Mar 1, 2008

The Musings of a Flu-Addled Mind

For the last four days my typist has been battling a classic case of the flu. She was diligent with her prevention efforts being one of the first in line for the influenza vaccination at her place of work; however, it appears that the vaccine has not proven effective for several of the strains of flu which are making themselves well known this year. During this illness, she has attempted some hours of work, either isolated in her office or at home. She has also spent much time cuddled in her bed at home. In fact one day last week found her only out of said bed for about 2 hours the entire day.

Why am I telling you this? Well to provide a little context. I have been in world very little over the last several days due to her illness, but have been in receipt of IMs and email, and have been reading blogs and such. There have been a few themes that have kept meandering past my vision and many of them seem to be linked in one way or another.

Oddly enough I was in world sporadically for an extended period of time Friday night as my human's youngest child was up and down for many hours with a GI virus. (Yes - she will be fumigating the home within the next week.) Having a very nice time with friends overall, my experiences on a tour of a sim with Sir Telemachus rather brought everything together in my mind.

The topics? Role Playing, Marketing, Movie-Making, Themed Play, Advertisement

Indeed they all seem to be related. Let's explore it a bit, eh?

Role Play. Merriam Webster on-line defines it simply this way:

\ˈrōl-ˌplā, -ˈplā\

transitive verb
1 : to act out the role of 2: to represent in action

intransitive verb: to play a role

Hardly scratches the surface.

In roleplaying, participants create, adopt and act out the role of characters, or parts, that generally have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own. Roleplaying, also known as RP, is like being in an improvisational drama or free-form theater, in which the participants are the actors who are playing parts, as well as the audience.

Theme. Wikipedia provides the following guidance:

a broad idea in a story, or a message or lesson conveyed by a work of literature. Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored; are generally implied rather than explicitly stated

Those of us in Caledon can most frequently agree that we are living our Second Lives in a themed environment. Our two primary themes are Victoriana and Steampunk.

Marketing. from Wikipedia:
Marketing is a societal process which discerns consumers' wants, focusing on a product or service to fulfill those wants, attempting to mold the consumers toward the products or services offered. Marketing is fundamental to any business' growth. The marketing teams (marketers) are tasked to create consumer awareness of the products or services through marketing techniques. Unless it pays due attention to its products and services and consumers' demographics and desires, a business will not usually prosper over time.

Outsiders often ask what marketing was done for Caledon, which resulted in the rapid growth that we have seen. Or did Des simply stumble upon a niche market at the right time?
How do we sustain our success as a community?

Advertisement. from Wikipedia:
A communication whose purpose is to inform potential customers about products and services and how to obtain and use them. Many advertisements are also designed to generate increased consumption of those products and services through the creation and reinforcement of brand image and brand loyalty.

Hmm. Is there a formal ad process for Caledon?

Movie Making.
Movie - Defined by Merriam Webster

moving picture
1: motion picture
plural : a showing of a motion picture
plural : the motion-picture medium or industry

With the advent of many new products - several free - we have seen an explosion of films and shorts created in RL and SL.
Filmmakers can conceivably shoot and edit a movie, create and edit the sound and music, and mix the final cut on a home computer. The æthernet has allowed for relatively inexpensive distribution of these independent films; many post their work online for critique and recognition and although there is little profitability in this, a filmmaker can still gain exposure via the ætherweb.

"Your Grace, thank you for the vocabulary lesson, but what are you getting at?"

(Recall I did preface this entire dissertation with the fact that my typist has been febrile.)

