Monday, October 29, 2007

'Real' Lawsuit dealing with illicit duplications in Second Life

An actual lawsuit has been filed in the state of New York against a Second Life user named Thomas Simon, avatar Rase Kenzo. The suit alleges that he duplicated and sold unauthorised copies of the plaintiffs' products through JEVN vendors, transactions from avatar to avatar and virtual 'yard sales'. There is some evidence that this avatar used a Second Life security flaw to duplicate 'no transfer' and 'no copy' items by moving them from his inventory to the world at times of heavy lag, server crashes or roll backs. This is not a minor infringement, but involves thousands of items by many major creators and designers in Second Life.

The case is discussed in 'Virtually Blind', a site created by a man named Benjamin Duranske who is working on a book about legal issues in virtual worlds. It is an interesting subject to say the least. The article can be found here:

Second Life Lawsuit in New York Court

As some one who knows many artists and creators in Second Life, I am particularly opposed to pirating activities such as those performed by Thomas Simon, aka Kenzo.
Whether an item is tangible or virtual, it is the result of tremendous effort sometimes on the part of the creator. Whether the creator is motivated by a need to seek a livelihood or by sheer creative need is irrelevant. It is wrong for another individual to make copies of some one else's items, real or virtual, for the purpose of making a profit.

The plaintiffs in the case emphasise the fact that it is not primarily a matter of money that drives them in this instance. Attempts to negotiate a settlement proved fruitless. Litigation in a court of law is the last rather than the first recourse. Attempts to persuade Linden Labs to take action evidently had no effect.

Perhaps this post does not belong on this page, which is devoted primarily to profiles of artists in Second Life. I do feel that the topic would be of interest to any Second Life artist, however.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Still to come...

Just a note here to announce my intention to include the work of Wraith Unsung on this site. She is one of the truly creative and talented clothing design artists in Second Life. I will create a proper post next week for her work. Apart from her own incredible High Fantasy outfits and costumes, she is responsible for the creation of an amazing Sim where buyers can find most of the best artists in Second Life. One need not have Lindens in pocket to appreciate 'Fairy's Grove', however. It is worth a visit even if you intend nothing beyond 'window-shopping'.

Incidentally, the outfit that my avatar is wearing in the photograph at the top of this page is one that was created by Wraith, although I added the Valkryie helmet and wings. Photographs of some of Wraith's creations without any modifications or additions will be posted next week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

'The Forsaken Castle' by Wolves Bain

These are views of the
Castle' on Castle Row. In this creation, Wolves Bain demonstrates both his innate sense of drama and creativity. This castle, like the others, is for sale, but it has a deliberately cultivated 'neglected' quality to it. On one floor, a board acts as a ramp to the upper level. The various floors have fairly low ceilings, adding to the 'forsaken' atmosphere in this castle. The balcony and rooftop areas are rather wonderful and spacious, although this particular castle is not large, but as you can see from the rooftop photograph, it is a setting that could be found in any 21st century city where history rubs shoulders with the present. The exterior of 'Forsaken'is one of those buildings that sends forth a call to the viewer to explore a mystery from the past rather than being a proud fortress that has been able to maintain its distance from the contemporary world. There are other castles by Wolves that require, even demand space, that need to stand alone behind a moat or gracious gardens in order to be appreciated properly. 'Forsaken' is a castle that can exist anywhere, that maintains its aura of mystery and hidden power even if it were set in the middle of an area devoured by 'urban blight'. It easily could be a secret haven and refuge rather than a public proclamation of the social standing and importance of the owner!

One can discern the personality and character of the creator in every 'build', but Wolves definitely has created a castle for every sort of individual in any conceivable state of mind or being.

'Forsaken' like all of Wolves' castles has its own tale, and one that is very compelling.

