Dark Moon, Calas Halloween 2017 – click any image for full size
Every year, Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith produce a stunning immersive environment in Second Life to celebrate Halloween and to help support their Calas Galadhon regions. In 2017, they opted for a sci-fi design with the title Dark Moon; it carries a degree of emphasis on a certain film franchise ideal for Halloween, richly re-imagined and with little twists of humour along the way.
“It’s something that’s been fun putting together, and a little bit different for us,” Ty informed me when inviting Caitlyn and I over for a sneak peek shortly before the region opened to members of the Calas Galadhon group. To be honest, “different” is not the word I would use – not unless it is spelt “astonishing”, at least; because Dark Moon is a stunning build. It will open to the public on Sunday, October 1st, 2017 and will remain so through to the end of the month. However, until then, anyone joining the Calas Galadhon in-world group can enjoy advanced access.
Spanning several levels, Dark Moon carries visitors on an adventure from space ship to moon’s core, with much to discover along the way. The voyage begins on the EVA / cargo handling deck of the Cargo Ship Utopia, where visitors can find instructions for best viewing the installation. In short order, make sure you have Graphics > Preferences > Advanced Lighting Model enabled (you do not need to enable shadows, so hopefully the performance hint won’t be too great), set your viewer to the region Windlight settings (Midnight) and make sure both local sounds and the audio stream are active. I’d also recommend dropping draw distance down as well; this is largely an enclosed build, and except for one or two points along the way, a draw distance of 128 metres is more than sufficient.
It’s pretty clear that the Utopia has encountered serious troubles. The cargo deck is in disarray, and many of the crew appear to have taken to space suits to escape the ship – some of them perishing in their attempts, smashed visors and broken suits testament to the violence which overcame them. Corridors are splashed with blood, and the causes of the panic await visitors within the ship’s biodomes, which might be encountered whilst seeking the teleport portal off the ship.
This will lead visitors down to the surface of a moon. Here the tour shuttle awaits visitors, waiting to whisk them through the remaining levels of the build and to the Dark Moon itself. I recommend the ride; it gives a feel for the explorations to come – although it far from reveals all. However, Caitlyn and I did at times find the default camera positioning in the shuttles a little troublesome.
At the end of the tour is a teleport to get back to the moon’s surface – and from there a further portal, once reached, carries visitors into the bowels of the satellite, on the first step of a progressive downward journey. This take you through stunning aliens scenes from the gigantic setting of a high-tech civilisation, through a field of very familiar mist-enshrouded eggs and down into catacomb-like halls. to where a final portal awaits those who find it.
The sheer scale of these builds is such that it can be hard to find the way – so look for the silver figures as they point towards routes which can be taken. There are also secret ways, tunnels and chambers awaiting discovery, one of which holds the famous Space Jockey. These may not have obvious points of entry – or have entry points which take you by surprise; such as dropping through a coruscating pattern on the “ground”.
And there is a touch of familiar humour as well – when aboard the Utopia, for example, take a look at one or two of the spacesuited figures nearer the ship’s hull; you might note a familiar someone. There are also nods in place to other sci-fi franchises – such as the guardians of the final portal lading to the Dark Moon, where a month of entertainment is planned throughout October. Keep your eyes out, as well, for the zero gee dispenser in the catacombs and an opportunity to float around parts of the installation.
The Calas Galadhon Halloween and Christmas builds are ways a joy to visit. They are a reminder of the rich vein of creativity evident in Second Life and offer superb opportunities for exploration, photography, and fun and socialising through the events held within them. However, they also serve another purpose: to help raise the funds needed to keep the Calas Galadhon regions open for the enjoyment of everyone in Second Life. Ty and Tuck meet 40% of the cost of the eleven regions (including Erebor, the home of the Halloween / Christmas builds) out of their own pockets – so, when you come across the donation kiosks scattered throughout the Dark Moon builds, please do drop some Lindens into one of them.
To (hopefully) entice you into visiting, here’s a little video I shot ahead of the opening – and I hope 20th Century Fox don’t mind the choice of music! 🙂 .