Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The little town of Havenhollow

...This might just be an incoherent photo spam of just how amazing Havenhollow is. You have been warned! I may just end up keyboard mashing my way through this entry!

Okay, so there's always a good amount of Halloween places on Second Life every year, right? Good games, good themed sims, great sales and gifts... there's no end, really! So as another Halloween themed area: welcome to Havenhollow, a little town where you can take your kids, friends, younger siblings, etc, out trick or treating!

No, I'm absolutely serious. They had this last year, but I apparently missed it, but -- this neighbourhood is all about houses that give you candy. You dress up, you wear their trick or treating bucket, and you go knocking door to door. Some houses will trick you instead of give you treats, and some people might not hear you on the first knock so you should go back to their house again (and there are even houses where people are out to get more candy because they ran out!). This place is beautifully rendered and amazingly atmospheric -- dark and hazy with fog and sounds of animals from dogs to crows to NPCs who answer the doorbell and give you candy.

It would have been amazing just to leave it at that, but no, Havenhollow decided they wanted to go just a bit further. And by a bit, I mean a lot. As you go trick or treating, you eventually get information about a house in the woods that gives full sized candy bars instead of the little things that each house will give you. Just through the woods, they say. And with the woods so temptingly close, why not give it a try and get those scrumptious candy bars?

And that's when things start to get... strange. Things start going awry. The forest is hazy and hard to find your way, and you eventually fall and find yourself in a cabin of sorts... with giant spiders and dead bodies. Running will lead you into a cavern... a mine shaft? Some place dangerous, that's for certain! Bodies hang from rafters and dark things chase you through a maze even when you can barely see three feet in front of you. If you're lucky, you come out and it's once again a forested area... except somehow different. The feeling is eerie and the frees form a path around you, leading to beautiful places such as a dangerous pond, a gazebo, and even a cemetery.

 The world is darker than ever until you stumble upon a manor that could only be the one that the people in the neighbourhood was talking about... but this one, more than all the rest, definitely looks decked out for Halloween. Never mind pumpkins and sheeted ghosts in the driveway, this house looks like it was built to be haunted.

And really, stepping into the manor feels like a bad idea. But where else can you go? Surely you don't want to stay in the strange forest, or worse, go back into the abandoned caverns where nothing more than monsters and perhaps your own death awaits you. The road ends at this house despite it continuing both ways... you can't seem to go any further than here.

If you're really, really lucky... maybe they'll give you candy and directions back to Havenhollow?

Now, while all the houses in town are somewhat minimalistic (even though it doesn't look like it on the outside since the houses themselves are very beautifully rendered), this manor is incredibly detailed. Furniture, decorations, and details spill into every nook and cranny here from ghostly music playing from pianos whose keys press themselves, to piles of books and accessories on walls and floors. There's something up with this house, something frightening that you might not be able to name even as you stumble through room after room of a story you can't quite piece together.

It looks rather barren, actually, some areas covered with cobwebs while other areas are covered in dirt and rust. Just where did the people go? The front desk looks like it should be manned, and yet there's no one there...?

Okay, I digress! There's quite the bit of a scare in the kitchen, but that's only the first floor. It's not as if this is the end or anything! In fact, this house has two stories plus an attic, and people who get to the end of the little Havenhollow manor will walk away with an armful of beautifully rendered free Halloween items! (That's not counting the sheer amount of candy that I got here.)

So I highly, highly recommend this sim to people who have a bit of time on their hands before Halloween... it doesn't take long at all! This isn't a hunt, nor is it a full storyline beginning to end like Resting Place or System Failure. In fact, I've seen a tonne of families going trick or treating with young children on this sim, and all they have to do is avoid the forest. It's the older avatars that tend to run through the manor screaming, and that's fun by itself as well!

Five stars. Definitely go take a look, guys!

Monday, October 28, 2013

System Failure

Okay, for anyone who knows me on Second Life and was with me last Halloween, you might have realised that Resting Place had been my very favourite thing during that time -- a hunt that was not a hunt, focusing on a fantastic story with a great area and beautiful backgrounds, creepy and haunting and with a crap tonne of free items. Fabulous free items. 

Well, the creators of Resting Place have done it again -- and once again, it's only available until mid-November, so I suggest everyone go check out their newest game: System Failure. This place is huge and almost feels like a video game with the way you move through area after area, solve puzzles to get in rooms, and get the story bit by bit.  And talk about amazing, but they give you free items from the get-go (which I'm wearing right in the picture) including a mesh coat, flashlight, and badge. And the list of freebies just continue from there.

