Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Grand Opening Ceremony for the Sunweaver Railroad

By Bixyl Shuftan

A few minutes after 2PM SL time on February 10, the Sunweaver community held the official grand opening of it's inter-sim railroad line. Although there have been railroads within the Sunweaver lands before, these were small private lines that circled around the property of the landowner. The Sunweaver Line Railroad by Cynthia Farshore's Farshore Industries is a much larger project, going through all six of the main Sunweaver sims from the northeast to the southwest: Pacific Waters, Sunweaver Space, Sunlight Bay, HV Community, Sunny Beach, and Sunweaver Bay.

Cynthia started the project many months ago. By early October, she had laid down a track from Nydia Tungsten's "White Vixen Enterprises" office in Pacific Waters to the border of Sunweaver Space and Sunlight Bay. By December, she had the track going through Sunlight Bay, past the Newser office in HV Community, and to the border of HV and Sunny Beach. Finally at the end of January, Cynthia laid the last of the track down next to the submarine dock at Sunweaver Bay. After testing the track and making corrections, last week she decided it was ready for opening.

"It is for fun," Cynthia admitted later on, "'cause if it was just getting around superman flying would be everything." But many people prefer going about on the ground, and some have a love of vehicles such as cars and trains. Or perhaps it's a day in which teleporting is likely to result in a crash. In either case, there's now another option besides teleporting, flying, or walking, "It ... brings life to the sims." At the start of every hour, the train departs from the Pacific Waters end, and at every half hour, it leaves from the Sunweaver Bay stop.

Several people showed up for the ceremony, including Sunweaver chieftess Rita Mariner and Shockwave Yareach whom has helped Cynthia in many projects. Most of the people had on Victorian-Era dresses and suits. The music stream was playing some steampunk-themed songs, such as "The Iron Rose" by "The Clockwork Dolls" and "Abney Park" by Victoria. Not everyone was dressed for the Steam Age. Gil Oterad showed up in a pony avatar. Shockwave wasn't sure if it was a complete mismatch, "We can use a horse drawn carriage too! (grin)" Rita joked, "The only suggestion I had for the rail line Cyntia poo-poo'd. ... tied up damsels across the tracks to be rescued." Gil went along with the joke, "We'd need mounties who are in love with their horses." Shockwave added, grinning, "And a woman named Snidely Whiplash on the tracks."

After giving a few more minutes for any late arrivals, Cynthia started the ceremony, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the Grand Opening of a mode of transportation so dearly needed in our community. This has been a labor of love, it is for you my friends and family. It was in planning for a few years but not till this last year did it move from being a dream to a reality. After all the planning and construction the Sunweaver Estates now has a full size rail line extending the full length of the sim group. Not only is it a way to get around but a way to bring life to the estates, a sense of activity that can be seen. Coupled with the airport and the highway our community has copious means of travel. Not only travel but ways to have fun exploring what the sims have to offer. In time there will be improvements and even additional routes but today we start this grand journey here."

Cynthia then turned to the community leader, "My dear Rita do you wish to say a few words?" Rita then spoke, "I have been with Cynthia from the beginning of this project of hers. I whole heartly approved of it, even though there have been a few glitches along the way." "A few?" Cynthia commented. "Theres always glitches in things," JBRaccoon added, "but that's part of the fun putting them together." Rita went  on, "I have been there to massage her shoulders, the rest I leave to the wolf. I hope that everyone takes full advantage of her efforts, from what I have seen it looks great."

The obligatory bottle of champagne to smash was then readied by Cynthia, swinging on a rope, "Rita touch the ball at the top." And with that, "Engine 97" appeared, ready to take passengers. an announcement going, "Sunbeam Limited departing for Pacific Waters in 20 seconds!" The train was painted yellow and orange, the colors of the Sunbeamer logo, which was on the sides of the locomotive. And most of those nearby quickly grabbed a seat, then it was off. There was one minor scare as one girl's skirt remained stiff as she sat, and she worried about guys seeing her panties.

There was a short stop at Sunny Beach, then the train went on to HV Community where the track was on a bridge over then water and then over the road, and made another stop between the Newser office and Brandi Streusel's store, the train announcing, "Hidden Valley Commercial District - Angels Beach Land Rentals, Brandi's Intimates, SL Newser Office, Public Cuddle Cave, The Fox Den Main Store. Departing in 20 seconds." Headding into Sunlight Bay, the train went through a tunnel in a hill, then stopped at a station between Farshore Airfield and the small mountain where the Goblin Cave is, "Fairyhill Recreation Park - sights include fairy mountain overlook, Wading fish pool, Goblin Cave Entertainment Center. WATCH OUT FOR LOW FLYING PLANES AND DRAGONS! Departing in 20 seconds."

