Sunday, December 31, 2006

Someone's been sleeping in my bed

I have to remember to take a snapshot when these things happen -

We've been having a little problem with the door to our castle, Serenity Hall. It's not a huge crisis. No one can take anything, after all, and we have this lovely home so I don't really mind people wandering.

But in the past few days, there've been a lot of unexpected drop ins, mostly people less than a week old and this surprises me since Winterfell is a private residential sim. By and large, they've been friendly and polite, and like I say - I have no real problem with people enjoying our home.

But the other day I was caught off guard. I was practicing building downstairs and suddenly noticed a pair of names hovering just below the ceiling. Someone was upstairs. I aimed my camera that way and there were the cutest pair of brand new baby vampires, not more than two days old, cosied up in our bed. They looked very sweet and I flatly wasn't sure what to do. It was like discovering a pair of deer in your backyard - you don't want them to stay there permanently, eating your garden, but you don't want to startle them too quickly, either.

The evil part of me was strongly tempted to start quoting The Three Bears. "Someone's been sleeping in my bed... and they're still there!" But they were so cute and fresh faced (as the undead go) that that seemed mean. And I really didn't know what sort of protocol I should adopt for this... just go back to my building and say hi when then came down? Ask them if they'd at least wash the sheets before they leave?

Finally, I decided to pull out my ocarina, sit down and start playing it, to announce my presence in the least intrusive way possible. Sure enough, one jumped up and quickly 'ported out and the other also stood up and milled around for a few seconds (looking for the source of the sudden music maybe?) and then also left.

And that's when I first considered that I should have taken a picture.

Today we bought and installed a new door that locks properly, so hopefully the number of drop ins will decrease. Not that we mind visitors - really we don't. But ring the bell and let us invite you in. And stay out of our bed, 'k?

Friday, December 29, 2006

That can't be good

Number one on my list of messages I never want to see while crashing is a comment about how the asset database hardware is failing.

I'm not entirely sure what that means, but assets is, like, stuff, right? And the number identifiers that belong to all our things, places money and our avatars themselves?

heh... that message made for a rather abrupt end of the evening. They're still down, doing 'clean up'. In my non-technical fantasies I have a picture of everyone's bulging inventory closets bursting open and spraying clothes, shoes, and oh yes dreaded chickens-on-a-stick all over the virtual yard like a pissed off girlfriend.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Way Back When

Back in the day, we used to go to casinos and sit in camping chairs and think it was great to come away with $L24 for an hour of doing nothing.

This is my first post here, and since Morgana shared her newbie thoughts already, I'm also tripping down memory lane. What gets me about Second Life is how quickly it came to feel like a second home. The camping chairs? It's a distant memory now and feels like it could have been years ago, but we've only been in SL about 10 weeks.

I have memories of places visited early on that I would be hard pressed to find again, simply because I didn't landmark them and they are just vague scraps of recollection now. Morgana and I have dance clubs and shops that we haven't been to in what seems like months, but there's no way it could be more than a few weeks.

I do remember the day I joined, just a few hours after Morgana did. I wandered around the welcome area, tried out the various tutorials for movement and camera control, and slowly figured out that there was a lot here to explore. Looking back on it now, that day feels like a very long time ago.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

First Land

This makes me happy that we hung onto our First Land lots. Mickey and I bought a pair of side by side 512m lots at the First Land rate shortly after we got to SL and joined them under a group composed of the two of us. It's PG, a fact we didn't notice until after we'd purchased it. We might have chosen elsewhere if we had, but honestly I think that might have kept some of the worst of the ugly landsprawl I've seen in other relatively young regions from happening. (Oh yes, it does exist here, but not as badly as it might have.)

We homesteaded there for awhile in a freebie A-frame cabin with a rocker on the porch, and it was a peaceful place to rest between sightseeing excursions until the inevitable urban blight crept in. Our own stubbornness crept in, too - we were getting offers but they were from people who had already messed up the view from our porch with pointless skycrapers (empty except for one small sign announcing willingness to buy land) and rotating signage, and we were damned if we were going to sell to them.

Then we bought our current home on a private sim, and started wondering what we should do with our original plot. After a conversation with a neighbor, we've created the Haemosu Public Park which is composed of our lot and his lots. Just trying to beautify the neighborhood and encourage people to create space worth spending time in. No ugly twirling signs, please!

We're not sure exactly how we want to lay it out - currently its mostly set up as a way to block ugly portions of the view when you're standing on the grounds. But as I was typing this, a newbie came wandering by and took off all his clothes, so I'm thinking that perhaps we need a public rest area here for non-landowners needing to change! (In this case, I'm pretty sure it was a case of newbie trying out his indecent exposure skills... poor guy. Buy the right parts, first.)

Advice to my newbie self

Our first few days in Second Life were spent - along with everyone else that came in on the wave of immigration that followed a number of news stories - trying to figure things out. What were the rules? What, exactly, do you do here? Why is this freaking box on my head?

The short answers are:

1) the rules are whatever the community you're in decides it is. If you aren't sure, the same common courtesy that I hope drives your daily life will stand you in good stead here. There are combat areas and sex friendly (whatever variety you prefer) areas where you can get your ya-yas out, but by and large, be polite and you'll be treated in kind.

2) you can pretty much do whatever you like. There are casinos and red light districts, plenty of clubs where you can go dance with musical styles across the spectrum, games you can play (mostly varieties of bingo or Yatzee), sporting events like fishing, hop in a car and go for a drive, fly across the landscape and enjoy the view. There are parks, downtown cityscapes, and regions devoted to ancient Rome, the Victorian era, Japan, the far distant future, the Old West, and medieval Europe. And that's just the barest of beginnings. If you can't find what you want, you can buy land and create your own world. You could fill a whole book on the possibilities, and in fact, someone has.

3) Oh, honey. Right click the box and select "Detach". Then open up Search and look under Events with your Education filter on. Trust me - a little time listening to the wisdom of the teachers there for you in Second Life will save you hours of confusion and no small amount of finger pointing and laughing. (Not really - I've found people to be helpful far more often than not. But go take those classes. Seriously)

The only other thing I can think of that I'd have like to be able to say to my newbie self is that you don't have to spend money to enjoy Second Life. A good sense of adventure and the observant eye of a good tourist will keep you in thing to do for a long, long time. Freebies, some of excellent quality about in Help areas and frequently in stores, so that you can look good while you're touring across the grid. That said, I don't play it that way - I love to shop, I own land with Mickey and that costs money, too. None of the jobs available in SL for people who haven't yet learned to code or build are worth the investment in time to do them to me. If holding and SL job is entertaining to you, by all means, take one. But if it feels like work to you, remember you're making real-life pennies. I'd rather spend my real-life money to buy Linden dollars and spend my Second Life time playing.

At some point, I'll learn enough about creating things that I might try selling something, but I'm nowhere near there yet. I'm still a tourist (and landowner) and delighted by it.

And so it begins

I should have done this 90 days ago, to capture what it was like to be a stranger in a strange land - figuring out how to get the inevitable box off my head, wandering Second Life with the freshest of eyes. I would have told you about the mysterious disappearance of my horse from my inventory not five minutes after I gave her name (my first experience with SL heartbreak - getting emotionally involved is so risky!), about how my partner Mickey and I bought and joined our little plots of First Land, and then bought space in Winterfell after visiting there a dozen time and asking ourselves if we were ready for this kind of commitment.

But I didn't, so this is better late than never. I will be sharing places we love, new places we find, and no doubt gushing over purchases because in Second Life, I am a total shopaholic. I am just barely learning how to build and will brag and moan about that as well.