Saturday, July 10, 2010

He had me at Chihuly...

As I continue my never-ending search for unique homes to try out, I stumbled upon an architecture firm that immediately produced a new crush. I am always amazed at the serendipitous quality of SL. I was searching for beach/barbeque duds to attend Dulcie's party this weekend, when the search engine displayed a prefab home shop that looked intriguing. I teleported, intending to just poke around for a minute, but upon arrival, one of the galleries had original photography for sale that appeared to be close up captures of RL Chihuly sculptures! Then, as I took in the beautiful textures in the builds around me, I was totally hooked!

Jameson Architects and the Stoneworks Gallery are currently displaying beautiful pieces of craftsmanship. The selection is not huge, but the styles are consistent. If you like contemporary style ala Frank Lloyd Wright inspiration, then Jameson is the place to try before purchasing you next home. The creator, Jaij Jameson, offers both condo high rises and individual homes.....mostly contemporary, geometric shapes, but highlighted with nature based textures that give a feel of living outdoors while being indoors. A few of the styles are Asian inspired, but small details, such as flowing water indoors and doors that fold all the way open to allow the outside entertaining area to flow into the main living space, make these builds unique.

While some of the smaller builds are basic and very affordable, I am completely in love with his Pavilions House design. Filled with beautiful textures, open design and several water features....I am determined to buy this house one day to keep in my inventory. Yes, at over 400 prims, it is a bit prim heavy, but totally worth it! When I toured it for the first time, I was reminded of the difference between house rental and Homestead building in SL. Homesteads are defined as larger land parcels, unique house designs and enhanced by landscaping and semi-privacy. Instead of renting a house or apartment, you are creating an estate-like experience that enhances the "home" feel of SL. Of course, a home is what you make of it, but for those of you more inclined to go for the homestead feel, I will be featuring some other unique prefab homes from time to time. I love home shopping almost as much as I love decorating them! I will include a few more photos of the Pavillions House below....but don't forget to browse the gallery for modern art accessories!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Linden Home Experiment

As you all know, I have not had a permanent home since the disappearance of my favorite Italian villa and somewhat secluded island. I have tried a few different places, but nothing has stuck with me like my former utopia. Ok, so I'm romanticizing the past to extreme proportions, but the place really felt like a virtual home, and I guess 'home' is what I keep searching for. Since I found myself, again, between dwellings, I decided to look into Linden's new house program that provides each premium member with their own 512sq abode.

The program is intriguing. Four different neighborhood types await, and each with a few different houses to choose from. Since the roleplaying/fantasy/mythology thing is not my cup of tea, I will only display the different neighborhoods that I actually considered.
There is the Asian themed neighborhoods and houses. The house details and beautiful trees make this a popular choice. If I had this little experiment to do over again, I think I would have picked one of these.
The only reason I didn't was the lack of windows. The inside seemed very boxed in with no window option. However, after choosing a house with lots of windows, I ironically spent most of my time with the curtains drawn anyway. I will go into further detail about the window issue when I show you the house I chose. The detail inside the Asian homes seemed lovely, and some had a loft which was nice. Overall, a pretty decent one room dwelling.
The woodsy/Adirondack/western/country themed neighborhoods are full of one style - the A-frame, in different colors. In contrast, the neighborhoods seemed too open and the amount of windows was staggering....kind of like living in a fishbowl. I know curtains would be an option, but still, it kind of creeped me out. Plus, the lack of house style variety made me pass over this option pretty quickly.
My final choice rested in the contemporary neighborhoods. The modern feel and angles seemed to limit the openness and the design was something I liked. However, my first huge mistake was choosing a single story dwelling in one of these neighborhoods. I didn't look hard enough to realize that these single story dwellings were quad units.....four houses attached to each other with a small shared courtyard in the middle.
The texture details were very nice, and the customizations were numerous enough to make your dwelling a bit different from the other three. Even the roof texture/color could be altered. This was the unit from the inside as received. As you can see, just one large room, although, some people have added partitioned walls to create separate living areas. The lighting fixtures and fireplace were nice touches. However, note that the prim limit is somewhere around 124....very low, and quickly used up, so you have to really get creative with the low prim furniture. To change the inside and outside features, simply click on the panel just inside the front door.

This brings up customization screens that are html based and connected to the SL account.
This was my attempt at customizing to my liking. I liked the warmth of texture and color tone, and after realizing that the windows looked out onto fairly boring space I customized the windows to include the curtains. Besides, I also noticed that my desire for curtains was suddenly greater when I realized that my neighbors were right on the other side of the wall. If one is going to have such close neighbors, I'd prefer a city highrise apartment, not a quad unit very undynamic in style.

