Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I had a massive headache yesterday that seemed to disable a percentage of my brain at around noon and I wasn't good for much else for the rest of the day. The only useful thing I did was to help my aunt grade some papers (she's a teacher). Otherwise I just tested out this new computer's aptitude for video games.

First I tried out Jedi Academy, which ran beautifully. The frame rate was usually smooth, even when things got harry, as when a massive lightsabre free-for-all was taking place where Palpatine was held prisoner at the beginning of Episode III involving Obi-Wan Kenobi, General Grievous, Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku, Shaak Ti, Barress Offee, Luminara, and Assaj Ventress. On the maximum graphics settings, lightsabres whirling, sparks flying, laser battles in the distance as starships fought over Coruscant, everything ran so smooth, it was like taking part in a hyper-schizophrenic version of the movie. Maybe it wasn't the best thing for my headache.

Emboldened by this experience, I decided to give Second Life another go. I'd created a character the night before (Lehagvoi Setsuko), but had only managed to clomp clumsily about the tutorial area and feel somewhat discouraged by how ugly my character was. I love the level of customisation Second Life permits for character creation--it's so rare that a game lets you put fat on a character. But, although my computer exceeds the minimum system requirements for Second Life, I wasn't able to alter my character's skin pigment. Or at least, nothing appeared to happen when I moved the sliders. I wasn't even able to alter facial hair, not even the eyebrows, though I did notice that two mysterious lumps of flesh on the side of my face shrank when I pulled the beard slider down to zero. I'm still not sure how I looked to everyone else. I was trying to make a character who looked something like Charles Bronson but I ended up with something that looks more like Lurch. But that was probably more fitting as I pretty much moved like Frankenstein's monster anyway.

So yesterday I managed to contact Caitlin, who sounded as though she was engaged in some very important affair in a distant land modelled after Frank Herbert's Dune. But I was then allowed to teleport, courtesy of Spooky, to New Babbage, which was a great deal more peaceful and sane than the tutorial area and the Korea area where I'd been wandering. Spooky, who was in the process of building a pretty Edward Gorey house, kindly informed me that my skin wasn't orange or any other unintended colour.

I visited the beautiful Paleozoic Museum I'd heard so much about. After viewing a few paintings of archaic renderings of dinosaurs, I wandered upstairs and found several curious portraits of tentacle creatures, both Earthly and otherwise, including a fetching young lady reclining on a beach, a bouquet of tentacles springing from her blue skirts. As I told Caitlin, I couldn't help being reminded of Maniac Mansion.

I spent most of my time watching Spooky build, which was oddly relaxing. Just watching a pretty woman in a voluminous grey gown floating quickly about like a worker bee, commanding brick walls to move and twist. Caitlin visited briefly, mentioning something about a countess who required attendance elsewhere. I demonstrated my ability to bump into walls and utterly lose motor skills while she told me about her suit which recycles her bodily fluids.

Afterwards, I spent more time watching Spooky build before I finally signed off. I came back online much later to find myself still in the Gorey house, which was now dark but now bearing a more complete upper storey and a roof. I enjoyed the feeling of being trapped in a Gorey house for a while before I learned how to open the door. I wandered New Babbage a little while and changed my hairstyle. I love that this whole thing is free.

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