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Suzanna Soyinka discusses building a succcesful vampire community


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Suzanna Soyinka, Lead Developer, City of Lost Angels

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CoLA Mesh Rebuild Sewers

What's your favorite part of your sim? What inspires you?


The most important part of the City of Lost Angels is its players — they are the most active and crucial part of the sim. The role-play and characters they design are very intricate and they are largely what inspires me to put everything I can into creating the best community I can for them. The City of Lost Angels is not a singularly vampire-centric community, but its roots and beginnings from back in 2006 started from that.

Do you have any tips for organizing and managing people around a successful Second Life location?


Yes, first you have to understand that with people come problems. There will always be personality conflicts, differences of interest and occasional outright fights that can cause problems. Don't involve yourself in these affairs — as a community manager and leader, you have to understand things from everyone’s point of view and do your best not to take sides. You must also commit to the ideal that your sim and your community is not about making money. CoLA was supported on products I'd made in Second Life before committing to it as a project.

Over the years, CoLA has been supported by my advancement of the CCS Role Play Combat System in Second Life. The sim itself will never be about what money it can make — it must simply be a place that is dedicated to the people who choose to make it their home. It is also crucial that you have a deeply dedicated staff of core members who care as much about the community as you do. A popular community can never be fully managed by one person alone. It requires many people, working together for the common good of the community, to ensure a community in Second Life thrives and endures for years. CoLA has just recently celebrated its fifth anniversary as of Halloween of 2011, and its all due to the community, the focus and work the people that care about it put into it, and a lot of attention from me over the years.

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General Hunter - Human/Cyborg Vampire Hunter, and some back up

What is your advice to new or current Residents who want to get involved in the vampire communities?
First and foremost you must realize that "vampire" means different things to different people on the internet. You must be willing to understand that you might have a certain understanding from various lore bases such as White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade, or modern television examples such as Twilight, or vampire movies like Underworld and Blade, or even fiction narratives as far back as John Polidori/Lord Byron's Dracula. Everyone has a different idea of what a "vampire" is. Some in Second Life ascribe to the castles and formal dress of Byron's vision, others ascribe to the neo-Vampiric vision of Twilight and while ascribing to any specific lore in general is more than acceptable one must remember that being a Vampire in Second Life is very much relative to what you believe a vampire should be.

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Vampire vs. Demon in the streets of CoLA


I personally ascribe to a different style of lore, where vampires are territorial, power-driven and largely the perfect world, for any given vampire, is a world where all the other vampires are dead and no one believes in vampires any more. I've personally written my own lore background that enforces this for my own character within Second Life and only accepts the presence of other vampires due to lore based considerations of the City of Lost Angels storyline. And while I tend to think my own interpretation of Vampiric "lore" or backgrounds is best, everyone thinks this about their own character background so my interpretation is no more relevant than someone who has completely mimicked or emulated a character from a serialized movie series like Twilight.

The best advice one can give is that being a Vampire in Second Life is very much a point a personal point of view, and that you cannot tell anyone what is best for them, regardless of how "long" you've been a Vampire in Second Life. I've been a Vampire in Second Life now for six years, I don't consider myself any standard to be designed after any more than I consider the offerings of White Wolf, Twilight, Underworld or any other relevant background to be a "standard". Being a vampire in Second Life is very much about how creative you want to be with it and how much original material you want to bring to the table in the way you comport yourself and deal with others as a character. So don't worry about how to get involved with communities, good communities accept that everyone has their own story, communities that tell you that you can only think one way, aren't a good place to get a start in, unless they directly agree with your own personal philosophies.

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Siring of a Darvula Vampire

- Suzanna Soyinka

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Welcome to the Second Life forums, xBlitzRagex

Look inworld in the search facility for "vampire", "undead" and other keywords.  This should bring up venues and group lists. 

Vampires, though, have a tendency to turn up all over the place, the undead walk amongst us as it were :matte-motes-shocked:  Look how people dress, read profiles, vampires are all around us. You just have to know where to look. 

****

I would be very interested to see if Linden Lab comes back to this thread though to respond to your very valid query. I somehow doubt it.

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Welcome to the forum, Blitz.  Perhaps you need to look harder... there are vampires all over the place in this subforum alone... lol.

You can also look through the Destination guide, type "vampire" into the inworld search and look for places and groups or just go hang out at one of the Bloodlines sims, where you are sure to meet plenty of vampires that may be trying to recruit members for their clans.

Good luck ...Dres

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Adding some edited content at the request of Linden Labs. And greetings to everyone in the Second Life Vampire Community.

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CoLA - City Sewers - Mesh Build Version

What do you think your sim will look like this time next year?

As the first image shows we're doing a complete mesh overhaul of the City of Lost Angels™ to make it conform to more professionally detailed standards. I expect that at this time next year CoLA will largely stand out as one of the most advanced examples of the possibilities of Second Life with regard to not only community building but also with regard to showing off the best of the technology the Second Life platform has to offer presently, and it will all be done using completely original mesh and texture map bases as compared to some sims in Second Life that are a bit too willing to take short cuts with easily imported assets from other games. Overall I think CoLA will look more or less like it always has, busy, active, and a few steps ahead graphically, given the advantage the implementation of mesh in Second Life has given us.

