Monday, December 23, 2019

United Artists of Second Life

By Marcel Mosswood

In Second Life, just very few artists are lucky enough to have their own gallery to display their work. Many artists hitched a ride to the gallery to display their work. As artists, we are very grateful for the people who provide the free public gallery, both 3D and 2D galleries. And since the closing of LEA (Linden Endowment for the Arts), more and more people have independently provided land for artists to exhibit.

One very interesting gallery is UASL, or United Artists of Second Life. When I first visited UASL, I felt the freedom of expression by the artists who exhibited there. In UASL, visitors can see various interpretations of art in one theme.

Riannah Avora, the manager of UASL, explained about the group: “UASL is a relaxed group of artists of all kinds and others who support the arts in SL. Designed to be low pressure, easy-going and welcoming to everyone in the group. Its purpose is specifically to be pro-artist and support the artist in any way possible. We do have some land, not a lot, in which we build and exhibit art upon that has been donated to the group. UASL is for artists, by artists. We are a very pro-artist group.”

“During the last few months of LEA, I met and talked with many different people and heavily engaged in the effort to prevent the closing of (it). I realized the true importance of the social aspect associated with the creation of art. It was not just the actual art, but the expression and communicating with other artists. As well, there was much to be learned from each other. I created UASL to be pro-artist. Usually, the artists are running around looking for places to exhibit, sending out advertisements... with very little support. UASL supports all artists and will assist them from beginning to end as much as possible. We collaborate in joint exhibitions inviting all artists to participate,” Riannah explained about the establishment of United Artists of Second Life.

UASL has some programs, it’s not only a place to exhibit artworks. “We are not limited in the type of art. We try to accommodate everyone to be it 2D, 3D, or performing arts. As well, photography and machinima related activities are always welcome.”

Opening Saturday, November 30th at 1 p.m. SLT was the Artist In Winter event. There are exhibits to be viewed and interacted with as well as a particle performance by Particle Magic. UASL is in search of performers who wish to offer a performance to support the group.

“Generally, a project will last about two to three months from beginning to end. I believe it will vary depending upon the project. To date, we have had project themes that coincided with the change of seasons and holidays. I'm currently considering future themes like Month of Music and Alice In Wonderland. One possibly to begin in January and opening in February. All artists, inexperienced and experienced are welcome to participate. I would love to get more performance arts involved,” said Riannah.

On Facebook, UASL has a mentoring program that is being introduced. “I hope that it will enable artists to support each other and help less experienced artists gain confidence and exposure. I strongly believe in teaching what you know and learning what you don't know. Hopefully, possibly, adding a classroom for topic-based instruction and learning at some point in the near future,” Riannah explained.

UASL are present inworld: ( as well as on Facebook ( ref=bookmarks).

Marcel Mosswood

Monday, December 9, 2019

Return Of Sonic’s New World: An Interview With Shadow and Kono

By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich)

The original Sonic’s New World (a Sonic The Hedgehog inspired sim) started back in the fall of 2009 and had a run of about two years. It returned in 2011 after an almost one year absence and ran for another two years before shutting down again. Those who were fans of SNW may be pleased to know that it’s back for version three and currently being built. What has been built so far has impressed me and being a Sega and video game fan in general, I had to interview Shadow (Shadow Hepzipig) and the builder/co-owner Konohatu Lahamaras Kalantu (kono.moonites) (known as Kono).

Cyfir: What inspired you to start the sim originally and how long have you been a Sonic/Shadow fan?

Shadow: I grew up playing the Sonic games from back in the days of the original Sega Genesis when I was a kid, so I have always been a fan of the characters. When I heard of Second Life and the different worlds available, my first stop was to find out if there was a Sonic themed sim, and it was in a Sim called SRPS - Sonic's Role Play Sim - run by ZoraSlade that I bought my first avatar Shadow the Hedgehog. It was also this sim and SCU - Sonic's Classic Universe- that I fell in love with the idea of opening my own sim and providing a place for others to call home.

This became the main concept behind SNW, but I had no idea how or even what I would build for our new home. One day I came across Kono Moonites as he was just relaxing in SCU and asked him if he knew how to build. Now I didn’t really know the guy mind you. To him, I was just another schmuck wearing a Shadow avatar that was wanting to get something from him. But he said that he did know how to build. My response was "Good. You're going to build me a Sonic sim." More than a little pushy I know, but it kicked off a friendship and partnership that has spanned the past ten years.

