When it comes to gifted Romance novelists, Nara Malone comes to mind. Nara lives on a small farm in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When she's not writing, she loves to run, hike, bike, and kayak. Every story she tells incorporates her love of animals, nature, and adventure.
I first learned of Nara when I began to learn about opensim. Nara had a G+ community where she blogged about all the current events of the metaverse, sometimes tackling questions and positions that most of us did not know how to. New changes to opensim that we had not encountered before, Nara seemed to make sense of it all and sort through the elements helping to not only correct things but to help us to understand, thank you Nara.
I have also learned how gifted she is with scripting and NPC work and thought to interview her about how this all began and see if she can give us tips to help us achieve what she has.
For the many talented writers we have in opensim she has given us all a safe place where we can nourish our thoughts with creative suggestions all offered at her grid, with writing groups and events.
MM Nara thank you for taking the time to reflect and answer our questions. Please share with us your passion for writing, when did it begin? Besides romance what is important for you to convey?
NM All my romances convey a sense of love and respect for this planet and the creatures we share it with. My shapeshifter romances and some of the games I am working on deal with science and technology used to create hybrid animals and modified humans. Way back when I did my first virtual world interview with Virtual Christine, I think very few folks realized hybrid animals were created in research laboratories. Hybrid animals include those that are a mix of nonhuman species and some that are a mix of human and nonhuman.
I think very few people realize that research is moving toward a day when we could bioprint a human. We can already bioprint tissue, organs, even a sort of min brain. So, my shapeshifter romances were a way for me to present these beings that are a mix of species as characters with longings and goals and intelligence and a capacity to fall in love. I don’t know if that will make a difference to the level of misery currently heaped on these hybrid creatures. But I think it needs to be something people are aware of and have conversations about. And as we move toward the day when we can bioprint a human, we must have those conversations about what we define as human and how we will treat those we define as human. Bioprinted characters are part of a current work in progress for a video game.
MM I love the groups you have for writing, please tell us what you have planned for future?
NM I am rebuilding our grid on the newest version of Opensim and working with the core Nook group of writers on a stories and game projects. We’re also exploring ways to make ourselves less dependent on the platforms like Amazon or Facebook to allow us more direct and meaningful interactions with readers both at our websites and virtually. We hope very soon to be able to invite authors to join us in a web-based Nook office and also in the Opensim world to do the story building we all love.
MM I first read your posts at G+ I loved how you helped the community with current events of the day. Thank you. If you could change anything about opensim what would that be?
NM I would love to reduce the high bar of entry for new users to Opensim and to virtual worlds in general. Our Nook team is always looking for ways to progress toward that goal.
MM How did you discover NPC creation?
NM That’s kind of a Jack-in-the Beanstalk story. I was just learning to hop around the hypergrid and landed in Arcadia. Aaack Aardvark happened to be home that day and given that I was surfing via a 3-g cell phone connection tethered to a Linux laptop running Snowglobe viewer, I was lagging badly and bouncing around his region like a jumping bean. He asked if I was okay, and I mentioned I was hopping about in search of NPC and hadn’t found any. I wanted to see how they worked.
Lucky me, he had a workshop where he experimented with them and a folder of scripts, he gave me to play with. He took some time to show me how to use them. It was like giving Jack the magic beans. I took those scripts home with me and got lost in them. I eventually rezzed my first NPC from a magic genie bottle and had it linked up to an A.L.I.C.E. AI so I could converse with him.
When I first launched the Nara’s Nook grid, I set that genie up as Rob the dancebot that can chat with you while you dance, and he was somewhat unique at the time. Since then, the Nook grid has been all about using virtual worlds and NPCs in storytelling.
MM I have visited your grid to learn more about NPC creation, thank you for setting it up for those of us just starting out. What do you have planned for NPC creation currently?
NM We’ve done a lot of projects with NPC Hypergrid Stories I involved stories told with scenes and NPC around the hypergrid. Hypergrid Stories II was a region of interactive stories and games focused on unique ways to use NPC with tutorials and tools for making stories like ours boxed in each scene. That project is still in place on region Pandora at Nara’s Nook. Immersive Edge was our most ambitious and exhausting project involving the best creators, artists, and coders from around the hypergrid telling a story about avatar identity. A few months after that project finished up my husband passed away suddenly, and I have taken a bit of time to get my feet back under me as a storyteller and a game developer. I did the hermit thing and puttered and experimented and wasn’t up for much social interaction. When 2020 rolled around the Nook team reconvened and set our goal on making the next big storytelling adventure something readers could explore by interacting with characters in a web browser.
MM Do you code? What scripts have you written?
NM I have taken and passed college courses in C and C++. I am self-taught via web tutorials in Python and my explorations into AI have allowed me to learn about A.I.M.L which powered the A.L.I.C.E chatbots and newer tools like GPT-3 and GPT-Neo. Follow me on Twitter, MeWe, Pinterest, or at my author blog to see art I created with AI in Google Colab, or Conversations I have with GPT-based AI Bots, or practical uses and resources related to AI tools.
MM What are your thoughts about animesh?
NM I’ve experimented with it some and wrote some scripts to run it as I was really curious about how it may be useful. If you watch the amount a script time each of these objects use in your regions you see that very many of them can really bog you down, so in a region I still think NPCs are the way to animate mesh. But if you need something that can be moved between regions or that can be used in places you can’t use NPC, then Animesh is useful. You can do anything Animesh does by turning mesh into an NPC. An NPC uses ¼ the resources a player avatar does. The only thing you can’t do with NPC is take it out of a region to another.
MM What has been your biggest hurdle in opensim?
NM Learning to run my own server was my biggest challenge. I am always experimenting and pushing the envelope and I really had to be able to reset things when I screwed up or look in the console to see where bottlenecks and hang-ups were.
I feel like learning to manage the server has really helped me understand how what we create and how we use it impacts visitor experience.
MM Please tell us about your grid. What do you offer?
NM We’re a storyteller’s grid. Some folks tell a story with visual art, or video, or music, or a video game, and many tell stories with art and poetry. We have always pushed the envelope as far as using NPC. You can find our boxed Fun with NPC tutorials in region Pandora and links there to all the accompanying videos Fuchsia Nightfire recorded of me working with creators around the hypergrid to demonstrate each lesson.
MM What theme is the grid’s regions?
NM We’re not a residential grid. Our members are authors, musicians, coders, etc who need space and community to explore immersive storytelling. Our regions are either resources related to that or scenes from stories creators are working on. We almost always have some group project, like the current Storyteller’s Castle and Nook Offices for the web. To make things more manageable I have turned off automatic signups for the grid. You must contact me to create an account for you. I’ll be rolling out ways for members to join us and participate in our activities via a Patreon page this fall.
MM In your storytelling do you create the stories virtually too? What about the images captured in opensim, do these inspire your work?
NM I like to build my story characters first. Then as I plot the scenes, I build those and sit inside the world to let the story unfold in my mind. Sometimes I will chat with the story character and that will give me new ideas on where the story should go. When I wrote the Selkie’s Tale Fred Beckhusen was fascinated by the mythology as he’d never heard of selkies. He made a selkie shapeshifting avatar. I was able to wear that and get a sense of what it might be like to be Ronin, a powerful and narcissistic man, reduced to crawling around on his belly as an animal. The Goddess Mere’s curse sentenced him to life at sea but for one night every 7 years when he could shed his seal skin and become human again. Just long enough to reignite the longing for all that he can’t have, and then back to crawling on your his for another seven years. The sentence is eternal unless he can find a woman who can resist a man who is magically enchanted to be irresistible. Even I didn’t know how I was going to deliver a happy ending for that story. Seeing the world through a virtual seal’s eyes helped me tell a better story.
I use images from opensim as a tool to share what I am working on or writing about. Sometimes Opensim images inspire my blog posts.
MM What do you love most about Fred Beckhusen’s DreamGrid app?
NM I should clarify that Nara’s Nook Grid runs on Linux server I rent in a professional data center. Given my poor internet out here in the wilds of rural America, I could not deliver a decent user experience on personal computer. I use DreamGrid without hypergrid enabled as a teaching tool to inspire a love of and familiarity with technology for students I tutor.
DreamGrid is an excellent tool for individuals to learn how to manage opensim regions and grids. I cut my admin teeth on Sim-On-A-Stick. DreamGrid is so much more powerful and beginner friendly.
MM What tips can you give those just starting out in opensim?
NM Find a community with interests like yours and be patient with yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Don’t be intimidated by the technology. We’re Metaverse pioneers here and there’s nothing we can’t figure out together.
MM Please include your links where we can find your work.
NM My Blog https://www.naramalone.com
Most of us have seen the Luna Lunaria builds, her artistic expression is seen in the use of her textures. Aesthetically pleasing, vibrant. Her work is acclaimed by the many clients who love and obtain her builds, I am one. We have installed her Ballroom and Club on our regions and they are just incredible features.
I wanted to learn more about Luna, she is fascinating. She works on projects that expand the mind; I love that!
MM What current projects are you working on?
LL First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your magazine. I love what you’re doing and how your magazine showcases so may artists and places in Opensim. I am always thinking, planning, and creating and currently I have multiple projects going: building a Japanese castle complex; migrating much more of my works to Kitely Market; working on a large Art Deco style music venue; working on concepts, story lines, and artistic direction for a new game called Starlite a friend is developing; and continuing to write my book, Eos Renascent. Lol, that sounds like a lot now that I look at it.
MM Luna, I have been purchasing your builds for a few years now. When did you venture here to opensim?
LL I’ve had friends in SL who from the beginning of Opensim would talk me into visiting various grids at the time such as OpenLife, Osgrid, Avination, and later Inworldz. Eventually a group of us established a homestead on SimValley but lost it all a year later when the grid crashed permanently. The same scenario happened at our next grid, Lost Paradise, when the owner passed away. So, I threw in the OS towel for a couple of years and concentrated on my SL store.
But my friends were persistent and eventually talked me into joining them on OpensimLife grid run by Bill Blight. It was there I learned to truly build in OS and fell in love with it. I’ve been on Bill’s grid now for almost four years, and though it has changed names a couple of times since then - currently YCFS – it’s still the same lovely place (YCFS=You Can’t Fix Stupid. Bill’s idea of a running joke lol). I also have an avatar on many other grids as well, in case I get the urge to expand even more. My favorite fun thing to do is bring 5-7 Lunas all together at one event and have them make snarky remarks at each other.
MM What has been your biggest hurdle here in opensim?
LL My biggest challenge in Opensim has been the lack of a unified media channel that serves all grids. Google+ was our defacto social media hub when I first started selling in OS, but since its demise nothing has truly risen to fill that gargantuan void. As a result, the diverse voices and communities in Opensim have become fractured and isolated. It has become nearly impossible now for educational, roleplay, themed, spiritual, and merchant regions to stand out from the entertainment venues.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a great DJ or live event and love to dance as much as anyone, and I love building new venues to make these events even more awesome, but Opensim needs diversity to attract and motivate new users and creators who will make OS much more vibrant in the years to come. My greatest worry is that Opensim becomes what my son’s generation already thinks it is: that virtual place where old people go to dance.
MM Only a few years ago the Opensim economy was thriving including a range of commercial to free items across a range of interests and qualities. Over a very short span of time the “Never buy in Opensim” slogan went from a posted suggestion to a battle cry and some sort of personal right. It changed our shared freedom into conditional freedom. "Free" does not equal "freedom"; the cost may be higher than we know.
Many of our friends closed their shops and left virtual worlds because of the newly designed pressure. I eventually chose to stay, and invited peace by yielding selling my designs, now offered free.
Choosing to be a part of Opensim, and choosing to imagine new designs and ideas into being is not a crime. Yet it seemed a losing battle. The persons who promote the “Never buy in Opensim” don’t care to understand opensim merchants or how it hurts them personally, being attacked. They seem to feel that our dwindling merchants are trying to turn Opensim into another commercial virtual place, such as SL.
I don’t see it that way. My designs were my only source of income. The software was not free, the time it took to learn the software and develop specialized skills was years, the work was (and is) original, not copied. Asking for a small fee should not be considered a crime. It is a stimulant to involve, include, and to invite a wider variety of Opensim people, with their new ideas.