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Suzanna Soyinka, Founder, City of Lost Angels™

What is the biggest misconception about the Second Life Vampire community?

I'd say the biggest misconception is that Vampires, in general, are "emo" teenagers. This is pretty far from the case, as Vampires in SL that I have known over the last six years range anywhere from the age of 18 to the age of 60. Its not about any certain mental mindset. Its not about wearing black all the time and having dead white skin. Its not about jumping on anyone that will let you and "feeding" on them. The biggest misconception about Second Life Vampires is that Second Life Vampires must behave/look/act in a certain way that coincides with the predisposed notions people may have about Vampires as derived from other media. My avatar has always been a vampire. I've never particularly felt a pressing need to suddenly spend my entire time in Second Life in formal evening dress, or hiding in a crypt because the sun came up. Crypts, graveyards, medieval and gothic imagery in general, to me, are stereotypical and its sort of like making "racial" assumptions, it's ill advised. In my view of Vampires, if they were real, a normal human wouldn't be able to tell the difference if they were sitting next to one at a coffee shop.

The biggest misconception about the Second Life Vampire community is pretty much all the misconceptions people assume about vampires in general. They translate just as much in a virtual world as they do in the real world.

How to find Vampire Communities in Second Life?

Well largely this is not hard to do using search, though finding specifically relevant examples of a "community" that might suit your individual tastes have gotten harder since the changes to the search system, you can still find them through a process of trial and error simply by typing "Vampire" in search with "Places" as the search category.

Also one thing to remember is that due to the merger of the Teen Grid with the Main Grid this year, many "Vampire" communities have changed their regional ratings to Adult versus Moderate. This is not specifically because these communities host only "Adult" content, but in large part to ensure that they are legally covered by the Terms of Service of Second Life should underage players be found in their communities. So while a vampire community may not be all about "Adult" content, many of them have had to ensure they protect themselves from legal action due to the changes in grid policy this year. So be sure you're checking in the Adult rated category as well as many good communities in the vampire/gothic area fall under this rating for self protection.

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Tonga - Darvula Clan Elder, City of Lost Angels™

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@ Suzanna. Thanks for the beautiful images of CoLA and its players.  I can't wait to see the mesh-CoLA! 

Thanks also for the mention about the ADULT setting and the importance of adding that option to your searches, otherwise players interested in dark roleplay will miss out on many unique offerings.  The ADULT setting does not mean porn, it means the environment was crafted for adults. 

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CoLA is as much a Vampire Community as any sim where Bloodlines/The Hunger players go for clueless noobs to bite.

This means that there are as many vamps (maybe even less) in CoLA as there are in any regular, non-rp sim.

Vampires only make up about 1/10th the population of CoLA. Lycans hold the majority followed by demons, then angels, then undead, then supernaturals, then sidhe, then humans. 

Yes, the old storyline of CoLA was based on the Vampire faction (formerly the Coven) controlling the city however that is no longer true as they have changed to a new blood line and names (now The Darvula). But in the 3 years that I have RP'd in CoLA on one avi or another - CoLA has never been a vampire community but rather a dark- post apoc- RP community that is as diverse as any sim.

Suz has created a great RP community, a great Combat Meter System, and has a fairly decent team to support the rp community there. However, calling it a Vampire Community leaves out at least 80% if not 90% of the community (I don't have exact numbers but will go and ask every RPer I see in a week what their RP race is to back my position here if needed).

Can't wait for the new build to be done, the new API to come out and another great RP year....

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  • 1 month later...

I Started Second Life and CCS in 2007 and have always role played a Vampire...

I wrote a extensive background history and migrated to Suzannas Sim, where I still come and play, and made great friends and enemy's and joined the early Coven....

CoLa  is a rich immersive role play experience in my opinion.....

You need not get too crazy on the ideas I used lot of White Wolf and some Anne Rice things to create my background and weakness and strengths in my role play... CoLa has its own style of vampire lore and is worth looking into if you are vampire material or just trying it out...

We really are not that hard to find just come and role play looking for vampires and they will find you....

Like Suzanna and others I never have changed to any other Race or class even in the CCS combat system itself...

Come out to play is dark and we are always hungry... 

 

 

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  • 2 years later...

How do you define success and success for whom?

 

I think it very much depends on one’s point of view and with what criteria one applies in measuring the success of any Sim Community and one of the most important factors that seems to have been overlooked in determining this is the style of administration of a Sim – something that has to be judged by looking at its culture, practices and ethics. You have to focus on what is bad as well as good in a Sim – you can’t simply have the smooth without the rough. What you see in the above posts is only half the story.

