Building

Construction Time Again

Nothing specific to report, but a whole has been going on. For starters, I’ve updated the software and most of the plugins that are used in the creation of this site. Additionally, Adobe has finally released the long-awaited update to their Creative Suite family (BlakOpal and I both use Adobe apps extensively for RL and SL projects). Aside from simply updating what we use, I’ve been looking to expand my horizons on programs I use for RL projects, and I’ve been making use of some of the excellent courseware at Lynda.com to help.

I’ve also had my hands full with testing other assorted pieces of software, the details of which I’m not liberty to get into. SL-wise, I’ve had great results using both Snowglobe 2.x and Kirsten’s S20 viewers, in addition to the official viewer. I’d also like to point out that, contrary to the spreaders of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (or FUDdites as I prefer to call them), the 2.x viewers are not completely unusable for builders and content creators. Once you take a little time to get acclimated, they’re fine. I’m actually at the point where I prefer them to 1.x viewers.

I’ve also gotten lots of shopkeeper stuff done lately, as well. Servers and vendors have all been recently updated, and have better SL region communications than ever. I’ve also had some fun with a number of construction projects, ranging from designing a bunch of row shops, a complete re-work of our space in New Babbage, re-doing the landscaping on Reachra, setting up a new shoppe building, and playing around with a few other primmy projects that haven’t yet made it down to ground level. We’ve also just opened up locations in Sapphire City, at The Carrington in Seraph City, and Triborough NY, and there are some exciting new outfits on the horizon too. On top of that, we’re gearing up for the International Fashion Fair and a major upgrade of the XStreet shopping experience (seriously, it is about to get much more awesome).

One thing we don’t have coming up in the weeks ahead is the SL7B celebration. Yes, we’ll both probably be there during the event, but we’ve decided not to apply for a build site. The parcel sizes and prim limits are much smaller than last year, and realistically we don’t have the time and resources to start the process from scratch and come up with something that we’re both excited about. We think sitting this one out is the right thing to do, and we look forward to future large scale community events that we will have the opportunity to participate in.

As I work, I find myself occasionally taking lots of snapshots and screen grabs (either for my own purposes or to share with BlakOpal). This post seems like as good a place as any to share some of my favorites from the last few weeks.


































Slowly But Surely



Slowly but surely, things are taking shape. The builds are taking longer than I would like (ideally they’d be finished instantly, as soon as I think of them), but I’m really pleased with the results so far.

The plan - a short string of row shops, with apartment spaces up above. Drawing from a mix of Dublin’s Temple Bar district as well as the ‘urban’ area of many old towns and villages, I wanted things to be slightly off-kilter and have a little flavor. From the 18th century and continuing into the 20th century, these dual purpose buildings were extremely popular - retail/commercial space on the first floor, with residential space upstairs. In the days before modern transportation methods, it was an important and affordable way to cut down on commute time. While that’s not really an issue in Second Life, I wanted to create something that had the right kind of feel.

There aren’t any doors yet, and I’m still trying to sort out how I want to approach it. Generally speaking I’m opposed to having doors in public spaces in-world. During peak usage or laggy moments it seems people are always bumping into doors, missing a click, or otherwise having some silly issue - so I make it a design choice to keep public spaces as wide open as possible.

I’ve already had a number of inquiries regarding space rentals, and to answer that I can only say “not at this time.” First and foremost I want to think of the experience for visitors & explorers, and to that end I have been paying close attention to region performance over the last few weeks. I wouldn’t want busy times in our shoppe to take away from other residents’ experiences, or vice versa. It may well be that I don’t get around to having rental spaces until a second region comes online.

Many thanks to all those who’ve said kind words about the new space, and thank you to all who’ve visited and explored.


Working on the basic structures in the skies above.


Working on the second story


Stairwells and collision prims


Work continues at ground level


Reachra’s taking shape!


Sorting out signage


Bookshop window display


Outside looking in


BlakOpal and her curiosities




Soft Opening of BlakOpal



At the end of another long day. Today, however, I am very pleased to report that the doors to the new shoppe are actually open and the proverbial cat is out of the bag. A lot of the island is still unfinished, but I think that we have enough done that it’s safe to let people come and have a look.

Our goal is to create a space that is more than simply a main store on its own island. BlakOpal and I have been working intensely on the background and the art theme and build concepts over the last few weeks, with the goal that in addition to having a space to house our growing business we’ll have a fun and interesting place to explore.

The shoppe itself should look familiar - it’s an iconic build, and one of my favorite projects in Second Life. We didn’t want to just drop the building anywhere, so the challenge became to create an environment that the building would fit. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Early on, I began to center around the idea of a trading post. I’d just spend a couple months working on an airship outpost for Burning Life, and the idea of taking that further excited me. During the golden age of piracy, there were a number of island outposts where the law-abiding folks peacefully co-existed with those outside the law, and you’d get a mix of prim & proper and rough-around-the-edges types walking the streets. I wanted something like that, but not just another tropical island. In doing some research, I’d learned that there were port cities in the north that had exactly this sort of thing going on, with residents doing business with all sorts of privateers and questionable types.

North worked better for me. Nothing against the tropics, it just didn’t seem to fit the shoppe building as well. Not too far north, as neither of us are fans of winter weather. And it needed to be different - there are already a number of wonderful builds and communities in Second Life, we certainly didn’t want to duplicate one of the existing communities we love. New Babbage always struck me as being based on victorian London (though Mr. Tenk has suggested a coastal town in Poland in a post on the New Babbage Ning), where Caledon is more English countryside. And Steelhead wonderfully captures the pacific northwestern United States. Each done extremely well in their way.

Looking back, you’d think it was planned from the start, but it was actually a matter of all the pieces falling together at exactly the right time. Ireland. The timing couldn’t have been better, and the trip wound up serving as an opportunity for field research. And research led me to believe that while inspired by Dublin and by Ireland, it should be something slightly different. The coastal islands caught my attention - sort of like Ireland, but on a more manageable scale. As we were making our approach to Dublin, the plane circled near Lambay Island (see below), which I took as a sign.



On the other end of the spectrum from the brautiful island wilderness is the city of Dublin, and specifically the Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and surrounding areas. From that point, everything started to click and I went from scratching my head and thinking about things hypothetically and wondering if there’d be enough to fill a space and make it work to chomping at the bit and wondering if there will be enough space to do all the things I want to try and do.

The first couple buildings are in place - the shoppe and the giant warehouse across the street. The docks on the north shore are done, and I’ve gotten the shipping office building built (though the insides need a lot of work). The Airship Outpost sits atop the hill, though as of this writing the stairs leading up to it have yet to be built. But I think it’s enough to get things started, and so today the doors opened softly. Expect something grand in the near future. Come see BlakOpal.