Sunday, May 23, 2010

"How the West was Redone"

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Caed Aldwych delivered a talk on the redevelopment of the Deadwood 1876 sim.

After a brief introduction by the Deadwood Librarian, Mr. Blitzer Renfold, Mr. Aldwych described the origins of the original Deadwood 1876 sim, or "Deadwood 1.0" as it has become known. He based much of the look of Deadwood 1.0 on the HBO series about the town, and from a few period photographs. Subsequent research showed that this was not entirely historically acurate - Television people taking liberties with the past? Shocking! - and so, when the time came this past March to close this chapter of Deadwood's history with the conflagration that burned most of the town, Mr. Aldwych set about building Deadwood 2.0 with a greater eye toward accuracy.

He and others researched the town's history, particularly the photographic record. In his words:

It wasn’t until a few months prior to our great fire that I discovered a hand drawn map of the entire town of Deadwood. This map was created by White Eye Charlie, a friend of Wild Bill Hickok during the latter part of his life in the 1940s. He drew this map by memory and it included some of the more prominent buildings and occasioned several stories as well, written right onto the map. I located this gem of information in the book “Wild Bill Hickok Gunfighter” by Joseph G. Rosa. For those interested, Joseph G. Rosa is an excellent author old west history. This map was a rare find, never seeing it on any previous web searches it finally closed up many of the gaps in the town I had been lost on before. Not only did it pinpoint where Preacher Smith’s body was found - murdered in the hills above Deadwood. It also described the Senate Saloon where Wild Bill sometimes played poker and where Calamity Jane threatened a miner to pay a whore 5 dollars which he owed her. Now with the pictures in one hand and this map in the other, I was finally able to identify the locations and orientation of all the photographs.

Mr. Aldwych now believes that Deadwood 2.0 is as close as possible to being historically accurate, given the constraints of Second Life builds and the available record. He added that he feels this accuracy is important. "We opened Deadwood wanting to have an immersive historical roleplay environment. We wanted the players to feel like they stepped right into the past when they entered Deadwood. Without having a historical cornerstone to ground the roleplay, we were doing our players a disservice."

The lecture was aided by a series of slides, such as the one below, contrasting the "real" Deadwood of the 1870s with the Second Life recreation of the town.


HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Cracking post! I'm on;y too sorry I missed it.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Thank you, sir! It was a fascinating talk. For future reference, if you're going to use pictures, don't have them on clickable prims, though: apparently the audience can't help but click away, causing the picture to change at unintended times. :)