Tag Archive for Second Life

Remembrance of Days Gone By

So I was just reflecting on as of this year, I’ve basically been sporting scales for 10 years.  That’s almost a full third of my life right now, and probably half the time I’ve been around furry content overall – though 9-9.5 of the remaining time was spent as a fox.

That set me thinking of commissioning a new art piece(not the one posted above) to commemorate 10 years of scales – maybe something transformation-related, going from one form to the other.  Still, it might get complicated if I included my snep chakat ‘sona I ran with for several months also, and if I should include my Arctic Wyvern that brought everything to critical mass.

You see, back in 2007 I started poking my snout around an area in Second Life called the Isle of Wyrms – I may have mentioned it here before. I found out about it from some other furs at an area based around the DMFA webcomic(shameless plug – www.missmab.com – been reading it for years!) as they had a couple adult dragon avatars from there and were showing them off at Lost Lake.

Now back then, you could buy the hatchlings and the wyrmlings(think feral dragon equivalent of teenagers) at any time, but the full-size adults were only available four times a year – on the solstices and equinoxes, and even then in limited numbers.  Once you owned one, you could buy the rest at any time for customization, but you had to get that first spot at one of the hatching events.  The idea was to try and make it something more special than just buying an av because it looked cool.  These were DRAGONS, and deserved something more special.

Because I was curious, I ended picking up a Astral Wyrmling, as it felt the most dragonlike to me, and toyed around with it a bit.  I’m fairly sure I talked about this a long while ago on here, so I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say I went to check my logs to see when I had first gotten the Arctic Wyvern and found it was actually exactly 10 years ago yesterday.

As I probably said then, and in a tweet-chain that triggered this blog post, the Wyrmling may have opened the door a crack, but it was the Wyvern egg that slammed it all the way open and broke off the hinges.

There was a certain magic in the air that day – we were the testbed for the random selection that was used up until the final hatchings, replacing the old “who can click fastest before the sim crashes” method.  I like to think of it as letting fate and luck take the wheel more directly, as the former relied on reaction speed as well as luck on if the server would acknowledge it before the sim crashed.

We were spread across two sims due to population limits as the drawing began. There was tension at first as individuals were called out – at least until someone noticed that if you checked your registration token, it could tell you if you were one of the winners or not already.  The current version of the Cathedral was not complete yet, but this was the first chance many of us got to see it, as the eggs were located there to keep things under control.

Once we had our eggs, it was off to the sandbox to hatch them, wear the avatars, and tweak them to our specifications.  This is where the magic I spoke of was most felt – the becoming of wing and scale, tooth and claw.  Leaning to move in something much larger, how it worked, and sharing the joy and celebration of our new forms with all the other newly grown Wyverns.  This was also the premiere release of the Wyverns, which added another element of specialness to the whole event.

It’s kind of sad that the days of the hatchings are behind us now.  As time wore on, the crowds began to shrink, and eggs began to go unclaimed, until the decision was made to set the tradition aside as the amount of unclaimed eggs up for adoption had effectively removed the distinction. Folks who arrive at the Isles now seeking a draconic perspective will never truly get to experience the tension of waiting to see if you were chosen, the wonder of walking down the rows of IoW elders standing ceremonial guard to claim their new egg, and the joy and celebration of becoming alongside their wingbrothers and wingsisters as they explore their new selves.

There was several factors though that led to this, and I don’t know that any one of them changing would have made a difference.

  • Daryth, as far as I am aware, has effectively moved on – no new dragon or other avatar designs or updates have been released in years.  For her, this was her art, more than anything else, and as every artist knows, the muse can be a fickle thing.
  • Other creators have harnessed deformations and mesh to create technically superior(whether they are aesthetically is up to the viewer) avatars that were available 24/7, and a majority of Second Life I’d say would prefer that instant purchase and gratification rather than waiting months for a chance at one that isn’t even a certain win.
  • While people come and go, once you had the adult you didn’t need to enter again.  This meant that every hatching shrunk the pool of prospective dragons, and eventually that pool would be small enough to cause this sort of effect as well.

So while it was probably inevitable, I am still glad I got to experience a IoW hatching before it ended, and thankful for it as it helped me find myself, so to speak. The Isle itself and the community is still around after 11 years, which is practically an eternity in SL time. While the sun is no longer blotted out with dragon wings, there are many hatchies and other folk waiting to welcome a stranger into their fold, or welcome back old friends who may wing back from time to time.

With how many places I have visited in SL that have come and gone, there is still a certain peace in knowing there is still a home to return to.

I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe.

Sims crashing like dominos from a runaway grey goo attack. I’ve seen entire furry continents rise, only to fade away.  Dragons, spreading their wings for the first time under the shadow of Cathedral. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.

Time to fly.

Home Sweet Home

Welcome!