 

Sim Communities are like tyrannies or dictatorships. They reflect the nature of the personality of their owners. Their style of administration also reflects their personal morals or code of ethics, their prejudices and hatreds. Some can be harsh and authoritarian whilst others may be benign and compassionate. Regrettably, I would consider City Of Lost Angels to fall under the former type of dictatorships – an opinion formed from my personal observations and experiences of this Sim and my contacts with its owner as endorsed by the accounts of other former members of it.

 

That City of Lost Angels was a great concept is beyond doubt. Its player traffic and group membership can probably attest to that. How much of this concept of a role play environment populated by vampires, lycans, demons, angels and other superhuman races vying for supreme power can be attributable to its owner as original is debateable. It seems to have predated NoR Sim (Nation of Remembrance), its main rival which is a similar type of role play environment. However, it is probably fair to say that one can trace the origins of most of these type of modern day fantasy role play games and internet environments back to old board games like ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ and ‘Vampire, the Masquerade’. The main things that set City of Lost Angels apart from the rest are its background story and the integral use of the Community Combat System and these things can certainly be called a success. Does it make for a great role play environment? It is probably no better or worse than any other sim of its kind on the grid. That it was the first of its kind on the grid does make it special. However, if City of Lost Angels was created specifically for an inner circle of friends of its owner and elitist role players to enjoy the sole rights of, then this is also a success because there appears to be a network of cronyism between GMs, faction leaders, Sim financiers and their lovers and worshippers that crosses over into the CCS administration itself.

 

Unfortunately what lets City of Lost Angels Sim down is its failure to apply a system of game enforcement that is fair, honest and impartial and if you don’t have this in any game then you have nothing that is meaningful. If you want to produce a gaming Sim of any integrity, the essential element that must underpin the application of enforcement within it is impartiality. My view, and probably the view of most reasonable people is that when you create such a gaming Sim community you owe it to the whole of your membership to deal with them in a fair and even handed way and this is a real problem because there are possibly too many Sim owners who see CCS as a license to indulge their egotism rather than an obligation of responsibility towards a community of people. It is inevitable that occasional player disputes will arise and undeniable that some irresponsible or biased game enforcement decisions will occur, but it is my view that no one should be permanently banned from a Sim except for cases of griefing, abuse or extreme cases of nuisance. I think the demonstration of one’s morality or code of ethics is important in administering fair justice in Sim player enforcement matters and can be a measure of separating the good Sims from the bad. If you can’t justify an enforcement decision on moral grounds in such matters then I think it is a great condemnation of the lack of integrity of that Sim and its owner. You can’t allow friendships or a sense of loyalty towards certain people to bias your opinion and compromise the application of fair and honest enforcement. This only brings the game and your integrity into disrepute. Similarly, allowing the private hate of one or more individuals for another to dictate the course of an enforcement decision is not only something that should be unacceptable but is setting that Sim owner on a very dangerous path that says it’s alright to ban people from their community for any kind of prejudice. Basically, these things are just another form of cyber bullying, quite often facilitated by a deep rooted cronyism.

 

So, I must ask the questions, is it a success that vendettas, hate campaigns and witch hunts are permitted to flourish? Is it a success that people are bullied or intimidated because they disagree with irresponsible game enforcement or wish to voice fundamental grievances – and that they are ridiculed and labelled ‘troll’ for doing so? Is it a success that mockeries are made of friendships and that people delude themselves into turning happy, good natured role play into some kind of wicked crime? These things are not successes. At some point, a decision has to be made in the life of any Sim owner as to what values they stand for because their actions can blight the name of the whole community that they represent but one can’t blame or resent whole peoples or communities for the actions of individuals. Whole peoples and communities are not wicked or evil. Only individuals are wicked or evil, but the hurt, the anger, the bitterness that people can feel from the treatment they receive from such individuals can go deep and be long lasting and be a serious blight on their second life experience. In some cases it may leave an indelible mark that can never be erased. For these reasons I disagree that City of Lost angels is a success story. From my experiences and observations I would cite the Sanctuary Dark Role Play Sim chain as a more successful model, thanks mainly to the more enlightened administration of its owner and the fairer, more honest and compassionate application of its game enforcement ethics. It shows that morality does matter, particularly if you do care about the integrity of the community that you represent.

 

In respect of City of Lost Angels I have no problem in saying that I once loved every virtual field and hedge row. It was only some of the people who governed it that depressed me but it’s going to take changes to improve things in Lost Angels. First of all there needs to be a culture shift away from pandering to the hate of various individuals and the interests of a favored elite and towards a Sim that is run for the benefit of the whole community. Secondly there needs to be an overhaul of the way the Sim is enforced and how a fairer form of justice is dispensed. There needs to be an examination of the present practices and procedures in the system and to see how they can be improved to prevent bias and unfair treatment. Finally, there needs to be a code of ethics that the Sim owner and their admins are going to uphold and respect – some basic moral values and principles that are going to underpin their community and tell people that these are the values that we stand for. However, it takes vision, courage and moral conviction to introduce such changes and regrettably I doubt these are qualities that one will ever find in the current Sim owner.

 

Tanith Rehula

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