As those who are familiar with Second Life, many sims come and pass, often without acknowledgement of their hard work of their creative teams. Some have worked hard and have established themselves as steadfast destinations of the Steamlands, carving out a unique niche from which they are able to flourish. I have the good fortune of making the acquaintance of Miss Asil Ares, one of the many creative minds behind their exceptional works, which blend Steampunk and Machinima into unique endeavors. In-between producing works, scripting, filming, running NeoVictoria's dedicated Ning, and many of the other demands on her time, Asil took time to answer a few questions for the Tribune...
Steampunk Tribune: Could you tell me about NeoVictoria's origins?
Miss Asil Ares: I’ve always loved Steampunk, and have spent my life devouring mythology, fantasy and science fiction, so when I dreamed about creating a world, it was those kinds of images that came to my mind. I've also played roleplay games since I was a kid and wanted the possibility of a community whose roleplay wasn’t lost once the scene was over. So NeoVictoria is very much a mixing of those themes and desires.
I think of the fae (or Sidhe) through the prism of the oldest of the stories and not the Magic or the White Wolf games which so many Second Life players consider authoritative. In the Eddas, we're told of the nine worlds (two of which are ruled by fae of the light and dark variety). In the history of those ancestors, when their gods (the Aesir) were destroyed in apocalypse (Ragnarok), the bridges between the nine worlds collapsed and the cosmos was divided, allowing the age of man to began. In the dimension of NeoVictoria, however, the Sidhe did not fade from our sight ...the question becomes, why not?
In our fantasy realm, the queen of the dark elves saw the fall of the Aesir and withdrawal of the Vanir as an opportunity; she refused to fade ...instead she made her peace with this change in humankind's fortunes and harnessed us to serve her. Along the way, she has made many compromises, not the least of which is embracing our technology and using the old power-places in new ways.
[Brigid Ashwood's evocative "Locust Queen," is the 'official' portrait of The Queen and is used with the permission by the artist.]
This is why her Empire, Pax Britannica writ large, remains in the mechanical age of steam. Humankind, by entering into a vassal system with the fae received benefits (long life, a certain freedom from disease), but our science and technology is stagnant. Rather than harnessing the power of the atom, these people have learned to use magic …even to go so far as capturing the souls of men or the spirits of elfish prisoners to power their machines. There are no star-ships, but portals that link the worlds. No nuclear reactors to fill the cities with light, but golden spherical prisons beneath her cathedrals where supernaturals are milked for their innate power. For that is what humankind does …we use the resources of our environment to serve our needs; but here …in this reality …our fecundity is held in check by a nature that knowingly uses us. Humankind is her army, pouring forth through portals opened to conquer world after world in her name. We are legion, but we are also leashed.
The Empire is vast and contains thousands of planets. The heart of the Empire is old Earth and that is where the Queen and her court live. However, NeoVictoria is not Old Earth. Its a tiny planet in the Vico III galaxy, far from the seat of power; its full of ruffians and characters of questionable pedigree. Chinese have a saying, "The sky is high and the emperor is far away" ...that's how a place like NeoVictoria can exist. Neo is at the edge of The Empire's territory ...a backwater ...it holds no strategic importance and is, perhaps, almost forgotten. All societies need places like this ...places where people who can't work within the framework of civilization can exist. Its tolerated by design, for its rulers understanding that all pressure-cookers need escape-valves.
The Physical Construction
The NeoVictoria Project exists in several places. We have a community portal on the NING platform that chronicles the work our members do and a two-SIM estate in the virtual world of Second Life where people roleplay together. When you first teleport into the Second Life simulation, you're on a skyplatform far above the land level where the roleplay occurs. The Skymall is an out-of-character place where players can learn about the project, watch our machinimas, shop for period dress, weapons and gadgets, take photos, practice weapons and enjoy occasional out-of-character parties in the skyclub.
The land-level is where the roleplay happens and that space is always in-character. NeoVictoria is an adult simulation, players must be at least 18 years old in real life to play here. While not dystopic, we are a "dark" roleplay simulation. Demons, vampires, lycanthropes, creatures from other planes, rapists, serial killers & similar creatures roam the streets. This means *characters* often act in aggressive, predatory, criminal and/or plain uncomfortable ways. We have an observer's tag people can wear, if they want to visit but not roleplay. We ask that observers be respectful of the work and dress to the theme (Gothic, Victorian, Steampunk). There are free costumes on the skymall level if people don't have appropriate costumes of their own.
The Steampunk Tribune: There are numerous Steampunk sims in Second Life... What sets NeoVictoria apart from the rest?