Kono: For me it was simply being asked. I was just a nobody with no skills but a want to build and the Sonic community had been very accepting of that. I actually wouldn't be as much of a fan if it wasn't for Metal Knuckles from Sonic R. I grew up with Sonic but something about Metal Knuckles' design really stuck with me so much. So I've made my own and to some extent became known for it.

Cyfir: For Kono, what got you started building?

Kono: Want. When getting into Second Life, I took notice of how most of the things I could buy or wear weren't always from one company or creator, but from many. And freebies were everywhere. If anyone could do it, why couldn't I? So I did.

For the sim, it was being asked, Shadow bought the first SNW and paid for it on his own. I couldn't let him down. Even if he did come out of nowhere and 'Tell' me I was doing it. You tell me how many people out there get the offer to just build a sim based around something they like with someone else who enjoys it footing the bill.

Cyfir: Also for Kono, what are your inspirations?

Kono: To make a community and perfect my skills. I love people. Time after time I have been given chances I didn't deserve. SNW is a perfect example.

Shadow was the inspiration. He wanted a home. A place to hang out with people who wanted to hang out and trusted a stranger enough to help him do it. We knew there would be problems, drama, trolls, but I think it's important to understand that me and shadow had NO standing in the community and no SL experience. We were nobodies who just wanted a place to belong. Seeing someone with a goal like that, I mean it sounds simple. Never is though and that inspired me to get it done.

Cyfir: Why did you decide to bring back the sim again?

Shadow: The previous two times that I decided to close SNW was not due to hardships or because of drama as many sims have been prone to do, but because during those days, the Sonic community was flourishing. There were several other Sonic themed sims that had opened or were being run by close friends that I felt that we could close our doors on a high note. Our safe home was no longer needed. The community had grown to the point that many had found new homes and moved on. So it was time.

But this time, I came back after nearly six years to the Sonic community, and found that it had fallen on hard times. The community had shrunken greatly. Instead of the several sims that I had left behind, there were only two left that had the main focus for Sonic, or three others that only had one or two builds themed for Sonic. ALL of them were labeled as Adult. SNW had always been a moderate sim, mainly because many guests would use foul or other inappropriate language that would not be reasonable for a G rating, myself being the main offender for the language part. But it was still somewhere that everyone could come and feel welcomed and safe. But there wasn't anywhere like that anymore.

I actually had gone to Pixel Hills, just to see what build they had for it when I ran into a few new friends; Rapptor and Matchada, that led me to the Chao Gardens that were there. And it was there that I found an old friend and former admin of the original SNW, Blueblur Chrome. Within minutes I found myself surrounded by ten or more old and new friends, all of us having an amazing time and it reminded me of the joy that we all shared back in the day, and it reignited that spark, that drive to create a place where we could all call home. It was time for SNW to return. My first move was to call Kono once more, and shared with him the feeling I had, being surrounded by our old friends and just joking and laughing all night. It was during that talk that I learned that Kono had been feeling the same, that it was time for us to return to the Sonic community, though I think he expected me to take some time to think on it. Instead, though, that night I purchased the sim, nearly giving Kono an aneurysm in the process as he rushed to log onto Second Life and start work on building us our new home again.

Cyfir: What have been the challenges of bringing it back now as opposed to originally starting it?

Shadow: Surprisingly it hasn't been challenging to bring back SNW as it was when we first started. I still had the old group with still over one hundred members in it from the second iteration of the sim, so I was able to let everyone know that our home had come back the same night as I purchased the land.. much to Kono's dismay because he didn't have any builds barely started yet, but I just couldn't hold in my excitement in knowing that our home was here again. So I guess the biggest challenge was more for Kono feeling rushed in getting some of his old builds set up so that we had something here for people to visit.

Though this was par for the course. The first time we opened the sim I did the exact same thing, however Kono was not as skilled as he is with his builds today. Our first ever build was "Angel Island" which was supposed to be a floating island in the sky with a shrine that housed the seven chaos emeralds and the master emerald. Instead, we had several prim platforms with a pile of rocks to make a cave so we could set up a mall type area. The other challenge was learning on the fly how to deal with griefers and trolls. I remember that at one point a petition had actually been started on, attempting to close SNW and remove me from Second Life entirely. This sort of set the precedence on just how we would handle such issues, because I signed that petition myself and told them "Good Luck." After that it became a game of almost cat and mouse. Griefers would come to try and crash our sim, so my admins and myself would notify the whole sim that the Griefer hunt was open, and end up crashing our sim ourselves with explosions and gunfire and Dragon Ball style attacks on them instead. Good times.

