Next week it has been 3 years ago since this Dutch noob began the 1920s Berlin Project.
Time to look back.
I had fist visited SL in 2007, had a little look around and like many before and after me realised that SL was a place where weird people walked around dressed like tacky tarts or porn actors or not dressed at all, where they spend all their time chatting bout uninteresting things, pretending they were having virtual hanky panky or spending real money on virtual rubbish.
Most sims looked horrendous and you continuously ran the risk of being griefed or having odd objects following you around.
Needless to say, I did not stay long.
But when I was given a new laptop I wanted to test it to its limits and remembered Second Life and its demands on my computer.
I discovered to my surprise that Second Life was still around, downloaded it and ran around a bit.
Sadly SL had not changed much, it looked a little better but was still just a paradise for those interested in doing all the things I so did not want to be doing.
But… literally minutes before I decide to leave Second Life for good… I decided to try the search option and see if I could find something I did like.
As someone who is obsessed with history and especially the 20th century, I of course started looking for sims with that theme.
I found Flashmans.
Not much later I was sitting at a bar, listening to vintage tunes, talking to like minded people.
No avatars looking like Barbie or Ken, no huge fancy flashy nightclub with loud music, no griefers, no hanky panky, it was great!
That single moment kept me from leaving and it also made me return.
I had long chats with people there about historical sims and decided there were not enough.
In my head the seed was planted, my imagination started working and I discovered the real secret formula of Second Life; If you can’t find it, make it.
So there I was, a total noob (not even 2 months old) talking to the good people around me about building my own club, something else, something I could not find in SL but something I badly wanted to visit; Berlin in the 1920s.
I rented a tiny parcel of land and started building… before I had even properly figured out how to walk.
I was messing around with prims, learning as I went along.
Discovering what happens when you drag one texture onto a pile of prims and suddenly see your buildings windows turn to brick.
Learning building the hard way as I had no patience to follow classes or read instructions.
I got lucky, before the sim even opened people started flocking to the sim.
The theme attracted people, they would come and look at plywood buildings and get all excited just because they too wanted to see Berlin in the 1920s.
Still, I had doubts and was really worried about spending real money in SL, so I literally had to be talked into building shops and apartments for people to rent.
I just could not imagine people spending real money living in tiny damp smelly dirty apartments with almost no prims.
But they did and more than that, they helped me figure stuff out and supported the project in many ways.
On may 30th 2009 we opened our club.
It cost me blood sweat and tears to figure out how to get a music stream, how to host a live singer, how to eject people, etc.
I had not even understood the basics of SL when I started running a sim.
But we had a lot of fun and it seemed like people were really excited about the place, even if it was build by a noob who couldn’t even rotate a prim.
There was one final obstacle that almost killed the project.
One day the landlord of my sim said she was quitting and I had to vacate within 24 hours.
My sim was not that big but I had no idea how to link prims, made a big mess of putting everything in my inventory, lost some of the items I had and that I spend real money on and ended up without a sim, not knowing what to do.
I was thinking about giving up but the friends I had made and the people who loved the project wouldn’t let me.
Friends like Sonatta Morales, Klopstick Sandalwood and Fraulein Edelmann kept pushing me to start over.
To avoid being kicked off my land again I had to actually buy land, get a premium account, two things I did not want to do.
But I did anyway and started work all over again.
And now the 1920s Berlin Project really took off, slowly my building skills improved (I’m still learning), the sim got bigger and bigger (till we eventually got our own region) and most importantly; the community grew.
I had no idea how amazing our project was doing till I started looking at other sims and learned that it was not very common for a historical roleplay sim to have all its apartments almost permanently occupied, have people in your sim eager to organise events, maintain security, manage shops, run clubs.
It is not common to be able to pay your tier without problems almost every month for years.
It is not common for people in such sims to love the place so much that they consider it like a real home.
And it seems to become even rarer these days, so many sims fall apart, disappear, just can’t manage.
But we are doing well, very well.
I often blush and sometimes get a tiny bit emotional when I hear and see how much people care about this pile of prims I stuck together, because yes, I now know how to link prims.
People do want to live in tiny dirty apartments with lots of lags and almost no prims.
They love the 1920s Berlin theme or, even better, they don’t know much about it but learn a lot about it and fall in love with it because of the sim.
That to me is why I do all this, to share my passion for history, to educate.
And here we are, 3 years later.
Berlin is a full region, we have several events every week, a vibrant community, great people, superb shops, best clubs in the world 🙂
Life is good.
Getting ready to organise 5 days of fun in our sim to celebrate this, looking at the thousands of snapshots made over the years, laughing at how it all used to look, smiling at the snapshots other people made in ‘their city’.
And the future?
Well as long as there is a Second Life, there will be a 1920s Berlin.
We have set up a structure that will make sure the city remains even if I die or find a RL time machine and can’t resist using it.
But my imagination is also looking into other dreams.
There are so many things from the early 20th century I want to share with the people in the virtual world.
This year will be the year when I pick one of the 3473289475693 ideas I have for other sims and start thinking about how I can realise that.
Time to create another historical roleplaying sim!
See you at the 3rd anniversary!
Hi Jo – can you help me? Have you ever been in touch with or worked with anyone attached to any of the Universities based in RL Berlin? I am about to start my PhD which is researching how this technology (and your project is an excellent example) can be used on a bigger scale to encourage new technology focused generations to get involved in heritage by using virtual environments. Many thanks, Annie
Jo Yardley said:
I’m afraid not, sorry.