Due to some issues with my web host, I ended up shuttering the blog I was using primarily for Second Life stuff earlier this year, and moved the relevant content to this blog instead. So, if I write about the grid, it’ll end up on this blog from now on out.
You may not have noticed, but earlier this year, I consolidated a lot of my Second Life posts into this blog. I originally had a separate self-hosted blog for my stuff at Wren Works, but due to hosting issues, I closed that blog and moved relevant game-creative-type posts here.
Anyhow, back on topic. I’ve been a little quiet in Second Life lately, but I was still following the development of the newest technology – animesh. To put this simply, it’s giving a rigged mesh object the ability to animate, similar to an avatar. The tech behind this is a bit hard to explain, but you can read more about it if you’re interested here.
For a while, the Firestorm viewer only had animesh in beta, but has recently updated to push that live. So, my first ever exposure to animesh has been the Water Horse ridables. These have been on display at the Water Horse sim for a while, but were finally released for purchase and testing last night to the creators/vendors.
I waffled on whether I wanted to pick one up as they’re a bit more pricey than the original Bentos, but I’ve a bit of L$ stashed away due to coat sales, so I splurged. Keeping in mind these are all in beta testing, so far, it’s been a good experience and I’m happy I gave it a try – if nothing else, to test out my existing coats and confirm they work with the new horse.
Though I already have a Warmblood bento, I picked up the Warmblood animesh as well. I went back and forth on which one I wanted, but stuck with what I knew.
The horses look very similar to the Bento horses, and even use the same image maps for skinning, which is nice. Anytime you have backwards compatibility, it’s great. The one difference is that the mane for animesh is in two parts, so you’d have to update mane textures to ensure compatibility between the two.
The major difference is that the animesh horse is rezzable. You can drop it out on your land and allow it to wander around. Sit on it to ride it, like a vehicle. It takes up about 38 prims in all, and the rezzed version uses the same texture HUD as the ridable.
The reason I was sorta iffy on animesh is because I really like that Bento can be worn directly out of your inventory, since it’s part of your avatar. I didn’t want an object I had to rez (which means you have to have rez rights at your location), and the issue of losing vehicles as you cross sim lines and stuff like that.
However, I was pleased to discover that while animesh is rezzable it’s also directly wearable on the avatar! So, just like a Bento attachment, you can right-click and Add the horse to your avatar. This means that you aren’t force to rez the horse to ride it, it can all be done from the inventory.
Not only that, but you can make copies, place some on your land, and then use one from riding in your inventory to your heart’s content. So it’s a lovely object for your stables as well as avatar attachment. It really serves two purposes!
As far as things go in Second Life, this is a pretty novel idea. The horses look and animate nicely. The only thing I did notice is that when riding, it seems to have less stability than the Bento horse did. That’s due to the nature of vehicles in Second Life… I see a lot more drift and effects of lag on the animesh horse. I’m not sure there’s much that can be done for this, or if it’s a product of beta and will improve. Update: Yep, they sent out a new version of the animesh horse with bug fixes and this one seems to move much more smoothly. I still think the Bento is slightly more responsive, but this is better!
The other thing I noticed was that the animesh horse comes all in one piece.
The Bento horse included a body and separate objects for tail and saddle and mane, etc. This made it somewhat confusing since you had to attach a whole folder of objects to your avatar in the right places for it to work. The animesh horse is one object, right-click, Add and done.
What I’m not sure about is how this effects customization. Because the Bento horse came in pieces, you could do things like switch out tails and manes easily. I’m not sure how that, and attaching accessories, work on the animesh horse just yet. There might be a perfectly easy way, though. I’ll have to look into it. They sent out a notecard tonight about this very thing — there is a way to remove pieces attached to the horse and replace them, but it seems rather complex.
Overall, it’s a nice quality horse with a lot of good features. I’ll be testing out my existing coats and updating my sales displays once I’ve confirmed they all work fine. I also have some other coats I need to work on eventually, as I’ve left a certain line of products go unfinished over the past year.
Overall, the animesh Water Horse should spark a renewed interest in the horses overall. I’m totally on board with that!