We already say "make your own choices" about the sex or entertaining constantly promoted in Opensim. It all belongs here, we all belong here, as a balanced, diverse community. Those that want to design should not be shamed into not doing so. I have seen you face the pattern of struggles many of us faced, I had them. You haven’t given up, I admire you.
What advice can you give to persons just starting out?
LL Have tons of patience and a thick skin, and when your critics become vocal, and they will, focus on the passion to create that drives you. I didn’t start out to sell in SL or OS, I wanted to create, and keep on creating, pushing myself to become better than I was the week before. But starting out in SL, you quickly learn there is no free ride and you have to pay to play. I had to find a way to pay my virtual bills and pay for the resources I needed to make better things. My goal then was to break even on monthly land tier and have enough left over for the uploads I would need. I reached that point after two years of steadily working at it, then began to bring in enough extra money to pay some RL bills and to donate in-world to causes I had a passion for.
When I came to Opensim, I approached it the same way: the hobby had to be able to pay its own way. Contrary to what many in Opensim believe, creators have costs, even though there’s much here that’s free, such as uploads, or at extremely reduced cost, such as land. I would never think of going to the local RL ice cream shop down the street and demand they give me ice cream for free, then picket their store front when they refuse and call them greedy grifters. They have overhead and they need their business to support them.
I get why there are some here who want everything to be free, because very little is free in SL. They literally nickel and dime you to death there. But Opensim is a grand idea, and there’s room here for all of us to coexist and have our spaces without dragging the other down. We can continue to keep costs down without throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. There will always be creators who want to sell as well as those who want share everything freely. I personally like to do both. But if we try to limit what people can do and be here, they will leave, and we will all be the poorer for it.
MM What software programs do you use in your work?
LL For creating textures I use Gimp, for creating sounds I use Audacity, and for mesh I use Blender. All are opensource and free to download and use. A word of warning though: blender is not intuitive and has a LONG learning curve, but it is incredibly powerful and versatile once you put in the time. Fortunately, there are some great tutorials on Youtube.
MM I am always impressed by your texture work, it is impeccable. What tips can you share?
LL My goal with textures is always either realism or the ethereal. Without textures, everything in OS is just a wooden box. I spend twice as much time texturing a build as I do actually making it, and I have been known to create ten or more textures just to find the one that fits the literal vision I have in my head for that one surface.
For most surfaces, except for those rare few which will be full bright such as lights, I usually always create three textures: the diffuse texture you see, a normal map which gives it bumpiness, and a specular map which gives it shine. I start with the main texture in Gimp first, many times beginning with real photos with proper licenses (from sites such as textures.com), then heavily modifying them to fit my own mental image. After that, it only takes about five minutes to create the other two from it in Gimp as well. Normal maps require a plugin for Gimp that is readily available for free. As of recently, I had over 15,000 textures I had created, which are organized on my computer by type, which makes searching extremely fast compared to slow-rezzing texture holders in world. These are all backed up on cloud storage so they are not lost if my computer dies.
In line with my goal of realism is also making use of the tools that OS code and the viewer make available to me. I make full use of advanced lighting model, EEP, shadows, materials, and glow to achieve great effects. Full bright textures are the bane of realism in Opensim because they make nearly all the tools above unusable. For that reason, I strive to make textures that will take full advantage of graphics capabilities, yet still look good if none of them are accessible to the user.
MM Do you create mesh too?
LL I am only starting to branch out a little in making completely original mesh objects, mostly creating parts and components that make up larger builds. While I am comfortable manipulating mesh on a smaller scale in Blender, I still prefer to use a mix of prim and mesh in my larger builds for physics and vertex count reasons. I also still prefer to texture in-world, but I’m learning more and more how to do that in Blender as well.
MM What tips and advice can you give the new creator?
LL Make what you love without worrying if it will sell, and make it the very best you can make it. It will sell itself when the time comes, if that’s what you want to do.
Use all the resources and tools available to you and constantly try to learn new skills.
Challenge yourself by choosing projects that will expand your skillset
Sit in on live tutorials in world. Even after 14 years, I still use many of the techniques I learned in those early classes.
Revisit your builds regularly to see how you can improve them. My first build in SL was a castle to live in because I couldn’t afford to buy one at the time. Over the years I rebuilt that one four times as my skills sharpened and I learned new things.
Don’t be afraid to ask another creator how they did something. Some will be paranoid jerks always afraid of someone stealing their ideas, but most of us love to share how we do things. I am most easily reached by messaging me at https://opensimworld.com/user/lunalunaria.
MM Please tell us about your grid. What are the main features you would like to share?
LL I just relocated to Mobius Grid from YCFS after the owner decided to retire from hosting grids. The owner of Mobius, Royale Mobian, graciously opened his grid to me and has been absolutely wonderful. Mobius was begun in 2014 for gamers interested in the Sonic universe (Mobius being Sonic’s home planet), but quickly expanded to aficionados of other games. They have multiple regions devoted to all things Mobian, and nearly everyone has a Mobian avatar (I’m working on mine still). It’s open to hypergrid visitors of course and there are some very interesting places to see.
I have a 3x3 Var region there called Lunaria Gloebit Emporium, where I combined the best of my old regions on YCFS. The ground level is home to my main store, but is also a study in light and spirituality, perfect for meditation and exploration. There's a lot to see and do that is unrelated to the store, and some places can only be reached if you are proficient with double click to camera position, such as the large rotating ring with chairs you can sit on and enjoy a scenic ride around the region. I love to just sit and ride! Inside the store lobby and to the far right are additional teleports to wonderful places like the Ceridwen Temple, where a soulful melody wafts through the sacred space; the modern Aeroclub, an event venue floating in the sky with flying cars you can explore the region in; or Camelot up on a higher level, an ongoing build that is a four-region homage to the Arthurian legends.
On a level above the ground, you can now see all my venues and large builds in one place. There are castles, ballrooms, a modern clubhouse with a pool, classical roman builds, Japanese structures, etc. And above that level are two more: the cemetery and a large sci-fi build currently in progress.
MM Where do you get your inspiration from?
LL Literally everywhere, lol. Photos, literature, movies, graphics, architecture, you name it. My main inspiration though is internal, since I’m constantly overflowing with thoughts and ideas of what might be possible. That fountain never stops.
MM What is your favorite theme build?
LL My favorite build is almost always the last one I completed, lol. As of this writing, currently that would either be the Modern Clubhouse with Pool. (I got to channel my Frank Lloyd Wright on that one), or the ground level of the new region I’m on. The terrain there is in the shape of my logo, thanks to the help of grid owner Royale. In regular builds though, I mostly gravitate to a group of themes: Japanese, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and 1920s, most likely from past life connections. I somehow intrinsically know how those should look and feel, making the process almost effortless.
MM You recently advertised moving everything to Kitely, will you still keep your grid open selling with gloebits?
LL Yes, I will. There’s no replacement for the experience of walking through large builds like the ballrooms or the castles. I constantly find myself strolling through them. Up until this latest outage, Gloebits was always the hands-down choice for currency, and while it still has significant advantages over anything else, I’ve been forced to think of alternatives, like PayPal and Kitely, to minimize these interruptions to customers going forward. So, over the coming weeks, I will add most of my inventory to the Kitely Market to provide patrons an alternative if the region or its payment system goes down. That market has its pros and cons of course: it allows delivery to nearly all Hypergrid-enabled grids as well as closed grids, but payment options are either Kitely credits, which cannot be exchanged for real currency, or PayPal, in which case I don’t see that money for almost two months, since that is PayPal’s dispute window.
MM Do you have ideas about new themes to create?
LL I have a strong pull toward mid-century modern design, steampunk, and sci-fi. Those are starting to become a fun challenge since those are personal loves. Especially sci-fi, as I’m already working on a 3x3 sci-fi platform where I can explore this fully, as well as provide a place to bring in flying spacecraft made by my alt, Lain Iwakura, and scripted by Armenious Horada of Destiny Galaxies grid.
Fantasy also has a significant influence on me, but I haven’t yet really explored this theme in my builds since it tends to be a more organic type of style, like Art Nouveau, but I look forward to diving into it.
MM Please tell us about this year’s OpenSim Fest.
LL This year’s festival is slated to be held during November, and is likely to be our third and last effort by this team, which includes main organizer Leighton Marjoram who also handles the exhibit regions, grid hosting and IT infrastructure by Bill Blight, event hosting by the veteran Oldesoul Eldamar of Fantasy Faire fame in SL, and myself as the merchant organizer. We are attempting to represent as many groups in Opensim as possible in this multi-faceted approach. We took over from Avatarfest three years ago, and after this year we intend to hand off the event to future organizers, if someone steps forward to claim the mantle.
MM If you could change one thing about opensim what would that be?
LL The top item on my wish list is a social media platform just for opensim, done well enough that most would buy into it. But of course, there are other items on my list as well, such as a unified Hypergrid search, and groups that weren’t dependent on individual grids. We can dream, can’t we?
MM What would you like to share that I perhaps forgot to ask?
LL In addition to my work in Opensim, I am also a science fantasy writer, The book I’m working on is called Eos Renascent, set in the far future of a fork of humanity on a far-flung world that is slowly dying. The inhabitants of that world, faced with extinction and the failure of their technology, must somehow advance to a new state of being, or perish with their world. But they are a fractured people, divided into iron age states at war with one another. If only there were someone with the vision to see the way out. Enter Maeia, an oracle-assassin in a secret sisterhood, whose world is suddenly thrown into the middle of a maelstrom when her touch revives a 3000-year-old mummy from a forgotten age. You can read the first fourteen chapters for free on Wattpad.
You can find my Opensim store here:
You can HyperGrid directly to the main Opensim store by placing the following address in your world map:
main.mobiusgrid.us:80:Lunaria Gloebit Emporium
You can me on the Kitely Market here:
Read my book on Wattpad:
Thank you, Luna, for taking the time to share with us about your work. As you can see artists like Luna Lunaria add phenomenal details to opensim. Let’s all show our support!
Laura Ess has been creating comics in Second Life since 2008, she has been working on her Opensim project a grid called Seconds where she creates sets and works her magic. Fred Beckhusen was impressed with her work so I thought you would enjoy learning more about her and her project.
MM Please tell us about your vision. About your work.
LE I'm not so sure that vision is the right word. Many artists and writers don’t necessarily have a grand narrative as such, which drives their work. Rather, we have interests and pursuits and the work comes from exploring both. If you look at Picasso and VanGogh, they started with different techniques and subjects from that which they later had. What got them to where they went was developing and experimenting with their medium of choice.
I’ve always been interested in sequential art and storytelling since a young age. Comics is a young medium, though with a long pedigree. If you look at hieroglyphics, they are clearly forerunners of modern comics, telling stories via visual means. But you don’t have to be able to draw to create a comic, there have been photo and collage comics since the early 20th century, and virtual worlds and games can and do used to generate images for comic panels. That gives me a “purpose” in using, building, and scripting in environments like Second Life and Open Simulator. The immersive nature of these and other virtual worlds is perfect for that.
MM I see that you began in Second Life 2008 with the webcomics, what inspired you then?
LE The webcomics came a bit earlier though using SL to make them does come from that. I joined SL in February of 2007. I was fascinated with the idea of a virtual world after seeing The Matrix and Dark City at the end of the 90s, and SL was FREE, – an important point when you’re on a fixed income. Initially my experience of SL was terrible – 3 frames a minute and way too long for things to rezz, but eventually that improved with better hardware and net connection.
Now in real life I have a bit of an anxiety disorder. I tend to be a very shy around people I don’t know and subject to panic attacks and depression. Once I get to know people and places, that changes, and SL seemed like a safe place to play. At the time my main focus was the Telstra Bigpond and ABC TV regions, both of which were Australian based. Even my own university had a sim in SL! Those are all gone now and with the exception of ABC Island - which ended with a spectacular send-off party where the whole region was slowly flooded – they all seemed to die in their sleep. At the time I met and made friends with others there and participated in live events.
I loved exploring SL, which was still growing, and finding all the ways that people either emulated real life, or transcended it entirely. I also came across a machinomic (a comic made from screenshots of a video game or a virtual world/environment) called PLYWOOD. So far as I know, this is the first continuous story strip (as opposed to gag strip) made from SL. It was offline for years but can now be found on DeviantArt.