In the words of her creator:

'When I first saw her she was beaten, battered and broken.
When I entered her she was cold, distant and unfeeling.
I tried to help her, to heal her, perhaps hold her,
but I was too late. She was already forsaken.
Have you never been forsaken?
the "Forsaken" at Castle Row'

Wolves has made many 'perfect' castles like 'Mystic', castles that exhibit perfect harmony and grace, with a clean sense of space and an atmosphere of quiet power. There are 'dark' castles, such as the 'Dark Knight' and the 'Dark Mage', castles that exude the potential to draw the individual into the 'darker' side of human nature, although a person who simply liked the textures, colours and design could make of them anything he/she desired as well. In 'Forsaken', one finds a castle that could exist in ANY urban environment, a sort of portal between the 1st and 2nd worlds. One imagines one could walk down a local alley in any contemporary city, whether London, Paris or New York, turn into an unnoticed street and enter a door that led to the 'Forsaken Castle'. For this reason, this castle has its own power...

But then, every castle built by Wolves Bain has its own individual potential and extraordinary gift of imagination to offer the buyer or owner.

Castle Row Promenades

Wolves Bain is a builder and creator. His castles are created for practical use, to allow owners to experience any fantasy or reality they may wish to pursue. The 'builds' are eminently practical in terms of the rules and regulations of the world of Second Life. They use the fewest number of prims and are designed to fit 'standard' plots of land. Castle Row is a place where these castles are displayed and where they can be purchased.

There is another component to Castle Row, however. It is a place to be enjoyed for its own value and both Wolves Bain and his partner Darks Adria are extremely hospitable. Darks Adria is the perfect companion to Wolves. It is she who designs the grounds in which the castles flourish and to which visitors are drawn again and again. She has exquisite taste and yet both Wolves and Darks display an appealing sense of humour and knowledge of the 'dark side'. The cemetary is a wonderful example of this.

Apart from all this, Castle Row is a place where there are Promenades for the visitor. In contemporary society, the idea of the 'Promenade' no longer has much meaning, but in the past, especially among the higher social classes, people actually would dress and either ride or walk through a specific area on certain days or at certain times of day to 'see and be seen'. It was a regular social event in the great cities of Europe and in the States as well I believe. Some of the great parks in London and Paris were designated for this type of social interaction at various times in history.

One does not go to Castle Row to 'see and be seen' by any means. In fact, as is characteristic of most places in Second Life, one usually will find oneself alone unless a social event is taking place at that point in time. I personally love to engage in solitary exploration of places in Second Life, although I do have a wonderful Companion in many of my explorations, a fellow 'adventurer' who enjoys the quest for new discoveries as much as I. For me, it is not only the incredible beauty of some of the places that enchants me. It is the ability to walk through the imagination of another human being and sometimes to actually be able to interact with that creativity. It is one of the things that distinguishes Second Life from any other so-called 'gaming' experience. Second Life truly is a world created by the imagination of humanity and is an ongoing, ever-changing creative process. It is the ultimate interactive art experience.

To 'walk the Row' is a delightful way to spend an hour or two, even when one is not in the market for a new castle. These photographs attempt to show the magic of Castle Row. As you can see, it exists on more than one level and some of the Promenades are in the sky. The vista is incredible, whether one is looking at the castles on the same level, or viewing the castles below on the lower level.

In one photograph, you can see the 'Accalia', a ship built by Wolves Bain, master castle builder. I have written another post about Accalia, a ship that I am privileged to own now.

Another element to Second Life that is used to its advantage on Castle Row is the cloud level. When Wolves helped me place my 'Awakening' in the sky, he set it slightly above the cloud level, so that the clouds would 'peek through' the windows. It had to be done carefully, however, as if set too low, the clouds actually would invade, sweeping through the chambers like the front line in an army of ghosts.

I have to remark here once again upon Wolves' incredible good humour and patience with those who buy his castles. He has come to my rescue more than once when I 'lost' a teleport in the sky or 'took' a piece of my castle wall instead of the fireplace I intended to remove. However busy he may be, he tries to help if he can. There are many artists in Second Life who have NO interest in the buyers of their work and no desire even to interact with them on the most casual level. With Wolves, one feels that, as soon as one shows a genuine interest in his work, one has made a friend. It is not only Wolves who demonstrates that humanity. Lady Darks is some one who will go out of her way to welcome a visitor to Castle Row.