You have been called into an interview with SHIELD Technologies, a corporate conglomeration  that makes everything from high tech computers to baby wipes. As you step into the building, you're informed that they're having a bit of technical difficulties and don't worry, they've called in a team to help. You speak with Kevin, who apologises for being busy at the moment and asks you to do a series of tasks for him as part of your interview since he's currently stuck in a meeting. As you roam to complete the tasks, things start feeling a bit... strange. Where are the people working here? Surely they can't all be in the meeting...

With fantastic sound effects and lighting, System Failure immersed me the entire way through (despite my own difficulties with Second Life last night) and took me on beautiful adventure far better than games I've actually had to pay for on SL (no kidding). Extremely creepy at times (my friend definitely broke out her guns by the middle of the story, despite us figuring it wouldn't work anyway), this game is straightforward and linear, and I only got stuck once because I didn't realise I needed to do a bit of backtracking in order to figure out a puzzle.

This gets more and more eerie as the game progresses, and I know I'm definitely tempted to go through this at least one more time just to make sure I got every nook and cranny of the storyline... what if I missed little details?

I won't spoil the story for you (that would be immensely cruel), but I know for certain that I would definitely think twice before agreeing to an interview with SHIELD Technologies now. If you go to a giant coporate building and there's not receptionist there to greet you? Maybe there's something wrong.

Also, as a memo (especially since you find this in a memo in the game), if someone says the shipment is strange and off, then you should probably apply horror movie logic and get the heck out of dodge. Because you can always deal with a day off work and come back if they clear the 'odd' shipment, rather than get caught up in whatever aftermath comes from staying in the horror movie... or game.

Shamera is wearing:
Piercings, headband, lunchbox, bracelets, eyes, skirt, attachments,
necklace, arm dagger, pose, cord hair all SYSTEM FAILURE prizes.
Skin - !FREE! Super Pill (5L)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Back to October!

Wake me up when September ends, right? Well, it's now October! (Second day, even, since I didn't get around to this yesterday...)

And what does October mean? That's right: Halloween! I know I consider the entire month to be a showcase for Halloween, so we're going to start with a demonic outfit (haha, funny since I usually go for angelic stuffs...) that I managed to put together yesterday!

 Taken at HAUNTED, where they have many different backdrops for all your Halloween needs, I decided on the darker pirate graveyard rather than the brightness of a carnival it was situated next to. I think it's going to be a lot of fun finding the spooky places on Second Life this month again!

Remember, folks, what you can do on Second Life may not be possible in real life... so take advantage of this place!

Go fight zombies and explore haunted houses and get cursed and run through mazes with friends screaming your heads off... I'll let you in on a secret: it's just as fun to go on SL voice and start screaming when monsters coming chasing after you as it is in real life when you hit your face against a glass wall you thought was perhaps a doorway. Well, maybe more fun this way for the people who are too scared to actually go out and do things like that.

Shamera is wearing:
.::[HTxDZ]::. Maleficent's Crown – (old hunt item, now $50)
{dollle*} Bloody Bandages – Free Group Gift
Tactical Leg Holster – Free at Marketplace
F.E. // Demon Wings – Free at Marketplace

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Festival

Vocaloids? I kept looking for them!

It's that time again~!

Okay, so it's not really a specific time or anything. But yesterday I I had a writing meet-up in the morning, a BBQ at the park for lunch, and then afterward I went out to the Summer Festival for a few hours of fun, really loud music, and a cosplay contest (no, I didn't participate. It was far too hot yesterday for cosplay, in my opinion). 

Obviously, this means that when I got home I was obligated to find a festival on Second Life... right?

Okay, not really, but yesterday was also the start of the summer festival hosted by Edelweiss! They're not selling the Attack on Titan stuff anymore (pity), but there's a large area for people missing summer festivals to go dressed in kimonos and eat all sorts of food... and win small prizes while they're at it!

And can we talk delicious foods? Everything at the summer festival is free (haha, yeah, I wish that's how it works in real life, but alas...), with various food stands that all give you items if you want to eat it... feels like Night Market! There are tables for you to sit, lots of food, games... all you need is little stalls to sell cheap wares~ But then again, there are stores everywhere and this isn't exactly a Night Market so much as it is a summer festival.