It was encouraging. I’ve had a passionate interest in sequential art since childhood, growing up in the 60s on Rupert Bear Annuals, black & white reprints of DC comics, and MAD magazines. I’d finished my Bachelors of Visual Art in 2001 and started my Honours in 2006. When that ended in 2007, getting in SL and drawing webcomics filled a gap in my life.
MM In creating your sets do you also create all your own props?
LE This has changed over the years.
When I made my first machinomic it was for a 24-hour comic event. Entrants had to produce 24 pages of comics in 24 hours. That year I was not feeling well, not up to drawing a lot of pages, and I thought that perhaps creating a comic from screenshots in SL would be an “easy” way of making 24 pages. In fact, it proved to be challenging in ways I didn’t expect.
Using a free account, I had no land of my own, and knew little about building, however I did have some knowledge about how photo and film shoots are done. I explored SL for public locations and pieced together loosely, a story. It was then a matter of dressing and posing the avatars. I had two, ELSIE BROOK and an ALT of LAUREL GALLI, but I only had one PC. Running two copies of the viewer on that was possible but incredibly laggy, so what I did was take shots for each avatar sequentially, from as much as possible, the same location and angle. Later I would composite all the shots into one image using a photo editor. My real life self-appeared in that comic as well, and it was a matter of posing myself against a blank wall in and then stripping the blank colour out, before pasting myself into a panel. I learned a lot about how to use my photo editor (back then Paintshop Pro) in those 24 hours! The result was SECOND LIFE in 2008.
While this worked, it was a fairly stressful way to do things. When I started the series RETURN TO SECOND LIFE, I had better and more PCs. Instead of one ALT, I had four. It was still very much a similar process, I had more PCs and could get 2-3 AVs online at the same time, sone times all five. The key was using one as the camera person, and that AV’s viewer would be set to a high graphic level, and the others would be set to very low levels (using less bandwidth). Initially it was still much the same, the sets were “found locations” (like a to-scale replica of the Alta Vista house) and props were either Freebies or what I could afford to buy.
Eventually I also started to build sets in sandboxes, but this was a hectic process. In SL you have a much lower limit on the number of prims in a linkset, so I’d use Builder’s Buddy scripts and have a collection of linksets that I could rezz and derezz in a sandbox. When that was complete, I’d “dress” the set and pose the AVs for scenes. Even with a four-hour limit, it was a rush to get the shots done because linksets started to derezz!
Once I went to a sandbox and found that someone had left an entire house sitting there. I quickly mobilised and used it as a set! On another occasion I shot a scene in a furniture display room because they had a dining set complete with chairs there. Careful viewpoints and cropping left the sales signs out! In that series it wasn’t only SL that I shot in. I also took shots in Proto Terra, Multiverse, IMVU, Cloud Party, Virtuality, There, Onworlds, and others. All those virtual worlds and games are gone now.
I started building sets and props in earnest when I started my Masters of Fine Art. For that I created a five-chapter graphic novel, and the bridging segments and were created using the similar process. I built sets for an apartment, and a hospital room, and props to dress it with. As it happened, I had to redraw each page again, using the shots as a guide, but it still worked well. Towards the end of the masters, I put the webcomic in hiatus until I could finish the degree. it wasn’t until 2016 that I finished that story arc.
MM How many actors do you currently have on your team?
LE At this point there’s still only me. The difference is that in SL I used ALTs to pose for everything most of the time. I did have a friend who would also pose for me and she was a basis for the Jenny Harimori character. Part of the appeal of OpenSimulator is the ability to use NPCs. I can have as many actors as I like, if they’re all dressed and posed NPCs!
I created 5.5 avatars for my Grid.: Laura Ess (owner), Master Builder (builder), Stage Manager (NPC wrangler), Script Writer (originally to write LSL but currently in retirement), and Innocent Bystander (a spare character to test Scripts on). The ½ is WiFi Admin. I was having trouble logging in and discovered that under DreamGrid you can actually login as an avatar as the WiFi password! That said, I’ve always imagined a group of primary avatars that would come and pose regular as extra and mains in the shoots. So far, that hasn’t happened.
MM Do you write all the skits with a story-line or is it ad lib?
LE Return to Second Life was 80% ad lib, and shares that with another webcomic of mine, Tales Of The Galli. At the time my intent was to do each with as much enthusiasm possible and as quickly as possible, in the belief that it would keep me “artistically fresh”. I was deliberately wanting to think on my feet.
I had a general direction and purpose for that story, but every time I’d work on it, I tended to make the scenes up as I went along. At the same time, I wouldn’t just do a shoot of one image or scene. I’d take dozens of shots for each scene and often do multiple scenes on a day. I’d be focused on that entirely. Afterwards I’d come back and composite the source material and add the text and dialogue, and that’s where the adlibbing would come in. In the end I’d produce anywhere between 10 to 30 pages of comic at a time, from well over a hundred shots. I’d release those one at a time about two days apart. That gave me time to work on the next set of pages.
With the new story II wrote a script for about a dozen pages. So far though, I haven’t even made one page of that. I’ve been entirely distracted with building and learning scripting.
MM Please tell us about your sets, what are you building?
LE There’s two or three levels of sets.
The first is background where you don’t need a complete 3D thing, just an exterior walls and roof to appear in the background. There’s also the detailed set, where you build everything to the point of having internal walls, doors, windows et al, but not any props as such. The Buggle-Praxis Base is just such a set. The last a dressed set. This is a detailed set but you have props in the areas you’re shooting in.
The difference between an average SL/OS build and a set is that no one’s going to be living in the set, or using it regularly so you don’t have to have every detail in every room or location on the set, you simply place the props when you need them. Props of course is stuff that can be moved. A chair for example might be shifted, whereas a sign on the wall is less likely to be moved between scenes shot there. In the past I tended to confuse these, and spent lots of time putting detail in locations that might only appear in the distant background, or never even be used. Now I’m more focused on building sets that appear in the next story
In a way I’m building everything, even when that might be placing a freebie, because it has to be placed in the right location, and be surrounded by the right context. I’ve built landing pads, floating warehouses, an airport, control towers, three types of student dormitories, a huge university admin build complete with underground car park, a railway workshop, a flax / hemp process plant; and modded freebies to make pubs and shops, most of a university, a hybrid floating city from Hax Envir freebies, and a lot else. And the thing is, 10 years ago I didn’t think I could do any of this! Practice makes perfect.
MM Will you be filming a movie with your actors?
LE That would be a machina rather than machinomic. Animating in synch is much more complicated than static posing. For now, I’ll settle for sequential art. I have just one video I created years ago for a GOOD GAME contest, where Elsie got zombified.
MM Will your sets be mobile? Or will you focus on your grid only?
LE That’s a good question. Sets like the detailed Buggle-Praxis Base set (a floating base divided between commercial and academic activities) which lives in a 512x512 region, has 21 linksets and a few thousand prims in it, probably not. But smaller sets, like the Buggle-Alpha Base (which started in SL and I’ve recreated in my grid) maybe. Originally, I used Builder’s Buddy scripts to rezz and derezz, so they could be taken to somewhere else and rezzed in a sandbox are.
MM I see in your scripts you often mix Real Life situations with virtual, an extension of who you are. That is how I see myself too, an extension of my real life. I have had persons say to me “We all hide behind the avatar”. I have never thought that. I like to think we represent our real-life selves. Please share with us about you, what you want to convey to the world.
LE I grew up with a mix of disabilities. I had meningitis when I was two, and had epilepsy for a dozen years after an accident when I was eight. Both of hose must have affected me in ways other the obvious (i.e., seizures), but it’s hard to describe the difference. I used to be a tad aggressive when frustrated, and the fear of seizures led me (as a child and adolescent) to believe that I had a monster inside of me. Perhaps we all do, but some are more obvious than others.
A more obvious thing, at least for people who knew me from before, is that I’m what I call a post-trans woman. That is, I’m transgender woman and my gender transition was completed well in the past. Because of the fears I carried over from years of epilepsy, I didn’t transition until I was 37. Being trans in some respects can be considered a social disability rather than a physical one, but only because of how others treat one on discovering that. In some places you can get assaulted or killed for being trans and in the US just now trans people seem to be the “easy targets” for those still upset that there’s marriage equality.
Thankfully I live in Australia, and while it was a big thing in my life when I finally started transition back in 1994, there comes a time when being trans is only one part of who I am, and never the whole. I mean, I’m also a neopagan (a follower of the Goddess Cybele), and I have a Masters in Visual Art, but neither of those defines the entirety of who I am. Being trans doesn’t either.
The thing about virtual worlds of course is that they can be a great leveller. When I was more active in SL, I was a member of GIMP GIRL which was group for disabled women. I found that a great community for me to be a part of, as were the trans support groups I found there as well. Really though, most folk in virtual worlds don’t care who you are in the Real World / Meat Space – rather they care about what you do in the virtual space.
MM Please share with us about “Seconds” and the link too please.
LE In general the next story will revolve around the Buggle brothers (inspired by the band) and their friends and associates. The Buggles have joined together with Praxis U (a university from a different virtual reality, introduced in the previous story) to rebuilt a base in the Void. However, some of them, like Octobriana, are missing, and others are at Praxis U. New characters are coming in, and there will be a clash of intents and character arcs in the offing!
MM How many regions does your virtual world have? Please tell us about your DreamGrid by Fred Beckhusen.
LE SECONDS originally started as a build using an out-of-the-box version of OpenSim. That was OK, but I had several PCs at home at and I wanted to be able to log on from any of them. So, then I tried the DIVA distro and that was OK as well, to a point, but kept crashing for unknown reasons. Eventually I went over to using DreamGrid because it was server based so I could log on anywhere, not just my home network. There were a lot of hiccups along the way, but Fred has developed and debugged Dream grid over a number of years and it’s very stable now.
The SECONDS GRID has over a hundred 512x512 regions, but they’re not all running at the same time! Instead, I have region groups of between 6 to 15 regions each. The Seconds and Seconds Crew region groups are always running, but others are turned on only when I’m building in them or am shooting something there, or using them to experiment in. The regions are the locations where I build most of the sets.
For the current story arc there are four main areas of region groups that are relevant. The first is the Urbania Archipelago which consists of four main islands and divided into a dozen region groups. To the west of this like the Buggle Islands where some main characters of the comic come from. The next group is Void Space which is like an “inter-zone” with other virtual worlds and at the moment has nine regions. All builds in the Void float in the sky above the cloud layer (about 1200m up). Lots of the story will be set there one way or another. Finally, we have Praxis University which is (in the story) only accessible via the Void. Praxis U is about 9 regions large, and Praxis and the Buggle Brothers have joint interest in a newly built base in the Void. Other areas come from previous comic series of mine. Future Imperfect was an experiment in building spacecraft on a realistic basis for an old webcomic I created in the early 2000s. That remains offline until I finish the current story arc, which hasn’t even started yet.
The Seconds and Seconds Crew groups are always online. The first is for visitors including two sandboxes for them, and the second is for building by the Seconds Crew group (all my avatars). Also at the moment is a six-region group online for playing around with railway scripting.
MM What set are you building currently?
LE The long running build – this is version three – is the Buggle-Praxis Base. This will be a main set for most of the current story arc. Because of that I’ve built it in 21 different linksets. If I want to shoot its exterior, I leave everything in place, but if I want to shoot a scene in one of the interiors, I can just a linkset out and it makes it easier to place props and characters.
Recently I felt I’d gone stale on this, so I started an exercise in building modular commercial units. I found that if they were built correctly, it was a simple matter to expand them. Then I built a factory based on a real life one in the outlying suburb I live in.
And very recently I’ve started looking at trains and train scripts that work in OpenSim grids. I’ve always had an interest in the railways. My father was a train guard, and other relatives (including various ancestors have work in the railways in various capacities. It was only natural that I have an interest in trains. In any case I’d already built track and infrastructure in Seconds purely as backdrop. All ornamental but I found scripted trains in the Hypergrid, and an old VRC open-source train script, and decided to try them out. Imagine my surprise that – with a little track renaming – the scripts worked in my grid! Not only could I drive an engine, but it would even cross region borders! So, I’ve been playing around with that at the moment. I’ve never been much good with either Blender or LSL scripting, but I’m finding that this is a great way to learn both!