The train soon took a turn to the north, along the east side of the sim, and came to another stop, "Farshore Airfield (public), Farshore Shipping and Import Sells, Fishing and Boating recreation area. Departing in 20 seconds." Going further north into Sunweaver Space, the train was on another bridge over the water, coming to a stop near a shopping area and a 7Seas fishing spot, "Sunweaver Mall, Zorro's Fishing Shop and pier.  Will continue in 20 seconds." Then the train continued north along the bridge into Pacific Waters and the last stop at Nydia Tungsten's WVE Office, "Pacific Waters, White Vixen Enterprises. This is the end of the line. Southbound train will be departing in 20 minutes!" It was brought up that the last car came to a stop short of the platform, making it easy for people getting off from it to fall into the water. Rita stated that Nydia and Ranchan Weidman could extend it later on.

The passengers liked the ride, Shockwave commenting, "Excellent railroad Garth. ... It worked well under load." Dusk Griswold commented, "It does work better than Amtrak." JB felt, "A  wee bit jerky, but not bad overall with all the sims it runs through." There was one slight glitch in Sunweaver Space, causing the train to twist slightly, Cynthia saying, "Yes I am aware of that little twist back there, I'll clean it later." The train also ran a little slow in Erik Mouse's Sunny Beach, due to the sim's prim count being close to full, Cynthia saying, "It's a problem with Erikland really. ... Erik at one point only had room for 100 prims."

Some of us would take the train on the ride back, and it made the stops and announcements over again. Getting to the other end of the track where the trip started in Sunweaver Bay, the engine announced, "Welcome to Sunweaver Bay, This is the end of the line. Attractions include the Fimi Memorial, Sunweaver Air Strip, the Nordenfelt Submarine first to fire a torpedo while submerged as well as the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues. The Drunken Parrot Pub, High above is the A.S. Cutlass, an aircraft carrier airship host to the Culb Cutlass with dances every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night 6 to 8 PM SLT. You will find a LM giver at the pier as you depart. North bound train will depart in 20 minutes."

Cynthia stated that there will be improvements later, "In time, (I) will be always looking to improve this and that. Already the new locomotive and cars are in work." One small problem with the train was that it's not always easy to get on when it's moving. Cynthia plans to change that, "one of the improvements in work on the new car is an easier way to get on."

She also plans to work on a path from the station next to Fairy Hill leading to the Goblin Cave hangout. There was one possible source of lag beyond Cynthia's control, going between sims with different daylight settings such as Midday and Midnight. Rita stated the settings are up to individual sim owners, though may talk to them later about a uniform setting.

Later on, Cynthia told me two more rail lines are on the drawing board to connect some of the newer island sims, "A second line is in the planning stage for coverage of the west side sims down trough the southern most islands then connect to the main line possibly around the Goblin cave area. ... plans are very early right now. All efforts have been to get the main line done a running." She would add, "It is realized that presently there is a long wait between trains, I hope in the very near future additional runs will be added to reduce the wait times. However it is encouraged that the time be spent exploring around the sim in the mean time."

And so, the home community of the Second Life Newser now has a railroad line going through it's main sims. Hopefully it will get plenty of use from rail fans across the Grid.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, February 9, 2018

Valentine Town

By Bixyl Shuftan

Next week, Valentines Day falls on Wednesday February 14. This is a holiday couples look forward to, with numerous dates arranged and plenty of candy and flowers given out. And in Second Life, virtual couples can go to a number of places to have fun together, or where people can get things to help liven the event or a present for their special friend.

One place you can do both is Valentine Town by Laura Liberty.Valentine Town has been a yearly feature in Second Life for quite some time. set up every year by Laura Liberty. But this year, the place is a bit different. The shops are still around, as before in cartoony-looking buildings. But this year, there is more.

Right at the entrance, you can see the biggest addition: the Tunnel of Love. Circling around the middle part of the town, the couple gets in the small boat near the doors, then goes down a heart-shaped opening into a heart-shaped tunnel with pink lights. As the small boat goes down the canal, it will go through both segments of lighted tunnel and  open air, until coming around to stop where the trip began and the couple can get off, or perhaps take another trip.

