I spend most of my time on private islands. They can be nice places, but they do have one drawback: Limited horizons. I mean it literally, because if you fly out to sea you inevitably encounter an invisible shield that impedes further progress. There is literally nothing beyond this point, because it represents the limits of the land/sky etc being simulated by the server.
Now, mainland is something else entirely. On Mainland, you cross (almost) seamlessly from one sim to another, thereby having an impression of a continuous ocean ocasionally giving way to islands and continents. I had not experienced this feature in quite a while, so I came up with a challenge. I would parachute from Pennyroyal where I hold my weekly Thinkers meetings to Steiger, where my sister Jamie Marlin lives. Assuming I lost too much altitude before reaching the final destination (which seemed pretty likely) I would touchdown on the nearest landmass, take a look around, and then ascend into the sky to continue on my journey.
The first stage of this trip required serious altitude; more than you can obtain from the inbuilt flight option. I happen to own a rocket pack that can allow you to soar as high as you like (I think the sky goes on forever). So, with rocket pack rezzed and ready for lift off, my journey began!
Up, up, up I soared, the flat horizon giving way to a pronounced curvature. Was I high enough yet? Hell no! I needed LOTS more height for this trip! Of course, being a virtual world people can choose to ignore incoveniencies like gravity, which means you are quite likely to find your progress impeded…
I banged my head on this strange mass (I think it is the bottom of Scarp Godenot’s fantasy forest). I had to fly past it in order to carry on reaching a suitably high starting point. Finally, I calculated that sufficient height had been obtained (well, actually, I got bored of going up, up, up). My journey was about to begin.
Rocket pack swapped for parachute, I skydived for a few seconds…
before deploying the parachute. I had marked the direction Steiger lay in, so as long as I kept a red arrow pointing upwards, I was heading straight for it. The only question was: How many times would I need to touchdown along the way?
At this height you do not have much impression of movement, because so few objects drift past you. You cannot see the land or the sea, or even any passing clouds. You only know you are moving because your dot on the minimap is moving, and because streaming media jumps from one song to another.
Ocasionally, though, something does float by. Word of warning: These skyboxes are often built way up in the sky so their owners can have some privacy (read: be kinky) so it is a good idea to ask permission before entering such spaces for exploration. Me, I had no time to land here, but just took a snapshot as the first object I encountered subsequent to starting my journey.
Onward I drifted, passing from one region to another, with only a slight blip indicating a crossing. I was, of course, gradually losing altitude as I drifted in the general direction of Steiger, and eventually the ocean came into view. Would I make it to land at all!?
Fortunately, yes. A small island drifted past and I aimed for it.
It turned out to be a small seaside resort. I took a snapshot of its lighthouse, strapped on the rocket pack and reached a suitable height to continue my parachute trip to Steiger.
Around this point, a fact about SL became aparrent: It is BIG! It took no more than ten seconds to cross one sim, but so far I had been travelling for an hour or so and there was no reason to believe I was anywhere near close to the end. You can tell when you are under 1,000 meters away, because a shaft of red light appears on the horizon, pinpointing your chosen landmark. The sun was rapidly setting. I was in for a long night, drifting over the dark ocean.
Around this point, another problem became aparrent. I could not fly in a straight line and reach Steiger. Reason being, there were not enough sims to connect these two regions. I was therefore forced to travel in another direction, and hope I could find an alternative route to my journey’s end. This inevitably meant more waypoints along the way. With the sun coming up on day two, I prepared to touchdown at my second waypoint…
I found myself a nice beach mat and stared out to sea.
I mulled over the following dilema. I was having to continually change direction, because I frequently encountered invisible walls that represented a point where no region connected to the edge I was approaching. More often than not, I had to head in the opposite direction of Steiger, hoping to find an alternate route. Thing was, I really did not know that any such route existed. For all I knew, there was no way to get from Pennyroyal to Steiger. Even if there was such a route, all I knew for sure was the general direction Steiger lay in. I did not know a path through the maze of sims and barriers, and I might have been going round and round in circles, not getting any closer to Steiger no matter how long I continued on this journey.
So, I am sorry to say I gave up. After three hours of drifting over oceans, islands and continents, I decided to cut the journey short and simply teleport to Steiger.
Once there, I thought I might as well end this journey as I intended. So, rocket pack strapped on I soared into Steiger’s sky and then parachuted down..
Past my sister’s treehouse..
and eventually touching down right outside her front door. Could I have really made the journey all the way from Pennyroyal to Steiger? If no such route exists now, will demand for sims eventually open up a route connecting these regions? Who knows? This journey did teach me one thing, though, millions of content creators equals one hell of a large and varied place for intrepid explorers to experience:)