Friday, November 21, 2008

at least just tell me what the hell is wrong

I'm starting to develop a severe issue with number-named residents. You know the ones I mean, the ones that set up their accounts to answer to "Julii69" or x09sevengirl90x" or some such.

Or proevo69julian Adamski, the new resident I just banned off my property in Lunitarium. He's the first name on the new list.

He flew up, banged himself several times against the structure--at which I told him to back off and stop violating my house--banged around several more times, then found a gap in the roofline (I'm still building said house) and darted inside.

Whereupon he found himself upstairs in the mini-loft (also unfinished), couldn't figure out how to get down (it's called the connecting ramp, you knuckle-dragging idio--anyway), and jumped on a nearby poseball to attain the main floor.

So I asked him why he was there. Nothing. No answer. I froze him in place and asked him again.

Still no answer.

So I bounced him. I mean, really, what would you do?

It seems to be going around. Miss Torricelli discovered a Miss Em Xue--and frankly, naming her "Miss" is just the barest bit of courtesy I can manage, I'd much rather call her more vile things--had set up a fully scripted, animated dance club/space station over her home. She discovered it when she wondered of a morning why her parcel had no prims.

Well, that would be why!

Meanwhile, a friend of mine asked me to help his new submissive (and honestly, where in the hell is he finding these women, it's unbelievable!) get a job. He mentioned stripping. As I used to dance myself, I IMed her while pulling up her profile, and realized Yuuki Bookmite was born on the 12th.

Of this month.

And yes--wanted a job stripping.

Her profile had the immortal line--until I told her she needed to change it--"But she will submit to anyones sexual desires unless she has gained permission.". (I told her she really needed to add the "not" before "submit".)

Honestly. I'm all for helping new friends to the game out. But if they're this irretrievably stupid, why should we bother??

In other news...I'm trying to make another house.

This:

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is the house I'm currently building.

This:

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is, okay, a Shih Tzu, and when I named the house, I was thinking of another dog, but hey...

But that's why I'm calling in the Bark Pomeranian. You can see why, right?

Right?

*hears crickets*

Fine...but really--what would you call it?

In the meantime, I need to figure out how to fix it...I'm thinking of adding trees. Which means I need to find branches. This is not proving to be easy...

Finally, by way of Lord Bardhaven (who found it on Dr. Mason's blog), comes this odd quiz-thing:


You are The Empress


Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.


The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.


The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.



...which, frankly, seems like the universe laughing at me. Abundance? Fertility? The nurturing impulse? Small little bunnies curled up at her feet next to the wheat fronds and the fruit?

Come on, now, who are they kidding? I'm about as fertile as Stonehenge, and frankly, my nurturing skills still pretty much fall into the "Get over it. Next." camp.

*shakes head* They have no clue.

(Psst--one last thing--Sine Wave is hosting a multi-sim pub quiz this Sunday at 1 pm SLT. It's apparently a joint venture with OSGrid. Tell your friends.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

when everything and everyone becomes my enemy

Rose, Rose, Rose Red
Will I ever see thee wed?
I will marry at thy will, sire
At thy will


Fighting my own will, fighting my hands on the controls, fighting my way through. One more step, one more brush-stroke, one more stitch, one more prim.

On to the next--next idea, next thought, next word, next project. I am ever most creative when I'm avoiding other things.

A thousand years gone by
Too late to wonder why
I'm here alone
If in my darkest hour
She-rose that fell a flower--
I should have known...


One step forward, no steps back. Stagnation better than retreat. Pushing when I can, resting when I can't, taking comfort in the smallest details. I live, I breathe, I keep moving.

It's all I have.

Limbo is burning.

Rose, Rose, Rose Red
Will I ever see thee wed?
Only if you can capture me...


Occupations I do not lack; time is more pressing. Incredible heat at my back drives me forward, even when I'm being called back to the once-grey, once-soft, once-empty. Finding things to do is not the problem.

Tell me no more stories
And I'll tell you no lies
No one wants to hurt me
But everybody tries


Sooner or later I will lose my steps, lose my forward momentum, and then shall I tumble back to the abyss of flame. Impossibility; prophecy; what could never be, is. Adaptation is difficult under such circumstances.

And if you think that I've been waiting
For my planets to align
It's time you go on
Get your things, get up, get out--
I'm doing fine


Until I slip I walk half-dreaming; until I slip I concentrate on anything-but; until I slip I fight sleep, and wait to see blood on my hands.

Someday these walls will speak
The floor beneath you creak
To call my name
Here in my web of dreams
My whispers turn to screams
And place the blame


One step. One step. One step. I will survive, I will get through this, and if I burn, it won't be the first time. I endure. Through everything, I endure.

I'm stubborn that way.

Rose, Rose, Rose Red
Will I ever see thee wed?
Only if you discover me...


My hands weave the air into patterns, sorting, changing, packing, making. Even when I'm relaxing, my mind's busy on a thousand other things. I cannot stop long enough to take a mental breath, not now, not yet.

Tell me no more stories
And I'll tell you no lies
No one wants to hurt me
But everybody tries


Soon enough I will stop, soon enough I will have to, turn and face what's making limbo a hell and not an impatient haven. Soon enough, all too soon, there'll be nothing left to do. Nothing left to make. Nothing left but to brace, for fire and for pain.

And if you think that I've been waiting
For my planets to align
It's time you go on
Get your things, get up, get out--
I'm doing fine
Yeah, yeah...


I make small plans, to roll into larger ones later. How much I have in savings, how long I'll need to pay ahead if I'm not in world. I can't think past that. I can't be past that. One day. One step. One breath. Holding to that, I stand, create, envision.

For this freedom
I have given all I had
For this darkness
I gave my light
For this wisdom
I have lost my innocence
Take my petals
And cover me with the night


I know there are at least twenty days remaining on all properties. In twenty days I'll know which way to turn. And I have options, I am not backed into a corner, claws out, scratching for a chance to break free.

