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Thursday, November 11, 2004

AND STRAIGHT ON 'TIL MORNING

"Oh Hamlet," Baccara Rhodes begins modestly, referring to the foggy London cobblestone streets outside, and the warm glow cast by the pub fireplace nearby, and the Northen star above us, and the pirate ships, and the roller coaster, and the Indian village, and everything else that she and her team have spent weeks building, in a project that spreads out in all directions over three simulators and 48 acres of virtual land, "You know me. I talk to Fey..."

"What did I do?" Fey asks, standing wide-eyed next to her. Then again, Fey Brightwillow is always wide-eyed-- especially when she's dressed in a Victorian Age ladies' bodice of her own creation, as she is now.

"And," Baccara continues, "the three words she doesn't wanna hear are 'I've been thinking'."

Ms. Rhodes and Ms. Brightwillow are the founders of Spellbound, a group devoted to creating and hosting premiere social events (fashion shows, weddings, and the like) that tend to top whatever came before it. But in that regard, given that their last big production was a tribute to the Wizard of Oz novels, they had quite a hurdle clear, this time.

"Fey and I just talk," she said. "After Oz, we said, 'Hmmmmm.'" Baccara told Fey she'd been doing some thinking, and then Fey did some too. And they kept on thinking together, over the phone (which considering their in-world celebrity status, is probably the best way to brainstorm without constant interruption.)

And the outcome of all their thinking was this: Neverland, a three-sim tribute to the world and wonders of J.M. Barrie, creator of the Peter Pan novels. Spellbound's efforts were assisted by Linden Lab, which loaned them use of three servers, for Neverland; some Lindens contributed their technical and creative assistance in the production, as well. Earlier this week, they took me on a long advance press tour, to show me all its wonders. There's a story to unfold, secrets to reveal, games to play, fabulous creatures to interact with, and rides to, well, ride on. But by request of the production team, all of those will remain untold here, until next week. For now, just these three screenshots, as hints of far more to come.

When we're standing in the children's bedroom of the Darling house with the window open to the sky, Baccara turns to me.

"Do you remember how to get to Neverland, Hamlet?

I'm not feeling the magic just yet, so I say something about Michael Jackson's palatial estate, and the Elephant Man's bones. Undaunted, Baccara presses on.

"Tink and Peter sprinkled fairy dust...

"The window opened...

"And AWAY they flew. Second star to the right."

And so off we go...

Neverland opens to the public on Friday at 5pm (PST), in the Olde London Sim.

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