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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The Shape of Things to Come
Oceanfront Property in Arizona

This evening, while doing a little scripting work, I got quite a shock. It all started at 3:38pm game time, when I received the following instant message:
Second Life: Your object 'Big River Rocks' has been returned to your inventory lost and found folder by 'Eric Linden' from parcel 'The Garden of Mo' at Louise 255, 225.

This was followed immediately by another dozen or so random objects: rocks, trees, prims labeled "land," and so on. At first, I was gripped with a moment of panic. "Was there a problem with my billing? Are they repossessing my land? I've got to stop them before everything is demolished!" But, before I could react, the barrage of system IMs stopped, well before they reached anything irreplaceable.

(Yes, I know, Lost and Found folder. But many of my larger builds would arrive there as a disorganized clump of random parts, as good as lost if they were returned to inventory in a haphazard fashion.)

Eventually, I recognized the names of the returned objects as components of my oceanfront improvements at the east edge of the grid. But that still left the question of why they were returned in the first place. Thinking that, perhaps, I had run afoul of some new policy against extending objects off the edge of the grid, I flew to the east coast of Louise...

And got another surprise. What the hooping heck? I'm landlocked! My familiar ocean view had disappeared, to be replaced with low, rolling hills. Say what?

As I got closer, I noticed a figure hovering on the Louise border. It was Eric Linden himself. Unfortunately, as I noticed after the first tentative chat attempt, he was in Busy mode. Guess I can't blame him. Looks like he was, indeed, quite busy. The entire coastline for several sims in either direction had to be terraformed to match the new landscape.

Eric left a few moments later, and I flew up and down the coast to survey the change. To my relief, it appeared that the land was initially terraformed by the Lindens to match the adjacent geographic features. Your opinions may differ, but many of the mainland sims terraformed solely by the buyers are... Well, not terribly aesthetically pleasing, to put it kindly. (Or baboon-butt ugly, to put it not-so-kindly.) Take a look at some of the peninsulas on the northeast and southeast corners of the mainland, and you'll see what I mean. It's often very clear that the sims were designed to be chopped up and sold as fast as possible. There were some reasonably nice ones created during the bulk land auction experiments. But most, not so much.

After 20 minutes or so, I returned to Louise and contacted Live Help to see if they had any news. Helper Eric Boyer went to great lengths to contact a Linden in the know, but ultimately was stymied by my inability to enter the new sims and find out their names. (The new sims were all locked, preventing outside entry by non-Lindens such as myself.) And, since they didn't yet appear on the map, I had no way of finding their names. The best advice they could give was to wait and see what happened.

As I was thanking Boyer for his attempts, I happened to look back at my eastern coastline, and found the new sims had disappeared as mysteriously as they had come. All that was left was the knife-edge of a newly terraformed coastline and a familiar expanse of endless, inaccessible ocean.

I feel quite certain that the sims will return, and fairly quickly. And, in the interim, I'm looking for upsides to the inevitable change in the local geography. I had several months with the end-of-world real estate, and it would be silly to expect that the straight line of sims on the east coast wouldn't be expanded upon eventually.

The loss of my coastline forced me reclaim a hundred-some-odd prims from my coastal beautification project. This will let me add that much more detail to the monster garage project. My land value has been lowered somewhat, since it's suddenly no longer end-of-world waterfront. (I feel sorry for the folks to my north who are using that as a selling point for their vast tracts of otherwise unremarkable land.) But that doesn't really matter to me, since I don't intend to sell it. I've been in Louise for 18 months, and I don't see leaving any time soon. So who cares what my property values are? It's not like I'm paying taxes on it!

It'll be interesting to see how the local landscape and economy changes now that we're effectively further inland. Should increase the fly-by traffic, in any case. This is both good and bad. I enjoy having visitors from time to time, but our relative isolation has always kept Louise quiet and residential (give or take my humble shop and the occasional short-lived club). Guess I'd better brace myself for the change.

Still, all told, it makes me wish I'd spent more time with reflective water enabled. I'm going to miss my little slice of the virtual briny deep. More to come as things develop.

Addendum, 6/16/06
Well, the new land arrived last night. Vexingly, the nice, gentle downward slope has changed into a rather obtrusive hillock blocking my view even further. Which may be a blessing in disguise. As Will speculated last night, it is quite likely that a good portion of the new sims will be designated first land. So maybe I'll be saved the epilepsy inducing texture flicker of newbie builds as far as the eye (or the clip plane) can see. I know, we all have to get that out of our system before we develop the pride, experience, and competence necessary to pay attention to overlapping prims, but nobody should be forced to watch those traits develop.

Unfortunately, my haste to terraform my plot to fit the new neighbors had unanticipated consequences. Apparently, the terraforming done on the edge of my sim (and I assume the adjacent sims as well) required exceeding the 4 meter limits. When I tried to smooth out the 2m wide strip next to the border, it suddenly dropped a few meters (presumably to the maximum terraformable height for mere players on this sim). So, now I have an unrepairable meter-wide, multi-meter deep triangular ditch running the width of my east border. I guess all I can do is wait until the new sims are opened (their borders are still closed, as of yesterday evening) and see what falls out. My guess is that the median land height at the borders will eventually be changed to be more consistent with the neighboring sim. Failing that, I should at least be able to file a land repair request on the forums.

Addendum, 6/21/06
Woot! I don't know if someone saw this blog post, or if it was just noticed during the course of normal work, but the giant triangular ditch is gone! Big thanks to the Linden staffer who took time out of his or her day to correct my screw ups for me. I promise I'll leave it alone until the new sim goes live.

Addendum, 6/24/06
And the new sims are gone again. What the heck? I guess they were hung up in auction. We'll see.

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