Sunday, September 30, 2007

something unseen, some hand is motioning

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Dark Depressions has a pumpkin tree! Wrought iron hung with carved pumpkins, retails for L$150, 34 prims...but pretty!

We went wandering a bit tonight through the dread wasteland of my landmarks folder. Here and others. Also a new sim in the Bare Rose line, Gion. Gion currently has a scavenger hunt going, for some fairly cool prizes; more information can be found here.

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Now, it helps to understand that the website is translated from Japanese, and not precisely accurately. Where it says, three scrolls found around the hokora? It should say found around the sim.

Mostly? You should read the website to figure out what the scrolls and the keys look like. After that? You're on your own.

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Well, no. I'll say this.

There are seven keys. Only two of them work, Key 2 and Key 4. Keep going until you find one of those for the kimono.

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Next, scrolls. There are three. Seek them in the four corners of the sim, and think sidewise, they're well hidden. In one corner of the sim is the shrine; the scrolls are not there.

For the last, you'll simply need you, and four friends, to go to the great kane bell. Take hold of the rope and pull in unison, and you will be given a prize. Five prizes, actually--one for each of you.

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One more thing. Seven's wings. They look amazing, don't get me wrong. But there's something very, very odd with them, and I think it's that they have an internal flight assist. This, if it exists, is pairing very badly with my gadget's assist.

Why do I think this? Because I flew up in Gion once to see if I could track down something and finally forced myself to stop at a bit over 1,200 meters. Following this I actually managed to fly OFF THE SIM and ended up in a rumpled wing-ball underwater!

So I think I'm right...

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Last, I finally set up the office in Winterfell. Clicking the office link on the profile picks will bring you there; leave me a notecard by clicking the apple on the desk. (I made applemail! Well, if by "I made" you mean "I went to the library and got the apple sculpt map and texture" and "I had Sir ZenMondo's mail script and popped it in". Though I did make the desk, the chair, and the papers on the desk, dash it all!)

I love Winterfell. It's one of those places where, if I had the Lindens, I'd live there in a heartbeat. No electricity allowed. No neon, no streetlights, just torches and moonlight. I could so cope with this....

Friday, September 28, 2007

the lighthouse beam has just run out

I won't say Taupo's dead. I won't. I refuse. As long as there are players who wish to play, players who wish to keep a sim alive, a sim is not truly dead.

But I'm watching it stagger less than two weeks after opening, and it hurts. The potential of failing...again....it hurts.

Chief among the problems is the fact that the woman interested in storytelling there is so hidebound by Gorean traditions, she can't see past them to see the larger strictures of the grid, and grid roleplay realities.

I'm sure all know that feeling of trying to argue the brick wall into stepping aside?

The brick wall will eventually move, compared to Miss Dae.

*sighs and walks back into limbo, tail hanging down*

Thursday, September 27, 2007

and as I stared I counted the webs from all the spiders

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Why you should never try on unknown shapes in public.

ANYWAY...

Mr. Allen found a haunted house, the Devil's Labyrinth in Rivata. He didn't seem enthused, but I talked him into it, and when we arrived, we were joined by Miss Neome, and off we three went.

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As one walks in, one is given a choice of three paths. We chose Ba'al first (Incubus to follow, then finally Lucifer). Each path chosen changes the path you walk.

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Ba'al's path was full of deceptive little physical tricks--disorienting slides through walls, particle and texture effects (that did, on occasion, greatly increase lag), bouncing body parts, floating physical ghosts.

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Ba'al's path was also the most 'haunted house' part of the Labyrinth. The sounds were phenomenal and unnerving, the little objects to click to continue forward--or backward, or to the side, or down--were well integrated and spooky in their own right, on not infrequent occasion.

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The spookiest part for me, though, was a patch of all black corridor. We had no idea where we were going until I saw, far in the distance, a patch of brilliant white light. We ran towards it, gasping in the deep-cave darkness, and emerged into the corridor of light--corridor so pale that it had lost all definition. This stretched our nerves to threads and we literally ran to get away from all the bright. Very effective.

