Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Trick Or Treat!

I swore that sometime in the years past that I’d written a blog post about the Haunted Ride or the Cornfield in Second Life because that’s a Halloween event that the Posse tries to visit every year about this time. But I can’t find a post about it, and that’s distressing!

Last year, I did post about the new Haunted Neighborhood – which was a lot of fun for us and something that we revisited again this year. Halloween is a big thing in Second Life, and there’s a slew of things to do on the grid for the holiday. This makes me very happy!

Though the Haunted Neighborhood had one new house added to it this year, and the Haunted Ride had those silly animesh alien creatures finally removed (sorry to whomever put them in there, they were just immersion breaking), the one even that’s gotten our attention this year is the Great Trick-or-Treat Event in Bellisseria.

Folks who own a Linden house in Bellisseria can put out a candy bucket (shown above). Anyone else (land owner or not) can get a candy HUD and hunt down these buckets to earn a candy count for prizes. Of course, this led to the community trying to figure out a way to document and find the candy buckets because the area of Bellisseria is simply huge at this point.

I learned how to use Bellipins/Bellifind to mark my bucket and help people find it easier. This also taught me about the Bellibins – which is a fun roleplay in which you put garbage bins out at your Bellisseria house and allow other people to come by to empty them. Basically, it’s a way to help people find your Linden house and interact.

Beyond that, I discovered a new-to-me and very active community group for Bellisseria. So I’m finally starting to discover new fun things to do in Second Life that were already there, but I just didn’t know where to look.

It’s the Great Pumpkin House!

This new group I joined actually has a “Master List” of houses that have a candy bucket outside – which you can add your house to in order to let folks know you have candy. But most importantly (to me) is that folks stop by and maybe visit my home and decorations for a little bit.

It’s been a LOT of fun to see how everyone has decorated their own places and the variety of homes that are out there. I’ve been everywhere from weird traditional houses (like above) to an amazingly decorated beach house turned into a neat beach dance club on a boardwalk (I was so impressed).

So if the goal of this event was to get people out into the neighborhoods searching and visiting, I think it did a good job of it. I’m always excited to log in and check how many people took some candy from my bucket… not to mention, explore the homes and collect candy of my own!

Since my main MMO has more or less skipped Halloween for two years in a row (I know… I know… limited dev resources, Covid and they will have the event, just way after Halloween this year), it’s nice to have an online place to delve into Halloween fun. Second Life never disappoints for this time of year!

Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Halloween Cottage 2021

Last year, I wrote about the Halloween decorations I added to my Second Life Cabin on my main account. This year, my setup there was fairly much identical, so there wasn’t anything new to show.

However, I was too tempted by the new Fantasy themed houses when they came out in SL this year, and ended up picking one up for my alt, Amon. I have it all nicely decorated in his personality/style, and I’ve been meaning to post a walk-through of it.

But that will have to wait, it seems. Now the Cottage is decorated for Halloween!

That account doesn’t have a lot of Linden dollars stashed away, so I decided that I was going to visit the Second Life Halloween Shop N Hop to partake of decorations I could find in the free gifts that nearly every vendor puts out there.

That’s not to say I didn’t buy a few items at the shop, but only two of the decorations I’ll show here were purchased. The rest were freebies – very nice ones!

This is a combination of a number of items in the front yard. First, there’s the grave that has bats spawning around it, what looks to be a golden spider (?) on top and a ghost mourning the grave in that white mist. Hard to see unless you’re moving around it in person.

There’s bouncy spiders dangling from the big tree as well as a spider sack hanging from it. Who knows what is in there!

Some nice decorations near the front stoop including a wicked jack o lantern and some poison apples. I’ll probably keep the standard bales and pumpkins out through Thanksgiving.

On the front stoop we have more jack o lanterns and a really nice sparkly spiderweb. This came in a pack of nice webs much like this one and they look great at night!

As you walk into the house’s entry way

These pictures were the only two decorations I actually bought. They are very impressive! They start out as nice paintings and then morph into spooky images that move quite well! I had to get the two of them when I saw them – they were also nicely priced.

