Tuesday, October 23, 2007

burn baby burn, when you gonna learn?

*points at the sidebar, under Fashion on the Grid*

Look! If you're a fur on the grid, there's invaluable advice there. Sure, you may already know, but I'm going to be reading it avidly. Because let's face it, shapeshifter or not, I get caught up in smooth-skin thinking far too often.

Anyway, I finally tracked down the SLUrl for IBM's intriguing house on SOA Adventure Island.

Or above it, actually.

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For pure fun, it's actually in two sections--this one, the floating platform I'm standing on, that has dances through the graveyard, ghosts and gravestones, and odd little goodies found here and there on and around the structures--and the actual 'haunt'. Both sections are worth going through, though it's anything but your typical haunted house.

When you first enter the haunted house, you're faced with two choices: go upstairs, or go through the green columns and the arch between. Do choose to go upstairs.

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Very reminiscent of Disney's "Haunted Mansion", this bit was. But fun. Also, downstairs, they have several paintings that sing their own tones. Sometimes the tones are cheerful. Depending on how close you get to the paintings? It can get distinctly unnerving.

Through the columns is a round room, which--for all it's elegantly laid out--is a merchants' space. You can buy virtually anything in there, and most, not cheaply. But they are all holiday-themed, at least, which makes up for the jarring bit of commerce.

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I've been seeing this ancestors' altar--on its traditional bed of marigolds--round and about since I went through this haunt, but at the time, it was the first reference to Dia de los Muertos on the grid. I was overjoyed! And I happily accepted a sugar skull and teleported into the haunt itself.

That was when things got...odd.

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You will find yourself in a room that could be the setting for fully half of all zombie movies known. What do you do there? Try to figure out why you're seeing dead butterflies? Oh, and try to find your way out.

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The White Room. My first time through, it was five full minutes before I discovered the trick to it. Along your way through, you will find one prim-maiden that talks back, if you click and talk to her. There are two.

One of them doesn't talk.

And no, they're not side by side.

But it's interesting, it's modeled on the A.L.I.C.E. chatbot scripts (which are now open-source, by the by)--which is a distant relative to iGod (repenting made easy, hee). I'm very tempted to work to learn enough scripting to draw up my own version. See how fast it learns. :)

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A.L.I.C.E.'s younger sister leads you down to....well, I won't say Hell, that's in Blueberry, but somewhere very red, very dark, very warm. Once you find your way out of that, more surreality ensues.

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It's been a long-standing rule of mine--the corridor with stuph happening in it, in haunts? Is always going to be the more interesting path to take.

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Unfortunately, it led to ZOMBIES!

I'm not kidding. ZOMBIES! And they multiply. And they CHASE YOU!

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This was the room of bafflement for me. Floating clouds of butterflies, tranquil pools, a large shining blue bird--for whom, I kept wondering, would find this room terrifying?

I'm still going over it. People are afraid of butterflies? Vessels of the soul? Bringers of the chaos of change? Symbols of eternity, moment by moment? I couldn't fathom it. The only thing I could think of was P.C. Hodgell's jeweljaws, brightly colored carrion-eaters from her Kencyr novels.

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The names of the builders responsible for this attraction, cunningly preserved as decorated pumpkins.

Also keep in mind, this is at least partially a hunt--now and again, here and there, you will find little things to buy. They're never much, but it adds another layer to the entire affair.

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One of the designers? Obviously a Kevin Smith fan.

Finally, you approach the final room. The end game. The resolution to all your fruitless...

...well, the musical analogy isn't exactly the worst one. Much of SOA seems devoted to music, dance, percussion, expression in sound. And the round bubble-room that you are directed to enter will, when you stand in the exact center of the ring of speakers, record what you say and play it back as random text over the speaker you find yourself closest to. There's also a slow percussion that builds, the longer you stand and listen--more instruments activate as minutes go by. It's a compelling, nearly hypnotic, way to end the haunt--but it leaves you in the 'huh' mindset, not the 'eeee, that was SCARY' one.

Still. Remember the zombies.

Because those were CREEPY.

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