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At this point, we were being told we had arrived in Hell. Despite all our best efforts to the contrary.

I've always believed Hell is other people, but apparently? Hell is tie-dyed. My companions fled shrieking, looking for a way clear of paisley. Me? I felt surprisingly at ease.

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I hit the most dreadful patch of lag while briefly accessing the roof, and I was only able to drag myself slowly across the stones as Miss Neome bid us adieu from afar. As she disappeared, I slipped on the paving stones, and when I next awoke, I was back in the sewer systems, and Fawkes had been locked behind bars.

I'm still confused as to why this happened.

But I helped him get out, and we kept moving together, searching for the exit.

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We found a medical lab instead, bloodspattered and full of the shrieks of those who had died on the bloodied table. We noticed....something...watching us through the broken window...just in time for the viral purge to begin. As the walls began to ooze deadly green gas, we scrabbled at the side door and fell through--only to see a sign that said we'd reached the end of the haunted house.

Hee.

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Of course we went back in and tried the other paths! Though this is where Devil's Labyrinth gets very surreal. Where Ba'al's path was long and involved, and frightening, the path of the Incubus? Frustrating, circuitous, and involving way too many choices.

Why does this sound familiar?

We followed that with a final trip (for tonight, anyway) down the path of Lucifer. Lucifer's path is oddly elegant--less outright frightening, and more simply amazing. Lucifer led us from the switchback stone tunnels, into metal-grating corridors and finally, onto an airless moon. Lucifer the space demon? Truly, at that point, we didn't care, we were very pleased.

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To get to Devil's Labryinth on your own, just click here. Tip them if you feel they did a good job. Personally? I think they've outdone themselves.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

a woman came up to me and said I'd like to poison your mind

Potentially? I'm going to get in trouble for this one.

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I attended a coronation today for a Queen...who is only Queen in Tiny Empires...which is a game played within the world, on its own little HUD.

Yeah.

Don't get me wrong, the coronation was lovely, and I do think it took a concerted, unified effort on the part of those people who are interested in this game to make sure who they wanted--as a whole--ascended to the throne of her line.

That? That's kind of cool.

How'ver, there's the rest of it...

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This is the HUD device, fully expanded. It's a turn-based game, so for the most part, it's a lot of hang out and wait, followed by clicking yes-no buttons. Buy land...sell land...answer surveys...have random events.

It's slightly less boring, for me personally, than watching paint dry. Though depending on the color of paint...

See, here's the thing I don't get, and I can't find a way to get. The King of Taupo advocated his subjects play. And then warned us all, that this game had destroyed friendships, destroyed marriages, that we should be careful and remember it's a game.

Personally? I can't see how this game has destroyed friendships. I leave my liege and go to one who pays better. Okay, it's a game. I have three subjects under me, two of them leave for another liege? It's still a game.

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This is the HUD device closed. It doesn't take up that much space. Certainly much less than the Hybrid hud that controls ears and tails of any of my Hybrid avatars.

Beyond the fact that it's a game within a game? Is the fact that apparently, some part of the roleplay in Taupo is hinging around Tiny Empires. That, to whatever extent, the interaction that goes on in the kingdom, is being decided in a small...very boring...turn-based HUD game.

...Yeah.

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See, this is why I said this is going to get me in trouble. If Taupo is going to revolve around the events in a HUD-based game...I think they're welcome to it.

Problem is, where do I put my tree now?

Maybe it goes back into storage until the next place...but it's definitely an issue to bring up at Friday's meeting.

Well, they were saying they needed a bad guy. Maybe I'm it. Because I really don't understand what the draw is, I don't care about any of the outcomes, and while I'm sure Queen FoxyKim will be a wonderful liege for the subjects under her...I can't find it in my heart to get enthused about it.

