Monday, May 03, 2004


Last week, I finally realized why I haven't written much about the most renowned group in Second Life, even though they've been at it longer than I've been writing this journal.

"An arcology," Spider Mandala of Tyrell Corporation tells me, about the group's latest project. "Essentially, it will have personal builds, stores, a big events place... all sorts of stuff built inside of it, self-contained. It's almost like a mini-sim at 300 meters up." When they're done, it will contain its own ecosystem, an entirely enclosed world in miniature, hovering above the Gibson simulator.

But he's not finished. "Antagonistic Protagonist has also built a MASSIVE spaceship at about 550 meters up."

"It's up there now?"

"Yes," Mandala says. "Would you like to see?"


So up we go, via a series of intra-sim teleporters that take us higher and higher above Gibson. ("When you do a lot of high-altitude building," Mandala explains, "you kind of need it.") Until we've reached the heart of a truly mammoth spaceship. ("130 meters across and 60 meters 'tall'," he explains later, after he checks the specs.)

"We're on," he pauses, calculating, "the third deck up from the bottom. There's six decks, I think." We stroll through a few of them, as he talks. "These are all crew quarters open to Tyrell... this is the labratory deck, larger rooms for building and scripting experiments... this is Antagonist's Chaos Theory gaming labratory... That's what's cool about Tyrell," he says, after the tour of Protagonist's ship, and we exit the mid-level platform through an iris door that's triggered by a laser beam. "Twenty-five of us all pitch in [personal] land [allotments] to the whole of Gibson, so essentially all of us own Gibson. We're free to build what we want, where we want... Ready Jack and I are building most of the arcology-- the rest of Tyrell want the arcology as well, but were me and Ready Jack to build it anywhere else, we'd never be able to do it, it's just too big."

While we talk, someone in battle armor appears on the deck. "Any news about letting people join?"

Spider says no, then tactfully, "We move a little slower then that. It will be awhile, if at all."

"ok", says the man quietly, and clomps away. Tyrell's a difficult group to get into, though many would like that privilege.

"Is there a narrative for this ship and arcology?" I ask Spider Mandala.

"In a sense," says Spider, "we'll write it all down later. Right now, it's still heavily under construction... first, we were working on a big game development. Some things went South for awhile, Gibson was a part of that narrative and that story development. Now we've got a new game developing in Bonifacio and we're rebuilding in Gibson."

"So all this began as a potential game, and now it's just sort of a moody environment for Tyrell?"

"Well... the ideas have been altered. If you remember, the original Gibson had a complicated canyon system. We eventually flattened that out for the Gibson we have now. The original idea was to have buildings through the canyons and the plate city floating above the canyons. Which we DID." Since then, though, plans have changed, as they usually do.

Down in the arcology proper, we're joined by Ezhar Fairlight, another Tyrellian. "The way we work," she explains to me, "the approximate completion date is 'never', we only ever get infinitely closer to completion."

"What keeps you all motivated to keep build, build, building for a year plus?" I ask.

"Things get boring after looking at them for so long," Ezhar says, smiling.

"Would it be fair to say group cohesion keeps you building?"

Both agree to that. "We're very, very tight around here," Mandala exands. "Many of us know each other in real life to some degree or another." I tell them that it seems like the building is really just the catalyst for keeping together, for so long. They don't build so much because they're so close, in other words-- they build because they want to stay close. Both of them seem skeptical by that explanation.

"But it's interesting," I press, "that you guys have remained tight, even after a year, and ALSO never really complete things."

"We get easily distracted, I'd say," Ezhar tells me. "Like, Spider here gets very distracted if you give him any sort of gun." (To demonstrate, Mandala unholsters a personal rocket launcher, and fires off a salvo.)

And that's when it dawns on me why Tyrell, an elite group that existed well before Second Life's launch last year, and well into the Beta period, before then, has rarely rated a mention in New World Notes.

"[B]ecause," I explain to Ezhar and Spider, "I always get shown some amazing [Tyrell] project THAT'S STILL BEING BUILT. And I say, 'Great, tell me when it's finished, and I'll do a write-up!' AND THE CALL NEVER COMES!"

"The project here is never done," Mandala agrees. "We're always changing and growing. Hopefully the current incarnation of Gibson will become more and more permenant, though."

I laugh, and echo his "hopefully".

"Well, I say 'hopefully' so much, because the future is never written in stone."

"Tyrell never has completion dates," I suggest, "just milestones to greater and greater nuttiness."

"Yes," says Spider Mandala, "exactly."

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Looked at it this past weekend (05/01), very interesting. I'd like to build a ship and live on it, if I could move between sims in a nomadic way. Until then, static builds will suffice. I like the support structure and other things you guys have worked on, even waaay back with the canyons and the 'plate city' idea.

Keep on building, great job.

Posted by: Maxx Monde at May 3, 2004 4:52:25 AM

Do you have more info? Who is charge of Tyrell Corp? How many members? What do they pay a month to run it? I think the numbers are really interesting!

Posted by: M M at May 3, 2004 10:24:25 AM

"It is not the destination that is important, but the journey." SL is so transient, it is really hard for me to imagine building something and then just leaving it up indefinitely... SL is too much like webspace, I don't want a page that is static, I want something that is constantly changing and updating. That is something that can't happen in the real world, when you build something (barring a few exceptions) it is permanent, you can't just go knock out bits and refine individual projects.

As an architect the best you can really hope for is to take what you learned in one project and attempt to apply it to another building in the future. Here though, building only takes time, and if you don't like it you can scrap the whole idea and start over, or just get rid of the portions that you don't like and refine the whole...

If you ask me, this is a near perfect match of implementation and environment; basically we have created a wiki on gibson for us to gradually build up. In fact I think that this is a great model for groups in SL to work with because it acknowledges and capitalizes on nearly all the benefits and even some of the faults of this style of online community.

"They don't build so much because they're so close, in other words-- they build because they want to stay close" -chicken or the egg? I think we (when I say we I mean the group in general cause I have been mia for nearly a year, heh) build because we like to, we are a group because we enjoy each others company, and therefore we build with each other because we like each other, they mutually reinforce each other, both our enjoyment of building, and our enjoyment of each other.

Posted by: Nada at May 3, 2004 3:35:02 PM