Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Grand Opening Ceremony for the Sunweaver Railroad

By Bixyl Shuftan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, February 9, 2018

Valentine Town

By Bixyl Shuftan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bixyl Shuftan