So between sufficient amounts of boredom accumulating and a lack of things to do in my various games, I decided to make a return to SL as I was feeling decidedly draconic recently.   When I got back in, I was reminded that one of the projects I had kept putting off was a renovation of my home there.

Snapshot_018

The OG Dragon’s Song, with a few of my touches.

Originally, before Kaitlyn passed on, we stayed in a small castle on the small corner of the Isle of Gazoo that we called our own.  It was a cozy little place more fitting to our tiny-sized selves, and home to many virtual pets that she kept there.  It had been there a while before we got together and once I “moved in” with her, I added a few things of my own, such as a Stargate, an art panel, and the stained glass window from the original Isle of Wyrms’ Cathedral, before it was bulldozed for the current version.

Now we’d discussed rebuilding it to better suit the both of us a few times in the past, but not much came of it.  I’d suggested having the building adjusted so it appeared to be built out of the side of the mountain, and maybe make it a three level tower, but between time we spent doing other stuff, prim allotments and such, nothing ever came of it.

Once it became solely mine however, I was torn between doing something with Standing stones that teleported to a skybox above, or a dragon cave built into the mountain itself.  I got as far as locating a cave building kit and trying to prototype a cave before, but the pieces did not have external textures so I had to build an outside wall, and I didn’t like how it was turning out so I trashed the work, and never got back to it until recently.

With time to kill and nothing better to do, I took measurements again and took another stab at building the mountain and cave.  I threw a ice plain about level with the top of the next plot over, followed by another ice wall angled down to match the slope of the ridge next to it, ending at the rock wall.  With that in place, I added some boulders to make a wall of rock, leaving a place for the cave, which I started on after that.

The cave came together better this time, but I found out due to the size of the plot and the cave pieces that if I made it big enough to accommodate my full size form, it wouldn’t be able to be as large around as I wished.  I also found another issue with it, relating to the former castle.

You see, I wanted to leave some of Kaitlyn’s stuff as a memorial, and among the things i inherited were some of her virtual cats.  They were basically confined to the second floor of the castle(which had been our living room of sorts) and I didn’t want to just remove the castle completely, as I couldn’t move any of the objects she had left, such as the bed for the cats. So the first thing I had done before returning the castle was build a room around the room, so that the cats wouldn’t escape and so everything I couldn’t move could stay where it was.

Anyways, once I placed the cave in, I found it was tall enough it was poking through the floor of the new lounge area, which means I would have to dig it out.  Suffice it to say, that terraforming in Second Life with the in-world tools is a royal pain.

The last major addition was the observation balcony, and a third room to go with it.  Since we had a great view from our part of the Isle, I had wanted to have a observation balcony to take advantage of it.  That went in fairly easily, and everything else after that was furnishings and fine-tuning.  But why describe when I can show?

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Working Hard or Hardly Working?

IT Foxdragon

 

Combination update and overdue art post.  I actually got the above picture about a month ago, but I held off because I had thought another commission might finish soon as well.  In the end, it didn’t, but I got another recently, so I figured now was a good time.  I also have two more being worked on, so there may be another art post in the near future, depending on when they get finished.

The above was from a Dragonlovers stream sketch.  As for the other, I snagged a picture from Aaros now that he’s got his tablet mojo working.

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*poses* Just look at these wings!  Rawr!

Other than that, I have a couple more in the works as I said, and at least 2 more definite ones I want done, as I actually have an image in mind for them, not to mention specific artists in mind. So, it’s back to playing a waiting game for slots to re-open.

In other worlds, I’ve officially got the promotion now to go with the work I’ve been doing.  There’s other changes too that may be going through, though I can’t go into details as they’re not set-in-stone yet.

Relationship-wise, still in Limbo – in other words, technically there isn’t one yet.  So far, I’m still just coasting along and seeing where it leads.  From what I’ve heard if there’s nothing deeper to it it’ll die out in another month or two, so that’ll be a good time to either push forward or let it drop completely into just being good friends, with no real look towards anything more.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep on being myself, and try not to let any feelings cloud my judgement and vice versa.

And speaking of Limbo, I put together a little filk song about the Isle of Wyrms today, and that makes a good thing to round out this little post.  There’s no tune made for it yet, though if it gets put to music there’ll probably be some mention made here!

Limbo’s the land
Where dragons were born
And grew and built and played;
There’s always a gathering of friends to be found
If the lag would just stay away!

Where the gryphons cry
And the dragons fly
And the hatchlings search for cookies;
There’s always something at the Isle of Wyrms-
-when Limbo isn’t in limbo!

Cathedral’s the place
Where dragons have settled
And shared their land with others
There’s plenty of forms and shapes to be found
Just watch out for Mr Spiky!

Where the gryphons cry
And the dragons fly
And the hatchlings search for cookies;
There’s always something at the Isle of Wyrms-
-as long as you don’t get eaten!