*sighs*
And another angle on gambling and Second Life. Can't say I disagree...

building a mystery

Sometimes I wander.

Sometimes I have no direction, other times I have an agenda. This time started out going through landmarks for various and sundry I'd found intriguing once...so I set about revisiting them, finding out if they still were.

Along the way I saw many oddities.

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Some made sense. The bonfire. The seagulls. The Viking ship.

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Some did not. This, for example, was found under a lake. The lake didn't exist last time I was through.

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Some filled me with nostalgia. I'm glad the brontosauri and the malt shop is still in Pontiac's sim.

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Some made me reflective, showed me new faces of old familiar locales.

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Very new faces. This two-headed draconic skeleton? Is...somewhere...in Avaria.

By that point, I had found the loves in the life, and we had gone off on a Hoppy Pay-fueled trip. It was fairly boring--and trust me, earning from L$0.09 to L$0.12 per trip? Not exactly screaming ahead, raking Lindens in--but then we hit part of the Burning Life exhibit for this year.

And things suddenly got entertaining.

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The inside of the Bone Room, accessed by standing in a particular spot far below it, and flying up, to spiral inside. If you check the uppermost interior room, there's a souvenir to take home.

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Someone decided to rebuild the infamous generation scene of the whale and the pot of petunias from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's just hanging there in midair, looking weird and cool.

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I flew down a marvelously translucent structure and caught glimpse of something just on the other side.

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Someone took an incredible amount of time and energy, making a stylized, hammered brass, freestanding representation of a stalk of comfrey flowers. This...this was just incredible, hovering beside it.

I'm going to do my best to go back in, see more. But Burning Life 2007, as Burning Life 2006 before it, is full of wonder and amazement. Go see.

Monday, September 24, 2007

what's left when the locks have all been broken?

((RP MODE))

Valruna is dead.

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News from the Queen of Air and Darkness passed on, to the shell once containing me. Lilit thought it prudent to wake me, and brought us back.

We read the inscription on the gates.

"Dear Merchants and Renters of Valruna I have recieved an offer i can't afford to decline.. namely to turn Valruna into gor for a bunch of people having lost their home and needing a new one. I have been struggling with keeping traffic up to support your sales, and i know this -final- change of my sim will do it. I will be handing out notecards to every merchant with info on what is going to happen, and i promise i will do this with as little bother for you as possible. Thank you for your understanding."

I see it, I see the change in the land, I can feel the changes coming...but I don't understand.

Already sand and sea are encroaching on leaf and needle-green. Already the desert air swirls through, replacing damp leaf-decay with parched dust and faint amber sweet. Already the land bucks under our feet, seeking to will the touch of fae feet from its shifting earthen heart.

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I don't know what to feel. I'm not the one I was, but I don't know what I will be. News reached us in the interim that my Raven is gone, perhaps snuffed from life, certainly never to return. And the lad from the Eastern lands is missing. Not even his best beloveds know where he's gone.

And now Valruna. Valruna gone, the second sithen destroyed, the Court in disarray and scurrying for cover.

And Queen Jaed's throne in the sithen in Lumindor.

What benighted landscape do I find myself in? I thought we left Hell, Lilit and I...

now you know why I'm begging you to stay

I had an invitation two days back to attend Lady Amber's Mabon ball. It was semi-formal, emphasis on traditional, Celtic or fae, so I threw on my new crown and tinted my lace bat-wings red, and went off to the ball wearing Adam & Eve's Refined gown. I have so few chances to dress up, and adore dancing so.

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(Revelers at the dance.)

Unfortunately, no sooner had I arrived and Lord Regent Kintyre had asked me to dance, than I took a step forward and was flung far in an opposite direction. I had just enough time to note I was at the cavorite mines before everything went dark.

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(Wondering why I'm not dancing around the pavilion floor at the moment.)

I fought my way back from limbo, back to the dance, apologized to Lord Regent Kintyre, and summarily was asked to dance by someone I only knew from brief mention, Lord Cymru, first Sealord of Caledon, his Grace Viderian Vollmar.

