Monday, October 29, 2012

the thought of you is still haunting me

In wandering through the Destinations page, looking for untapped haunts, I came across mention of an "Adult-rated" haunt called Hell House. It sits on Bad Romance, one of the Adult-rated sims in the Solace Beach chain of sims. I couldn't imagine what an "Adult" rating would deal with, so off we went.

(from the haunts album; the shifting woman in Hell House)

The first thing I noticed was the overuse of alpha textures. Now, there are a lot of different ways to make persistent haunts--prims, sculpts, and yes, flat textures. Most of these either changed when we got close, or just faded in and out. In any other setting, this wouldn't be a problem, but in this place, there was far too much scripted to react to collisions--from doors that would open when I walked near them, to effects that would only occur when I was close enough. With that many scripts listening constantly and registering collisions...well, let's just say lag was the least of our worries.

(from the haunts album; the shifting woman in Hell House)

Which is not to say lag wasn't high--it was, but the biggest problem was things rezzing in at all. Or effects going off, but only after we'd left the room. Or effects going off, and then never stopping, whether we left the room or not.

(from the haunts album; oh look, a Wiki page)

The stranger problem I ran into was, after a room full of massive effects and collision scripting, seeing Wikipedia pages textured on objects, like this absinthe bottle.

(from the haunts album; another Wiki page)

It happened in more than one place and on more than one floor. The strangest thing about this, though: I didn't have a Wiki page open. So what was it pulling from?

(from the haunts album; a tortured victim in the wine cellar)

Granted, due to the Adult nature of this haunt, there weren't a lot of pictures suitable to display on the blog. That doesn't mean they were necessarily that outstanding, though--there seemed to be a lot of textures imported of Poser-posed CGI elves with demons bent on rape, and of standard (modern) porn actresses scattered on virtually every surface. This didn't lend the air of "dark eroticism" they said they were looking for on the notecard, but...clutter. Much of it tawdry, tacky clutter.

(from the haunts album; bad alpha edges on the second floor)

In fact, that was one of my larger complaints, actually--the white edging on easily 60% of all textures used in this haunt. I got so tired of the halo effect after a while.

(from the haunts album; the rising body on the bed)

This was one of the effects that worked, and worked really well--a simple satin counterpane on a simple bed, that featured a body rising and disappearing again under the quilt.

(from the haunts album; another little note in Hell House)

There were lots of little details mentioned in the notecard, that we were told would add to the backstory of the mansion. While they did offer information, most felt out of step with the rest of the house--like wandering into a genteel club for tea and biscuits that happened to feature stripper poles next to a peep show. They just didn't fit with everything else.

(from the haunts album; more clutter in Hell House)

I admire what they were trying to go for--that air of the Hellfire club mixed with the ornate, over-embellished Victorian manor house, tainted by debauchery and evil. And there are good moments in this one (though they're few and far between), but what kept striking me, over and over, is how busy everything felt. Very nearly a frenetic level of haunting, and a positively cluttered mish-mash of porn stars, Victorian furnishings, bondage pics, and shots from horror films inserted seemingly at random.

It is a five-level haunt, and if you really feel compelled to wander, it's not a complete waste of time. At least, if you have nothing better to do. But I wouldn't count it as one of these year's successes.

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