From the title, you know this was an experiment. When I first started, Linden only allowed you the one permanent home with no choice for changing your house. I enjoyed the feature of letting me name my parcel, but I quickly found myself wanting to try out living in the other areas. After being stuck with this little dwelling for several weeks, I found that I hardly used it, and even though the option to change was newly added, I was suddenly questioning my need for a premium membership. If this was it....the stipend, the free boring little house, and preferred customer service....I knew that the money I was spending each quarter could be put to better use with a rental that I really enjoyed.I also happened to notice that my neighbors were not ones to stick around either. I'm suspecting this little Linden experiment is not going very well, or people are flocking to the Asian themed sim. Either way, after a year+ of premium membership, my little house experiment resulted in my pulling the premium plug. Perhaps I'll go back to that level again, but not unless it becomes very appealing. Right now, I like the freedom of renting in places that are creative and beautiful....and my neighbors are not right on top of me.

On a side note, getting rid of this little dwelling was not easy. I had to click on the land and choose "abandon land" to release my house. However, the house is exactly the size of the 512sq parcel. Which means any land around your house is Linden owned, and not yours to abandon. I had to move my camera under my house to find my land parcel in order to abandon it.....kinda tricky, but determination helped me out at that moment.

Many of you may love your new Linden homes, but for me, I think the simple structures crammed next to neighbors are pitiful examples of the creativity possible in SL, especially from its creators! If they continue this option, I hope they re-think the concept and create livable areas that knock my socks off, not bore me to tears.
On to the next dwelling,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Writers Wanted!

After several weeks of roaming around SL and experiencing the many wonders it had to offer, I knew that writing about these experiences would be a natural extension. Char agreed with me those many moons ago, and hence, Sim-Patico was born. However, this is not the only blog I write, nor is SL the only thing on my plate these days - I'm sure we can all relate - and something has to give. After making a few adjustments, I had considered killing Sim-Patico, but I still greatly enjoyed sharing my experiences with the grid. Experiencing creativity inspires creativity, which meant I still felt the urge to create whenever I ventured back in-world. Since I don't have the time to be as involved as I used to be, and since I know the experiences and creativity out there are too numerous to count, I decided to open Sim-Patico up to outside writers.

Ever have that desire to blog about the under appreciated places or events of SL, or to log your journeys, but just didn't have the time to keep up a full-time blog? Well, here's your chance to dabble in SL blogging. The subject ranges can be wide and as varied as the grid itself. I want to continue the fun and random nature of this blog so it remains a fun place to pop by now and again if you need some SL inspiration or a suggestion on where to go next.

If you would like to join the writing team, you will need a Google gmail account (nice to have one with your avatar name), and some writing experience. Just drop me a line about your interest, writing style and subjects you would like to cover, and I'll invite you as an official poster to the blog as well as add you to our new in-world group: Sim-Patico Writers. One thing I ask...while we are all adults and have some adult interests, please try to keep things more towards the PG-R realm. I don't mind some romantic and a bit of saucy subjects, but no hard core sexually based material please. Otherwise, anything goes, venue features, fashion tips, poetry, journal entries, serious issues, etc. Consider this free form SL blogging!

Come on! Think about how much fun we'd have with your unique contributions! You know you want to :-)
Feel free to send me questions as well....until next time,

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It Isn't Easy Being Blue!

So I finally went to see James Cameron's Avatar last weekend, and while it was beautiful and a nice story, I didn't become an avid fan like so many these days. In my opinion, it was a little too much like Dances With Wolves, except with blue Native Americans. However, I couldn't help but think about SL while the gorgeous CGI in 3D was drawing me into this new neon world. I knew SL residents would be hard at work trying to re-create the landscape and avatars, but I wasn't prepared for the work they have accomplished in such a short time!

Upon hearing the first rumors of actual blue Avatars roaming around the grid, I knew Pandora would be there as well. Due to the well known adage "when in Rome", I couldn't possibly visit a Pandora without first transforming into a Na'vi - the blue natives that inhabit Pandora (this is important to know if you want to explore these newly created worlds). Shopping was the first step, and as I searched for Avatar or Pandora or Na'vi in the classified section, I was blown away by the multiple listings. As I perused the various offerings, I was reminded of the fact that transforming one's avatar from human into a different being is not cheap and rather involved. Yes, there are a few free Na'vi shapes and skins out there, but once I got to Pandora, I was glad I spent a few extra Lindens to get a higher quality shape and skin. But don't forget the hair, and the clothes and any accessories, such as a weapon - yes, a weapon is something of a necessity as I found out. One silver lining - no shoes necessary!! My total bill for shape, skin, hair, clothes, feather earrings, bow and arrow set was around L$3000.

