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09/16/2008

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Desmond Shang

A wonderful vision, and nice that you gave these folks a nod. Incidentally, it's the subtle things - the gentle grand visions, where I think the new openspace regions are going to shine. Too bad they didn't have four openspaces instead of the one region. I can practically see the fields of Oz laid out before me, bees buzzing and the Emerald City off in the far distance. Think: the spirit of the Moo people here, the genius of AM Radio and some light land barony tossed in to make the financials work. Wicked! And delightfully compelling. Not in Kansas any more!

Or imagine Oz laid out across sixteen openspace regions - quite do-able really, as there are plenty of people willing to inspire and rent to bring a theme alive. That's the magic a typical standalone region lacks: horizons.

It's what's so precious about the mainland, and only something I'm able to begin to touch on now, after a solid two and a half years of private region development.

Prok, seriously, I don't know how much interest in SL biz remains within you, but it is high time for you to shift over to private estates in a big way, if you dare. The mainland is a wonderful place, but time to step up to the plate and show us *your* vision of the grid. As one of the few who has the capability and the opportunity.

Yeah, I know you may not want to, or believe in it, or whatever. But it would be an interesting place, this country of Ravenglass. And perhaps a bit like walking a mile in Linden shoes.

I double-dog dare ya. grin

Prokofy Neva

I don't have the money, Desmond. I'm not rich in real life or second life. Mainland is a fool's errand; it's a tough job to wrest anything out of it. I don't feel that it makes sense to sell out mainland to start private islands; I don't wish to sell out from under tenants in any event, and I don't really make a distinction within my own system between mainland and private island; the island is perhaps just a little bit better closed off or private, but then some of the mainland sims I have are that way too.

I've done my experiments in developing on the mainland by hiring builders and having them make things, like Ravenglass Hall or Moraine Landing or Solar Plaza or Free Tibet or Refugio Townhouses. I doubt you've ever actually flown around all my rentals. I also have places where tenants themselves make great builds.

But all of this is on a very, very small scale and in the earlier days, took advantage of builders who could be paid less, I don't have working capital to build up big continents; to do that, I'd have to have first had a big content business that enabled me to endlessly sell copies of prefabs and antiques all day while I worked my real job; then I would have had to have technical skills to design and manage a continent build that would sell like hotcakes with a steampunk theme. Like you did.

I'm not interesting really in making somebody else's Oz for them or serving as the conductor of an Oz theme orchestra. I've tended to just try to create conditions for people to make their own builds, and there have been both gems and both humble prefabs in which people just had a good time, or started a business, so I call it a success.

I used to imagine I might make a larger Ravenglass Realm with various ideas, but again...it takes capital and *time*. I am not willing to sink either into SL. I didn't even for what I have now, as I grew it up rather slowly over time, trading up in size.

If I won the lottery today, I would prefer to spend it on college, health care, retirement, not an SL empire.

I'm more interested in exploring the issues of civil society and the rule of law and how people get along, and I don't have to spend money for that.

As I said: I'm not rich. SL has not given me hardly any money; if anything, it's impoverished me by taking time. SO your notion of "opportunity" is wrong.

Private sims don't strike me as being "where it's at" these days. I see a lot of them going empty or converting to openspace sims. I don't even have $1000 right now that I'd want to spend on 4 oS sims -- I just have too many other needs in RL. A mainland rentals business cannot generate huge capital to start new expansions.

Many rental empires have collapsed because they have taken the proceeds and used it for expansion. It's not a viable plan in such an unstable situation where the product is changed, the rules are changed, etc.

Prokofy Neva

BTW, I've been walking the mile in Linden shoes more than anybody I know. I reverse-engineered the entire society through Ravenglass.

Desmond Shang

Aye, a lot of truth to all of that. Still, it would have been very interesting to see what you would have done.

It's not over, not by a longshot, and I still think the day will come when everyone and their grandma *expects* others to have a presence on the grid. Or some grid.