The cloud layer in Second Life can be experienced when one walks along the upper level of the Promenade at Castle Row. From the balcony of 'Parisa', one has a particularly romantic view of the entire area.

Each castle possesses its own unique style, atmosphere and history. Beyond this, however, Wolves Bain always is willing to help the buyer modify a castle slightly to make it precisely what the buyer dreamed of owning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Imagination of Baron Grayson

When I contacted Baron Grayson with respect to the history of the pirate ship, the 'Relic', he directed me to one of his Sims where a poster of the ship as well as posters of some of his other creations are displayed.

The Sim was absolutely incredible, extremely Gothic and forbidding. The brooding atmosphere was enhanced by a blood-red sunset.

Baron Grayson and the 'Relic'

One of
the first
in Second Life was an incredible pirate ship named the 'Relic'. It was moored at a Sim that included extensive 'pleasure grounds'. At least, that is how I would describe the place. A palace designed with Moorish influence in mind that once operated as a casino was situated nearby. The main buildings housed the fashion designs of the owner.

There were at least three ships in the area, but it was the 'Relic' that drew me inexorably, as though a childhood fantasy had taken shape perfectly in the world of SL.

At the time, I knew little or nothing of Second Life artists but I sensed that there was something special about the ship. Its lavish appointments, its incredible detail as well as its romantic character created a place where I could believe in the somewhat idealistic vision of pirates developed by romantic tales of Henry Morgan, not to mention the 'Pirates of the Caribbean'.

In the days when I owned no land in SL, I liked to imagine that the 'Relic' was my own home. It was utterly deserted, after all. I never once encountered another visitor by accident there.

I would go there often at night when my own pain was most intense in the real world to lay on the lounge on the top deck to gaze at the full moon and stars. Sometimes I actually was able to distance myself a little from my reality and at least begin the slow tortuous journey into sleep.

I only recently investigated the actual history of the 'Relic'. The artist is named Baron Grayson. The ship was designed as part of a 'Burning Life' festival in 2004.

Its official description is as follows:

'Beyond its value as a personal living space, it has use in RPG, historical reenactment, and machinima applications.

888 prims, 36 linksets
Footprint is approximately 80m long end to end, 70m tall, and 20m wide.

Own a piece of SL history. This prefab took years of careful work. The first version of this ship was built as part of an inworld adventure, headed by Keith Extraordinarie in 2004 for Burning Life. I was one of a select handful of designers asked to join a GameDv team to create a ship or a compact, interactive 'Magic Cave Adventure'. It existed for the enjoyment of all SL for only that one week. The adventure is now long gone but a spark of it lives on in this build.'

Rather to my amazement, I discovered that the 'Relic' can be purchased, provided always that one can afford the price and that one owns enough land to embrace its prim count requirements.

For my part, I am exceedingly happy with my 'Accalia', a ship that actually can be grounded on my land and still leave enough prims for my castle, skybox and firepit in the sky, but the 'Relic' always will remain a treasured part of my early SL experience and memories.

I actually set it aflame one night with my crossbow and had rather a deliciously wicked time watching it burn... knowing it would not be destroyed by my 'illusive' flames.

N.B. In a couple of these photographs, all details of this fabulous ship did NOT rez properly... my laptop was giving me trouble in terms of graphics. I shall have to replace them with better photographs anon.

More from the World of Wolves Bain

The Atmosphere of Castle Row

These photographs give some idea of the atmosphere of Castle Row, its glorious grounds and special interactive cemetary, created for the season of Hallowe'en, when the veils between the seen and the unseen become as insubstantial as mist.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Skybox by Wolves Bain

I had not furnished this skybox properly when I took these photographs, but the reason I am posting them, imperfect as they may be, is to show how the light from the sun affects the magnificent windows, tinting them at sunset or sunrise. These windows cannot be seen from the outside of the skybox. It actually appears solid and therefore offers complete privacy, but from the interior, the entire sky is displayed in all its glory.

I posted photographs very similar to two of these in an earlier post, but I have included them here as well to show the incredible transformation that occurs when day becomes night and night becomes day.

