Sunday, 7 March 2010
The Linden House
I got (another) e-mail from the Lab the other day, reminding me that I qualified for a Linden home (I've been a premium member of SL for a while, initially when I owned a half-sim size piece of land). Curiosity got the better of me, and within a couple of clicks, I'd been sent a Landmark from Governor Linden to a place on the sim named Fern. So, I went over later that day, and to my surprise, it's actually rather well done.
When you go to register for a house, you're presented with four options of homes; these are contained together within different themed regions: Elderglen (a fantasy-fairy theme), Shareta Osumai (a Japanese-style theme), Tahoe (chalet-cabin types) and Meadowbrook (I guess it's like a California beach-house). Of those choices, I figured Elderglen would be the nicest option for me, so plumped for that. I was then presented with a choice of 4 house types: Abbot's Haven, Elven Treehome, Shire's Heath and Wizard's Retreat. Obviously, I went for the Shire's Heath style!
The houses are quite densely packed together on the sim, but far apart enough so that you can chat without encroaching on someone else's conversation. Elderglen is nice, with the homes within the region surrounded by giant mushrooms, trees, wishing wells and fairies. When I got into mine, I found that it's a single room house, with a nice little roof garden; however, at each of the region's infohubs, there are complete texture packs that you can pick up for fre, allowing you - as I did - to add dividing walls inside to give yourself some other rooms.
There is also a control panel built into the house, that rather niftily allows you to customise your house textures. Clicking on the control panel takes you to a webpage within the SL-website, specifically for your house. There, you can choose from a number of different colour and texture options, hit Apply and then a few seconds later watch your house start to transform.
It seems a nice little retreat (the sim next to Fern is uninhabited, so I took the opportunity to turf up the grounds on my Raglan Ranger motorcycle!), but ultimately, it feels that - despite all the wonderful work that's gone into the look and general ambience of the sims - the place is a little soulless; and there is nothing the Lab can do to change that. The soul of a sim comes from it's residents, of whom so far I've met one, an elven woman. It's a nice idea to give Premium members this oppiortunity (essentially reintroducing the First Land initiative from a few years back), but I can't help but think that new Premium subscribers might get the impression that SL can be a lonely and somewhat isolated experience. I'd have liked to have seen more Lab-sim owner interaction perhaps; for example, the Lab could attach a sim to the Raglan cluster (but retain ownership and maintenance of it themselves, although managed by the adjoining sim's owner), open it up to Premium members who want to live amongst a tiny community, abide by the rules of that sim and give them access then to a host of activity and people. It's a complete generalisation of an idea, I know, but it would help create a bit more of a community atmosphere. Despite my neighbour having the same taste in house as me, their 'Love 1' and 'Love 2' poseballs suggests they don't necessarily have the same kind of approach towards this virtual world.