Suilven is the land
Of the Winter Wyrm
Full of mountains and snows
Dragons dance to the drums in her towering lair
But be careful to see where they step!

Where the gryphons cry
And the dragons fly
And the hatchlings search for cookies;
There’s always something at the Isle of Wyrms-
-as long as you watch out for tinies!

Isle of Gazoo
Is a land old and new
Rescued from destruction by tinies
A welcoming home, to many a folk
As long as you share your cookies!

Where the gryphons cry
And the dragons fly
And the hatchlings search for cookies;
There’s always something at the Isle of Wyrms-
-where baked goods are never safe!

Hatchie Haven is where
Many hatchies call home
In huts or caves or towers
There’s mountains, and lakes, and a marketplace too
If you can fit in the door!

Where the gryphons cry
And the dragons fly
And the hatchlings search for cookies;
There’s always something at the Isle of Wyrms-
-sizechanging has never been so handy!

The Isle is more
Than dragons and wyverns
There’s fae, and hedgies and tinies
All are welcome, no matter the size
Just don’t fill up the entire sim!

Where the gryphons cry
And the dragons fly
And the hatchlings search for cookies;
There’s always something at the Isle of Wyrms-
Big or small, we welcome you all!

 

Calling all dragons!

Not much going on life-wise lately, just keeping on keeping on.  This post isn’t about me though, it’s about someplace I’ve mentioned several times in the past – the Isle of Wyrms.

The last time I’d spoken about it I’d finally found out the reasons behind the changes.  It looks like Limbo is going to stay the way it is, as there’s quite a few folks’ homes on it, but there is a game and docks area that’s free for people to congregate at.  We’ve actually got a decent crowd again of good people, thanks to the tiny community, and the overlap with IoW’s dragons… but there haven’t been a lot of dragons running around.

And that is what we want to change.

This is a call-out to all dragons, whether ‘kin or not, who may be flitting around Second Life.  Let’s work together and wake the dream once more.  There’s good folks, lots of cookies, and plenty of conversation, and maybe a little parcheesi if that’s your thing!  There’s plenty of times right now where there’s not that many folks around still, but if no one goes, that’ll never change.

For those who aren’t interested in the games(or can’t really fit in the game area) there’s plenty of room in the Cathedral to hang out and chat.  The old cathedral that used to be in Limbo was smaller, and I still remember there always being a dragon or three there whenever I swung by back in those days.

Even if you don’t want to make it a regular hangout, there’s still plenty of events to come kick back with other dragons and the tinies.  For example, there’s biweekly Drum Circles, where folks can gather, listen to music, dance(as much as you can in SL) and chat, and they’re set in two different times to accommodate other time zones as well.  The next upcoming ones are Wednesday 3/5 at noon-2PM PST and Friday 3/7 at 5-7PM PST.

For those who are into games and/or SL fishing, there’s a weekly GamesDay event on Sundays starting at 1PM PST, where folks just gather to mess with the games, as well as usually 3 rounds of an unbaited fishing contest that you can win L from, if you make the top 5.

The biggest event coming up is of course the Spring Equinox celebration.  There may no longer be a hatching lottery, but there’s still be a celebration, and that starts 3/22 at noon PST.  I’m not staff there, just a dragon who’s been around a long time, so I don’t know what they’ve got planned for this one, but what better way to celebrate the changing of the seasons than with other dragons?

So if you got time, feel free to fly/crawl/swim/walk/teleport/stargate on over, and let’s bring back the Wyrms to the Isle of Wyrms!  Whether scaled, furred, or feathered, there’s plenty of room for all.

Moods

I’m writing this as I random-dial stargates in Second Life for lack of anyplace to go. Every so often I seem to get into one of these moods – I want to do something, but don’t know what.  I want to hang with people but don’t know who or where.  It’s like this itch in the back of the mind that I just can’t quite scratch.

It usually seems to strike when I’m between “projects” as such, or the end of one is in sight and I don’t have another already in mind.  I detailed in a previous post how I got a bunch of crap done during my vacation at the end of the year.  I’ve done as much organization of my place as I can until it’s about time to move into whatever place I end up moving into.  I actually am synchronizing my SF, FA, and Weasyl galleries, but I’m doing it paced, and I’ve only got 3 story series left before that’s done.  I could go finish sorting my art, but I just think of how much there is and lose motivation.

Mention of a possible alt run in my WoW guild did get me moving a bit on my mage, but I finished all the available dungeons, and I’m still 88, and don’t feel fussed enough to quest right now on that toon and do the same tasks for the 10th time.  I’m caught up on all my shows.

I got nothin’.

I thought maybe I’d hop on SL a bit, maybe hang out, but IoW still doesn’t have much in the way of hangouts.  I got to hang with some tinies and hatchies playing a game of Aggrivation while I caught this week’s MLP ep, but they all moved on, and like I mentioned before, outside IoW I have no idea where to go, being a scaly dragon type.  I’m not looking for medieval RP or random sex, and all the old dragon hangouts are mostly gone.  Almost all my old furry hangouts are too.

