An aerial view of Encore’s welcome center.
Saturday morning and most people are sleeping late. But not CTM Underwood.
CTM, the recently elected President of Encore Escape, is levitated on the other side of the welcome center deep in thought. You can hear his mental gears determining the position of the buildings for the new mall. Above him, frozen in space, are modular builds, like puzzle pieces waiting to be lowered and properly aligned. This is just one of many projects Encore’s staff is working on.
The why is simple. The open sim concept has expanded to a vast landscape of hyper grid worlds where we are no longer restricted to one closed grid. With this reality comes the challenge of presenting a concept, theme, additional socialization aspects, and various virtual elements that draw in a global audience. No simple task considering the number of grids available to be explored.
Encore’s founders, Potlatch Foggarty, Bellaby Ballyhoo and Rocky and Shannon Hillburton were looking for an alternative to the high cost of virtual life. They envisioned it and drew up the virtual blueprints.
Along with Pat Wunderland, the group held a deep appreciation for the Toys-For-Tots mission and established an eight-year fundraising effort in Second Life in its name. Encore Escape’s founders also created and operated sos-streams-net, a music stream management business in Second Life in an effort to supply streams to popular entertainers and DJs there.
As for their background, Foggarty began his virtual singing in the Paltalk community, moved on to Second Life and then to the OS Metaverse. He is driven to write, record, mix and arrange music when not venturing in virtual worlds. In real life, he is a professional webmaster and a Florida State Certified Building Contractor.
Ballyhoo manages live streams and focuses on event coordination, as well as acting as Potlach’s manager. She enjoys creating virtual home furnishings for her Gridz Mall store in Encore Escape.
The Hillburtons built and managed a popular SL Country Music venue and they assumed the organizational and management responsibilities of the Toys-for-Tots fundraising campaign.
“All of us have come from a long background for being in Second Life, as well as other grids, throughout the years,” explained Underwood. “So, we felt as we became sim and region owners, we spent a lot of money with Second Life charging $300 for a sim. We looked into not leaving the grid, but starting our own. There were a lot of people who couldn’t afford $150, $200 or $300 every month. So we put the Encore Estate together after being involved in other grids, like DigiWorlds and InWorldz). The four of them actually started it. I wasn’t included then.”
Almost two years have passed and the learning experiences have been many. It took a great deal of research and time to settle on a good company to host Encore. The addition of dedicated staff that follows through on their duties keeps the structure stable and programming active. It is to be noted that while this is a virtual world it is a company with consistent operating fees. Virtual world operations aren’t free. There will be renting options available to help cover overhead expenses.
Equally important is the desire to nurture the social aspects of their grid.
“We want everyone to socialize, and to be involved in people’s lives,” he said. “As you know, some people live hundreds or thousands of miles away or around the world. They come into our little group and participate in our scheduled events. There are other people that come into a grid, like ours, that like role playing, so we welcome them. We have no problem with everyone coming here, but there are certain regulations. Such as if they want an adult sim it has to be listed as one and feature a brief description of its intentions. So if there’s a person not into that particular role play, they won’t go there.”
Underwood spoke of the progression of the tech aspects of Encore. Like the majority of grids, Encore has added servers but designed a system for high performance. That would be the separation of asset and region servers and various back-up servers.
For those experiencing grid closures, such as InWorldz, consider the standard size regions and options:
TEE Standard Size Region – $14.99/Month – This is a standard (256m x 256m) plot of land including 15,000 prims. This land includes full access to estate tools and can be named anything you like and located anywhere they allow regions in their grid. Additional prim capacity can be added at any time if desired.
TEE Homestead Region – $6.99/Month – Make your Escape with this great starter region! This is a standard (256m x 256m) plot of land including 5,000 prims. This land includes full access to estate tools and can be named anything you like and located anywhere regions are allowed in the grid. Additional prim capacity can be added at any time, if desired.
TEE 3,500 Low Prim Region – $3.99/Month – You must already own at least one TEE Standard Region (or larger) to purchase this region. This is a standard (256m x 256m) plot of land including 3,500 prims. This land includes full access to estate tools and can be named anything you like and located anywhere they allow regions in their grid.
TEE Low 1,000 Prim Region – $2.49/Month – You must already own at least one standard region to purchase this region. This is a standard (256m x 256m) plot of land including 1,000 prims. This land includes full access to estate tools and can be named anything you like and located anywhere they allow regions in their grid.
The Low Down on the Basics:
— At the welcome center: select your starting avatar, click on your welcome starter kit (for notecards on new resident info, viewers, avatar control panel, Encore Entertainment Estates, What is a VAR?, How to Import & Export Items, a Encore Escape TP Hud, info on Hyper Jumping, shopping on Kitely Marketplace).
—Mentor assistance: click on the photo of those online. Ask your questions about public residential land, purchase of regions, entertainment info, and various tier support.
—Social aspect: everyone is friendly and helpful. They love to have new residents and hyper grid visitors in the ballroom on Sunday nights.
—Intellectual property – They are determined to protect intellectual property through awareness and communication with other grid owners. What you create on Encore is yours. Numerous stores will be available as soon as CTM Underwood finishes the expansion of the mall.
— Request for regions: The goal is for the management team to set up a region within one to two hours. You purchase the land, the accounting package confirms that payment is made, the grid is brought up, terrain files are available or you can design and build custom files.
— Events you can count on: Karaoke on Mondays, Back Bay Poker Run on Thursdays, Country Bob as DJ at Tweety’s Peacemaker Saloon and dance the night away on Sundays in the formal ballroom. Meet new and familiar performers. Tips appreciated.
—Interested in becoming an Encore performer? IM Potlach or CTM to get a list of the many venue owners for an audition. Mentors assist performers in setting up their avatar in a tux or gown, with musical instruments and stream and a home if you perform three times a month.
—Content Creators: are invited to sell their high-quality content in the new mall. First come first serve so check it out asap. There will be a nominal rental fee, but residents are very eager to explore the virtual products available 24/7.
Encore’s spacious ballroom is perfect for Sunday entertaining or an elegant setting for a virtual wedding.
Tweety leading a group of line dancers in her Peace Maker Saloon
Harbor Club is one of several informal venues. The view is spectacular with the Ballroom off in the distance.
You’ll find a harbor in the residential area. This where DJ Bob hosts the weekly Poker Run.
Not only does the ballroom have a large entertaining area, but the the decor is elegant.
Mentors are available at various times of the day.