Miss Asil Ares: Our commitment to machinima. The ultimate goal of NeoVictoria is to create a virtuous circle where role-play becomes filmed story and we support our machinimatographers with in-world tools and website resources. The Machinima Tools building on the skymall level has an in-world tutorial for the BijoCom Construction System (this is a prim-based tool that allows machinimatographers to control their camera in specific ways) and is the in-world home to the Second Life Machinima Artists Guild (http://slmachinimaarts.ning.com/). Our website has its own Machinimatographer's group to support productions. So far, we've had eight machinimas made for the NeoVictoria project and all are streamed within the NeoVictoria estate in Second Life and on http://www.neovictoria.net.
Tales from NeoVictoria: The Iron Rose
Description: Sidhe, shades, dJinns, demons ... humans, werebeasts, dragons, vampires ... supernatural creatures off all ilk are here and these are our stories. Visit NeoVictoria, the roleplay simulation with the machinima twist! Dark roleplay, steampunk style.
Parcel Page: http://world.secondlife.com/place/4e0ffc83-b1ce-05ce-922f-14f88c37e72a
YouTube Link: http://youtu.be/ZOU5EeoU_PM
NeoVictoria presents Cammy Teardrop's No Monsters But Ourselves
Description: This machinima by Cammy Teardrop won the 2011 NeoVictoria Machinima Contest. Visit this parcel to see it and to learn more about dark roleplay, steampunk style!
Parcel page: http://world.secondlife.com/place/976cb732-2fc3-0c4f-b667-30a7d3680669
Vimeo URL: http://vimeo.com/24309013
NeoVictoria presents Tikaf Viper's The Kiss 2
Description: This is Tikaf Viper's submission for the 2011 NeoVictoria Machinima Contest. Its based on our roleplay.
Parcel Page: http://world.secondlife.com/place/857b1f2f-72de-0c59-9208-1ac1ccd69203
Vimeo URL: http://vimeo.com/23553777
Tales from NeoVictoria: Demoria Arrives
Description: Using the immense powers the Cathedral of Air and Darkness harbors, Manes seeks to bring over his lost love and wife from his home universe to NeoVictoria. >> This machinima was created from our roleplay and made Linden Lab's October 2011 Month of Machinima award program!
Parcel Page: http://world.secondlife.com/place/c15d7f1c-36d5-b217-6bb1-d426b1dc0237
YouTube URL: http://youtu.be/Ba3LhaUg_LA
Tales from NeoVictoria: The Kiss
Description: But what if dreams came true? >> This Steampunk love story was made from our roleplay.
Parcel Page: http://world.secondlife.com/place/cd73cbac-2a23-e5c3-cab1-00313dc0849f
Vimeo URL: http://vimeo.com/10341449
Tales from NeoVictoria: I Will Find You
Description: Friend yearn to reconnect after eons apart. This steampunk love story by Lilac Collas was made from our roleplay.
Parcel Page: http://world.secondlife.com/place/40b7efee-4c94-9b73-ca48-7e7849da5ff6
Vimeo URL: http://vimeo.com/24858685
Steampunk Tribune: What are the most notable part of your sim (e.g. architecture, events, etc...)?
Miss Asil Ares: On Machinima SIM, we have the Machinima Tools building on the skylevel and a CCS-enabled maze on the land level that people enjoy.
In-world Premiere of "The Kiss, by Miss Asil Ares
On NeoVictoria SIM, we have our fantastic skyclub and on the land-level, the Cathedral of Air and Darkness dominates. This 3,000+ prim build touches the cloud layer and it an integral part of the world-story, containing many unique elements, scripted elements and original builds.
Steampunk Tribune: Are there regular event which people can visit and enjoy your sim?
Miss Asil Ares: We usually have a least one event scheduled every week. Sometimes its an out-of-character party or an in-character event. We post scheduled events to our website (http://www.neovictoria.net) and send notices via the in-world NeoVictoria Roleplay Group (http://world.secondlife.com/group/b1595e47-0dce-5de8-9707-656562923a0d).
Steampunk Tribune: Is there anything else you'd like to mention about NeoVictoria?
Miss Asil Ares: We use the Community Combat System (CCS) as a roleplay tool; I cannot stress this enough, for us CCS is a tool to aid the roleplay, we are NOT a first-person-shooting type combat SIM. You do not have to wear the meter to roleplay in Neo unless your roleplay is violent. The CCS meter is free (there a givers on the skylevel) and we do periodic training on how to use.
NeoVictoria has a lot to offer and sometimes new players find it overwhelming. With that thought in view, we designed an online brochure which gives a brief overview (a "wearable' version is available in-world). If people have questions, they can contact me directly (asilemail-neovictoria [at] yahoo [dot] com) or speak with one of our staffers in-world.
My thanks to Miss Ares for a comprehensive insight to NeoVictoria, and to learn yet more about NeoVictoria, please consider visiting...
The Neo-Victoria Ning, at: http://neovictoria.ning.com/