MM Will you have classes to teach others of your work?
LE Classes, no. I’m sure there’s any number of scripters out there that can write code far better than I can, and builders that can built faster and more accurately than me. I guess what I have is enthusiasm for what I do get into, and know from experience that most artists have that. The difference is staying on course and finishing things. Persistence pays off!
So no classes, however I created a group on MeWe called the Opensim Transport Engineers Guild to share what I found out. And even if I’m fumbling around with things, I’m posting about it so others can see, and maybe participate in the discussion as well
MM How do you envision “Seconds” five years from now?
LE I don’t know. I’m hoping to start production on the new story arc before the end of the year (2021). Everything takes SO LONG for me. I have lots of “down time” due to health issues where the most I can do is watch old episodes of Doctor Who. That being the case, I’m already 2 years late on my original schedule. I’ve been working on this for at least four years. I’m 64 this year and hopefully all this activity is helping to stave of dementia!
So, in five years’ time, when I’m 68, I hope to have several Seconds created comic stories done, I’d like to have more freebies for folk to run off and play with. I’ve already been asked to put an “OpenSim Train Kit” together with scripts and examples, and I haven’t even finished coding and learning to do that yet! It would be great to have others participating in all that, but I want to get these stories out!
MM What would you like to share that I perhaps, forgot to ask?
LE Well maybe I can share an observation of mine, culled in part from practitioners like Scott McCloud (who wrote a couple of definitive works about sequential art, in graphic novel format). It’s that there’s a difference between craft and art.
CRAFT is all about learning and exercising skill to get a particular effect or result, in building or creating something. There’s a lot of craft possible in Second Life and OpenSim, but there’s also a lot of laziness as well. You can buy and/or get stuff for free and just use it as is, rather than figuring out how to build and script yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that, Second Life created an internal economy that inspired folk to create and sell stuff, and that relies on folk who want to pay for content. That happens a bit less in OpenSimulator, but at the very least it’s good to use stuff other than that created by one of two creators.
ART to a certain degree includes Craft – you have to know how to do something before you know why – but transcends it by re purposing the result, reusing it in a way not immediately apparent to a craft goal. Doing it yourself, even if you stuff up, can be much more satisfying (but difficult) to do. I used to watch a local TV show called GOOD GAME not because I was playing video games a lot – mostly it’s puzzles and simulations – but because I could see the ART created within those games.
So, I seek to create art – sequential art – using virtual worlds to do so. And I rejoice in seeing evidence of this by others in virtual environments as well.
Second Life 24 Hour Comic: http://seconds.thecomicseries.com/comics/11/
Tales of The Galli: http://totg-mirror.thecomicseries.com/comics/1/
Good Game Zombie Entry: https://youtu.be/Bb33bef3zCw.
Seconds Grid: http://secondsdw.outworldz.net:8002/
I am often inspired by creators such as David Denny aka Darkness Papp (virtual name) who embrace Middle Earth and recreate it virtually for us. Giving the inhabitants such as Gandalf a place to shelter and venture.
We meet so many individuals virtually, never knowing whose path we might cross. I feel so extremely blessed to have met Mr. David Denny, to explore his worlds and read his writings which enriched my thoughts and inspired me. Thank you.
I wanted to speak to him and ask a few questions, that we could share with you.
MM What brought you to Opensim?
DD I got fed up of the extortionate price for sims in SL. I like to build, and build big, SL isn't the place for that unless you have the financial means. SL cramped my style too much.
MM Many come to opensim without their extensive inventories and starting out creating a grid is a huge undertaking, I really appreciate that you took the dive into opensim! What has been the biggest challenge for you?
DD I was very fortunate in that I had a very avid personal shopper who spent hours collecting stuff from all over, plus what I found myself. Inventory soon built up and, of course, I built stuff myself. Biggest challenge was scripts and animations - but they can be found. A huge issue is convincing SLers to take some time and visit OS worlds, they have such an ill-conceived perception of anything beyond SL - I have a group of over 7500 in SL, and only a handful made it here!
MM Please share with us the worlds you created in Second Life.
DD My main sim in SL was Lupe's Magic Forest, it was always successful as a naturist sim, I was sad to close it, but it cost too much relatively - I can run hundreds of sims here for the price I paid a month for Lupe's. Lupe's Magic Forest is now here in Open Sim too, four times the size. I could never have done that in SL. In the end it was a no brainer for someone who loves to create - Secondlife is no longer a creator's platform as far as I am concerned. I also had a pirate sim called Darkport, based on Gorean roleplay themes - in OS I was able to transform it into a huge 64 sim world. But it's empty at the moment as I don't have a lot of time to do stuff - but it's open and a great sailing world for the few moments I get spare.
MM Shirelands is your opensim grid that you are planning to become Legend of the Rings Quest style adventure. Please share with us what you are bringing to this project.
DD I have five regions at the moment, naturalistic sims, Hobbiton, Rivendell, Bree, Edoras, Mirkwood and Dol Guldor which are built to be immersive and support RP as well as Quests.
There will be more to take in the Quest journey. They are a mix of influences straight from the books and also the films, and some that come organically.
MM When will Shirelands be open to the public?
DD Shirelands is now open - the regions above are open for exploration. I am still working on the Quest, which is a search for the lost rings of the Nazgul - even though of little power, they are to be hunted down and destroyed - that's the jest of it, but it will evolve.
MM When you create your worlds do you utilize the 3D software programs? Where do you obtain the props?
DD No, I don't use any 3D software at all - I am not really immensely techy person, maybe it's a learning curve I need to leap onto at some point. My props are scavenged across OS and the hypergrid by my faithful gophers and myself - who go by many names! I also spend a great deal of time modifying existing stuff and tearing creations apart for some basic components to build new stuff.
MM Putting thought to paper sometimes is the most difficult conveying one’s thoughts. In creating virtual worlds we are blessed to have a virtual canvas in which to create, with unlimited prim allowances. What tips can you share with us that will help us to create the certain magic you create? Your worlds are phenomenal.
DD I always start with a core structure or building and build around that, it's all very organic after that initial start. There are exceptions like Hobbiton and, in fact most of the LOTRs stuff has maps and floor plans, which I used initially and then extemporized around! One big exception was Bag End - that is built to the Tolkien floor plan, but slightly oversized so we can get in and cam around. It's all there apart from the fire escape! Overall it's a very arty approach - light, vistas and detail built on a basic plan, then it all evolves, it's like sculpture, the muse invades you and it becomes almost dreamlike! And it is never truly finished!
MM Do you have a team that collaborates with you to achieve your vision or do you work solo?
DD I have a couple of folks who do a bit of scavenging now and then, makers of clothing, scripting etc. - Racci Storm helped a lot with her mesh clothing and a great mall she put together and is now at the Hub. Lately, Yavanna Kementari has brought some vehicles to life with her scripting and my personal shopper and long term virtual friend - Yasmina Mornignstar, who really made a lot possible faster than if I was left to find stuff on my own.
MM I see too that you have written Gothic Novels, with a large twist of steampunkery I love that. Please share with us about your steampunk adventures.
DD I began writing my Gothic Steampunk 'The Chronicles of Jonathon Postlethwaite' series 30 years ago, but life got in the way and constantly got shelved - until recently and now I finally edited it to a point it's worthy of self-publications. I have no idea where the characters or the world come from, but I have read so much over the years I guess it's an aggregation of all the
inspirating stuff I have read. I am half way into the second volume.
MM Will you build a steampunk world in opensim too?
DD I have a different plan for steampunk worlds in OS. I will bring the book here and build sets to film a machinima movie - but that's in a very embryonic stage, with much to learn to be able to make it happen. It's possible here though as opposed to Secondlife where costs would make it prohibitive.
MM Please share with us about your acting. When did you begin acting?
DD I have never had any big aspirations for acting - I have been a supporting artist and actor off and one for decades, but never got truly embroiled. But I do love the people in the industry, because i can relate to them in a very intimate way. For me it's just another form of escapism, and when done well a creative escape. It fits in with my creativity and writing and lately my eye has been on production.
MM Having peered inside your brain a bit, I am seeing such the creative genius, some people are born with it, is that your secret?
DD I am not sure really or that’s there is a secret or any genius. As a kid I was a fantasist to be sure, but not creative and spent most of my youth on the sports field. At school I did achieve reasonably well at Art - but had no real passion for it. I did read a massive amount of horror, fantasy novels to escape - but not sure what. I believe that for the early part of my life I took in inspiration and experience and filed it away. Things changed when I went to university. I did a degree in English literature and majored in philosophy - it was at this point I began to think - and create stuff, in the first instance poetry. University changed my life - I was in my late 20s when I went and the change in me as a person and the way I thought was substantial; I sometimes don't recognize my old pre-uni self. I churned out quite a bit. Life marriage and kids did stifle me a bit, I must admit - but kids grow up and partners move on - and the relative freedom and the internet finally released me to do stuff!
MM Please share with us what the future holds with all of your projects. Will you continue to act and write in real life or will you be focusing your time on your grid Shirelands?
DD My plans for Shirelands is to develop it as a roleplay grid and create Quest that can evolve. My acting has ground to nothing and my focus is more on writing and potential producing in a traditional was and with the novel in a virtual world with sets, and avatar actors in Open Sim worlds.
MM I downloaded your CV Winners, thank you. Please tell us about it.
DD I was a career and employment adviser for 20 years, another obsession with me is other folks lives and aspirations - what they dream and aspire to. CV winners is a short, step by step guide to
writing a CV or Resume. I decided to make the web version entirely free at www.cvwinners.com - I guess I was giving back to all the folks who I met over the years who fueled my creative passion with their stories and characters. Maybe!?
MM Please share with us about your screen writing project Atomic.
DD 'Atomic' brought together my creativity in the form of writing and acting into a screenplay project for a gritty urban drama set in the Uk in the 1908s, more can be seen at www.atomicfilm.co.uk where there is a concept trailer. It has elements of the auto-biographical, and inspired by the lives of some larger than life people I have met over the years. I am looking for funding to take it to the next level
MM What would you like to share with our readers that I perhaps, forgot to ask?
DD I think you have asked me some interesting questions, and hope the answers reveal a bit about me, it was very interesting to answer them. I think I learned a lot about myself as well.
A bit about Darkness Pap’s regions,
Shirelands is a collection of Lord of the Rings themed sims built for immersive roleplay. So you can walk in Middle Earth as a human, an elf, a Hobbit or Dwarf. Take part in Quests or rent a home and live your characters life in one of our current locations - Hobbiton, Bree and Buckland, Rivendell and South Mirkwood and Dul Guldor. Live your Dream!
Seas of Thassa is a 64 sim grid for Gorean Roleplay. Become a citizen of Darkport City (roleplay only no raids), a slave, island homesteader, or join one of the feuding pirate clans and sail the great seas of Thassa.
David provides access to a huge range of content, avatars, skins, Gorean clothing and more. We also offer free housing and support acquiring content - and there is an enormous amount in Open Sim.
Lupe’s Magic Forest has endured in Second Life for over a decade. Often lauded as one of the finest Naturist sims in Secondlife. Its success is due in part to the superb organic design by Darkness Papp and also the safe and friendly atmosphere retained by a no tolerance management approach.
Due to rising costs of Second Life the sim is now migrating to Open Sim on superior servers. As usual Lupe's magic Forest main sim is FREE to all and supported by a free mall with content and top mesh avatars.
Please take time to visit anytime,
“In a country right behind the mountains, let's call it the magic land of dreaming books, something strange happens every night.
As soon as a person closes his eyes on earth, a book opens here.
And a voice begins to read from it softly.
The magic land of dreaming books. A Sim full of mystery and secret corners.
Follow the path of the flying books and find the mysterious passage to the cave of the library of the universe.
Or come to a reading in Rudi's reading room.” Rudi Bakerly co-owner of Soul grid with his wife Nasti.
We featured Soul grid in our August 2020 issue and at that time Rudi explained that he would be opening his Book of Dreams installation soon. I think it would be a good idea to visit Soul grid again and Rudi’s new region “Story” and his Book of Dreams.
