Monday, 16 March 2009

7Seas 1st Fishiversary!

On March 15, 7Seas Fishing celebrated its First Year Anniversary! That's one whole year of fostering fishing addicts like me! hahaha 7Seas may still be seen as the new kid on the block in the virtual fishing biz, but the success it has enjoyed in the past 12 months is paramount! Going head to head with established virtual fishing games in Second Life was one brave move the Thorne and the Shikamis of 7Seas had demonstrated.

But what exactly had made 7Seas Fishing so popular compared to others? What made it such a big hit after its launching exactly a year ago? I guess the secret to its unparalleled success lies within the charm and appeal it holds towards the masses. That's people power at work for you!

I waaaaaant cake! Official party favours were freely being served throughout the event. In fact they still continue to flow at Flotsam Beach, the official 7Seas Fishing Head Quarters.

What probably makes it so appealing is the low cost sale of its gear and equipment. A 100 piece bait bucket would only cost you L$30, while the recently introduced 600 bait bulk bucket (the golden big boy!) costs L$150 BUT with 100 extra baits added as an incentive.

The constant reinvention of 7Seas Fishing may have been the key in rallying support from fellow patrons. With updates and upgrades released on a regular basis, and the evolution of the 7Seas official gear becoming more user-friendly than ever before; it's no surprise why virtual fishing has continuously been exciting for all of us.

The professional rod (currently on version 3.2 for L$350 a pop) having been made modifiable and available with an invisible option, encouraged builders to create an endless collection of various custom fishing rods exclusive only to 7Seas. No two people can be seen fishing with the same rod anymore... heck, you don't even have to fish holding one at all.

We can now go fishing without the rods, while enjoying a mug of virtual cuppa and even go dancing in 7Seas-enabled clubs. Lizzy and I having hot chocolate with the usual Risisupo chipmunks and otters for breakfast at the Magic of Oz sim.

Pimp My Fish!

It is no doubt that the popularity of today's Custom Builds added to the success of 7Seas Fishing. Offering the official Developer's Kit as open source was probably the best move Seven Shikami (the big man himself) had done for us in the fishing community; encouraging ordinary fishers aspire to become custom builders themselves. From just a handful of builders since the OpenSeas Developer's Kit was released to the public, we now have a huge roster of talented artists offering to us some of their brilliant and innovative creations.

"Not another custom fish?... Aaaaaaaaaaarrghhhhh! I can't help it! I want them aaaaaaaaaall!"

What a splendid idea to bring out that creative cloud in all of us... /me bows to the 7Seas honchos ... now the addiction will never end. I start to feel sorry for those fellow fishers who LIKE ME resembles that nutty squirrel from the CGI hit-movie: Ice Age, feeling the need to get all those acorns (though in our case it's the custom fish). hahaha

A sim-wide congregation of some of the best Custom builders in 7Seas. No need to teleport from one simulator to another just to catch your favourite custom fish. Staying stationary in one area can get you all of them.

Sugar Rush (left) and Amara Twilight~Dolma Dollinger's fishing spot (right) are just two of the many other fishing areas in Osmium.

It's Party Time! Get Those Rods Out!

Still broken-hearted for missing out on the only opportunity to win any of these sought after 7Seas Ducks...

Cyber Duck supposedly won at Twilight Fishing's Fishiversary contest;
School of Ducks
from Aruba Beach Club;
Pirate Duck
offered only at Sugar Rush;
and the the bounty prize Ninja Duck at Ruthenium
(an island north of Osmium the official 7Seas Fishiversary venue)...

Anybody out there willing to let go of theirs? I'm going to be very generous! Promise! hahaha the sound of a very desperate man!

... I thought that being part of 7Seas last hurrah would help me forget "my loss"! hehehe have mercy people!

Many well-known custom builders were present with CPGs in tow, as Seven Shikami gave us a spin with some of his choice hits. I wasn't so sure if it was my internet connection that was messing up, but I really thought I heard Alvin the Chipmunk taking over the DJing from Seven. hahaha just kidding

It was very clear that everybody was having a super-great time as more fishers were joining us before the start of the main event. With those trademark puns from our dear friend Grey Nacht (the light of 7Seas Social chat... just mention the word.. COFFEE and he comes to life! hahaha), and those never ending gestures from our fellow fishers, how can the fun and the good times end?

With an album of Gorillaz in full view, Seven Shikami showed us his other talent as people endlessly wave their rods high in the air... in the hope to catch that elusive Ninja Duck.

Even with my rod targeting (yep told ya the new rods are high tech) the LOLCat for the bounty prize, I still wasn't able to get my pixelated hands on that duck! sighs... But nevertheless it was such a joy to see Jen Shikami and Meissa Thorne boogie-that-woogie. woot!

