AND STRAIGHT ON 'TIL MORNING
"Oh Hamlet," Baccara Rhodes begins modestly, referring to the foggy London cobblestone streets outside, and the warm glow cast by the pub fireplace nearby, and the Northen star above us, and the pirate ships, and the roller coaster, and the Indian village, and everything else that she and her team have spent weeks building, in a project that spreads out in all directions over three simulators and 48 acres of virtual land, "You know me. I talk to Fey..."
"What did I do?" Fey asks, standing wide-eyed next to her. Then again, Fey Brightwillow is always wide-eyed-- especially when she's dressed in a Victorian Age ladies' bodice of her own creation, as she is now.
"And," Baccara continues, "the three words she doesn't wanna hear are 'I've been thinking'."
Ms. Rhodes and Ms. Brightwillow are the founders of Spellbound, a group devoted to creating and hosting premiere social events (fashion shows, weddings, and the like) that tend to top whatever came before it. But in that regard, given that their last big production was a tribute to the Wizard of Oz novels, they had quite a hurdle clear, this time.
"Fey and I just talk," she said. "After Oz, we said, 'Hmmmmm.'" Baccara told Fey she'd been doing some thinking, and then Fey did some too. And they kept on thinking together, over the phone (which considering their in-world celebrity status, is probably the best way to brainstorm without constant interruption.)
And the outcome of all their thinking was this: Neverland, a three-sim tribute to the world and wonders of J.M. Barrie, creator of the Peter Pan novels. Spellbound's efforts were assisted by Linden Lab, which loaned them use of three servers, for Neverland; some Lindens contributed their technical and creative assistance in the production, as well. Earlier this week, they took me on a long advance press tour, to show me all its wonders. There's a story to unfold, secrets to reveal, games to play, fabulous creatures to interact with, and rides to, well, ride on. But by request of the production team, all of those will remain untold here, until next week. For now, just these three screenshots, as hints of far more to come.
When we're standing in the children's bedroom of the Darling house with the window open to the sky, Baccara turns to me.
"Do you remember how to get to Neverland, Hamlet?
I'm not feeling the magic just yet, so I say something about Michael Jackson's palatial estate, and the Elephant Man's bones. Undaunted, Baccara presses on.
"Tink and Peter sprinkled fairy dust...
"The window opened...
"And AWAY they flew. Second star to the right."
And so off we go...
Reflections from some of the key creative minds behind Neverland,
the project conceived by Fey Brightwillow and Baccara Rhodes, with some
assistance and sponsorship from Linden Lab. After taking an extensive
tour of their creation, I was fascinated by how they created its many
wonders, how much labor hours they had invested in it-- and above all,
why they had put so much effort into a project that a for-profit
company would, after all, indirectly benefit from. Read on, to read
WHAT DID YOU BUILD, AND HOW DID YOU BUILD IT?
Garth Fairlight (Mr. FairChang)
As part of [the group] Spellbound, we were asked if we would participate in the project. I loved the idea, but was visiting Pituca Chang in the USA at the start. [Garth lives in the UK, and has an ongoing real life relationship with Pituca. –HL] So got off to a slow start.
I build the pirate ship, Hook’s one. Scripted everything on it. The player-firing cannons, swords to fight with. I also scripted the cars and trolley in London, plus the bats and ghosts there... I learnt new scripting tricks, too. Attachments don't do damage in SL, so I had to figure out how swords could do damage. The trick is to detect where your opponent is, and rez a prim inside them. That does the damage. Firing players from cannons also made me think. They would get caught on them, so I made the cannon phantom [i.e. visual, but with no material properties]. That worked. It was a learning experience.
The rollercoaster was the first project I had. When talking with Baccara, we decided we wanted something big and interactive that would encompass the whole sim. The first thing we had to do was have Ben [Linden] terraform [the sim called] Neverland. That once finished, I laid out the foot prints for the track… it gave Baccara a better idea how to lay out the rest of the sim. The coaster was scripted by the gifted Gaudeon Wu... The cart has two invisible rings on top and on bottom. The rings keep the cart on the track, for the most part.
[I worked on t]he very OLD London part, with the Mermaid Inn, the Cemetery and the little Park. I had to find ways to spare primitives [building blocks] and build a whole area of houses at the same time, so I built primmy windows— I took a screenie of them, and applied that as a texture on a single prim cube. And instead of one window, for the same count, I can drop eleven.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BUILD IT?
I retired from event planning in my real life, and I miss it. This restores my creativity, and keeps me "thinking". It's the thinking that scares everyone.
I love Second Life, and I have great hopes for its future. I feel very blessed by the friends I have made and the support they give me. It is my fervent wish that our world grow to be everything [Linden Lab CEO] Philip [Linden] believes it can… I am also motivated by the amazing people who give us so much of themselves by joining Spellbound and taking part in wonderful projects such as Neverland. It shows what we can do as a group, if individual egos are put aside.
Garth Fairlight (Mr. FairChang)
Personally, I love building and scripting. As FairChang Engineering and Pituca's Pets and Plants, we get enough out of SL in terms of cash to pay for what we have in-game and more. So I love to put something back. I love to see players’ reaction when they discover something new, too.