One step. One step. One step. I may be edging towards the corner, but I'm still free to move.

Tell me no more stories
And I'll tell you no lies
No one wants to hurt me
But everybody tries


I will breathe. Every breath brings me closer. I will breathe. Every breath brings more danger. I will breathe. Every breath is one more success, and I am living, I am breathing, I am moving. I am thinking. I will find the right way through.

And if you think that I've been waiting
For my planets to align
It's time you go on
Get your things, get up, get out--
Get out, get out!
I'm doing fine...


Unshaken and shaking, breathing and gasping, pushing away and reaching towards--I am all these things, none of these things. I feel the flare of heat against my back, the sharp sting of nerves close to burning, and I welcome it for the focus it brings and the memories it staves off.

I move here. I step here. Intricate, ornate, as with all I do, all I think, all I choose to express. One step. One breath. One creation. Night after night, hour after hour, minute after minute, while I chase the darkness to dawn.

I endure. I have come through worse. I will get through this.

(Lyrics taken from Emilie Autumn's Rose Red.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

to keep me breathing, as the water rises up again

I no longer live in Rivula.

Last night, Hank Rucker did two things I thought he'd never do: take every item back from Rivula, to list it on the open market; and join the Independent States of Caledon.

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This was where my house stood. This was where my first tree sprouted, my very first home on the grid was here. Rivula, southern continent, mainland--had been my home for two full years.

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Where Hank's wife stands (to my left), used to be the end of the lands Hank owned, and used to be my small portion of 512 home, rented from Jo Talamasca, back when she owned the bulk of Rivula and held it under Enigma, also the name of her club, and my second home away from home on the grid.

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Past Alexandra Rucker as we stand in the wasteland of Rivula, restored back to Linden defaults, all trace of our presence, our lives, our loves, our battles, erased--is where the original House of Rucker stood, with the black panel curtains and the coffins in the basement. Just to the right of where their house stopped was the beginning of the back lot of the Enigma, and where the white marble Damani two-story is, is close to where the Enigma stood.

All gone, now. Vanished, with much discussion and forethought, but vanished all the same. Now we move to Lunitarium, and private estate life, and potentially, stop visiting the Second Life mainland at all. For the first time in two years I changed my home point.

Loss.

Darien Caldwell is no longer on the grid.

Her blog has been deleted; her profile is now hidden from search, and moreover, friends of hers say she's reduced it back to a blank, devoid of all information; her XStreetSL items and ShopOnRez items are missing and "unable to be sold at this time".

She still seems to be a member of SL Universe; but even that may change in time.

Why does this matter? Well, if you've never heard of Miss Caldwell, or have never been to Dari's Haus, her store (which is, by reports, also gone), she was one of the best creators and scripters of bondage equipment on the grid. By many reports, she had the single best armbinder on the grid--one avatars could move in, type in, dance in, all without moving their arms, unlike many other 'binders on the market.

(For those who may not know, this is a fairly good demonstration on what an armbinder does, if the name is not descriptive enough. It's safe for work, more or less, there's no nudity, but it does display a rather severe piece of bondage equipment in use.)

For whatever reason--the OS disaster, the downturn in sales grid-wide, the last-straw sensation that many residents of Second Life are currently experiencing--she is gone. I do not know why. But all her vitality, all her products, and the pressure of her presence are now--gone.

Loss.

Last night, Duchess Gabrielle Riel broadcast for more than five hours from a small OpenSpace sim called Gravity's Rainbow. Don't bother trying to find it; if it's not already gone, it will be soon, as the party was to "celebrate"--if that's the right word--the owners' abandonment of the sim, as they cannot afford the staggering hike in tier costs.

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We danced while her Grace spun whatever she decided on a whim to retrieve from her vaults of musical history. We danced while she went from sober, to intoxicated, and back again. We danced while snow fell in the tropics, and mourned as much as we made merry.

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Towards the end--all I was able to make in person--Miss Deanna Trilling decided to hurl things from the heavens--fireballs, cows, flying pigs, UFOs. It was whimsy but it was also vengeance--because at times, she said, she'd been running that particular item dropper nonstop at highest setting, while running every other script that she could find to set active--and never noticed a drop in sim performance.

She is convinced there's another reason behind the drain on the servers, that lies behind the Lindens' move. She may not be wrong.

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She had two large, translucent panels set up to the side of the dancing. They flickered through all her pictures of life on Gravity's Rainbow--love, laughter, friends, strangeness, romance and dancing--picture after picture after picture. It felt like watching her life, and the life of her friends, flare vividly and evaporate, never to be seen again. All those moments gone, from all but memories.

She's not sure if she's going to stay in Second Life, past this point. Neither are her friends, her chosen family.

Loss.

I am being strongly urged to downgrade my SL account from premium to free. I've carefully evaluated the pros and cons of such a move. In my current rental situation, I do not need to be a premium account member (nor was I when I joined Caledon with my first purchase of 1536 meters in Caledon Penzance) to continue renting in Caledon or Lunitarium. To participate in other situations on the SL main web site and in world, all I need is payment information on file--which is there, and will not change. Whether or not I have been basic or premium, I have always had payment information on file with the Labs.

In fact, should I ever gain the funds to buy my own estate, I do not need premium membership even then. Only if I were to buy mainland, would I need that premium account.

And yes, having my premium account (and having acquired an account in Second Life twenty-eight months ago) brings me 500 Lindens every week--if they actually remember to pay me--which is, yes, more than my chosen payment plan of $22.50 every three months (or $7.50 each month, which, translated through Lindex, would net me L$1980 on a straight Linden purchase--so I am actually making Lindens on the deal, so to speak). How'ver, I also could choose to take that $22.50 and spend it directly at the Lindex for Lindens. I may well even gain more net Lindens to spend in world, on rent, on fripperies, on more rent--than I have by paying in that $22.50 every three months.