The center of Valentine Town is a large dance
area with a fountain in the middle, and white, pink, and red lanterns hanging overheard. The lanterns are lit, and illuminated the area when viewed at Midnight. There were also flower stalls near the edge, where one could buy a bouquet of roses. The radio was playing romantic tunes, or songs in which the theme was romantic, such as "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Love Me Like You Do."

I happened to come across Laura Liberty talking to a couple lady visitors, "Hi Bixyl, how are you doing? Thanks for coming to Townies." The two women with her told me the Tunnel of Love was great, "Laura worked hard. The tunnel is beautiful." "It's fabulous." "She does not stop, always working." Laura excused herself to help someone, and I would meet her at a place to the right of the center area, the "Love Locks" fence.  "I engrave them with names," Laura told me, "Have you seen that in real life? (It) will be a fence full of locks overlooking water. People write their names and throw (the) key in (the) water in that moment in time they were in love. It is sweet. I hear they do them many places now."

This year, Laura had some assistance in building the town, "I had help from Acehole Ixito and Tanyja Resident, took us a month to rebuild it. They are mesh makers, and we worked about a month straight to finish.. We try to make all the towns have some sort of entertainment." She then intoduced me to one, Acehole, or just "Ace" as Laura called him. He looked like a child's handmade paper doll in his avie, "I use this avatar sometimes to be low-lag, someone came earlier asking for it (laughter)."

When I asked about the biggest challenge in building this year's town, Ace answered, "I would say the biggest challenge by far was designing the sim from scratch. We didn't even plan on creating all this after we took down Christmas, but Laura had a few small ideas on how to make our old Valentine's Town better. And that small seed just kind of exploded." "I wanted that Tunnel of Love ride," Laura added, "We finished the builds and about a week before we opened, I said to Ace, 'I should have mentioned this before Ace but, I really don't know how to make a ride.'" They chuckled as a Callisto (CallistoKilgannon Resident) walked up.

"Callisto is our friend here," Laura continued, "We stayed up until about 4 am and got it sorted." "I think it came put pretty well," Calisto spoke. Ace then stated, "During testing, the ride occasionally flung Laura hundreds of feet in the air." "It was certainly an experience seeing it all come together," Calisto went on, "coming by for a little each night and seeing the progress that had been made that day. if you had asked me if I thought it would end like this, I'd have said no. It's come very far." Laura smiled, "Aww thanks Calli. Yeah you were here through it all. Building is fun but more fun when people come and can enjoy it."

I brought up Mardi Gras Town, which was hundreds of meters overhead, asking if it gets overlooked sometimes. Ace answered no, "It actually seems pretty popular this year. I've noticed more people than I expected going up there since we opened yesterday. ... More than half the people on this sim seem to be up there now." Laura told, "One of the first years I did Townies, I made a smaller version of a skate castle and no one came. I sat on that sim by myself all of December. So if people come, it just makes it so nice." Ace explained why the two towns were not on the same level this time, "Before, Mardi Gras was right next to Valentine's, but the big Mardi Gras dome just didn't look right down here this year." Calisto added, "I think it's more of an adventure when you don't have another town just on the horizon. it doesn't feel like a movie set. So I think you made the right choice with that one Laura."

We talked some about some cartoons the Newser did with Valentines Day and cupid in mind. Then Laura looked over her shoulder, "Speaking of funny cartoons, here comes Bean." At first, I noticed a short grayish shape with short arms and legs walking our way. But eventually, Bean (GreenBeanGirl Resident) came clear in view, a cheerfully cartoonish avatar with a green visor had and a Christmas sweater with her name, "Hi friends! Bean here! Callistooooo." Calisto chuckled, "No town is complete without bean. she's got a lot of personality (laughter)." When Bean was told who I was, "Wow, you are famous. ... Ask me what you want. I am open book. ... I am ride conductor. I wave in my chair, and say 'Welcome friends to Townie! Without me, this all would not work." Ace stated, "Bean greets the guests. Lots have taken to her."

Calisto continued, "Laura had a bit of a tough time this year with creating the new town. Every time things change, it becomes less of a setup and more of a build from scratch type of thing. The ride was certainly a challenge. And just ask her about the bridges (laughter)." I asked about the bridges, and Laura answered, "just struggled with them." Calisto explained, "Long story short, the textures have her a bit of trouble since the bridges are composed of so many different pieces. 85 if I'm correct. And they all had to be textured separately, earning them the endearing name of 'effing bridges.' " Ace added, "Yes we spent hours finding music. Instrumental romantic music for the ride, and classic love songs for the rest of the sim."