As I was in world early on Saturday morning, I traveled to a true RP sim with Sir Tele. I was required to wear an observer's tag so that I would not be...well...attacked or killed by an evil wizard, or have need to be in any character at all. Tele has been rping here for a little bit, and finds himself in the odd position of being in the lowest rank of the players...a guardian for the human city. This sim seems loosely based on The Lord of the Rings (men, elves, dwarves, wizards).
The area itself is lovely. We toured the city of men for some time at our own leisurely pace as no one else was present in the city. We walked onto the top of the city wall and saw three avatars talking outside the gate. Two of them, including the sim owner, had their OOC tags on, the third was an evil wizard in character. Tele, also being in character, asked me to stay put as he walked to the city gate to investigate what was going on.
I stood there camming around and taking some pictures. Apparently this was not appreciated by our little group. They IM'd Tele to say that pictures were not allowed without permission or some such nonsense. He was quite angry. Ever the diplomat, I sent a private apology to the sim owner and told her that I would not take further pictures - that I thought the sim was so lovely I needed to get some shots. She accepted that apology well and even gave me permission to publish the pictures here below. Meanwhile, as both he and I negotiated with the Lady, the wizard attacked Tele with several magic spells. It was rather painful to only be an observer of this, to not really be able to play the role of healer or leader that I am used to playing in our little corner of the metaverse. Shortly after Tele was finally unfrozen, we teleported back to Caledon. The manner of the attack having been unorthodox even for this RP, he was rather upset. He continues to "grow his strengths" in this RPG so that he will have more "points" and abilities. I should think that the Wizard has just ensured that Tele will continue to work on his strengths as I do believe the spell-thrower has just sealed his eventual death sentence.

Tele at the Solheimer Keep

The City of Men

Looking from the gate into the realm of the elves

Vomon, the wizard in question.

Telemachus the Guardian

It truly is a breath-taking sim - particularly in Windlight.

The experience got me thinking even more than I already was about the concepts listed above. Caledon is such a unique experience; a unique state of being. It indeed did find a niche market two years ago, and has found an audience, but also a cast of characters who are willing to build their stories, and thus the story of Caledon. It has grown exponentially, and has found friends in the metaverse with whom wise alliances have been made. We provide assistance and context for each other.

Was this marketed formally? Were advertisements made in the public market place?
Perhaps. But I came to Caledon strictly on word of mouth when there were only three sims (and no blogs). And I stayed because of the avatars I met, the interesting things that were going on in the community, and the sense that Caledon truly was a community.

Caledon's people - her community - truly are her best marketing and advertising tools in my humble opinion. And very little of that is done intentionally. It is simply an outgrowth of "being".

Caledon is Desmond Shang. Caledon is Hypatia Callisto. Caledon is Ordinal Malaprop. Caledon is Kate Nicholas, and Lord and Lady BardHaven. Caledon is Alfonso and Fuschia. Caledon is the Library System, and the Loch Avie Academy of Arms. Caledon is the Middlesea Fleet, the Whist League, Kintyre Chocolate, the Inkboy Gallery, To a T, Radio Riel, Uisge Beatha, and ironclad ships. These few listed are simply a cross section. Caledon is ALL of us...and ALL that we do.

I am thankful that we are not all part of a giant imposed RP; something like I witnessed the other night. I enjoy being able to tell my own story, and to contribute to many small role plays throughout the great Independent State. I mean really...where else could a woman be a Duchess, a distiller, an arms "expert", the head of State Intelligence, a healer, a hostess with the mostess, half a Duchess Sandwich, a pilot, a ship -driver, etc., etc., etc.,?

I LOVE the freedom that we have in Caledon. We are bound to the covenant of our State, to common courtesy and general theme. But the pallet with which we paint our canvas is broad and beautiful.

We have, as most who read this blog are aware, tried large RP events in the past with the best of motives. They have failed miserably and caused much grief along the way. To quote, Mr O'Toole from his post in the forum,
...people often confuse RP with Machinima, Machinima with reality, reality with fantasy, etcetera..

I have found that I do enjoy being part of the movie (machinima) making process. I like helping developing the story, playing the parts, seeing the daily rushes. It's fun. But I am advocating that even this is done on the small scale. Otherwise confusion (could) reigns supreme again.

Successfully, The Middlesea Fleet just assisted Lord Darkmere with an RP battle of his design. Pretty small scale. Finished in 1 afternoon. Fun for all the players involved. No lasting drama. Brilliant!

Hotspur O'Toole has also developed a machinima project. It involves a small cast of creative folks - oh and he is letting me play, too. :-)

It is "sort of reworking and simplification of our old 'War with Neualtenberg/Vulgaria' idea. Our approach has been to 'do more with less' and I have to say, we should have tried it this way from the very beginning. Last shots I filmed for the old movie took an entire day, involved dozens of people standing around a lot, and we got almost no usable footage out of it. I filmed with the 'Less is More' approach the other night, with four people shooting, and got about 40 minutes of beautiful, majestic aerial fleet footage. I'm sold." says the Captain.

