Snapshot_033

Photo by C:TLC Player, Rayne Mirabella

 

Convergence: The Lost City is, at only a month old,  one of the hottest new RP sims on the grid. I couldn’t wait to get immersed in their culture, lore and community and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. I contacted mentors, admins and players alike for their opinions and impressions throughout the process and have come back with the results of several weeks of observation and research.

 

WEBSITE ( 20/25)

The Convergence Website is extremely informative, in a way where you can (and this blogger certainly has) spent hours pouring over the information to assemble your new character. After speaking with players in various stages of approval – they agreed, the website was invaluable to character creation. And the character creation info is easily found and referenced, found in three drop-down menus on the main page.

However, the website is the only place this information is found – no in-world reference exists unless you create it yourself. This isn’t uncommon- and many sims are moving to this method: it saves having to send out updates or dealing with old information and ultimately saves on work for administrators. Websites allow for formatting and images, very often reducing strain on the eye when done right.

Con Homepage

Screen Cap by C:TLC player Aly’lia Evanier

However, that is not always the case with Convergence. The main page is unattractive and has a slight 90’s vibe. Between the boxy, busy widgets and the sparkles that decorate the forums it incites momentary panic that the website will not be as intuitive as one desires to see these days. The text throughout is small and dark- providing a roadblock to the lore for many of the players I spoke with were deterred by it – feeling it made the text far harder to get through. Additionally, Enjin appears to provide no mobile support – not key, but always helpful when thinking through your character or looking for updates on-the-go and something I’ve begun to consider essential in any website design.)

The website is themed steampunk – both those in-world and the out-of-world people I asked assumed a steampunk vibe to the sim. While this is maybe not exactly inaccurate given Convergence’s mysterious appearance, secret societies, robots and cyborgs… But it is also not accurate potentially turning off those looking for the genres the sim does represent, potentially turning off those looking for a traditionally steampunk sim.

That said, the actual information on the website is excellent and some of the best this blogger has seen. Everything is current and updated, with updates to pages occurring even in the days observing the website.

The Forums appear to be truly used by the players, instead of being the dusty relics housed and touted by most sims. Sim-wide updates, RP logs, character journals all provide a look into the goings-on of the sim and a community. This is, again, the only way to see these things- the sim lacking any kind of slicker blog function or blogroll for it’s players, but perhaps this is something that may appear in the future. During the observation period for this review they established Ada Chat on the suggestion of a player. This chat is conducted through the website and is an IC way of web-based communication between players that will allow players to RP even when they are away from sim.

I cannot conclude any review of the website (or this sim) without mentioning the absolute humor that is part of the fabric of the sim. It is worked into the lore and those with the eye to see it will be all over that luck a duck on a junbug.

Website Scoring: (Each out of 5)

  • 3 – Layout (Easy to Navigate, Easy on the Eyes)
  • 3 – Friendliness
  • 4 – Features (Blog? Forums? Gallery?)
  • 5 – Up-to-Date
  • 5 – Information (Is it worth going to the website?)

Website Scoring Total: 20

 

LORE (23/25)

This is the shining star of this already bright sim – the lore. It is stunning, it is simple, and it is done with a subtle complexity that is inspiring.

The background is very simple – marrying a short-lived apocalypse with fantasy seamlessly. From their website:

Derivative 13.  Concocted as a military weapon, D13 had been meant to turn an enemy on itself, causing whole armies to become violently insane and destroy themselves.  It had been determined to be too ‘virulent’ and too ‘uncontrollable’ to ever be used.  Now in the open, D13 spread like wildfire…

For almost a year and a half, humanity seemed on the brink of total annihilation. Attempts at defeating D13 just led to different, often more insidious strains.  Finally, hoping to prevent the extinction of the human race, several supernatural races banded together under the guise of The Consortium, put old grievances and suspicions aside, and began to work on the problem. They eventually came up with the Marigold Project, a joint effort which synthesized a vaccine against D13.