I have until November 21st to decide.

This is happening all over the grid. When do the losses become too much? When do the Lindens realize that the staunch support they're losing has been replaced by newbies with no investment in the grid, and no desire to stay beyond momentary impulse?

People have been saying the changes started with M. I say they're wrong. I say these changes started out with Philip. But I'm convinced M isn't helping in the least. If the boat is going to go down, he seems to be saying, it would be prettier on fire.

"There's this broad consensus that the Virginia Tech murders had something to do with violent video games. When you actually read the coroner's inquest report, video games are mentioned twice. The first is his mother saying he never wanted to play those video games. The second is his roommate saying, 'We always thought he was weird because he never wanted to play video games.' Yet it's still a truism that violent video games must be responsible for Virginia Tech.

"We have the capacity to surveil and control adolescents in a way we've never done before. We chase them indoors and then we tell them that all the virtual places they might gather, we need to surveil them because of the ever-present threat of pedophiles and because of the ever-present need to market to them. We've really hemmed in adolescence in a way we never have before."


Food for thought from Cory Doctorow. (Unrelated to the main.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

and then you came around, tried to tie me down

Came across an interesting bit on the SL Forums in relation to the OpenSpace sim issue. A little thread called Please delete all post[s] advertising other Virtual Worlds.

"Hello mods," Magikos Constantine starts off by saying, "please delete the forum posts that advertise other Virtual Worlds, I don't see how they are relevant to this discussion, and frankly watching those vultures post is kind of distracting."

Fair enough, I suppose, but that's where it gets really interesting.

Vye Graves registers a complaint: "LL is saying "What are you gonna do, leave? *snort*". Well, if they are daring us to leave, other options give us the resources to make that decision.

This isn't just about openspaces for a lot of us. LL's disinterest in upgrading the appearance of avatars after this many years is one thing that annoys me. LL has worked themselves into a corner with SL. They will have a great deal of difficulty improving our experience WITHOUT making a lot of people mad. So much of the content already in SL RELIES on the original bugs and bad design.

So, i have no problems with people pointing out other options. I am not stuck here by any means. For the last year it has been a constant chain of LL yanking the rug out from under users with little warning or help with the transition. Casinos, banks, mainland advertising, yadda yadda. It isn't the fact that the changes were necessary, rather they didn't at all attempt to help people with the transition, rather they just basically gave us the finger and told us to suck it up.

If they are daring me to leave, I appreciate knowing that there are other places to go."


And that's a damned good point, when you think about it. The Lindens have, not once, not twice, not ten times, barrelled past any number of good workable solutions to any given problem, by going with the option guaranteed to cause controversy and growing mistrust. It's like they're trying to fail, all things being equal.

What I still don't understand is why...

Smoke Carter makes another excellent point: "If there was just one other virtual world that even came close to SL, do you really think they would be doing this to us?"

And the obvious answer, of course, is...no.

Then, of course, Second Life's answer to Nurse Ratched chimed in:

"It's against forum Guidelines to post ads for non Second Life goods or services.

Doing so could certainly earn you a suspension or ban."


And then closed the comments.

Somehow this strikes me a great deal as SL in microcosm, currently:

"Hey, don't talk bad about SL!"

"Why not? SL sucks right now!"

"And there's nothing else, but if there were, we would so be there--"

"Where? Where sounds good?"

"You can't talk about it. If you do, we'll ban you. Have a nice day!"


And this thread is likely also just the tip of the iceberg. I wish there were a way to know how many people have downgraded from premium accounts to basic--because I don't know if the Labs are looking at the numbers, and seeing it as the outrider of doom.

They may have, in all honesty, pushed their users too far this time.

sometimes I wonder why I ever got in

So yes, I admit, I left a comment on Baking Cupcakes blog. And was immediately castigated for it, and the owner closed comments. I expected this--the castigation, not the closing of comments--and it's not a surprising move.

It did spur me to make additional comments on the topic, though, and especially from the comment I left on Miss Skinkie Winkler's post on the Nightflower Blooming blog.

There's so much controversy right now, in so many areas, on freebies. And hunts. And what I'm hearing, over and over again, is that the owners are wrong to prevent people from using cheat sheets, tip lists, hunt locations; that the owners just don't understand how hard it is not to be able to find things, or not to have that much time to spend on the grid.

For the first point, I just have to play the cold callous card--because there are ways to make people better hunters, and they're pretty simple, and if, after all that, you still can't find things...good gods, people, stop and find something else to do, it's obviously not in your skill set.

1. Hunt. A lot. That's the best way possible, it really is. Go on any hunt you find, you don't have to buy everything, you don't even have to find everything, especially if you're not interested in whatever the designers have put out to be hunted. But--and this is key--if you go on a lot of hunts, you start to see patterns.

Residents of the grid, first and foremost, are people--and most people will go to the same places to hide things, over and over. Tree roots, tree branches, behind bushes. In and around art objects. On the rims of fountains, in fountains, just behind or just in front of retaining walls. Rafters, rooflines, above doors, at the base of fencing. Behind sofas, in the sofa cushions, in the chandeliers, behind mirrors--get the idea? If you want into a sim, for a hunt, the first thing you want to do is check behind any large objects you see. Then start in on the walkthrough, looking for things.

2. Drop your prims. Look, lag kills on hunts, and I'm the first to admit, a lot of my avatars carry a lot of attachments. Strip down to Linden layers, count the prims in your hair (anything below sixty or so prims works for prim hair, and if you're really trying to cut down, remember Linden hair--for all of its depressing ugliness--can be retextured with actual hair textures, which makes it resemble wearable now and again). Take off prim shoes. Drop your Mystitool/radar gadget, and--if you're going to be mostly flying anyway, for instance--drop your AO. Anything that helps you move faster is a help for hunt objects to rez in, too.

