Thursday, June 2, 2011

Putting the Fun back in Fungus

I love quests and hunts and challenges, but have a low tolerance for frustration (I use all my tolerance up during the day), and the Challenge at Fungus hit my sweet spot almost perfectly, once I found an online metronome (trust me, it will help!).You start by hunting through a gorgeous, if mushroomy, world with the odd snail here and there. There are a bunch of stores - it seems in addition to the mushrooms there is an adorable, mall-like growth with quest-stops hidden within it and linked into it in amazing and amusing ways. In the beginning there's a lot of looking through things (take moments to get the lay of the land - it helps!) and finding things of a very hunt-like manner, but once you open all of the chests it becomes much more of a puzzle game than a hunt (except for the five special prizes, all of which are awesome!). I took some pictures as I went, of the things I enjoyed the most, but I tried very hard to not give too much away so you can enjoy the thrill of figuring out the challenge and jumping through the hoops.


Even once you've figured it out, though, I suspect that you, like me, will be happy to repeat it over and over again. I have plans to go through it again with friends, even though I found all the special stars and solved all of the challenges. Parts of it are hauntingly lovely, and inspired my photojournal of my adventure (see below). My only other tip is that you climb the ropes by clicking on them, then a climbing arrow shows up. I highly recommend stopping to savor each moment, the different views, and the sounds involved in the challenge as well!


Looking into telescopes is also recommended, but you could probably figure that out yourself. I love how things branch across the valley, though, giving everything a real solid sense of space and distance, making everything seem more real and immersive. I'll admit there were times when I forgot my surroundings, I was so focused on the minute, exquisite details of the hunt. I'll note that while some things you are looking for are quite small or well hidden, there always seemed to be pointers toward them, making what could have been hours of annoying hunting for microscopic prims on an enormous, multi-layered sim into more like a treasure hunt. I was rarely frustrated, and given how my life has been recently that is saying a lot.


The build is very vertical, stretching from under your feet everywhere you go, practically, to high in the sky higher than you can possibly go without wings. I love all of the little houses, and the hidden places inside, and I'll admit a strong desire to move into some of the cuter houses. I liked the levels inside the houses, too, hiding things, and was particularly struck by how things continued underground (I'll admit, I cammed) to create something which is more fully organic than one usually finds in Second Life - especially considering shifts through ground and semi-unseen details.


There's even a giant, 'Hollywood'-esque billboard saying Fungus in front of a couple toadstools. I was totally blown away by it, as well as the amusing graffiti on the back! Truly something which inspires a laugh in among all of the grandeur and beauty. There are all of these little 'humans were here' touches which never failed to make me smile. Along many of the edges, the fungus theme seems to continue - I spent some time banging my head against sim walls because I thought I could go there to hunt for things!!!


Which brings me to the things you hunt for, and win, over the course of the quest. Simply put, they are delightful. I love how huge they are, especially since I'm usually a faerie, so the idea that I could be this tiny person in a world of keys longer than my arm was really appealing. I love how the snail theme is carried through, as well, into both the special additional gifts you find in stars along the way, and in the different pieces of equipment you pick up to accomplish your goals. At a certain point you shift from hunter to puzzle solver, though. I want to note that I tried very hard to not include solutions to the problems, though there are hints within the sim to help you with several of them. The builds are so overwhelmingly awesome, though, that I couldn't resist taking some pictures of what you have to look forward to, to spur you through the beginning part of the Quest.


I love how the tubes are color coded above - rainbow, my favorite! - and the cats-eye marbles are simply the most adorable things ever. They make marble-like noises, too - little clinks and clangs of glass hitting glass. I was especially amused to find them littering the ground all over the area, and you can have quite a lot of fun hunting for them in the nooks and crannies of this enormous room. The animations were very realistic, too, which made me simply squee with joy. I haven't seen something this pulled together in a very long time, if ever, and it totally brightened my day.