This premise allows the sim to occupy a very comfortable spot between several genre intersections- welcoming all of them (as well as those who are unfamiliar with genre RP) and alienating all but the purists… and even they may be inclined to give it try.

Races

The fantasy races are all represented, thoughtfully reimagined into ‘our’ world and its’ history.

  • Werekin are re-imagined as Shifters, beings with mysterious origins whose presence is documented back to Ancient Egypt, perhaps inspiring the depictions of the animal-headed Egyptian gods.
  •  ‘Underkin‘ house many darker races – giving them new origins as Fae prisoners from Ancient days evolved into fresh but very recognizable races: Drow (with their goddess, Darkness), Merfolk, Dueregar… all with a reasonable hatred of Fae and their own unique flavors preserved.
  • Cyborgs – who would in a lesser sim not make any sense alongside Fae and Drow, find a very realistic place here as extra-human victims of corporations, now given the free will and opportunity to make new lives for themselves.
Convergence 01:15_002

Shifter Encampment outside of Convergence

All of the race groups have a probable, logical place in the world and all have their own racial explanations to their own origins that at times conflicts with other races accounts.  Convergence makes no stand on whose version might be correct, thus giving the characters the freedom and support to draw their own conclusions – be they right, wrong or indifferent.

Magic & Skills

The portion of character creation that might slow down even the most enthusiastic players would be the choice of magic and skills  – but this is not a bad thing. After speaking with a good many incoming players (and attempting the process myself) this blogger has come to the belief that this is no more or less harrowing than skill selections for any point-based game, be it in MMO or Tabletop form.

The reason for this is also it’s extreme strength: Options. “Too many!” I heard several times, but always with an enthusiasm and an excitement that I shared myself.  The options are many, but not overpowered. Just enough to give each character true customization and to give the thoughtful player a real task.

But fear not! XP is given every month to provide a thoughtful way for characters to continue to grow and change over time without being overpowered or giving them too many hoops to jump through. How effective the distribution of XP actually is may be a different matter in practice, but to this blogger it appears to be the most effective system I have ever seen.

Overall

The lore is excellent. However, it is a bit dense to get through. This is partially the fault of the website and I have already addressed those issues. It takes time and patience to process but for those who do, I feel they’ll be rewarded.

Lore Scoring: (Each out of 5)

  • 5 – Original (Original wording, new take)
  • 5 – Logical ( Does the world make sense? )
  • 4 – Accessible (Pamphlet-sized or a ASOIAF?)
  • 4 – Well-Written (Easy to Understand? Concise?)
  • 5 – Genre-Friendly (How does it communicate w/ chosen genre?)

Lore Scoring Total: 23

 

SIM APPEARANCE ( 19/25)

The Builds, with one exception, are fantastic – blending nature and modern as seamlessly as the lore, with a heavy reliance on excellently built mesh. The wilderness and the city are both laid out in such a way as draws players in, invites them to explore without getting them lost in a maze or giving them a heavy dose of hard-to-find places. Everything is open and thoughtfully distributed and a pleasure to explore. After several trips to the sim, even with the all-access pass of the Observer tag, you will probably not see all there is to see – and that is incredibly refreshing.

Everything about the sim was immersive and a pleasure to the eye – I find it hard to overlook flashing textures and floating text – and am often fairly scathing of both of these things in my personal evaluations. But there is none of that here – or next to none.

I chose to walk through the sim the first time after reading the blog for current events and was tickled to realize that the building I’d been snapping pictures near was none other than Lucky Lou’s Pizza – the local restaurant recently bombed by an unknown source recently. Suspicion abounds as to who the culprit is, but theories are encouraged.

I also came across a crater in the road (an excellently rendered detail) with a traffic cone beside it. The traffic cone had hover-text over it – which I found odd, considering the lack of hover-text anywhere else. Upon approaching I was greeted with an eerie message describing the scene to me in greater detail. I felt, perhaps, that both the hover-text and the descriptive text were a bit much…. but it seems a small nitpick compared to the overall quality and immersive quality of the builds.

