Thursday, January 6, 2011

Second Life Search for the Sy - Spectacular!

My two readers know that I'm really bad at hunts and quests - primarily because I appear to be easily distracted (Oh look a shiny thing over there ....). So, although I've heard a great deal about the Search for the Sy I hadn't actually gone to see it yet. I mean it's not like my ego needs another opportunity to fail. Ahuva brought an end to my procrastinating and escorted me there - she also acquired and accepted an offer for the two of us to receive a VIP tour of the build from one of the creators. I owe her big time for this (and I'm sure she'll collect).

The notecard you are handed upon arrival will give you the basic introduction:

This sim presents a fictional adventure environment with a hidden challenge for the visitors, who will explore a world influenced by forces unknown.

You, the visitor will be introduced to the story and the challenge through the scientific journal of Dr. Aubrey Wynn, which is discovered within an abandoned station surrounded by primordial vegetation. With clues from the journal, and other sources, visitors are guided to construct a device, that allows them to access the other part of the exhibit- the hidden world of the Sy. If they are very, very good, they get access to the bonus area, and win a the trophy and a place on the Honors Plaque. Information on how to be entered on the board is given to the winners once they get the trophy.

Concepts such as cultural absorption, indigenous species survival, shadow biospheres and mimetic mythology peek from around the prims in this build, but the purpose is to have fun, to take the ride, and come out on the other side slightly windblown, but smiling.

This quest answers the question "What do you get when you combine 3 incredibly talented individuals, 6 months of planning, 1 month of building and a land grant from IBM?". The answer? Pure magic!

This is a superb, intelligent and grown up quest. Ahuva's word was "sophisticated" and that fits. It's a mature creation - I don't mean like "Zindra" mature, I mean like "omg these avatars have brains" mature. The trio of creators (Vicki Brandenburg (scripter) Annabelle Fanshaw and Layton Destiny (builders) have demonstrated the inherent potential in Second Life's tools to develop the extraordinary and haven't "dumbed it down" to try and appeal to those expecting fast and easy answers.

Personally I wouldn't attempt to do the entire quest in one visit, although I'm sure it's quite feasible. You will need time though - our tour took over an hour and we weren't trying to solve anything. This is not a drawback to the design or the experience. Search for the Sy isn't intended to be a puzzle which is solved quickly and you deserve the joy of savouring the journey.

You begin in a classic building being over-run by wild jungle vegetation. The path you follow will lead you into the mountains, under the sea and even far into the sky.

My photo of the mountains is necessarily from a bit of a distance. However, when you're up close and if your media is working, the grid pattern on the mountains looks like this. There are clues and treasures hidden all over the sim. You'll really have to get past any reluctance to conversing with, um, let's say different life forms if you're going to find the pieces needed to construct your "device" but that's just part of the fun.

I concluded part way through the tour that Annabelle has a strong streak of sadism under that avatar skin - and she admitted as much. There is an element of misdirection here and there but expecting this quest to be straight forward is a huge mistake.

I took a lot of photos along the tour but I don't want to spoil your surprise at some of the developments so I'm not going to show you everything. There are different stages to your adventure - and anybody trying to jump ahead is going to discover the builders' maniacal use of kill bots. In addition they have used a really interesting method to ensure that travelers don't spend too much time in some locations - as a crowd control device it could make them a fortune.

You as the person on the quest take a number of journeys. One of the most fascinating involves your development as a life form - it doesn't matter whether you begin as humanoid or furry you will at one stage begin to transform into the Sy. You won't lose your "humanity" completely but the transformation, while painless, is worth the journey all by itself.

So Dear Readers, if you haven't been able to discern my primary message in this blog post allow me to summarize. Go do the Search for the Sy! It's magical and brain teasing and beautiful. Oh and it is an enormous amount of fun. There is an inworld group (Searchers for the Sy) and they chat and help each other so I'd advise you to join so that you don't feel totally alone on your journey. :)

If you manage to complete the quest you will travel from the original jungle encroaching on that old building to a spectacular alien construct. But you have to earn it!

The land grant from IBM will end in mid February so there is limited time to enjoy this experience. There will be a big celebratory party on February 11 and those who have completed the quest (and even those who fell short) will be invited to dance and share the joy in what they have shared. In one final attempt to convince you to undertake this challenge I'm including a short video from Annabelle - if you look closely you'll get a glimpse of the Sy.

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