Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Neo Kowloon

Probably my favorite thing about Second Life is the opportunity it gives me to explore the imaginations of others. I stumbled across Neo Kowloon some time ago, but never really got around to poking through the place until recently. Little did I know what I had been missing.


The main drag. Kowloon's garish neon signs, narrow alleyways, and persistent squalor evoke such settings as William Gibson's Chiba City from his novel Neuromancer, or the dystopic Los Angeles from the film Blade Runner.


The sim is apparently an exhibition piece for a firm called Jet Graphics, a Japanese digital graphics production company. Not surprising, given the professional-level attention to detail on display.


The upper level of the Flea Market, where sellers can rent a table to dispense their wares. The place also features a basement, which is below the sim's sea level. Since there's no way to displace the "water" in SL, the designers decided to "go with the flow" (sorry) and added a few fish swimming around between the vendor tables.


The inevitable happens: If there are comics to be found, then I will find them. Available for as little as five lindens apiece, these manga titles can be worn as a HUD and read almost like a regular book. They're formatted like Japanese books (a Westerner would view it as paging backwards), and are written in that language, which I can't read or speak. I like the art, though.


Neo Kowloon is a maze of alleyways, with both shops and set pieces tucked away within. Japanese sims such as this are a bargain hunter's dream. For less than the price I would have paid for just the coat elsewhere, I was able to cobble together a passable kung fu outfit with an eye toward future participation in Averlast MMA. That way I'm guaranteed to at least look the part up until the point of getting my ass kicked.

They also have living space as well as shop space for rent, but currently rentals are only open to Japanese speakers. The manager of the sim claims an insufficient fluency in English for the complexities of being a landlord to English speakers, but a search for bilingual "agents" is ongoing.


These steampunk-looking kinescopes are scattered around the sim. Through use of a freely available HUD (keep looking, you'll find it...), these devices will give you a cinematic experience that will help you unlock some of Neo Kowloon's secrets. Again, the narration is in Japanese, so I'm certainly not getting the whole story, but it certainly is visually arresting.


This shrine is another easily-missed set piece obscured by the alley maze. It's just another example of how the sim's designers reward dedicated exploration. The rich details of Neo Kowloon keep me wanting to come back again and again. I know that, regardless of how much I've seen already, I certainly haven't seen it all.

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