Friday, 9 March 2007

Pondering The Pond

I've been watching The Pond with interest for a number weeks, trying to figure out just what the heck it was. A sprawling cluster of some 11 sims, they were pretty hard to miss on the Satellite Map. Well... hard to miss if you make a habit of "orbiting" SL , looking for new islands to slake your thirst for travel and adventure.

Actually, I recall that a while back there were just 2 islands, nestled in the Aussie area of SL, near the excellently artimungous Ramonia. But then they disappeared, to reappear up in the far NW of SL, with a whole bunch of sibling islands.

Now their identity has been revealed... and no doubt to many tech-savvy Aussies it comes as zero surprise to find it belongs BigPond, Australia's largest Internet Service Provider, owned by Aussie telecoms giant, Telstra. To cherry-pick from their press release: "The Pond features islands with uniquely Australian themes and recreations of iconic Australian landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the Outback and Uluru...At The Pond, avatars can socialise, join communities with shared interests, go shopping together at The Dome Shopping Mall, and even go dancing at the Illusion Club. They can take a boat trip or relax and have a drink in the Outback Billabong Bar... The Pond will showcase our range of online entertainment in a unique way that will encourage users to become involved. For example, they can get into a car and experience the thrill of virtual car racing."

The BigPond website carries the slightly bizarre strapline "Live vicariously with 2nd Life." But delve a bit further and you will find out why The Pond appears to have a number of orientation islands - at least 6 as far as I can tell. No? Ok... I will tell you. They are using the Linden Registration API on their website, allowing people to register there and then bring them directly to their own orientation zones, rather like The L Word earlier this year. This has worked well for the latter, and one assumes is likely to pay dividends for BigPond too.

So what about the site? For a start off, it's big... really big. I don't pretend to have got round it all yet - and I probably won't. The most striking item is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is beautifully done - as befits such an iconic structure. I can't say the same for the Opera House, which was hidden away (wisely?) as it looks a bit... well... crap.

There's clubs, shopping, games and diversions --- human cannonball. Here's a map of what's where:

And here's the Bridge (get close enough and the fireworks start).

I don't really feel able to give a review one way or another, as there is so much to take in - and I wanted to get this out before midnight! It's not really my kind of place, but it is well built and looks like it will hit many of the buttons for many SLers.

Now this is much more my kind of thing...

Jerry, regarding your challenge? I think you owe Pete (of Metaversality) 50$, which he will claim off you at SxSW.

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I heard that the island of Gabetti Property Solutions opened today (or thereabouts). As it is close to Sheep Island, I thought it might be another interesting ESC build, and much of was created by Chosen Few who works for (or does work for) The Sheep. However, I have to confess to being a tad underwhelmed. It's OK... and presumably meets the brief... but it's not up there with The Sheep's all-time greats.

It's been a busy old week - as Epic Conditions has opened in SL too. I blogged this a few weeks back - and will give the full lowdown, now that it has opened, on another day.

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