Somehow, I have noticed something different with Jen from the last time I saw her at Flotsam Beach. She seemed to have gained a bit in size, and only later did I found out that she is actually expecting a baby in real life! Congratulations Jen! No wonder she just sat down on that custom prize giver the whole time. Must have been leg cramps. /me winks

Well for a moment there, I thought she was just tasked by 7S to guard that box filled with Ninja Ducks, as Meissa showed us some of her groovy moves... /me whispers: and elf ears? gasp! /me sticks his tongue out

Oh by the way, where was 7Seas Sass the whole time?

Jen Shikami with her cute belly and Meissa with those pretty ears! Glad to see the 7Seas honchos join us in the celebration... and doh! that dude behind Meissa has a lot of ducks! No wonder I haven't been catching any... grrrrrr.

Arigato Gozaimasu, 7Seas-san.

... and now for our very special guest, Keiko Takamura (applause please)...

The first time I have heard her sing, I swear I thought it was Lisa Loeb! Though in fairness Keiko is a very good singer in her own right. I really enjoyed her songs, a few covers and a couple of her original compositions. It's amazing to listen and watch live performances in-world, though this was the only second time I had been to one in a year.

The 7Seas peeps know how to throw one heck of a fantastic party eh?

The very talented Keiko Takamura serenades and rocks us at the same time with her cool music. Now I think she had just made one more fan in me.

When The Dust Start To Settle...

With a lot (and I really mean a LOT!) of fishes to sort out after the Fishiversary, I'm most certain to find some new and interesting customs to add in my list of favourite creators. I was quite pleased that some customs were easy to collect: Dolma Dollinger's Fishiversary sea snakes in particular could be completed in half a day, as well as Amara Twilight's Mermaids and Sugar Rush's St. Patrick's Day LE (limited edition) customs.

Pirate Cove's relabeled customs would be a bit of a challenge to complete, since I would have to collect everything all over again hahaha. I wonder if the original ones I got from the Migizi North Treasure Hunt at PC would still be available to catch?

The customs from Alien Isles and RA Fishing had caught my attention, and both have already been added to my faves-list. I have tried to avoid Aruba and Celeste Cazenove's customs in the past, not because they aren't nice to collect (well in fact they are amazing) but because there would be a lot to catch before I could make a complete a set! hahaha With a habit of first completing 5 volumes before considering it to be a SET, it would take me ages! That's FIVE TIMES THE EFFORT compared to the average Joe out there!

But thanks to the Fishiversary, having a glimpse on how amazing Aruba and Celeste's creations are, I have got to get them all! You can say that I'm toast... waaaaaaaaaaahhhh /me cries

With the limited time I have in-world nowadays, it's a wonder how I would be able to catch up with my collection. Maybe trade-up via 7Seas SocialChat? I guess we would have to just wait and see to find that out.

The party may be over, but the sorting-out part has just begun. Sifting through the piles of catches won't be easy... but surely it will be interesting and fun.

In the mean time, I want my DUCKIES! /me cries!


Monday, 9 March 2009

Who Is Lizzy Mornington?

They say that in every success of a man is a shadow of a woman...

... Lizzy Mornington an epitome of everything that is great and good in my life, is never a shadow. She is the lighthouse that helps guide me through all of life's stormy endeavours. A reliable beacon that constantly lights up a safe passage when darkness seem to cloud up logical reasoning and good judgment. She is a ton of morning stars that shines brightly in the horizon, as if Aphrodite herself had sprinkled the heavens with golden stardust.

... yes she is that beautiful... and yes she is absolutely awesome.

Hanging out at my condo in Hale Hakuna right after the wedding. We spent hours laughing and taking the mickey out of each other. Good times that still continues to this day, never a dull moment with Liz.

It's exactly a year today when I first met her at a common-friend's nuptial ceremony. An event which brought together some of the brightest and the most sophisticated people in Second Life. Who would have thought that on that very same day I would get acquainted with someone so amazing and true, that her simple "hello" had made my world stand still? (now I know what Renée Zellweger meant by that!)

Was it fate that brought us together, or serendipity perhaps? For whatever reason, I'm just grateful that I had crossed paths with such a remarkable person.

366 days in a roller coaster.
Yep 2008 was a leap year.

You are always unsure what awaits you on a roller coaster until you go through a lift hill. Despite all the anxiety and the uncertainty that comes along with the ride... with all the twists and the dizzy turns... those hair raising loop-the-loops... you end up realising that the journey ain't too bad at all. You would simply just want to go through the same experience all over again... and again... and again, reliving every single moment once more.

