Thursday, May 4, 2017

Fantasy Faire: Dawn's Promise

Dawn's Promise: Flow

Dawn's Promise comes on you like spring - at first gradually and then all in a rush. It is studded with brightly shaded sitting areas that somehow blend into the pinky misty backdrop while still giving the scene an air of play. Everywhere you look is a new spot for delight, some other living thing breathing alongside you. The path is meandering but easy to follow, going between buildings and over bridges with reckless abandon. Everything is slightly worn and slightly off-center - roofs have beams exposed and tiles missing, plaster has worn off to show the brick underneath, and the textures are rough, as if painted by watercolors. I love when creators take the extra step of making things worn; in Second Life it's often easier to make things perfect and uniform, so the extra effort to add cracks and breaks are striking. Little details are tucked into those irregular areas, like a ghost haunting the attic of one store under the watchful eyes of a crow, or a bathtub full of flowers spilling out into the landscape. Off to the edges, small gathering areas float on stone islands - offering privacy and beauty all in one.

Dawn's Promise: Look to the Sky

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fantasy Faire: The Rose

The Rose: Lion

Alia's builds are almost always one of my favorites, and I adored The Rose the second I set foot inside of it. I have a major soft spot for Venice, and this sim really brought that city to mind, from the houses with their stoops ending at the waterline, to the gondola style boats floating on the water. The hues are gentle shades of pink which set off the mint water that was the default windlight beautifully. It grows up rather than out, the outer edges facades while the stores grow up the middle and curve around in a confusing and delighting manner, all the way up to the dance stage on the roof of the central building. I loved the layers and details even while cursing every time I got lost! Rose petals are everywhere, and here and there a black mask lies discarded as if from some party the night before. I was most startled when I crossed a bridge, looked to the side, and realized there was a watery tunnel all the way through! Fantastic!

The Rose: Pet Rose

Fantasy Faire: The Spirit Pool

The Spirit Pool: Watchful

Stepping into The Spirit Pool is like stepping into a cool past made out of marble. Built along simple and neo-Classical lines, the sparsity broken up by lovely potted plants in a vivid shade of yellow-green, The Spirit Pool is a balm to souls over-wrought by the excesses and overwhelm of the Faire. Built around a central square, the covered store area gives way to an open air courtyard protected by high walls. The scale is enormous, especially when you look up to see the somber statue presiding over it all, her arms outstretched. Similar, but smaller, statues dot the walkways holding lamps aloft to guide the way from shop to shop. Water flows throughout, adding to the sense of cool calmness and drawing the eye toward the deep pool which makes up The Spirit Pool. I particularly like the effect of the long banners cutting up the smooth white with a stream of patterned blue. This is also one of the few builds with regular seating, in the form of lovely marble couches with curving arms tucked against the outside wall of the promenade.

The Spirit Pool: On Guard

Fantasy Faire: Mudrana

Mudrana: Golden

Mudrana is a fascinating build at the Fantasy Faire, built in an 'S' shape which centers in front of the Frog King with the curves of enormous lotuses serving as both barrier and building. Reeds of various shades, matching lilypads, and even differently tinted water add a three tone effect while separating the build not exactly evenly. The decor here is for sale at the Dandelion Daydream Factory, and it's striking; divided into "corrupted", "Unseelie" and "Seelie", the similar shapes are remade through colors and glow to bring a different mood to their sections. My favorite touch were the frogs, however - some of them sitting, others climbing, still others peering into the depths. It was fun running across the ones with horns or wings perched on a lilypad or halfway up a stalk of cattails. The use of movement was fantastic as well - flies buzz around the head of the Frong King, tempting him to snack, and in the depths of the water you can see enormous tadpoles swimming as they waited to transform and join their parents on the surface.

Mudrana: Eye of the Lotus

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fantasy Faire: Opal Flight

Opal Flight: Riding High

Opal's Flight is a sea of whites and cream with the flash of glinting bright creatures strewn throughout, much like the hues of a milky quartz in the sun. Like last year's Haveit Neox and Lilia Artis build, it has an organic and quirky design - even the whites mottled with texture - and there's a sense of movement even in the still pieces. There are moments both grand and small - one of my favorite details was in the meeting of a metal flamingo from Fallen Sands with a Neoxian Paper Goose, complete with a gear gift. Its a subtle but endearing touch, bridging the edges of the disparate Fairelands with the shade whimsy of the Faire itself. What was most transfixing, however, were the leaping fish and cetatean riding octopi, rendered in gorgeous hues of bright purple, warm orange, and lime green. They leap among the relics of enormous coral, many of their leaping speeds sufficiently off from each other so that the tableau is ever-changing and unpredictable. Capturing the full effect is impossible in still photography, but I had fun exploring the angles of various leaping things as they moved in and out of view at a dreamlike pace.

