Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nautilus

Nautilus is a region very recently added to the world of Second Life®, rezzed slightly to the north of the Japanese Continent, covering a total of 22 sims, a sizable portion of which are submerged under the ocean. I found out about Nautilus pretty much during the first hours that it was rezzed since the event happened almost literally on our doorstep at Klein, the whacko sim that is one of my two Second Life homes, housing my beloved alpha.land.

These sims are far from being mere empty pieces of land; indeed they are built quite extensively based upon a theme, which seems to me to evolve around the Minoan or early Greek civilizations. This work has been undertaken by the Linden Department of Public Works and the Mole Family. There are many things that I liked about Nautilus and a few things that left me dubious. So, I will reverse the usual practice of leaving critique to the end and air out my misgivings first and then proceed onto all the good things that I saw.

My first problem is the conspicuous absence of any kind of terraforming above sea level. Indeed, for the largest part the land is as flat as can be, whereas in the parts that have been raised the elevations are abrupt and geometric, causing sudden harsh breaks and shadows. This would maybe have worked had the theme of the building activity been of a kind that would have complemented a geometrically structured terrain. As it is, the rezed material looks lost and out of place placed upon the huge flat expanses of virtual grass since the building work undertaken sustains a detailed realism which does not get followed through on the ground that it has been erected.



My second issue is with the city planning, which has been implemented on a grid system. Again, in my view, very problematic; taking away a great deal from the thematic credibility of the region given that the urban evolution of the period in question was emergent rather than planned, houses growing in an organic manner, following the curvatures of land, water, access routes and safety zones. Indeed gridded city planning is something which to the best of my knowledge came into existence only after the Enlightenment on any kind of a big scale. So, even if temples or public areas would be built upon geometric principles, the town itself would huddle around these pivots in a more or less higgledy piggledy fashion, creating the peculiar charm which we see in the centers of most old world cities even today. An excellent example of a historic town implemented in Second Life was the, sadly no longer existent, Romenna by Nick Lassard and I really would have loved to see something more along those lines materialize at Nautilus as well.

And now onto the good stuff, and here I think I will do less talking and let the many images that we took in Nautilus speak for themselves.



The building work executed by the Mole Family is impeccable in detail as well as in overall structure. The many temples and public areas are beautifully proportioned, conveying a satisfying sense of space as well as vista. The perspectives generated by the columned walkways and pergolas that traverse the countryside of Nautilus are a joy to walk in and to gaze upon. Particularly charming is the huge public bath...





... as are the civic areas around some of the smaller harbors.







And of course special mention needs to be made of the big temple, situated in the Central Citadel. The interior of this building is nothing short of a virtual feast of spatial light and harmony, complemented by a huge version of one of the glowing pink quartz crystal central altars, which are a recurring theme across the entire region.





The texturing of the public spaces of Nautilus is amongst some of the best that I have seen in Second Life, again hugely to the credit of the Mole Family. Sadly the dwellings that make up the bulk of the prim work leave something to be desired in terms of texture, particularly when placed in proximity to the gorgeous public builds.

The underwater domain of Nautilus was of particular interest to me since as a builder I have used it quite extensively myself, immersing considerable portions of Syncretia under the ocean. Indeed I have plans to submerge the entire island in its next incarnation, which I will be undertaking before long. Here at Nautilus a certain effort has indeed been made. However, all in all, the underwater is not nearly as well built and textured as what is to be seen above sea level. It would have been great to see portions of the city above sunk under the sea, maybe in the shape of ruins, in addition to the odd ship and plane wrecks and wall remnants encountered here and there.








Underwater photographs courtesy of Hardwarehacker Hoch

One of the biggest aesthetic problems in Second Life for me is the foliage. Not to put too fine a point on it, I do not like Second Life plants. Amongst other issues this also lies in the way in which the plants of Second Life sink into the virtual soil. Thus, unless some effort is made to integrate these two design elements (i.e., the plant and the soil), for me no plant ever manages to take root in Second Life convincingly. There are cases where the extraordinary skill of the landscaper will overcome the inherent shortcomings and perform miracles in this regard, as would be the case in Chakryn Forest where Andrek Lowell has performed just such a miracle. Under the ocean in Nautilus, where rezzing has ended up relying largely on underwater flora this shortcoming to me became glaringly obvious. The good thing about the ocean depths is that some excellent terraforming, indeed almost good enough to make up for the shortcomings of the foliage has been undertaken.

We are told by Linden Labs that "there look to be several hundred parcels available, all of them 1024 square meters in size". Thus Nautilus will be an area available for Residency and "auctions for the new area will go live on the 24th October with all auctions starting at L$2000".

You can teleport to the Nautilus Central Citadel directly from here and once there continue to investigate this huge region spreading before your eyes in all compass directions. You can also see many large sized images of Nautilus here and here.

1 comments:

Dirk Talamasca said...

The only thing that makes Nautilus Not Possible In Real Life is that in real life no one sets out to deliberately build a slum.