House warming at Royal Tropical with Liz and best mates Lisa and Drei, the special peeps who has been part of our roller coaster ride.

That's how Liz and I are the whole time we're together, a roller coaster ride. Not in the sense of having a lot of those ups and downs that couples usually have in a relationship, but more of the adventure and fun side of things. With her around, there is no way you would ever feel down and low...

There is no love where there is no trust.

I can't remember a time when we totally disagreed with each other. I believe that trust and respect always played a huge role in keeping things pleasant for the both of us. With so much pretensions going around in Second Life, not to mention how easy it is to create alternative avatars (alts); the absolute surrender of trust to your other half is the golden ticket to a long and lasting relationship... be it virtual, in real life or both.

By the power of Greyskull! Lizzy and I do a She-Ra and He-Man skit on our second day together in SL. We had ventured across the grid both enjoying the things we love doing most and everything just got exciting from there.

Yeah, it was a truly amazing year for us. Even if I had a chance to go back in time and switch everything back to default, I would go through the same experiences all over again, relive every single moment and not change a thing... BUT ONLY with the assurance that Liz would be there by my side. I would not want things to be in any other way, everything is awesome just the way it is.

For countless times, she has done great things aplenty to which I will surely remember for the rest of my life. How much she believes in me and the way she inspires me can move mountains, and trust me when I tell you this. If it does ever sound that she has done something so good that it goes well beyond Second Life, then... you are absolutely right!

Hanging out in Barcola at one of our Pay-It-Forward moments. The peak of our SL careers as self-proclaimed in-world NGO. The good times baby, yeah the great old times!

Some may think it sounds too ludicrous to say all these things for something you only get to experience in a virtual universe. Phantasmal as it may sound, but the impact of how much effort Liz has poured into every special occasion, on every given opportunity goes right through my heart. Uncanny yet unparalleled... Surreal, but fine.

Organising my first rezday which turned out to be even more grandeur than any of my past RL birthdays is just the tip of the iceberg. How she pulled that one off is what truly makes her an amazing woman.

The little surprises she leaves for me; the love notes which I get without fail when I log-in; messages she leaves on our Nokia answering machine; the personally crafted v-cards (which inspired me to create my own version of v-cards for her); the offline messages and e-mails which bridges SL over to our RL... and so much more!

I can go on and on counting all the lovely ways she can come up with just to nourish this special relationship we have for each other. The bottom line is, she has done more than enough to tell the whole world how important this is for her... for me... and for us.

She is very brilliant in transforming her feelings into action, while I am more expressive with words. I guess that's where we compliment each other, she is after all my superwoman... my better half!

Yes, she does complete me.
A day without her is definitely a day without sunshine!

On occasions when time difference and unholy working hours robs me of the only SL spare time I have got, being alone in-world feels like a lost cause. Utterly and bitterly lost I may say, it's simply just losing the whole plot. I guess everything is comparable to a daily dose of honey and lemon tea. Once you have tried them together, having one without the other is never the same.

They say that LDRs never work, but that was before the introduction of Second Life. The oceans between us did not seem to pose a problem at all. Thank heavens for modern technology and of course constant communication.

There is absolutely no one in the universe who can make me feel as special the way Lizzy does. In spite of having 10,496.09 miles and an incredible time difference between us (+9 hrs GMT), it always seems that she's just right there sitting in front of you as we talk the night away. It only is a shame though that both our RL work have taken some much needed attention, since both of our professions are directly (or indirectly) affected by the current financial turmoil.

Nevertheless, we always find a way to work around things, isn't that right babes?

She loves me... she loves me not... she loves me!
But of course she does!

With a very special occasion just looming in the horizon, you're just left amazed on how fast time really flies. Sometimes it does feel like we have spent a whole lifetime together. Getting ever more familiar with each other, and most of the time even words aren't needed to express how we feel.

Sitting in one corner sharing sweet nothings can be enough to uplift the spirits. Just mere presence alone can spark some magic. With the assurance that in spite of being clueless on what tomorrow may bring, everything is going to be alright.

Look into my eyes and tell me what you see? One of those special moments where music simply does all the talking.

... there is no substitute...
there can be only one Lizzy Mornington.

In the whole 12 months that had passed since, I carry with me memories that will always see me smiling. The whole Second Life experience has been a truly amazing journey, thanks to you. With everything in RL so chaotic at the moment (work and family related), it is comforting to know that you are still here with me.

Your patience... your thoughtfulness... your understanding is incomparable. With our 1st year anniversary just around the corner, the thought of going beyond what others deem to be improbable is good enough reason to celebrate 366 days of pure heavenly bliss.