Make sure to visit this place soon, though, as it only lasts for a week! You don't want to miss out on all the delicious foods around. What I find really fun is that all the booths are "manned" by multiple people... not something I'm used to in Second Life, but I find I like it a lot. It feels more real to have people in the pictures rather than blank and empty stalls that you might be able to go behind yourself and pose; then you're enjoying the festival, you're manning the festival. And that's just not as much fun!
Omnomnom, fried squid~

There's also a shrine to leave prayers at, fireworks, and a haunted house! Obviously, I had to go check out the house, which asks people to go in first person view and for groups to only have one person with the flashlight. I didn't take pictures in the house (how do you do that in first person?), but I know I laughed the way through because my friends were having such a hard time navigating. Maybe it was because I was the one with the flashlight, but they couldn't seem to find their way around at all. Without the flashlight, though, the house is almost pitch black, so you really have to follow that person with the flashlight... and I didn't lead them astray or anything! They just... had a hard time following still.

In conclusion, I had quite a lot of fun yesterday and thought I'd at least share~ Or at least, share some pages of wisdom: no matter how delicious everything is, don't eat more than you can handle.

But other than that, peace and make sure you enjoy your summer!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Attack on Titan

Has anyone seen the anime line-up this season? If you have, then it's no surprise that the title of the year seems to be Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan). It's bloody, brutal, beautifully animated, and tends to make you pray for your favourite characters like one would in Game of Thrones. It's easy to see why the world seems obsessed with this series (despite my preference this season for Hataraku Maou-sama! instead, but let's not get into that), because it really is the Game of Thrones of the anime world: surprisingly enough, without any fanservice. That's right, folks. While the Titans are nude, they have no genitalia and this series actually does not exploit it's female characters, since everyone is dressed in the same uniform, and there's no crotch or boob level shots as the focus of this series is on the story and characters.

Not to say this series is perfect. Far from it. But it's good fun and I like watching people cringe and scream while watching this (which is why I attended the marathon of it during convention), and Second Life store *Edelweiss* has managed to gather all the fans of this series into one place on our SL community... Wall Edelweiss.

I'm currently wearing the trainee uniform (which is free!), equipped with the 3D Maneuver Gear (NOT free) that allowed the characters to soar through the skies like spiderman, safe from the reach of Titans out to eat you. If you buy the uniform, you get a choice of trainee, ReCon, Military Police, or Stationary Corps. I'm currently sticking with trainee until I get enough finesse to take down 100 Titans, and then I'm going to graduate myself into the -- you guessed it, Recon Corps! Yeah, yeah, that's where everyone goes, we get it. Even with a death rate of... what, 30% each mission? But then, the amount of times I've died today in training...

There's something quite satisfying and terrifying, though, about the little training area that Edelweiss has created for people to play in. I usually recommend the beautiful places in Second Life, but Wall Edelweiss is good fun. They've got the training cut-outs, but if those cut-outs target you... run! Well, fly. And pray someone's got an assist for you.

What keeps me playing, though, is the promise of more free items after certain amounts of kills: a potato (haha) for 10, a series of poses for 100, the green cloak at 300 kills, and finally Mikasa's red scarf for 500 kills. I really suck at killing Titans, so I've barely gotten the first reward -- but I'm working my way up there!

A word of advice on killing Titans: if you miss, depending on how close you are, leave as fast as you can or keep hitting the target until your blade dulls... and your blades will dull fast. But hey, that's what they said happens in the series as well. The detail on the gear is amazing, and there are quite a few animations included for flying through the air, falling, landing, running, attacking, etc. I've certainly spent hours at this place just honing my Titan killing skills (I'm terrible, but lately I've been killing at least 4 before I die -- need to figure out a way to not die and I'll be set!), and this place is certainly busy all the time. Lots of players flying through the air and attacking Titans, at least we can say that if Second Life ever gets invaded, Wall Edelweiss is going to stay intact!

Last little tidbit -- the entire outfit is mesh, and for me there's a little bit of clipping around the area where the shoulders and neck meet, but that's easily covered by a scarf, cloak, or even long hair. However, I can't seem to justify long hair to myself since that seems such a hindrance unless it's tied up and out of the way. All the characters in the show are soldiers, after all, and it's dangerous enough in fights without having to worry about whether your vision's been obstructed by hair. All of the pictures here came straight off SL without any edits whatsoever, so yes, what you see is what you get!

Overall? While the training area has a lot of boxy buildings that may seem rather simple, this place is really fun and the details are there when you need it. (I forgot to take pictures of the nice little niches within buildings where there are tables and chairs and pretty plants and sunlight for photoshoot areas.)

Keep up the fantastic work, Edelweiss!

(For people who actually don't know Attack on Titan, have a fantastic trailer!)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Almost Wonderland

 I don't know what happened with my computer, but it's currently running Second Life again! Granted, I'm still a bit wary so I might limit things for now, but... I'm here at Almost Wonderland because this place is exceptional and I really need to recommend it! There's so many places in Second Life that have elements inspired by Alice in Wonderland and wow, this place delivers for all your Wonderland needs... in a slightly darker way than might be expected.