There was, of course, one building that was rather an eyesore and felt out of place among the smooth mesh of the cityscape – the Mage’s library: an odd green temple building that would have more luck under the sea as a ruin than in a town square. The meshes weren’t bad- just clashing. The building that was clearly supposed to feel out of place, but instead of feeling out of time it merely felt like a low-quality mistake, perhaps one that is intended to be replaced in the near future.

The Under-city Market was lackluster. One player said “After how well everything else was thought out? This, to me, was sad. It feels like an after-thought.”  And I have to agree- the same texture dominates the entire build (including the water) and while some walls have been made material, not all have and it shows. It feels disjointed from the rest of the sim with it’s well-chosen meshes and textures.  That said, there is, immediately after that, a cave system of fantastic quality – so it is this blogger’s hope that the Market is one of the areas either slated for update or that the team hopes will be updated for XP.

Sim Appearance Scoring: (Each out of 5)

  • 4 – Layout
  • – Player- Friendly (Lag, Texture Load)
  • 3.5 – Good Materials & Textures
  • 4 – Immersive
  • 3.5 – Creativity & Originality
    • Generic pieces with a few custom moments, but creatively used.

Sim Appearance Scoring Total: 19

 

New Player Appeal ( 23.5/25)

The response I received from the players I interviewed was, overwhelmingly, positive.

R: “The website is fancy, player character creations is off the walls open and creative but this is the bread and butter of this sim.  The Mentors that OOC upstairs and take the time to great say hello interact and help out are fantastic.  Parker, the first Mentor I can across and had several dealings with was AMAZING.  Personable, willing to help, gave feedback and good idea when players need help building a character.  He was the star though there are several that had helped out. ”

E: ” [The Lore] borrows heavily from World of Darkness and a handful of other sources, but doesn’t at all copy them wholesale, providing familiar ideas but a fresh instance. [The Website is] very clean, simple but not simplistic, forum updates on the front page, shout box, calendar of events, all on the front page. Top-bar of general info provides easy access to a well-laid-out forum, member-list, detailed event list, and drop-downs of anything you could need to know.”

T: “From my time on sim i believe that they have done a lot right from the start, nailing down an immersive environments in its cityscapes and outdoor areas. The lore can be a bit out there once you read into it but that adds to the charm of seeing out of this world (literal and metaphorical) races that players can play as. The sim has a few shaky areas that most new sims deal with, but i believe over time this sim will be able to stand on its own two feet and rival some of the larger roleplaying sims on SL.”

A:  “New players are going to come in and feel very welcomed. Older players? Will feel like this is the holy grail. Staff members were waiting to talk to me, willing to help.  Overall this is one of the best sims I have seen in a long time.”

On App response time, almost everyone gave high marks – one player noted that she had put in for a rare race and was kept waiting for a few days, but because of overwhelming applications for that race. Admins might have communicated more swiftly, but it was understandable.

Other Problems? One player noted that when he asked a question about a choice of powers to his prospective lead, he was looked at askance and questioned why he would go such a route, implying it was strange or illogical – though he had played a similar (fairly common) character type in other sims previously.

The Good I’ve seen is the group chats – always lively, always friendly and helpful. The Mentors seem to be on-point as do the admins. The forums appear to be thriving as players strive to tell their stories and earn XP.

New Player Appeal Scoring: (Each out of 5)

  • 5 – OOC Area
    • Good. Comfortable, fun and friendly – not overly large. Cards Against Humanity table in the back!
  • 4.5 – Friendliness of Players / Staff
  • 4 – Accessibility of information overall
  • 5 – Community (Groups, Communication, Notices)
  • 5 – Response time for Apps (If Submitted)

New Player Appeal Scoring Total: 23.5

 

I got to speak to one of the mentors, Parker, (who was mentioned in several reviews by players) who made Convergence his first fantasy-based sim and was quickly given both a business and a promotion to mentor by the ownership. He was glowing, but honest. Look for this and other interviews in upcoming Sim Spotlights!