Bean talked about how good a snack of french fries and a milkshake could be, then described how nice the central area near the waterfall in the back could be when viewed at Midnight, "Laura tell me this, she think of all thing like that. Music special picked out, make good for dance, or relax." She asked to me to be still for a moment so she could take a picture, "I never have Fox as friend before. ... I better take picture in case no one believe me." She then told me she was placing it in her profile pics, which she did.

It wasn't much longer than this that I had to be elsewhere, and Laura had to help someone out. So we told each other goodbye.

Be sure to see Valentine Town at Townies (128/169/7). You'll probably also want to see Mardi Gras Town at Townies (93/206/748).

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Unmissable Art for January

By Klaus Bereznyak

Every month is probably a good one for art addicts in Second Life; there's always something going on. For those who want to keep a finger on the pulse and don't mind several group messages a day, groups like "Culture and Fun" keep up well with new exhibits opening and other arty events. It can also be difficult knowing where to start, and the ones shouting the loudest are not always the most satisfying to encounter. Of course, personal taste varies and, while I enjoy finding things that make me sit up and take notice, I am no art critic. For what it's worth, here are just three of my 'unmissables' for this month.

Paula Cloudpainter: "Clouds Meeting Water" at Visions of Beauty

The Visions of Beauty art complex is a good place to start exploring the variety of artists in Second Life. The two buildings contain multiple levels of galleries with different artists in residence and a turnover of exhibitions.

The latest exhibition from Paula Cloudpainter opened earlier this month and features beautiful, light canvases of sky and land.
The pictures are arranged on the open roof of the building, with the sky making a perfect backdrop, so they seem to blend into the distance. Paula's bio states, "My canvases are about transitions. How light changes… how moods change…how the universe moves. Sometimes subtle… other times dramatic… change is happening all around us every moment of every day. My artwork speaks to that idea. Clouds provide a perfect vehicle for that expression."

Paula has been working on these pictures since early 2017, using a variety of mediums, digital and 'real'. She tells me all of her artworks start as watercolors, oil paintings and drawings created in RL. When she brings them inworld, she enjoys the possibilities of there being "no gravity" in SL, so elements can float in the air without wires, or be given a stronger three dimensional aspect. She takes her sketchbooks everywhere and intends to continue "exploring the motifs and possibilities of cloudscapes and landscapes".

"The three square watercolors are from my sketchbooks, where I often make notes about the scene directly on the painting. These sketches often serve as inspiration and reference for larger canvases."
Paula tells me that some of the pictures have stories behind them. "Empty World," A canvas that stands out with the depth of its blues, depicting the world as if from space, was inspired by a song by Second Life musician David Csizer. David then picked out a picture he liked from the selection and wrote a song about it. The two pictures are side by side. Paula is infectiously enthusiastic about how artists in different areas (music, literature, painting) can inspire each other. She is working on a longer series of paintings, all expressing songs by Second Life musicians. 

"I love to share my inner vision of how i see the world and all of the beauty and intricacies around us. From how a cloud formation moves to how light and color dance on the ocean. I love to show viewers a part of the world they might not have otherwise noticed."

Also worth visiting is the adjoining gallery, filled with Paula's figure paintings, including a picture called "Elephant Strut", which was inspired by one of VooDoo Shilton's songs.

Both exhibits will be in place into the summer, and Paula is planning to have an opening of new watercolors and drawings in June.

Pearl Grey; "Berries" at Montara Bridgeworks Gallery

Montara Bridgeworks is an independent gallery, like many maintained on the grid by their owners, for the love of art. These are often tucked away, full of character, and a real pleasure to discover. Pearl Grey runs this exhibition space with a slow rotation of solo shows from various artists, and it's nice to see her own work in this latest exhibit. "Berries" opened in November and runs until the end of January, so you'll need to be quick to catch it.
The visitor notecard offers a poem and describes the exhibition as a 2D digital art meditation incorporating virtual photography. It is the whole effect of the picture series in this setting that is to be enjoyed.

