Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Oldbie Project – Aley aka Arcadia Asylum

By DrFran Babcock

There are some residents in Second Life™ that fill me with awe and admiration. Arcadia Asylum is one of those people, and her legacy is sprinkled across the grid in the plethora of builds that bear her name. Almost everything that she has created is available free and full perm. Everyone is encouraged to rip apart her masterpieces, change, improve, use parts, and admire. Arcadia left Second Life™ some time ago, but has always been around with some name or other. She is currently using the name Aley.
SLNewser’s very own Gemma Cleanslate wrote twice  about the Aley’s LEA build in April of 2012 (  ) and the Arcadia Asylum library in August of 2012 (  ). She is compelling and cannot seem to stop building. Her current build is the underground amusement park: Seaview, that I have visited already several times. There is a lot to do there, and I had to come back a few times to take it all in. I brought friends each time, and they delighted in the offbeat humor of the constructions. At the urging of my co-worker Gemma, I asked Aley if she would consent to an interview, and she was more than gracious in agreeing. When I first teleported into Aley’s underwater sandbox, she was playing with a build of a shrimp boat. A few visitors came and went to pay regards during the interview. Aley was always friendly and welcoming. She admitted that she could chatter on forever, and that seemed to be what happened. The interview that follows is candid and interesting. Was she pulling my leg…I am not sure? I will report what I witnessed, as that is my responsibility as a reporter. 
Join me as we visit with a Second Life™ original:

Aley: This version (of the shrimp boat) will be able to net scoop stuff and, there’s the nets deployed. I'm going to sail around the Blake Sea and catch more mermaids.

SL Newser: It is common knowledge that you are Arcadia ?

Aley: Yups.  No need to look for the name; just follow the thousands of full perm freebies.

SL  Newser: When did Arcadia come here?

Aley: Oh, Arcadia wasn’t my first account [smile]. I first heard of SL in the late 90s when it was barely in Beta. Linden Lab was getting some web news and real life news about them trying to start a virtual world. Well, SL sounded like a huge dot com scam deluxe: “Pay exorbitant rates to rent server space and call it land.  So, I followed SL before it was open to the general public. I wasn’t about to “pay” to look at it. When SL opened free accounts, I started one. I think my first account was named Bubbles. I goofed around a while till that account was fried by glitches. You could totally loose your account due to the bugs back then
Hmmm, let’s see when I started the Arcadia account I was miffed and let some time lapse. I started hanging out at the old Calleta Hobo Info Hub, and got into open sourcing there.
Eventually, I got sick of SL bugs and semi-quit for two months. When I tried to log back in LL had deleted my whole inventory. The eventually restored it, but I was pissed off,  and stayed away as best I could. Back then Linden Lab was scrubbing account data if they were dormant for a month. Those were the wild old days in SL
The whole grid would semi regularly be crashed offline by organized griefer attacks.
Anyone could fart and crash a whole sim offline for hours. Building stuff was tricky, as a crash and rollback would even remove back up copies from your inventory. SL had deadly bugs for a decade, but is way more stable now.
At this point we were visited by Heather, a mermaid, and she hung around for a while begging Aley to write a book of her life. Aley said it would never happen. Instead, we started talking about gender in Second Life™.

 Aley: I use pretty gender neutral avatars. At my age I'm more asexual than anything

Heather: Asexual is good. Less time fending off idiots.

Aley: It unclutters alot of life.

SL Newser: Well, to change the subject…why do you offer so much for free?

Aley: I was retired all through the SL business, and wanted nothing to do with clients and stuff anymore. I have social security and a small pension, and I live like a church mouse.

SL Newser: How did you learn to build so well, Aley?

Aley: Oh, I was a CAD engineering draftsperson for probably 20years, so I could fart out 3D models. My whole family was into construction. My youngest sister is a professional welder. My dad was an engineer at a huge contracting corportation that did the NASA contracts.

SL Newser: What was your favorite build from those days?