There are a number of reasons why people choose to live in Skyboxes. Love of privacy and a need for space are only two. Provided that the 'prim count' is not exceeded, a person with a rather small piece of land can have more than one 'house' on it, if he/she uses some of the sky above the land.

I moved my castle from the land into the sky originally because I suddenly found myself surrounded by towering, revolving neon 'For Sale' signs in every direction. The land ultimately was purchased and the signs disappeared, to be replaced in some cases by some rather attractive landscapes but I decided to keep my castle in the sky. I now have an incredible 'domain' fit for a princess, thanks mainly to Wolves Bain. I have the ship 'Accalia' anchored next to my land, my castle in the sky and above that, my incredible skybox.

The 'Awakening' by Wolves Bain

is the newest castle
created by Wolves Bain.

I was privileged to be given a chance to take a tour of this wonderful creation before its official 'unveiling' and fell in love with it immediately. I have to admit, however, that I love every castle on Castle Row! Each has its own character and its own history, and all have something unique to offer.

Here is the tale of the 'Awakening'.


In a nearby village, there is a tavern that I frequent. I went there one evening to enjoy a small brew, some mutton and perhaps the company of a woman. A man who was disheveled, nervous, and carrying a large amount of parchment approached me there.

He asked if I were Wolves Bain, the castle builder. I asked him why he wanted to know. He said he had drawings for a castle, but he had to know if I were Lord Bain. I told him, 'I am he, but I am not in the market to purchase these drawings.'

He responded, 'Purchase? No M'Lord, I am giving them to you free of charge. In fact, I will commission you for this task on one condition: that I supply the stones, the wood and all materials. You see, these stones are to be reused from another castle and built in strict accordance with these drawings. It is imperative that they be built to the exact and precise specifications shown in these parchments.'

He then proceeded to tell a tale of a love eternal between a Master and his Mistress and how they vowed to love each other forever. One evening she was stricken with an illness for which there was no cure. In her last breath, she vowed that in 100 years' time she would awaken to start their life anew. She made her beloved promise to wait for her, and so far he has.

It now has been 99 years that he has kept her body in his chambers, keeping vigil each night until the day of her return. In that time, the castle has gone into decay and ruin.

My job is to rebuild the castle as it was so long ago and have it ready for her awakening.

Will you be there for the awakening?

the "Awakening"

Now at Castle Row

199 prims, 30x47 footprint
second level next to Parisa'


This story was sent as an announcement to Wolves Bain's 'group' in the form of a Notecard. 'Groups' in SL can exist for many different purposes. They can be formed for the purpose of land ownership, for strictly social reasons, but often they exist as a means by which an artist can maintain contact with those who appreciate his/her work. Announcements of new products often are made to a group. Wolves Bain however does far more than most. As you can see, he is a storyteller as well as a builder and he delights his group with his 'life story', enriching his castles with their own individual tales. Wolves Bain is a generous artist as well, and often gives incredible gifts to the members of his group. My magnificent skybox was his most recent gift to group members. His willingness to set it up for me is an example of another characteristic that distinguishes Wolves Bain from other artists.

I believe that this photograph was taken by Darks Adria, Wolves' partner and a talented artist in her own right. (Her photographs certainly are far better than mine and I am happy to be able to publish them here.)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Castle in the Sky

photographs do not do justice to the castle that Wolves Bain built, but they should give the viewer some idea of the careful details that were included in the design.

One photograph shows the entire castle from a distance, placed on an artificial platform in the sky. Another shows details of the exterior. The third shows details of the parlour alcove on the ground floor.

The top photographs is of the new skybox that Wolves Bain built and gave to members of his group as a gift. You can see the castle beneath it in the sky, layers upon layers of glorious living spaces!

The skybox contains a luxurious spa. It is an incredible beautiful private refuge with enormous picture windows that cannot be seen from the outside. The final photograph shows a pose by the spa, with the magnificent view of the sky from the window alcoves.

I do not claim to be much of a photographer, but I hope to add photographs of other castles at Castle Row as well as a photograph of this perfect little gem as it appears on the ground!