There's a strong thematic element to the work: big canvasses with a bold, earthen palette, depictions of architecture or landscapes and figures, brushed and rounded into softer organic shapes. The natural light and shadow on the two floors of the gallery contributes an atmospheric setting that makes the whole exhibition an immersion, and the furniture invites lingering.
I have been back a few times to sit here, letting the theme of "Berries" work itself in - it was time well spent.

Sanjeewa Kumara and Sujeewa Kumari at InterstellART

Asmita Duranjaya's sim-spanning art complex, InterstellART, is dotted with galleries dedicated to the work of single artists, representing a fascinating crossection of styles and approaches. There are galleries above and below, joined by skywalks and gantries and navigated via a system of teleports that I find easier to use than trying to fly about.
This exhibition at the SanSujee Gallery represents the work of two real-life artists from Sri Lanka that Asmita has obtained permission to show inworld. The 20 works on display demonstrate the very distinctive work of this couple alongside one another: Sanjeewa's radiant and colorful paintings counterbalancing Sujeewa's stonewashed, earthier work. Both invite the visitor to contemplate mythological symbolism with a surrealist, dreamlike quality.

Informative notecards on each artist can be obtained by clicking on the sign at the entrance to the gallery. They describe how both artists have used traditional imagery from their own and other cultures in their work, creating something that feels accessible from both eastern and western perspectives. Both artists have had formal training in their homeland and abroad in the Netherlands. 

I found the huge canvasses immediately appealing for their colors, shapes and composition, and recognised the common language of dreams in the content of the pictures.

This exhibition has been running since October 2017 and is still open and well worth visiting.


Klaus Bereznyak

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: The "Tyrah and the Magical Glytches" Game

By Bixyl Shuftan

Second Life isn't a "game" in itself, although people call it one for simplicity as "virtual world" can confuse a few people. Still, one can play games in it, and over the years people have come up with many from inword versions of chess to fencing games, to jousting, to combat roleplays like New Bastogne and Aria Clash, to fishing games like 7Seas, and many more.

For a time, Linden Lab was content to leave the game making to others. Then it began making some of it's own. First came "Linden Realms." Then came "The Cornfield." Following that were "Paleoquest," and "New Horizons." These two gaming adventures had plots, a reoccurring supporting character, Magellan Linden, and a villain.

Then in September 2017, Linden Lab announced "Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches." The plot is a sequel to the events of "Horizons." Magellan is dead, and following a funeral for him given by his former assistant Punkee and Tyrah, the girl held hostage in "Horizons," a new threat emerges. Ruth, the original avatar, appears. Furious at being all but forgotten, Ruth decides to take advantage of Magellan's absence by unleashing magical creatures called "glytches" to interfere and mess with the Grid. Not good at catching things, Punkee decides to rely on his former boss's old tactic: get the residents to help.

The object of the game is to capture these glytches in the various places in Second Life they are. To start playing the game, head to Portal Park, Portal Park 01 (175/118/52), and find the doorway named "Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches." Going through, you end up in the village of Hartyshire. In front of where you appear are displays of the two videos for the game, one explaining the plot and the other on how to play the game. Beyond that are a number of buildings in a circle, around a fountain and statue of Tyrah. What you will need to do first is head to the Gem Apothecary. There, you will find several things. But for beginners the most important one is the starter kit on the counter in front of the door. This contains three items, the game HUD, the starting weapon glass jar, and a notecard explaining more about these and the game. Add both the HUD and the weapon to play the game.

The HUD has several buttons/interfaces. The top left one returns you to Hartyshire. The center left button takes you to the wiki webpage of the game. The top right button gives you the option to mute the HUD's sound effects. The center left button takes you to a location where glytches are, and is the button you will be using the most in the game. On the bottom is a button to display the map of the sim, which shows you where the glytches are, and tells you if you've caught one, swung your weapon and missed, and if you've caught your limit. On the far right is the gem counter, displaying how many blue, pink, and green gems you have. Get 100 green gems, and they're exchanged for a pink one. 100 pink gems will be exchanged for a blue.

There are many kinds of glitches, the names of which you'll see in the Gem Apothecary back in Hartyshire. Among them are the cloudlike Flumpies, the Frosties which look like ice and snow. the Gardeners that look like plants, the Shamaniacs that look like teddy bears from the circus, the Naughties that look like red imps. the Primsies that look like people made from wood blocks, the Keirapillars that look like a cross between cats and caterpillars, and many more. There are three varieties of each. Each that I've come across, many of which are distinctive to one kind, "Mommy, where do prims come from?" "Click on that link, it'll be fun. What can go wrong?" "Miya, miya, you can't catch me." "Leave me alone!"