3. Consider pack hunting. It may sound odd, but first, more bodies, more eyes on the prizes, so to speak. Also, I've noticed, most makers--including Mr. Azriel Demain, who loathes "cheaters" with a passion, and is very strict on his hunts--don't mind pack hunting. There's nothing specifically against the rules, and remember, you can pass what you found back and forth between the group in IM (or in voice), so you never have to touch main chat.

4. When all else fails, ask around. This may also sound odd, but look--if you're into scavenger hunts, likely your friends are, too. Ask them. Privately, in IM, or if you belong to any hunting/freebie groups, ask there--the worst that will happen is folks will say no; but if they've been on the hunt, generally they'll help.

The second point, unfortunately, isn't as easy. Because scavenger hunts do take time. And if you don't have time to be in world, you don't have time for hunts, really. That's what it comes down to. In that case, concentrate on the shorter hunts, get a feel for which makers hide things in easy places, and which don't.

For example, ::plod:: makes lovely things, quirky and original, but the maker is deviously tricky for hunts. She'll hide things underwater, in caverns, in heaps of similar objects, just under the floorboards...making things insanely difficult.

Conversely, the recent Magika hunt was a delight--yes, she had folks searching high and low, outside of her store, inside, in the mall, on the roof, by the railings--but everything was visible, out in the open, and fairly easily found.

That's all I can suggest for the latter problem--devote what time you can to the hunts you can solve in the time you're in world; and don't worry over the rest. Get a feel for which things will be easy, manage your time as wisely as you can.

Because, like as not, if you're one of those who can't be in world as often, you have other things to do beyond hunting.

So go do them. Hunt when you can. Just, for the love of all holy things, don't post hunt locations openly. That pisses nearly everyone off.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

graverobber, sometimes I wonder why I even bother...

Vint Falken goes into what (first) life might be like if the Lindens ran things:

* Health care, she says, would only be available for citizens filed under "Premium". Others might request health care, but they would never receive it, even if they managed to contact a doctor and explain the problem.

* Government funding would be given to the developers of shiny new toys--new .mp3 players, for instance, or the ability to speak and have your voice heard over miles--but serious problems, things like patching the roads, Alzheimer's, neurological destabilization and visual difficulties (think, the way your head shakes spastically at times, or the way your cam zooms in and out rapidly until you're seasick staring at the screen), would be left to citizens to solve as best they could. Should cures for these issues happen to be found, she said, Linden Government would feel no great need, or hurry, to dispense them.

* Birth rates would go up, generally a sign of a good, thriving culture--but lack of decent medical care and society-wide support would result in an 80% death rate of all newborns, across the board.

* Caring for the environment, preventing loss of native life, or preserving natural (read finite) resources would be nil; all research and development would concentrate on the problem of increasing the maximum amount of citizens Earth (TM) can sustain right now.

* Should a child survive past its first twenty-four hours of Linden life, they would immediately be shipped off to continents far away from their parents, where they would live their lives until age eighteen, when they would finally be allowed to leave. Trade embargos would keep the 'Teen Continents' cut off from the outside world.

* The mission to Mars would have gone off without a hitch; the shiny new rocket would have propelled intrepid astronauts to Mars; they would have died to a man (or woman), how'ver, when the discovery that they had been sent without any supplies was made.

* The Linden government would copyright and trademark the worlds World (TM), Earth (TM) and Global (TM), and prosecute (or at least threaten to prosecute) anyone found using them to describe anything non-Linden-owned.

Anyone who is not considered a full citizen with payment information in Linden files would be prevented from moving at higher speeds. (Whether this is by means of shackling and/or wearing lead clothing, Miss Falken does not say.)

* There would be no fear of rising sea levels, as weather technology was fully developed back when it was shiny and new.

* Each Linden resident would be involved only with 25 individual groups of friends. Period.

I'd add only a few things to this list:

* Rent on Linden-made artificial islands ('bought' from the Linden commerce department, and thereupon put entirely under the control of the citizen or citizens who bought it, to use as they saw fit, without government assistance whatsoever) would undergo a radical upwards hike of nearly double the cost every few years, because the Linden government never outright said these artificial islands couldn't be used (much like a houseboat, or a yurt in a forest) for citizen habitation.

* Arbitrarily by whim the Linden government would ban things: banking one day, gambling the next, sending the economy into a tailspin while government-funded news sources said everything was okay.

* Linded-funded news sources would continually trumpet how much the Linden government valued free speech and hearing from its citizens; one of these reports would surface nearly every time the citizens were prevented from communicating with their government at all.

Come to think of it, just in this little experiment in 'what if'...I'd rather have President Bush back over the potential of President-CEO M.

There are now fledgling broadcasts on various OpenSpace sim issues to be found (even downloadable!) at Voices in the Machine (also note the link to the left). And there's a pertinent entry on how far the Lindens have lost their way on Rivers Rock.

Miss Eladrienne Laval was there when things began in late October; I can't decide if Common Sensible is being truthful or deeply sarcastic; Ravishal gets it; Nexeus Fatale seems to, but ends up blaming private estate owners for the flaws on the mainland and flaws in the Linden economy. Huh?

Veyron sees disaster ahead; and Wagner James Au wraps it all up with the top five posts on the OpenSpace sim issue--including Fatale's.

Moving on: the latest controversy in the freebie/scavenger hunting community: posting hunt locations on blogs. This is causing quite a bit of stir.

Now, I'll be honest--on occasion, I just can't find something, or don't have the time to really spend searching for six days until I do find it--especially if it's only a forty-eight hour hunt, or something. And I have accepted, will accept, help from others to get me there.

There are places I don't do this, period, regardless of the challenge of the hunt. FallnAngel Designs, for once. Mr. Demain has made it quite clear, both in his group and in his hunt rules--no 'cheat lists'. Once I stepped over the line--we're used to hunting in a pack of three to four souls, and one of those souls had to leave world. So I was taking down 'hint locations' to give to her later.

