Monday, August 11, 2008

Chakryn Forest - Virtual nature by Andrek Lowell, or the real reason I still have a Second Life

Chakryn Wolves, as photographed by Lano Ling at Chakryn Forest. Lano is posing here with Beolas Whitfield who calls his friend a "photopainter"

Life's not just for Paradise,
or places out of time,
for there's something even stranger yet,
that wont fit in a rhyme.
Just when I thought I'd seen it all,
and whilst sitting on a hill,
I saw, quite all around me,
the final Cosmic thrill

Paradise on Earth (The Consummatum Incarnate), by Dick Richardson

Music: Narayanam, performed by Suchita Parte
Video: Bettina Tizzy

"Get a first life," the cynics say. We know, of course, that The Cynics haven't tried Second Life®, or maybe they just dipped their Ruthy toes in our virtual world for a fleeting moment and bolted at the first lag.

I was almost A Cynic. Even with the initial unpleasantness behind me, the spectre of living two lives inside the same 24 hours terrorized me, and that is precisely what was on my mind as I stood in an elven sandbox, toying with a few helpless prims like brussel sprouts on my childhood dinner plate. It hadn't taken me long to understand that, in Second Life, the builder is King, and looking at my feeble work made me feel doomed and without purpose. I am not a builder, you see. Today, I can cobble a few things together, and I know the steps, but the magic is not in my fingers or my brain, hence the reverence I feel for those who have it.

The comely Elvenmoor sandbox of those days was already a favorite place of mine, and noobs like me were still allowed to mingle and rez alongside the prim sorcerers. I recall that a friend urged me to come and see something on the far end, and that is when I saw it...

The very first Chakryn Forest, as discovered in a sandbox on February 22, 2007

It was the lushest, greenest virtual forest that I had ever laid eyes on and it simply beckoned further exploration. Such a pretty thing! We soon discovered that once in the forest, we were transported to a secret place with no end. I later understood that its creator, a hobbit who would become one of my dearest friends, Andrek Lowell, had made the outside walls transparent. You could see into the forest but not out of it.

Finding a place to permanently rez that forest and build a community around it became the instant purpose of my Second Life. There are so many stories...

Today, four locations and five iterations later (including the introduction of sculpties and Andrek's ingenious idea of adding sun rays), Chakryn Forest is still my home and now sits on its own void sim thanks to the hospitality of my good friend and OpenSim guru, thomtrance Otoole.

The second Chakryn Forest no longer exists. Here is the third, now known as Silvanus and belonging to Kirk Nabob, as photographed by Wellington Bahram

The third Chakryn Forest (now known as Silvanus Forest), as photographed by Moon Over Belgium

Here is a lovely video of Silvanus (then Chakryn) by Chriz Palen, also featuring one of those glimmering, sunny "swirly" prim abuse sculptures by Gore Suntzu that I had rezzed there.

He made it with 1,400 prims
I think it especially notable that Andrek created the new sim-wide Chakryn Forest, open to the public since July 15th, with just 1,400 prims, complete with caves, an underwater forest feature, tunnels and many hidden secrets that no one - to my knowledge - has discovered yet.

This dreamy photo of Chakryn Forest today, by Maxiums1id

I asked Andrek how many more prims he would have needed to create Chakryn, were it not for huge prims. Between the trees, foliage, "mountain bits," waterfall, sun rays and grass, he felt he'd need ...

Andrek Lowell: Each tree would of probably cost 10 prims, and in the end, not even come close to matching the detail. The foliage... well over 1,000. The waterfall... around the 100 - 300 range, and of course, not nearly the detail. Grass... another 90 prims, light rays... another 20, and it would also be a pain. And then there are the 256m mega prims that make up the mountain top, river cliff, and waterfall wall...

I've looked at forests in other virtual worlds such as The Endless Forest, where all is flat and no nightime falls and water is still and lifeless...

It is true that I understand my own Second Life to be a mind-altering privilege, so rich with startling and radical opportunities around nearly every corner that I am in a perpetual state of excitement. But in the end, it is Chakryn Forest that I must come home to. It is my lifeline and my greatest source of serenity.

Teleport to Chakryn Forest from here.
Teleport to Silvanus Forest from here.

See also:

The Chakryn Forest and Silvanus Forest Flickr group

Other forests by Andrek Lowell, as photographed by Moon Over Belgium:
* Ile des Amis
* Greenbrier Wood

Other videos that feature Silvanus Forest:
* Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey - A ten-part HBO film
* "Chameleon" by Brigitte Kungler
* "Chakryn Forest," by Morris Vig
* Fenix et Gala by Eiko Ivory


Winter Jefferson said...

It's also thanks to the trustworthy guardianship of my dear friend Kirk Nabob that it's still a magical place. I was married there, and it will always be special to me.

on the clapham omnibus said...

is the secret room with the pose chairs and the candles one of the things you are talking about? i found it when trying to climb the mountain ;)

Lukemary Slade / Luca Spoldi said...

Interesting piece and great explanation of your love for SL too... I referred to this article on my piece about you, Bettina, on (and used even a couple of images of your, together with some mines).Hope your feeling could be the same as mine (I love to read and look at your works, I must admit). Have fun!

Bettina Tizzy said...

@Winter - Indeed! Kirk Nabob came to the rescue of the forest that is today known as Silvanus, and has preserved it with great care. Kirk is also one the nicest people I've met in Second Life. If you click on the link next to his name, you will get the story. In fact, there have been so many people involved with Chakryn that I could write thirty more blogposts and still not cover it all.
@on the clapham omnibus - The secret room you speak of is a great space inside the mountain that was created by Eshi Otawara and no, that is not one of the secrets I am referring to ;-)
@lukemary slade - Thank you so much! My understanding of Italian is poor, but I appreciate all the nice things (I think :P) you said. Great pub for the Italian community, by the way!

Galena said...

I've spent a lot of time in Chakryn the past few weeks! It's so richly detailed with texture and sound, and there's always some new discovery tucked away in the nooks and crannies. Truly an Explorer's paradise.

I have to ask - I've solved both the quests. Is there more to find?

virtualversion said...

I had forgotten about the forest, and can't wait to go see this version! :)

On a technical note, would it be possible to limit the visible length of your posts (hide some content behind a cut, for example) or maybe change the number of posts displayed on the index page at one time? My browser crashed while loading all the content, and I think this may be the issue. I've been doing RSS-only viewing because of it. (sorry to derail, Bettina)

-Thema Felix

Bettina Tizzy said...

Galena, hello there. The quests are all Andrek's doing. Congrats on completing the first two :). I know that he plans to do more.

Thema, what a colossal bummer. You aren't the first to say this to me either. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't support multiple page posts, and I am given to loooong ones. I will reduce the number of posts per page and hope that everyone will have a better time of it. Please let me know if the problem persists. I *really* appreciate this feedback.