Conclusion: 85% “Excellent”

A solid “B” for this sim within a month – and I feel I must stress that point. This sim has been opened to the public for exactly one month from the time of this review being posted and already they are at an 85%. Many sims years old are still struggling to distribute responsibilities and know who they are while Convergence walks past those stumbling blocks with a confidence that is arresting. Players all over the grid are taking notice and, as was said by our reviewers, Convergence has the ability to stand on it’s own and endure. If the leadership remains true to their vision and their commitments to steer away from drama… not even D13 can stand in the way of this bright future!

Hitch a ride down the trail to Convergence and check it out for yourself!

May your Grid be Peaceful and your RP Epic,

– The Trailblazer

Have a Second Life Roleplay Sim opening or want to see a Roleplay sim reviewed? Use the Request form or contact the Trailblazer in world! Or follow us on Facebook and Plurk!

According to the Descriptions: Damien the Evil Duck … and his Evil Twin Damion

 

No Ducks were Harmed in the Making of this Review

Photos taken by Convergence Player, Rayne Mirabella.

Written by RP Trail

4 Comments

Zekkiel Zerundi

Thanks so much for the review! We really appreciate it. I’d like to address a few of the issues you brought up:

1) Old builds. Several of the old builds were left in from the first short-lived but much-loved iteration of CV (July-Oct 2013) to provide a sense of carry-over and continuity. And because we want to destroy them IC as parts of major plotlines. The Night Market, as you noticed, is just a box, and I am indeed hoping to replace that down the line.

2) The Website: It’s true that the website’s theme is a bit more steampunk than CV really is. The website is also a carry-over from the first iteration of CV. In order to shorten the time needed to get the sim off the ground, we decided to re-use the site we had previously made. It’s true that in some places things are hard to read just due to size of font and color. Hopefully after things settle down for us, we’ll be able to see to some aspects such as that one.

3) Length of lore. There can be a LOT to read, but we’ve both tried to make the reading enjoyable (by adding humor in places) and compartmentalize it so that it’s really up to the player how DEEP they want to dig. To begin a character, we really only request that you give a thorough reading of the main Lore page, and the race you’d like to play.

That’s it for now! Again thank you for such a thorough and wonderfully-written review. 😀

-Zekkiel

RP Trail

Zekkiel! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It’s so very appreciated – as is the additional information! As I said, I loved the lore, and enjoyed digging in deep myself – and I hope everyone gets to find the gems I did!

I also look forward to seeing the upcoming RPs in Convergence and seeing how everything grows and changes. I intend to keep a close eye on things and hope to do spotlights over time and/or a 6-month review as well! Thank you for all you’ve done and I wish you and your team the best of luck!

Thaumata Strangelove

This is a great review of a great sim, which is clearly maintained with great care and attention to detail by the management staff.

As someone who also runs a community on Enjin, I would say this: Enjin is good for what it does but sometimes it could do better. I’m positive these admins are making the most of the tools available to them. Until just two days ago, for instance, it was really very difficult to get a good HTML based page set up on an Enjin site. They’ve updated this now but it’s still buggy and weird at times. But this fault lies with Enjin, not Convergence admins. SL is a custom set-up on Enjin (compared to something like WoW or Minecraft, which offer a lot more built-in options) and requires a lot of making do at times. I personally think they’ve done an outstanding job making a home there. I use the as my good example all the time. They are, actually, the top ranked SL site on Enjin. If they aren’t doing it, it likely cannot be done.

Also, Enjin does have mobile support for forums, which is infinitely useful. I agree it’d be nice if they’d add more for other modules and have suggested it myself, but it doesn’t seem to be their priority at the moment.

I really love what they’re doing with Convergence and truly, truly hope that other RP communities look to them to set a standard in the community. They’re clever and creative and refreshingly drama-free and fun.

RP Trail

Thank you for the information about Enjin! I’ve never tried to set up a website on it. It seems like it functions very well for forums, but for layout and look it falls short on their end – not the fault of the users.

Mobile support is something I wish for for everyone, though it’s sometimes hard – my current website theme works on mobile, but isn’t as sleek as I’d like… all websites are a work in progress and thats a good thing!

Comments are closed.