 Certainly the first part of Wonderland is known by many people... the fall down the rabbit hole, the room with a too small door and the food and drinks that say 'eat/drink me!' They have that here, but beyond that... I remember watching the Disney version and thinking oh this place is very bright and colourful, isn't it?

And that's it. This place is just as colourful as can be expected by Disney fans, and indeed, the fans who read Through the Looking Glass at it's more psychedelic elements. The theme of drugs isn't even a hidden one in the story, considering the caterpillar and just how many things Alice manages to stuff her in her mouth that she shouldn't.

The colours on this sim are bright and glowing and makes the place feel exceptionally surreal. Almost like an acid trip, maybe, except there are so many beautiful details here that I don't know what to make of it. Bad drugs, or alien landscape? The plants have eyes that follow you as you move about, and then there are the phosphorescent plants with such brilliant bio-luminescence that I just had to stop and take a few pictures in awe.

Shucks, though, since apparently I stepped in the wrong area to take pictures and was swallowed up by one of the flowers! Never let it be said that flowers aren't dangerous in Second Life.

Okay, do I didn't see much on the Red or White Queens here or any Jabberwacky around, so it might just be the first parts of the story. I was dressed up ready to fight, too! It's a bit of a shame, although I did manage to stop for some delicious tea and catch a bit of fun just riding in teacups... no, really! It wasn't just drugs in the tea, there really were teacup rides as well!

But of course, that's mostly for people who have shrunk down a few sizes to fit right into those teacups...

With the graveyard in the back of the sim, though, I'd still be weary about just what's going on around here. Just because we don't see the Red Queen doesn't mean she might not be lurking about and keeping tabs on the citizens of Wonderland....

Shamera is wearing:
** Just for You Jewels ** Safety Pin Save a Lollipop -- Free at Kawaii Fair
*fac*Dundee Knife -- Free at Kawaii Fair
.:DMD:. Sailor School Uniform Plaid -- NOT FREE ($250L)
[y] Simplicity Hair -- Free at Kawaii Fair
Tactical Leg Holster -- Free at Marketplace

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Writers have their perks!

Goodness, it's been forever, hasn't it?

Well, now I'm here about the Albatross Coffee House and the subsequent tower across from it where literary works are created into art in Second Life. I'm sorry, I know I should be more specific, but SL has actually been freezing my computer for minutes at a time every time I go on so I'm going to attempt to do this entry without having to get back on there!

 Now, anyone who knows me will know I'm a bit of a geek (or more specifically, I'm an English major) and to me, there's nothing better than to find little niches on Second Life where people can go and enjoy themselves... or better yet, save into their favourite landmarks so when they need a place to chat and hang out with friends, they can do do!

Most people seem to meet up a lot in sandboxes now if they don't have a place to call their home, and while that works great when you quickly rezz a nice sitting area and maybe house for you and your friends to talk several hundred metres in the air, usually people don't collect nice furniture unless you're really planning on getting a place that allows for the furniture to be rezzed for more than four hours at a time.

For me, the Albatross Coffee House is perfect. While yes, I like to host things around and find places that are great for things such as interacting, partying, or even planning a nice writing session (of which I need to do more on Second Life!), having them in houses don't always work. Especially if you don't have a lot of space or want to get a bit creative but find that your land impact is quickly approaching the limit of what you've paid for.

And if you're like me, you not only want a space with chairs for people to sit, but nice décor... books everywhere, and some food to keep that appearance of a good hostess. So for me, cafés are very important. You sit, your avatar eats, and you talk about anything and everything that comes on to your mind. It's a nice, relaxing thing to do!

And what a tribute to amazing writers as well. E. A. Poe has to be one of my favourite classical writer: a true pioneer in the horror genre without ever letting his writing turn gruesome or gross. His is the true psychological horror, in line with H. P. Lovecraft -- stories that tantalise your mind and leave you breathless with anxiety. Not fear, perhaps, but a hammering in your heart and a tightness in your chest to prove that you can feel and understand the protagonist's worries, doubts, and the forever struggle to wonder whether or not they're sane.

...Look at me waxing poetic, though. I should be getting back to my own writing instead! But just as a traditional closing out, I hope everyone with the Avatar 2.0 has gotten their new HUD update! Utilizator has created a new HUD that allows for the mesh body to wear more things on Second Life and I recommend anyone and everyone with the Avatar 2.0 to get the update, even if you have to change a few things in your shape (eyes, particularly) to make it work.

Shamera is wearing: 
Pikachu pajamas (PopTart) from the Kawaii Fair (free!)
(includes shoes)