Last year's event had a sort of travel theme, and the sims were all named things like Journey and Wander, and some of the builds were quite imaginative. This year, the theme seems to be RL cities, and the builds - while very high quality, no doubt about that - seem to be rather more solidly anchored in reality. "Prosaic" can be a pejorative term, and so I hesitate about using it... it might, however, also be appropriate.
Anyway. The touchdown point appeared to be in FFL CentralPark North, so off I went to that sim. TPed in, materialized in mid air, and fell to the ground, just missing a rather alarming set of spiked railings.
The Glorf Who Fell To Earth
CentralPark North appears to be a reasonable simulacrum of, well, New York's Central Park (not wholly accurate, since I was wandering around it alone at night, and didn't get mugged once.) It seems to be an events place, not a shopping sim. It's all kind of nice, though, I'll give it that. There seemed to be some meeting of RFL/FFL types while I was there, so there were lots of people and it is very detailed... so there was a lot of lag. It was worth it for the scenery though.
One feature of the sim is this horse-drawn carriage ride - you sit on the carriage and it rezzes a mobile duplicate that takes you round the sim. Slightly nerve-racking, with the lag I was experiencing, but in normal circumstances it'd be quite charming. It also enabled me to spot some little coloured mesh ribbons along the path. These contained freebies. We know how I feel about hunting out freebies, right? Right.
The sim also has a stage for events - specifically, it appears, the "Miss SL" competition. This is obviously an outmoded tool of the patriarchy for the objectification of women, and also I wasn't nominated, so I disapprove of it. Like that matters.
There's a much larger stage for what looks like the same event in the southern, adjacent, sim, called (with remorseless logic) FFL CentralPark South. Seems to be basically more of the same. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong time to arrive, and things had only just rezzed enough for me to take a single snapshot, when I was warned that I'd be getting the bum's rush as a private event was about to start. Never mind.
So I picked up my little paws and toddled off to the first sim where I could do the important stuff: shopping!
This was FFL Tokyo, and the presence of some familiar names (Bare Rose, G-Field, Tukinowaguma among others) made me mention this to Tali, who joined me in scoping the place out.
FFL Tokyo is clearly trying to capture the spirit of the city, with some very, very traditional Japanese builds adjacent to thrusting 21st-century urban towers. It's nice, in a schizophrenic sort of way. I think I should point out that the builds themselves have been of uniformly excellent quality so far.
Arriving at the information point
Engrish spoken here
Modern and urban
Less modern and urban
Glorf can haz cheezburger
That little street-market thing there is a nice touch - it's off to the side of the temple, and those little booths dispense various kinds of Japanese snack food. I have no idea what's in them - perhaps, being brought up on English cooking, I don't want to know. But it's a very neat little area and adds to the overall realism of the build.
Anyway. Pausing only to wipe my greasy paws, I followed Tali to the next sim, FFL Milan.
This one is dominated by the massive piece of Italianate architecture we see here. Again, I think it's trying to sum up, or epitomize, the main aspects of the city. I'm not sure I'm licensed to use words like "epitomize", but I won't let that stop me.
There's shops in that there building
Also a nice little bistro down one end
Oddly, even by this time, very little actual shopping had taken place (although Tali had been scarfing up demos, of which more anon). Despite the presence of several familiar names and quality brands, nothing had leapt out at us screaming "buy me! buy me!" I'm not saying my Linden balance had escaped totally unscathed, but it was by no means as scathed as it might have been.
(One practical reason might be that - at these events - I tend to head first for the RFL vendors. This is, after all, the main point of the event. The problem is that lots of the stuff in the RFL vendors tends to be variants on a theme of purple... and that's not really my colour. As a human, I preferred cool pastels, or neutral tones; as a feline, I go for warmer browns and sandy colours. Purple's just never been on my preferred colour palette. So it goes.)
Anyway. From Milan to Paris, where dawn had by now broken over the Arc de Triomphe.
Beautifully realized and detailed Parisian street scene - points, too, for avoiding the visual cliché of the Eiffel Tower. Can I be all SL-nerdy and point out the specular maps on the cobblestones and the lacquered wooden doors? Tali was impressed enough to comment on those doors, and it takes rather a lot to impress Tali.
Anyway. At this point we decamped to sort through such loot as we'd accumulated - and, unfortunately, Tali had a rather unpleasant experience, which wasn't FFL's fault, but....
I mentioned that, while I'd been snapshotting and browsing, Tali had been hoovering up demos of various mesh clothing items. Now, demos of mesh are kind of essential as a sales technique. If you have a shape which lies outside the parameters of "Standard Sizing" - if you have a realistic female physique, or an athletic build, or depart in any other way from committee-approved standards of SL womanhood - you need to check mesh clothes in detail for clipping problems before you wear them, and no one wants to spend money on clothes they can't actually wear. (Fitted mesh, though generally better, isn't a panacea for this problem, either.) So, people like Tali - and me - collect demos of anything that looks nice, and sift through them later, winnowing out the stuff that looks nice but doesn't fit.
We found one store with stuff that looked nice, but there were no demos on display. OK, fair enough, space at the FFL event is limited after all. So Tali hopped off to their main store, to peruse the demos there. The demos were dollarbies, rather than freebies, which is kind of not ideal, but still not an actual deal-breaker. So she collected some of them, and we both chatted over Marketplace links to the clothes....
... and then the store's owner turned up, to deliver unto Tali an Awful Warning about the dire legal consequences of copybotting.
As a piece of customer relations, this, well, sucks. Yes, copybotters exist, yes, infringements happen. But treating customers who are legitimately interested in your wares as potential criminals... well, it is not on.
I am purposely not naming the store, or which sim it was in. But, well... it's one that I won't be buying anything from. There is plenty of nice stuff in SL made by people who don't treat customers that way.
Some of it may well be on the remaining FFL sims, which I will get to in my next. You have been warned.