The Reef Virtual World | not quite Irukandji

Kiwi Islands, the Reef Virtual World 2015

Reef VR – The Reef Virtual World

In November 2014, I began building Reef VR. Like hundreds of people before me, I broke away from the mainstream commercial worlds, and built my own OpenSim based virtual world.

Second Life had become far too expensive and their service was terrible. I gave Linden Labs several opportunities to improve but they didn’t. So, after six years in SL and exhausted by the experience, in 2013, I went to InWorldz.

InWorldz showed promise initially but by the time I left in 2014, they seemed to be using the Linden Labs handbook as well. Cracks were also beginning to show via IM meltdowns that things were not so rosy behind-the-scenes. This, along with rumours of insolvency which turned out to be true, pushed me away in the end. I didn’t want to go down with the ship.

So, the question at that point in time was “Do I take a punt on some other grid or have a go at building my own?”

Note: if you are trying to visit the current Irukandji world, the landing sim is Arius on the DigiWorldz grid. The region is hypergrid enabled for easy teleportation from other Open Simulator virtual worlds. If you have the Firestorm viewer, use this link to teleport to Arius.

New beginnings

The Reef VR Virtual World logo 2014

InWorldz taught me that the look and feel of Irukandji was the only one I liked. I wasn’t going to try to deny that fact a second time.

From the outset though, I promised myself this would not be a reinvention. At best, it would be a totally new grid that would last many years. At worst, it would be a period of creating new content, developing new scripts, and taking a break from being a land baron.

Reef VR would last about 15 months. I had a dozen or so diehard land owners from previous grids and their financial support helped give me the freedom to work on all the above.

In terms of longevity, no, The Reef Virtual World was not a success, but in terms of content creation – especially the explosion of scripts and animations – and the hyper development of NPCs – and the new IruMoto car engines and drop menus and ATMs – I mean, WOW!

So yeah, Reef VR was a failure in that it’s no longer here, but damn, what a brilliant failure.

This is the great legacy of Reef VR. I built stuff. I invented stuff. And when I moved to DigiWorldz the following year, I had all these groovy new and totally unique creations to take with me.

In 2023, as I write this intro, I am still using content and honing scripts that I first conceived and invented in Reef VR eight years ago.

Simulators on Reef VR

Kiwi Islands & Iruka

  • 104.8576 hectares
  • Grid: The Reef 2015
  • Use: Mixed
  • Terrain: hand terraformed 1024 x 1024 square metre var-region

I’ve combined Kiwi Islands and Iruka under one heading, simply because they were the same region but at different points in time. When my friend Leah owned the region, it was Kiwi Islands. When I took over the region, I kept it going but renamed it Iruka. More on that later.

Kiwi Islands (Leah’s legacy)

Leah Hammer, Kiwi Islands, 6th April 2015
Leah is best remembered as brown haired but spent her time on Reef VR as a blonde. Standing outside Electric Pussy on Kiwi Islands for a photo shoot.

Kiwi Islands was a one-million square metre 4×4 var-region on The Reef virtual world. While technically, not part of the Irukandji Continent, it was in essence.

When I created the Reef VR grid, I didn’t want to go into competition with my estate owners, and thus I decided not to build an Irukandji continent there.

That decision however, created a vacuum as many of my former tenants in InWorldz followed me over and wanted to rent land.

Enter, Leah Hammerer. Leah had been a volunteer estate manager on every grid since Second Life. A huge personality in InWorldz, Leah modelled for my Electric Pussy range of women’s clothing. She basically ran the Pussy shop on Tamita Island in InWorldz.

So, Leah decided to try her hand at being a landlord and ordered a region from me. Being a New Zealander, she called it Kiwi Islands. 😎

I terraformed and landscaped the island for her while she took care of the promotion and land rentals. At a million hectares, and terraformed by hand, it took us about a month before Leah could start renting parcels.

In every sense, Kiwi Islands looked just Irukandji. The culture, covenant, and even many of the tenants were exactly the same as before. Leah buried herself in the Electric Pussy business again, building a new series of themed shops while I created a new NPC script so her bots could model clothes.

Life went on like a charm for several months then Leah revealed she had just learned she had terminal cancer. A few weeks later, she passed away.

Sunset view over Kiwi Islands 2015

Stunned by the news, my volunteer helpers did what they could to fill the gap of Leah’s absence, but many of my old team had moved on after InWorldz. Eventually, it was pretty much just up to me.

Iruka, a nod to Irukandji on Reef VR

I took over the region so as not to inconvenience Leah’s tenants. I renamed the sim Iruka, in order to put some sort of metaphoric underline beneath where Leah’s artistic vision abruptly ended and mine began.

It was a horribly emotional time as the very likeable Leah was a close friend to lots of us. Eventually though, the pressures of operating a grid plus a tenanted estate proved too much for me, especially while running my own beauty clinic in RL.

I was able to keep the region going for a few months but finally had to let it go, along with the Reef VR grid itself.

So much love went into this region from both of us. I saved its terrain to my hard-drive and used it as a template for the first iteration of Aratura on the DigiWorldz grid. And all the time I tinkered there, I thought of Leah.

It’s 2023 and it still tears me up to think about that time. Even today, ten years since InWorldz, photos of Leah remain everywhere on product boxes and promo posters. She was very much a big part of the Irukandji story.

You will find some photographs of Iruka below, but I will let the Kiwi Islands tell the rest of the story.

Marlin Reef

Marlin Reef, Reef VR 2014
  • Size: 6.5536 hectares
  • Grid: Reef VR 2014-2015
  • Use: Mixed
  • Terrain: marlin-reef141113

Marlin Reef was a region on The Reef Virtual World.

Located south of the grid’s landing sim, Reef City, Marlin Reef formed part of small mainland continent.

The mainland idea was in answer to requests from former tenants in InWorldz, who followed me over to the new grid.

Marlin Reef was residential and commercial, and enjoyed around 50% occupancy from mainly US and European tenants.

Reef City

Reef City was a region on Reef VR. It was the official landing sim for the grid and its principal commercial district.

In its original form, Reef City was a standard sized region, adjoined by Marlin Reef to the south and Starfish Reef to the north.

Later, Reef City was transformed into a 2×2 var-region and the separate regions were combined.

Starfish Reef

  • Size: 6.5536 hectares
  • Grid: The Reef VR virtual world 2014-2015
  • Use: Mixed
  • Terrain: starfish-reef150122
Starfish Reef on the Reef VR virtual world

Starfish Reef was a region on the Reef VR virtual world.

Part of the grid’s mainland continent, most of Starfish Reef was public land. The northeast corner housed the Irukandji Palace, home of the estate team.

To the south of Starfish Reef lay the grid’s landing sim and administrative centre, Reef City.

The Lagoon

The Lagoon was a standalone simulator on Reef VR virtual world. While technically not part of the Irukandji story, I’ve included it here due to its similarities.

The Lagoon was a 2×2 var-region. It was terraformed by hand. A long sandbar ran from east to west, with the northern half of the simulator set aside for commercial purposes.

The southern half was a gay themed resort called Calypso which enjoyed good occupancy during its time on the grid.

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