Aley: I have no favorite builds, just favorite projects. I live for big projects. The old slum city project was great ( ). The sim owner eventualy turned the sim into a BDSM porno sim, so I deleted it all. As if SL doesnt have enough of those already. I had anger management issues back then, but I’m better medicated now. Better living through psychiatric pharmacology. Current therapist hasn’t a clue what to do with me. How to you write a treatment plan for a nutcase with no common craziness issues.
SL Newser: Awwwwww. I am not going to write about this…

Aley: Please go ahead. I was never in the closet about being a mental patient. I want it out and known that you can do pretty well with your life with mental illnesses, if you get help and work with it.
I lost track, what was I rambling about?

SL Newser: What 3D software do you use?

Aley: Now? SL is my main 3D software these days

SL Newser: So, you are not making mesh, but using sculpts ?

Aley: I have fiddled with stuff like Maya, etc., but LL punishes mesh. You get more vertices with sculpts then equivalent mesh, and no size penalties. I use a dozen in world tools. Here’s the thing: I worked for around 20 years hunched over auto CAD and, I’m NOT going back to that hell. In SL I have direct interaction. I can model and play and chatter, and best of all get direct feedback and help. This isn’t a job, it's a social hobby to me. Little, if any of my work here is truly original. I pester everyone around me for ideas and bits and pieces. As i don’t sell anything and give it all away free, few have any qualms about playing.

SL Newser: So, tell me about your current build, Seaview, the underwater amusement park. What was the inspiration ?

Aley: Thats all Ardour Allen's idea. You know about the old Privateer Space Project? (for more information about the Privateer build read my friend Lauren’s aricles : and )

SL Newser: Yes, in fact, a friend of mine asked me to ask you what happened to it ?

Aley: LL happened. That ended during M. Linden’s mis-management. The idea behind it was to fully utilize a whole sim, to build up to the sim ceiling. You see, people in general think in two dimensions—out of sight; out of mind. I wanted to experiment with making something that would force people to think up and down too. A few caught onto the idea. There was a place called Starbase Alpha, or something that was based on the concept after I worked it out. 

SL Newser: Thanks.

 Aley: The Blake Deeps is 13 sims and owned by Hollywood Rentals. They own and manage about 200 sims. Well, I started hanging out with the local pirate and sailing community about three years ago, and rented that plot where Flotsam Town (another Blake Deeps build by Aley) is located. I started guerilla decorating the seabeds in these sims, meaning the owners dident know what i was up to.
Setting up Flotsam in Blake Diego boosted its traffic a dozen fold, and the little sneak stuff i did here boosted general boating traffic.

SL Newser:  So, they kept you.

Aley: When Fanci passed away and her properties were at risk the main owner of Hollywood Rentals bought them up, and made four new open water sims named after Fanci. This time they asked me to decorate the place on purpose [laughs].
The owners wanted to expand from just pirate and age of sail theme to the mer community, so we started a crazy experiment to see if you could combine rentals underwater with events on top of the water, and keep waterway clearance for sailing
Ninety percent of these sims are homesteads with a quarter of the prim allotment. I developed ways to develop homesteads by pirating LL owned ocean sims. There’s a glitch, or was,  where some rollouts could reset auto return to zero. That made it extra fun (smile).
The average prim counts for all the underwater stuff in each sim is around 200 prims. That leaves 300prims for passing ships, boats, and planes, and the rest go to the renters. Detailing 80% to 100% of a sim wide seabed in 200 prims is a major challenge. The Blake Sea ocean homestead sims use around 1,000 to 2,000 prims for their seabeds, and you have seen how barren they all look
Well, Mark (Hollywood Rentals) wanted to bring in mermaids, and I was the only one around who was developing homestead seabeds, so I volunteered to get in on this. We dragged in the Safe Waters Foundation to help with community building
SeaView Park is the result of being totally out of ideas for what more underwater stuff to make. I tried to make an arctic underwater area but ran into all kinds of problems, so I gave up. Ardo (Ardour Allen) said: “Make an amusement park.”
I was desperate enough for anything, so I told Ardo to start building it. It ends up as a nice Victorian era amusement part. I managed to drag that project out to almost three months, and now it’s done.
I'm more interested in lower prim impact then perfection

SL Newser: No one complains about your work

Aley: Sure they do! I closed down at least five marketplace shops. Some folks can't compete with freebies, especially when there a fraction the prims. SL is a sort of social game. My game play is less prims and free

At this point we sort of drifted off into talking about other content creators and how scultpts were superior to mesh. At times it seemed as if Aley was impatient with me because I didn’t know enough about her body of work, which was true.
I haven’t put in all that she told me, but probably more than I should have. Aley is a remarkable person, at turns confident and proud, then a bit less so, as when she told me that the builder of the Nemo sims’ textures made hers look like crayon drawings.
There is too, too much information out there, for me to give you a list of resources. You can go and see recreations of actual builds at an Arcadia Asylum Museum. Aley herself has a marketplace store full of full perm freebies, and the grid abounds with lore and goodies all from this prolific woman.