MM Rudi is your Book of Dreams based on a Real-Life Dream? Please tell us about how you came to realize this incredible region Story.
RB First of all. Everything made in our Grid is a result of teamwork between Nasti and me.
For us, the idea behind this region was that we asked ourselves “who is responsible for the dreams at night ?“
“Who makes up the stories we dream?”
And so we said to ourselves that somewhere there is a city that is all about books. A city with a castle and a hidden library in a huge cave.
And as soon as someone on earth closes his eyes, a soul awakens in this city, chooses a book and begins to read a story that appears to us in our sleep.
MM Please share with us how you created Book of Dreams the books are amazing!
RB Nasti has a huge inventory and a lot more ideas in her pretty head. So we bundled our thoughts and started working. We looked for many materials, the books, from the Hypergrid together. Libraries untied and decors taken apart and put back together again. Most of the work, however, was done by Nasti as she is the more creative part of both of us.
We were also helped by many residents who brought us decorations and books from their travels in the Hypergrid.
MM I too am an avid reader and book lover, my home is stocked full and even when the internet came along, I never thought once to thin down my pile of books, I will keep every one till I die. What is your favorite book?
RB I like historical literature, but I also like the funny. That's why I have two favorite books: “Ken Follets“ Pillars of the Earth ”and Tom Sharpe“ Wilt ”
MM Do you have poetry recitals at your region Story? Or lectures?
RB Yes, we plan to start a series of readings this spring. They will take place in “Rudi's Leserei”. But it wil be in german language
MM Your region Story is filled with Magic, please share with us your thoughts on Magic.
RB Magic is something that you cannot grasp. Magic takes place on another level in your head. Magic can be a magician on a show, a little flower in the ice or the smile of the woman you love.
MM When building this region what was most important to you to convey?
RB The message is that Science is important. Especially in the current situation. But finding non-rational explanations for scientific processes looks nicer and also stimulates the imagination.
Creativity and imagination come first in our Grid. And that's what we are proud about.
MM Do you build all your own props or does Nasti also help with creation of the props?
RB Well, Nasti is the creative part for us. I had the idea for this project and I built a lot myself, but Nasti played most of it. Her imagination and creativity far exceed mine and I am always amazed and enthusiastic when I come home from work and see what new she has created.
MM Do you write, Rudi?
RB No, last time I wrote, I was 18 and wrote for the school newspaper. But this is centuries ago.
MM What would you like the readers to know about Book of Dreams that I have not asked?
RB Book of dreams is a region for which you should take your time. It is not a shopping region, it is not a party region. It is a region that you should experience. Discover the little details. Enjoy the colors and internalize the idea behind them. You have to take some time for this. We want to create some little holidays for the brain and soul with our regions.
MM We featured your grid Soul with wife Nasti in our August 2020 issue, please share with us the updates to the grid since then.
RB We have grown steadily. We got a lot of new builders as residents . All are creative people who pursue an idea and we can
support them with a region. We will soon be celebrating our 1st birthday and are really looking forward to it.
MM At that time you had just built Big Falls, what other large installations will you create? That was your first, wasn’t it?
RB That's right. But we lost it in the hacker attack because I hadn't made a backup. Maybe I will build it again.
At the moment I am building a fantasy region. A city that blows up, that's all I'm not going to reveal yet. Otherwise, I help my wife manage the grid and decorate or stand in her way when she is building :-)
MM When visitors arrive at your grid, Nasti’s welcome area is so inviting, what is the next stop people should visit?
RB We have a large teleport board there, on which you can find the individual public regions of the residents. Each one is worth seeing and elaborate and built with love.
I will go into the individual regions again at the end.
MM What events do you have at Tosca?
RB Tosca is the center of the grid. This is where people meet to talk, play or go to the parties. We don't have parties as often as we did in SL. But when we party, it crashes. Nasti is a great Djane and has a huge portfolio of music.
We always announce the dates and topics on our website or in Opennsimworld.
We also have a permanent exhibition by the French painter Ieko Catnap in the Tosca garden
MM How many regions are at Soul now? Please share with us the names of your regions so visitors can find them.
RB We have a total of 60 regions. 50 of them are privately rented: the rest are social regions or such as the Book of dreams.
You should have a look at:
Bastelwastel von Karin Becker
Dark Moon Roses von Karin Becker
Delphina von Nicke Brogal
EUPHORIC von Nasti Bakerly
Japan von Suzan von Otter
Jumeirah (Palmeninsel aus Dubai) von Brogals
Moonshine von Conny Deluxe
Story (Book of dreams) Nasti und Rudi
Sunshine Island (Santorini) von Doris Ultsch
Sunshine Island 1 (Roma) von Doris Ultsch
Tosca von Nasti Bakerly
Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory
Castle of Versailles
MM Will you have Easter events at Soul this year? An Easter Hunt perhaps?
RB We will have a little easter market and maybe an easter party. But the most important thing for us is looking forward to our 1. grid birthday in the middle of may
Thank you, Rudi, for taking the time to be interviewed, we love how you and Nasti have worked together to create a grid that is loving and inviting, a place where friends unite and collaborate. Thank you for all that you contribute to the opensim community, and for keeping magic alive.
I became an Opensimworld member five years ago, and in all that time I have seen Satyr Aeon manage his Opensimworld social platform keeping controversies and drama in check when he could. Over the years there have been ups and downs of opensim and he has seen all the battles that came with it.
Satyr has also been a creator of multiple opensim enhancements the Satyr Farm my favorite. I thought you would enjoy getting to know him a little better so thought it would be an excellent idea to ask a few questions:
MM Where did you learn your coding skills?
SA Hi Marianna, thanks for doing this Q&A. Well, I’ve worked as a web developer before and picked up a variety of programming skills. SL scripting is one of my favorite hobbies.
MM Opensimworld (OSW) has been a great asset to Opensim enabling grids and regions to be found easily and visited, thank you for this. It is a genius idea, linking grids using beacons. Please share with us what inspired you.
SA I started with SecondLife around 2014, and found building very addictive, but was frustrated at how constrained SL is. When a friend mentioned Opensim, I jumped on the hypergrid and never looked back.
It was a struggle to find regions to visit in Opensim at that time. There were a few region directories but most regions were either offline or empty. I knew there were people out there somewhere, but it was very hard to know where to find them. Initially I planned to make a web-based directory that did not require beacons, however I realized that there is no way in Opensim to inquire the number of users in a simulator. Therefore I had to make a beacon system, which would also function as a teleporter, so that people have an incentive to use it. I posted about it in some grid forums, and it turns out some people did rez it in their regions. From there it seems to have spread through people using the teleporters and word-of-mouth.
MM When laying out the website OSW what features are the most important to you and why? What new features would you like to add?
SA OSW is primarily a region directory, however over the years it evolved as a way for people to have a permanent page for their region where they post their news etc. The most important goal is to let people find each other online and enjoy a more social experience in Opensim. Photos are also very important as a way for region owners to showcase their work making beautiful screenshots.
I am adding new features from time to time, such as the chat, instant notifications, the farm directory etc. Depending on how they are used I will evolve and keep the best parts over time.
MM We encounter different dramas at OSW fighting grids and residents. Some like to see their rant public, others don’t. How do you keep it balanced there when it becomes toxic? What rules are most important at Opensimworld?
SA The most important thing is to respect each other even if people disagree. Inevitably some drama will occur, so I had to reduce its exposure in the homepage. I definitely do not like banning people from OSW, and I prefer to ask them to change their comments or tone. Surprisingly it most often works!
I think a lot of people who come to Opensim carry this overdramatic culture of SecondLife. I think that Opensim, being a very small community, can do much better and in many ways it already is.
MM What are the future plans of OSW?
SA The future of OSW will depend on the future of Opensim itself. Right now OSW is still a very small community (~5000 monthly users). I have some ideas for new features but no plans yet, so nothing to announce at the moment.
MM What do you think Opensim is going to look like in 10 years? Will it still exist?
SA That is difficult to tell. The development of Opensim is not very well organized and it is advancing slowly. The interest seems to be slowly dropping for years and even during the pandemic it did not pick up. Opensim was also sidelined by a lot of investment that was made in VR related projects in previous years, like High-fidelity, even though those projects ended up in disappointment. A lot of progress is hampered by the legacy of the SL viewer and SL compatibility, which is off-putting for developers who want to work on the project.
Opensim ‘s fate seems to be tied to the SL viewer at this point, so it seems like it might exist for quite a long time in the future.
MM If you could change one thing about Opensim what would that be?
SA There are a lot of things that could have been different in the development of Opensim. I think the major issue is the fragmentation to different versions that are used by proprietary grids which do not always contribute back to the main branch of opensim, and even if they do, it is adding features that are redundant. If I had to change one thing, it would be to change the opensim license to a copyleft license such as GPLv3 in order to re-unify the project code.
MM The Satyr farm has brought so many people pleasure, including me, it is pure magic to have a real garden in opensim, the plants actually grow. What scripts were created to achieve this?
SA A friend of mine mentioned that he only went back to SL to feed his animals, so he gave me the idea to start a farm system. Given the constraints of Opensim I could not just copy the functionality of SL farm systems, since asset permissions can’t be guaranteed. On the other hand, I could make use of OSSL functions which allow the farm scripts to be very lightweight, so people can have huge farms.
I had to travel the hypergrid to find assets for plants and animals and I also had to create a lot of them, cutting out models that are available online. I made the first farm packages myself, but then later on Unregi Resident joined and helped to revamp the whole system making it much easier to upgrade, adapt and extend the farm. Overall it has been a very fun project to build (especially because I grew up as a farmboy), and I’ve seen people create amazing custom farms with so many different themes. The base scripts were purposefully made open-ended since people use the farm for different purposes.
MM Do you have ideas for other scripted interactive activities for opensim communities?
SA Usually ideas come up whenever I encounter something I need. I have built an NPC scripting system (ActiveNpcs) for live interactions with NPCs, which I would like to revamp and extend in the future. I am also building a feature-packed but lightweight animation controller (SFposer) that tries to cover the most needed features of other sitters.
MM What has been the biggest hurdle for you as a coder in opensim?
SA There are different versions of opensim running, which means that the newest scripting features can’t be used in public scripts. OTOH, opensim offers a better version of SL scripting, without memory constraints etc.
MM Have you ever given any thought to creating a RL social media platform? We have seen the controversy at Twitter, what would the ideal platform consist of?
SA I have created other online communities in the past. Social media is a very tough space which is dominated by a few companies which give everyone a megaphone, so everyone is shouting. There is no ideal platform, but I think there is space for smaller platforms that allow decent and respectful interactions. That cannot happen in world-wide centralized platforms, so I believe we will see a lot of de-centralization and fragmentation, a sort of reversal of trends.
MM You recently added a Chat channel to OSW thank you, are there lots of users of the new channel?
SA The chat is really meant to be a replacement for our Discord community. Discord is nice and useful as a communication tool, but it is also centralized which creates privacy issues, and will inevitably become like other commercial media when they decide to make money.
There is not a lot of activity in the chat right now, but I do see people asking questions and getting answers. It is just a complement to the website for now.
MM What features do you love about your virtual home? Please tell us about your region.
SA I love architecture and I like building historic regions, such as Rome and also using ancient themes like in the Opensimworld region. My home region is quite chaotic as I build and test out different themes. What I like is that I can give out parcels to friends who build their own homes. This makes a lot of them return so the region is less lonely and boring.
MM What is your favorite pastime in Opensim?
SA Building and improving my builds. I like to visit high-quality builds to get inspiration. Also, scripting things and adding interactivity is magical.
MM If there was one thing about you that you would like us to know what would that be?
SA That OSW and other projects are still fun hobbies for me!
MM What would you like the community to know that I have not asked?
SA That we need more people in Opensim! Tell your SL friends to come over, get new people involved, and help newbies get started.
Thank you Satyr, I agree we need more great people in opensim!
If you have a region please add an Opensimworld beacon found here hg.osgrid.org:80:OpenSimWorld while here please pick up the other great items Satyr offers like his farm!
I guess what first attracted me to Wolf Territories was its massive size, 64 4x4s. I remember my first 4x4. I thought I would never be able to terraform it all and make it flow into one well thought out region, yet Lone Wolf has accomplished just that.
