SL Burning Man desert now looks more like the real thing

As much as I love the Burning Man events in Second Life – Burning Life and now Burn 2 – one thing about it has always bothered me: despite dedicated efforts to make the virtual Burning Man as close to the Nevada Burning Man as is feasible, the virtual desert just doesn’t look like the Nevada desert where Burning Man was born.

I’ve never been to Burning Man or Black Rock, but I have camped for years in the Nevada desert only about 40 miles from Black Rock and every time I go to a Second Life burn event, I am bothered by two things.  The cracked mud desert floor in Second Life may  mimic the (usually) dry cracked mud of Black Rock and simulated winds may blow digital dust clouds across the virtual desert floor, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that the real Nevada desert isn’t surrounded by endless water as far as the eye can see  and the Nevada desert around Black Rock isn’t flat, and certainly nothing like the flat as a table virtual version.  The real Nevada desert is broken up by long ridges of hills that once were islands in a long-gone vast inland sea.

If you go to the spring burn this weekend, Burnal Equinox, you’ll see a huge change: unlike previous Second Life burn events, now you’ll be surrounded by brown hills much like you’d see in that part of Nevada.  It’s not totally authentic; the hills have the same cracked mud texture as the flat land, something you’d never see in real life.  But at least they are real hills, not flat textures of hills applied to megaprims.  These are honest-to-God off sim hills, and for me, this gives Burnal Equinox a much more real feel than I’ve felt at previous events.

This picture shows my rendition in those new hills at Burnal Equinox of my favorite

Desert Hills surrounding Second Life's Burnal Equinox
Desert Hills surrounding Second Life's Burnal Equinox

moment of camping in the desert;  when the full moon is rising over the hills.  I try always to go at the full moon because that’s when the desert is most beautiful, especially at that magic moment just as the moon is rising over those hills and for a short while, the hills glow like they’ve been painted with fluorescent paint.  I assume it’s all those tiny plants that you don’t see from the distance on hills that appear lifeless, but which have their moment of glory when the full moon rises and for a moment brings them alive.

Burnal Equinox opens in Second Life on this Friday, March 25, 2011 and will run through Sunday.  The event will feature music, dance performances, creative exhibits, and two Lamplighter processions.  It’s brought to you by the same folks who bring you Burn 2, Burning Man in Second Life.

There are several events in particular that you should not miss:

Myst Dancers: This dance group always does an extraordinary performance.  You can see them Friday night at 7pm PT/SLT.

Yman Juran and the ChangHigh Trinity Sisters Fireshow: This is always a visual spectacular.  You can see them on Saturday at 2pm PT/SLT.

The Lamplighters always put on a good show.  Lamplighters are a feature of the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert and they play a similar role in Second Life.  As full discloser, this writer is a member of the Second Life Lamplighters.  There will be two Lamplighter processions at Burnal Equinox: Friday 8pm PT/SLT and Sunday noon PT/SLT.

You can learn more about Burn 2 events at www.burn2.org and Second Life members can teleport to the sim by clicking slurl.com/secondlife/Burning%20Man-%20Deep%20Hole/217/49/25 .

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