As it happens, I made some small reference to this, Mr. Demain heard me, and he soundly--and rightfully, I would say--discouraged me from such a practice. And I've never crossed the line since.

There are makers who understand that hint tips go out, and gently discourage people from using them. There are makers (I'm thinking the grid-wide ghost hunt, a month ago) who list locations for all the hunt objects--you just have to go to that place; actually finding the prize is left up to you. And there are makers like Demain who staunchly discourage what they consider "cheating"--and they're not wrong, it is getting around their stated rules to go directly to where the "good stuph" is.

But honestly, people, really--I'm not the only one who sees where this is going, am I? Sending lists to your friends--that bends some makers' rules, but it's private. Sending lists out on freebie/hunting groups--okay, I'd say that breaks some makers' rules, but again, it's kept in IM group discussion, not out in public.

Posting hunt locations in public blogs--and the Baking Cupcakes blog has done this more than once--that, IMO, is just wrong on all counts.

Think this through--you put a lot of effort into a hunt. Most hunts really are intended just for group members, though most can be hunted out by anyone--so really, it's more of a fun thing to do for your group. You design; you want to show off the shiny newness; you hold a hunt.

But. If people keep posting your hunt locations, if people openly tell anyone who might read that blog where everything is--really, honestly, how long is it going to be before you're burned on the concept of all that work just so people can cheat and grab the goods?

Scavenger hunts are supposed to be fun, first, and a challenging way to spend time, second. Hunts like the one at Magika, mentioned on the blog--which I didn't hear about until I'd already completed the hunt--give people who participate a great idea of what that designer does, who aren't in their group. Maybe those people will end up coming back and becoming customers (and, based on the quality of the hair, I'd agree with that, I intend to go back and peruse the styles Miss Harlow has to offer), maybe they won't, but at least, everyone had fun--right?

What happens when it stops being fun?

If makers feel as if they're being taken advantage of, they generally become resentful at the least, angry at the worst. There's already widespread content theft, that already sets a lot of designers on edge. Now something they might be doing just for the fun of it, just for customer appreciation, in a sense--is tarnished by people publishing the locations on their blogs.

Here, they're being told. This is where you want to go. And they're left with the option of moving everything--which sucks if you're one of the hunters who've obeyed the rules--or killing the hunt.

And not doing new ones.

My advice? Don't encourage makers to be more bitter, they have enough problems. Don't publish hunt locations on your blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I want you to know that being kind is overrated

But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks nor made to court an amorous looking glass, I that am rudely stamped and want love's majesty to strut before a wanton ambling nymph, I that am curtailed of fair proportion, cheated of feature by dissembling nature deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into breathing world scarce half made up and so lamely and unfashionable that dogs do bark at me as I halt by them...

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Welcome to OSGrid.

Shakespeare was talking about Richard III--or at least, the version he felt he could best sell to the mob on the sawdust--but I can't think but it fits. OSGrid itself feels half-finished, the guidebooks empty, and the default coding...well.

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Let's just say that had I known the default skin in which OSGrid's version of Em was clad, wasn't in the official library handed me by the operators...and that neither eyes nor hair actually exist, and will have to be imported in...well. I wouldn't have made the change, I really wouldn't have.

But I can't actually see spending a ton of time on the OSGrid in the meantime--with barely over six thousand active users, and between five hundred and two thousand in world at any given time...it's literally an empty wasteland, bereft of just about everything.

Kitsune Valley's there, though--I wonder if it's run by the same people...

In other news, GEICO finally responds to Optimus Prime's damage claims. *snerk!*

it's the hard-knock life

Whilst waiting impatiently for the chair to cycle around to E for an especially vibrant J-pop styled Black Maria hair, Miss Linda Poplin dropped by.

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She is bruised, bloody, battered, there are skinned knees and bruised hips you don't see in this pic, she's got a bullet between her eyes, two black eyes and a split lip, and yes, those are drywall nails through her arms.

Her store--called, unsurprisingly, Blood & Scars--is listed in her pics. I had to check it out.

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This place is...something. Stores in Second Life that contain things that creep me out are rare, and this place has a few. Miss Neome and I couldn't decide if the scalpel-version tic-tac-toe backwork or the words carved into bellies were more disturbing; but also, they have things which are just prime to own for my zombie collection of, err...bits and pieces. Like the stitched-all-over set, or the stitched finger gloves, or the eye scar...

Useful. Creepy, undeniably, but...useful.

There's a lot of these places, in various little post-apocalyptic corners of the grid. Bloody Hell, for instance:

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which was my former wounds-and-claw-marks store of choice, a while back. They used to be the only one in existence (barring Ropeworx, which really always has been more about tie marks and shibari). Or Bloodline--not to be confused with the game of vampiric idiocy--whose specialty seems to be really disturbing eyes:

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and very real-appearing welts, scrapes and rope burns:

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In contrast, Bruised & Bloodied only has one vendor:

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but it's in the middle of the Junkyard, a post-apocalyptic, damage-enabled, freeform wandering wasteland that is, all things considered, kinda neat.

If you're into the whole, post-apocalyptic, civilization-tottering-past-collapse motif for your woundplay, Aunty Entity--and oh, how I love that name--is really the place to go. But they're so much more than just wounds. They're really two hangers full of everything.

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Plus? She has a razor-wicked sense of humor.

Finally, that brings us to Cruelful Cosmetics:

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Cruelful is more expensive than any two of the others combined, but they do gunshots really, really well. Getting shot is not now, and never has been, my thing, but I can definitely envision certain settings where such might be of use. If so, that's your place to go, hands down.

We're still picking up things from Hallows, so our parcel is still all foggy and spooky in Morgaine--but I did have a moment of shocked confusion coming home a couple days back.

