At the start of the year I made a return visit to WQNC, an iteration of the Wo Qui Non Coin region design by Maasya I first visited in September 2021. With the end of 2022 approaching, Shawn Shakespeare suggested I make a return and witness the current version of the setting, which has relocated since my January 2022 visit, and downsized to a Homestead region.
Not that the downsizing makes a difference; Maasya has a talent for creating captivating settings, and whilst this one may well be within a Homestead, that certainly remains true. In fact, I would suggest that it is perhaps a design that speaks closely to her self-described isolationist nature.
The setting takes the form of an east-west oriented island, a slender finger of rock rising from the surrounding seas, cut almost all the way through by a canyon, the western end of which blocked by a high table of rock, and what would otherwise by the open eastern end partially enclosed by a high-rise apartment building of indeterminate age.
It is at the foot of this high-rise that visitors initially find themselves, standing knee-deep in tidal waters lapping a small beach. This gives the impression of literally having just arrived – whether by boat or by swimming or simple luck on having survived some event, is hard to tell. However, the overall design of the location does suggest some form of apocalyptic upheaval may have taken place.
A tunnel passes under the foot of the apartment building to provide access to the canyon beyond. A teleport sign is mounted on one wall of this tunnel; at the time of my first visit, this provided access to the skybox, but on my return visit it appeared to have restricted access, as attempting to use it left me floating in the air within the tunnel.
Beyond the tunnel, a path winds through the canyon – a street winding through tall buildings backed against the rock walls of the natural canyon, such that they form their own man-made gorge. Neon and LED lights glow from street lamps and signs on the buildings and signs, some of which are mounted on metal poles to span the width of the road like latter-day Torii gates – much of the signage suggests this island street lies somewhere amidst the string of islands which make up the nation of Japan.
Follow the path to its western end, and the rock walls close to a narrow stair leading upwards, the bottom end marked by a traditional Torii gate. Ancient-looking lamps (fitted with LED or neon illumination) light the steps as they climb to the western table of rock to where a shrine is guarded by a pair of stone kitsune.
Quite where the power for the lights is coming from is a mystery as this is hardly a bustling thoroughfare; the buildings are heavy in vines, shrubs have claimed ledges and windowsills and also the rooftops – together with the odd tree have claimed. Thus, there is a sense of this strange location having been deserted a long time ago – although quite why is for your own imagination to determine; to me, there is a hint of a global catastrophe having overtaken a city (or the world), leaving this enclosed alley with its cliffs of buildings as the sole survivor of a drowned township.
The sense of mystery prevalent throughout the setting is added to by the ambient sound system; a distant sound of electronic drumming reverberates through the air, mixing here and there with echoes of music coming from somewhere – including one decidedly season tune. Also mixed in with the hissing crackle of electrical shorts from fallen power lines. Alongside of this is a sense of isolation and separation, as if this might be the last remnant of civilisation.
In this, and as noted above, the setting might be seen as a reflection of Maasya’s nature; her Profile defines her as someone preferring her own company, and perhaps not overly friendly towards strangers. This is something I can actually attest to, having been summarily banned from the region (without much of a prior warning) as a result of standing still for too long whilst taking photos during my visit; so I would advise visitors to keep on the move, just in case!
Outside of this (while at the same time keeping it in mind), the region is as photogenic and eye-catching as Maasya’s previous builds and well worth witnessing.
- WQNC (Blue Reef, rated Moderate)