P.S. After writing this post, I contacted Wolves Bain with respect to a dock for my Accalia. He immediately offered not only to give me the dock but to help install it in situ. When I had trouble with the skybox he had given to his group, he spent over an hour placing that in the sky for me, fixing a rather crooked wall that I had built previously to surround my platform and finally, building the dock for me. All these tasks took about three hours. I do not think he made a special effort for me either. I believe he is as generous to all those who appreciate his work. Any one who is looking for an exceptional builder in SL need look no further than Wolves Bain. He offers visitors moreover a multitude of free items, from a small castle to a stable, fountain and other delightful creations. It was this generosity that first impressed me as a newcomer to Second Life and made me determined to buy my first home from him.

Wolves Bain, Builder of Dreams

Wolves Bain is a castle builder in Second Life. He is both imaginative and practical and his castles are masterpieces that use the minimum number of prims (primitive objects) to allow even the smallest landowner to own and enjoy a castle of his/her own.

Furthermore, each castle is imbued with a history. Wolves Bain writes stories to accompany each of his creations.

Castle Row@Hyojong is worth a visit even by those with no ambitions to own a castle.
With his partner, Lady Darks Adria, Wolves Bain has created a totally immersive experience that includes many long avenues of castles and a garden with a superb ship named the Accalia at the end of it.

Like many children, I dreamed of having a castle of my own one day, without much real expectation of it ever coming to pass, although I designed a Palladian villa for myself when I was 13 years old.

It was only when I began to explore Second Life that I discovered my dream could be easily realised.

There are many castle builders in SL but Wolves Bain offers hope to the resident who cannot invest in an enormous amount of land. With even the smallest parcel of 512 sq. metres, I could have an exquisite castle with two floors and a rooftop.

In Second Life, every metre of land carries with it a limitation in terms of the number of 'prims' or primitive objects that can be created or placed on that land. It is not a need for space often but prim limits that persuade residents to purchase more land. Whatever the initial price of the land,it is monthly fees that often are the greater financial hardship for a resident. Any one with 'premium membership' is allowed to own 512 sq. metres of land without ANY monthly fee for that ownership. As one acquires more land, 'tier' fees increase. The system is far more complex than that, but suffice it to say that Wolves Bain allows a resident with 512 metres to realise the dream of becoming a castle owner.

Castles throughout history have been a symbol not of wealth so much as status. Originally in feudal Europe, the castle was part of the defence system of a realm as well as carrying with it a host of rights and obligations. It was the responsibility of the lord of the castle to protect and organise his fief, his knights or entourage and his serfs, the peasants who were tied to the land itself.

A castle was the centre of a self-sufficient economy at a time when towns were fairly weak in terms of their influence. The duties to the overlord or king could be light or onerous. The lord of a castle usually had the duty to defend the area as well as raising a specific number of soldiers for his overlord at any given moment. Taxes usually were paid in the form of produce and other goods.

Even though we live in a multi-national 'civilisation' where land ownership no longer carries with it very much status, the castle remains a symbol of nobility and is perceived as the ultimate 'safe haven' for any Romantic.

Wolves Bain made it possible for me to own my first castle and, because he pays attention to prim counts, it was a castle that actually could be furnished! In many cases, fabulous creations in SL use more prims than the small landowner ever could hope to be able to 'rez' on his/her land.

Another dream of mine always has involved the sea. I longed to live on a ship, preferably one from the Golden Age of the Renaissance in Europe, also sometimes known as the Age of Piracy.

One of the first fantasies in SL that inspired me to continue to explore the virtual world was an extraordinary pirate ship that I discovered moored in a Sim on a permanent basis. The owner of the Sim is a designer who had shops and casinos but now, because of the ban on gambling, is reduced to whatever income the shop may bring, I suspect. She has created an incredible fantasy land and among other things, is the owner of a ship named the 'Relic'. I will speak of this ship further in another post.

It is one of the most elaborate and detailed ships I have seen and definitely could be considered the embodiment of any romantic pirate's fantasy. It is incredibly expensive, however, and requires almost 900 prims, making it an item that is practical only for a landowner with a large estate.

