Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hunts, Freebies, and Moochers

Troll Land

I was introduced to "freebies" my first day, and discovered hunts the December 2008, with the Winter Grid Wide Hunt. I did the entire hunt, cursing when I couldn't find things. This was pre-blogs-covering-items, pre-linklists-of-stores, pre-derender, pre-wiremesh-mode, pre-hunt-groups, pre-hints. I spent hours at different stores, only to find the item OUTSIDE of it. I'll never forget the store I combed over multiple times, only to have some enterprising person discover the item stuck into the wall with only a tiny corner sticking out. In another, about thirty or forty people combed the four levels minutely until someone found it outside of the building, tucked under a roof.

This was pre-banning-people-from-sims-for-using-local-chat, too. In both cases, we shouted it to the high heavens. In less than five minutes the stores went from crammed to the gills to empty. There are still stores I refuse to buy from because of how they hid things in hunts, the most memorable being when an item was hidden inside another small item. This was before I could derender things, so it took me at least five minutes to cam inside to get it.

The first year of hunts I gave it the real college try. I'd try to do entire hunts, to explore stores, etc... but then the hunts started multiplying, and for a while now I've mostly chosen individual stores out of the herd to go and hunt at based on pictures of the prizes. Now and then I'll stumble across a small hunt that seems made for me or which is under fifty stops, and then I might go through. The other exception is a group which does games that include hunts as part of their game; I always do those because I'm addicted to the stories - I want to know what happens. I'm tending to hunt for different reasons now, though - I know exactly what I'm getting, for example, or it's part of a greater whole.

Bright Lights

You see, even on the highest quality of hunts... a lot of what people put out, I don't want in my inventory. Sometimes it was an issue of quality (I know we aren't supposed to say that because it's rude to look gift horses in the mouth, but it's true) and sometimes of style, and sometimes that I doubt I would ever find a use for it. I don't own a lot of land, so a lot of in-world objects simply loiter in my inventory tucked five down in a folder, my style is fairly modest and feminine geek, and as my inventory has ballooned my standards for what I keep have become that much more stringent. I don't usually say so, though; while I will sometimes offer commentary on what people created, I try to soften my opinion of gifts as much as I can, usually offering them without comment at all, because of the aforementioned gift horse and mouths.

I totally agree that it can feel awful to have someone insult one's creations. Having had some creations insulted I know the stinging pain of that, and I've had my share of knee jerk, immature responses. The tendency to ban people from land based on real or perceived insults is very concerning to me, however, especially when met with a subset of people bemoaning how reviewers on Second Life are never "honest."

Well, of course they aren't. Being honest can get you banned.

Hel, even being slightly critical can get you banned. I'll never forget an acquaintance of mine who was banned for suggesting - suggesting mind - that someone's hunt prizes were also their store items. She was wrong, she corrected it, but she and everyone who commented on that post was banned from the sim in question. Several times since then I've heard similar rumblings, of people banned not for publicly disruptive behavior, but for private concerns and reasons - for critique, for comment, even for bothering a creator too much.

Spinning World

I am a big fan of hunts and freebies. I think they're a perfect way to hook people into fashion into Second Life. I also like the collaborative spirit that can emerge - nothing pleases me more than helping someone find something after they're really, really tried to find it. There's a rush to that moment of "I found it" which is better than the rush of all the prizes. For a long while I was a vocal and enthusiastic group helper in a variety of hunt groups, but in the last year I've taken my helpfulness out of group chats and into private. Sometimes this is because a group specifically discourages helping in the open chat; like giving hints in open chat, it's viewed as spoiling the hunt for people who really want to do the work to get the item.

In conversation with another hunter a short while ago, after I had helped her find something using general hints - nothing too specific (I always start with my most general hint) - she commented that her eyes weren't very good these days, and so it had been difficult to find the item because it was very small and blended in very well. "I hunt because it's fun," she said, and I was struck by how true that was for me, as well. There is a threshold beyond which I am unwilling to continue. One memorable time I was hunting for an item and was lead directly to where it was, by a bunch of people who all saw it, but my computer hardware apparently couldn't render it because it was simply too small. Other hunts have been buried under lag, crowds of people trapped looking for something and adding to the problem exponentially.

There is a point where it stops being fun, but communicating that - stating that something is simply too difficult to be enjoyable - seems to be a peculiar kind of verboten. "You don't need the prize," I've heard people respond, but in the case of hunts which are part of a story, the prizes are often secondary or tertiary to the pleasure of figuring things out and finding out what happened (I know that's definitely the case with me). I wish this was something more easily and facilely discussed, though, without knee-jerk accusations of being lazy or entitled.

Gazebo and Light

At the end of the day, what I want is for us all to have fun... together.

( More pictures here. )


Skin: De La Soul, Candace Creamer
Hair: Discord Designs, Codie (24 Gatcha Prize)
Ears: Illusions, Seelie Ears
Eyes: De La Soul, Mesh Eye Rainbow
Eyelashes 1: SLink, Mesh Lashes
Eyelashes 2: Flugeln Brise, 05-A
Eyeliner: Mock, Glitterotica
Eyeshadow: cheLLe, Tropical
Lipstick: Mock, Bella Vetro Gloss
Wings: Deviance, Sidhe Wings
Hands: SLink, Rigged Mesh Hands
Nails: Orc Inc, Glitterfade
Dress: Prism, Corrina Gown (24 Limited Edition)
Shoes: G Field, Ribbon Slingback Shoes

Pose: flowey

Location: Fortuna Smiles

Light Settings: Places Astryls Wild
Water Settings: Glassy

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping, only


  1. Hey there. Taking the day off (oh my) but saw your post and actually read it all. I admit I am unusually a pics and links gal -- only so much time.

    Just wanted to say that I completely agree and if you toss my rainbow house you can do it with absolutely no feeling of guilt. When Chandra told me what she wanted -- well, it was a stretch for neutralesce me. Still, that hunt (no names, not try to plug) has been the best one that I have been in maybe forever. Since the general caliber of the gifts is higher than the norm these days, I think a different set of folks are hunting. Amazingly, they are also BUYING -- something that most merchants don't associate with hunts these days.

    So maybe -- this is a good lesson to lots of folks. Maybe small and "elite" is the way to go not two hundred stops or trudging through a whole hunt to get your prizes.

    And now that I've been so eloquent I think I am going to post this on my blog, day off or not and link to your post as I really enjoyed it.

  2. I'm so glad you appreciate my thoughts on it, Chic, and yes, that's one of the smaller hunts I was thinking of; I actually commented on the quality in one of my posts about it. I didn't do much shopping as I went, but I tend to be an unpack-and-go-back sort of person. It also helped that none of the prizes were hidden impossibly hard; I had to look for them all, but they were in sight if you were looking form the right angle, which is the level of difficulty I like for my hunts personally.

    Thanks for the link, and the thoughts - I appreciate you reading.

  3. I found myself nodding along with your comments. Hunts were a wonderful way to explore SL. I've become more selective as I spend less time in-world. Thanks for such a thoughtful post.