In real life I am a single parent so have lots of free time. SL gives me a purpose. Fills a void and allows me to be creative.
[I did it f]or the people of Second Life. They have given me a wonderful place to go when I come home from a hard day of work. I like to relax here in my world which I created, and I want them to have as much fun as I do.
I am a designer of interiors and exteriors in real life and Second Life. I like textures and putting them together like in the real world. I love making things look beautiful.
I have gone back to college for graphic arts because of Second Life. I love being able to use this for my creative medium. There’s no waste! No supplies to buy, nothing goes to waste. [I] like to create things people will enjoy and find pleasure in. I got to spend quality time with my friends I have made here. I love to build, but I have a difficult time coming up with ideas. This [Neverland project] gave me something to focus on, to be challenged, to learn more techniques. It can also be humbling to be associated with such a gifted group of people.
[I]n my real life I’m not a designer but a night receptionist in a hotel. But I am creative, and that’s what Second Life helps me to do, whether it’s Neverland or a simple house, an avatar or a [piece of] furniture. As long as I can build, I’m glad.
Entirely too many to count, Hamley. The last several weeks we were at it about twelve hours a day, at least.
Garth Fairlight (Mr. FairChang)
I must have spent... over one hundred hours on Neverland. Getting up most days at around 3am (7pm SL time) to make meetings, spend time finishing my work in Neverland.
We [Madison and Azrael Rubio] worked on it for about two weeks, total. About fifty hours.
Woah, good question. Erm, err, well, let’s see… TONS, dunno. Prolly more than fifty hours and less than a hundred...
WHY WOULD YOU VOLUNTEER SO MUCH EFFORT ON A PROJECT THAT LINDEN LAB THE COMPANY INDIRECTLY BENEFITS FROM?
Hamlet, I am always honest and truthful (no bull)-- I love this world, and I want to do anything I can to help it succeed. As partners, the resident and Linden Lab will only make things better, if we can work together in the great spirit of cooperation!
As far as I am concerned, if it helps SL to grow, that is good for us all. After all, if Linden Lab goes down, so do our investments and game.
Yes they do [indirectly benefit], but [Linden Lab has] a great product to sell and I feel they are way ahead of their times, and I want them to continue doing what they are doing-- so I SUPPORT their business.
Never really thought about it, in that respect. I love a lot of the Lindens-- they have always been very kind people. Last year I had a very serious illness, and three of the Lindens Instant Messaged me through Baccara [to relay their] well wishes. I just feel like here, I have an SL family with my SL.
It’s good if Linden can make any profit of it, it will anyway be good for us all at the end.
[However] I feel I should [have been] allowed to almost ADVERTISE freely in ONE place in the three sims for my work; something’s not very fair here, I think, but... no choice. (And when I say ‘I’, I also mean all the crew members should be allowed to do so)...
So it would be nice if we personally could profit a BIT, too, for all we did here and the time spent. A logo wall would have been a good compromise. (“The deal was no advertising,” Baccara Rhodes explains to me later. “First of all, we want things to be authentic [to the time], and we made a contract with Philip [Linden] about the way things would be run.”)
FULL NEVERLAND CREDITS
Spellbound's Neverland Builders
Concept & Coordination - Baccara Rhodes & Fey Brightwillow
Athos Murphy - Infrastructure, Bloomsbury Square, trains
Yadni Monde - East End including cemetery
Nyna Slate - West End including Buckingham Palace & Park Gazebo, Slate
Bank Azrazael Maracas - West End including Buckingham Palace & Park
Gazebo, Slate Bank
Mash Mandala - All furnishing & Interiors
Johnny Bunderfeld - Telehub
Panthar Orlowski - Scripting, Dart Game, Special Effects (Fog)
Garth Fairlight - Vehicle Scripting, Cemetery Effects
Fey Brightwillow - Horseless Carrriages
Ben Linden - Bank robbery & Jewel Game
Evie Fairchild - Food & Beverage, Dart Game, Telehub Texturing
Baccara Rhodes - Storefront Signage, Cemetery Texturing
Lovely Thoughts (Pirate Cove)
Panthar Orlowski - Stars & Special Effects, Slingshot
Evie Fairchild - Slingshot
Garth Fairlight - Pirate Ship & weapons
Pituca Chang - Pirate Ship
Mickey Roark - Shipwreck and SL ship
Madison Gardner - Pirate Arena
Azreal Rubio - Pirate Arena
Gaudeon Wu - Coaster Ride
Nyna Slate - Coaster Ride
Azreal Rubio - Indian Village & Mermaid Cove
Madison Gardner - Indian Village & Mermaid Cove
Zana Feaver - Wendys House, Lost Boys Treehouses
Taigh Murray - Lost Boys Treehouses
Evie Fairchild - Peters Cave & the CROCS !
Panthar Orlowki - Peters Cave
Ryan Linden - Waterfall
Evie Fairchild - Furnishings
Fey Brightwillow - ALL costumes and Avatars
Ferran Brodsky - Animations (most)
Sensual Casanova - Animations
Nexeus Fatale - Soundtrack
Panthar Orlowski - Script Wizard & Special effects
Baccara Rhodes - Storybooks & Accessories