Thursday, 4 September 2014

055: Wandering around Enscharys

I've been trying to broaden my spectrum a little bit and have wanted for a while to do a new kind of post where I walk around a place and take pictures and find out what's going on, to bring it to my readers. I get a lot of hints from my fellow bloggers but ... it doesn't seem very useful to investigate stuff that other bloggers have already done thoroughly and better!
So I decided to get recommendations for places to visit and started with a source that seemed to be what newbies might encounter: the Second Life Destination Guide, monitored and managed by the good folks at Linden Labs. The Destination Guide is helpfully divided into a large number of different categories, depending on what you might think is fun. Almost at random, I selected "Castles & Ruins" and, from the nine entries there, picked Enscharys. (Here's the SLURL.) I picked it because the description sounds a bit intriguing:
This white castle stretches far above the clouds and towers over an elaborate landscape. Can you unlock the clues to discover an ancient elven secret?
Sounded to me like that might be some sort of game.  I like what they used to call "adventure games", so ... off to Enscharys. Well, I arrived and -- it's certainly pretty, but for the life of me I can't figure out if this is indeed a game at all, let alone how to play or even get the slightest clue of what might be going on.  Whatever that "ancient elven secret" is, it's still a secret as far as I'm concerned.
Most of Enscharys is taken up by an extremely tall white castle; you can try the stairs, but believe me, you'll be wanting to use the teleport discs found at every location. The stairs take forever and have no guardrails; if you get going a little fast, you'll find yourself falling a long, long way and pretty much have to start over. Guess who did that?
The castle seems to be composed of minaret-like towers, most of which contain rooms with individual functions; the queen's boudoir, a throne room, planetarium, alchemic workshop, a spa, and many others. Now, these rooms are certainly well-designed. If someone said, "What do you think an elven spa might look like?" there wouldn't be much need
to go further than Enscharys to find the correct furniture; sort of a mixture of Art Nouveau and ... well, there's no such thing as "elven", but we have good reference material in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, etc.  It might not be obvious, mind you.  If you were plunked in there and asked to identify the architectural and decorative style, I think
you'd say Art Nouveau a lot more often than elven. But since I had the word "elven" in my head, it was all good.
Now, when I was considering this as a potential adventure game -- well, the way you play traditional adventure games is, when you enter a room, you run your cursor over everything in sight and if you get the idea that there is something here
you can push, or pull, or take, or open, or move, that's what you do. Well, I was really diligent in the first room to which I went. I was slightly less diligent in a few
subsequent rooms, and soon gave up. There were two reasons. One is that I didn't find a single thing that I could push, take, or open; the other is that every single piece of furniture, every
fixture and lamp, every bush and tree, are all for sale. And when you run your cursor over them, they cheerfully announce what they are and how much they cost.
I will be honest and say I had a mixture of disappointment and understanding about this. I was disappointed because although I hadn't actually been promised
a game, I thought I was going to get one. (Frankly, there still might be one there; I was just too tired of sorting through the "for sale" signs to keep looking.) But at the same time I do understand. This castle looks like it was an enormous amount of work; apparently all the furniture was designed and created for this location, and it represents a huge
and wide vision. Honestly, the thought of creating an entire elven castle and then populating it with furniture and plants and putting those things into rooms with functions -- I have nothing but respect for that kind of vision. And what can you do with an elven hot tub or bench or throne room once you've created it? I would certainly be trying to recoup some of my
investment in time and thought by selling all the stuff. I'm just a little disappointed because I thought I was getting a game and a scenic beauty spot, and I got a scenic beauty spot in the form of a gigantic furniture store.
However -- as you can see from the pictures -- this really is a scenic beauty spot. Every location is a great place to
take a picture or two, and I kind of wish I had a fall-back Legolas outfit with a set of elven ears and a nice tunic; I would have felt a little bit less like I was spoiling the view. But I'm not really the elven type ... so I had to settle for being the out-of-place gym rat in the beautiful elven castle.
There are definitely some good photo
ops, though. If I was a beautiful young woman with elf ears and a long flowing gown, I would probably arouse different emotions in the ladylike pose I took on the Queen's bed than "Get those dirty sneakers off the embroidery, you big lummox!" Indeed a handsome/beautiful elven avatar would find plenty of places to take great pictures here, and I
definitely recommend it if you're looking for elven photo ops. Or to buy an elven hot tub.
I have to say that most of the disappointment I felt here was my own fault, but this was a learning experience and I have definitely learned something. Primarily, the information you get from
the Destination Guide is not truly descriptive or necessarily accurate; second, I shouldn't have been surprised that someone wanted to sell me furniture and decor in Second Life.
I hope you like the rest of the pictures. The ground level of the sim also contains a few buildings from other design schools, Japanese/Chinese historical
buildings. I particularly liked a kind of elven shrine that had some nice poses built in and, if there hadn't been another couple of people wandering around, I might have stripped off and done some "art photography" <grin>.  Maybe next visit!

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