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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13 thoughts on “A-mazed and at sea

    1. Just call me “Jacqui Cousteau”!

      Love the images. Some me how much more I have to learn (still looking forward to just being able to take hi-rez snaps without tiling…)

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    1. No, the Labyrinth is not a very good maze. In fact, pretty much all of the original Mole builds are dated and some even a bit lame and I definitely have a love-hate relationship with them. I’ve chatted with some of the Moles (third-party contractors who create content for the LDPW) and I appreciate their efforts and have my favorites, and I love the fact that the SL Grid has *so much* open public space in which to roam and enjoy vehicles of all kinds — air, land, and above and below sea, but I hate that many of the areas are not more up to date and still look like SL did 8 years ago. Linden Lab should (but probably never will) seriously upgrade the look-and-feel of the public areas and work on hiring better builders and graphics artists for all of the Linden Dept. of Public Works areas. It would vastly improve the Grid as a whole by raising standards and be much more interesting to explore. Hopefully Inara will forgive me for a blog re-direction, but all of this is put much more eloquently by Penny Patton in her blog post, “Beautiful Second Life, Part 2” [ http://pennycow.blogspot.com/2012/04/beautiful-second-life-part-2.html ].

      Nevertheless, what we’ve got is all we get at present and those of us who like to enjoy immersing ourselves in travelling scenarios or role playing find a good deal of fun in roaming the LDPW areas of SL looking for Molesign. ;-D

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      1. No worries in the cross-referencing, Caliburn :).

        I agree that there is much across the grid which could be updated (God knows, even the 2010 Linden Homes look like something out of 2006, build-wise). I’ve no idea of the inner workings of the Moles, but I assume on signing-up, they’re issued with a name (work permit 🙂 ), a toolset (textures, etc), and a set of works orders. If so, it really is time The Management (LL) put a little effort into seeing how they can update and improve the textures, etc., provided to Moles. This shouldn’t be too hard to achieve: there are enough texture creators in SL who pride themselves on original work, and who could be contracted to provide updated materials in the same way as skin and shape makers have been contracted to supply default avatars to LL.

        The ageing nature of parts of SL do concern me vis-a-vis the arrival of materials processing. While the latter isn’t going to instantly or seamlessly revolutionise the in-world look of SL, it is going to have an impact over time. So it would be something of a shame if there aren’t plans in place to implement the new capabilities across all LDPW areas and other Linden builds which warrant the update, even if only on a gradual rollig basis which roughly keeps pace with the gradual spread of materials processing elsewhere. Obviously, there are some builds and areas which should be preserved for their historical context; but for the rest, a further failure to keep pace with the grid’s evolution would potential further emphasise their “outdated” appearance and, more importantly, dimininsh their appeal among incoming users and explorers.

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        1. I agree it is not the grid’s best maze, but that is not really the point. To me, the point is the joy of discovery, which Inara’s blog post illustrates beautifully.
          But as much as some of the mole builds appear dated, there are many that stand the test of time, and newer ones that are quite nice too. There are many featured in my images; don’t worry, I’m not going to link to any more, but I might point out the Atanua Marina Rez Zone, the somewhat creepy cabin hidden away at Okeanos, or cute touches like the swan boat rezzer tucked away in Ouranos. There are many more, at many levels of build quality, from the Pigs in Space ship and up, but they all contribute to that joy of discovery…

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    2. There are more comprehensive mazes in SL sure. This one is one of the earliest built by the LDPW as Caliburn points out. It’s not taxing, but for those who like to explore the grid, it is a simple diversion and one that is not exactly obvious or attention-seeking. All of us who build can doubtless do better; but that’s no reason for ignoring what have been provided in years years by others, and still available today.

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