Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heritage Key: Improved Avatars & Orientation

The Mechanism 2/2
Location: Travel Hub, Heritage Key

Before Viv gave me my recent tour of the Heritage Key Valley of the Kings, I bumbled about the new welcome areas for avatars. The ability to select better avatars (I'm sticking with Ron Glass' clone, however) makes HK worth a repeat visit. Here's Iggy/Ron looking at the new HK avatars and accessories:

A Welcome Change

Still in the works: a better default walk. I hope that happens soon. It's the only thing I detest about my avatar, and my students felt the same about their walks last term. If for nothing more than deepening the immersion here, realistic walks for men and women would help.

I like the Travel Hub, pictured below, a great deal.

Travel Hub

The immersive nature of the experience--the avatar as time-traveler--extends to the Dr. Who style time-travel booths. I'm not an avid follower of Dr. Who, but I know a Tardis-like device when I see one. The simulation is not too close, but the reference is both quaint and comforting. The area matched my mental image of how a time-travel hub might actually look.

Time Travel Portal

I'm very fond of the Mechanism that powers all this, Viv's interpretation of an antikythera mechanism mixed with an astrolabe - a Steampunk masterwork. The new welcome region features many classic buildings, mixed with futuristic ones by primary sim Flopsie Mcardle and Rezzable's team, including LIttleToe Bartlett, My McKenzie, and Pavig Lok, get major nods for the structure and decor of the new areas. But, unless I'm mistaken (and I'm not), Viv's is the twisted mind behind the Mechanism's underpinnings as well.

I knew this when, touching various objects, I got this message: "Do NOT Touch!!!: You've discovered the secret power hub of Heritage Key. Watch out for the alligator!" Perhaps you'll see the critter in the image below:

The Mechanism 1/2

Viv notes that "the Travel Hub is meant to be a center of travel - from here you can get to all the regions that are opening up--Stonehenge, Tutankhamun, the Terra cotta Warriors, Ancient London--and travel within them, then come back and explore more destinations." There is information about many of these areas within the travel center. For instance, I got this notice:

departure 5: Stonehenge 2010: Walk the stones at sunset and meet modern-day Druids. Feel what it is like to attend a festival, and revel in the shadows of the Stones.

Orientation and guidance extend beyond the Learning Center. Viv has been at work on a HUD to guide visitors through the Valley of the Kings, too. She adds:

"I'm finishing the new updates to the VoK wearable...adding a region map with resource areas marked. It will help people see where they are, and what they're doing, and also allow them to reflect on the things they've found."

My next post will return to the Valley of the Kings for more detail on the HUD and the other treasures there.

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