Like the title says, I got Good News, I got Bad News. That's pretty much the nature of life in SL isn't it? You get a bunch of nice things come along, and then something happens that utterly kicks you in the south 40. Yeah, like the disneyfied lions would say, "it's the fuckin' circle of life." And then they would sing about it and dance around, while the toddler on your lap watches with that mouth agape, deer-in-the-headlights expression (even though this is the 637th time they have watched the thing), and you find yourself thinking things like...."Bob Fosse would have made a great Muppet," or "Do I have anything left to drink in this house besides NyQuil and mouthwash?"
OK...let me give you the good news first.
A number of very cool people with connections to the ever-expanding world of Old West roleplay in SL have started up blogs of their own. Each of these have their own unique perspectives and goals, and I think they add some nice depth to the developing (and un-managed) conversation.
First of all, Cici Levenque has had a blog since January 5th called Western Roles. Yeah she's had it going less than a month and already has like 19 posts about--the gal is prolific, AND she has a great concept: it is essentially a news and discussion blog covering ALL the western sims. Cici is the equivalent of the intrepid 19th century lady reporter, wandering from town to town, a combination participant/observer, covering a lot of ground. Her work gives you an idea of how much this aspect of life on the grid is growing in size and complexity. She also is doing features on some of the great folks who are contributing to the expansion and evolution of various Old West rp communities. Yeah I should have mentioned Cici's blog before, but hey, I get to things sooner or later. Doin' the best I can, here.
Next, a very good friend from Deadwood, Blackjack Landar has started up a personal blog--primarily for his main Blackjack character, but also for some of his alts. Blackjack is a dman fine rp'er, and is hands-down the best bad guy the Deadwood sim ever had. He's smart and brutal but businesslike. He makes alliances, he does dirty deals, he kills people--but it's just business. One interesting aspect of this character is that he is in a clandestine business partnership with Dio and Clay (built primarily around a moon-shining operation). I won't go so far as to admitting that they like Blackjack, but they certainly respect and trust him. Blackjack may be a criminal and a murderer, but he is also a common-sense businessman, and he always keeps his word. I think of this blog, Blackjacks Ruminations, as the character's typist sort of thinking out loud, reflecting on how he approaches his characters and roleplaying, and what is going on with them. So far it's been a nice exploration of how one player gives his characters depth, and particularly how he makes his bad guy persona work well and survive.
Finally I would like to make you guys aware of a third new blog, that of Glen Dover (actual avatar name Master Glendover), who currently plays the sheriff in Deadwood. Titled "The Dirty Side," this isn't so much a character or story blog, as it is about the "stuff" of rp. Glen has begun making things in-world, starting with some very low-prim, photorealisitic furnishings that are just really bloody well done. I got an Eastlake style back bar from him that is probably one of the best Victorian saloon furnishings I have seen in SL so far. But it was cheap and very low prim. Now Glen has moved into men's clothing, under the name "Rustic Wares.".
You know, and great deal of the men's clothing that is made in SL for Old West roleplay is really just balls-on godawful. Most of the Native American stuff in particular will make you look like the Indian from the Village People. Glen, on the other had has a Native American warrior outfit that actually looks like a mid-19th century Sioux or Cheyenne of the central and northern Plains. How does he do it? Um..well, he looks at actual pictures of 19th century Plains Indians.
Glen makes stuff for real guys. He packages some of his outfits with accessories like tools (for example his miner's outfit comes with a pick that was crafted by Clay). Glen also makes his outfits with sweat and dirt layers that you can put on and remove. When you wear his stuff you're going to look like some stanky fucker who actually works for a livin'--not one of the extras in the Willie Nelson video "Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other." Mind you, I got nothing against that song--it's poignant and beautiful and funny, and Willie performs it wonderfully--but mostly I am guessin' you boys trying to do authentic Wild West rp really need to find a different look than that. So go check out Glen's outfits. He keeps crankin' out more stuff all the time, and his blog is used not just to make announcements, but also as a discussion of what he's thinking as he makes stuff and why.
Speaking of people who make good stuff, another Deadwood friend, Astolat Dufuax just came out with some new men's outfits of her own--an underground miner (complete with hat with miner's lamp) and a cavalry enlisted uniform of the 1870s. This is different from the uniform that Caed Aldwych has made for Deadwood, which is great because now we can get that authentic 1870s look of mixed old and new styles. The horse soldier on the Western frontier in the 70s--except when on parade--looked like a real hodgepodge: they wore a mix of surplus civil war stuff, (which the government in its frugality insisted be used up before new stuff was issued), civilian items, and new articles such as the M1872 kepi and the M1874 five button "blouse" (sack coat), both of which are among the items that Astolat and her colleague Ernst Osterham have recreated. Visit Astolat's blog, the Victorian Closet, to see the details.
Ok, I've now told you about some great new blogs that you should be reading to see how the discussion of SL's Old West roleplay elements is evolving and expanding. And I also had some good news about how stuff like historical clothing keeps getting better and better in SL.
So what's the bad news, you say?
Well, goddamit, Ordinal Malaprop got fed up yesterday to the point that she deleted her store from Second life, AND pulled the plug on her blog "An Engine Fit for My Proceeding."
Ordinal has been in SL a long time. She's has been a builder and scripter who produced some of the most imaginative and FUNCTIONAL steampunky stuff you ever saw. Below you can see an image of my friend Aldo with his Ordinal Enterprises "gun balloon" (for which he built his own armored cockpit). Ordinal invented this ages ago, but it's still brilliant--as Aldo says it's essentially a steampunk version the A-10 warthog: a simple, sturdy aerial vehicle built around a Gatling-style BFG (big fucking gun). Aldo loves this thing.
And I love my Ordinal Enterprises whacking big Hatpin of Doom (that's what I call it, I have forgotten Miss Malaprop's precise nomenclature for the thing). This elegant concoction was built and scripted by Ordinal so you can wear it in your hair or hat, and pull it out when necessary for use as a deadly weapon.
Anyway, I don't know all the details, but I have the impression that Ordinal had been frustrated with issues on the technical side of SL for some time. More importantly, I think she had a larger concern about the direction the platform was going in general, and what she perceived as a growing gulf between the consumers and the content makers in SL. The last straw apparently was the Lab's acquisition of a social networking site, Avatars United , which seems to be..ahem..somewhat flawed, if not downright primitive. Ordinal went into AU and created a batch of accounts, using other people's names, including Desmond Shang and Prokofy Neva, and then made an account with a Linden last name. You can see the results of Ordinal's experiment on her flickr photostream.
This, seems to have simply blown Ordinal's mind, and she started throwing the big knife switches to the "off" position.
And all I can say is...shit. Shit. Shit. And more Shit.
There are lots of people on the grid who are funny, and lots who are brilliant...but not many who are funny AND brilliant. Ordinal was one of the few.
Emilly Orr has said to me she thinks more of those who are the best of the best, like Ordinal, are going to give up soon as well.
So that's my bad news.
At this point can the Lab actually do anything to slow or stop the attrition? Or would it be like trying to turn an aircraft carrier? You could put the helm over hard, but would it turn fast enough before the torpedoes hit?
An Update, 1/31/210, 3:20 PM SLT
Ordinal has turned her blog back on, and included a explanation. It's pretty much what I described above, with a good bit of clarification. I hope that what this becomes for Ordinal is one of those points in life (and that goes for all aspects of of life, not just the elements that occur within a virtual context) where you have to stop what you are doing, look it over and decide what new adventure will come next. It may or may not grow out of the foundation of the activity that you just shut down...but like the goddam dancing/singing lions would tell you, it is part of the fuckin' circle o' life.