Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bite Me

(This is the second and last post about my noobie alt experience.)

It was night (not dark and stormy, though).

I was supposedly a naive and disoriented new SL resident, wandering around the SL Orientation Stations. 

In reality, I was a second-time-arounder who was experimenting to see if I could create a functioning, fashionable, sophisticated-looking AV on absolutely zero lindens. (And by the way, I've now come to the conclusion that if you can't even afford to invest at least $5 RL bucks every couple of months on SL, you really should get the hell out. Sorry if that sounds harsh.)

I had almost aced that challenge before I unfortunately ran into a glitch, and that was a profile photo. If you have no lindens, you can't upload one. 

A pretty woman in a beautiful ballgown approached me. She told me she was there to help new residents. She asked me if I needed help.

I knew right off the bat (pardon the pun . . . and you'll see what I mean) that she wasn't an official SL Mentor because she wasn't wearing an SL Mentor tag.

But would a genuine newbie know that? Probably not.

I told her I was trying to fill out my profile and didn't know how to put a picture of my AV in it. 

She told me how to use the Snapshot button. I listened politely and told her yes, I had figured out how to TAKE a photo, but at the moment I didn't have the $10L to upload one. I assured her I wasn't asking for money -- just trying to find a photo booth or something.

(That really should have clued her in to my alt status. What new person asks about photo booths?)

Then she asked me if I had any desire to start off my Second Life as a vampire.

I acted confused. "You mean one that bites people? I didn't know this was a game like that."

She told me she belonged to a Bloodlines vampire clan and that I could become her minion and she and her clan would take care of me. 

I told her that I was confused, that I hadn't read anything about vampires when I signed up on the Second Life Web site, and that I really just wanted a photo (and some better shoes).

She told me that I could be anything in Second Life, that there were many vampires there, and that her clan could become my Second Life family, to "protect me" and provide me with anything I needed.

I asked her what I needed protection from in Second Life. 

All kinds of things, she replied. If anyone ever bothered me or gave me grief, the clan would defend me.

I told her again that I had no money, that I didn't know anything about being a vampire and that I didn't want to hurt or bite people. 

She told me that if I didn't want to become an actual vampire, I could become her "blood doll" instead -- providing food for her and, if necessary, other clan members. When she needed my blood, she said, she would call on me.

I told her it didn't sound pleasant.

Again she assured me, "We are a wonderful clan and our blood dolls are very important to us. We cherish them. We can take very good care of you."

Keep in mind that I had only been "new" in Second Life for about two hours. I was supposedly confused, friendless and trying to get my bearings. It reminded me of the stories we hear of teen runaways in big cities who get wooed by "nurturing" pimps.

I told her that I might consider being a blood doll "as long as it didn't hurt" and that I would like to meet her clan. (I really wanted to see how far the situation would go. Plus, I was bored and this was weeeeeeeeird.)

She poofed and TPed me to a ballroom in a castle. There were vampires waltzing in formalwear. Since then I've learned that the formal dance was part of a ranking celebration and not a nightly occurrence. (Bummer. I have 11 free gowns from Sascha's.)

She introduced me to the clan leader. (He was hella hot.) In IM, she instructed me to call him My Lord. Suddenly a pop-up window on my screen informed me that she was paying me $1,000 lindens.

(HELL YEAH, I wanted to hit "accept" and run to Stiletto Moody. Well, actually $1K still wouldn't get me anywhere there.)

I protested and told her I didn't want handouts. She told me it wasn't a handout -- that'd I'd need it for my "supplies."

Some of you may know this drill. If so, skip to my preachy outrage at the bottom.

She gave me a Wormwood Potion. (Unlike tequila, there was no worm at the bottom, which was disappointing.) Sorry for being a bad "journalist," but I failed to ask what it was for. In real life, an Ambien pill was kicking in and the whole situation was taking on a surreal tinge. Mainly I was just thinking, "I cannot believe I'm doing this."

However, on the SL Bloodlines Web site, it says this: "The Wormwood Potion can be used to rescue a soul from Limbo. An avatar's soul will be in Limbo if they have been bitten, but have not joined Bloodlines. Once they drink the Wormwood Potion, their soul will be rescued from Limbo, and will be promised to the next person to bite them. The soul will be delivered once they register for Bloodlines."

No one had bitten me yet, so maybe she screwed up the process. I have no clue.

I had to let the potion "animate my avatar" and then drink it.

She instructed me to buy The Thirst crate -- complete with HUD, fangs, and a Stats Reader -- on a nearby wall for $600L, after which I had to follow some programming instructions -- like inputting her name in my HUD (on channel 666, nonetheless).

Then I had to let her bite me. This isn't the tame pop-up menu experience -- "So and So would like to bite you? Do you accept?" or whatever -- that some of you may have encountered out on the grid -- it happens to me a lot, most recently on Alady Island and Sirena Hair. I've been a good sport and hit "yes" a few times. Then bite marks got dropped in my inventory with a note on how to wear them if I wanted to. That was about the extent of my previous Bloodlines experiences. 

