Daily Archives: November 7, 2012

A-mazed and at sea

Captain’s personal log, voyage date: 061112.09. We set out on the first leg of exploring the Sea of Fables today. Captain Caliburn Susanto had passed on information about ancient ruins on the sea which he believed to be the lost Labyrinth of Daedalus. While we had far to sail, we decided that his findings had to be investigated, and so we held over in port and risked the tide in order to obtain additional air tanks and equipment we might meet on a dive….

With the early morning Sun still low in the sky, we finally got underway, using the inboard engine to push us out of the tiny, shelter harbour of Poseidon Island

As regular readers will know, I’m getting quite into sailing and have recently taken time out to explore places like Second Norway and parts of the Blake Sea. I also have an invitation from Indigo Mertel to visit the East River Community, which lies on the coast of the Sea of Fables. Both of these being the case, I decided it was high time to start my explorations around the region – spurred on by Caliburn’s post on the maze of Daedalus.

Soon we were out on the open waters of the sea, and I gave the orders to raise the sails, cutting the engine as I did so. for a moment or two, the Exotix coasted forward, the windlasses rattling as we wound them, the sails rising limpy up the tall mast. Then with a canvas-like snap, they caught the wind and Exotix heeled to starboard, racing forward as the sails filled, and I felt the wheel kick with joy in my hands…

I’ve commented elsewhere in this blog that I enjoy mazes in SL, so the idea of exploring an underwater recreation of Daedalus’ maze – and the specter of finding a Minotaur – intrigued me. So off we set aboard the Exotix,on the first leg of a new adventure…

The maze itself covers the bottom of the entire watery region of Baltic, with the entrance on the north side of the region, just waiting to be found….

By noon we were at the coordinates given to me by Captain Caliburn, and we agreed I should make the first dive. Changing into a white leotard dive suit, I let my companion help me with the air tanks and belt. Confirming the air flow was good, I pulled on my mask and close my lips around the mouthpiece. Standing on the side of the boat, I looked down into the rich, blue water, then jumped, straight-legged, feeling a sharp shock as I hit the water – and sank.

The maze itself is cunningly designed to prevent camera trickery; the roof forms the seabed for Baltic, and is thick enough to discourage attempt to cam up. It is also made of multiple prims (unsurprisingly, given it is a full region maze), so trying to position the camera in the ceiling and then camming around to check the lie of the corridors isn’t going to get you far.

The water was colder than I had anticipated, but not so cold as to be uncomfortable or dangerous. It was also surprisingly clear. Using my compass, I swam a sort distance towards the exact place at which Caliburn said he found the entrance. Sure enough, I found the wreck of an old wooden boat, broken ruins – and there, set into the sea floor, an opening with steps leading down…

There is a means to get some assistance, however. Near the maze entrance is a large ball of twine. Touch it, and you can purchase a twine HUD; when you reach certain intersections in the maze, you can touch the HUD and receive a novel form of assistance…

I slipped down into the first of many tunnels, all clearly artificial, the stonework finely crafted, the joins between the individual blocks little more than a cross hatching on the walls. I hesitated a moment. If this was truly the Labyrinth Theseus has walked and Daedalus had built and only barely found his own way out, I might yet find myself hopelessly, helplessly lost. Gathering my courage, I swam on, only to find myself aided at certain times by mysterious, glowing maps which would fade as rapidly as they appeared, leaving me to wonder at their origin…

While the maze is underwater, the best way to get around it is actually on foot – not swimming, which can lead to camera issues as your avatar rises and your view becomes blocked by the ceiling sections. In fact – as Caliburn himself suggests – running (CTRL-R) might actually be preferable as some of the corridors are looonng…

I have no idea how long I swam, or how many turns I made. I did know I was lost, and with a limited supply of air, that was not good. But I also had the strange maps which brought me, well before my air was half used, to a great chamber, strewn with the implements of battle – and in the midst of which lay the bones of creature the likes of which I had never before seen…

Getting to the heart of the maze isn’t actually overly taxing. There are the occasional maps on the floor and there is also your viewer’s maps, which help determine your position in the region, as well as your X.Y,Z region coordinates. Given the chamber at the heart of the maze is actually at the centre of the region, working out where you are and where you need to go isn’t something that will drive you to despair. And when you do reach it, you might want to give Theseus’ sword a click or two..

I explored the chamber for as long as I dare, trying not to think of my own fate should those glowing maps fail to guide me out as they had guided me here. Instead, I filed my mind with the wonder which lay around me – swords, shields and relics of an ancient era, which together with the bizarre bones, convinced me Caliburn was right. It was also these explorations which lead me to realise I had no need to retrace my route through the maze; the passage of time has given me another way out, and soon I found myself still below the waves, but above the stone walls of the labyrinth, suspended in the ruins of what appeared to be a temple

There is a quick way out of the maze once you reach the Minotaur’s chamber – a hole in the roof. For those who simply want to get to the centre of things quickly, this also provide a quick and cheerful way to discover the Minotaur’s remains. But to echo Caliburn’s thoughts on doing it this way: where’s the fun if you do?

Soon I was back on the Exotix, where I discussed what I had seen with my companion as I changed. We agreed that we would return to this place and explore some more. But for now, with the sun dipping towards the horizon, it was time to sail east and find a safe harbour for the night. As we once more passed among sunlit islands, I found myself wondering what other fables this sea may yet offer us…

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