So it has definitely been easier this time than the original opening with one exception, the avatar limit of owning a homestead sim. The sim has been growing in popularity rapidly and I have seen more times than not where the region will be too full and others can not come visit. This has kick started a number of conversations amongst ourselves about moving to a full region. However, those can get pricey and we would not want to risk closing due to funding. So it is still a possibility that we may upgrade, but just not at this time.

Kono: People, like it or not throughout SNW's history the team-up works as such, Shadow takes the front of everything and I attempt to fix the fallout. What it lead to was leadership that was balanced out. Shadow wanted a stress free home and I wanted a happy community , but shadow was always shoot first ask questions later . I knew in the long run that it would eventually run everyone out and though I wanted to be left in the background to build I couldn't stand by and watch innocent people get banned or arguments be allowed to blow out of proportion over nothing.

Because of that undying need to help people and keep a happy home I became known to the sim members and now more then ever trying to find some time to build in peace, make textures in peace, and script. It's impossible but they are happy here. That speaks volumes for the sim.

Cyfir: From what I’ve seen, your builders are doing some pretty amazing work so far. I love how you can collect coins, jump on enemies, and get thrown by the bumpers. Can you tell us what people can look forward to in the final build?

Shadow: Now this has been one of the best attractions for the sim in the past. There will never be a "Final" build per say. The builds almost have a life of their own under Kono's eye, always evolving, growing, or being changed out for whatever new idea we have cooked up this time. The only reason the sim is still labeled as 'Under Construction' is because we have only been open for nearly a month now, and we haven't completed enough to feel that the builds can stay the way they are for the time being. However some of the features we will have is going to be a nice mall section on the ground floor build which Kono and Zenzen have modeled as a mixture of Marble Gardens and Emerald Coast from the games, as well as Blueblur's corner build of a level from Sonic Lost World. We will also be setting up a night club that will offer Live DJs to come and have a party, and we will be setting up a hub of sorts that will allow people to teleport through the sim via Second LifeExperience, as well as portals to the other sims that wish to be affiliated with us.

Kono: "Final?" (smile) What is final? The sim is a piece of art and I imagine it will continue to grow steadily for a long time to come. There is a lot to look forward to mainly all the changes. If I can manage the big plan is to make things a lot more interactive and make new builds whenever possible or recreate current ones if it fits.

I hope that what can be looked forward to is just more or [a] better path of what is already here; a happy community and a calm sim that feels like home.

Cyfir: Who else is involved in bringing back the sim?

Shadow: I have to say that the credit for inspiring me to reopen the sim would have to be Sonikku, Blueblur Chrome, Zetsae, and some new friends Rapptor and Matchada who showed me the Chao garden to spark my desire to bring the sim back.

For the actual development of the sim it has been Kono Moonites, Blueblur Chrome, Zenzen, and Wolfy Zemenis who have either brought back old builds or been working on new builds to give us the main foundation for our home once more.

Though he may deny it sometimes, it is myself and Kono though that are the owners of the sim. He mainly prefers to stay in the background as sort of the head builder, letting me take the credit for owning the sim instead so that way he can try building in peace, though that still doesn’t always work out for him.(laughter)

Kono: It's more a question as to who isn't? While yes that comes down to me and shadow paying for it, our friends and the community in it are what from day one got it off the ground.

Builders: Myself , ZenZen , , Wolfie Zemenis.

Owner: Shadow,  but cheesy as it might sound to some, the members, Sonikku, Zetsae, Sykes, Matchada, Rappy, Sen , Wendi , Razor [here at time of typing] are what help us feel like it is a home and them being here at the start and even before are the who and what that are involved in bringing it back.

Cyfir: For Kono, what is most rewarding about your builds?

Kono: Learning. This community has taught me everything I know or at the very least taught me the basics and then also beat me over the head about the details to do things right. A lot of people don't realize how relevant Second Life is to making an actual game, or learning animation. The reward is learning and getting to enjoy what I create, alone or with others.

