Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Rabbercorn Story

Last February I wrote about Immersiva, a sim constructed by virtual artist Bryn Oh, which (in part) told the story "Daughter of Gears" in a kind of diorama-like fashion. Some virtual artists like AM Radio create environments that (usually) hint at recurring themes, Immersiva has a distinct, concrete narrative running through it—one punctuated by your journey through the sim which (if you don't cheat on the tower) ensures you find most of the elements in the proper order as you explore. Now Bryn Oh has set up "The Rabbercorn Story" in space apparently donated by IBM. "The Rabbercorn Story" isn't quite as complete an experience as Immersiva—for instance, there's no custom sky, visitors are asked just to set their environment to midnight to set the sim''s atmosphere. But Rabbercorn also features a strong, accessible narrative that might be easier for visitors to follow and figure out than "Daughter of Gears"—and the installation is filled with the same highly detailed, slightly disturbing, whimsical creatures and creations that makes Immersiva so enthralling.

The young boy first bonds with Rabbercorn

So what is a Rabbercorn? Well, its a combination of a rabbit and a unicorn, obviously! Except this one is also a robot with a music box. Without giving too much away, the Rabbercorn and a boy form a lifelong bond, but when the boy is an old man Bad Guys in Lab Coats discover the Rabbercorn and want to take it apart to see what makes it tick.

The Rabbercorn tries to dodge a tracking device
shot at it by a Bad Man in a Lab Coat

The Rabbercorn evades Big Robot Bugs (look inside them, they're awesome!) and the Bad Guys in Lab Coats and eventually stumbles across an old crumbling tower…a tower which will look familiar to anyone who's explored Immersiva—especially if you didn't cheat! You follow the Rabbercorn up the tower and, eventually, the Rabbercorn finds a new friend…one who won't grow old and leave him all alone in a world of Robot Bugs and Bad Guys in Lab Coats.

Lou chills while the Rabbercorn and Daughter of Gears take a moment to bond

I'm not doing "The Rabbercorn Story" justice—the build is incredibly detailed, with handy teleporters that take visitors from point to point in the story so the narrative doesn't get disjointed. As with Bryn Oh's other work, the builds and textures and creatures and settings are exquisite—the story may not be interactive, but taking a few moments to look around pays off with surprising elements, side-stories, and fabulous fabulous creations.

An ethereal angelic bug person ponders…eating a worm?

IBM is one of Second Life's biggest corporate partners, but (if I recall) they actually run their own private grid running server software so their employees don't have to mix with the hoi poloi—I imagine it helps keep their private business a little bit private. However, there's still a large conglomeration of IBM sims in the main Second Life grid—I've actually used one of their sandboxes for building from time to time, and I put together my new sky platform there. Since IBM seems to have moved most of its virtual world activities to its own private grid, the IBM sims are kinda ghost towns—it seems that, in Bryn Oh's case anyway, they're developing an interest in supporting Second Life artists. I hope IBM is pleased with the results and even more ambitious builds follow on "The Rabbercorn Story"—and for that to happen, you probably need to go see it, right?


  1. Installations (is that the right word?) like these are what makes me think that Second Life will still be around in the years to come. As much as I enjoy trivia and buying new and creative slutty outfits, contributions to society and art such as these are what truly justify SL's existence outside of the academic realm. I've only had the opportunity to visit a couple of things like this, Rach took me to one, and I visited one of Tuna's installations. Oh and there was another that involved a ride on a bottle rocket. Very cool, very euphoric.. I love that many play out sort of like an RPG by encouraging clicking and poseball sitting by the user to discover fun tricks and to advance to the next step.

  2. Ok so you got me in a militant mood ;o)

    "Bad Guys in Lab Coats" ??

    Interesting how the lab coat has become so accepted as a shorthand for "more evil than satan, only without the charisma or social skills"

  3. Hmm. "More evil than satan, only without the charisma or social skills." Reminds me of a drummer.

  4. I loved Bryn's last builds...and found myself going there over and over and over for no reason at all. I'm sure I will be doing the same thing with this new one.

    I also, however, want to plea the case for those of us who wear lab coats every day but are not evil. As a former lab jockey, and current science educator cum artist....we are not all evil, though we may lack social skills and charisma.

    *crosses her arms and goes back down to the cellar where she is building the race of Zombie/Octopus hybrids that will soon be stealing wasabi from unsuspecting babies everywhere*



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