Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Victorian Voyages: Western Sims

The beautiful Steelhead boardwalk

Although I have been writing the "Steampunk Physician" for a number of months, it was not my first blog. My original effort was an abortive attempt to design a "travelogue" of second life sites – not a very original idea, but it did provide a learning curve for my current writing. Still, I have been asked about other locales in SL that a Victorian/Steampunk av could visit and not be completely out of sorts. In an effort to resolve this dilemma, I will resurrect my original approach, albeit with a bit of a difference.

I will attempt to outline a small number of locales that a person could reasonable visit, without the sentiment of being out of place, if they maintained their Victorian sensibilities. Towards this goal, I have devised a very primitive rating system, in three categories, which I shall explain…

This will roughly measure the similarity between the sim and the locale that it is purported to represent. The higher the number, the better the comparison, and the closer the sim is to its original.

1 = Similar in name only
2 = Some major difference between the sim and its namesake/place it is supposed to represent
3 = A good translation with some differences
4 = A very good compliment with minor discrepancies
5 = Amazingly faithful reproduction of the sim to its original namesake/concept

Affinity to the Victorian Era
This reflects how "Victorian-esque" the sim is, or tangential it is to the era between 1800 - 1900. In other words, if one were to visit in Victorian/Steampunk attire, with proper manners, how well would one fit in…

1 = No similarities at all (One would be completely out of place – e.g. a space sim or a techno club).
2 = Vague similarities
3 = A fair approximation (Not necessarily a direct representation, but one would not be out of sorts)
4 = Good simulation
5 = Well done representation (a visitor would feel quite at ease in Victorian sensibilities)

Depth of Sim
Once you arrive, what is there to do?

1 = A couple of buildings or stores to see, nothing more
2 = See a few stores in conjunction with the theme of the sim, maybe a sight or two
3 = Visit a couple of merchants perhaps, maybe one or two things to do beyond that
4 = A worthwhile visit, with a good number of things to see and do
5 = Fantastically entertaining, a plethora of things to do and see

Now that the rating system is outlined, let us begin with the first sim….

Deadwood 1876

When I arrived at the Deadwood sim, I actually reached Yankton, an associated area that not only outlines the rules of the sim and rp, but has a good quantity of stores with western gear, from guns & cowboy hats, to western attire for gentlemen and ladies. A note – the sim prefers that an av be human (e.g. not a furry or non-human individual), and be dressed in western attire.

One takes the Stagecoach (a tp) to Deadwood, and must cross a bridge towards the northern end to enter the city. The city is an extremely well designed build, with friendly individuals and well detailed buildings (and interiors). I walked down the main street, and paid a visit to the saloon. Unfortunately, there was no one to speak to at that point, so I continued down towards a nearby river. I did admire more stores and abodes, but again, it was devoid of residents (perhaps I visited at a bad time).

I must admit, I am unfamiliar with their rp, but I would extrapolate that it would be similar to the cable series of the same name. If anyone has further information or experience with Deadwood rp, please feel free to comment on it.

Representation = 5 (I was very impressed with the sim’s representation of a western town)
Affinity = 4 (A Victorian visitor would fit in quite nicely)
Depth = 3 (Many stores, but as I wasn’t involved in rp, I didn’t see much a visitor could do)
Total = 12 (Superlative locale)

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The main street of Tombstone

Tombstone 1890

My next visit was to Tombstone, another very popular western sim that I had frequented before. Upon arrival, you will find yourself in a skybox with instructions regarding Tombstone rp, followed by an extensive contingent of stores and stall selling a wide variety of western gear and attire. To reach the sim, you can either choose to take a direct tp or indulge in the "scenic" route, by taking a waiting balloon.

The weapons range (and warning) near the mission

Making my way into the main street of the city, I happened to glance in a couple of storefronts selling western items. Other buildings had a western application for rp (e.g. a physician’s office, the local paper – the Tombstone Epitaph).

Locals gather around the campfire

There is also a western rp here, and they seem more inclusive than Deadwood. I saw a furry (a horse-woman, I’d gather), and understood there was a separate group for native American rp (along with rules for interaction). Their theater had a list of rules for rp – quite extensive, but from what I recall, necessary, as upon arrival, the sim appeared quite busy.