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I admit, it was very much the "OMG WE'RE DROWWWNING" reaction, but on reflection, I calmed down, and asked quietly in ISC chat if they knew why we had rising water in Morgaine. Turns out, Duchess Edwina Heron bought the bulk of Morgaine that Miss Uni Ninetails owned, as she had to quickly sell parcels to reinforce land stability elsewhere. (I think of this as yet more fallout from the OpenSpace sim debacle.) So, she sold the parcels to Eds, and took everything she owned back, which pretty much dropped the center of Morgaine back to water for a bit, until Eds gets set up.

So, glad there's explanation, but still. Unnerving as hell at first.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

such a parcel of rogues in a nation

Farewell to all our Scottish fame
Farewell our ancient glory
Farewell even to our Scottish name
Sae fam'd in martial story


Doctor Oblensky's Clockspire Cove build is on fire as I write this. He is destroying everything he lovingly hand-crafted, because he refuses to hold an OpenSpace sim with the new restrictions, and cannot abide the new restrictions on the somewhat larger Homestead-class sim.

(Aftermath shots can be seen here; likely more will turn up in time.)

Now Sark runs over the Solway sands
And Tweed runs to the ocean
To mark where England's province stands:
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


Miss Widdershins summed up the situation quite excellently; Miss Ordinal Malaprop made another earlier post I feel is very worth a reading. Or a second reading, if you've already read it once.

(I would also recommend reading once--or again--Miss Malaprop's Shouting into the Void post, as it contains succinct and excellent points.)

What force or gile could not subdue
Through many warlike ages
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitor's wages


A fellow going by owen_amends on LiveJournal put the situation (speaking to LJ policies, not LL's) thusly:

See how grass roots publicity works, LJ Business Owners? If a business fails to convince the customer base that their needs are being met the customers leave. Customers usually will bring the issue(s) to management first. If management fails to listen, most customers will simply leave. Other customers will continue trying to get management to listen to their voice. The cycle continues until management listens or customers [leave].

Alternatives to any business decision always exist.


The English steel we could disdain
Secure in valour's station
But English gold has been our bane:
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


The last line bolding is mine, as is the italicizing for emphasis. And simply put, that is what is going to happen if the Labs keep being blind to their customers' needs.

The folks currently giving up their OpenSpace sims are, overwhelmingly, not giving them up due to the price increase. The price increase will hurt many, but let's be absolutely fair and dispassionate here: if you have money to throw away on Second Life, purely a luxury item itself--then you have money to throw away on a sim, should you choose.

(Please, gentles all, don't respond angrily on my choice of 'throwing away' your hard-earned funds, that's not the main point I'm endeavoring to make.)

I would, or I had seen the day
That treason thus could sell us
My auld gray head had lain in clay
Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!


What is galling people, what is deeply angering and upsetting them, are the avatar limitations and the vague mentions of script limitations to come--making a once-usable product even more unusable in time.

Forget the problems on the mainland, the problems with private estates on full sims in general--this will unequivocally change the spirit (let alone the landscape) of Caledon at large. For all that OpenSpace sims in Caledon were largely used as breakwaters, as virtual fencing, in a sense--they were used, they were vital, they added for garden strolls, sailing, regattas, ironclad displays and battles, air battles...and let's not forget the far less showy OpenSpace uses of training new residents--while 90% of the time Nova Civis is still and empty, they have frequently held classes for more than twenty avatars!

Let alone ten, the hard limit for OpenSpace sims past this point.

But pith and power, till my last hour
I'll make this declaration
We were bought and sold for English gold:
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


The Labs started the fight with an untenable position; we parried by protests, letters, forum posts, and occasional in-person rebuttals; they riposted with the price increase and the avatar limits.

They're not listening. They plainly do not care.

LiveSim seems to be coming along; Mycosm is entering private beta; OSGrid and OpenSim are limping forward; and LivePlace is still boasting OTOY graphics which, to be fair, are impressive.

Look into them. I think we're reaching the second time I'm urging people to find other alternatives to supporting Linden Labs. And I say this being once more a fully paid member with that monthly premium payment I'm sending them. They haven't learned anything from the ageplay hysteria, the banking trial, the casino debacle, the age verification nightmare...what makes any of us think they'll learn from this?

And when they go down in flames with a user base of 2000...it will be too late to change their business practices then.

(Lyrics are from Steeleye Span's Rogues in a Nation.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

he's the man, the man with the Midas touch

Right before I drifted into limbo, I was sent a link to the 15 fps of Fame show, featuring designers inspired by Crimson Rezzable.

If you've never been, do look it up--the show gives you a look at the place, inside and out, and it's just astoundingly gothic, start to finish. Most of the designs I really like, and I like that they're picking up both established designers, and up-and-coming fashion sorts as well.

Most, if not all of these, are for sale...somewhere in Crimson Rezzable. (Your guess is as good as mine; they keep shifting things around!)

This is going to give me nightmares. Blame Mr. Nix Sands for that link, btw--if he hadn't thrown it up in CalChat, I never would have known! The terror, the TERROR!

In the meantime, Fuschia's Frocks, currently the secret lair of C.I.R.C.U.S. (Criminally IRresponsible Civil Unrest Society) held a party, to cover up the dastardly deed of...blowing Caledon to smithereens!

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(Mr. Equine McMillan arrives at the lair in his jetcar.)

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(The rocket prepares for launch.)

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(The rocket LAUNCHES!)

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(Aerial shot of CIRCUS' evil lair.)

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(The rocket picks its target...Oh, no! Victoria City!)

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(Rocket telemetry lost. Curse those do-gooders who wanted to save the Guvnah's mansion!...err, I mean, yay! We're saved!)

And some shots of the Rogues' Gallery:

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("Doctor" Nix Sands and his pet bunny.)

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(Professor Avalanche in his perfect henchman's outfit.)

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(Radio Riel's own Duchess Gabrielle takes a misstep into the shark-infested...wading pool...and is severed by lasers.)