Lizzy, you are such a keeper, and only a fool would want to let you go. Any man, be it in RL or SL would be very lucky to have you. As much as I tell myself that Lady Luck has eluded me for such a long time, you had finally broken that jinx.

I am both hopeful and optimistic the future would indeed be brighter for us both. It's a fact of life that everything surely gets tougher when you are about to cross that line: like in a marathon; deadlines at work; final exams at uni; roasting the perfect Christmas turkey; child labour; the last glass of Long Island iced tea; the final stage of your job interview; resignation letters; moving out of home on your own; mortgage payments; contest finals; engagement proposals; well just about almost everything. But with perseverance, confidence and the motivation to carry on; all that and a heaps of T.L.C. , nothing is be impossible.

A year down... and many more years to go.

Now tell me, how hard can it be if you have a good co-pilot for a companion in every journey? Better yet if your co-pilot is your bestest-best friend!

Thanks babes! It was the greatest adventure ever! Now the next question is, are you ready for the next one? Why not start another expedition by climbing that higher mountain over there. hahaha

Back to the question, Who is Lizzy Mornington? Well she's the love of my life... and I love her to bits!


Monday, 2 March 2009

Change Is Sometimes Good...

... and it can save you some prims too! (laughter)

Revamping Unit 10 was not an easy task as the need to shed at least 300+ prims would mean a major change in the layout (yep, I went over... again, sighs hehehe). Something had to give way and sadly my Ferrari shrine would be the first to go! Liz knew how much that would break my heart, although trying to see things in a different perspective may have helped things go down smoothly.

The need for a conservatory was put into question...

Though letting go of the garden would seem like the recession had taken over our Second Life (hee hee hee). I for one (even in RL) refuse to buckle-down to the bloody crunch, so the conservatory definitely stays. I would just have to find a way on how to trim down on prim-consumption without having to compromise style and design. Though I must admit, looking for that silver lining in the horizon was not as easy as it was before.

Moving the pond to the east wing (in place of the Ferrari shrine) may have done the trick, as things started to look good from there. In fact it even made me wonder why I have not thought about doing this in the first place. The indoor fish pond looks absolutely fantastic the second time around!

The pond expanded to about 60% more to which if ever it were in real life, would be good for the fish /me smirks. It's a rule of thumb to give a gallon of water (3.8 litres) as allowance for every inch of fish, now that's a bit of fish trivia for you (hahaha, is it obvious that I am trying so hard just to convince myself here?). But yeah the new pond does look good, doesn't it?

Caroline Apollo did tell me once that the Ferrari shrine looked somewhat "odd" being situated next to a garden 30 metres above ground level (chuckles). My argument then was that it's a Ferrari, and that alone overrules logical reasoning and even religion (hahaha)! Besides, Liz loved the shrine! /me hears Caroline say "yeah right turkey butt"... hahaha

The "re-org" left us with more breathing space with the mobility to move around freely. I am claustrophobic IRL, so having done the first layout in such a crampy and small space was indeed very ironic. Defense mechanism perhaps?

Now Liz and I know how God may have felt on a Friday, for we too were both pleased by the new look.

Trimming the flowering plants and giving them some room to breathe (in other words removing redundant or similar plants hehehe) had helped in taking back the much needed prims.

Less is sometimes the best.

Gladly things didn't turn out to be as stressful as I thought it would. Stress from RL work was just too much for me already, and why the heck would I want to take that with me to Second Life? /me screams "aaaarrrghh!"

Even the bedroom was given a little make-over. Adding two 1-prim corner posts in exchange for the old photo album, throw-pillows, fur rugs and two potted plants may have given back at least 19-prims. A good move I may say, considering the textured-columns looks a lot better in taking over those bare bedroom corners (see above and the old layout here).

The dining area, which is the most restless part of the property was also not spared. But just like many re-organisations before, changing the layout always proved to make things look better. I am sure with the shower cubicle now out of the kitchen (yeah don't tell me I know, so please no laughing!) and the breakfast nook looking good in its place, everything seems to be a bit more settled down.

Hrrmmmm? Now that I think about it, maybe Liz actually meant "I told you so" when she said "I really love what you've done with the condo babes?" o.O eeeeeep!

So there you have it folks, sometimes it really is good to move away from our comfort zones. Though one thing that surely wouldn't change is Liz and I. But for everything else (no I wasn't going to say "there's Mastercard" silly!) change is sometimes good.

After all, wasn't it Sheryl Crow who sang "A change would do you good..."?