Do spend some time learning what you can, and if you see me in Fanci’s Deep at the Seaview Amusement park, say hello.

DrFran Babcock

Friday, March 21, 2014

Where Are They Now? Covadonga Writer

In the days before Second Life Newser, some of the staff worked at JamesT Juno and Dana Vanmoer's Second Life Newspaper. Among the other writers there was Covadonga Writer. Covadonga, known to friends as simply "Cova," had the distinction of writing for a real life newspaper in Argentina, and besides her journalistic articles did some Second Life-inspired fiction, notably her series in which her avatar has somehow made it to real life and taken an identity of it's own.

Unlike many former writers, Covadonga has made an effort to stay in contact with her former coworkers, as well as their new teammates, hosting staff parties at her beach "Cova's Cove." Recently, I met up with her there to talk about her time in Second Life since her days at SLN. 

Covadonaga described herself as doing, "Very well, indeed. This is, truly, very much like real life. I've lost some friends that left SL, because they had a broken heart or just got bored, and I still miss them. But I have found new wonderful friends. It's very important to have good friends here to share the experience. Its sad otherwise. Plus, they tell me me and my partner are a strange kind of couple here.... we have been together for 7 years now."

 Asking about her partner Ruffian Offcourse, Cova answered, "He is great, thanks. Couples don't tend to last that long here. Time seems to run faster than in real life." "Do they ask how you stay together?" "Oh yes, we get that a lot. People ask, but there's no formula. Like in real lfie. I think it has to do with learning to balance real life and SL properly. And having been lucky enough to find someone that is a good match."

Cova went on, "I also enjoy having learned a lot about building. Well, enough for what I want. Just for us, I don't mean to start a business or anything , but I have come a long way from when I wore the boxes. Hahahah!" She momentarily paused, "I also wish I had more spare time to do more stuff here. But for now I don't." She described her real life as "Hectic. My (real) life always has been like this. But at first this was so exciting, I used sleeping time to stay awake in SL. But now I can't so much. I get tired, hahaha!  I was hoping to find time to dedicate to learning how to do machinima in here."

I brought up her Second Life fiction. Cova answered, "That was the Real Life Raider saga, hahaha! That came out quite well, if I may say so, yes? I would love to bring her back. Today she would be trying to discover what happened to the missing airplane (link)." I asked if there was any chance of that being written anytime soon. Cova answered, "Well, in the end, before managing to get back into SL, she met ME, in real life (grin). The ending was open so I could pick it up sometime. I think sometime I will."

I asked how her real-life journalism job was. She answered right now she was writing,  "for a magazine, ... but freelance. Mostly I am teaching scriptwriting and writing for TV. That's why I am interested in making videos here. ... I almost got started, I met a couple of people who did very interesting stuff." One of the two was, "Stampshady Grimm. He was the best one, Very nice serious guy." Stampshady had done a number of short stories, "they even hosted a festival I attended."

Cova and I chatted for a while about both Second Life Newser, as well as certain events. She had not read up much on the new CEO, and asked about him. She did say she would write for the Newser if events in real life permitted.

Eventually, she had to take care of some matters in real life, "Please, tell the readers I said you are my favorite managing editor ever."

Covadonga Writer invited the Newser staff to hold another party at her beach. It may not be long before we have another there.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 17, 2014

Where Are They Now? Netera Landar

By Bixyl Shuftan

Netera Landar, a published writer under her real life name, Denise Flescher, was known for hosting weekly interviews and discussions at her "Netera's Coffee Lounge," and wrote for the Newser from 2011 to early 2012. So what has been going on with her since? I contacted her, and we agreed to meet up for a chat about what she's been doing since.

