Monday, April 25, 2022

Looking Back: The Closing of The SS Galaxy

It was seven years ago tomorrow, Sunday April 26, 2015, that a bombshell was dropped: the SS Galaxy would be closing down. It was a shock to both fans of ships & boats and explorers alike. The announcement was made in the ship's group by it's managing director DBDigital Epsilon. The Galaxy wasn't just any ship, but a *massive* structure that was three sims long with two water sims in front and back. So it was probably the largest structure ever created in Second Life, and certainly the largest known. It was also one of the first places the Newser wrote about.

There was much to do aboard this huge vessel. One could rent a room there for a while. And once there, one could stop by the ballroom for music and dance. And as Gemma once wrote, "You will find a myriad of places to visit between shows in the Zodiac. Play a little miniature golf, skeet shoot, fishing, or play a little basketball. There is a gallery with a featured artist, many shops to visit, and much more to discover for your extended visit." It was a place one could have a virtual vacation on, or just drop by time to time for individual attractions. A video made by Nika Dreamscape would show much of the ship and it's activities.

So why did the ship close? An investigation revealed that the ship had recently been sabotaged in a severe griefing attack. "We have had griefers before but not on this scale," one of the crew told me, saying what happened was the culmination of a number of attacks in recent days, tearing holes into the ship and mangling much of the deck and walls. So DBDigital spent "hours" on the phone with Linden Lab, only to be told he would be allowed one rollback for his sims, and then no more. Not one a day. Not one a week. One rollback once, and then no more, *ever.* And there was nothing they could really do to stop the vandals from striking again. Feeling he could no longer safely offer the cruise ship experience he had been giving, it was then DBDigital made the decision to close the ship. After eight years of operation, the great cruise ship would be having it's last call. For the remaining days the ship was open, longtime fans, and new admirers alike dropped by to enjoy it while they could, such as some impromptu fishing parties. Then on May 3, the ship was closed.

So why did the Lab tell the Galaxy they would only allow one single rollback and then no more? There was no shortage of people saying the Lab just didn't care about it's residents. It was also suggested that this was the result of a "hands off" policy with minimal involvement. And there was the viewpoint it was customer service cut back to the point it was seldom available. But it was more than just the Lab. After all, the incident had happened because of vandalism by griefers. "Griefing is a big problem, not just in SL, but the uprise of 'active sociopathy for entertainment' on the Internet is becoming a larger issue. Especially in the last few years as it has gained its own sort of culture, justifications, and communities dedicated to it." "... that was years of people's work, and God knows how many thousands of dollars. And some people felt entitled to go and trash that."

But it eventually dawned on the Lab they really goofed up. Just two days after my commentary on the ship's closing, a group of Moles and Lindens created a preservation group. And five days after that, DBDigital announced the Galaxy would be reopening soon, but under the ownership of the Lab. That was the good news. The bad news, "Sadly being under Linden Lab’s flag also means that none of the previous management or crew will be aboard in any sort of capacity.  I have also been told there will be no rentals or events.  This means she will not quite be the Galaxy you know and love." A few months later in September, the ship reopened. The ship itself was preserved. But there would be no cabins available to rent for a time. There would be no schedule of parties in the ballroom. In a sense, it was a museum ship.

The closing of the SS Galaxy was one of several noted blunders and questionable moves by Linden Lab in 2015. But the Lab seemed to learn it's lesson. I never did hear of another place that shut down because the Lab told them no more rollbacks. As it turned out, there would be an occasional event at the Galaxy's ballroom, notably for the Relay. But for those who were fans of the ship in it's heyday, these would be just short reminders of what once was.

Bixyl Shuftan

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