Uniting the region by train is genius and lends itself to the western ambiance of this place, I love it here.
MM I have to say when I first visited your regions, I was in awe as to all the terraforming you have accomplished. This place is expansive, and the eye for detail is impeccable. How do you accomplish this?
LW Okay some of it is done by hand, like with the terraforming tool in world. Some is done using a Fractal generator and I have some new terrain on the way built with the amazing e-on VUE software.
MM What is your vision for your Wolf Territories?
LW A lot of things really – it started off as the biggest Wild West roleplay area in Opensim (probably beating anything in Second Life as well) but I have departed slightly in certain areas.
MM I love how the train takes you around the region please share how you did this and how far does it travel?
LW Okay I started by building mesh trains and tracks and then scripted them. It’s based on the SLRR model of railroading where you have trains that can follow tracks. I did start off using an open source script but started again from scratch as the open source one used notecards and when you have over 64 4x4 regions (1024 sims) you can’t be spending all day making notecards. Plus the notecard trains cannot use points. I have a fully working points system.
There are currently 4 train lines although the point set up at Wolf Territories station makes one merge into another, Wolf territories station has 9 platforms just to give you an idea. I am looking to add more lines. The lines go right up into the mountains and I think it’s about ½ hour ¾ hour journey to get round it all on the main lines. That’s without the branch lines of which there are 3 but only 2 are operational at the moment.
MM The application of textures in the Ballroom is the most perfect I have ever seen, even in Second Life. This is the most beautiful ballroom, it is breathtaking. Did you create it?
LW I didn’t actually. The ballroom was created by https://opensimworld.com/user/lunalunaria, I saw it and thought – I’ve got a nice lake that would go nicely with.
MM Do you work in blender or photoshop?
LW I use Blender, Photoshop, Gimp, clara.io 3d software and e-on VUE software
MM I love the big barn featuring Rogue Galaxy too, what dates are the events?
LW We are on hold with events till the end of Jan at the moment as I have a huge amount of major upgrades to do especially with the terraforming. I want to create some of the most stunning beautiful scenery in any virtual world.
MM The tall ships area for boating looks expansive how large is the boating area?
LW I have rivers running through pretty much all the sims so there is hours of boating!
MM Do you create your items or do you find them around the metaverse?
LW A bit of both, honestly I prefer to create my own items, sometimes I get things out of world in 3d models and modify them. Sometimes I create from scratch.
MM I love how your teleports are set up too, please explain how you laid them out.
LW Okay the teleports I developed using an off world server so basically you can drop a teleport, create the description and it updates a remote database of teleports. I’m going to soon have a web page with all the destinations in Wolf Territories, there are a lot.
MM Will you add other venues for entertainment too?
LW I actually have some hidden away including 3 wedding venues. I will be bringing them on stream probably February.
MM What are the themes you will feature here?
LW Mainly Wild West, but I’m not sticking too strictly if I find something I really like, we do have a very modern club with space age buildings that I’ve been working on and a massive exhibition and concert/conference space at the very top left and right of Wolf Territories.
MM What activities can visitors enjoy while visiting?
LW We have quite a few activities.
MM Do you offer rentals?
LW Yes – just contact me and we can discuss what is required, I can offer homes in the mountain, on a reservation, just about anywhere you can think of with a variety of properties available.
MM Will you continue to grow larger or will you stop at a certain size?
LW The plan at the moment is to grow with more servers and just get bigger and bigger! Which will be amazing….we’ll stop when there is nothing left to build.
MM Do you offer any positions to help with the project or do you work solo?
LW I work alone at the moment but I would love to have some more Wolf Territories Peacekeepers on board. Basically these are the Sheriffs/Rangers of Wolf Territories, especially those who are good at landscaping. I’m also looking for performers for our 2 venues.
MM I see too that you are a performer, do you write music and sing too?
LW I’m with a Real Life band called Mandolin Monday www.mandolinmonday.com – I do perform in Wolf Territories and at other clubs occasionally. I do write my own material and perform Folk, Rock, Irish and Country music.
MM What would you like to share that I have not asked?
LW- Nothing much – just come and say hello sometime and ride the trains, there are a lot of views to see.
I suggest you do just that, please take some time out of your busy schedule and visit this magnificent place.
hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Wolf Territories National Park
hg.zetaworlds.com:80:Wolf Territories Ballroom
Lannorra thank you for taking the time to reflect and share with us about your Phantom Rose Grid. When I first met you, Phantom Rose was in InWorldZ and you were just setting up a new region at the Canadian grid. It impressed me how you loved Victorian themed builds and brought Phantom Rose to share with all of us, thank you. The ambiance felt like a Gothic Romance. I love that.
MM- Your grid is a recreation of the first Phantom Rose from 2007-2015 Second Life. Please share with us about the original build. Please elaborate we have plenty of space for your answers.
LS- Hi Marianna and thank you for your interest in Phantom Rose Grid. To put my grid into context, I will give a (hopefully) brief history of Phantom Rose.
I started in Second Life (SL) in 2005. I bought most of a mainland sim and developed Dragons Heart Province, a Medieval role play area. I started renting out Castles and it was very successful. Like many people, over time I became very dissatisfied with Mainland living. So in 2007, I decided to rent a private sim. I did not want to compete with my successful rental business so I decided to change the theme. I had long been a fan of gothic romance novels of the 1970s, also Anne Rice's Vampire stories and then totally fell in love with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. So I decided on the name Phantom Rose and rented a sim. Phantom Rose is where Phantom of the Opera meets Anne Rice's Vampires. Beautiful, enchanting and slightly .
dangerous. I still had castles, but they were mostly more gothic and baroque. Along with a spooky graveyard, I had a large, ornate Opera House. One of the first Opera Houses in SL (and free to use), it helped many aspiring artists give their first performances and grow their audience.
Phantom Rose was also a big hit. So much so, that I had one renter that moved from my Dragons Heart Provence to Phantom Rose and stayed with me the entire 8 years! I originally had 12 castles and they were normally fully rented out. I eventually closed my mainland sim and sold the land and put all my efforts into Phantom Rose.
In 2008, I started branching out to the Open sims, making avatars and trying to help the OS develop. Lannorra has been a resident of the 3RD Rock Grid (3RG) since 08/16/2010! At that same time I found Inworldz grid.
By 2012, Inworldz had rapidly advanced and was technically as good as SL. I made a decision to expand Phantom Rose to a new grid. I did not want to just replicate what I had done in SL, so I came up with a slightly altered theme where Phantom Rose shifted more to Anne Rice and the Bayou!
In 2015, I made the painful decision to close down in SL. The pricing was burdensome compared to what I paid to other grids. So, I did one more magical Christmas at SL Phantom Rose, then after 8 years, closed the doors forever. Phantom Rose was visited by 1000s of visitors over that 8 years and was beloved by many.
I continued to travel the Metaverse and loved it. Inworldz was a closed grid, with no hypergrid available to other OS grids. So, I set down some more roots in Digiworldz and bought some first land at 3RG. In 2017 I found the Great Canadian Grid (GCG) and really loved it. The creative muse was pulling at me again and I decided, not to have all my virtual eggs in one basket, so I got some regions and started on the 3rd iteration of Phantom Rose at GCG. This time, I decided to go Steampunk/Victorian I had so much fun developing new builds and new friendships.
As it turned out, I was fortunate in my foresight. Quite unexpectedly, Inworldz closed its doors. I had downloaded most of my builds, but it was still devastating to lose that world and all I invested there.
In 2018, I started reading about Fred Beckhusen's Dream Grid. Fred, aka Ferd Ferderix of Outworldz, had built a program that did most of the technical work in setting up a real grid. It was amazing. My amazing husband, gifted me at Christmas that year, with a desktop unit to house the new grid. January 13, 2019, Phantom Rose Grid was born. (Again, I was fortunate in my foresight, as GCG also closed it doors dramatically. But by that time, I had my own grid and all my builds set up.)
MM- Your new grid Phantom Rose which opened January 2019, congratulations Lannorra, please share with us what all you have accomplished this last year?
LS- It is very exciting and equally daunting to start a grid! Suddenly, I had all that space to create whatever I wanted. Oh my gosh. I had to really just focus on the first step. I decided I wanted to bring all the dimensions of Phantom Rose that I had already created, but with the new space, enlarge them.
First though, I needed a welcome area. Thinking it over, I decided that my original SL Phantom Rose should be that space. I had downloaded my main builds, and I had my original raw file, thankfully. So, the grid began there. What visitors see now, is a retrospect of my vintage Phantom Rose. With a sim being 8 years old, things changed as the years went by. I removed some castles, added other features, etc. over time. For my welcome sim, I decided to choose the aspects I loved the most. Of course the iconic Opera house is there, along with the Graveyard, Pirate Island, Skate Mountain, several of the Castles I loved and the popular Phantom Rose Cathedral.
Once I had Welcome done, I set up some 2x2 regions and rebuilt my GCG PR and 3rd Rock Grid PR in a much expanded way. PR Steam is an homage to Jules Verne and PR Nile is a wonderful expansion on the Phantom Rose Egyptian Adventure I began at 3RG. I have another 2x2 region, PR Nature that is a collaboration with my friend Tenshi Engel. He has contributed an adjacent 2x2, Sanctuary. I also built PR Ocean, a 4x4 region for all types of water sport.
Another long time SL friend, Dillon Hampton, has a 2x2 region he is working on, called Ad Infinitum.
I never feel done with a Region, so I had to force myself to "officially" open on January 13, 2020.
This past year, I added the original Linda Kellie mall and her Clutterfly mesh mall. I am adding items to some of the empty stores that I know are legal CCA items, from Selea Core, Hylie Bekkers, and Vbinnia Radek. These freebies are valuable starter items for new people to the OS. I wanted to provide this resource for the OS, as my grid has very little downtime and collecting these into one area makes it easy for people to find them.
I have two new regions I have been working on this year, PR Bayou (2x2) and PR Medieval (5x5).
MM-What do you envision for your second year, what are your plans for Phantom Rose? Will you present events and the arts?
LS- Right now, I have a scavenger hunt on PR Nile with a lovely gift of unique chalices for completion.
For 2021, I really want to take some time to do some live events. I have so many amazing venues now. Tenshi and I loved doing a drum circle at Inworldz and it was quite popular. I have made a new drum area on my "in progress" Phantom Rose Bayou, which I hope to be open to public in early 2021.
Like I did at SL, I would like to make the Opera House available for use free of charge. Anyone interested should contact me.
I want to get PR Bayou and Medieval regions to the "done enough" level and open them to public.
MM-I remember you had a website do you still? If so please share the link with us.
LS-My website is www.phantomrose.com I have owned this domain since 2007 or 2008.
The URL for my grid is http://PhantomRose.Outworldz.net:8002. You can hypergrid from any HG enabled grid in the Metaverse.
The url for my blog is http://www.lannorrasion.wordpress.com. The blog can also be accessed from phantomrose.com.
MM- When you first opened you had 9 regions, how many are there now? Please explain your regions.
LS- At the moment I have 10 regions open to the public. This includes 2 regions that are by my friends (Sanctuary and Ad Infinitum) and not officially Phantom Rose regions. I also have a visitor sandbox with 1 hour build times, and the two Linda Kellie Mall regions.
I have 2 new more regions that are getting close to opening to the public.
The first is PR Bayou, which is an expanded version of Phantom Rose from Inworldz. PR Bayou is the home of Dark Nights Role play area. This is where all the supernaturals come out to play! Within that area I am building a Dark Fantasy Adventure. This is a re-imagining of the Dark Fantasy Role Play Hub I developed for Inworldz as part of a larger project they had for a Role Play starter area. With this new adventure, you accept a quest to travel to each Dark Fantasy supernatural and complete a task that gives you an amulet of safe passage. At the moment it includes Vampire, Demon, Dark Witches, and Voodoo. I have also built a maze with a cool gift at the center for anyone who finds it. PR Bayou additionally has Wiccan alter and a Druid drum circle. So lots of magic and gothic overtones. I am so proud of Desolate Manor, rising from the swamp, Desolate is a decadent, spooky mansion, just waiting for visitors to find it. I also made a cool swamp boat, that is hand poled. The perfect way to slide thru the many swampy waterways on the Region. The landing point is a Ship Depot in the "city". The City resembles 1799 New Orleans. I am not interested in building replicas, but I do love to be inspired by environments. I have had a long enchantment with the French Quarter and the Bayou, so it has inspired this version of the area. I am hoping to open the PR Bayou region in the first quarter of 2021.
