What you're looking at above is an early glimpse of Rustica, a Blue Mars location currently under development and expected to go online sometime after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. If you're a longtime Second Life Resident, you'll probably recognize that name, because Rustica was also the name of an incredibly gorgeous SL sim. Both are the creation of 3D artist Maxwell Graf (his avatar name in both worlds.) Famous in Second Life for his beautiful natural settings and furnishings, Mr. Graf has since focused all his metaverse talent on creating a version of Rustica in Blue Mars.
As with the Second Life version, Rustica will be a beautiful mountain and forest setting with trails and tunnels, and eventually, when vehicles are introduced to Blue Mars, a place for 4x4 racing.
"[I]t may initially be nothing more than a glorified natural park with hiking trails for a bit, 'till things allow for further development." Maxwell allows. However, that's before he introduces the man-eating bears and the sharks off the coast -- yes, sharks.Rustica's birch trees are composed of hand-painted bark and leaf textures
A professional digital artist since 1982, Maxwell Graf's done 3D product design for a number of major department stores, then began creating Second Life content after joining that world in 2006. He began following Blue Mars shortly afterward.