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(I hope I got that right.)

We spent many hours dancing. Several times the urge to be polite surfaced, and I wished to tell him that some other gentle lady could dance with him...but he made first formal ballroom dancing, then waltzing (after I was flung once more into limbo) seem so effortless, and I was so enjoying myself...I never actually let myself speak the words.

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(It was a lovely, lovely evening.)

We danced until the moon left and the sun rose; danced until the sun fell and the moon rose again. During that brief patch of day I will admit to a fit of cowardice that I'm only mildly ashamed of--but be fair! The last time I saw a steam elephant I died under its mechanized feet! And the Mammoth is bigger!

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(Not wishing to share a similar fate and be pulped by a Mammoth, I'm indiscreetly hiding behind Lord Cymru...when he's not swirling me closer to the entrance!)

Towards the end of the evening Lady Amber, Lord Cymru and I stood (and danced) talking. Apparently there have been eyes cast towards all the new Dukes and Duchesses that they are, perhaps, not up to their newfound positions. I have every faith in Lord Cymru, but he felt the urge to show us he was up to his obligations. He invited us to tour Cymru's premiere castle, his home.

Unfortunately, Lady Amber was called away just as we entered the grand hall--and it is quite the grand hall! Also at that point, Miss Neome Graves asked to see me, and I asked if I could bring her to meet the Sealord, and he acquiesced. Off the three of us went on tour.

It is a sprawling castle of thickly quarried dark stone, ancient tapestries, and iron-bound wood. Four towers surround the grand hall and the floors above, the towers and the walkways between rooms leading to balconies here and there. I had, I admit, evidenced surprise earlier on something he'd acquired for his foal.

He laughed, and showed us her room.

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Sir Edward? I take it back. I did not believe you, I'm afraid. I stand corrected.

(Yes, it's true. That is a My Little Pony fireplace. In fact, his foal, ginger-haired charmer that she is, has decorated her entire room in the pink, lavender and white of My Little Pony memorabilia.)

He took us to the main balcony, told us to stand very still and concentrate, and as we did, wind swept the night clouds away, and revealed nearly the most breathtaking site I'd yet seen, touring the castle--other lands, other isles, spread out below his, a pageantry of structure and pines.

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(The magnificent view from the main balcony--you can see all four neighboring sims to him, SteamSkyCity, Greystoke, Kintyre and Nova Civis.)

I turned, and had my breath stolen again--SteamSkyCity, which I'd toured while it was under construction, the sounds of hammer and the sparks of welding still loud and strong in the air--hanging like a jewel in the night.

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(SteamSkyCity from the second balcony.)

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(On a clear day, he says, the ocean goes on forever.)

We walked up, and up, touring rooms along the way--the master suite, empty as yet, is the most amazingly designed piece of architecture I'd yet seen, with cunningly fitted curved stones comprising the cross-shaped space--and then walked out along the parapet and around to another flight of stairs, for once, descending them. He said we should be prepared for a walk, he was taking us up into the towers.

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(The four towers of Castle Cymru, each rising more than 97 meters high.)

Again, he asked us to stand and concentrate, and this time, I swear, I could nearly have reached out, pulling bits of cloud off in my hands to melt and wisp away. SteamSkyCity looked both near, and like a child's charm, its turbine rotors slowly turning. Even the crisp cold air of the heights tasted new and sweet.

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(Clouds near enough to touch.)

After a brief moment to recover, he took us down the steps, which was considerably more fun than climbing up them, and toured us around the side of the castle. There we saw the partially decommissioned gunship, just out from where we stood. He may or may not rebuild it, but it was quite large.

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The very earth on which he's built this towering edifice of stone and history is unlike any other isle I've seen--it glimmers, nearly opalescent, seeming stone but soft underfoot. I was as taken with that as with the entire tour.

And his dungeon goes on forever, it seems, small little rooms and inlets underlying the entirety of the castle.

And the trees are so very large.

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(Miss Neome and I looking very small indeed, next to one of the monolithic shade trees surrounding the castle.)

After that, all three of us, deciding summarily we did not wish the evening to end, went shopping at Grendel's and at Hybrid's at Gnoma. I had spoken to the Sealord about being a (named, at least) phouka for the Unseelie, and he took me to the best place to learn the horse form. It will take some practice, but I now have my sable horse.

Black rabbit; sable horse; ebon goat; dark-skinned human (at least in appearance). I now have three of the four traditional phouka forms. Now all that's left is the goat...and who knows when I'll find that?

In the meantime, at Gnoma, Miss Neome sprung some truly unsettling news. Mr. Fawkes Allen, after a trip out to Miss Megg Demima's for hats, had mused on what the child of a mating between Sweeney, my black lobster, and his Dove, would look like.

I refused to consider such things, and went on my way, choosing to wear my unicorn Vincent for the next few days.

Apparently...Sweeney got bored, or amorous, and went off looking for the Dove. The terrible thing occurred.

And now...Neome has a Love.

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(Well, what else do you call a dove/lobster?)

Oh, the shame of it...though they seem far from ashamed, our hats, at this occurrence.

I suppose all's fair in love and mutation?

Still...and now, the unholy spawn of such hybrid desires needs a name! What on earth do you name a Love??

Sunday, September 23, 2007

that it's you who is sinking, locked behind iron gates

This is such a simple little trick. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner.

I don't, as a rule, do this, but...

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I am currently on the ZHAO II HUD AO. It's about as easy to use as my old Franimations system from Abranimations, but it takes more poses in certain areas than the Abranimations one did. And the thing I most massively resented about the old ZHAO--lack of click-button access--is now coded into the new one.

But...that acid green. *Shudders*. Even tinting the base tone to sage didn't help...

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Enter Miss June Dion to the rescue. She sells a free AO, based on the ZHAO II system, for her Seiren fashion release. I picked one up when I picked it up.

Today, I had free time to transfer all my animations over from the old, acid green, ZHAO II, to the brand new, Dion-approved, 'gothic'-toned ZHAO II. It's white, grey and black when it's on; it's grey, dark grey and black when it's off. Otherwise? It's perfectly dark and offends my sensibilities not a whit.

Why didn't I think of this sooner? It's perfect...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

cheeseburger in paradise, heaven on earth with an onion slice

We pause in our weekly round of Friday dances to ask for a moment of silence for Keenly Valiant, lo these many months departed from the grid:

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AAAAAAAH!

*Ahem*. And onward!

It was Food Night in Steelhead.

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The evening started off small--just blue gelatinous me, Frylock (DJ Fuzzball), Meatwad (Lunar), Master Shake (Tensai), and the Man in Black, Mr. Dylan Dench. Of course, Steelhead being Steelhead...it spiralled out of control from there.

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AAAAAAH!

...oh, wait, it's just Edward. We were so worried there, for a moment.

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Mr. Exrex Somme came as a sushi chef. Inventive.

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Colonel O'Toole, seen as a dancing copy of Fast Food Nation.

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Lunar attacked me with a spork! I think all the talk of food made him hungry.

Plus, Edward kept saying I'd eaten Carmen Miranda.

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Lumina came as...um...

What kind of food is fetish-y and purple? Then that kind.

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Miss Frequency Picnic came as a Jerusalem Artichoke. Also inventive.

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Then the cows came...

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...followed by crashlanding pianos...

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...followed by multiple couches...

(Well, people were tired after being pelted by cows and pianos.)

And then, right before That Song was played (AKA Standing by VNV Nation), the sim crashed!

(Mysteriously, right after Tensai joked about turning the paving stones red to signify a pre-crash state. I guess even Warrior Goddesses have limits.)

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And I ended up back at home, with all my Jell-O missing! EEEK! I have to get DRESSED!