Monday, 12 November 2007

Al Moves House

I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front for a few days owing to a half-expected, but not too pleasant, piece of news that left me with some serious virtual house-hunting to do. For the last 8 months or so I have been renting a very nice, good-sized plot of land on the Intentional Growth sim, owned by a friend of mine. Unfortunately, for a variery of reasons she is having to effectively dispose of this quiet and tranquil island, and that means that I need to move on.

This has been a theoretical possibility for maybe a month - but last week it became a concrete fact. Now, I'm not really used to all this virtual land mullarkey, so I was at a bit of a loss to know what to do. I spoke to a few friends - issued an "all points bulletin" on Twitter, then started looking in earnest.

I had not appreciated just how complicated it can be to find the right deal. The "Land Sales" tab in the Second Life "Search" window provided me with hundreds of options. As I read through the lists I had to consider many criteria I had not really pondered before. Did I want themed? If so, what theme? Did I want lots of land but few prims? Or lots of prims on less land? Did I want pre-built or bare earth? Did I want to rent or buy? If I "bought" did I want the ability to re-sell later??

And for each interesting possibility, I had to teleport across to the land in question, see what the neighbourhood looked like and - most importantly - read and understand the covenant. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, the covenant is provided by the landowner and basically tells you everything you can and can't do. Believe me, there can be huge differences between covenants - and this is often reflected in the price you pay.

So for example: Do you want to be able to build a skybox or platform? If so, are you happy with any altitude restrictions placed on you? Do you want to be able to terraform the land? Do you want to build a skyscraper? Or, indeed, have one on the plot next door to yours? Do you want to run scripted objects? If so, will they be sufficiently lightweight as to be permitted on the plot of land you are looking at? Sliding and rotating textures seem to be a particular bugbear - which is a pain for me, since I love 'em!

Then what about the purpose of the land? Do you want to run a business? If so, is it compatible with the covenant? Not a problem for me - but if you want a topless casino with camping chairs and money trees, then this could be a problem for you.

Negotiating this maze of possibilities while juggling the price and cost/square metre took me a few days. As with any commercial exercise, you are hoping to land The Perfect Deal, while suspecting that you could have done better. And the cost is another mini-minefield in itself. On the plus side, the many private land companies (like Anshe Chung) do not require you to hold a premium account - so that will save you 10USD a month. However, you should be aware that the price you pay comprises 2 elements: the "purchase price" and the tier (or monthly service charge/ground rent/whatever). Linden charge fixed amounts for these if you buy from them. However, each private vendor sets their own balance of the two. Some may opt for a low purchase price and a high tier per month, while for others it is the reverse. Even a single vendor may have multiple price bands depending on the type of land up for sale: low, normal or high prim, for example.

I know many of you live and breathe this stuff - but it was all new and a bit alien to me. It took me a few days before I finally found what (I think) I was after. It's a bit smaller than I had wanted, but it is a corner plot with sea on 2 sides, and waterways on the other 2; I can terraform it; the covenant is fair and sensible, but not too restrictive; the sim itself seems quiet and the price/tier is good value. (Or let me rephrase that: for buying something that does not really exist, it is good value!)

I am now moving in, having stripped out my old place. Here are a few pictures to remind me of where I'm moving from:

and where I'm moving to:

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