Ty Lomes: Legacy and Longevity

blog dept-Inworld to out

by Ty Lomes, Snug Harbor, Blake Sea
(Please see the in-world release or download Sim Street Journal#4 for more photographs, articles, and functionality. Also available on MARKETPLACE).
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Blake Sea is a free resource provided by Linden Labs for boating and flying in Second Life®. Why have themed communities? To get maximum benefit from such a resource. Having high quality development around Blake’s borders makes sense. Sailing and boating promote such activity.

We are part of the United Sailing Sims, a cooperative coalition of independent owner/operators that have agreed to abide by certain quality standards. When we started, there were not many large 100+ prim boats, and not many aircraft. Now, all this is part of regular traffic on the Blake.

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The demand for space on the Seas is on the upswing. I am fully rented. If the economy would just improve, I think the roof would come off the place! Linden Labs’ commitment affects both the purpose and potential of this resource. We are dependent on what they do and support the connected openness of free seas.

My real life father was a visionary. An industrial designer by profession, he also built houses, and that put him within just a few credit hours of being an architect too. He first came into SL at the behest of my step mother, who was concerned that my step sister might be involved in a cult of some kind (SL), lol. He was taken by this virtual world as a new medium for him. He wanted me involved too. Because I am a software developer in real life, he thought I might like it.

Dad had sold his design business when around the age of 36, and ran a marina for 25 years on the Chesapeake. So I grew up around boats since the age of 12. He and I thought it would be fun to do something like Rehoboth Beach DL, where our family long frequented. But this is not a re-creation. The real place, a hodgepodge of various building kinds, provided the major influence on what we built at Snug Harbor. With the help of friends, the core facility only took about six months—and then we moved to the Blake in record time for a project of this size.

Tragically, in 2011, I lost my real life father. Snug Harbor was the final project of a very creative man that had three real life careers. He constantly reinvented himself. At age 85, with no more computer skills that what is required to open email, Dad conceived of Snug Harbor, drew up plans, formed a team (with my help) to build much of the core, then taught himself how to build well enough to create a museum and a score of original island homes on four more sims.

“In today’s real life business environment, I could not do what I did in my career as a designer and builder—the liability insurance, as well as the regulations, would eat me up! The nice thing about SL is I don’t have to deal with all that. And I can build so much faster, as well as create an exciting community! So I came here at the right time—lucky to experience this at the end of my life!”
—Huber Grantly, immortalized

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This room is a bit of my Dad’s persona. My mother was my father’s first wife, married over sixty years. After she died, his second wife, shown on the mantle, was new to sailing, but a good sport. On the drawing board are his early concept sketches of Snug Harbor, before he knew how to build in SL. That building was full time work!

For years I had a 33 foot Cat Ketch on a lake here in Texas. But although I don’t sail too often in real life, I do when I can get a boat to play on. I don’t race; I sail to relax.

I was here for months, and even started the Snug Harbor project, before I ventured out in a virtual sailboat! SL does a very good simulation. You can actually learn to sail in real life by sailing in SL! The wind simulation and the sailing software makes the boat respond like a real one would if the wind hits it the same way in real life. That’s what you want.

Snug Harbor is the embodiment of Dad’s last project in life—as avatar Huber Grantly. I shared that year with him, working electronically side-by-side. SL preserves his work which lives on.

To attract traffic here, Dad launched this museum, designed to educate. He shows displays of what everything is called in real life. Inside the work building is a display of life saving/boat safety. He built many large historical boats you can walk in. The sailboat in the harbor is a Skipjack, the only boat allowed for oyster dredging. That boat was the last thing he built here.

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Here is a display of different kinds of nautical markers. The navigational aids expand to include lighthouses, an explanation of radar, and different kinds of anchors with how they are used. Over here is a course on propulsion and hull design. I have a 24 hour stream here that plays ocean sounds and real sea chants performed by old sailors to preserve them.

Operations and management in SL is time consuming. I spend about six hours a day—all day today—trying to get retail traffic. The only help that I use are hosts at dances, and a few builders. With a long career in software, SL is an easy, familiar place for me—it was even on Day One!

One of SL’s strengths is as an educational tool, if people use it.

Staff management is similar in both real life and SL, but the regulation and paperwork associated with real employees is gone. Scheduling is a significant task, but there is software available at low cost to help handle it. For example: if you own and rent property, you need not keep track of the rent due amount and when. There is rent software that does it all. Just set the price and the payment durations and you are good. Renters will still contact you for this or that though, just like in real life. You still might have to help a new tenant get settled in or handle an eviction.

“Building in SL is fast and has no real risk. And you can build stuff that would not stand up in real life. When I first built houses, I scaled them realistically. I just wanted to get the proportions right. But people here are taller than real life. And you have to add a lot of extra room for the cam. So ceilings—everything—has to be bigger.”
—Huber Grantly, immortalized

I have always been both technical and musical; I sing Jazz and Bluegrass (in real life, I was in a bluegrass band for about a year). SL inspires me to use the creative side of my brain. I do sound recording and have followed broadcast technology since college. Music, broadcast tech, and my software career, all balance.

Music helps to promote the sims too. I hold dances and have some stores for shopping. In addition I founded Snug-Harbor-Radio.com and set it up as a 24/7 broadcast service. Snug Harbor Radio promotes SL, and Snug Harbor in particular, around the clock, with music rights paid. Snug Harbor Jazz and Blues events are also carried on the radio live.

My goal is to make Snug Harbor at least self sustaining. Its still subsidized by about 30%, which grows less as the business model changes to meet demand.

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Rentals have not worked. Self development does. When we started, we put up four homestead sims. We carved each into five islands, and put unique houses on each. The community looked amazing, like a painting! But it is impossible to get rent that comes close to covering those costs. The reason is—while we created a perfect painting, people did not want to live in our painting. They wanted to make their own paintings. Most of the best renters do so because then they have a vested interest in their own places.

We moved from  “it is all set, just park your boat and live here,” to “build your own place, but follow our construction rules.” We changed so tenants could be given near-owner property rights yet not be able to hurt other tenants, or the public facilities, by making incompatible choices.

Sadly, I want to preserve all of it the way my father designed it. But I want to make it self sustaining, so it has to pay. As he had it, it would not pay, so the model had to change. The houses had to go. However, I have kept this main sim as it was and enhance what he would most value. I am very careful to hold the mood and theme, even though tenants might like to alter it a bit at times.

For those wishing to learn virtual development, take classes in building that emphasize prim minimalization, and land management. Learn about parcels within sims, subdivisions, property layout planning, and the “bonus factor.” Learn about vertical property rights and renting, the difference between ownership and a land sale, and various virtual business models in SL.

“The secret of a good partnership is: have skills that compliment each other, have a shared vision, and always, always a 50/50 split, or you own it”
—Huber Grantly, immortalized

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Published monthly in complimentary versions: in-world and online.
(Please see the in-world release or download Sim Street Journal#4 for more photographs, articles, and functionality. Also available on MARKETPLACE).

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