The other side of the entry way includes a fancy bat container, jazzy silver pumpkins and a welcoming skeleton.

In the music room… Well, the music room always looks like this. Except for the orange crystal swan, which was the Halloween item. I’m not sure how crystal swans mesh with Halloween, even when orange, but I like the piece and will probably leave it out year round. It’s just the kind of thing Amon would put in his music room.

In the living room, I picked up this cute little Happy Halloween decoration for the coffee table.

And also…

Various decorations for the small bookshelf. The sleeping cat was a gift from one of my favorite shops, Jian. I like that the cat and the pillow can change colors, so you can make them look Halloweeny for a while, and then change them to normal colors when it’s not Halloween anymore. I can see myself keeping this out year round, too.

Back in the music room, the tea tray has a murderous little visitor – a raven sitting on a skull with a knife in its beak. I dunno. Thought it was well-made and this was the best place I could find for it.

And the final shot, not decoration at all. The Jinx shop is giving out a free companion (as they tend to) which is a little witchy sheep. She bounces along with you as you walk and has several really cute animations.

I had a great time at the Shop N Hop and came away with much more than this in free gifts for decorating the Cottage. I just didn’t have the prims to put all of it out there!

Once Halloween is over, I’ll get some shots of what the Cottage looks like normally and write a post about that.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

Blaugust 19- Developer Appreciation – Second Life Moles

This may be a strange title if you’re not a resident of Second Life. Even if you are, you may not realize that there’s a group of builders and scripters who work for Linden Labs and make lovely things for residents to enjoy. I didn’t until I moved into my home in Bellisseria.

Who are the Moles?

They work for the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW). They create zones and builds for things like the official SL events, Nautilus City, Bay City, Portal Park games, but most importantly – to me – the homes and landscaping for all of the Bellisseria neighborhoods.

My little log cabin in Second Life is what’s helped to keep me there and engaged in the world. If you browse the Second Life tag on my gaming blog, you’ll see how I love to decorate my house for holidays and visit SL happenings, such as the Halloween events. All of this can be attributed to the work of the Moles.

In fact, if I inspect any part of my cabin house, I can see the name of the Mole who built the object. If I inspect trees or flowers or creatures around my home, I can see which Mole built those, too.

As you move through the neighborhoods, you come to realize no two are alike. This isn’t a copy-paste job. Each area you explore has been hand-crafted by Moles with its own unique water ways, landmarks, mini-forests, ponds, parks and sometimes even railroad tracks. It’s due to this uniqueness that some lots are more coveted than others.

For example, my cabin resides in the area called Chuckle Pond. In fact, I do have a small pond/park located across the path, right outside my front door. I’m assuming that’s the pond the sim is named after. And I just think that’s neat!

Thank you Moles for building lovely places and fun events for when I visit Second Life!

Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Update to Amon’s Avatar

I’ve been exploring the Second Life Fantasy Faire this week and ran across a wonderful maker of men’s wear that is just about perfect for Amon’s style. I’ve been looking and looking for good fashion for Amon for quite a while, but it’s not always easy to find stuff for male avatars in Second Life.

So when I found this, I went all out and picked up several pieces for a new outfit – including gloves and even new glasses!

I also made some tweaks to his head/face shape and a bit to his body shape as well in the middle of all this. It’s been a while since I tried to tweak his face in particular, and I like the small changes I’ve made to it at this point.

Tonight, when I was exploring the Faire some more, I ran across a nice eye shop and picked him up a new set of eyes. These were surprisingly nice Bakes on Mesh which means I could do away with the two mesh eyes I’ve been using and one alpha layer. Less complexity is better! And I think they look pretty sharp. I got the previous eyes for free and while they were nice and more realistic, they were never quite orange enough for me!

I’m pretty pleased with this avatar for the time being. I can’t see myself needing much more other than a big fancy hat if I can find one. But I think that might be overkill in the long run. He’s going to look odd enough fishing out on the docks in this getup! 🙂

Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Amon of Another Universe

Sometimes when I need a break from FFXIV, I visit Amon in another universe.