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(Miss Begonia in a tux...)

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(Mr. Mossaveno Tenk in a tux...)

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(And DJ and Laird Brideswell, Elrik Merlin, in a tux.)

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(Thankfully, Miss Avariel Falcon came by to play Mata Hari to the existing parade of Bond good guys...)

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(With Miss Muse Carmona looking on, Edward comes by to play Q for us...)

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(...and Miss Saffia Widdershins handily supplied us with the dreaded Miss M--after being stripped in the nick of time of gold paint by Mr. Viking.)

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(Miss Terry Lightfoot looks slinky and sexy and far from innocent.)

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(If they ever had furs in a Bond film, Duchess Kiralette Kelley and Duke Podruly Peccable are impeccably dressed for a night out in Casino Royale.)

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(And every evil lair needs henchmen...in addition to Professor Avalanche and myself, Mr. Greegar Hellershanks and Frau Annechen Lowey swirled in stately procession across the lair floor.)

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(And Mr. JJ Drinkwater comes with a Licence to Kilt.)

Unfortunately, as with all evil plans...the loss of the rocket caused the CIRCUS lair's auto-defense systems to go just the merest bit buggy. First, we had Robot Pixies rezzing everywhere...

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...then after attack waves from ninjas, space zombies and shaggy rubber-toothed monsters, the lair itself imploded!

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I guess it just goes to show you--the pixie throws a great party.

Err, I mean, Evil Never Wins.

Or something like that. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

but all the details of this war are just self-infatuation

The latest bit of insanity on the OpenSpace controversy.

Hitler explains Second Life.

Miss Hypatia Callisto shares her opinion of the announcement on her blog.

And Miss Ordinal Malaprop weighs in with her understanding of the issue. (It's based on M. Linden's latest post in the SL blog.)

Why do I have problems with this?

I've been trying to explain this to one of my loves, and we're very carefully trying not to argue about it. Tempers are friable around Caledon and parts of the rest of the grid, as well.

But let me see if I can lay this out reasonably:

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(If you have problems reading this, do pull up the full-size version, but it's just a screen cap of the relevant FAQ quoted at the start of this entry.)

All three of the new 'official' sims retain the same size. Setup fees seem as reasonable as they ever did. But that's where all semblance, in my mind, of reason and rationality stop.

Prims on the newly reconfigured "OpenSpace" class sims: 750. Hard avatar limit: 10. Plus script limitations to be determined. Total monthly fee: US$75.

Prims on the newly created "Homestead" class sims: 3750. Hard avatar limit: 20. Script limitations also to be determined. Total monthly fee: US$95 (to be raised to US$125 in July of 2009).

To me, this means, effectively, they've found a way to charge more money, and institute hard limits, the worst of both plans. Not only that, but as far as I can tell, there's now zero reason to own an OpenSpace sim.

Why? All right, think this through. Yes, the OpenSpace class of sim was never intended for high-script use, high prim counts, major structures, residential or commercial operations. We knew that from the start, though admittedly, many of us (me included) thought the Labs had changed their policies when they raised the prim count on OpenSpace sims from 1500 to 3750. That was our bad, we get it now.

But, therein lies the problem: if OpenSpace sims are now held to that restriction of ten avatars maximum, 750 prims only...why would anyone want to own one?

I can't see any possible use. I just can't. As "barrier" sims around a full region, to create water spaces, to create mountain regions, whatever--why wouldn't you pay the extra and convert up to a Homestead?

Why? Think about it. While I have attended events with upwards of 90 people in the past, those are rare. Most events clock in with 30 or less, and really, we're talking most come in on the 12-to-18 range.

12 to 18 avatars fits nicely in the 20-avatar hard limit of the Homestead class. This allows for living, small parties, small dances, most meetings, most social interactions on a day-to-day level.

But the new limit on OpenSpace sims? Unreasonable. Unreasonable and unworkable. Follow:

* a traveling party of a couple that started walking sim to sim, gathering friends along their way from Sim A to Sim B, would be stopped dead at the border to an OpenSpace sim if they should happen to have 11 people in their party; or have to stop, and slowly filter across 2 to 3 avatars at a time.

* Running a regatta race, or other sailing event: no OpenSpace sim would support more than five two-crew sailboats.

* Declaring an ironclad battle: disregarding crew in the least, and just counting one captain per iron ship: even just getting to the site of the water for the battle, based on the ship size, the scripting involved, and the like, they would have to filter across one ship at a time, wait until it's completely through the region, then send the next ship in and through.

Am I making any sense? This seems so clear to me: Linden Labs have just created a product they do not want anyone to buy. This seems profoundly anti-capitalism, unless what they're truly trying to do is to make everyone sigh, roll their eyes, and say, "Okaaaay, fiiine, I'll buy the Homestead class sim instead". The proposed new restrictions along with the reclassifications of both OpenSpace and Homestead class sims lead me to the inescapable conclusion: they don't want any more OpenSpace sims than they already have. They would much rather everyone convert up to Homestead sims, or even better, full regions.

Am I wrong? Am I not seeing it clearly? Because now we're not talking possible conspiracies and 'bait and switch' practices (which, to be fair, I never believed existed anyway), we're talking the blatant reconfiguration of an existing product to make it less useable, less functional, and to unerringly steer purchasers to a higher, more useable product.

At this time next year, are we going to see the announcement that OpenSpace sims are being phased out, to be replaced solely by Homestead class sims and full regions? Bet me. Bet me we see it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

mid sweet-talk, newspaper word cut-outs

Interesting entry on lighting for pics Miss Sphynx Soleil found for me. Sounds worth doing...maybe. (I still have dread of banana-yellow skies.)

Let's talk economics for a moment. I've heard far too many people of late saying they're going to sell off their properties and walk away from Second Life. The whole "that'll teach 'em" attitude.