And thus, dialing random stargates and seeing where I end up.  So far, I’ve encountered one good build:  A recreation of Twilight Town on par with that of Midgard in the sim of the same name.  Coincidentally, that’s the only place I’ve run into people actually talking anywhere nearby.

I hate feeling like this.

I could just go to bed, but that also feels like a waste.  There’s plenty of day(even if no daylight) left!  If I could just figure out what to do.  It’s like slogging through a quagmire looking for the way out of the forest when you don’t know which way is north.  So I figured maybe if I start writing something it’ll get it out of my system or at least point me in the right direction.

One thing I did read today that resonated with me was someone else complaining about loneliness, but with the caveat that he’s actually usually happy when alone, and he has plenty of friends and such, but it doesn’t help.  Someone else responded that loneliness can actually come from two different things: either you’re looking for more connections with other people(which people usually assume it is) or deeper connections.  It seems like most people just dismiss the second completely, leading to the “I’ve got all the friends in the world, so why am I lonely?” quandry.

On looking back, I feel I definitely fit in the latter category.  I’m a bit of an introvert, so lots of friends has never been my thing. Looking back at times I’ve felt lonely, it’s usually because I haven’t had those deeper friendships(or more) at that time, or at least said friends weren’t around.  If a dragon cries out but no one hears, does anyone care?

I’ve also never been big on big groups for the same reason.  Smaller groups are great; I can hang with them, listen to the conversation and join in when I have something to say, whether intelligent or just a bad pun. And we all know bad puns are the best kind!

It’s also kind of funny how many places in SL will fit a dragon, even if it might be a bit cramped.  It seems like it’s only rarely that I end up somewhere where I’d be hitting my head or pokeing up into the next floor above, even though most stuff is built for a human frame.

I also think I might be a bit prejudiced against humans and near-humans in SL. 😮  Part of that though is because a lot of people with normal human avs are walking around with a cork and two sequins, placement optional, in proportions that either are ultimate supermodel, or teetering on the edge of uncanny valley.  The other part I guess may be a bit of subconscious “if you can be anything you want, why limit yourself?”  That could easily go the other way as well though, and I bet that if I hung around in some of the places with humans and near-humans being the majority, that they might look askance at my draconity… once they get past how awesome an av it is, that is!

Then there’s also the groups that assume its roleplay.  For some people the idea of being yourself meaning being something other than human is hard to get a grasp on, I guess the same way I see about people who just take their RL look and tweak it in SL.  But it is what it is, and I know that too, even if it bugs me on some level.  I know it’s not fair, but that doesn’t stop it anyways, though I’m pretty good at burying it.

In other news, I’m working on getting more artses.  Found out one of the artists on my list actually is open for work, and just waiting to hear back now.  With moving on hold and being caught up on Transformers until HTS gets the new stuff in, I got plenty of money for art again.

While I’m ranting, I’m going to admit I don’t get what’s so hot about YCH(Your Character Here) auctions.  95% of the time it’s a mostly finished picture of two folks porking and all that’s done is instead of the artist having to come up with a species/markings set, he just recolors it like whomever won it.  More power to the artist for making extra bank on something that simple, but I just don’t get it.

Now the other 5% I can understand, and see as fine:  that being there’s some huge crowd scene for a story illustration or something along those lines, and the author is offering cameos to people who might want in.  That, I get.  But random porn with no link to anything, and likely no choice in your “partner” (as the other slot is probably a YCH too)?

Adoptables also fall into that category as well.  I can understand commissioning a character for something, even if I see it as lacking in imagination.  Offering a new species for people to make characters of?  *eyes all the sergals and chakats* Done, and done. But creating a character and selling *rights* to that character?  Selling the artwork is fine, but I don’t think a lot of the people really get it.  First off, the legality of such a thing is shady, but putting that aside, what’s to stop someone else who likes the concept from creating one of their own?  Let me just put this bright pink fox-thing with blue wings over here next to all the other bright pink fox-like things with blue wings.

Maybe I’m just cynical from being a greymuzzle and having been around furry stuff for over 15 years, compared to all the fresh 18-24-somethings glomming onto it all starry-eyed and bushy-tailed.  Some furry types are common for a reason, so when someone likes it and wants to be all “Look at me I’m a special snowflake” they try and twist it, just like all the other snowflakes and end up with something that’s been done 10 times over. Taste the rainbow of fur colors!  Instant demon/dragon/other-badass, just add horns, or bat/dragon wings.

Yes, I realize the irony of a blue dragon with foxish(or Eastern dragon, depending on perspective) features complaining about this.  I didn’t choose it to be different, I went with it because it felt natural and like myself.  I’m also sure there are furs out there that ended up with a somewhat common form from the same reasoning.  You’ll have to forgive me though if I don’t believe that when you have a fox-cat-skunk-dragon that looks like a box of crayons threw up on it.  There’s a term for that sort of fursona, but I can’t recall it right now, or enough of it to google up the term.

