Thursday, February 27, 2014

Linden Homes: Thoughts, Opinions, and Interior Design

The Outside - Long View

The recent hiring of Ebbe Altberg as Linden's Lab's new CEO (and how he interacted with the enthusiastic and sometimes deafening crowd of Second Life evangelists and pundits) got me thinking about how I interact with Second Life, and in particular my rarely used but, I think, tastefully appointed Linden Home. There is a lot of critique for Linden Homes, and a lot of it I understand. They are usually empty. I'm on the edge of another Homes sim and I see maybe three houses occupied when I go to mine - one clearly a clearinghouse for alts, and several private homes for the sex trade. There are strict regulations on how you can use them; you can't use them as a store (using SL's classifieds) or build anything in the air over them. There are limitations and advantages to the house - it doesn't count against your building prims, which is good because prims are at a premium, but you don't own the house and can't directly edit it. There are other ways of editing it through a set of presets, but you can't add to them or individualize it in any manner. Or, at least - it's harder.

As you can see, in addition to the included mushroom in my house (purple and white in the back), I added a bunch of shinier, sparklier mushrooms from Cerridwen's Cauldron Creations around the side, right along where my property ends. I also built the rainbow "wall" along the front of my porch; the base style is that is open, so it was easy to fit in a giant prim and texture it with Fortunas Creations' gorgeous rainbow textures. You can't see it in the picture, but it moves. On top of the house I added a gorgeous, giant flower from Arctic Greenhouse that manages to be a single prim even though it's enormous. I took some effort to personalize the outside of my house, and I sometimes wonder what my neighbors thing if/when they log in and look. Do they like it? Hate it? Not even notice it? I'm endlessly curious about my neighbors, but I had no way of knowing who, if anyone, would be comfortable being contacted. There is no neighborhood board, or any sort of easy time-asymmetrical, opt-in communication options on Second Life, sadly enough.

The Outside - Porch

I recently transformed my front porch in response to the new mesh flowers which are one prim or less and yet insanely detailed. These are all from XED Designs, and my only regret is that there are no roses for me. Instead there is every flavor and color of shiny flowers, most of them half to one prim and a couple of the larger two prims. I bought a few of them with the bases, and since everything was modify-ok (THANK YOU) I was able to mix and match like a master, making a rainbow panoply of color curling around my relaxation area. The two oldest things I own are in the center of this circle - my gorgeous and amazing bench from Off Brand Designs. It's color changing by touch and menu command, seats two, and the accessories move around when the poses change. I simply adore it. The other is my fountain from Yoneya, with it's signature flow of water then bonk as the bamboo tube overflows. I had wanted one of these for years offline, and so when I found them online it was totally worth it - and worth the prims to keep it rezzed. Finally, my shiny, color changing thistle is from Cerridwen's Cauldron Creations, and was the closest to a rainbow rose I could find on the grid. I love my little virtual garden.

Living Room

My "living room" is probably the least used room in my house, so it's pretty bare. The picture boxes I built myself, as part storage and part display of images I and my friends have taken across the grid, highlighted again by Fortunas Creations' fantastic textures. The "rug" on the floor in front of the fireplace (included in the Linden House) holds longer pictures taken, but the majority of my images are square or close enough. Long ago I put in a texture change script for each so that they gradually cycle through the whole collection; it's an easy way to revisit my past. The stump, complete with a grass texture that I thought faded well against the stone floor of my house, is also from Off Brand Designs, and is a single seater with a book which can show up in your hands in the right poses. Even inside the house, the sound from my fountain permeates, which I really appreciate. The harp is a very recent addition I simply couldn't resist from Dysfunctional Dolly Designs, and is - can you believe this? - a single prim. It was a total impulse purchase when I found it while looking for roses - it has roses on it yay - and it plays harp music as well as having a lovely animation of me playing. If anything will lure me to spend more time by the fire, it's my lovely rose harp.


My bedroom was recently completely transformed by a few new, mesh furniture and accessories releases. I'm a book fiend, so when Sway's released these wall hanging shelves for Fifty Linden Friday, I couldn't resist. I particularly like all of the small details on the shelves - in addition to books there are picture frames, plants, even some candles. The change in bookshelves inspired me to trade in my old bed for a four poster, even if the four poster didn't have rainbow sheets. The four poster in question, along with a twisty bent bookshelf I quite liked, are from Trompe L'oeil, and are lovely in their simplicity. I actually started with her bed-in-a-box for a roleplaying home I put together, but for my home I wanted something a little more open and yet still with the heavy feel of substantial furniture. Since everything is modify ok, there is a decent chance I'll play around with adding my own textures in the future, and thus getting the rainbow furniture I love, but for now I'm content with enjoying the lovely included textures. The doors I added are in much the same vein as the window on the front porch - Fortunas Creations' texture on a single prim, moving slowly through the entire spectrum. One downside to the Linden Homes is their dearth in doors, even when there are discrete rooms.

Bedroom - Doorway Wall

The final room had been my dressing room for ages until I relocated to my platform on a friends' land, at which point I moved one of my favorite things into that now empty room - this contemplation orb from WaterMoon Breeze. Another very old purchase, it offers a variety of different, moving, contemplation options, but my favorite is this one, which gently spirals through perfect rainbows before overlaying other patterns. The big theme of my home is calm and relaxation, and this adds to that by giving me something beautiful, ever-changing, and hypnotic to enjoy when the world becomes too much.

Meditation Room

My Linden Home started as a refuge - as some place in Second Life where I could go where it was owned by me, and thus nota party to the whims and tempers of the people paying for it. I can't afford a whole sim or even a partial one - the monthly payments would beggar me - but I can have this tiny spot of land with its tiny allotment of prims with which to build a retreat. Much as I adore my friends who let me use their land, there is a part of me that always feels a little like an interloper. I know they don't think of me that way - at least I hope they don't - but there's something about having a space of one's own which is powerful. Linden Homes, within narrow strictures, allows for that sort of thing for not-too-much a month - the price of a premium membership, which is renewed yearly.

I've always been reluctant to get more land, having read about endless billing snafus and nonsense which threatens accounts, and if I were to end up making a store it would be on an alt and likely through a Land Baron (the recent surcharges on cashing out, even if one is doing so to pay immediately back into Second Life, is troubling). I might be more inclined to deal with Linden Labs directly if their draconian reaction to various billing errors was cleared up, and if they came up with a way to pay for Linden Land using Lindens instead of having to cash out and use cash, but I'm unsure if Ebbe Altberg and the board running Linden Labs is even aware of these issues, much less whether they intend on changing things for the better. I'm not a major figure in Second Life, and in many ways I wouldn't want to be, but it's interesting to think of what one might say to someone with the power to act, for better or worse, to change Second Lifeand how we relate to land.

( All pictures here. )

Credits Outside: 

House: Linden House
Flowers & Flower Boxes: XED Designs
Bench: Off Brand Furniture
Shishiodoshi: Yoneya
Weird Flower: Cerridwen's Cauldron Creations
Mushrooms: Cerridwen's Cauldron Creations
Giant Flower: Arctic Greenhouse

Credits Inside: 

Stump: Off Brand Furniture
Harp: Dysfunctional Dolly Designs
Photoboxes: Deoridhe's Make
Rainbow Doorways: Deoridhe's Design
Heart and Star Bookselves: Sway's
Bent Bookshelf: Trompe L'oeil
Bed: Trompe L'oeil
Meditation Orb: WaterMoon Breeze

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