Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A sojourn at Blue Galaxy: Oh, how small I have suddenly become...

Posted by Alpha Auer

"... the fairy tale comes from a place that is just too close to home, too close to the abyss and to the “Shadow” waiting therein. Stories lead to imagination and imagination leads to the abyss.

No coincidence then, that it became unpopular to tell Grimm’s fairy tales to your child. A bookshelf full of literature in a friend's house on the correct way to raise children - grounded in educational toys and realism. No violent toys, no guns… Little picture books where little rabbit goes out and sees a little butterfly and then… Nothing… “Hello Butterfly!”… “B is for Butterfly”… And then it gets to be night and little rabbit goes home to sleep. No stories… please no stories… Much too dangerous. The roots of narrative reside in the abyss."

Ash Soyinka has made me quote myself from something that I posted on my own blog a while ago. Blue Galaxy is indeed a fairy tale setting. And just as a good fairy tale setting should be, at Blue Galaxy mixed in with the all of the loveliness is also a hefty portion of the ominous. Ash Soyinka achieves this by playing with our sense of scale, thus creating an unsettling perceptual shift involving ourselves, our very corporeal identity.

There you are: a tiny avatar, overshadowed by gigantic mushroom like trees - and oh my goodness, how small and insignificant have you suddenly become!

Many a sim fails to achieve the overall WOW effect because of a lamentable lack of attention to detail. Not so, Blue Galaxy: The design system implemented here works equally well both on macro as well as micro levels. Particularly impressive is Ash Soyinka's integration of graphic design elements into the overall scheme. Sadly, only very few locations in Second Life pass muster in this regard and wherever they do, there is usually a skilled graphic designer's hand at work behind the scenes. This I suspect strongly to be the case here as well.

Back on the macro level, the decision to create curvilinear structures that reflect the shapes of the colossal trees above is pure genius. Indeed, Ash Soyinka plays a very clever design game: While maintaining a continuity of form she nonetheless marks out clear areas of differentiation between "nature" and "building", particularly through the consistent usage of the light colored curvilinear parapets that separate soil from concrete throughout the sim. Again, the analogous yet clearly differentiated color scheme (blue to green) follows through on this well formulated "bringing together whilst setting apart" design strategy.

Blue Galaxy works its magic in a number of different ways and all of them with equal mastery: From the sublimely psychological to the nit picky minutiae of hard core graphic design, this is a sim into the creation of which seems to have gone a great deal of thought, know-how and expertise. Thus a sojourn there is a truly impressive experience!

You can teleport to Blue Galaxy from here. You can view large sized photos as well as panorama shots of Blue Galaxy here.