Damn, I sound old and crotchety, don’t I?  Like I should be waving a shotgun and telling them damn kids to get off my lawn.  Meh, who needs a shotgun when you’re like 20 feet tall, armored with scales, and have teeth and claws? 😀  Forget the breath weapon though, that’s never really gelled well with me – to the point I joke about the “IoW Spirit” one I use in my av as my breath just being minty fresh.

I guess that’s enough ranting for now.  I’m feeling better, and it’s time to post the next batch of stories.  Oh, and Singles Awareness Day is coming up, so remember to hit the stores the day after for lots of cheap chocolate!

“D”, DD, and Dragon Myself Around

First off, probably going to get into some mature subject matter, so be prepared!

I just recently found out about a new manga called D.Y.N. Freaks.  It just started back middle of last year I believe, but it’s not only by the author of Demonbane, it features the big “D” himself, after a fashion!

For those not familiar, Demonbane is basically a Super Robot VN(Visual Novel) borrowing heavily from HP Lovecraft.  Put simply, the protagonist works with a living embodiment of the Necronomicon to take half of the powers of the Lovecraft universe and use them as weapons in a giant robot against the other half in the middle of Arkham.  The original “game”(as VNs are basically choose-your-own-adventure novels in the form of a PC program) was also an adult game, with plot-related sex scenes, which honestly are mostly played for humor than anything else.  They put out a all-ages-friendly version of it too, as well as a semi-sequel, but only the adult version was ever translated to English.  They also made an anime version, but it cut out half the plot and some major characters, so it ends up rather disjointed if you aren’t already familiar with the story from the VN.

This manga appears set in one of the Demonbane universes(and I can’t really explain that without spoilers), but in Y City.  It involves some artifacts of the various Elder Gods and Outer Beings that have infected people, making them into “mages” who can access that power, or get used by it. From the four chapters translated so far, the D is for Demonbane, the Y is for a mage who has the pwoers of Yog Sottoth, and the N is for the third main character, who dons the mask of Nyarlathotep.  He puts out a sort of Kamen Rider vibe, especially considering he has the Hunting Horror, a souped-up magical bike that was only in one of the Demonbane story paths.

Either way, more Demonbane action gets me very hype.  Now I just have to wait for more to get scanlated.

The second point I wanted to cover was the double-D or why the heck everyone seems to love oversized breasts.  (I said it might cover some mature stuff!)  It’s not that I don’t find breasts attractive, but they have to match the body they’re on!

I guess it comes down to proportions.  For smaller girls, a smaller bust is just fine.  If you’re a twig, you shouldn’t have balloon breasts the size of your head!  On the other hand, if you’ve got some meat on your bones, bring on the C and D cups!  Maybe DD too, but after that you start hitting the “too much of a good thing” level, unless you’re getting further into fantasy races.  (Then again, there are some who say anything more than a nice handful is a waste – but then how big are your hands?)

There’s also anthromorphization of existing characters where it can get distasteful real fast too.  I was poking around Second Life and came across some MLP furry avatars where someone had made them all very well-endowed.  In my opinion, a lot of those didn’t really fit for what I would envision, if you were trying to stay true to the character.  But instead, you end up with the “if it’s female, must attach huge bazongas!” approach.

Taurs have the body-mass to balance a larger bustline visually though, I have to admit.  As for dragonesses – if they’re anthro, my above guidelines stay.  If you’re dealing with a standard quad(“feral”) dragon, then no.  Just, no.

I’m not sure if I really made a point there but I wanted to get it off my chest. (*snrk*)

I also managed to get in touch with some of the other old-time folks from the Isle of Wyrms in SL, and Limbo actually did used to be Lyre.  The original Cathedral and Limbo sims had to go because of tier prices, so Daryth converted Hedgetopia to a new Cathedral sim, and Lyre became Limbo.  The first move was already done, but Limbo is still waiting for a rebuild to turn it back into itself.  Gertie and a few of the hatchies also bought one of the other sims, to “keep it in the family.”