Netera and I met up at her home by the shore. She told me she had just gotten the place yesterday. Beforehand, she had been living with friends for a few months. Then for a month, she'd been living at a place for about 590L a month, "Just a hundred and ten more here."

Taking to Netera, she explained that after her time with the Newser she worked at Metaverse for a while, covering the music and art scenes. She then founded "Unforgetable" Magazine, and blog. There, she specialized in covering musicians and writers. Second Life, she explained, has lots of talent, and wanted to tell about the special people there. One interview she did, she needed five sittings to make sure she had a good tape. She was also a contributing writer for the Bowler Business Review. While writing for the BBR, she ran into graphic artist Eleanor Medier while at a Chicago 1920s sim to study roleplaying. When the BBR folded, Eleanor would go on to create the Sim Street Journal. Netera also worked with Eleanor at Music Matters magazine

Netera continues to be hard at work on her writing, "I work a lot with GottaWrite," she told of her own blog GottaWriteNetwork. There, she does a number of book and author reviews. As of now, she has a list of 45 books yet to review, "Six just for Penguin. I love reading cozy mysteries, women amateur sleuths." She told of liking Southern settings the best, "crazy and wonderful attitude." The blog does bring in a little ad money for a supplemental income, "I'm doing pretty well in content, authors waiting to be interviewed." She was currently going through a few books, including "Spinning in Her Grave."

Netera finished her third novel, "Deadly Reservations," which she describes as a "paranormal mystery." In the story, a detective and a psychic investigate a businessman controlling a small town. In truth, the businessman is actually a fallen angel, and the psychic eventually comes to discover she herself is more than human. The fiction is out in hardcover, a paperback edition for $14.95, and kindle version for $9.95. She did some research before writing certain scenes, including talking with a homicide investigator and someone with the FBI. After coming to Second Life, she ended up having to redo her work. Still, she had fun writing it. She originally wrote it four years ago, "Took me that long to publish it due to the stinking economy." She did both real life and virtual readings of segments of the story, taking it to Horrorfest at Park Ridge Illinois.

Netera described herself as "doing so many different things, it's crazy" at times. In real life she had recently taken up knitting, in addition to continue to write for a community newspaper in the Chicago suburbs since 1985. She has had to adapt to the changing economy, having to sell her old house and move to a smaller one. She has a daughter, now 22.

In both her writing and in other things, Netera is staying busy.

(story edited for corrections)

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 3, 2014

Grease Coakes Latest Book: College in Cleveland

By Grey Lupindo

         Grease Coakes has done what most of us only dream about---he’s published multiple books.   That feat alone is challenging, but Grease has published in two categories, children’s fiction and adult fiction.  His books are about the Griffin family, who are griffins, and the unusual world they inhabit.

            Grease is a long-time SL resident and news reporter for SL Newser.   He’s been on a temporary leave of absence while he’s been working on his book series and other RL projects.   College in Cleveland, which is available as a Kindle book, came out in late December.   The book is described on Amazon this way:    “Glenda Baker, a 19 year old griffin woman, goes to college as a freshman in a world where there's no humans.  She's different as she's colored pink due to her having a white griffin father and a red griffin mother.  ...   She sometimes sees future events.  Follow in Glenda's paw prints and see a different world as she experiences college.“

       I met up with Grease in the SL Newser conference room a few weeks ago, and we talked about his latest book. 

Grey Lupindo:   So tell me about this book.  What has been the response?

Grease Coakes:   Well, my friend Amehana saw it as a journey for the young Glenda Baker, who turns into Glenda Griffin later.   ....  It's more like a prequel.  Ginny Griffin  [the character in his first book]  was more like a springboard for the furry alternate universe.

Grey Lupindo:   Amazon mentioned a "mature theme" or words to that effect.  What does that involve?

Grease Coakes: I think stories aimed at adults have a wider audience.   I'm walking more in that direction with Glenda as the main character now.

Grey Lupindo: Does she encounter sex or violence?

Grease Coakes:   Yes, she does.  Sexual themes and bloodshed.   I can say one character does get it for the bad things he did and is doing.   But the main villain is forced into a “do or die” situation, so he's not a villain just to be a villain.   He actually has a reason to do what he does.

 Grey Lupindo:  It must be really hard to promote an e-book. You can't have a signing, for example. Or can you?