To go glytch hunting, press the "Next Location" button on your HUD. You will then be teleported to a sim where three glytches are. Many of the sims are Linden-owned or managed, such as Linden Relams or Bay City. But Linden Lab is also inviting the owners of privately owned sims to take part, so you'll come across some of them. Some places I was at had tall grass which can hide glytches until you walk too close and your hunt turns into their ambush.

On your HUD map, you'll see the glytches' locations marked with tiny red circles. To capture one, go up to it in mouselook, then left-click your mouse to use your weapon on it. The glytches don't seem to notice you until you're almost right next to them, even if you're in front of them. Still, I try to sneak up behind them by habit before pressing the button. If successful, the critter is caught, appearing in a cage. You're awarded a small number of green gems and the game will ask you to accept the captured glytch into your inventory. Do so quickly before you lose it.

Unfortunately, you have a good chance of missing. This invariably alerts the glytch who will then get away, but usually not before casting a spell on you. These can be just annoying such as being compelled to cluck and strut like a chicken, being made to listen to a horrible cell phone ringtone, and others. Some involve the weather turning on you, such as being sucked up in a tornado or a blast of cold wind knocking you down. Some turn the tables on you and put a cage on you or have a UFO abduct you. Some are hurtful such as having a tree fall on you or a bus drive by and hit you. And some are downright nasty such as being set on fire or being enveloped in a deadly toxic mist.

If you have enough gems, you'll be able to upgrade your weapon. Head to the Gem Apothecary, and to the right of the door when entering, you'll see the weapon upgrade platform. Get on and you'll get a chance to upgrade to a glytch net if you have a glass jar and 75 green gems. Still better weapons require more. The platinum flyswatter will set you back 75 pink gems, and the glytch gun will need 15 blue gems. Next to the weapons upgrade is the lost HUD vendor where if you happen to lose the HUD you can get a new one.

Besides upgrading your weapon, you can trade your gems for gifts. To your left when entering the Gem Apothecary is the "Gem Lottery." Here, there are three platforms, one for exchanging a green gem for a common prize, another for exchanging a pink gem for a rare prize, and a third for exchanging blue gems for epic prizes. As the name "lottery" implies, what you get is determined at random in these three categories. Common prizes include balloons and alien shoulder pets. Rare prizes include jewelry and hats and holdable pet dinosaurs. Epic prizes include ridable dinosaur pets, vehicles, and dinosaur avatars.

The other building you can enter in Hartyshire is the gift shop. Here, you can get free items such as cups and commemorative t-shirts. To your left upon entering is the "Hatchery." To use this, you need to have gotten the SL14B gift avatar during the event. Add the egg from the avatar to your inventory, then touch the hatchery. You then get what hatches from the egg, which you need to accept. What your gift will be is a glytch avatar called a Revwyn. The avatar comes with a small HUD that will allow you to make four sounds. You can go on the hunt in the avatar if you like, but the glytches will attack you just the same. Since the game's release, I have seen *exactly one* other one besides mine. So it's fair to say you'll have a rare avatar.

There are also three portals to bonus areas. The one on the left of the three is The Forest of Gathering, in which players can capture glytches, including possible rare and epic ones. You need to pay a blue gem to get in. The one in the middle is The Sanctuary of Wind. There are no glytches here, just gems you can collect. But you still need to overcome and avoid obstacles. You need to pay three blue gems to play this area. The third area is The Rusty Cauldron. This giant tavern area us available only to Premium players. Here one collect gems and capture glytches. Among the possible prizes here are glytch avatars, which unless you have the egg from the SL14B is the only known way you can get one.

As mentioned before, once you capture a glytch and accept it, it's yours to keep. They can be worn like shoulder pets, and when clicked on will make a noise.

How entertaining is it? I've had fun playing it, the the glytch attacks can be funny, even if they're on me. The bonus levels could use less of a fee in my opinion, though it's a small minus in an overall great game.

That's the rundown on the Glytch game from Linden Lab. If any players have a story about the one that almost got away, or a particularly hilarious spell attack, please let the Newser know. Happy Hunting.