I then went through to see what still existed of my old landmarks, and ended up deleteing at least half of them.  There were a few of those places that I was sad to see go:

  • Lost Furest is completely gone.  Cheetah took a slightly longer break than I did, and it closed down in the meantime, but she plans to get another sim eventually, someday.
  • I took a longer look at Furnation.  They had to do the same as IoW, and the current Prime sim isn’t the original Prime sim.  The two sandbox sims are gone, leaving a single sandbox crammed back into Prime’s space.  All the rest has gone to either residential, or a (admittedly very pretty) natural park area.  There’s still a few landmarks there though I recognize, such as the Luxor pyramid, the not-a-sphinx, and Club Fur.  Heck, I have a screenshot from early 2006 of me entering Club Fur!
  • The Sci-Fi museum at Indigo is sadly no more.  They had some awesome displays, including a to-scale model of a Klingon Bird of Prey you could walk around in.
  • Arador is completely gone.  It was one of the few non-RP places that dragons congregated at that I knew of.
  • Not really a sim per se, but Reverie Animations is completely gone now from SL.  They had some great animations at decent prices, but there’s no more stores of theirs in SL anymore, anywhere.
  • Also in that vein, the stores for Aventity Avatars, whose fox provided the ears for my avatar, seem to have disappeared.  Where the main store used to sit is now part of Furnation’s natural park area.

After that, I did do a little exploring using the search function, to try and find someplace else to hang out at.  I didn’t have much luck with that, but I found a few things:

  • Midgar is still Midgar i.e. FF7 RP bonanza.  It was packed on the map, but I wasn’t looking for RP, so I didn’t stop by.  They’ve been going however since 2006.
  • The awesome life-size mecha statues are still in the Akira sim, though they’ve been cut back a lot.  Now it’s just Daitarn 3 and the rusted Dougram, with no sign of Grendizer or the other two that had been there.
  • The Monster’s Garage store with all the Ultraman-related avatars is still there, but no new avatars still from when I was there last over 2 years ago.
  • The maker of my Sidetrack transforming Micromaster avatar is still around and has added a ton of new Micromaster avatars(and some Minicons too).  If I wasn’t watching my spending, I could probably blow a lot there easily.
  • Grendel’s is still around, but with fewer sims again
  • Sylver’s Kinzart Kreetures store is still kicking, and a lot bigger than it used to be.
  • The Dr Who-related sim, the Three Minute City, is still around also.  Didn’t stop by there this time however as I haven’t been keeping up with New Who.
  • I also found a great mecha-based sim with it’s own combat system and a lot of designs derived from Battletech(but not all).  They even have a free Kit Fox/Uller av to start you off!(And a Hatchetman too.)
  • The only two non-RP, non-store places that mentioned Dragons other than as a generic place were Ryu Valley, which apparently still has its awesome Macro room, and The Scaly Spot, which from the description was a sex/dance club for scalies and scalie lovers.  The former was fairly empty(and I didn’t see a way to the Macro room, though I didn’t look too hard because of that) and the only ones I saw at the latter club were “escorts.”

That sort of leads to another pet peeve of mine, or at least it reminded me it existed: why are most gathering places some combination of sex club, dance club, or RP?  There’s not a lot of places where you can just chill and chat about random things, it just seems like.  It seems like a lot of furry places especially end up as combination sex/dance clubs – at least the ones with any sort of population(barring Luskwood, which has been around forever).  Maybe I’m just getting too old for this, but where are all the sane, not-constantly-horny, intelligent folks at?

And where did all the dragons go?

Who are you?

Inquisitor: Who are you?
Delenn: I am Delenn.
Inquisitor: Unacceptable answer. I already know your name. Who are you?
Delenn: Delenn! [shocked]
Inquisitor: If you repeat an unacceptable answer, the penalty will be increased. Who are you?
Delenn: I…I am the ambassador for Minbar.
Inquisitor: Unacceptable. That is only your title. What other people call you when you choose to hide behind formalities. Who are you?
Delenn: I, uh…I’m the daughter of…[shocked]
Inquisitor: Unacceptable. What a sad thing you are. Unable to answer even such a simple question without falling back on references and genealogies and what other people call you. Have you nothing of your own? Nothing to stand on that is not provided, defined, delineated, stamped, sanctioned, numbered and approved by others? How can you be expected to fight for someone else when you haven’t the fairest idea who you are?

Babylon 5, “Comes the Inquisitor”

One of the most dangerous questions out there is the seemingly innocuous “Who are you?” Most people’s first impulse is to respond just as Delenn did above. Quick superficial answers. Names and labels provided by others, or society in general. Some reject those labels, and fight them tooth and claw, while others accept them and take them upon themselves. But when you strip all that away, what makes you, you?

Identity is a nebulous thing. Trying to lay hands on it is like chasing a well-oiled ferret with a jetpack in zero-G. Ultimately, most just don’t even bother with it, and go on with life. There is nothing wrong with this. Still, the better you know yourself, the better idea you have of if you’re following the path best for you.

Another way of looking at this is a series of masks. We present one mask, one facet of our identity to our co-workers. We present another to our friends, and possibly another to our family. Some may be in several of those categories and see more sides of us. And before you say you never do that, just think: do you discuss your sex life with your family or co-workers? Do you take the same attitude at work as when you’re at the bar with friends? So you share your baby pictures or stories of dumb things you did as a kid with your co-workers? It’s not something we do consciously, but something we have to do in society to survive.