There was a time when I visited the 'Relic' and pretended that I lived there, before I ever purchased any land in SL. It was beautifully furnished with every amenity, including a hammock on the top deck, where I could recline and watch the rising of the moon.

It was only after I visited Castle Row, however, that I discovered there was a ship that, like my castle, could become a reality for some one like myself.

This ship is named the Accalia. It is a wonderful vessel and one, moreover that, like Wolves Bain's other creations, has its own history, related by the creator himself.

Here is the tale of the Accalia:

'I remember it like it was yesterday. It had rained for 3 days solid. When the rain had ended, I walked along Castle Row to assess the damages and to locate two of my builders who had gone missing. When I reached the beach at the end, I noticed a ship had run aground there. I boarded her to see if I could be of assistance, but not only was no one aboard, there was no cargo. I noticed a plaque above the door that read 'Accalia'.

Accalia? Why do I know this name? Where have I heard it before? I then recalled that I had been held prisoner aboard her for near a decade (but that is another story). I'm not sure how, but I managed to escape.

That was almost a century ago, but she now has found me again, I fear she will not let me out of her grasp so easily. You see "Accalia" in Latin means 'She-Wolf'......... We all fight our own demons. She happens to be one of mine.......Wolves

Come see 'Accalia' at Castle Row, but be warned: Once you board her, you will be at her mercy. 'Accalia' 113prims $500L

The 'Accalia' does not sail, and in fact does not require open waters or even deep water. It can be 'rezzed' on any land with water texture and enough 'depth' to give the illusion of floating there.

Unlike the 'Relic', it is not an opulent fantasy ship, but has a genuine personality of its own and is snug and beautifully fashioned. It moreover is extremely sophisticated in its construction, with a cabin as well as a large area below deck. The door to the cabin can be locked and the many windows offer a view to the occupant while preserving privacy within from any inquisitive passerby.

In fact, the Accalia, like my little castle, does feel like home the moment one boards her. One feels safe and secure and very 'anchored' in its reality. I would like to thank the Accalia's creator for making it possible for me to realise another dream. I was shocked and delighted when Wolves Bain presented me with my own 'Accalia.'

I had the honour of being taken on a tour of Wolves Bain's newest castle yesterday evening. It is very different from my 'mini-castle' and the 'Accalia' in the sense that it is a large and spacious castle that would encourage great gatherings and social occasions. The style is very elegant but unique as well. There is a mixture of influences in the details, but all conspire together to create an impressive and delightful masterpiece. I eagerly await the story of this castle and its christening. As yet, it does not have a name.

Like many builders and creators in SL, Wolves Bain has a group for individuals who are interested in his work. He is extremely generous by nature, not only with his creations but with his time. Even if occupied, he is willing always to come to the rescue of an owner who has misplaced a teleport device or cannot move the castle to the best location. He is incredibly patient and helpful to newcomers, unlike many experts who often become arrogant and inaccessible. There is an essential humanity in his nature, I think, which makes it a great pleasure to own any of his creations.

His generosity was further displayed last night when he sent a notice to his group, giving each member an incredible Dome Skybox. Originally conceived as a dome for his new castle, I saw it first floating in the sky next to the castle and thought it incredibly beautiful. A few hours later, I received a group notice:

'Where can you go if you need to escape? Perhaps a Dome Skybox. it's a gift from me to the members of this group.
Needs a 1024m land, it's 37 prims and has a hot tub.
thank you for choosing me as your castle builder

Wolves Bain and his partner, Darks Adria have created a special 'interactive' environment for Hallowe'en. The notice for this announced that:

'When I purchased the land adjacent to Castle Row, I was not aware it held strange secrets. See for yourself ....visit Castle Row garden.'

I spent a wonderful afternoon with a friend exploring this area. Complete with open coffins, cages, ghosts and spectral wolves, it was an amazing, creative environment. It was lots of fun to explore.

CastleRow@Hyojong is to be found in the region of Hyojong at the following coordinates: (183, 175, 49).