Thursday, September 10, 2015

Too Mad For Twisted

 (cue background music)

Once upon a time in SL, gambling was legal, people could walk around in public with child avatars on leashes, and our hair stuck to our asses due to some bizarre bug.  We call this time "The Beginning."  Money was plentiful, products were few and pretty things were hard to find.  Into this wasteland emerged a singular creator.  Her work was unique.  Her unusual design made the most of SL's heretofore unrealized potential.  She also brought a higher standard to her work - superior textures, professional lines, and edges that matched.  For this reason her earlier efforts are still cool and wearable in-world today, proving that even in virtual reality the classics never die.

Her name was Vasha Martinek, her store was DV8, and she had a dream.  She envisioned a scavenger hunt that would raise the bar for existing SL events. It would challenge the hunters and be unlike the plethora of retail driven hunts choking the SL landscape.  While those hunts routinely offer sub-standard prizes placed in plain sight as a ruse to get people into the stores, her carefully selected group of superlative SL creators would focus on creativity and quality.  Her hunt would feature top-of-the-line prizes and challenges that push the boundaries between reality and imagination.  It  would culminate with a near impossible end game pushing hunters to the brink of their fragile, quivering, sleep-deprived minds. There would be no limits. It would be dark. It would be mature. It would be addictive.  It would be Twisted.

Again breaking the low standards set by the existing hunts, Twisted would offer no hint blog as part of the fun would be defeating the challenges set by creators - creators that understand how hard work  increases the value of their prizes - pure genius!  Instead, her elite brain trust would offer a decidedly edgy group.  This Twisted Group would provide obscure and clever hints to those intrepid souls daring to ask...and it took some guts to ask as all replies were delivered in "snark."

And we all saw that it was good.

So very, very good!

Oh, I almost forgot, at the same time there was this group called MadPea that was trying to do interactive gaming but it wasn't really working with the existing SL tools.  Moving on.

Twisted survivors quickly learned that while The Hunt  only happened twice a year, The Group was a 365/24/7 kind of thing.  Featuring the brightest and most twisted of sarcastic minds, The Group became a cheeky free-for-all of every topic taboo, handled brilliantly with fact, humor and (as always) snark.  The Group kept their skin thick, their minds open, and - again unlike the other hunts - their membership high as fewer people left after the hunt was over.

Several years passed.  SL improved dramatically, and with it the Twisted Hunt.  Minds were bent, loyalties sealed, sleep and work were eschewed for another taste of that dark, forbidden fruit.  Personally, I stockpiled cash to try to reward the creators for their amazing efforts!  I performed the entire month in Twisted gear and even dragged RL friends into SL for the hunt.  I promoted it on my blog/website/facebook/everywhere else to try to get more money attention for the creators (and since my straight job is digital marketing, the effort was none too shabby)!  I joined a roller derby team (Poison Ivy) but spent all my time with Vasha's team (Dreadnaughts) 'cuz they were cooler - even though I kinda felt like their boring fluffy bunny mascot.  It was all good!

I know what you are thinking: "But Phoenix - you aren't dark at all!"  You are correct, I am a boring fluffy bunny - but that just shows how amazing Twisted was.  True to Vasha's vision, no restrictions allowed for unrestricted appeal!  Also, good is good.  Its that simple.

Then Vasha left SL.  I honestly thought SL might just cease to exist, but it and The Hunt struggled on. 

Concurrently, a group of Twisted merchants/equally genius group of creators birthed "Pulse Games" and turned out the first truly successful SL interactive game. Wow.  Their only drawback is that it's a once a year thing at Halloween (Rob? Ivy?  Are you listening?  The word is "more."  Moooooooore!).  On a positive note - it's Halloween now!

Honorable mention 2013 goes to an upstart group I don't know that created "Havenhollow," a scary mystery which was also jaw-droppingly brilliant but not around last year.  What is up with that, guys?

And finally, remember the MadPeas?  At this exact same time they dramatically raised their game as well, producing some amazing and charming events that drew quite the buzz and increasing accolades.  A (friendly?) rivalry with Team Twisted started to bubble up during our simultaneous events.  Still a staunch member of Team Twisted, I remember making the joke in chat that we should change all our tags to "Our hunt can beat up your hunt!" and head over to MadPea HQ.  Rawr!

Sadly, that is the last time I had fun with Twisted.  Changes were afoot with our beloved hunt too.  The legendary and drool-worthy end game featured the same maze for several hunts.  More and more long time creators dropped out and overall standards seemed to fall.  Merchants became obsessed with thwarting cheaters to the point of mking their gifts near un-findable - and no fun to look for! Most important, however, was the perceptible shift in tone inside The Group chat.  Instead of good-natured snarking, new "moderators" were aggressive and insulting to members.  With increasing frequency I found myself the target of unprovoked verbal assaults.  Eventually I started sending notecards to the organizers in an attempt to call their attention to this situation.  Nothing changed for the better.

Last year a new creator joined the hunt and I was mesmerized by his store.  I am always searching for set pieces and found many, all together, in one place!  Hallelujah!  I gushed in The Group chat. We all have our individual hunt styles, personally when I land in a shiny new location one of the first things I do is back the camera way out to get an overview of the land.  While I did this, I saw several couples having sex on the sim.  Frankly, I am all for it - it's a gorgeous place for nooky but as I am perennially partner-free I lamented this fact in group chat for funnies.

It was NOT good.

I was IMmed by several new moderators and accused of lying.  I'm not sure why, as
a: so not lying
b: who cares? Seriously.
Regardless of the obvious, I was berated and ultimately kicked out of The Group!  

Yes, I was kicked out of the Twisted Group...for regurgitating what I saw on the sim. Remember when I couldn't get kicked out? Nothing my boring fluffy bunny brain could consider actually doing would manage that feat?  (Dammit!  I would have actually tried to do something had I known I could get chucked for honesty!  I would have...lied...or something...weird.  I would have phoned a twisted friend for suggestions! Back off me, man - I'm trying here)!

Things that suck, for $100.

I dropped several notecards and caught the tail end of someone chastising the group - but no one reinstated me.  I didn't even get a note or an IM in response.  After eight ridiculously loyal years.  Really? Don't they know who I am?

I spent more time over at MadPea - and guess what?  They rock!  They are nice (maybe a little too nice - okay, sue me) and I was stunned at the progress they have made!  Bonus: Their last game was darker than Twisted.  I was delightfully shocked! And, more importantly, sated.

The first Twisted Hunt I have ever consciously skipped is happening right now (and like some kind of cosmic joke I am out of work - for the first time in years I could actually devote the necessary time to it.  God, you and I will speak) and honestly?  That stings.  I'm a loyal girl, and my heart really bleeds for all the wonderful people that I now have no connection to.   I can't really be angry about the few bad apples that spoiled the bunch,  I just choose not to subject myself to voluntarily getting beamed in the head by bad apples.

I would grieve the loss of The Twisted That Was, except in a shocking bid for superiority MadPea hired me to produce voice overs for their amazing interactive game UNIA (running indefinitely).  It is a truly immersive experience that uses SL to it's full advantage (it makes SL its bitch, lets be honest), and I am honored to be a part of it.  Suffice it to say, I am happily supporting the better team now.  I truly believe that MadPea will bring SL to the mainstream and get us some of that RL money SL desperately needs cause the increase in users that SL needs.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a Collection to attend to...

Go to:
MadPea Productions
Pulse Games
Twisted Hunt

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