Cyfir: Do you know when everything should be finished or are you just taking it one day at a time?

Shadow: Well, like I said, the sim will never truly be finished as we always seem to come up with new ideas for builds or ways to improve existing builds. But even with the current builds half finished, we opened our doors to everyone and anyone who wants to just come home, hang out, and feel a sense of safety and companionship that you would as if you and your best friends were just relaxing and gaming at home. As for the date for when we feel ready to remove the 'under construction' label from the name, well that one we are taking one day at a time until we can at least finish our landing hub, mall, and club.

Cyfir: Will there be any other Sega or other video game inspired features on the new sim?

Shadow: I can't say for absolutely certain on this one, but as the name implies, Sonic's New World will most likely remain true to the Sonic universe. However, we never know what the future may hold.

Kono: Yes and no. It really depends on the builds. It's a Sonic sim and I would like to keep it that way to an extent. I love mixing ideas and a personal long term goal of mine is to make Shibyua Terminal from JSRF with a sonic twist to it. We will have to see what happens . Luckily SEGA IPs all have a 'sega' style.

Cyfir: Will there be events?

Shadow: Yes. Our main event will likely be once we finish our club for live DJ shows. Our main DJ so far is Raiyn Delwood with her Manic Monday radio show making its comeback. We have yet to look into other DJs yet until we get the club closer to completion and set up our server to allow music to be played in-world.

Kono: YES! I hope. I want to plan some but the main things for now will be the DJ club and maybe some hidden item scavenger hunt type things. The way things are right now . We need to get a bigger sim to do events. I would have never dreamed SNW would become so popular that at least four times a week if not once a day maybe the sim becomes full.

Cyfir: What else can people look forward to on the sim when they visit it now and in the future?

Shadow: At this level of completion, what people can expect is to be able to call this sim home. Having good company, good friends, and be able to relax in safety. We have no tolerance with griefers and trolls and deal with them as they come. As long as those who come and respect the sim's M rating and treat others with respect, then we are more than happy to welcome anyone home. They don't have to be a Sonic character to come. Just be themselves as long as its M-rated.

In the future they can expect ease of access to the different builds with a teleport system thanks to the Second Life Experience. A mall with cheap rental spaces, a club with live DJs almost weekly, and still a fun place to call home.

Kono: Bigger sim? More builds? Sweet Rave Party!?!? Who knows! Hopefully now and always what they can look forward to is a home . A place where people come to actually have fun and get along. Look, real life sucks that's why we're all here. Come in and chill out and relax while you're here.

Or you can look forward to being the center of attention in one of our sim wide troll hunts if you decide being a decent person is just too hard. What a fun past time.

We'll be here a good while, so let’s take the future as it comes to us.


I honestly believe that Second Life needs more experiences like this sim to provide users with things to do. At the risk of sounding corny, it’s creative experiences like these that really show off the art of what’s possible in Second Life while providing a social setting that can foster friendships that help everyone grow.

Landmark to SNW:


Friday, December 6, 2019

Montecito Bay's NuYu Modtacular Event

By Bixyl Shuftan

There's a big event going on in Montecito Bay this month: the NuYu Modtacular. The main feature is the number of booths in the northern part of the boardwalk. Dropping by there recently, I had a few words with one of the women behind it, Becky Nosferatu. Not far away was Magpie Hyena (VesperBloodwing Parx), whom was also it the event.

"The NuYu Modtactular event is a mod-exclusive gacha event!" Becky told me when asked to describe it,"It's main goal is to help people find one-of-a kind, unique and new mods! Hence the awesome auctions and all the exclusives we have." When asked how long it took to organize, she answered it was about three months, "It was pretty back-to-back for most of the staff coming up with ideas, took us a good half a month to come up with the name. The auctions were purely Mag's idea and we ran with it!"

There were almost two dozen booths on the boardwalk, eighteen tents and several smaller stalls, each representing a vendor. "The center tents, near us here, are the premium vendors," Becky explained, "The booths here in the center, these four? They're the sponsors. They were randomly picked. The different sizes were how many prims were distributed to each, with the sponsors getting Entertainment events."

Magpie chuckled, "Well the folks that couldn't show up, we decorated with various furniture. But one of them we went crazy with. That's our crazy corner I guess. Everyone needs a crazy corner. Don't, look too deep into it. Me and Brae don't even know if Becky's seen it yet." Becky gave a snicker, "Yeah, a few had to back out last minute. Some are still empty and were planning to make it. They ended up having family emergencies and such. Hopefully we'll see them soon."