I have since learned that the reason this one was more complex is because it involved "giving her my soul," thus helping move her up in clan rank. The random bite requests people get on the grid are just so the vampires can feed and, as such, survive. They have to keep their stats at certain levels, and they can only do this with BLOOD. (Muah ha ha ha!!!!!!)


So yeah, this time when I accepted the bite request, her serene-looking AV transformed into a snarling, SKEERY vampire-face as she descended on me with fangs bared. My AV's eyes rolled back and I went limp in her arms as she fed.

Nice animations, Bloodlines!


Actually, last summer I went through a no-RP, just-the-look, vampire phase and bought some Embraced fangs with a HUD. When this chick bit me the other night, her face did look a little bit like mine did whenever I used that Embraced HUD:



I didn't want to bite people back then though. My main goal was to recreate famous celebrities as vampires and run around like that. Yep, I was creative in those days:


Check the back:


Too damn awesome. I have no clue where I got that dress, but it's in an inventory folder called "Vampire Marilyn," right below the "Vampire Audrey Hepburn" folder.


Oh yeah . . .


(If you think prim eyelashes are a bitch to mod, try fang marks.)

After I got chomped, I got a message telling me that my soul now belonged to my new Vampiress Pimp.

Gulp. *Emerald's Alt waves a friendly hello to everyone else in Hell*

Then I was instructed to bite and drink the blood of the clan leader. I had to wear the fangs and push a button on my HUD to do so. I admit that I was really shy and didn't zoom in like I should have. (Like I said, he was tasty looking. Long black hair, impressive cape and royal garb, etc., etc., etc.) I watched my AV bite him, but from behind. I don't know if I turned into a snarling scary thing or not.

I guess I bit the hell out of him, because an impressive percentage showed up in the white stats they instructed me to wear over my head, and Lord Whats-His-Face announced, "A very good bite!" The regal-looking crowd applauded.

(This is getting long. Sorry. Is anyone still awake? I tried to throw in some pictures for you. And noooooo way, I didn't take pictures in the castle. As it is, I'll probably be a hunted woman now because of this post.)

I told my new "liege" that I was confused. Was I a vampire now? Absolutely not, she said. But I just bit someone? Yes, to refill my blood with that of the clan leader's, she informed me. Do I keep biting people? "No ma'am," she said, "I bite YOU when I need to."

Then she TP'ed me to a dark apple orchard.

Call me a druggie, but at that point I really was thinking, "I wonder if this is just a really bad Ambien trip and I'm actually slumped over AFK at the Orientation Stations?"

She instructed me to use some of the money she gave me to buy apples (at $14L each, holy cow). I had to eat them until my Humanity on my stats bar got restored to 100 percent. 

She gave me the drill: Vampires need a certain amount of blood to maintain their vitality and survive. If they can't find fresh victims on a "hunt," they feed off their blood dolls, who can then restore their own life forces by eating apples in the Bloodlines orchard. 

(Why couldn't they have made it lobster????)

I have to check my humanity stats frequently, as I guess they gradually drop with time. (Kind of like my blood sugar!!!) And the no-money thing is not a problem, she said. When my humanity starts to drop, I can ask her or any of the clan members to get me apples.

She gave me several landmarks and told me I now have access to the castle, which includes, cough, some sexy rooms and a dance club, among other perks. I was told that I could talk to someone about getting a job working there as a club dancer or even an escort.

"Sexy vampire dannnnnncer! Sexxee vampire escorrrrrrrt!"

Sorry, that's just a little song I've made up since that conversation. I'm really five years old in real life.

She gave me folders of clothes, some AOs, some skins and told me to let her know if I needed anything else. She gave me some backup names of clan members to contact if I needed anything when she was offline. Then she told me I was "free to explore" and enjoy my new SL life "until I was needed." I was left with about $250L (which I later spent on some cute clothes in Japan, home of fantastic clothes for very little money Thank you, Japan!).

*** As a quick side note, the next day I went to a prominent store to check out some freebs. My Bloodlines stats were still displayed over my head. To be honest, I didn't know if I was supposed to wear them all the time or what.

It took about three minutes before I was sailing through the air with the message that I had been ejected and banned. I IMed the store owner in confusion. She told me that The Bloodlines were not welcome in her store, that they harassed her customers, that she had a sign to that effect somewhere. (I guess I failed to read it.)

I explained to her that I was a human, not a vampire, and that I didn't bite people. We spoke for a while. Eventually she let me back in on the condition that I remove my stats and my clan tag.

STOP! (Hammer time)

Before hundreds of Bloodlines members descend on me in a flock of vengeful, beating leathery bat wings, let me just clarify my stance on this whole thing:

-- I think it's LAME that you're hanging out at new-resident welcome points, pretending to be mentors and confusing the hell out of poor noobs. 