I consider myself fairly honest, in that fashion. I seldom try to present myself as something I’m not just to fit in the group. Even still, there are things I don’t voluntarily share with my co-workers, because I know how they’d react – how they view those concepts is completely different from how I view them. I don’t actively hide these facets of myself, but I don’t trot them out either and wave them in people’s face going “Look how special I am!”

That’s actually probably something that deserves it’s own entry, actually – how dangerous labels can be, to ourselves and to others, so I’ll leave that alone for now and get back to the subject of identity.

Now I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the program called Second Life. It’s got a reputation for raciness, but then what on the internet doesn’t? What it really is is an online environment where you can be whatever you want to be, and build whatever you want to build, within the limitations of your skills, imagination, and resources. I mention the last part because SL allows people to sell their creations in-world for a SL money called Lindens, so you aren’t necessarily limited to what you can make yourself, which is a very good thing.

For some, it’s simply a chat program, albeit a very graphically pretty one. For others, it lets them explore their creativity, for good or for ill. And for yet others, it allows them to explore their own identity – in a world where you can be anything, what would you be?

It’s actually kind of interesting to see the sort of breakdown out there, between the various types. A heck of a lot of people out there basically take their physical selves as a template, whether they realize it or not, and then change all the things they wish they could change(or think they wish they could change) based on society’s images of the ideal (wo)man. In other words, lots of buff guys who could crack peanuts with their pecs, and women that a thin breeze might snap in half, with breasts as large as their head. Now a lot of these are probably in the first group I mentioned, who just are using it as a glorified chat program(and possibly trolling for virtual sex), but I have to admit that however shallow of me it is for it, whenever I see one of those I find myself just shaking my head internally – is that really how they would wish to be? In a world of Adonis and Aphrodites, where everyone is almost exactly the same, what then? (Not to mention the overtones that some of these lay on top of those physical images…)

There is a second side to that however – genderswapping. While there are many I’m sure that have made an avatar of their dream girl and then go and look to get laid virtually, for those who might be more comfortable as the opposite gender, it allows them to present as that gender and not have to deal with all the crap they would in the real world. It’s 100% up to the individual whether or not they want to reveal what sits behind the keyboard.

Of course, the same freedom to express yourself led to a large furry population as well. To borrow a quote, on the internet no one can tell you’re (not) a dog. Given the misunderstandings among the general population about what furry is(in no small thanks to certain media outlets) if you see one you know at least that that is an identity they’ve claimed for themselves. For some, it is another mask to put on, while for others, they may feel it is the mask they take off. It may be symbolic, or they may just find that species of animal really intriguing.

Again, when you have the freedom to be anything, what you choose can be telling.

Identity is also rarely static. We experience things; we learn; we grow. Who you are at 20 may not bear much resemblance to who you are at 60. You’ve had 40 years to learn more about yourself. 40 years in which you’ve changed the world, even if just the tiniest bit, and for it to have affected you.

There’s a lot more I could write, but I think I’ll leave it for there for now, as it is getting late. Babylon 5 however did love to ask the hard questions. And so, whomever may be reading this, I ask you:

Who are you?

You can’t go home again

This is something that’s struck home(NOSSAN!) for me recently.  I’ll start off by referring to this xkcd strip: http://xkcd.com/1305/

It’s kind of humbling to think of all the little crevices and hideaways that used to be hustling and bustling with life but have since faded away, back to the ether they were spawned from.  There’s several that I can think back to myself, such as the old alt.toys.transformers Usenet group(which is sort-of survived via Allspark), and multiple IRC channels which are likely long gone by now.  I’ve experianced things people will never see again. I’ve seen blinking marquee tags off the shoulder of Angelfire.  I’ve seen the scrolling of many conversations in the park on SocioPoliticalRamifications.  All those moments, will be lost in time.

But Blade Runner paraphrases aside, what hit home the worst for me was three(or four, really) words.  The Isle of Wyrms.

When I first joined Second Life back in 2005, I saw it as merely a graphical extension of the MUCKs I frequented at the time.  It had just recently gone free, although you still had to have a credit card for identification.  As the MUCKs I had frequented abck then were all furry-oriented, I initially did the same and made my initial home of sorts at Lost Furest and the SL version of Lost Lake(from DMFA).  Eventually as I got more comfortable in SL I branched out, both in exploration and identity.  For a short time(relatively) I played around with a chakat character, before I got my first dragon at the Isle of Wyrms.

This was back near the tail end of 2006 when I first actually set foot there.  I’d been aware of it earlier thanks to two of the Lost Lake folks having gotten adults at one of the hatchings, but the chakat skin no longer fit. (Figuratively, not literally).  I’d just missed the winter hatching, but I had plenty of Lindens so I snagged an Astral Wyrmling.

