Friday, 4 April 2008


I think it was the lurid, glowing greens on the map that attracted me to try the Cow sim. I know I should be writing about the MMC and Maya sims - but I'm a contrary beggar, and felt the need to root out something I'd not seen before, and that is maybe not entirely ready. And for me tonight, the Cow sim meets that need. (I will do the others eventually!)

I don't think it's quite finished -there's a few things missing, including (slightly disturbingly) some cows' heads. And one of the things that is missing is content - in effect, the structure is ready, but the content, such as notecards, slideshows and weblinks is not there just yet. Which made it potentially tricky to track down. However, I had a hunch I'd seen the "Cow" and "Herd" before... and with a teensy bit of help from Google I was able to track 'em down like.... ummm.. lost cows, I suppose.

First off we have Cow PR, strapline "We're not Sheep". While the Herd is "the community networking arm of Cow PR... about helping brands talk to their audiences through 'citizen media.'" Maybe I've spent too long in virtual worlds. When I first read their strapline, I thought it was an oblique reference to Electric Sheep Company! I need to get out more (though even now, I suspect this is not altogether a coincidence). Another part of this bovine empire is Cowshed Productions, responsible for ads and things viral, like this:

From their YouTube site. As for what they've actually done - I will leave it to you to wrestle with the joys of their flash-based websites.

As for the sim, as I said it is not quite ready in terms of content. You arrive in an open sided barn (or something) in front of which is a small field containing a couple of cows, backed by a couple of towering waterfalls. The grass is a vivid green, while the rocks are eye-poppingly orange, and the water - a deeply implausible blue. In fact, it has the feel of a dream - one that follows the ingestion of too much cheese the night before. It looks like there will be a bunch of notecards to be picked up at this starting point - and a guided tour too. But none of these function at the moment.

You need to get up to the top of the waterfall for the main buildings - and there are 2 routes provided. One around the edge of the sim, that takes in the Cow Cafe, where you can milk your own cow(though the ones here had no heads! aaargh!!), before ascending to the top of the falls. The other route takes you through a huge cavern, up a winding path that eventually emerges to join the external path. At the top are several green spheres that will eventually house a cinema, a meetings area and a jobs hall (I've forgotten the last one). At the moment, aside from some seating - and some cows - these spheres are largely bare. One small point... there's a couple of places where the step height is too great, so walkers have to "hop" to progress. It will be easy to fix this.

I have to say, I think I like this place. It is quite memorable, and has a number of pleasing, faintly surreal aspects... And the cows look great, when they have heads on. That said, I don' t think it has the charm, ambience, complexity or humour of the Leo Burnett sim, a company in a not entirely dissimilar line of business. The Cow sim is the work of well-known virtual builder, Luna Bliss.

And finally - some snaps:

Oh... and there's some cool freebies already in place, including a fine sculptie cow, a set of overalls and an animated cow feed. Of these, the cow definitely has it!


Dirk @ Herd said...

Hi Aleister,

Dirk from Cow / Herd here, thank you for the write up and glad you liked the island.

Yes we still have some work to do regards adding notecards, links and so on, and yes, some of the Cows need heads!

However, we have already started using it for meetings - for example one of my colleagues gave a presentation to some University of Westminster students there just yesterday (you must have arrived after they left).

In truth, we've probably got more space and prims than we strictly need, and so Luna is building us some sky apartments and treehouses, which we will rent out to SL residents. That means that the costs of our SL presence will be zero.

At the same time, part of the sim (the barn) will be parceled off and for company access only.

Finally, a dream feel is what we were after. Personally I am not a huge fan of ad and PR agencies that create nothing more than glass offices when in SL.

Thanks again, and all the best

Aleister Kronos said...

Thanks Dirk. I agree with you about the "glass offices"... in general I prefer places that play to the strengths of virtual worlds, rather than recreating familiar architecture. I think for a company it does depend on your line of business. For media and marketing companies, there is a definite plus in avoiding atomic life architecture. For many others, though, there remains a need to offer something faintly familiar.