One need only read the many Caledon blogs to have a sample of the other small scale RPs and stories being played in SL or simply told in the æther. There are many stories and story-tellers. Our day to day stories in Caledon are played in the themes we treasure.

There are also many other fine movie makers in our fair land. They are recording their projects - their small scale RPs or works of fiction. Sometimes for others to view, but most often for their own satisfaction, or to record the "history" that they make. And our collective story grows. Subplot by subplot. Daily fun, machinima-making, blogging. Telling our stories this way, with only those involved in the particular chapter or verse of our journal, not everyone need be concerned if they are not consulted, or part of the process; however, in the end we are all the richer for the diversity.

I think the telling of these diverse stories is what sustains Caledon and makes her a viable nation long into the future.

*Now I sit down to my tea, hoping to have made sense of my thoughts. Wondering what you may think.*


Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Loch Avie!

Yrs, &c.


Vivat Caledon!

Darien Mason said...

Well done, your Grace!

~Dr. Mason

Sir Tele said...


what a night that was! Your eloquent post brings to mind many things...I have been out of town rl and have not had a chance to reflect.

It is true the rp is sort of 'enforced,' as you note, in the sim I have begun playing in; the rules and races and guilds are involved and very proscribed, unlike Caledon. That is part of the appeal, too. I have been going there because it is often fun rp, and because Caledon just does not do enough metered combat...and there is quite nothing like sword fighting an evil somebody who is struggling to open the castle gates and admit the hordes of perdition to sack the town.

Also, I have made some wonderful new friends there.

I note at this point in my post that losing in rp sl combat is simply part of the fun (I died defending the gates, that particularly fun day), and am always grieved when losers take things poorly or make any excuse. I saw much of that in Gor, in fact, in the intersim rp...."invalid invalid," the most common word in some sl Gor sims! Not all! But some. Still, cautiously, I will proceed.

The night you mention was simply bizarre, and I do not think representative of that sim...not from the little I have seen, nor from what the sim owner told me later that night (and she was apologetic and very kind). Text chat flows without tone, let alone body language clues, and it is very easy to miss attitude...but I felt you were being accused of having ulterior motives in taking pictures without permission. You know I do not do well in such moments...I remember the night of the Edison party when some Edison person was very upset before everyone showed; as the Lancers rallied to save the day, I did the odd thing of walking up and introducing myself as your bodyguard, and someone who holds the Loch very was automatic! But back to the wild night was while I was in IM with you and the sim owner, and safely ensconced on the city wall, that the WIQ (Wizard in Question) decided to blast my meter down from 100 to 26 from a decent distance and without any challenge or verbal begin to the rp. Then some very kind "healer" came and restored my meter, as you recall, as he chastised the WIQ (and you, Duchess, really were quite noble, rushing to my aid as I lay fainting on the was rather all worth that). Once restored, I blinged off a few half-hearted arrows at the WIQ, which prompted the healer to say, OOC, that the WIQ and myself needed to knock it off (and the sim owner, also OOC, was a few feet from the WIQ and probably getting winged in my enthusiasm and lame use of my new spell fire bow).

At which point, as you recall, I was snared in some kind of spell that froze me for about a minute amidst glaring red beams. When those wore off I said something gallant like "okay, to me this is griefer shit" and you and I tp'd out. Indeed, being attacked without any kind of warning, by such weapons, is illegal as I understand the rules of the sim. Maybe evil wizards are simply evil and break rules....I can work with that if it is so.

What am I to make of all this? I believe there are many good rp'ers there. But then at least two times I have been in that sim to practice weapons I have caught fire (literally) and burned up and died outside rp...and I am told it was a griefer. Surely, a griefer who must be found and banned for completly disrupting the rp. Or perhaps I am simply unpopular with the Lords of Darkness and they like to fight from the safety of their closets. Still, that night, I think it was the WIQ and no anonymous griefer who blasted me. It was very poor timing on the WIQ's part as I was doing ambassadorial business with the sim owner (and what is the sl slang for sim owner: we need a term) but in his defense the WIQ did not know what I was doing as I was in IM.