The second is a huge 5x5 region with lots of water. PR Medieval, is a medieval/fantasy environment, with Castles (Knights Landing, Dragons Heart Castle and the Citadel), dragons and pirates (Cut Throat Cove), a huge monastery Castle (by Tenshi), working canons, a new huge Mer folk area and much more! I hope to have Medieval open in 2021. It’s coming along nicely. I bought some working battle boats and hope to have some events with those in third quarter of 2021.
MM-What are the themes of your regions? What will be future themes?
LS-Phantom Rose Grid is somewhat science fiction based, in that the regions are basically a snapshot in time. My original PR was Victorian-ish. I have never been a person to force people into RP, so I just asked my visitors to be kind and not deliberately ruin a RP moment for others. When I created the Inworldz PR, I still had a Victorian or Edwardian vibe, but it was very swamp/bayou oriented. Which brought in a more supernatural feel to the space.
PR STEAM is steampunk. So again, more of a sci-fi type environment.
At 3rd Rock Grid, I made a very specific time period for the Phantom Rose Egyptian Adventure, 1898, as this theme was the Duke and Duchess of Phantom Rose visiting the Pyramids. PR Nile is the same set-up, but greatly expanded and just really fascinating with lots of details: Pyramid to explore, Museum, Marketplace, Victorian Inns, Bedouin camp, excavations, farms, and so much more.
My new PR Bayou is set in 1799, just as my alternate universe New Orleans is changing from the French to Americans.
PR Oceans is modern, but includes mer folk... so I cannot seem to get away from sci-fi.
So when I was designing my grid, I was in a quandary of how to set it up. I finally decided, that each of my builds is essentially another "Dimension" of Phantom Rose. And given that I have a sci-fi base, I decided to build an Inter-Dimensional Portal (IDP) system of transportation for my visitors. Each open region is accessed thru the IDP. In addition, each Region has a "regional TP" that has teleports to many of the points of interest (and the IDP) on that Region. The IDP at the PR Welcome region, is right at the landing point for visitors. Along with information, etc.
Future regions planned are:
PR Vegas 60's Vegas, yeah baby! This will be a redesign of a build I did for a friend in SL. And will bring back Drax Lemieux’s original Red Dragon Club and Casino from 2006 SL. There was another Red Dragon club that popped up after his. But Drax's was the first and very unique (huge dragon head entrance).
PR Gatsby Bootleggers, flappers and all that jazz! All done in the PR style :)
MM-What activities do you have at the grid? Is there nature trails? For horseback riding or hiking?
LS-Each region has an extensive set of activities for visitors.
Mer Folk: the Phantom Rose Grid, has a mer folk area on all its regions. When landing at the welcome, there is a sign directing Mer folk to choose the Grotto destination from the local transporter. From there you can travel underwater, via the Mer Portal, to each region. The Grotto also has free Mer weddings at Neptune’s Alter, free male and female fins and you can take the underwater transporter to the Mer Playground, where you will find swings and a carousel made especially for Mer folk, in addition to a wreck to explore and find the treasure chest gift! Each region has its own area, the largest being at PR Ocean where you land at Atlantis. :)
PR Nature: hang gliding, horse riding, kayaks, white water rafting, tubing, donkey rides, swimming, archery, hot air ballooning, meditation, tai chi, oriental fan dancing, photo ops, camping, hiking trails, YouTube media room at the Ranch.
PR Nile: boat rides on the Nile, camel rides, hot air balloons, horse riding, swimming, belly dancing, the Souks marketplace, the Bathhouse, exploration of the pyramids, Scavenger Hunt. There is also an adjacent 2x2 that is all water for more boating space.
PR Steam: steam boat rides, hot air balloon rides, sail boat rides, meditation at Serenity Beach, hidden cavern adventure, Mysterious Island (with Dinosaurs!), Mermaids of the Mists area.
PR Ocean: sail boats, power boats, kayaks, deep see diving, underwater ruins, bar-be cue, Marina, Pool, beach, games room. Coming soon, Surf beach, with real surfable waves!
PR Welcome: Tai chi, free weddings at the Cathedral or ocean front Gazebo, Opera House, find the Phantom's Lair and its free fabulous gift, Pirate Island, boat rides, mer folk playground and Grotto with free Mer weddings venue.
Sanctuary: satyr farm, beautiful natural landscape to explore. Tenshi also has a massive food market, with food and spices, all free! Some are uniquely his and others are customed freebies. Do not forget to visit his Winery, where he has laid out a huge buffet of food and party platters for his guests to take as gifts! If you want food, this is the place to come! They are all copy/no transfer, so bring your friends, cause they will want them too.
Ad Infinitum: A work in progress, there are no specific activities, but it is open to the public to explore.
Linda Kellie Mall: freebies
Cuttlerfly Mall: freebies, including not just clutterfly but Selea Core and Kylie Bekkers
MM-What I love about your builds are the amazing attentions to details, do you create all your props and landscaping too?
Yes, several people have said that to me. I think it is because I "live" in all my builds. When I am building, I am creating a story of the person or family that will inhabit my build. My environments are created from my need for beauty and tranquility. But conversely, I need a little spice, so I like those touches of gothic.
I create many, many things, but not all. I will buy lovely objects from other merchants. I also buy building components (often mesh) from Twice Baked, Lunaria, and others.
I really believe in supporting merchants. I heavily utilize Kitely Marketplace and also buy direct from gloebit merchants.
I COULD most likely build every single item I need. But I LIKE to shop! LOL. And I have too many plans and not enough time, so that limits me from making every single thing.
MM- One time you showed me your great steampunk engine and that you scripted it to work, it was a steam engine remember? Did you create the model and script it too?
LS- I think you are referring to my "steam" elevators and balloons and the steampunk clock?
The elevator I made for PR Steam, I did make it all. It has rotating gears and "steam". The scripts are customed off old Linden scripts and maybe one of Ferd's from Outworldz. Most of my scripts I do from the LSL wiki or one of Ferd's.
The balloon "elevators" are actually customed from Vbinnia Radek's Balloon, a Victorian loveseat by M&M (I have paid for license), and using a script I found from SL and pieces from Ferd's kinda mashed together.
The working clock, I found in OSgrid as a free item. I added all the decorative bracing, steam, piping, the water wheel and the moving gears on the back. Scripts are all started from LSL wiki and then customed to what I needed.
I am not a true coder, but long ago in another lifetime, I did get a degree in Computer Science and I worked as a programmer. My experience was in all old tech, but I do have the logic mind of a coder. So I hack away at scripts trying to make them do what I want. Often times, I am successful. I don't know why I still refuse to simply take some classes to make things easier for myself. lol.
One of my new projects I am working on right now, involves a Wiccan alter and Grimoire, that will allow guests to summon a coven and do some magic! :) I have the coven part working already, so I am feeling confident that I will get some magic going soon. This is all happening on PR Bayou.
I encourage guests to sign up for the Phantom Rose News group, available at all the IDP's. It is a very low activity group that I will use to announce new regions and activities open for the grid.
MM- Do you have a team to help with your grid?
LS- Just my husband and I.
I do all the in world work. And I designed and developed my website. I do all the maintenance and backups.
My husband takes care of the Grid software tech and networking issues. Which turn out to be ports that are messed up by Window updates most of the time. Grid software is by Fred Beckhusen, who has my undying gratitude for providing us with a way to have our own small grids. Fred you are the best!
Also, Tenshi Engel, one of my long time friends from SL, collaborates with me on projects, such as PR Nature. He did most of the landscaping for that region.
MM- Are there regions to rent? If so can you please share about your policy or TOS.
LS- Phantom Rose Grid is totally noncommercial. I do not register avatars or rent land. I do have a TOS that visitors can read immediately at the Landing area. Most regions are rated Moderate, which means public behavior should be general. There are areas where nudity is allowed and those areas have separate TOS.
I also provide proof of my DMCA agent status along with some valuable information on the subject.
I am considering allowing visitors to use free rent boxes to have vacation homes at Phantom Rose. These would be the click box every 30 days kind of thing. I still need to test the box I found and see if it works. Again there would be no charge.
I have 2 long time SL friends who I have dragged (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the OS. LOL. They both have regions at Phantom Rose.
In the past, I was a merchant in both SL and Inworldz. But that was mainly to fund owning land. I am not selling anything in world at this time.
I make some unique gifts for my visitors, and I also custom some legal freebies to give away. I have made a set of Mermaid/Triton fins as a free gift for my visitors and some special gifts in the Opera House at Welcome.
Each region has some gifts. I am working on many more items. Some of the them are in gift shops and some are from others and are set free to copy. I only put free to copy on items I am confident are legal free items.
MM- What has been your biggest hurdle in setting up your own grid?
LS-The technical aspects are hard for me. I want very badly to understand it all, and I read all the comments and things that Fred puts out. But my understanding is only at a very beginner level. My husband understands more than I do. Fred is also beyond generous with his help. He has had phone con with us with remote into the server to help us with issues.
I have been very lucky that my grid has very little down time. When it occurs, its mostly due to scheduled or unexpected Win10 pro updates.
MM- Is the grid on a hosted server or do you run on your home PC?
LS-Phantom Rose Grid is self hosted. We have the fastest Xfinity bandwidth and it is on a top of the line computer processor with solid state drives, etc. I have two 8 TB drives from Western Digital for backups. I do 2 region backups a day. Plus weekly autobackups of the grid. I also do frequent inventory backups for myself and my two residents. In addition to backups to an off line 8 TB external drive.
I travel regularly and I use my laptop to access mine and other grids. I usually have no issues with Phantom Rose, even on some crappy wifi. lol. But I do have very good equipment.
MM- In closing what would you like to convey, that I did not ask here?
LS-Although, I am not merchanting now, I would like visitors to know that I have paid for Extended Licensing on many FP building items, furniture and accessories that allow me to have them in the OS. I put out real life dollars to be in compliance with TOS from many merchants. So when you see some of these items on my grid, please know they are legal.
And due to disappearing grids, I have bought certain items from merchants more than once!
I am a registered agent for DMCA and I take it seriously.
MM- Thank you, I too have a registered DMCA agent; all the items I place on our grid are either free and full perms from various online free resource sites or I purchase them.
As you can see Lannorra has created an amazing grid, and welcomes you to please come visit!!
Sara Diamond is the savvy tech behind the Fire and Ice grid. Her tech knowledge is what keeps her grid running 24/7 with very little downtime.
Sara often posts about improvements and info that is beneficial to others which benefits the opensim community, thank you Sara.
I wanted to get to know her a little better so thought it would be great to feature her and ask about her awesome grid.
Sara, watching your grid develop over time has been fascinating to watch. The information you share on the tech end helps new grid owners set up, the knowledge is much appreciated, thank you. I thought others would be interested too in learning more about Fire and Ice grid to see just how much you have accomplished. Having the grid owner who is also the grid tech is invaluable to your residents, it gives them a sense of calm that you have things under control.
MM - Sara you came to virtual worlds in 2004, please tell us about what it was like during those years. I came three years later much probably had changed. Please share with us the experience then.
SD- As you eluded, to things were very different then. Two considerable constraints spring to mind. There was not a lot of content available to buy. Of course, I landed a year after it all started, but still, the selection was limited.
Back in those days, it was prim only. Sculpt maps didn't arrive until 2007, before then shoes were made of prims, hair was either prim or classic avatar hair, neither was elegant.
When I first landed in a virtual world, I was still using dial-up internet. I didn't get broadband for another six months. It was perfectly normal to teleport then go and make a drink while rezzing. Due to the limited power of PC's compared to today, draw distances were frequently limited to 128m or less. Even with the significantly reduced graphics in viewers at the time, things were still considerably slower than they are today.
Everything felt more magical to me in those early days. I had almost no understanding of how everything worked, it was all mysterious and fascinating. Over time that changed, the more I learnt, the less magical it felt. However, that was replaced love for creating content.