Bixyl Shuftan

Editor's Note: Although I planned to do this review just after the announcement, a friend of the paper told us he'd do a reader submission on it. But events on his side of the computer intervened, and kept him from doing so. Sorry about the delay.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hong Kong's "A Christmas Carol" and The Dickens Project

By Gemma Cleansalte

I took a respite from all the fun and winter shops and decorations to visit an old classic in two regions. On Hong Kong University Education Island there is a wonderful depiction of the ever told tale of Scrooge as a virtual Christmas story. I doubt there are many who have never heard Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” in which a miserly old man is met with his past, present and future. I am used to seeing the shortened versions of Scrooge on TV and had almost forgotten how involved the story really is. 

You begin your visit to Mr Scrooge in the office of Scrooge and Marley where you find Mr Scrooge talking with his nephew and refusing an invite to Christmas dinner with’ Bah Humbug.’ . His worker Bob Cratchit is staying on Christmas eve to work in the cold office  . Mr Scrooge leaves him there and goes home to dinner and wine.  Move to his home where he is sitting and you find the ghost  of Marley, his former business partner,  greeting him with ominous talk and the saga begins. He is going to experience some past life and some of  the people he has injured during his life.

Follow him to the viewing of Christmas Past where there is a wonderful party going, Fezziwig’s Ball. His memories of his past are filled with failures of social interactions. Take a tour of the venue which is snow covered and lovely with characters of the mid nineteenth century along the way (His home there is better than I expected).   

His  ghost of the present  takes him to view the home of his worker Bob Cratchit and how he spends his holiday with loved ones including his invalid son Tiny Tim. They are seated at the dining table waiting for dinner.

The setting outside the home is lovely and worth exploring and skating on the pond. I stopped in at Scrooge’s cottage on the way around the town.

The ghost of the future is the most upsetting . He carries Scrooge to his final resting place where there is a large tombstone stating, “ Here lies A Bitter Man.. Ebenezer Scrooge... R.I.P." He stands there looking at the epitaph in dismay.  That is where you are left in the story.

Just to remind you, when Ebenezer awakens on Christmas Day, alive. He is so happy to have a chance to make up for the life he has lived. He treats the Cratchits to a wonderful Christmas dinner and tips the carolers that are singing. He changes his ways and becomes a different man. 

Dickens was a prolific author and wrote books and articles about the ills of the time where the rich were very rich and the poor were very poor and the social ills of the day. Sound familiar?

Stop over to see the marvelous exhibit . .


There is an installation on LEA7 where you can go to learn so much more of Dickens.  The Dickens Project of the Seanchai Library in its fifth year. There is so much going on in the region . The venue again is the London of Charles Dickens. Take a tour with the horse and carriage up and down the lanes of the city.Stop in at the Dickens Library. It is a very bookish area near the library and one can learn all about Dickens and his times. 

I stopped in also at the offices of Scrooge and Marley which still bears that name long after Marley’s death.  Caledonia Skytower one of the founders of the project, along with  Aoife Lorefield, says, ”Our vision has always been too guide our audiences 'in the steps of Ebeneezer Scrooge' using Dickens words framed by a themed environment, like walking through a live picture book."

The many events taking place during the month to add to knowledge of this writer and why he wrote what he did. This exhibit goes into so much detail about the author that I have forgotten and much I never knew. I went on the balloon ride that takes you into the early life of Scrooge out on the isles surrounded by raging waters. Try to get to a spoken guided tour of details of the time and life of Dickens. This website gives you information on the activity of the day.   This venue could give a degree in Dickens!

I ran into one of the contributing artists, Mireille Jenvieve-Woodford (mireille.jenvieve), who told me  to be sure to attend some of the presentations and I will. Get to the sim before December 30 just to get the flavor of the times and a fun education.

Gemma Cleanslate  

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Gacha Garden for Littles

By: Alura Denver (Alura Messing)

Now, we full size avi's love our Gacha Gardens, and why wouldn't we?  There is the thrill of dropping a coin into a machine, turning the lever and hoping that our favorite piece goes into the slot to win!  It takes you right  back to your own youth and those silly little red machines outside of the grocery store.  So I thought what a shame that littles (Child Avi's) in Second Life didn't have their own Gacha area.  I mean, after all, gachas are for kids!  

Well, while I was exploring, I stumbled on Little Diva Gacha Garden.  It is a beautiful little park you can explore, that is also filled with gachas that are all designed for a child avi and some even have goodies full sized Avi's wouldn't mind.  In the many gachas, there are seasonal items, clothes, home decorations and even fun trinkets to just play with.  The best part is that all of the Gachas are only $50L a play.  Compared to some out there, that is a total bargain!

