Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rezzable: Tunnel of Light

Silly me, I didn't grab any shots of the actual entrance for Tunnel of Light, another great Rezzable sim in the Second Life™ world. When you first arrive you are in a pleasant, park-like setting where signs direct you to click a paper boat floating on a small pond. Suddenly you find yourself plummeting down a shaft of lights (a vertical tunnel ... get it?) and you land at this amusement park-style dark ride staging queue. From here you summon a teacup in which you (alone, with friends, or in a special cup with a sweetie) ride through various marvelously lighted tunnels. As you are told in several places, the viewer feature glow (sometimes called renderglow) is the highlight (pun intended) in all it's neon-y glory for the next six or so minutes.

The teacup floats on a ribbon of shifting light from the departure area to a fantasy pond of Lilly pads and dragonflies. Use this interstitial time to try the big red button in the teacup. It lets you pause the ride so you can take a look around. You can cam as you normally do but mostly you'll find yourself enjoying the default view, occasionally using the left and right arrow keys. If you are like me, you'll take several rides to look around in different ways. Next time I visit I plan on using Mouselook for the whole trip.

The pond is very pretty and quite relaxing especially after the anticipation in the first tunnel. You'll find yourself wondering which elements are particles and which are prims with glow. This area is rather tame but it is a nice introduction to the attraction. Unlike the initial fall when you touch the paper boat surface-side, this is not "in your face" spectacular, rather merely spectacular in scope and design. Like all Rezzable sims, art is the clear focus at the Tunnel of Light.

After another tunnel the stream of light takes you into a forest where you will again wonder where glow ends and particles begin. Don't worry about it. Enjoy the view and look for the little froggies on the tree's trunks. If you don't see them, try the teacup's pause button and look around. If you would rather just enjoy the ride there are several ways to come back to this area (or other areas) for longer explorations. I haven't tried leaving the teacup, but I imagine the vehicle would disappear if I did and I'd have to use the room's teleporters to get out.

Each part of the attraction has a set of teleporters (just touch to go) that will take you to the room of your choice or to the ride entrance. As you see in this picture it is easy to tell which room is which, the glowing mini-worlds cleverly representing a location. It is hard to see here, but that is a paper boat on the far right pillar. Second from the left takes you back to the dragonfly pond. Wandering around on foot while others float by in teacups is strange and I worried that I was marring their experience, but no one complained. Actually, most everyone was friendly and at least said "hello." But who doesn't like an adorable lioness?

The stream of light takes a spectacular ride to the stars and if you ever get vertigo in-world, this is a place where you might want to be careful how and where you look. I rather enjoyed it, though, and often paused the ride at this point just to "float" about. When I come across virtual engineering like this I tend to toss my head into my hands crying why can't I be this clever? This is a ton of scripting and planning and my hat is off to the builders.

As you might guess from the motion of the teacup and the background becoming a starry sky, you are headed into space. This is my favorite part of the whole ride. I pause and cam about eagerly and then I use the teleporters to come back and hang out for long periods, usually flying around. The teacup seems to spend more time here than in the other parts of the ride, either in my imagination or by design, but either way I'm very pleased. I liked this room so much I used it for the backdrop of my Iron Man Fan Art Contest entry (seen here).

The next destination, the last part of the ride, is also fun to fly around in but it can be very, very disorienting. A friend went with me on one trip and she couldn't spend much time in this room. The glowing lines spin and sway and seem to pulse all around you. I can see why this was not the the introduction to the ride. The far less intense dragonfly pond is a better start, but this is far more spectacular. Not immediately apparent ... perhaps because of the visual overload ... is that one can pass through the arch marked Haze (shown here).

It takes you through a somewhat disappointing hallway with some neon-like art and eventually into a dance club filled with glow - Club Haze. Look around carefully for a box of free dance attachments. Some are the usual particle sticks that you can get most anywhere, but some are (at least to me) new items and use glow. You will find a paper boat here that takes you to a nice little store and from there you can go back out to the first paper boat and take the ride again.

The store features artwork created to emphasize the glow feature and some really great wings that also use glow. I'm eyeing up a great pair in this picture and looking through my inventory all while asking myself do I need another pair of wings? I still haven't bought them as L$500 seems like a lot of money to me. And with all the face lights, body lights, and poor lighting designs in Second Life it would be hard to enjoy these as much as I think I could. But, you never know. I might get them on my next visit.

From what I found "outside" the planned visitor area, I will need to stop back again and again. The builder area has some really spectacular in-progress items and I hope that they find their way to the store as well as the ride. Explore Explore Explore! You might be surprised (and quite pleased) with what you will find.

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