You approached me and told me you were there to help new members. Then you told me I'd need protection. Since when did SL fill up with friggin' street gangs? (Well, besides the fashion designers. Ha ha ha!!!) 

Then, knowing I was lindenless, you promised me a family, clothes and shelter if I joined your clan.

It's one thing to proposition seasoned residents. They know your game, they're "consenting adults" and this concept obviously appeals to many people or Bloodlines wouldn't be so popular. But leave the new residents alone. The first hour or so in SL is a lot to absorb as it is without a beautiful motherly woman in a stunning gown telling you how wonderful it is to live in a castle with a new family -- and acting like that's a Linden-endorsed option for new residents.

And HEY BLOODLINES, don't tell me that was one bad apple doing something she shouldn't have been doing. Before I wrote this post, I talked to several "caretakers" of new-resident starting points, and they ALL said they deal with preying Bloodlines "recruiters" on a DAILY basis.

-- Business owners: You're not off the hook in this rant. The ejection I experienced was blatant discrimination as far as I'm concerned, and since then I've learned that many stores have so-called "Buffy bots" that detect, eject and ban Bloodlines members. Not cool. We have many role-playing groups in Second Life. This one just happens to be clans of vampires. If you're going to categorically ban all of them, I suggest you also ban child AVs who run around in circles and kill my consumer buzz, talking fetuses, those Gor slaves who kneel bound and half naked (and totally in my way) in your stores, and women who fug up my shopping experience with all their bits on display, like THIS ONE: 


As far as Bloodlines goes, yes, if someone's running around trying to bite your customers, then by all means eject and ban that person. Lately I've walked into many skin stores displaying signs asking customers to inform the owner/manager if anyone on the property tries to sell them skins or give them landmarks to ripped skin shops. If you're concerned about Bloodlines, request the same information from your customers and then ban and report those specific vampires. But I was in your store minding my own business. I wasn't hunting. I was looking at your affordable shoes.

-- This blog isn't bashing Bloodlines in general. The people I met in the clan castle were having fun. They seemed like decent people. My shock and disgust is directed toward aggressive and deceitful recruiting practices. On my FIRST NIGHT in SL, I ended up in a castle getting my blood drained. Yep, I consented to it, but in theory I was new and confused, and the "sales pitch" was framed in the context of assisting new residents. QUIT IT.

Um, does anyone have any garlic? :(


Tymmerie Thorne said... am not sure if I am more horrified by the shrubbery or the preying on noobs. I need to go sit and think about it.

Meara Deschanel said...

Fantastic rant Em! I feel like I need a cigarette after that. *fans self*

On a serious note though, I really liked that you addressed both sides of the issue - the predatory recruiters and the discrimination against people just trying to play the game.

Eliza Wrigglesworth said...

I'll pass you a garlic necklace when I log on.

Don't know what to do for your poor pixel soul though : (

Anonymous said...

Great great post Eme! You sure now how to conduct a experiment better than me :p !

*looks up vampire clans to find the sexy clan chief*

Krissy Muggleston said...

I like the "undercover journalist" approach, very interesting to read. And I thought I was the only one who said 'yes' just to be a sport! Although I'm in that database now they can't get me anymore but maybe I need that potion? Well, anyway perhaps next you could infilitrate the SL mafia! Ha!

Quaintly Tuqiri said...

This almost makes me want to create another alt and see what happens. ALMOST. hehehehehehe

Anonymous said...

Omg the SL Mafia? Great idea Krissy! Need a partner :p ?

Emerald Wynn said...

*hugs all you people*

Bettye Dugan said...

Ok, now I want to make a new alt too...


Shattered said...

Old old post, but I feel the need to comment.

I've been a member of a group of RPG and combat sims in SL for almost 2 years, and on the sims' GM staff for around a year and a half.

A number of people who do RPGs will tell you that Bloodlines is not a true RPG, it's a click-click trendy thing for people who don't want to invest time, research, and work into more "traditional" RP.

The majority of Bloodlines players I encounter can't even bother to say one word to me, yet can send me blue boxes asking to bite me. "RP" or not, I find random blue boxes, especially from strangers (whether they be TP offers, whatever) to be one of the rudest things in SL; it's telling the person that you don't care enough to spend 5 seconds saying hello, and that they're just a number to you.

Anyhooters, I'm disappointed that this happened to you, that it has likely happened to many other people, and that it is probably still happening. This sort of thing gives RPGs a negative stereotype.

Emerald Wynn said...

Hi Shattered, thanks so much for coming by. Since I wrote this post, I've had some experience with Bloodlines as my main AV, as well as with the alt (which I only use for flipping over lucky chairs now).

What you say is true -- Bloodlines can be sort of a low-investment thing for many people who just want the prestige of calling themselves vampires. I've encountered only one clan that seems to really live it to the fullest of their extent and they're rather impressive.

I don't know very much about RPG, but I'm wary of any "RPG" that requires active recruitment of non-players to sustain itself, particularly if that recruitment is based on deception. In my opinion, it turns into a scam then, not an experience.