Which now reminds me, putting on a fresh new pair of Spiderman underpants would perhaps do me some good? One week straight of doing "side A" and "side B" seems to be taking its toll on the wedgie, whaddayatink? hahahaha

Yeah I know how much you love that song too, so go on... and sing with me... hahaha

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Twilight Zone: Mermaid Salvages

Nope, I'm not going to talk about those classic horror flicks from the 60s (the unforgettable Nightmare at 20,000 Feet is the reason why traveling by plane freaks me out hahaha), that's a different "twilight". I am actually referring to Amara Twilight, the creator behind 7Seas community's famous mermaids. Like Migizi North, her custom catches are as popular as the official 7Seas fishes. The mermaids are fantastically textured with most variants having their own specially-scripted effects. Obviously crafted with passion and a lot of hard work, she made sure her mermaids are easy to collect.

Amara's Salvage-craftable sets: the high-tech (TC) MerMech Cybermaid and the ghoulish (TC) MerGhost DeceasedMaid. Oh did I mention that these beauties also "talk".. yep folks, non-stop wit!

is a strong advocate for building customs with a (reasonably) high percentage catch rate. Which means completing the whole TC set would not be as hard unlike other builds. But mind you most of her mermaids are Rated-R, something most of us should be excited about! wooot!

(TC) MerMech CyberMaid
Who ever said water and electronics don't mix?

It is Amara's attempt to produce her first ever "assemblable" salvages, but with a touch of her trademark textures and effects. The MerMech is a mechanical/cyborg mermaid that records your casts, catches and misses.

The % catch-rate for each salvage varies depending on which area you are fishing. Just like some of the mainstream custom builders in the community, Amara's CPGs are found in various popular fishing venues.

Each salvage, as seen in the pictures below are so carefully crafted that the details and rendering of each part reflects the the creator's desire for perfection. The salvages themselves are considered works of art, surely your whole Twilight Creation collection would not be complete without them.

Creations speaking for themselves: the very presentable Blueprint, Salvage: Android Spare Parts, Salvage: Hydro-Electric Tail Segment, Salvage: Central Mercore, Salvage: Silicon Jellyfish Implants (my favourite hahaha)

The MerMech's blueprint alone goes way beyond traditional methods: a pageantry of lines and dimensions that shows how talented the very meek (but sometimes fiery) Amara Twilight is. It is something done with vector-layouted precision, the stuff you normally would see in actual architectural and engineering blueprints (ahem... something in which I am actually very good at hehehe). And that's just the blueprints we're talking about; think of what the other salvage parts would be like?

(TC) MerGhost DeceasedMaid
Just pushing the envelope further...

The latest salvage-based production of Twilight Creations pushed the boundaries of custom-salvage building even further. Having been given the opportunity for a first look prior to its release, I was struck in awe. Amara described her next creation like it was something that came out of a fantasy book. It would require a lot of super-hard work just to bring that one out.

Admittedly I thought it could never be done, well at least for the meantime... until she rezzed all the items in front of me making my jaw drop... literally!

Not that I would ever doubt her ability to produce amazing creations, no... it's not like that at all. It simply just sounded so incredible at first, as no one has ever attempted to produce anything in that caliber ever before... until now!

Taking us to the mystical world of Arcanum, Amara Twilight's amazing set of salvages; the Blueprint: Magical Scroll of Binding, UltraRare Salvage: Magical Brew, Uncommon Salvage: Arcane Ritual Altar, Rare Salvage: Enchanted Chains, Uncommon Salvage: Mermaid Tombstone... simply marvelous!

True to what was discussed during our first-look preview, the blueprint has special effects not featured on previous releases (both 7Seas and other customs). The Magical Scroll of Binding is truly an amazing piece: the mystical arcane symbols would go brighter and more prominent as salvages are infused into the scroll (blueprint). Blueprints have never been this complex and innovative since Migizi North's Haunted Galleon AVi.

Interactive Menus and HUDs
Customising things to the dot!

Thanks to the 7Seas bigwigs for offering us with their open-sourced paraphernalia, customs are now created with so much added features. Gone are the days of having to just stop your fish from swimming, or turning off its bubbles. We now have full control of our pets with cool commands that goes well beyond the sterotypical "sit, roll and play dead".

A picture of things to come as menus evolved further since Migizi North first introduced to us a "fire cannon" feature with his customs. Most prize catches are now menu-driven: some infused with music, while others give out the occasional banter. That makes you wonder what other cool tricks our dear beloved builders have under their sleeves, eh?

Amara Twilight's famous mermaids can be caught at SkyBeam Tradewaters, 7Seas fishing area is courtesy of Tamsin Ireton.

... stay tuned for more!