The physician's office (used quite frequently)

From previous visits, I had seen the local cavalry hunt down fugitives, been propositioned by a very nice saloon girl, saw a campfire, a man put in stockades for killing another man (quite a light punishment, I’d say), observed the local Indians visit the town… all in all, a very active rp environment.

The old train station (and arrival point from a direct tp)

Representation = 4 (An excellent build in a western style)
Affinity = 4 (A Victorian visitor would fit in quite nicely)
Depth = 5 (Although there are not "attractions" per se, the interaction with the locals is great – something to do… or experience!)
Total = 13 (Fantastic representation)

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The church in Pawahnee Creek

Pawahnee Creek

I searched a bit further, and found Pawanee Creek. I was pleasantly surprised at my initial view, but… upon arrival, realize that even with the care that went into the appearance, this build was for all purposes, empty. I rested my feet in a local carriage, visited a very nice church, and unfortunately experienced the extent of Pawahnee Creek. It may have potential in the future, but as of not, I most certainly cannot recommend a visit, albeit for a photographic expedition.

One can hear the tumbleweeds cross the empty storefronts

Representation = 3 (A good effort in making the build, especially the church)
Affinity = 2 (One would not feel out of place – especially since no one else is there)
Depth = 1 (Beyond a handful of stores, there is nothing to do)
Total = 6 (Disappointing)

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Arrival at the train station in Steelhead


Steelhead is the longest existing western sim that I am aware of (now the "Sigil" is defunct), and many Caledonians have ties among the Steelhead natives. The build is beautiful, a representation of an 1854 West coast town (near Portland, I’d assume), and is quiet (being a residential sim). The Steelhead Ballroom and Hotel is a very active location, with dances (often themed) most weekends. Unfortunately I was not able to locate a schedule of upcoming dances (I don’t wish to venture a guess – any information regarding it would be greatly appreciated).

The Steelhead Ballroom and Hotel

Steelhead has undergone extensive rebuilding, and numerous of the areas I knew from earlier this year are gone, replaced with intriguing new locations.

A beautiful part in the northern portion of Steelhead

Representation = 4 (Very detailed representation of a West Coast city from the era)
Affinity = 5 (Almost an extension of Caledon, a Victorian visitor would be quite welcome)
Depth = 3 (Quiet, until the weekends, where the dance hall provides perhaps the best Victorian-esque dances on a regular basis)
Total = 12 (Beautiful to visit, especially during the festivities on the weekends)

There used to be a sim named "Sigil", but it disappeared whilst I was away from SL in the earlier part of this year. If anyone knows why it disappeared, I would be interested in knowing.
Additionally, I discovered another sim, Dodge City, but I didn’t have enough time to explore it prior to posting this entry. I promise to cover it in the future, but if one is familiar with it, please feel free to remark about it.

Please bear in mind, these are my own biased views based on my trips to these sims. If you have comments, please make them – I only ask that civility be the foundation of said remarks. I do make mistakes, and appreciate other opinions, corrections, and points of view.


Skusting Dagger said...

I have had a most wonderful single malt at the Gem in Deadwood. I will indeed visit again. Even a dandy gentleman such as myself was made to feel welcome.
I will occaisionally visit Streelhead, It is a nice stroll through town.
I have not, however been to Tombstone, or Dodge City. And as you have not yet visited Dodge, perhaps we can make an outing of it one day.
((Interestingly enough, I have visited the RL Tombstone and Dodge City (where I was treated to a fine sasperilla at the Long Branch by my folks), albeit many years ago when I was but a li'l shaver.))

Dr. Rafael Fabre said...

Ah, Mr. Dagger, I am afraid I have already addressed Dodge City, but I promise to impose upon you for the next Voyage - I am quite confident you will enjoy it much more, especially the notable locations of two of them!

Edward Pearse, Earl of Primbroke said...

Some details in relation to the Steelhead dances. There's a general dance, held every Friday night from 7-9 SLT at the Kokopelli Stage. It's themed with the theme changing each week. Themes are decided at the weekly town meetings (held every Tuesday 7pm SLT) and can be found in the minutes. Please contact any of the Steelhead management for details. This Friday's theme is "Moulin Rouge".

Deacon said...

I'm an inhabitant of Deadwood 1876 in secondlife :) We try to do a historical and authentic roleplay there.
I would like to offer the link to the official homepage to everyone whos interested :)

Best regards,
Rynn Dryke / Deacon Dryke