On returning to Second Life

Regarding Second Life: I went through a period of being extremely hooked on it. Mainly because I could build anything I wanted to, and studio space, expertise, money and physics be damned.

Also I could be a trilobite with a hat on. (More about that another time).

But then I moved to the country, where my satellite connection cost $50 for a princely 3gig of downloads per month, and so my prim-twisting career came to a very abrupt end. After a while in the country I returned to Melbourne, but both of the deeply “vintage” apartments I lived in required me to come up with $300 to get a phone line connected, which was tricky and thus didn’t end up happening.[1] And so, roughly four and half years later, after finishing my degree and acquiring cheap and plentiful broadband, I was finally able to return to the metaverse.

Last week I logged in, and of course about 8 billion things have changed (sculpted mesh :-o), which meant I got to feel the heady rush of being a clueless newb all over again. This is kind of how I feel in most aspects of my First Life, so I consider this a nice (if unexpected) upgrade in Second Life’s realism department.

My inventory (a mere 8,177 items) was, blissfully, not too disorganised. Good work, pre-library-school self, I applaud your adherence to some semblance of a filing system. I figured I’d start by working my way through all the landmarks I’d collected to see which (if any) of my old haunts existed.To my astonishment, a few of them did. (Hey there Davinci Garden, Particle Lab, Vernian Sea)

One of my favourite places in-world was the Melbourne Laneways project (machinima by Gary Hazlitt) run by the ABC, and of course, ABC island (I learnt to build in their sandbox, awww.) But damn:


It turns out that after 5 years of operation, ABC island was shut down in September of 2012. Which doesn’t surprise me, but is still a bit disappointing as I was fond of the place and its weird twirling triangles. Building was what engaged me most of all about Second Life, and as I did almost all of mine on ABC Island, the two are very closely intertwined with each other.

Over the years I’ve been away I have missed spending time inworld. While I did have a few contacts (one of whom made my day by messaging me after I’d been logged in 10 minutes), for the most part my Second Life was spent wandering around, making things, listening to people’s radio stations, and generally enjoying my own company. I loved how the world was simultaneously empty and highly changeable. It felt real, and remote, and unstable. I’m not sure I would have stayed around long enough to get hooked if it weren’t for the incredible Not Possible IRL blog (now inactive), which made me realise just how powerful the idea of Second Life could be.


 Places now changed or gone – screenshots from 2008. It’s clear I took these before I learnt about the windlight settings :-/

above: ChouChou | below: The Far away

the far away

the far away2

With the barriers to participation gone, I’m hoping to spend some more time back in Second Life. Knowing I won’t be able to pour hours into making textures or (re)learning Blender makes me wonder how involved I will really be this second time around. But it’s strange to realise you’ve missed a virtual place, even one as mercurial as this, and that feeling is enough to keep me curious.

So farewell ABC Island. In tribute, here are some photos of my super-newb avatar frolicking in the Laneways, no doubt decked out in the latest freebie box from Yadni’s Junkyard (which still exists, much to my surprise). Long before I’d twisted my first prim or uploaded my first sculptie, I was just hanging out here doing very little of anything.

oldshots1 oldshots2


[1]I do love reflecting on the fact that the money spent cumulatively to charge the mobile dongle I used for internet access would have not only paid this fee, but also covered an extravagant monthly internet package, had I been able to come up with the lump sum in the first place. See Vimes on boots for a more eloquent explication of this phenomenon

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