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Sunset

Just thinking about SL events

From being a Mainland hater for six long years, in the summer of 2013, I suddenly became a fan of the Nautilus-Satory dyad after starting a “side project” in SL’s amateur sailing. It was something that never occur to me I could do –until then–, yet I’ve already forgotten how it caught my attention, as if it were something I learned years and years ago. Unattractive as it is if you live in a region of limited contiguous sims (unbearable if it’s just one of them), it becomes a delight once you skip the vast coasts of the not beloved mainland continents, regardless of the infuriating sim crossings and the more than expected classic and equally unsurpassable lag fests. Nothing comes close to mainland, period (the hell!).

I think it’s the same with SL events: they’re a lot better if they are organized in regions with neighboring sims. In case it’s not possible to enter the official spot, at least you can temporarily squat the one that sits next to it, cam around, and from a distance do the shopping in absentia (sort of), and not wait until the hordes of people trying to do the same (and succeeding when you don’t) give you a chance. It’s not their fault of course, but you blame (and curse) the “fuckers” anyway–though it’s you who’s actually bitching.

Frequently popular SL events take place in standalone sims, for which their planners (or their supporters) have to pay a monthly fee. I don’t know if they get any discount from the Lab, but if they don’t –as I fear– it’s US$295 a month for a full region (or US$125 for a homestead if whoever is behind the feast is not interested in offering the best service you customers deserve). For a full mainland sim, though, it’s US$100 less, and you even get eight unoccupied or mostly abandoned sims in the surrounding area for the benefit of visitors’ cam-shopping spree. Add to it a few gachas, and they’ll probably even love you and come back to the surest “money sink” in neverland whenever you set it up.

Events in standalone sims are a curse, anyway. They’re cramped as hell for the first week, and then go empty for the rest of the scheduled time. But if you decide to try mainland, you may even help to revitalize a neighborhood of already forgotten or wasted terra incognita eager to sprout again.

Winter

Winter in a box

When you’re the owner of an entire sim on a private estate or independently, there is a series of regional settings you can control that are not available to simple parcel owners or anyone living in Linden land. One of them lets you customize the appearance of the ground texture, so it can fit your landscaping needs.

When your kingdom is très petit, even smaller than the tiny world of the Little Prince, winter is probably the most difficult season to cope with the rest of the neighborhood, especially if you’re the only one cheerfully expecting the first snowfall –unless you live in the frozen confines of old Sansara, the ever whitish Snowlands, where the problem is exactly the reverse: how to fit in during the summer. You can, of course, cover your land with some prims and sprinkle them with snow and ice textures, use any of the available pre-made landscaping kits (with dozens of options to choose from), or even get your hands on a chic tool such as JVTEK’s LandMap to cover the ground with a precise layer you can paint as desired. But remember: the rest of the sim may remain as green as ever, and your plot will stand out as the shiniest rarity in the ‘hood.

For the last two winters –this one included– I’ve been living in different parts of mainland. To avoid any seasonal confrontation with my tropical acquaintances, I have rezzed a little skybox above the clouds to build my arctic “miniscape”. It’s not exactly as building at ground level, but there are so many options today that the scenery can even be lively in a limited vault like this.

 

My permafrost dwelling rests in a small 1696 sq.m. parcel, and it consists of:

  • Turnip – 40 x 40 Skydome, with winter textures.
  • Studio Skye – Enchanted woods, Snow Formations, and Silver birch.
  • 3D Trees – some accessories from a winter trees pack.
  • Botanical – Touch 2 Change Split Rail Fence
  • Happy Mood – Snowy road (sans rocks)
  • Dysfunctional Designs – several snowmen
  • Dust Bunny – Hunter’s Retreat (rare gacha item from the Old Fashioned Winter set at Nº21 event)
  • Tia – Love Doves Birdbath (rare gacha item from last year’s Winter is Coming set; machine is still available in store)
  • LISP – Victorian Street Lamp (white icy with snow version)

Except for 3D Trees, all other products are mesh, and I still have more than 200 prims left, woot! Snow in the pics is is a combo of a Happy Mood product and a texture+script from yours truly.

City of Gulfport 03

No bid

How does the LL land auction thingy work? It seems the question may have a simple answer, but for me it doesn’t. The mechanism itself is, indeed, pretty straightforward: You visit SL website, log in, click on Buy Land, select Auctions, and then Browse L$ Land Auctions. There you will find a list of all the parcels available, including the name of the sim each one is in, the coordinates and parcel size (given in squared meters), a slurl in case you wish to visit before bidding (a must do, I don’t need to tell you why), the current bid, number of bids, and the time the auction ends. When you pick one, another page shows up with more details, the most important of which are a text box where you input the amount –in Linden dollars– of your bid, and a green button with white letters that reads Place Your Bid. I’m sure you can correctly guess what follows: You have to write down an amount higher than the current bid in order to proceed to the next pop-up window, which gives you a warning kind of message before you click OK and confirm the bid. After that it will be a matter of keeping track and bidding now and again whenever another offer beats yours.

City of Gulfport 02

The whole process gets interesting during the last minute, when no matter how fast you enter a new offer, someone else always betters you in the end. I’ve only tried the “auction house” thrice, but the results have always been, alas, the same. So now I wonder, are my fingers stiff, unable to move like normal ones? Is the Enter key in my keyboard borked? Is my computer or internet connection so slow that it (whichever of the two, or both) fails at refreshing time? Or else, is there some software to track auctions that automatically makes a new offer whenever it detects it’s been outbid? I know LL banned land-purchasing bots early this year, but since such automated software is buying land directly from the Lab I guess it would be more than welcome (?).

Instead of sweat, I’m known to transpire distilled bad luck. That’s why I refuse to use antiperspirant deodorant, to avoid sticking with that shit inside of me, but hell, you see the consequences: it doesn’t work anyway.

City of Gulfport 01

Auctioning land should give all SL users a fair chance to win a plot, but if there’s actually a software that automates the process, then the odds are against mere mortals trying to do things the way they were intended.

Why do I ask if there’s some mechanism at play, other than the archaic digitus manus? Two times out of three I’ve come back to the parcel I lost to see who has been the winner. Both times, I’ve checked the lucky guy’s profile to find a similar description: “Rentals and sales of mainland” the first one, “I buy/sell mainland” for the second one. Nothing about his/her hilarity, abilities or affinities; nothing about his loved ones or political stance.  Curiously both of them have been one year and ten months old. To me, these may not be people who enjoy SL fashion, that get involved in RP, that are willing to fall in love with other virtual entities, that go to dance clubs to have some fun. These are more likely virtual real estate agents that are only interested in playing the profitable game of making money out of selling land in Second Life. They are the ones to buy cheap land to later sell for 3 to 10 times their original price.

Today, I even had the “good” fortune of meeting one of these guys in person: a man with some non-mesh/non-sculpt basic clothes, with slider hair styled like a brown squirrel resting dead down to his shoulders, with tumbling AO-less newbie moves, and with the dull look of someone who can’t control his gaze. Perhaps under others circumstances I would have thought he might have been a character out of a low budget version of That 70’s Show.

City of Gulfport

A few minutes after the auction went to the front runner for approximately L$6,000 (I couldn’t check what was the last bid, since the parcel was no longer on the list), the plot was up for sale for more than three times that sum. Now, imagine that this guy, being as professional as he is, won at least five or seven other parcels today. Do your calculations, then convert to US money… blink! Neato, isn’t it? In the meantime, the likes of us are left with a couple of numb fingers, pondering if we should try the auction thingy again.

City of Gulfport

Images: A few snapshots of the City of Gulfport at dusk.