MM – I liken the elemental force of fire with the emotion of desire, and ice with denial of love. What does Fire and Ice represent for you?
SD – Fire and Ice are two of the most potent forces of nature that exist. Seemingly opposites, yet intrinsically connected. They are bound together in a beautiful symphony, shaping each other, and the world around them.
The name came from myself and my partner originally. They are the names we gave to each other. When creating together, we work in entirely different ways. Each of us has very different skill sets. Yet we come together and complement each other.
I see this idea of coming together against the odds throughout virtual worlds. The very basis of love inside a virtual world is laughable to a lot of people. Yet despite this, those of us who have used them for a long time will have seen it happen multiple times.
There are more powerful platforms available than Opensim. In many ways, both Opensimulator and Second Life are old technology. Despite this, they have a very loyal user base. I think it is because of the way it allows people to come together collaboratively.
Like Fire and Ice, we all come together in a beautiful yet volatile symphony which sparks emotions. This is Fire and Ice.
MM – When did you open for business, what was your first store?
SD – My first business started in 2003, offering transport services to a real-world rural community. In virtual worlds, I made my first lindens working the clubs and largely forgotten casinos. By 2007 I had made enough to buy a plot of land. Starting with an area of just 2048m. I rented the ground out. At its peak in Second Life, there were three full. At around the same time, I began selling items which I had created through Covey Stores. Later I moved from Second Life into Opensim.
MM – Please share with us what is your aspirations for your grid? What do you hope to convey with your regions?
SD– I am a believer in social equality. I would like to create an environment where everyone feels welcome. Where everyone can feel at home, creating spaces which mean something to them. Many of us have used virtual worlds to escape something. It can be so much more than an escape. I guess this is what I would like to convey. Hope.
MM –When you planned your grid, what were the main considerations to consider?
SD – First and foremost, it had to be feasible. Both on a financial level and in terms of the time, I needed to invest in making it happen. Looking beyond that, considerations about my technical skills. I expected to be challenged and was, but my firm belief in multi-level backups saved everything.
MM –Please share with us, your experience do you code? Have skills with 3D modeling? What do you offer at your store Covey?
SD – I do code, I started writing LSL scripts around the same time I began Covey in 2007. My coding skills are something I would describe as a work in progress. I have just completed my first year of study doing a Meng (a degree with integrated masters) in Computer Science. Currently, the primary language I code in is C#.
I began modelling in 2010/2011 using Blender. I have created many items of clothing as well as static objects. Although many of them are now dated I have several tutorials on using Blender for Virtual Worlds. Those can be found on Youtube under my old second life name. Covey has gone through several transformations. I brought mesh feet to second life within three days of it being released to their primary grid. Currently, it has a limited selection of clothing and fantasy skins. Covey is now mostly about creating and modifying scripted tools to use in Opensim.
MM –What are the regions of Fire and Ice please explain your regions and what they offer.
SD – There are several regions operated by the grid itself.
The first everyone will see is the welcome region. This is at the very heart of the grid. This is a social gathering area with lots of spots for people to find and enjoy.
An interactive adventure game, walking through nose mythology. Solve puzzles, learn about the power of the Norse Gods while using some of the very latest opensim has to offer.
This is a medieval castle provided to enjoy as is or as part of a role-play.
Is a stunning winter wonderland best experienced around Christmas time.
Help Island – Firestorm:
A handy sim if you're very new to using firestorm or OpenSimulator.
Help Island – Singularity:
A handy sim if you're very new to using Singularity or OpenSimulator.
The LGBT Safehouse is a sim which was initially set up at the start of the Covid19 pandemic. It was provided, so the LGBT forum charity from the UK had a place for its members to meet. This sim is now available as a space for all members of the LGBT+ community to meet share together.
Sandboxes provide space for those without land to build and create. Our public sandbox is open to everyone.
MM –Do you offer land rentals? Please share what you offer.
SD – I do offer land rentals. As a grid, we provide full regions which come with a range of prim allowances. Unlike most other grids we do not charge extra for bigger sims. A standard 256m*256m sim costs the same as a 1024m*1024m var region, so long as the prim allowance is the same. Prices start at just £2 (GBP) per month for 2000 prims rising to £21 per month for 150'000 prims. Beyond this, we have residents who are offering both free and paid house rentals on smaller parcels.
MM –Do you have events on the calendar? What entertainment or classes do you offer residents?
SD – Currently, we do not have a calendar system for events. However, this is something we are hoping to add as residents start adding their own affairs.
Image submitted by Sara Diamond
MM –Do you have a team that helps run your grid?
SD – Leisha and I have made most of the grid's own regions as a team. The grid admin is all currently done by me. This is something which will need to change as the grid grows, and the time demands increase.
MM –What social networks can we find Fire and Ice grid listed, please share those links.
SD – There are several places we can be found, including our own website blog and wiki pages.
Google Hangouts: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fireandicegrid
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/511890436119320/?ref=pages_group_cta
MM –What policy do you offer the residents that is important to you?
SD – Backup, Backup and Backup. It is something I am a little paranoid about and something my residents benefit from. Everything is backed up daily and kept for a period. In addition to the primary server backups, individual regions have oar's taken every other day. We will not lose the places you work hard to create. All our backups are stored in multiple locations. Short of a continental scale disaster, we can recover your data.
MM –What do you envision for Fire and Ice grid in the future?
SD – There are a lot of long-term plans for the grid. These include load-balanced servers and web interfaces to allow users to administer their own regions and automatic deployment of new servers as they are required. These are all long-term goals, however.
MM –What is your technical experience?
SD – I have been working with the Linux operating system for several years. Before opening the Fire and Ice grid that was mostly using desktop computers rather than cloud-based servers. All our servers start as bare-bones, the operating system and respective tools are configured manually. Since starting the grid, I have written several Bash scripts to aid in the smooth running of the grid.
Everything is set up to be accessed remotely, meaning I do not have to be in the office to work on the grid. Additionally, our automated backup system has been proven to work.
I have also implemented a crash detection and recovery system. This means that in most cases if something goes wrong, the system will recover on its own without my intervention.
MM –If there was one thing you would want residents to know what would that be?
SD – I care, I am not the most experienced opensim operator. Neither am I the largest with the most features enabled. What I am is passionate and dedicated. I will always work hard to make sure you have the best service I can deliver. The Fire and Ice Grid stay be priced as low as possible. It is priced, to be affordable, for as many people as possible.
Thank you, Sara for taking the time to reflect and share with us about your grid Fire and Ice. I know I speak for others when I say, it is very refreshing to have experienced grid owners who care, thank you. We would love to see you flourish.
I am not sure what your first reaction was to seeing the works of Cherry Manga.
For me, seeing an artist push the norms, to go beyond the limits and push it a little to create the element of “strange” thought provoking art captivated me.
Cherry’s art reminds me of Nanomi Cowdroy who creates pen and ink art works that combine her Japanese and European heritage with a modern sensibility. Nanomi is an illustrator but she captures the same “strangeness” which stimulates all those damaged neurons in my brain. https://www.creativityfuse.com/2010/11/striking-ink-illustrations-by-nanami-cowdroy/
I find Cherry Manga’s work fascinating and wanted to ask her a few questions, to highlight her work. Art that lies in the deep recesses of your mind. And when viewed, it seems to all make perfect sense.
MM - Is opensim or virtual reality a source of inspiration, a place for expression, and if both, what are you seeing or feeling that makes you want to express yourself?
CM - Drawing, painting, sculpting clay, were hobbies I used to practice a lot before THE tool arrived in my life. With my first computer, an entire new world appeared, it became immediately the media I felt in love with, I started with the default programs such as Paint and movie maker to experiment new ways to create.
Then, in 2007, I logged in Second Life and wow.....immersion in art, build in 3D, it was a blast, I knew it was the beginning of a long story.
The most inspiring was to learn to use new tools, they gave me opportunities to express ideas I wouldn't be able to visualize without the technique itself, and then creating a little world where one can immerse was a totally new feeling to apprehend art. Opensim was a very important step, I met tech guys, they pushed me to learn further, we had incredible collaborations, it's a perfect place to grow, artistically and also humanely.
Being immersed in art provides strong feelings one can compare to meditation, when I use the oculus headset and I paint in TiltBrush, seeing the drawing reacting to the music I listen, it's like being in a place that only exists in the mind, a dream, a travel, that offers me joy and peace.
MM - How do you select what to share, and what not to share?
CM - If I could, I would just share everything, creations, but also knowledge, I don't, because of the lack of time, and also (and I hate it) to pay fees on SL for example, I have to sell some.
MM - What music do you listen to express your art when you create?
CM - It's wide...When not very focused on the sounds itself, I like to listen to webradios, such as
SomaFM's Fluid, or my own playlists...But some projects were driven by the music for example,
La Collection and Childhood were created with Cocorosie's albums, Strange Garden with Sainkho Namtchylak and Heilung... and of course the collaborations with musicians such as MorlitaM for different projects, Christine Webster for the Fest'Avis and most recently with JadeYu Fhang who made the musical background of State of Mind.
MM - When mesh arrived how did that enhance your creations? Do you prefer working with Mesh vs prims?
CM - Mesh was like any new tool, a joy to discover and explore. I don't make a big difference between prims and mesh, they are both a great way to create, they don't have the same specifications and of course, mesh is useful for organic, round lines, that are
sharper with prims. I'm just waiting for the « mind tool », you think of a shape, it appears !:)
MM - Do you create the clothing seen on the characters? I love the skirts you have created. My favorite is the Swan avatar. Please explain how you create the beautiful skirts.
The legs too, like the swan or bird avatar, how were those created?
CM - Before knowing how to make sculpt and mesh, I used a lot of full perm prefab to include in the creations, the skirt and the Swan's legs were made with this kind of sculpty, the bird was one of the first self-made mesh. Now I do all myself, using opensource resources, such as MB-Lab.
MM - Please tell us about the different events where we have seen your art, what has been your favorite exhibit?
CM - It's impossible to prioritize, each had its emotion, they all are part of a space-time.
Fest'Avi was the biggest adventure, several years of existence, an intense collaboration, it was the most challenging project.
Toxic Geisha, Fest'Avi 2015
AdA, Fest'Avi 2016
MM - When you visualize the idea, how then do you proceed to create the character?
CM - I think of the emotion I want to tell about, searching the good shapes, textures, effects, and I try to be as close as possible, being quite bad with Blender, I find my way avoiding heavy technique by hijacking the tools. Sometimes it's really fast to reach the goal, sometimes it takes many tries and uploads inworld:)
MM - What have been your favorite reactions to your art?
CM - The ones that don't flatter the ego, but push me to move on, and trust myself to continue.
MM - What has been your favorite character to create?
CM - Probably Line of Light avatar, I still wear it, the moving line has something hypnotizing, I use it very often in current works.
MM - Please describe a RL event that inspired you.
CM - Every event is part of the story, life is the inspiration in its whole, every joy, pain, everything.
MM - What themes do you pursue?
CM - Human kind, the human condition and Nature are the base of my work. It's mostly my own stories I am building, sometimes it's hard to find out for the viewer, hidden in surreal or abstract, but sometimes it's very obvious and raw. Creating is an outlet, an antidote to neurosis.
MM - If you could have any super power what would that be and why?
CM - Teleportation ! You all know why :)
MM - Please describe what you would love to see in the art world and why?
CM - The furthest from real constraints. We have the chance to experiment the 3rd dimension, I'd like to see more works freed from gravity, less 2D buildings, the more it's strange, better it is. Some creators are shy to show their depth, and they tend to show only their inner light, but it's the perfect place to push limitations and explore our own complexity.
MM - Favorite or most inspirational place?
CM - There are many, but if I have to choose, any installation by Claudia222 Jewell.
MM - Who is your favorite artist?
CM - I don't have one, the interest in one artist or another varies over time, the works resonate at the right time. The artistic current that never ceases to move me is surrealism .
Please visit the works of Cherry Manga located at Franco Grid https://opensimworld.com/hop/78650
Mari entered OpenSim in 2015 as a resident of a grid in Canada, called to manage their magazine as an Editor, thereby meeting her future partner Reyn Softly.
Fred Beckhusen's DreamGrid