Once Upon a Time there was a castle. In fact, there were two castles – the Kasteel Verloren was a Second Life Destination in Otherland to top all Destinations. Natalia Zelmanov wrote about touring it in its heyday, in her Mermaid Diaries.
I was able to get land in a neighboring region and was inspired to build my own castle with terraced gardens leading down to a river and a waterfall. The land was up against a mountain side so we built the castle to nestle into the landscape by building partially into the mountain. Otherland management was very helpful and actually terraformed to dig down deeper than what is ordinarily allowed for me to incorporate a cellar.
The Otherland sims were all cohesive and landscaped one into the other so it was possible to travel from one to another by rolling land, intricate waterways or glorious, scenic air. There were regular communications from land management and seasonal events and appropriate land changes such as snow at Christmas. Management was always prompt to respond to questions and all clearly had the information and skills to work with people and virtual land.
In August of 2009, Otherland became Outerland and within days sims were moved – sometimes with others put in their places, sometimes not – Verloren was gone. There was no regard for landscaping sim edges to tie them together and water levels from region to region simply made no sense. The lovely waterfalls that had so carefully smoothed transitions started to disappear, leaving unsightly piles of rocks.
At the time, there was a great deal of concern voiced in the land group by residents, but we were assured by the new Outerland management that the sim edges would be smoothed out and cohesive again within a couple of weeks. We had to make do with the disjointed ‘chinese puzzle’ of regions around us and just make the best of what we had. There was a revolt then, with quite a few leaving Outerland. We chose to stay, feeling tied to the properties we had occupied for so long.
Months later, nothing had been done to improve the mismatched sims but there were certainly still regular withdrawals for land payment from my PayPal account. Then I got an IM saying I would have to move to another sim within the week, as not enough people were renting on the sim where I had two parcels. I was given no help or discount or even suggestion for what areas were available that might suit. This was far more than moving of sims, it was the destruction of a community and its history and showed a true lack of appreciation for maintaining a loyal, cohesive customer base.
I begrudgingly moved to Van Bleeck simply because it was familiar, and had to landscape myself in order to try fit the castle back into a similar topography. The hope was that with Nyx’s long history there and both of us on the same sim there might be some stability. See Part One for her experience.
I had already lost faith in this new land management company by then – before all the random landscaping and buried buildings (see Part Two for iSkye’s view) – but I thought at least things had settled down.
That was over a year ago. Since then we have had regular guests for fencing, hunts and university tours among other things. We’re on the Bus Stop Tour as well as (most recently) the B-Places directory. In short, we have represented this region actively and positively.
Yes, of course, we have our OpenSim regions, too – but the sense of place and community has been established for us in SL. I am now realising i should have heeded the warning signs and I welcome all suggestions for a stable, active Second Life land management company.