A little background here: At the time, IoW only sold the Wyrmling(think teenager) and hatchling size dragons 24/7.  The adults were only available to teh general public in limited numbers. and only at solstice or equinox.  Daryth Kennedy, the artist behind them, felt it added a bit more meaning and specialness to them.  You could buy more at any time after your first, but that first one was meant to mean something.  At the time.

I toyed around with D&D color schemes initially, and was considering going brass before I ended up with a dark blue that felt right.  At the time they only had 2 sims; Limbo, which had the sandbox, drum circle, and cathedral that held the vendors, and Lethe, which was the residential sim.  I felt that maybe I’d hang out for a while and actually meet some of the others there, and found they were a great and fun bunch of dragons and other beings!

Not too much later, Daryth released the Wyverns, and held a special hatching to celebrate the new avatars(and beta-test the new hatching system).  While it didn’t go 100% smoothly, I was one of the first Arctic Wyverns(fittingly enough) and there definitely was a sense of meaning to it all.  There was a sense of magic in watching all the new dragons spread their wings for the first time, figuring out all the new things together there in the Limbo Sandbox.  I may not have any screenshots, but I definitely have the memories of it all.

Time moved on and the Isle grew.  More sims were added and more people came to join the community around these large(and small!) scaly critters.  Heck, I spent many hours on the Isle myself tweaking my avatar towards what felt like me.  At one point, there was I believe 12 sims, and we were connected with the elf sims in a sort of “fantasy continent”.

Then the economy took a dump and the Isle started to shrink again.  New advances in features we could use for avatars came and the original dragon designs became Legacy, until finally the hatching was ended as there were starting to be eggs left available until the next hatching.

Somewhere around then I got more heavily into WoW raiding, and between that and work I didn’t really spend the time to hang out around the Isle regularly anymore.  I dropped out of SL for a couple years around ’08, and then found time again around early 2010 for a while, then left again to come back in late 2011.

When I took a look around each time, I found a lot of the places I used to frequent had vanished.  Lost Furest had closed for renovations and never fully re-opened.  Furnation had changed greatly in design. Fox Valley had turned into a bunch of residential sims. Various other sims had moved or no longer existed. The Isle had lost territory itself, but the Cathedral was still there, and mostly the same.  Limbo was still around with its sandbox in all its glorious lag, mostly unchanged from 2008 or even earlier.  Hatchie Haven and some of the satellite sims were still kicking around just fine.

When I logged back in not long ago after basically 2 full years away I first ended up on some random sim elsewhere.  I felt a moment of.. panic? at first, but a quick search showed me Limbo was still there, so I teleported back. And found myself surprised and disoriented

While I had seen it happen to any other places, I guess I had subconciously assumed it would never happen to IoW.  6 years in SL is like decades in the real world, and Limbo had always felt to me like the core of the Isle, maybe in part because I had arrived before the Cathedral sim was added, when Limbo basically was the IoW.

At some point in those two years, Limbo had been steamrolled over and turned into a residential sim, replacing Lyre, which was no more.  It took me a bit to figure out that much, as the notice about it was long gone from the Groups Notice list, since it only keeps the last two weeks of notices.  The mall and sandbox, the latter of which used to be the place dragons came to hang out, had both been squeezed in alongside the Cathedral, and to my full-size dragon self it felt cramped compared to what we used to have.  Even more sims are gone now, and a quick look at the green dots on the map showed barely anyone around.  (To be fair, the last time I was there that was kind of the case, but there was usually a couple people at the sandbox at any given time.  Not now.)

I managed to spot a friendly face, but he was AFK apparently when I landed to try and find out what had happened while I had been gone.  I’ve hopped on a couple times since, but each time there was basically no one at the Sandbox or the Cathedral, and I have no idea what spaces on the neighboring sims are public anymore, or where the dragons kick back now on the Isle. A couple times there was a bit of play in the Citizens chat, but even that seemed quiet the times I was on.

To put it in an analogy, it’s like a kid who grows up around this awesome forest, leaves for college, and comes back to find it had all been torn down for a housing development.(Which also has happened to me, after a fashion.)  The IoW had felt stable for a long time, like anyplace built by dragons should.  Relatively I supposed it was as well, with how fast things change in SL.  It may have been bad timing on my part, compared to when people are normally around, but it feels like I’m a stranger in my own hometown, so to speak.

On old-time maps, “Here there be dragons” was a way of marking places that were unexplored, unknown.  For me, it meant “Home is here.”  With all the changes now, I don’t know anymore where to find my scaled brethren, or even how many of them are still around.  There are still drum circles it looked like, so I might poke my snout in around then.  See what other greyscales might still be around.

A home isn’t just a place where you keep all your stuff, or in the case of SL, the place you get teleported to when you get ejected off a sim.  A home is where you can find all the people you care about, and vice versa.  People change, places change, and you can’t count on it being there forever, waiting for you.  Especially in a world as ephemeral as that online.

But that doesn’t stop  that feeling of melancholy when you find out your old home is no more.