Friday, September 11, 2009

The Great Steam Hunt

I spent much of the last few days working my way through the Steam Hunt. In general, I’m not a big fan these hunts – just personal preference, no value judgment implied – and, as a result, I’ve had little experience with them. The idea of a Steampunk-themed hunt was intriguing, though. It held out the promise of revisiting areas and stores I know well, and the possibility of finding new interesting places to shop.

As things turned out, the hunt met my expectations, both positive and negative. Here are some reactions:

• I’m happy that store owners took the time to create and give away something for the hunt. No doubt the purpose was to increase store traffic and raise the store’s visibility, and I can report that, in my case at least, both goals were accomplished. Although I was focused on finishing the darn thing before I expired of old age, I noted a number of places to revisit at a more leisurely pace.

• Some merchants went above and beyond the call of duty. Miss Anna Darwinian originally had the last slot (#105), and, from what I inferred, was pressed to switch to #28 in order to fill in for a merchant who stopped participating. Miss Darwinian then added another gift in her shop for #105. Others, such as Miss Viv Trafalgar, had multiple gifts; though at separate locations, this reflects a generous spirit and willingness to go above and beyond expectations.

• Though many of the participants sold at least some goods that one could plausibly claim were Steampunk in nature, I was baffled by a number of participants. One merchant sold modern furniture. Several sold grungy neko-wear. One focused on brightly-colored children’s objects. I'm not sure "more is better" is the right motto for these sorts of things, particularly when the participants are so far away from the theme.

• If the process involves finding the nth object to discover the location of the (n+1)st object, it’s pretty important to have everyone participate. In this case, several stores dropped out fairly quickly – one reportedly left SL! – including the third store in the sequence. Along with several other hunters, I looked in vain for a long time until a kind lady informed us (a) that there was nothing to find at that location and (b) the location of the next store in the sequence. Later, the initial store dropped out, creating a fair amount of confusion over the group channel.

• The consequence of dropouts is that I was forced to rely on a list of participating stores, in order, with landmarks. That took the pressure off finding every object in sequence – I could bypass sims that were down, or had terrible lag, or where I was too incompetent to find the object, and return at a later time while continuing the hunt in the meanwhile. That was nice, but didn’t it defeat at least some of the “hunt” aspect?

• I could not believe the number of requests for hints across the group channel. Kindly people took pity and would provide a fairly specific location, or even arrive in person and stand near the gift, but, sheesh, people, what part of “hunt” is difficult to understand?

For those who are undeterred by my remarks, the hunt continues through the end of September.

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