Once I looked presentable, I went in search of a Pandora to visit. This 'Pandora' search term in the 'places' category turned up several results. There are multiple Pandoras across the grid and most are role-playing sims. This is why looking your best and being prepared with props (such as a weapon) are important before exploring these beautiful sims. I should note that this is my very first encounter with a role-play sim in SL. I knew they existed, and I had some experience volunteering in a history conference on Renaissance Island which required a script and a speech in character, but I knew that true role-playing sims meant business. The dedication necessary to truly enjoy a role-play sim is evident upon arriving at any of the Pandora welcome centers. The notecards are chock full of background character information. In some cases, Na'Vi language specifics are also included. Each Pandora has an option to enter as a visitor complete with tag to remind the permanent residents not to shoot you and be patient with your awkward skills. In the end, becoming a permanent resident requires a mutli-level commitment: character appearance (Na'Vi or human with air mask), character substance (what role or tribe - scientist, soldier, warrior, healer), knowledge of the social dynamic, complex weaponry with life level monitors wore at all times (DCS2), and patience to learn the ropes.

Unfortunately, patience is not something I had in abundance. I looked the part and explored several Pandoras with my visitor tag held high, but in the end, I knew I didn't have the dedication necessary to enjoy these new places to the fullest. The richness of the new sims are worth the effort to get in as a visitor. Sometimes part of the fun was just figuring out which parts of the landscape were based on the movie and which were completely new creations meant to enhance the idea of Pandora. If you are a true fan, you will love the idea of becoming immersed in Pandora, and you will not be disappointed with such examples as the Spirit Tree and those nifty spiral plants that disappear into the ground the minute you get close to them. Some of the lush neon forests are amazing, and in one Pandora that was a little less forest and a little more open landscape, they surprised me with the lovely detail of each step lighting up as I walked across a limb. This proves that even the lesser traveled Pandoras are worth a visit to compare the differing attributes and disseminate which would be the best fit for you (one of the most visited Pandora regions is produced by a German group with mostly all dialogue in German as you hang around - something to consider when trying to become part of the tribe).

No matter what you do with your time in Pandora, the visit is worth it, and it may help relieve your post Avatar depression. One other thing to consider, who knows how long these sims will be up and running before Cameron really digs into the money making structure behind such largely popular sims....or until Linden gets worried about copyright. Which is a shame because the residents have put so much work and creativity into creating these marvelous destinations and props, although I don't think that will be taken into account when they shut them down someday. Due to this possibly transient nature of the places I visited, I am choosing not to include any Slurls in this post. You were given the search terms I used above to locate the Pandoras that still exist throughout the grid.

Until next time and a more normal color,

Update 2/9/10: Even though I have not been back to any of the Pandoras since the writing of this post, Pandora Magic recently ejected me from their group (I promise I wasn't in there making any trouble!). This leads me to warn you that this particular sim might have an activity minimum to stay a part of their group.....or they didn't like my blog post :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wrapping Up the Summer in SL New England

So I finally ended my house search by settling for a small cottage in New England. I chose this little place due to the theme purity of this sim complex. As a group of sims dedicated to the New England style, the fully furnished beach houses nestled on little island coves, complete with your own sail boat and pier are refreshing sights to behold. The complex is connected by wonderfully detailed New England villages that encourage wandering about and shopping in the unique little establishments. As a huge fan of theme specific residential areas, the theme intended here is hit spot on with the atmosphere created in New England, Mystic and Nantucket.
Not only are the houses reasonably priced, unique in individual style (no cookie cutter houses here) and quite realistic, but the community on these sims is extremely active in the areas of arts, entertainment, commerce and cultural events. Of all the places I have resided, this is by far the most active and close knit community I have encountered. However, the heavy event activity that takes place is also refreshing in the fact that the event locations (village squares) are very separated from the residential areas. Which means the events are close and part of your community, yet far enough away to still allow habitation in a fair amount of peace and quiet.
I could gush a little more about this series of sims, but it would be better to let you read about some of the unique features and events from the sims' own blog:


Sim-Patico - Templates Novo Blogger 2008