Friday, April 18, 2008

Meet Me

There is a pseudo-virtual world out there. Provided, of course, that you speak Japanese and don't mind the fact that you really can't create anything in it. It's called "MeetMe" and the basic thrust of it is you're some person taking up residence in a virtual Tokyo.

As you can imagine, you need a significant understanding of Japanese to slog through it. Or, you can be like me and turn to my good friend, Google Translator. It's all free to play and simplistic enough that once you're inworld and set up, you really don't need much in the way of translating.

As you can see, the world itself is beautiful, if somewhat sparse. You can find several landmarks, such as Tokyo Tower and the elevated in this particular screenshot. There's several skyscrapers as well. The elevated, subway, and rail lines are all rideable and can take you very far from Point A to B through out the city, provided you have the proper pass. Once you purchase the tickets, you keep them forever so you don't spend a lot of money on tickets. So if I buy tickets to 19th street station, I can always board and exit there from then on.

If you don't have the cash, or the rail tickets, or the rail line hasn't been built in that area yet, then you're in for quite a haul. I do not kid you when I say that the city is built almost true to scale. It can take you HOURS to walk from one neighborhood to another. Your character will also faint and stop and take breaks like a semi-real human which adds to the transit time when legging it. So it's in your interest to make money and buy tickets.

How do you make money? Well, many ways. One is fishing. Another is picking up rocks and sticks you find along the paths and streets. Sometimes you'll see a billboard, which will ask you a question in Japanese, and if you guess it right, it gives you money. The last few of those gives you pathetically little amounts of CoCore, the ingame currency. Plus, rocks and sticks and billboards are few and very far in between. Some in world have taken to forming 'rock' gangs of sorts and scoured the streets looking for them. I'll get to fishing later.

You can either stick to the original freebie apartments, or you can buy a plot of land for a pre set rent amount. Either way, MeetMe lets you set up a small flat with whatever you've found lying around or what you've bought. Being cheap and tight, I stuck with the freebie flats. And you can see my lovely window, recliner, and clothing stands. If I had chosen to buy a land plot then I could also set up and build my own house and add doors and windows and such. The bigger the plot the larger the house and although I never figured out how to string together plots to make a larger house, some people have built virtual mansions. In addition, you can retexture anything provided you've bought the in game textures.

The game is very customizable but you depend upon the creators to plop in all the things and textures found in MeetMe.

There are no animation overrides, but the default walkings and such aren't so bad. What may drive you insane is the limited options available to customizing your avatar. Plus, it's all too easy to make some super deformed character and look like a freak. In a word, it's all in this anime style, which means that many characters you might look alike for the most part. As you can probably see for most of these screenshots, I don't look like SL me at all for most of it. El Oh El.

And then there's fishing, which is one of the most fun things I have ever done. I wish Second Life had fishing like this. I can't describe it, you really have to be there and try it yourself. There's a large variety of fish in many different locations. I could spend the rest of my life just trying to master how to fish. Good Nunchuck, I love it.

Plus, the larger fish can be sold for significant sums. And really, in the end, fishing ends up supplying most of the in game economy, such as it is.

Here I am, with the largest fish I caught. Evidently it was some kind of goldfish/cod mutant that was 20 cm.

The people in MeetMe are Japanese. Thus, about 3/4 of them do not speak English. I do not and cannot recommend it on that basis, since like SL most of the fun comes from grabbing a buddy and messing around. There were maybe four people who spoke English and were very polite, but I'm sure I got on their nerves after a fashion. Consider also that the entire thing is still in a form of beta testing, and I'd say avoid MeetMe unless you have a masterful understanding of written Japanese.

Oh lord, I could fish forever.

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