I’ve been working on the appearance of this Amon bit by bit since summer of 2020. I admit, he’s a little funky looking (but he would be IRL by design), and I couldn’t find hair that fit him (especially around the ears), so I had to settle for a short pony tail.

Despite that, I feel like I was able to capture the more serious side of him…

As well as the goofier side of him, too!

Sometimes, in his explorations, he gets to be an actual travelling bard. Chocobos aren’t a staple in this world (though I’m sure I could find an off-brand if I looked for one), so he must make his way through it on horseback.

Though most of the time, Amon spends his time chilling out around the fishing holes, snagging a bit of cash here and there.

Any idea what world this Amon is from?

Yes, I’m aware he’s holding the pole backwards… it’s the pose.

This is an Amon avatar I’m developing for an account in Second Life. 🙂

Posted in Second Life

Second Life: Christmas House

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!

Posted in Gaming, Second Life

SL Stories: Close Encounters of the Dragon Kind

Pictured above: Someone’s awesome dragon avatar flying above Erstwhile at the Second Life Fantasy Faire.

My weekend was made up of a combination of mutliplayer Stardew Valley with my sister and time spent at events in Second Life. We attended Relay Stock and said farewell to the Fantasy Faire with a final round of exploration.

I also spent time working on new content for my Water Horse shop. And that’s where this story comes from.

I still feel a little bad about not having “exciting” new content to post here like I have in the past. There just isn’t much to write about when it comes to multiplayer Stardew (aside from the fact it continues to be fun) and making horse content in SL.

So I’ve decided that whenever something funny that warrants a story happens in SL, I’ll work on writing it up here. Kinda like Tales from the Duty Finder… just SL instead. So, here’s my first SL Story.

Being the Dragon

One amazing aspect of Second Life (once you get past the learning curve) is that you can be just about anything you can imagine. The new bento mesh avatars make this a million times better. I’ve talked about how great they are for people avatars and for riding horses. But they can also take the form of infinite other things.

Like this amazing dragon avatar. I actually own this, but haven’t spent time customizing mine yet or writing about it.

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Image credit: Second Life Marketplace

And yes, the avatar can breathe fire (and other elements). It’s great fun!

When Dragons Attack

It was Saturday afternoon and the Posse was away. So I was at my home, the Riverwalk Mountain View, working on my newest Water Horse coats. When I’m painting horses, I need to see as much of the coat as I can, so I make the tack and the person part of my avatar invisible. This leaves just the horse… and almost makes it look like I have a horse-only avatar. Like this:

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So, I was just minding my own business at home, when suddenly, a dragon (the avatar I posted above) swooped down out of the sky. I knew this was just a person wearing a dragon avatar, and I was looking like a horse… but I did what any self-preserving horse would do when a dragon appears.

I ran.

The dragon chased me.

I live next to the Riverwalk Park, the Renaissance Fair area to be precise, which affords a lot of open area to romp around in. I wish I’d taken pictures of it, but at the time, the only thing I could think of was to playfully run away from the dragon.

I hid in water, he found me. He chased me all over the sim. It was great fun.

Then, I turned around and transformed into my own copy of the dragon avatar.

I don’t think he expected that. But he had a very good response to it. He transformed into something much more massive.

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Yes, and for scale, he’s far bigger than the buildings – almost as large as the windmill!

I laughed and gave up, telling him there was no way for me to outdo that. He laughed, too – the first spoken interaction I had from him, showing he was indeed being friendly. I decided to pull out my tiny corgi avatar.

He turned into a raptor. We had another little chase around until we finally ended up laughing and talking.

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He asked if I lived here, and I showed him my place. I asked if he usually swoops down on horses as a dragon. He told me that he had a tower nearby and that he’d seen me from the top of it (he also told me later he doesn’t go around watching people usually… I guess my horse just caught his eye).

So, we traveled back to his tower and he showed me around. We climbed it, and sure enough, I could see my plot from the top.

We spent a little time talking, and it turns out he lives in Puerto Rico. He’s been away from SL due to the state of things in his country, and is only just returning. We discussed how things are recovering after the hurricane, and how they’re taking precautions for this upcoming hurricane season. It was a pleasant and eye-opening exchange, actually.

