Thursday, March 26, 2009

Steampunk Travelogue: Miskatonic Valley Authority



An overview of the Miskatonic Valley Authority, facing north

The Steampunk sims of late have undergone some dramatic changes, some going, some expanding, and some emerging. One of the newer sims to arrive on the SL grid is the Miskatonic Valley Authority (aka, the MVA), a combination residential and commercial district with a distinct Cthulhu influence.


The swirling depths of Kingsport, just below its lighthouse

For those who may unfamiliar with the Cthulhu mythos, I have provided a few links at the end of the article to websites which provide extensive introductions and extrapolations upon this genre. Simplistically described, it is a “Dark Victorian” atmosphere, but more in depth than many era fictional genres. (The author of the original books, Mr. Lovecraft, was from the pre-WW2 era (the “Great Depression” of the 1930), and set the bulk of the mythos stories during this time.


The urban city of Arkahm, early in the morning

Its’ Steampunk ties derive from the purveyor of the original “paper and pencil” RPG, known as “Call of Cthulhu”, by Chaosium. They produced a number of supplemental rule books covering different time eras, and one of the most popular was “Cthulhu by Gaslight”, essentially Cthulhu in the Victorian era.


A photo of the city plaza at daybreak

There was talk of other Cthulhu sims, as mentioned by Captain O’Toole and Duke Pearse (both provided an early preview of the MVA a bit ago), but those efforts fell a bit short, and never materialized. Upon learning that the MVA was taking shape, I spoke with my contact on the management team, a Miss Ceres Eilde, had had the opportunity to garner a bit of insight into the sim construction.


A further view of Kingsport's cove

Building a sim seems to be a fairly straight forward endeavor, but having a successful business model to ensure the future success of the sim, on the other hand, is a different issue. The MVA was designed to emanate a distinct uneasiness to the uninitiated with the Cthulhu mythos, with two residential districts, and one commercial district.


An altar of some sort... the kind where sacrifices used to take place...

The rental of the commercial properties (Arkham) is similar to many sims – a rental of “x” number of prims for “x” lindens per week/month. The residential sims, however, caught my attention. Dunwich and Kingsport differ in two major ways. Dunwich follows the traditional form for land in themed areas in SL – with the exception of no “down-payment” for acquiring a plot. Essentially a rental without an “upfront” charge, which was quite surprising to see this break-away from traditional rental equation .


Fog billowing into Kingsport from the ocean

When one moves in, one does acquire a blank spot of land surrounded by mountain ridges (or part of the sea, if one acquires a lower level plot), requiring acquisition of an appropriate domicile, of which there are a good number easily found in world or SL Exchange (no, I refuse to us the new “politically correct” title). Kingsport is also a rental with established abodes, so all that is required is to furnish the it and continue on smartly, so to speak.


The available spaces in Kingsport, near Arkham

The atmosphere is well done, and the build does carry an appropriate atmosphere required of the genre. I was quite impressed with the lighthouse over looking a cove of billowing water… (wonder what will come out of it in the future!) The Kingsport sim has a more cohesive connection (as the buildings were built as straight rentals), and have a more cohesive (feel) than Dunwich. One irksome issue is the bright red rental boxes, which would be effective in displaying available vacancies, does detract from the atmosphere being presented.


A view of Dunwich, looking westward

This weekend (Saturday, the 28th) will see the official Grand Opening Ball of the MVA, with the event being held at Miskatonic University, from 4 to 7 pm, SLT. I don’t exactly know what other events are projected for the near future of the Miskatonic Valley Authority, but I do wish them the best of luck in their endeavor.

To keep up-to-date with the MVA's events, please visit...
http://miskatonicvalley.blogspot.com/

Previous reviews of the MVA...

Cthulhu Mythos Links...
http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/cthulhu.htm

And the current source of a profound number of Cthulhu mythos works...

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