Sunday, 27 January 2008

Sausage of Unity

by Sleazy Writer

Danton has invited fellow CDS resident Sleazy Writer to write a guest post. Sleazy addresses one of his favorite subjects: sausage. It might also be noted that during the recent CDS election debate, while the candidates were warming up for their speeches, Sleazy amused the crowd by flying around the Colonia arena disguised as a hot dog.

One of the most basic and defining aspects that makes SL a world is its geography. And the geography of the 'mainland' continents is what this short article is about. Apparently, the new SL technology was initially used to show off and apply its versatility. Flexible simulators could be shaped into anything, small lakes and seas were attached. Rivers, waterfalls, rapids, peninsulas, mountain ridges, coastline and even geographical puns or logos were added to the small but growing world that SL was. A volcano towered over exotic Hawaiian lands. Forested northern lands and great lakes appeared and a breathtaking snow region full of possibilities grew to the first continent. A strange but original atoll was discovered -- coral reefs rising from the sea, changing into grassland and into mountains. It could be travelled by railroad like the continent before it could be explored by rivers or by road. A cool experience for immersionist users and many others.

But then it was over with the fun. Someone decided, probably with good reason, that it was time to make some money. And money was made by churning out thousands of boring, identical [insert unflattering adjective] grassy lumps of Lebensraum (3, 4, 5 and 6 at the left), a truckload of McSausages to be consumed by the masses.

SausageLand, the last time I checked, comprises four continents, about two-thirds of the main landmass of virtual Eden that the company has created for us. Plot after plot used as sandbox and then abandoned as a slum of plywood. The geography algorithm that was used is nice but also useless to the experience since there are no distinguishing features on the sim level. The unpaved roads it generated do not encourage exploration but are a road through a hell of twirling ads, strippers, Giulianis and unsolicited biblical advice (A bit like that good old Klingon initiation rite involving pain sticks). It's understandable and it's fine. But isn't this a sad state for a new world that is shaped by imagination?

1 comment:

dyerbrookME said...

No. If you don't like the weather, change it. In SL, you can do that. Buy land, fix it up. Or, support others who buy land and fix it up -- which I know you do with our SL Public Land preserve, and that's appreciated.

Land costs money. And it costs money to have those Lindens fix it up and maintain it. They gave up making such nice sims after awhile because they had to sell sims that people wanted.

What sells the most, as they've discovered through trial and error, is flat white pancake beachfront. So they made bunches of that, because people hate steep mountainous land, it just doesn't sell as well. They can't manage much other types of land. Putting infrastructure only reduces tier payments.

The Lindens are all about making a profit from their land sales to sustain their coding habit, and pay back their venture capitalists. You can rant and rave about mass taste, but in the end, you have to leave it alone and let it be free, and make alternatives, where and when you can, which you yourself pay for.