Grease Coakes: I know Jackson Arthur from Book Island.   He knows how to promote through Twitter. And my friend Amehana Ishtari can help as well. So I'm not alone.  I can ask for help.   In the mean time I can start on the next chapter of the series. ^.^

Grey Lupindo: That's great.  I'm so impressed that you've written so much. I'm still one of those "drafts in the drawer" writers.   What's your secret for being able to juggle two lives AND write?

 Grease Coakes:  I haven't been in Second Life much lately.  But I do have a routine.  I do my best to write even on days when I work in RL.  A few hours a day gets it done over time.

Grey Lupindo:  You mentioned Book Island and Jackson Arthur. Has that been helpful to you as a writer?

Grease Coakes: Yes, being around writers has been helpful. The micro fiction meetings and his book biz were always fun to go to.  It helped to talk ideas out and hear his ideas and stories.   And I shared my ideas and plots.  Being around like minded people helped to push me to keep writing and not stop.

Grey Lupindo:  I've been involved in a couple of writers groups due to living in a couple of different places.  One was great.  One, not so much.

Grease Coakes:  Oh?  What set apart the good writing group from the not so great one?

Grey Lupindo:  Motivation is hard to keep going.  The good group focused much more on many pages per day, per month, etc.   They had mini-contests to help develop writing skills.

 Grease Coakes: That sounds like a fun group to be in.

Grey Lupindo: Yes, I miss them.    But tell me about your plans for your next book.

 Grease Coakes: Basically the next one is summer in Cleveland.  It's about the characters having fun and having a summer job.  Recurring characters come back, and it shows the underground rave scene.  In RL I went to clubs.   So I'll have fun writing about electronic dance music before it became mainstream, like it is now.

 Grey Lupindo:  Neat.  What's the conflict in that one?   Or is that still a work in progress?

Grease Coakes: There will be a conflict or two.

Grey Lupindo: Will Glenda be the main character?

 Grease Coakes:  Yes.  She and her roommate get a summer job through a new character, Glenda's mother.  But I can say Glenda sometimes has the strange curse or gift of seeing future events.  Ginny isn't born yet.

Grey Lupindo:  So you're staying in the prequel mode?

Grease Coakes: Yes, eventually the prequels will lead up to Ginny being born.  Well, it's at the start of the story so I’m not giving anything away.   Glenda gives birth to a perfect hybrid griffin which can fly and is strong.  Most of the time griffins are only one or the other.  So at age 15 she legally lets this married couple in Italy have her son for $150,000.

Grey Lupindo:  Why would she do that?

Grease Coakes:  So her college education is paid for and more.   The reverse could have happened --  she would have been stuck with a child and no money.

Grey Lupindo:  Because she's so young?

 Grease Coakes:  Yes, it's either she gives up her child for adoption or she faces poverty.   Her father is dead so only her mother supports her.

Grey Lupindo: That's a hard decision she has to make.   Speaking from a mother's point of view.

Grease Coakes: I'll take your word for it.  ^.^   But I would imagine it would be hard.

Grey Lupindo:  It's impressive that you have developed a character that you can continue to grow.

Grease Coakes: Oh, thank you.

Grey Lupindo: When do you expect this one to be out?

Grease Coakes: Maybe in a few months  if I write a few pages every day.  But "College in Cleveland" just came out so don't rush me. 

Grease Coakes: *GIGGLES* :)~~~~

Grey Lupindo:  LOL.   I can't finish anything, but I expect others to!

 Grease Coakes: Haha

 Grease Coakes: I have the stories in my mind. Someone will die in the third book.

 Grey Lupindo: Now that’s a teaser our readers will love!  Should readers know anything about griffins before they read the book?

Grease Coakes:  Hmmmm.   Something to think about that I read from Wikipedia is that the griffin's enemy is the horse.   Glenda's rival will be as smart as her and stronger.  Glenda can’t just outthink her.

Grey Lupindo:  Yes, the rivals must be strong to make the character better.

Grease Coakes:  Sure, if nothing happened to the character --  if he or she passed every challenge easily -- not many people would want to read about him or her.

       If you enjoy alternative worlds, fantasy, and furries, you’ll want to read Grease Coakes’ latest book, College in Cleveland.  Find it on Amazon under his RL name, John Krauss, at

Grey Lupindo