Yesterday marked the beginning of Second Life’s 15 Birthday Celebration. You’ll find sim after sim of amazing builds, colorful crystals, free goodies, and lots of music. The Posse and I headed out to see what we could see and take part in the hunt across the sims. Even after spending several hours exploring, I feel like I’ve hardly scratched the surface of this event.
You can find a lot of history of SL, from Bear Island (with over 170 collectible Linden Bears) to talks and displays (some with a hint of humor).
Some of the displays were incredibly original. All of them were super colorful as well.
Here, Amoon and I find bubble sitters among the crystals…
We spent a lot of time being amazed by the media-art creation of Thoth Jantzen. This was some of the most incredible work… I wish I had a landmark to share because everyone needs to see this stuff. I did a search for his name and could see that he’s been featured quite often in previous celebrations.
Certainly look for his display. It’s a don’t miss! Screenshots can’t do it justice. And it was really cool to be able to talk to the creator while we were visiting.
There were pretty incredible music venues, too…
Like a huge area with crystal chandeliers everywhere…
And this place with an absolutely HUGE animated snake coiled around it. Very cool!
If you just want some free gifts, they’ve set up gift tables in the Spectacular sim.
I’ve been working on a new series of themed horse coats that I’m looking forward to releasing for the upcoming Water Horse Creator Fair, which is supposed to be coming sometime in August. I haven’t heard any more information about it other than that. So, as soon as I know, I’ll let you know!
I’ve also took time off to relax after working on so many coats for the Uni release. This includes wandering around the grid and gaming with the Posse.
I’m an avid follower of the blog Inara Pey, and love all the great locations highlighted there. I know if I visit those places, I’ll usually find a good time. I tend to drag the Posse along with me, and we get into all sorts of trouble… 😉
The first on my visit list was Cape Florida. With the warm weather setting in, I could really use a nice sandy beach right now. This sim had plenty of that.
There’s some great trails and scenic areas to explore. Nice place for horseback riding as it’s all pretty open and easy to navigate. There’s also lots of places to just relax and unwind.
The place has a free swimming HUD and an area of the ocean to swim around in. There’s also free swimming tubes and even working showers to clean off after a dip in the salty water.
There are lots of locations to visit, such as a lighthouse, garden and a beached ship… and some artifacts with some interesting interactions…
The crowning highlight of the visit, though, was when we discovered the interactable volleyball game. Though it doesn’t keep any sort of score, you can actually send the ball back and forth over the net, which was enough to keep us hooked.
Seeing that this is SL and precision tends to be a challenge, this was not an easy game to learn at first. It helped to learn how to turn on always-run. And for the others, going into mouselook was an improvement (not so much for me, though).
We also learned that Amoon is a beast at SL volleyball and could take on four of us without breaking a sweat. 😀
Devin’s Eye is another explorable sim that has a nice series of biomes, from mountains to forest to swamp to ocean shore. There’s a second level to this sim in the sky, which I didn’t have a chance to explore yet, since there was a lot to enjoy on the ground sim already.
While exploration is the key here, there are a lot of interactable things to discover. We had a lot of fun messing around with the bungee jump and zip line in the upper area of the sim. There’s also a rezzable for windsurfing, though there’s not a ton of water (and you have to watch for ban lines in a section of the sim that eats the board every time you come too near).
My favorite part was discovering the bubble rezzers. This created a bubble you could ride in — it was very relaxing and a fun way to view the island. It would float on its own if you let it… or you could gently direct it where you wanted it to go.
I wish I’d taken more shots of this place — the above picture should give you an idea of how lovely it’s decorated. I’ll probably come back to finish exploring the rest of it sometime, though! Maybe I’ll do a longer post then! 🙂
Dragon Nest, Boardgame Beach
The Dragon Nest has become the Posse’s new favorite hangout lately. It’s a low-lag board game sim with a nice use of decoration and space. It has a wide selection of games, including some of our favorites – Pentad & Greedy Greedy. We also find the Cards Against Humanity pretty hilarious.
The more time we’ve spent here, the more we enjoy it. So, it tends to get invaded nightly by foxes, Muso Mice, minkies and the like. Hope the other patrons don’t mind. 🙂