Eventually, the Posse came around, so I said goodbye to my new neighbor. But this just shows how if you go with the flow, random can be good fun in Second Life.

Posted in Gaming, Second Life

Second Life: Finding Gold at the Fantasy Faire (A RFL Event)

Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, a 10-day charity event to support Relay for Life, has been going full-swing since last week. Spanning 15 sims, each with its own theme, too many shops, and so much entertainment, there’s just a lot to see and do. You’ll find music, great avatars, writing discussions, role play – table top and virtual, both – and even a George R.R. Martin day.

As of this moment, the event has raised over $22,000 in donations for the American Cancer Society. This event will last until Sunday, so there’s still lots of time to explore and donate!

This is the 10th year of this annual event, but the first time I’ve actually attended. I was really blown away by the quality of everything I found there. Some of my favorite creators were supporting the event, and I even picked up this awesome Tiger Mod for my Bento Water Horse!

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One event that I was looking forward to was the annual quest. I’d heard about it, but didn’t know how it worked until it released on Sunday afternoon. I’d never gone on a quest in Second Life, so I wasn’t sure what it’d be like.

While there were a ton of prizes to win, I was really there for the experience first and foremost. I was quite delighted by the quality of this quest once we got into it.

To start, you did have to purchase a HUD, which directed you in every step of the way on the quest. There were two versions – one that included an outfit and one without. All proceeds from this sale were a donation for Relay for Life.

We started by meeting up with the fae dragon, Cheer… whom we actually got as a cute shoulder pet!

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From there, we got a well-written little quest line, with fully voice-acted cut scenes, and story that took us to each of the different sims to meet various NPCs and gain their wisdom. There was a pretty strong William Shakespeare vibe going on throughout the quest, so the ending of the story didn’t disappoint.

It was super helpful to have three of us – Amoon, Xaa, and myself – working on this together. That way, we could split up and better find the quest locations and NPCs. That’s probably the only way we finished it the first night. And because this was something happening in real time, we didn’t have any hints on how it worked (which was fun and sometimes frustrating).

I was really surprised at how much time and detail went into these quests. The HUD could actually house and serve up all the videos (hosted on Vimeo), or you could watch the cutscenes outside of SL from the video link that the quest gave you. This was nice for the moments when the lag was just too much.. or if you didn’t want to give SL media permissions.

The creativity that went into all of the different fantasy themes and sims was amazing to start with. But coupled with a search for NPCs and an actual quest, it was really enjoyable.

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There were a few small snags, as there tends to be in SL (or any game, for that matter). One of the sims was having technical difficulties, which made it nearly impossible to search for the NPC there. That’s been fixed as of yesterday, however, so hopefully those coming behind us will have an easier time there.

I haven’t sorted through all of the rewards I got (and man, were there a LOT of them in that pile of gold) just yet. However, I greatly appreciate all of the gifts, time and love that went into this quest line.

This was one of those times I’m glad I gave SL another chance. The residents there can really do great things… and for a good cause!

Posted in Gaming, Second Life

Second Life: Modding My Arabian Horse

When I was growing up, like many girls, I loved horses. And there was one series of books that fueled that love — Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. We had a small bookmobile that came from our main county Library and stopped by my neighborhood. They almost always carried a book from this series, and if they didn’t, I could put in book requests to get more.

I devoured these books as a child, fell in love with the Arabian horse, and the art on this book cover in particular was my measuring stick for all horse artwork I drew:

blackstallion

I probably still have a box set of these books somewhere in my closet. And if I don’t, I might just take it upon myself to go and collect the series with this particular cover art just to keep for myself.

Anyhow, what does that have to do with video games? Well, a few weeks back in Second Life, I stumbled upon the Water Horse Riding Horse… which isn’t really a horse but a fantastic, realistic bento add-on to your SL avatar. The Posse has been getting a lot of mileage out of our horses as we explore some really awesome places on the grid.

That little spark of Arabian horse love still burns in me, so I knew when I saw the Arabian Horse Mod for the Water Horse weeks ago that I’d be making that a project of mine. Over the weekend, I did just that.

