Introduction To Second Life Geography
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT FINISHED. PLEASE WAIT! ESTIMATED FINISH TIME: JULY 15TH 2014
This article is made for newcomers, to help them find a way through. However, since the orientation tools we have (World Map or minimap) are sometimes very confusing, many residents (including me) spent months or years to find their way through.
Second Life is composed of many places that are part of a very large global structure, just the way in real world land from various parcels are continued to form the Earth. There are a few important differences:
- The land unit of Second Life is the region/sim. The official name is Region. But, since the word 'region' can also mean a part of a land structure, we will use the word 'sim'. Each sim is operated by a server (or a simulator). You will encounter problems when you move from a sim to another, because you need to exit a server and enter another one. Each sim has the same dimensions, 256/256 meters. The sim is the unit used in Geography. They are the bricks that form larger map structures.
- The grid (or Agni) is the virtual world. It is made of about 26000 sims. There is another smaller grid, Aditi, used for testing, with only 120 sims, but that is not important.
- Void Ocean is between remote sims. This is a place where there is nothing. Really nothing. Sometimes you might see a hologram (sim surrounding environment) but that actually is projected from inside the sim. New sims are created inside this void, while old sims vanish and are replaced with void. This is why you cannot walk or sail through the entire grid. The presence of this void is what actually divides all grid structures.
- Dryland covers a large part of the sims, but not all. There is also submerged land, covered with Water. Water is also blue, but can be differentiated from void. Unike real world, Second Life hosts skyboxes. These are floating structures in the sky. They can be small, sim-size and sometimes they can cover many sims. They create a second world, elevated.
By the way sims are grouped and separated by void ocean, they form a larger map structure. Currently, there are the following structures listed:
- Continent is a structure made of more then 30 sims, connected one with each other and with common Geographic and transportation features.
- Oceans are part of the map, divided by continents and imaginary lines.
- Subcontinent is a part of a continent.
- Microcontinent is a structure with less then 30 sims, connected one with each other and with common Geographic and transportation features.
- Sim Cluster is a structure with 10 or more sims, not connected one to each other, but not too far one from the other.
- Sim Group is a structure with less then 10 sims, not connected one to each other, but not too far one from the other.
- Isolated Sim is a sim located too far from any other sim.
- Unassociated Sims are sims that cannot be grouped into other structures. They have the same density and look like they are placed at random.
How to find my way through?
This virtual world is really huge. Unfortunately, its dimensions can be a good source of confusion for many people. So, we start step with step.
Map orientation tutorial
This is an exercise that will help you learn in half of an hour what others couldn't in months. Do it slowly and if you don't understand, return and try it again. We will start from sim Da Boom because this is the oldest of all sims and it really is the center of the map. Any orientation exercise should start from here. You can teleport to Da Boom or you can open the interactive map and search for it.
The world map can be zoomed to many levels. Some of them can be called sim view, region view, continent view and transcontinental view.
Sim View. This is the level we start. If you teleported to Da Boom, please open the map and zoom it to the point where you can see the names of the sims. That is the first step. The sims you see are the oldest on the grid, with more then 10 years old. On the map you can see many ground details, including buildings, roads, rivers and other forms of Water. Skyboxes are also visible (if they are less then 400 meters high). This can be very confusing, but still useful. While planning an expedition on a continent surface, it is very useful to open the map and think about your journey, looking for roads, railways or waterways.
Region view. In practice, many people refer to a region as part of a continent, a Subcontinent. Zoom the map to a lower resolution, until you no longer see sim names on it. This way, you can see more then one complete region of Sansara, the continent you are into. Only some distant sims from other regions can be seen, like the suburbs of Bay City.
Continent View. This is the third level. Take a look at the image to left. You can see a big part (almost all) Sansara continent. Sansara is the most divided into visible subcontinents, so it is very good that we started here. You can see on the map a few of the important and historical parts of Sansara: Where you are, is the old world (or San Francisco sims). To North, you can see Color Sims. To West, Bay City is visible, with its interesting structure. To South, you can see that the land ends and Void Ocean begins. To East, Sansara continues with more and more structures, including Volcano Subcontinent and Snowlands Subcontinent. These structures are important. But now, it is good that you learn about them. Far to North, you can see a bit of another continent, Heterocera. To distinguish them, it is easy. Bay City looks like a peninsula (even if in fact is made of many islands). Snowlands are white. Color Sims and San Francisco sims are easy to separate by their great Geographic complexity, with many rivers, islands and mountains. The volcano subcontinent is also easy to separate because of its structure, with many peninsulas containing mountain ridges and long gulfs.
Da Boom is not actually in the center of Sansara. The continent increased in size mainly in East and South-East. But, you can move the map more to East and see the whole continent. To West, you can clearly see the Void Ocean separating many sims. They are in fact part of a Sim Cluster.
Transcontinental View. If you continue to zoom to an even smaller resolution, you will see nearly all continents. First, you must know that there are two kind of continents: Linden-owned (also known as mainland) and private-owned. You can read more about land status from Land article.
If you decrease resolution to a small enough level, you will probably see something like the image to right. You can now see many continents and oceans. Let's first talk about mainland continents. The one we already seen is Sansara and is the oldest and more complex one. To North, you can see a smaller one, Heterocera. This continent is also full of Geographic wonders. These include: Mountains Of Heterocera - the highest mountains of the grid, Heterocera Inner Waters - a delta of coral origin, Second Life Railroad - largest railway network and many breathtaking landscapes on the North coast. Sansara and Heterocera are the oldest continents (1st generation). They have the most complex Geography of all, most complex transportation routes and they are highly populated. If you continue to look North, at some distance, you will see a lot of microcontinents and sim clusters. They are all part of Little Northern Ocean. And at some distance, you will see Wild West and Seductive Continent. These two private-owned continents are very small.
If you look to South, you must see Jeogeot, another continent. And between Sansara and Jeogeot, there is the tiny Estate Continent, private-owned. It was created when a few small estates merged their lands into a larger structure. Then, to South, you reach Southern Ocean. Not visible on this map, but if you scroll to South, you will see other 3 continents. They are 3 of the 4 Premium Continents. If you decide to have a premium account and get a Linden home, this is where you will get it. So, it is better to have a visit before you decide to upgrade your account.
To West, you will see Little Pacific Ocean, with many small sim clusters and Unassociated Sims. A few small private-owned continents are visible and if you look close, they will catch your attention: Caledon - Winterfel, Uhre Continent or Fairchang. They are small and private-owned. Then, if you continue to scroll the map to West, it all ends with a lot of sim clusters and microcontinents, between a maze of unassociated sims. A single orientation spot exists here, Eden continent. It is a white dot on the map. Its presence is so important that it splits the area into 4 Oceans by its place.
You can go to 'SL Geography Institute' in Achemon sim, Heterocera, to see a large map of all grid structures. This can help you get a clear image of how big this world really is, since you can actually 'walk' on it from corner to corner.
There is another article that might prove useful, Grid Map And Dimensions. And all Geographic articles are linked to the following article: