Monday, October 18, 2010

in whispering darkness, do you ever hear my name?

Hack in the Box reports on a new Blizzard lawsuit against three hackers--two Canadian, one Peruvian, apparently, though I doubt the nationalities matter in the least.

I found more on the story at GamePro, and there's an additional story on Blizzard banning five thousand new players of StarCraft II for various counts of "cheating" in some fashion.

I'm not protesting, per se, their aggressive stance against hackers. Don't get me wrong: just as Linden Labs have absolute fiat to ban anyone they want from their servers--because the grid is theirs at the end of the day--so do Blizzard Entertainment have the right to bump off accounts known to cause trouble.

But it's how Blizzard is going about it that's the psychotic part. Anyone who knows computers will understand my confusion at this statement from the filing:
"When users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they copy StarCraft II copyrighted content into their computer’s RAM in excess of the scope of their limited license, as set forth in the EULA and ToU, and create derivative works of StarCraft II."
That's just an insane position. Even for Blizzard. If they had maintained there was sensitive, Blizzard-only information copied onto the hard drive due to the hacks, that's one thing, but copying any data directly from a software program to computer RAM?

They're high. They're high and they need rehab.

The problem with this is not that they're saying these ridiculous things in public and expecting people to back them up. The problem is that they're saying these things in court, to judges that by and large, do not understand computers, and will not bat an eye. They'll just accept it and move on to the specific details.

Whether by deliberate intent or ignorance, Blizzard could end up setting terrifying precedents on technological issues, and complicate technological rulings for decades.

And this ruling is just...odd...in terms of where, precisely, digital violation of copyright falls in the first place.

From the Lucky Kitty Crew group this morning:
Mulberry Horror Event

Not really any freebs but one of the more freakier haunted areas I've been in. WARNING - Definitely not for the faint of heart or people easily offended.
I had to know.

Abandon hope

Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here... Okay, so first off, anyone reading these words needs to have some basis on why Serenity was giving out a warning. Partially because yes, it's a disturbing haunt, but also, Serenity is very Christian. I'm not saying anything bad about her chosen faith; but I'm making a note because it's going to become relevant later.

Bad things went down

As per usual, I spent five to ten minutes making sure everything was as rezzed in as it's going to get. I listened to the deep voice intoning "Welcome", and on the wall there was a shotgun and six rounds behind a glass case. The case read In case of zombie attack, break glass.

This did not bode well.

Freaky lighting by the church

Near the church, zombies began to attack and eat people. I kept to the edges, hiding in the trees, but several people cried out--to me and to each other--that they couldn't break free, that the zombies were eating them. New to Second Life or just getting into the spirit of things, it did add that distinct thread of unease. The lighting is very effective--I've shown an example above of how effective--and the sounds are creepily atmospheric. (Just to further explain that point, I was in an all-white outfit: skin, hair, eyes, clothes--the only touch of color was the red heart, and the, well, blood tears. This? Makes it look like I'd walked out of a rave. Fun.)

(You'll note the church behind me, and the cross upon it. Remember what I said earlier?)

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There's a series of books written by P.C. Hodgell, possibly the only fiction works she's written, in which the main evil to be fought had the curious ability to make animate and inanimate objects...merge. The heroine at one point crawls deep within Its domain, and, staring blindly out a window, suddenly has a thought strike her that makes her strike the windowsill.

It began to bleed.

This place made me think of that moment, obscurely.

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This is not the only dark and uneasy thread through this haunt, but I'd be willing to bet this made Serenity's fur stand on end. There is chanting in the desecrated church, and signs of violence. Not even fire, just the memory of fire, is left in the baptismal font. And a female voice whispers, "I have always been here..."

I'm sorry, did I say burning skull earlier?

There are poses for photos--or just getting into the place--both up and downstairs in the church, but this reaching skeleton is easily four times the size of any avatars. And weirdly, I didn't notice it right off the bat, because my eye was drawn--as intended--to the Satanic pentagram above the altar. Then I looked to my right and actually flinched back.

The skeleton on the cross

And this is easily one of the most effective seasonal props I've seen, if we consider the whole, desecrated-church motif--a skeleton who's been up there so long, he's actually falling forward off the cross from decay.

Blood on the chalkboard

There are more than a few touches of Silent Hill, both in terms of a distant ringing siren, and game-specific monsters--but I moved on to the school. The school is...really disturbing. Blood spattered across posters advocating caring for kids who've been abused, children weeping and asking why, bloody handprints on the walls--it all adds up. There's a maze on the first floor nearly entirely constructed out of school lockers.

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I made my way to the caretaker's house behind the graveyard next. Mulberry Horror is pretty much organically divided into several different themed areas, but it all seems to work. This image is not the worst one in the house--the nursery holds that distinction--but it did make me stop and watch for a bit, the wash of light between panels of moving fog made for an eerie glow on the writing and the corpse on the floor.

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And then, the hospital. Man...the overtones in the hospital are just brutal. A male voice whispering, "There is no god". Children asking for "Mommy" plaintively. A female voice, ragged and trembling, asking "Why are you doing this?"

And then there's the infant ward. This picture? Isn't of it.

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Neither is this one. Mainly because I felt I couldn't toss up the picture I took, both because of Photobucket's restrictions on nudity, as well as sheer off-the-scale disturbing.

Let me be honest. It's a haunt. It's not staffed by live people who are going to stalk you and track down your home address and stab you in the night. It's all pixels, there's no real threat involved...well, maybe from the zombies.

And we've all seen the haunted hospital set before, in RL haunts and SL ones. It's a recurring theme because we do place our lives into the hands of medical professionals, and sometimes, that's not the best decision. There have been more than a few horror movies over the years, and more than a few dozen books on the topic.

Hells, Robin Cook's made a tidy fortune dealing only with medical terror.

This...was different. I'm standing in a blood-splashed room, with tiny aging cribs. A skeleton rocks a long-dead infant in arms of bone behind me. And that's not the scary thing.

The scary thing? I realize my terrors may not match everyone else's, but why would you ever put up--as decorations in a nursery--a poster detailing infant anatomy? With the major organs helpfully marked?

Beyond the baby autopsy, the poster on the other side? Is worse. It marks out the transition between a female child, and a female young woman, with helpfully marked sexual differentiation points on two nude forms.

In an infant care ward. This? Sent my creep meter off the scale. Forget the evil church, this got me.

In fact, I totally forgot to take pictures, wandering through the carnival afterwards, I was that off-kilter.

There's also a...Thing...in the woods, near the broken road. I'd show you what it looks like...but every time I upload it, Photobucket auto-deletes it. I guess they're disturbed, too, by that much moving, roiling flesh...

Overall, Mulberry Horror counts as insanely creepy, if you're the type to get squeamish. Even if you're not, there are several themed areas: warehouse, hospital, private home, school, carnival, back woods. And it's quite possible that one of them will have that ringing moment of terror for you. Barring that, there are at least four separate zones with spawners--damage-enabled creatures who will follow and attack you.

And barring that? Well, the fellow behind Mulberry Horror runs a little shop called Soundscape, so the sounds are everywhere, ever-present, and really, really creepy. Sure, there are the expected Grimworx props, and the clown series we've seen before, but there's a lot of new and very atmospheric props and haunted flora from FallnAngel Designs' new horror accessories line.

etween Lou Mannock and Azriel Demain...let's just say something here is likely going to get under your skin, somehow. If not all of it. This one comes highly recommended...but it is high on both the creep factor, and the disturbing social commentary factor. Be warned.

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