Perhaps we'll see then where you take it. Just five years can bring a lot of change.

ichabod Antfarm

"show us *your* vision of the grid"

The funny thing is that I have always thought Ravenglass Rentals was Prokofy's vision of the grid (as I think he has just said above.) Between the lease agreement and this blog, you would have to be blind not to see a philosophy at work (and play) - a philosophy, a political practise, an aesthetic theory. It seems to me that Prokofy's vision is one of the most clearly articulated available in Second Life. I have a permanent home on a private estate. It's lovely, it's a commune of friends. I still periodically rent from Ravenglass because I like being a part of that vision.

Prokofy Neva

Yes, Ravenglass *is* my vision of the grid, such as it is, which is what I can do with the resources and abilities I have, which do not include $25,000 in extra capital to investment in the 30 private islands you need to ensure even a very modest living.

Instead, I built up about 16-17 sims worth of land over about 3 years, mainly parcel by parcel, only purchasing an entire sim about 3 or 4 times. It grew slowly, and it would contract when times are bad (as they were this summer when I shed a half tier, or the summer of 2005 when I shed 2 sims). It's not a very rational move to spread over 65 sims as I've done; on the other hand, it has built in for me all kinds of flexibility; if a single parcel or two on one sim turns sour, it can be easily sold and substituted with two other parcels on a new sim.

But since it's all on the mainland, income and occupancy aren't as high as they are in private islands (although I think all private island empires are suffering occupancy loss now due to openspace sims).

And yes, it's true, that the "build" so to speak, isn't like a Caledon or an Ansheland with a lot of flash and verve and architecture and avatar bills of rights, even.

Instead, it's a more understated and home-made affair, and yes, it's the lease, which I am always working on to make better; the blog, in which I publicize issues and articulate my views and think about the issues with others; and its the tenants, who do what they want on their land without much interference. That can range from making a Gorean or BDSM torture chamber to a PG elf garden, as long as no security orbs are used or the build goes over two storeys or they spew particles around, etc. it isn't relevant.

That doesn't mean that it is some sort of Mr. Roger's Neighbourhood or Shangri-la. It's basically just a rentals business on the discount end of things where people don't have to spend a lot of move into professional builds, but can put up their own homemade house or a prefab. I guess the devotion to the amateur as well as encouragement of the professional is part of it too.

I also have the land preserve, which is approximately 25,000 meters held by 6 or so tier donors, and matched by another 25,000 of Ravenglass land put in the list and opened to the public.

There are lots and lots of private islands that have master planning with public commons and everything from waterfalls to water-skiing and base jumping and all the rest. I have some of that here and there but it isn't a grand experience like a Lost Garden of Apollo. The difference is that you can live in our preserve and put down prims, i.e. a cabin and campfire or a boat.

Someone who donated tier for awhile once said somewhat disparagingly that Botany's Grove, which is a sort of Celtic Glen as conceived by Penn Yan, New York on Lake Keuka (once it got out of Foolish Frost's ownership into my hands lol), reminded him of "A fishing camp in East Texas." Well, that's what it's all about. I want it to look like a fishing camp in East Texas lol. I even added the fishing game recently to help that effect. Somebody who needs tinkly ambience space music and some rocks up in the sky with particles can go to Shinda.

BTW we have a sky temple with space stuff too in Columbia, it gets some of the biggest donations and fan letters because it's just cool.

Another popular spot is the Tethys Wolf Grove, which is just a Julia Hathor grotto thing plunked down way high on an old Linden-made mountain back in the day when 40 meter terraforming wasn't feared. People love going there and now there's an even more cool build there sponsored by the Super Babenco Brothers or whatever those land barons are called, it's got a huge castle and winding rope bridge through the mountains. That's the sort of thing I'd buy if I had the money and time.

