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:


No comments:

Post a Comment