Opal Flight: Ring Master

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fantasy Faire: Fallen Sands

Fallen Sands: Mid Flight

Fallen Sands is a desert realm with a metallic edge and a slew of mechanical creatures lurking among the cacti. I tinted the water green, like the heavy water found in other deserts, and set off to explore the onion towers and lead glass. Overhead, enormous iron flamingos fly, casting long shadows on the ground. The buildings are high and slightly angled, with pure glass tower tops on each corner. Those who went before have left behind only their skeletons, engaged in a wide variety of unexpected activities! My favorite were the elephants, though - either blowing water into the air to cool passersby, or cooling themselves in the dense water at the heart of the sim.

Fallen Sands: On Fire

Fantasy Faire: San Mora

San Mora: Fallen

The transition between Kakushi Pasu and San Mora is abrupt and startling. On one side: calm and natural glory. On the other: post-modern destruction decorated with trash bags. Death Row Designs always does something post-apocalyptic (whether modern of medieval) and San Mora is an exemplar of the style. You can pick up a free gas mask from DRD (San Mora) at the entrance, and I recommend doing so.... just in case. Much of what you can purchase here is similarly modern and dystopic - and it's a good reminder, to me in particular, of what an enormous umbrella Fantasy is! I'm more of a sparkles and sunshine kind of girl, but the dark and rusted fantasies other people create are no less valid even if they aren't candy colored. Fantasy Faire always challenges me to get out of my preferred areas and into something different, and I'm deeply grateful for the yearly wake-up call.

San Mora: Under Attack

Fantasy Faire: Kukashi Pasu

Kakushi Pasu: Long Walk

I have loved Kakushi Pasu since I watched it slowly rez around me while listening to Seanan McGuire answer questions. Built like a Japanese Tea House, the open wooden walkways surround a rocky core surrounded by bamboo plants, maple trees, and enormous lotus blossoms. It is at once architectural and natural, the sharp lines of dark wood cutting pleasantly through the softer curves of plants and water. The shadows of bamboo leaves is particularly striking, especially complementing the dark red of the maple. The square shape of the walkways, with their small buildings cropping up here and there, invites contemplation of the floating lanterns which never stop moving. There are two notable areas - one an open air meeting room with a stage for readers and stumps for listeners, and the other a tall cliff where the Fantasy Faire Dragon has moored himself and his ship.

Seanan McGuire Interview 1

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fantasy Faire: Egregore

Egregore: Doll Parts

Egregore is a world of riotous colors which becomes almost completely overwhelming in daylight, and only slightly less riotous under the glow of the moon. This is a child's world, complete with enormous doll houses open in the side or tilted slightly so you can sneak inside to pick up the many delights of the Fantasy Faire. Jelly beans form the paths, pointing the way between stores and through the hiding spots and dance grounds of dolls and toy ponies.  The centerpiece is a giant mannequin setting up her own enormous dollhouse, her feet the size of two Faireland citizens put together.

Egregore: In Writing

Fantasy Faire: Anansi

Anansi: Jack Rabbit

Centering on an enormous clown head, the carnival set up in Anansi has many attractions and even more contrasts. The landscape itself is sweet, pastoral, even medieval - a jackrabbit pauses to watch passers by in a field of gently drying grass; a bridge made of woven logs offers passage over a shallow waterfall; ferns and mossy rocks frame a loose stone pathway up the hill - and hovering over it is the mastermind clown with his army of eight-legged attractions and their flying ant attendants. His rictus of a smile is only visible when you crest the hill, and he hangs over the bay like a malevolent but cheerful majordomo. His minions dot the landscape, all but lost against the landscape, and now and then a crowd gathers at the main stage to play out the next part of the NeoVictoria Storyline.

Anansi: Ant Bait