But...I learned my lesson the hard way in my SL youth. I once did buy the entire sim of Tethys just for its sheer coolness factor -- hugely high mountains, Linden water and Linden road running through it with rafts and rapids put in by Ben Linden, and some flatter waterfront. First, I turned it into a combat sim, but I was too ignorant of how to run a combat sim -- I had merely a vague notion that I was going to send all my tenants who felt like shooting or any newbs who shot me there, to sort of let them have a place to go that wasn't the Linden combat -- this was before Clubside put in his combat sim.

I had this idea that if I gave people building powers they'd make cool forts and stuff. They didn't. I've learned now about 4 times after putting out free areas or $1/prim areas where experimentalism is encouraged that I don't really get many people -- that is, I can say that I was able to sponsor people like Jessica Qin or Aliasi Stonebender back in the day because of these cheap building experimental zones, but most people do NOT want to experiment; they want some framework within which they can be safe amateurs. And that's ok.

I next rented out Tethys here and there a few months to people who wanted a honeymoon for two weeks or a prototyping sim for a month, but it wasn't steady. So I then turned Tethys into a big land preserve, and furries took it over, which was ok, but then I was there with tier to pay on the thing -- how? tips don't cut it. So then I was trying to figure out how to put condos up, and then the economy really tanked with the GOMing of GOM, the move to the $1000 whole sim auctions (the opensim equivalent land glut in its day), etc. So I had to be ruthless and sell it off.

I had bought it from someone who had basically overpriced it, and I had to sell it to Anshe for less than I paid -- and she didn't stick to her original claim that she'd sell it as a whole piece. She chopped it all up, so the morning after seeing the chop, I felt compelled to buy back two pieces (nothing more stupid than buying back your own sold land, which I've twice done in SL -- dumb!).

Soon, the Navy Alliance people bought it (the woman who later died in RL), the Tibetans, and Lordfly or something -- and that just shows you that in order to be creative people don't want to move into someone else's land preserve, and pay even a tip; they want *ownership*.

I learned so many lessons about land in SL through that bitter debacle and I continue to learn them. I cut back on my land preserve further after that as I discovered people don't really want free open land, as much as they bitch about the lack of such a thing on the forums. They want someone else to pay for them to take over land that they do what they want on.

Candy Cerveau

Glad you made it in for a visit, Prokofy! Apologies for closing the sim on you, we were just doing a stress test and hadn't planned to leave it open for long since we still have some tweaks and additions left to do - and apparently underestimated the interest... ;)

We're definitely not the usual corporate thing - just two designers who love the books and the movie and wanted to bring Oz to life when we built our main stores. Our main goal was to take the concept of Oz and add a twist so that the places were immediately recognizable, yet different from previous interpretations of the books.

I am a huge fan of the books (The sim name "Magic of Oz" comes from the name of book 13 in the series) and took many of my basic ideas from them. I tried to include as much as possible while still keeping it functional as a commercial sim. The fact that the books are in the public domain while the movie remains under copyright also made the decision not to replicate too many images from the movie an easy one ;) There will be some homages to the movie of course, since its iconic status can't be denied and more people are familiar with that version of the story.

Desmond, I would dearly have loved to make our Oz a multisim project and we may still do so if the sim is as successful as I hope it will be. But I didn't want to sink another $1000 or so into the project to have 4 OS along with this one until I knew it was justified.

I wanted to own my Oz. Truly own it, not lease from another resident so buying a full sim was the only option. I have lost rental land due to landowners going under, leaving SL, or just having an emotional meltdown and deleting their entire build in a childish fit. I decided that if I was going to commit to an entire sim, I was going to have complete control, heh!

I appreciate your positive comments about the sim and I hope you get a chance to swing back by once we are open and fully operational :)

Desmond Shang

Candy, I see a lot of success in the future of your project, and I would say: be prepared to expand your vision greatly.

It would be wise to ensure that something of that scope and vision be maintained financially by the principals - fully agree with you there. But expanding, if done right, won't cost you a red cent. Offer void regions under a carefully crafted covenant, maintain some tier reserve capital, then unleash the creativity of thousands of people to realise your dream.

Crap Mariner

I need to check out this Oz place. Thanks for pointing it out.

-ls/cm

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