I don't, in theory, disagree with the concept, but my big question is: where to? Where is enough like Second Life, without being Second Life, to compete?

Worlds like There, VMTV and a host of others just don't live up to the hype. Many flee to World of Warcraft, but it lacks much in the way of user-supported content, free action, plus has a subscription fee just to walk in the door; something Second Life (premium accounts and tier payments aside) doesn't have. (City of Heroes and City of Villains are much the same way; you have to pay to get in, and keep paying if you want to stay.)

There are several up-and-coming virtual worlds (StarGate Worlds, currently in beta, springs instantly to mind), but all of them face major issues of lag, incoherent input, and technology setbacks to date.

IMVU, NeoPets and Gaia Online are all designed for children. Frankly, if I (and others with the same mindset) wanted to play with children, we'd have had our own. I don't think it's too much to ask for adult playspaces, and by that, I don't simply mean sex and nudity. I mean issues and interaction on a level that the average nine-to-thirteen year old just fails utterly to comprehend (see 2D 'chat worlds' like Shinobi Legends, GothDragon and others, all based on the original browser-based game Legend of the Green Dragon, for more information on kidthink). And Google's Lively couldn't suck more if it tried.

So where does that leave us? Essentially, to a certain extent, Linden Labs is dealing with a captive audience--there's still nothing quite like SL, including such ventures as OpenWorlds and OSGrid, part of the OpenSim project. By that same extension, though, if one has a product that refuses to perform up to even basic specifications, has down-time of up to 48 hours in some cases, has a high wait time for successful use, and causes loss of acquired goods...well, anywhere else, they'd have been reported to the Better Business Bureau by now. As it is, an overwhelming majority of us have registered protests, then done nothing further.

Why? Why aren't we setting up successful protests? Why aren't we holding no-log-in days? (And don't tell me you just had one, because really--Halloween?? You wanted October 31st to be your big protest day? Half the grid's users didn't come in anyway on Halloween, and of those that did, they certainly weren't thinking, I should log right out again, my goodness, people are protesting SL...because that just was bound to fail.) For that matter, why aren't we holding no-log-in weeks?

I grant you, I'd be twitching too, but avatars who aren't in world, by and large, aren't supporting the Labs or Second Life in general. Avatars who aren't in world aren't buying Lindens, buying land, paying tier, paying rent, or building or buying user-created content, some of which in turn goes back to those makers payments of tier, rent, land fees...all of which translates into real, tangible, monetary loss. To Linden Labs directly.

"And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is 'cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that, there's only one thing you can do, and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in and say, "Shrink, you can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant." And walk out.

You know, if one person, just one person does it, they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And if three people do it, three, can you imagine? Three people walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day, walkin' in, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. Friends, they may thinks it's a movement."


Arlo Guthrie sang that, far too long ago, but it's not the worst idea. If one person logs out, well, they're just having connection difficulties. If two people log out, well, they're likely RL partners and the net went down. If three people log out, well, maybe it's a router issue, it'll get fixed eventually.

What if one thousand people log out? Two thousand? Fifty thousand? Even for a day. Even for one hour. What if eighty thousand people stayed out of world two hours of every night in protest?

How hard is that? Go to a movie. Go wander a park. Read a book. Sleep. How hard is that? We could call it reality intervention. Save our souls from the Labs.

And it might, just might, convince the Labs that we're tired of putting up with shoddy excuses, shoddier service, and an eternal parade of new shiny toys when the basic infrastructure is decaying. And that if we tried, we could come up with an endless parade of other uses for our time, uses that don't involve paying tier, being in world, and feeling hopelessly cut off from any sense of support or communication.

What if? What if? What if the numbers suddenly drop, in a way they're not expecting? What if they crash--58,739 users in world to 5? What if they crash consistently? What if the economy just stops moving at all, because the bodies aren't in world to support it?

What would the Labs do then?

How soon would they scramble to fix what's wrong?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I want matches in case I have to suddenly burn

Well, alas, you're not reading this next bit on the shop blog, which means I can't put it off any more--I never got the Halloween eye pack up for sale.

This makes me sad.

On the other hand, there's still a way for you to get them--and for far cheaper than I'd planned!

Here's the notecard you get if you click any of the signboards in Autogenic Alchemy's main store, Regency branch, or my Morgaine or Rivula homes:

Hello, traveler!

You'll be visiting four spots to complete this hunt.

CALEDON MORGAINE:

If you get sent to the central hub, either use the SLUrl again, or just fly west across the bay--look for the Darkhouse. :)

Setting midnight works well. You'll be trying to find 13 pumpkins and five black bats.

CALEDON PENZANCE:

If you rez in at a central hub, just click the SLUrl again, you'll be brought to the shop.

You'll be looking for 13 orange pumpkins.

CALEDON REGENCY:

Head North from the central hub; turn left on the walkway by the docks (you'll be going West). Walk down to No. 2, and the Octavia--Autogenic Regency--will be on your left. (Alternatively, select Show on Map before transporting to get a beacon.)

You'll be seeking out 13 orange pumpkins.

RIVULA (SOUTHERN CONTINENT MAINLAND):

Wait for things to rez, there's a LOT going on. Setting midnight works well.

You're looking for 13 orange pumpkins and 5 white skulls.

Happy hunting!

Emilly Orr
Proprietess, Kartiny


Now. Some tips. No, I'm not going to give you more than hints, it's not that hard a hunt.

Everything's about palm-size, pumpkin-wise. None of them are hidden inside other things. The bats are smaller, and the skulls (only 5 of them) are various sizes, instead of being one fixed size--and also, the bats and skulls are L$1 each. (They're L$1 each because I have decided on a new tradition: making things specifically for the holiday that will never be resold. At least in those colors...)

There's no defined start and end, and I'm not taking it down until November 3rd. Go have fun. Get the eyes for free I didn't get around to putting out for Lindens. :)