Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Saving a sim

Part of my effort to help save a sim: Kuhr's Wholesale Liquor and Fine Tobacco

I don't know, maybe it's the phase of the moon or something like that, but lately I've found myself wandering from one sim to another that needs some help.

Things do tend to go in cycles, and everything has a life span, but that doesn't mean we have to just roll over and just say, "oh well, natural selection is inevitable--the herd must be thinned!" I admire the people who try to do what they can to revitalize a project that they care about.

One place where this process is underway is in Deadwood. Traffic dropped off and people found themselves struggling to maintain the sense of shared narrative that makes a place like Deadwood so special. I will confess that I was part of the problem: between the demands of real life and getting caught up in splitting my time between Deadwood and other sims such as Alsium and 1920s Berlin, I wasn't contributing much to life in the 1870s. We can only stretch ourselves so far, and we have to make choices.

So when the folks in Deadwood decided to not give up and to look at how they could work collectively to breathe some life back into the project, I became determined to do what I could. I have made my choice, and I will just have to spend less time with my Roman and Weimar era friends.

At present a significant effort is being made: sim owner Caed Aldwych has given a carefully selected group of die-hards and oldtimers permission to add new structures to the build and to provide "set dressing" to various environments within the rp area. The roleplay timeframe is moving into 1877, when the town had more complexity and socio-economic depth, and that should help make things more interesting. Rents have been reduced (at least temporarily) to encourage more activity. This enabled me to make my first contribution to the revitalization process: a wholesale liquor and tobacco store on Main Street.

My next production will be a blacksmith and farrier's shop located back off one of the secondary alleys, and I am looking forward to playing around with that (my friend Clay and I built a dandy smith's forge back during our time in Deadwood 1.0, and I intend to dig that out). Other people are working on projects such as the Gem and Bella Union saloons, a jail, a bank, and other diverse businesses providing goods and services that fit within the context of 1877-78.

To bump up interest--and traffic-some of us have been doing what folks in many rp sims do these days: setting certain times where people will concentrate on coming into the sim, so there will be more likelihood of having someone to interact with. Likewise, people like Clay (now known as C.T. Kungler) and the Leitners are hosting regularly reoccurring events each week, such as boxing matches and talent shows, which give people a reminder that the sim exists, and provide an opportunity to come together and see what can happen.

So far we have seen improvement in traffic, the sim looks good, and we've been having some fun. A few of us have been trying to encourage folks we know from other sims (and time periods) to stop by and try it out.

Is it going to work?

I've got no goddam idea.

But the important things is that we are having a good time trying. It kinda brings us back to an idea that gets trotted out periodically: that ultimately the quality of the experience we have in SL is shaped by our own actions and choices. If you sort of slouch around, expecting other people to entertain you or to keep things fixed and running smoothly, you're probably going to be disappointed.

So if any of y'all have other thoughts of how a community might try to keep their sim lively and interesting, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.