Friday, January 7, 2011

Searching for Wide Open Spaces...

In virtual reality as much as in the 'real world', the curse of lack of space is one that bedevils me constantly. As some one who is a collector by nature, my own tastes would mandate enormous mansions and acres to landscape according to my heart's desire. One recognises the improbability ever of having enough space in the 'real world', but it came as rather a shock to me initially to discover that lack of sufficient space is a curse even in virtual realities.

First, there is the actual computer or system's limitations in terms of memory or 'space'. If the system has insufficient space for a person's needs, that will restrict the user considerably.

One learned about that as soon as one began to use computers, but it was only when I became involved with games such as Harvest Moon and after that, Second Life and more recently, Lovely Farm, Farmville and Fantasy Kingdoms that I discovered space to be a valuable commodity that often is restricted to the rich.

In Harvest Moon, one had to purchase Refrigerators and Shelves or Cabinets to hold crops, herbs and all inedible items. Sooner or later, a packrat runs out of space, even though each slot or shelf can contain 99 of the same item. In the Rune Factory series, items have 'levels' of quality, which makes space even more limited as a Level 1 Onion, for example, will occupy a different slot from a Level 10 Onion. One saves items usually in order to be able to use them in Recipes in the Kitchen (in Harvest Moon) or in the Kitchen, at the Forge, Workbench or Pharmacy in Rune Factory. There is a point, however, when one must use the items, ship them or otherwise dispose of them because one has purchased the largest storage items and has run out of space.

In Second Life, one can keep a seemingly infinite number of items in the Inventory, which is the equivalent of pockets. One can stash any size of item there, from a tiny gem to a massive citadel or castle. To be able to USE the items effectively, however, one needs land and land requires premium membership, for which one must pay a monthly fee. The land must be purchased as well ordinarily and one easily can become seduced by the prospect of owning more and more land for landscaping and the creation of vast estates. A fair amount of real money can be spent in this pursuit...

In virtual farming games such as Lovely Farm, Farmville and Fantasy Kingdoms, one is not aware of the need for more space in the early stages. It is only as levels of experience increase, more options are unlocked and one acquires more animals, buildings and 'decorations' that one becomes aware of the need to expand. Although it is possible to earn the necessary currency for land expansions (albeit slowly) if one has a large number of Neighbours, a packrat is tempted to spend real money sometimes to acquire space to breathe. In Fantasy Kingdoms in particular, a game that is lavish in release of new creations and Limited Edition Items, with very little storage space, it can be frustrating to find there is no space for proper landscaping.

As in real life, too many objects crammed into too little space is not conducive to beauty or even proper appreciation of the objects themselves. As a doll collector, I discovered this when my shelves were filled and I had to stack the dolls, row upon row... However beautiful they may be and however much one may love to see them, it is far better to store them in boxes, bringing only a few out at a time.

One of the aspects of Fantasy Kingdoms that always delighted me was the exquisite care that was taken with shadows. Each tree had its own shadow and I loved to place them for the effect of their shadows as well as their forms. This detail was lost, however, as my Kingdom became overcrowded with objects.

In Fantasy Kingdoms now, one can have five different kingdoms. Being able to shift items from my initial kingdom to new plots allowed me to rediscover items I had not seen for months! Rather than being forced to search for a vacant space to 'stash' a new item temporarily, I finally can enjoy the art of landscaping again. Apart from lack of space, there is another practical consideration that bedevils me, which is lack of sufficient time...

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