Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Steampunk Travelogue: BlakOpal / Reachra

Rechara's Docking Port, towering over SL's newest Steampunk sim

Finding new and innovative Steampunk sims has proven quite a challenge over the past year, with the closure of Rivet Town, Gaslight, and some other smaller Steampunk sims.  Learning that Miss BlakOpal Galacia and Mr. Trilobite Zanzibar had opened their own Steampunk sim, with their Main Mtore as the anchor of it, I was quite intrigued.

The entrance to BlakOpal's Main Store

I could easily attempt to write a small piece on it, but instead, I will take the "easy way" out and re-print (steal) Mr. Zanzibar's narrative…

A peek on the main floor of the establishment

BlakOpal Designs announced today (19NOV09) the grand opening of their Main Store location in Second Life, on a brand new Victorian Stemapunk region.

While this is exciting news, designers BlakOpal Galicia initially resisted the idea of building an island.  "It always felt excessive and isolated - a store in the middle of the sea.  I could never imagine using that many prims or needing that kind of real estate for what we do," Trilo explained.  "It wasn't until I started thinking about the expansion of the Steamlands and BlakOpal and I started having a lot of creative discussions that it started to make sense to me."

A ground view of one of the docks, unloading *honest* goods, no doubt!

"The environment has always been important to us, having an interesting location for people to come and visit having an interesting location for people to come and explore, and be inspired - not just to come and shop", says BlakOpal.  "Its kind of an extension of the fun we had with various events like Burning Life and SL6B, incorporating buildings and places for people to wander, along with the fashions".

While the region bears BlakOpal's name to make searching easier in Second Life, Mr. Zanzibar explains that the island itself bears a different name.  "I called Reachra - which in Gaelic means 'the place of many shipwrecks'.  It serves as a sort of trading outpost, or shipping center.  If you look back to the age of English, Dutch, and French colonies, there were a number of small coastal and island towns along the trade routes that sprang up to serve the shipping industry.  In addition to legimate industry, they also had trade with privateers, smugglers, and even pirates.  The idea of exploring that from a Victorian Steampunk perspective was really exciting to us."

A well-hidden library on the water, with numerous intriguing sundries of interest

Considering the number of tropical islands in Second Life, they quickly ruled out anything equatorial, and started heading north.  After reading about the towns on the southern coasts of England and Ireland that did business with bootleggers and privateers well into the 19th century, things started to come into focus.  "At that point", says Trilobyte, "it was all about Ireland.  While we love England, its fairly well represented in the Second Life Steamlands.  Caledon feels like the English countryside to me, and New Babbage has always felt like it was rooted in London."

The timing couldn't have been better, since Trilo and BlakOpal were heading to Ireland that day.  "Hilariously, we had been planning the trip for the last six months, and it wasn't until we were about to board the flight that the foot we plant in reality might be planted in Ireland."

The base of the Docking Tower, as seen via air transport

From there, everything fell into place.  Resistance turned into excitement, and the island was born.  In fact, Trilo sketched out the plan for multiple regions, giving them optism to grow and expand down the road.  Hundreds of reference photos have helped him create the original textures and shape his plans and he's looking forward to fleshing out additional builds and the region's backstory as time permits.

It may come as no surprise that the two are multi-media artists and designers in RL as well, having worked together on a multitude of projects ranging from the Burning Man festival art installations to sewing opera gowns, elaborate costume pieces, and of course, pirate outfits.

A aero view of the Docking Port - with various merchants already plying their trades.

I've had the pleasure of visiting and exploring only a little portion of Reachara.  There are many more nooks and crannies to be explored (beyond what is mentioned here), so if you wish to pay a visit of your own, please proceed to:

For more information about BlakOpal's products, please visit: 

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