Becky did say a few backed out, "But it happens," Magpie commented, "We ended up with nearly everyone here, which is honestly incredible." "It wasn't a lot we lost," Becky added, "I was really impressed with how many we ended up keeping." "We did have some late folks," Magpie stated, "but they both were super communicative. One of em's already up." "Honestly if it wasn't for Brae (Brae Vaher /Braelynn Darkstone) and Mag's help," Becky commented, "it probably wouldn't have gotten done at all, Bixyl. The three of us busted our (behinds) getting this event on time, and it's really proving to be a great idea." "We all had our parts," Magpie remarked, "plus helped each other with certain things. It was definitely a group effort, and the Montecito Bay staff as a whole should also be recognized for their patience and support."

I asked if anything in particular stood out. Becky answered, "Well the auctions, of course! Really, every vendor has unique stuff. Most are for the Regalia body currently, that's super popular right now." Magpie commented, "I was shocked how many worked with Regalia (chuckle). But it's definitely an up and coming avie. Plenty did omega compatible mods and Kemono, and some feral stuff too here and there." When asked more about Regalia, Becky responded, "The body is from Sugarcult. It has bodies that fit existing bodies clothes and is aimed at furries with digitigrade legs and a long neck for alternate heads. It's main draw is it uses a very simple UV, so a lot of modders have been working with it easier than (other) SL UVs. The Regalia is a lot cheaper than mainstream bodies, too, which is a big draw for the cheaper furry crowd, as human skins and heads tend to be a lot more." Magpie commented, "I think modders are attracted to the Regalia because the UV unwrap is way easier than the typical Omega unwrap, but it's got multiple bodies that seem to fit just fine with nearly every article of clothing made for some of the popular current omega bodies." "She's been updating it like mad, Bixyl, so there's a lot of stuff." "Yeah I think it's gonna catch on. She literally is keeping track of all the bugs."

My next question was about the auctions. Becky answered, "They're still taking bids, and will be all month. Mags can tell you more." Magpie responded, "Getting the script made by our scripter was terrifying but he worked damn well. I don't know JACK about scripts, so Becky and Trevor helped me a lot through the process of getting the script to do what we needed it to do. I love that it ended up working to where customers could bid on a mod they wanted, it'd instantly take their Linden, and if they got outbid, it'd be refunded back. Anyone had the choice of making an auction mod, but in the end we ended up with the five current ones you see at the front. It's only day three, and every single mod has had at least one bid. They all worked SUPER hard on their auction mods and I'm extremely proud how successful it's been. The auction was something I wanted us to do because it was basically like selling off a character. A new look that would never be sold again, not even as a recolor. It's like getting a custom from a modder, but it's already done. Some of them even gave their Auction mods a cute name and personality in their ad images and information."

I saw a schedule with several music events and asked about it. Magpie told me, "Those are the Sponsor events! All sponsors get their own show with the Entertainment department! (grin)" Becky added, "Yeah! so part of being a sponsor for the event, they get an event dedicated to them and their store by our entertainment staff. Think Mod Monday, but for them only." Among then was an event DJed by Sheba Metaluna of the Bay's Flying Pickle Lounge. Becky told me, "She actually sponsored us using AllFur Radio! They've been advertising it a lot for us, and in return, they are played here." Magpie added, "She did. AFR's on the sim too for the duration of NuYu I believe as our music channel when shows aren't happening? Sheba's been helping out a ton too with some cute as heck ads during her shows."

This being December, Becky reminded, "We have a lot of Christmas themed mods to this event too." Magpie stated, "... all the gacha machines at NuYu are at or below 100 Lindens." Becky then directed out attention to a nearby boat, "I should add, the events are also going to be in one new location. On the yacht! We're treating all our sponsors to an awesome boat party. (smile) Whiiich that reminds me, we'll have to move some of the hardware around to the boat. Heh."

Before we parted ways, Becky stated, "This is going on all month and we hope people will enjoy it enough that they come back next year! Or maybe for even a summer time event. We haven't decided that yet."

The event goes on to Tuesday December 31st.

Montecito Bay (31/128/26)

Bixyl Shuftan