The frustrating thing for me, at this point, is to understand how to rp weapons play when "magic" is allowed. I say up front, while I respect sims who wish to use magic very much, it is rather lame that a warrior must train for weeks or months to become proficient with spear and sword and bow and a mage can be given a script which cooks opponents with no special effort at all; that he can stand there and play Sauron and rip off a pretty griefing script which requires no skill to execute. I That said, I acknowledge magic is a creative addition to the rp, and I also know, again from the sim owner, that they are struggling hard to balance weapons and magic and armor class and levels and all that; I wish them sincere luck, as many of them are very sweet and creative and noble people. And as I told her that night, as a Guardian, I am also pledged to her defense.

Had I not been so upset about what I felt was suspicion of the photo taking activity of Your Grace (I should have introduced you, really), had I not been up too late and so rl tired, above all had I known the sim a bit better and not been told my job as a new guy is 'just to learn,' frankly, if I had not gone Caledon soft (and I love my nation more every month, whether it softens me or not) I would have hopped off the wall, near death as I already was, and fired arrows in WIQ's face point blank to see what he made of that. What has happened to that part of me? I think I am simply finding my feet in a new rp environment. In Gor I would have known what to do.

Why did I share all this? I don't know!

Regardless, the WIQ walks a marked man in my eyes, as you know Duchess. If he were Caledonian, I would already have sent Vid or H to call on whatever friends he has...if he were Gorean, I would challenge him one on one with witnesses. But in his home sim, I am not sure. I will bide my time, learn what I can and cannot do, and then cut his heart out and put it in an alcohol jar in the pub in the Loch.

Or maybe I will get banned from the sim for writing about this...(hope not). Or maybe I am tired of being lit on fire from a distance and will not return at all. I think I may also be catching a rl cold and am grumpy and rambling...

I do know, had he hit you with a spell (and he could not, for you wore no meter) well, yeah, that would have been very ugly. There is no insulter like an enraged Caledonian. And we are so very good at the political channels.

Hah! My love to you as always, Duchess; and sincere thanks for exploring with me!

We will have to go back.



post scriptum: I know Duchess is not the correct term for your Grace; but I have been calling you that since I was a young barbarian and it has rather nostalgic value, dear friend :)

Her Grace, Eva Bellambi said...


Your passion for this type of RP clearly shows. *smiles*

AND, I am always thankful for your protection of my person and my honor - particularly that you and the Lancers stepped in when I was perhaps being slandered (by someone, who was given MY leave to use MY sim without cost)in my own home whilst RL kept me away.

The incident in Solheimer will not keep me away unless it does you. :-) We shall explore again!

Just another of the many stories that make up our part of the Caledon collective.




Hotspur O'Toole said...

Tele! After reading THAT monologue now I HAVE to visit this place. I know you are more than willing and able to take care of yourself, but I really would enjoy paying a visit there myself. Taking the wind out of a troll's sails is like meat and bread to me, brother!



Hotspur O'Toole said...

... oh, I meant to compliment you on a lovely post, Lady E. I had hoped people wouldn't be put off by the distinction I was making between RP and machinima when I wrote that bit you quoted from the forums. Roleplay is cherished by many, but not by EVERYONE, as many of us have discovered in the past. Perhaps it's best to point out what's a movie, what's a theme and what's a RP up front, in no uncertain terms. Great post :-D


Christine McAllister said...

An excellent post your Grace. Personally, I think Caledon resonates with those of us who chose to stay. I know I first arrived in Caledon about a week after I first rezzed in SL. I like Victoriana in RL and was looking for anywhere that was *not* the mainland.

We are truly very fortunate to be a part of a community that fosters our own storytelling and for the most part is a beautiful place to be. People are mannerly, respectful, helpful and generous, giving of themselves, their time, talents and often linden as well. I think Desmond created a place that felt like home to very many, which is why Caledon has been such a success.

As for "Strict" RP, I've tried a little of that in Deadwood, and usually end up acting like myself in Caledon. I don't think it hurts to bring a little style and proper grammar to the rough and tumble Old West. ;-)