Here's a close-up of the marbles. You can see how the brightly colored theme continues and yet is not overpowering. The use of glow, as well, adds to the view instead of distracting or obscuring them. This was a little marble reservoir which I had some fun climbing into. I have to admit, I'm kind of sad we didn't get any marbles to play with - they would be fun to rez and chase around a sim.


This is your first view of the MoogWorms, which will feature largely in your future in a hauntingly beautiful manner. They seem to serve as some kind of power link up, or energy source - I'm not clear on the cosmology, but the use of wires is obvious. I love this connection between the organic and the electronic - usually these are shown being in conflict, but in the case of Fungus they work together semi-harmonious to a fulfilling end.


Here's that fantastic snail shell diver's helmet which turns out to be rather useful as you continue on the quest! I love how it looks decent even though my hair doesn't quite fit under it, and I love the re-use of a theme. Snails and MoogWorms are central in Fungus, and it shows in their repeat appearances. Also, yes, that is a snail on my shoulder, and I'm wearing a snail on my back in the background. I actually ended up accidentally skipping ahead temporarily due to a Second Life glitch where I fell through the floor. I didn't even realize it was a glitch until I continued on my quest and circled back to the same area again, this time with a clue about what I was trying to do!


There are also little touches in and among the stores, but never on or inside! That was one of my worries when I started, to be honest. I get frustrated when I don't know the "bounds" of a hunt or quest, and numerous times I've ended up scouring a sim for something, only to find it's in some obscure corner or a thousand meters in the air! Very frustrating. I was pleased to see how obvious it was where things around the stores were, and really enjoyed exploring. I didn't look into the stores, but I'm on a spending moratorium until I clear things out a bit more in my inventory! (Yes I'm still doing hunts. Because.... I AM.)


The puzzles all have a rainbow, colorful theme, which made me a very, very happy rainbow faerie. As anyone forced into my presence knows, I adore rainbows and shadings of things in order. I have an entire folder of just rainbow things to wear on myself, and I go into that folder often! So finding rainbows repeated through all of the different quests really made me smile and wriggle in glee~! I also loved the movement above and below water, systematically as you go through the quests. There's constant variation, which made it really interesting and fun!


There's also a sense of being part of a greater continuum of movement as you go, which I adored. It always seems like there might be people coming in behind you, and up ahead of you finishing just out of sight. The multiple coins here made me giggle, as did the fact you get to hold one in your hand! In your hand! Giant coin! It makes me so happy - though I'm not quite sure I can explain why.


Here are the MoogWorms again, in a truly gorgeous spread of colors. This is probably the place I paused longest, not due to any difficulty with figuring things out, but rather because I found it hauntingly, amazingly beautiful. I want a snail and set of MoogWorms for my own! I kept turning around and coming back, too, experiencing it again. I really would like a programmable set of these MoogWorms and Snail; I think this is an example of something which only Second Life could produce - a convergence of visual, auditory, and systemic which requires an immersive, virtual world.


The little, narrow spaces might set off people with claustrophobia, though. There are some times you have to creep through long, secret passages to get to the next area, though the areas themselves tend to be huge.


Here's an example of a huge, overwhelming space which is simply beautiful.The floor, set in shallow water, is littered with enormous snail shells of every vibrant color and description, but it's the view above which is completely awe inspiring, and I don't use those words lightly.


This is one of the places you can find here - a combination of texture and sculpty which somehow seems so real you could reach out and touch it. When I first looked up I just stared for a long time, unable to fully comprehend what I was seeing - the sheer complexity of the creation surrounding me.


And within that grandeur, spots of whimsy and fun. Enormous whimsy and fun, but even so - a moment of lightening laughter. There really is no picture large enough to capture the entirely of Fungus - all I can say is you need to got here yourself and see!


( All the pictures are here. )


Dress: Katatonik
Wings: Fancy Fairy
Shoes: G Field
Hair: Truth
Skin: De La Soul
Ears: Illusion

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