Little Diva also has some extra bonuses too.  If you join the group in the store, you can also rez items at the location.  This can be a nice bonus if you have no permanent place to call your own and want someplace nicer than a typical sandbox.  Just for the month of December there is a Group Christmas present that gives you a random gift card to the store up to $300L.  It is transferable, so if you can't use it, you can share it with someone who can!  Also, while you are there you can check out her Seven Seas pond.  It has items from the gachas, even a few rare ones, and a specially designed fishing pole that can be used by all avi's.  Prizes in the pond are changed monthly to keep it interesting.

After you have played your fill of gachas, done some fishing, and checked out the Little Diva store, be sure to wander the garden and find some of the fun off the beaten path.  There are little fun things hidden all over; buildings to investigate, a tea party with Mr. Thumps, picture perfect spots, a piano to play, what will you discover there? Before you leave be sure to look for a little pink ornament bulb in a cup of tea.  In it, is a hidden surprise just for our readers both big and small alike.  Hope to see you around the Garden, at Little Diva Gacha Garden!

Alura Denver

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Aruba DeCuir: Fine Art and a Flavour of Paris

By Klaus Bereznyak

I have paid several visits to the gallery of Aruba De Cuir since I first saw a small selection of her work at Gallery 23 in Virtual Chelsea. I own a couple of her art works and to me it has a different feel from what you usually see in Second Life. There's a sense of actual 'materials' being used (papers, fabrics, crayons) and it has a striking simplicity. She also makes attractively designed and reliable low-LI furniture and decor items as well as hats.

Aruba has recently finished work on her "Petit Paris", which gives a flavor of Parisian street life, just alongside her gallery. There's a florist, a wine bar, apothecary, furniture and decor stores, a fromagerie, and a pleasant seating area. She kindly agreed to chat to me on the record for The Newser.
On my visits to Petit Paris I had got the impression of a particular affection that had gone into making an authentic sense of place in a fairly small area. I was curious about the inspiration behind the build.

"I build to entertain myself. I started on my Petit Paris out of a deep love for Paris and France. I think I have visited Paris more than 40 times. My version is not a copy of any, or a special, street. Each time I come to Paris I get high and run in overdrive for the first 20 hours or so - totally exalted and almost raving mad inside. Outwardly I just blend in and enjoy to be in this exciting city. I go to very few museums and the sights I have seen long a go. But I spend hours in parks, markets, or just sitting at a cafe, and suck up all like a sponge." She smiles.
By her own admission, Aruba can discuss art for hours but, like many, she has found by experience how hard it is to get AVs interested in looking at art in Second Life. She administers a group to share information about art and art-related matters, and she is very clear "Art is free and should not dictated by gallery owners or 'curators'". Her own work suggests a continual experimentation with techniques and approaches and a variety of subjects that has issued in a wide array of very appealing art. I ask her what is most interesting to her at the moment.

"Almost impossible to answer. I do paintings, etchings, collages and some photo based art in real life. I found a way to copy the feeling of etchings in here (in SL). It does not mimic an etching perfectly but it works and many people like them."

She goes on to describe to me a little of her creative process in Second Life:

"The way I create in here is mostly by creating a lot of scraps and cuts. I then look them over and ideas are born. I make one - sometimes 3-4 versions - save them and look at them again after a few days. Sometime I just trash all of it. Others I keep and upload."
I ask Aruba what she'd like to do next now that she's settled the area. Of course it is impossible to put the brakes on creativity:

"It will be refined and tweaked, and one day I will do something else. My gallery will stay in one form or another. Even it is a struggle to keep it running - any sponsors out there? In a wider perspective, I am inspired by a lot of things: Music, poetry, literature, history are some important sources."

A visit to this location is not to be rushed. Aruba guesses 10 minutes to get a superficial look. I'd double that. There are three floors of art to be savored and, if the visitor's virtual feet get tired, there are cafe tables to sit at in Petit Paris. If anyone is rushed she hopes they will take an LM and come back another day, or perhaps take some souvenir home to decorate their home. The art on display will change over time and I will keep going back to see what's new.
Finally, I ask how people can find about the gallery and any future events.

"They can visit, they can ask me, and they can join my art group "The Art Messenger" - as I say: "Support your Local Artist". Many people say they do not understand art - they are wrong - it is all about opening the eyes and seeing."


Klaus Bereznyak