While I think that my original Warmblood bento horse is very lovely, I have to say that the Arabian mod has transformed it to something above and beyond.

horsecomparisons

A lot of work from talented creators went into this horse. I wanted to take a look at how all that comes together and give them my props for wonderful creations that bring me joy!

It Started With a Skin

I’m a huge fan of Hap’s work at Painted Pony. There’s a lot of great content out there for these horses, but her skins and content keep pulling me back in. She develops a lot of work for the Arabian mod in particular.

When I saw the new specular silver coat in her Highlights section, and noticed it could be used with the Arabian, I was struck by it immediately. I can’t really explain how this coat catches and reflects the light, but it’s amazing in person. I can just sit here and look at the way light plays off of my stallion… Beautiful work!

Painted_Pony_Vendor_--_Silver_Specular_coat

So, this prompted me to head to the Jinx store (another creator I really love) to pick up her Arabian mod. This was the most expensive part of the modding process, and also the most tricky.

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This is a full body replacement for the Water Horse. This means when you add this to your avatar, you essentially have two horse bodies. You make the original horse body and tack transparent, and somehow this mod meshes beautifully to show instead.

It uses the Animation Override within the original Water Horse tack, so it moves and controls exactly like the original. Here’s a video of this horse in action (Note: lightly dressed female avatar warning):

If I had to nit pick about anything in this mod, it’s the tail portion. I’m not sure what it is about the tail, but the textures in the originals just don’t render right for me. Especially the white tail.

But that’s easily fixed with a texture replacement from Painted Pony. I picked up the Arabian Tail Fat Pack 1 and the Happy Tail add-on (which makes the tail swish from time to time like a real horse).

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And the final cosmetic piece was, again, from Painted Pony. I already had this from making my Miss Daisy setup — a lovely Tropicana Blue eye.

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Syn and Amoon like to tease me that the eyes make my Arabian look spooky, so I’m almost tempted to name him Specter. XD

Anyhow, I needed one final touch to really make this all come together. If you watched the video above, you’ll see the custom Arabian animations created by Mythril in action. Great stuff!

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So, I learned how to mod the tack AO to replace the standard animations with these. They included a very regal idle standing pose, a floating trot, and a lovely canter replacement. I also picked up a new gallop animation that I really liked.

What’s even better about this animation set is that it includes sidesaddle animations, which I was looking into picking up to fit a medieval dress that I bought. So a medieval warmblood project might be my next focus — we do have the Fantasy Faire coming up this week in Second Life!

And finally, the tack. I chose the new Sultan tack by Jinx. This is currently exclusive to the March Fantasy Collective, so I have no idea how much longer it’ll be there, or if Jinx will sell it in shop after the event is done.

sultantack

Much of the Arabian tack available is quite ornate, so I liked that this was less flashy and didn’t take away from the horse. These are cosmetic add-ons, and not a replacement for the AO tack. They look great and come with a HUD that allows for color change and minor modifications.

In the end, I’m very pleased with the overall results of the mod. What do you think?

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Posted in Gaming, Second Life

Second Life: Building Houses for the Ultimate Sandbox

This weekend, I taught myself the basics of Blender, built my first house for Second Life and made my first sale on an item I created all on my own.

Sure, it took me the better part of two days to figure out Blender and trial-and-error through making that house. Sure, I sold it for a pittance of $L50 Lindens. I didn’t feel like I could charge much for my first try at a simple house… I was more curious about the process of putting something up on the Marketplace (which I’m still learning) and whether it would sell at all.

But it still felt awesome, was a crazy learning experience… and I’m eager to take these skills I’m developing and continue to build new things. I’m even writing a series of blog posts on my Second Life blog just to chronicle what I learned… mostly so I don’t forget how to do things! XD

As a creator, part of me gets a little thrill out of thinking someone else in Second Life might be living in the house I built. Maybe someone else gets a little bit of happiness at having their own little Modern Loft House somewhere on the grid. That’s pretty inspiring.

Sorry for the ramble. Most of the MMO stuff I’ve been doing lately is standard leveling, roulettes, weekly turn-ins, so nothing to report there. I’ve just been far more fascinated in making things right now.