by Alphaville Herald on 24/02/10 at 7:49 am
Multilingual players use Na'vi speaker/translator to bridge language gap
by Meleth Oakleaf
Like many places in the world SL has caught Avatar fervor. While it was my original intention was to review a single Pandoran role-play environment, a combination of lag and frustration led me to explore the two most highly traffic-ed Pandoran roleplay sims, Pandora – Navi' Planet Avatar and Pandora Magic.
Both of the sims I visited started with a representation of the human settlement, in the case of Pandora this was the ship orbiting above the Pandoran jungle, in Pandoran Magic the human camp . Both of these sims were bilingual; Pandora being predominantly English and French and Pandoran Magic being predominantly German and English. Both sims use the DCS combat system. Both sims include fully stocked vendor areas with everything a budding Na'Vi or evil Human could want. Though it seems to me that these items are comparatively more expensive than items used in other roleplay sims. Finally both did an amazing job of capturing the beauty of the movie that inspired them.
I also noticed similarities among the avatars inhabiting these sims. The Na'vi seemed to outnumber the humans by a factor of ten to one. I saw a great many exact copies of Jake Sully and Neytiri running around, though to be fair this may be because the majority of Na'Vi that I saw were in concentrated in the starting area. I also noted that the number one common role-play interest, other than Avatar, I saw on the profiles of those around me was Star Wars.
To the casual observer there seemed to be very little distinction to these two worlds, though I'm sure differences become more apparent as you explore each sim in further detail. I did note that Pandora seems to hold a firmer grasp on exact replicas of what you see in the movie while, Pandoran Magic seemed to have concentrated on capturing the spirit of the world. In both cases the breathtaking beauty was severely negativity impacted by the large amounts of lag. I found both sims to be laggy almost to the point of unusable, even being logged off while attempting to navigate around the home tree in one. After three failed attempts to log back into one of the sims, I eventually gave up and returned home rather than deal with the frustration any further.
Despite the lag and beauty I was able to capture the attention of the lovely, blue Tirea Adjani in Pandora Magic and ask her a few questions. I caught up with Tirea twice. Once when she was first beginning to explore Pandoran sims and once after she'd had a chance to get her feet wet, In the interest of brevity I have not included the first interview, but a few questions refer to solutions she has found to problems she encountered in her first few visits.
Mel: So Tirea what drew you to try a Pandoran sim?
Tirea: The fantasy element was undeniable… having seen the movie I think like most people I loved it while also hating it for being an impossible reality. But in SL I can come close to sort of living that dream.
Mel: You mentioned earlier that you've tried one other avatar inspired sim, what is it about this sim that you find more enjoyable?
Tirea: The issue I had with the first one was that it… had pathways actually. I don't want stone paths guiding me to locations, it ruins the wild sort of… unknown jungle-ish thing
Mel: I can't help but notice the lag that accompanies this unknown jungle. Have you picked up any hints for being about to move without resembling a yo-yo?
Tirea: The market areas are all lagtastical. I've have learned to my cache before going to one and give the jungle adequate time to load,. Lag is inevitable, but it does improve if you let things load at their own pace instead of wandering through barely rezzed area of jungle. I also tend to travel via Ikraan since it's quick and allows me to travel above the super detailed jungle area below.
Mel: Ah I can see how that would help. So what tell me about combat in the Pandora Magic?
Tirea: The combat is dependent largely upon there being people playing humans. And there are far less of those, then there are people playing Na'Vi. Otherwise it's just like and other DCS sim, fast-paced, mildly confusing and laggy. I myself, avoid the human encampment since I know I'm a crappy DCS fighter.
Mel: Earlier you mention that you were having trouble finding people who spoke English in your Pandora Magic, have you picked up any pointers?
Tirea: A translator helps. There's also a free Na'vi speaker/translator, so encouraging people to speak in Na'Vi means we're all seeing the same slightly broken translations into our native language when enter it into the translator thingy. So for example if someone is speaking in Dutch, the translator will take Dutch and turn it into Na'Vi and spit out both versions. So rather than translating Dutch I translate the Na'Vi since then I don't have to have a billion translators open to compensate for all the diff. languages people are speaking.
Mel: So other than this translator, what would you recommend for a new person to grab to try out Pandoran roleplaying?
Tirea: As in technical equipment or in general for playing a Na'Vi character?
Tirea: Well, definitely pick up a Na'Vi translator and a combat system. The latter at least so that you can feel all kewl with a weapon you can swing around, hehe. For your character. You, at the bare minimum, need a Na'vi skin an some basic clothing. Most of the Sims don't allow obvious nudity. A tail is also a good idea just to complete the general Na'Vi anatomy.
Mel: How many Lindins did it cost you to get started?
Tirea: I personally spent about 6.5k on stuff, but I made some mistake purchases that cost me. I also indulged a bit, purchasing an ikran and a hometree sleeper as well as two weapons and 1.5k AO. Though, the nice thing about playing in Pandora is once you do get setup, you won't need to be spending tons and tons of money to feel like you fit in with the other people. Frequent outfit changes and things aren't really noticed or necessary.
Mel: Well thank you for your time Tirea, I know the untamed jungle calls you so I won't keep you here any longer.
I really enjoyed both my stays in Pandora, the breathtaking beauty of the world left me in awe. That being said the lag is too much for this pixie to bear. From what I saw. the sims both seemed light on roleplaying and heavy on players wandering through the gorgeous landscape. Though the be fair, in this environment that can be considered a form of role-play. In my honest opinion, the Pandoran sims in their current state are beautiful to look at, but I would give them a bit more time before I considered roleplaying with any regularity in one. Time for the builders to find the right balance of beauty vs lag. Time for more designers to enter the avatar personalization market and drive prices lower. Finally, time for the movie hype to die down a bit, leaving more dedicated role-players and fewer gawking reporters.
In a personal note, I couldn't help but giggle when the first thing I saw when I teleported into Pandora – Navi' Planet Avatar, was one Navi leading another collared Navi around via a leash. Though it isn't in any way a part of the structure of the sim, I found the irony and the image to be absurd. I'm sorry Scylla I tried.