Saturday, 27 September 2008

7 Days Magic Bakery

I've not written much recently, mainly due to the difficulty of finding anything new and interesting to write about. There seem to be no new corporate sites in Second Life, and many that have been here a while are closing up shop. It therefore comes as a pleasant surprise to visit not only a new corporate sim, but one that rewards the traveller handsomely in terms of build quality and entertainment value. The sim in question is 7Days Magic Bakery.

Sound quaint, huh? A sim for your local neighbourhood bakery? Ummm... not quite.

7 Days is a brand within the the Baking and Confectionery division of Greek food conglomerate, Vivartia, formed as a result of a merger in 2006 with Chipita. In total Vivartia employs around 13,500 people, and markets its bakery goods throughout Eastern Europe. On a darker note, in December 2007, Vivartia was found guilty of colluding with other milk producers to fix milk prices in Greece, and its earnings for the year were reduced by nearly 22million Euros as a result. Nevertheless, the company had a turnover of around 1.5billion Euros, with the Bakery Division bringing in some 412million Euro. So as you can see, 7 Days is far from being a little local bakery! If you want to see something of their product range then try here.

OK... so what about this sim? It opened just over a week ago and if I had been slightly quicker off the mark I could have posted a rib-tickling pun about taking 7 Days to write this post - but I wasn't, so I can't.

I have to say that I think the build quality and approach knock just about every other corporate build into a cocked hat. In large part this is due to the decision by involve3d, the builders, to execute most of the build work outside of Second Life, using Maya. The resulting structures and textures were then uploaded for final placement in the sim. The result is a spectacularly successful marriage of forms and detailed textures - which is my pretentious way of saying: it looks great!

Yeah.. yeah... but what does it look like?

You arrive at a landing that is faintly reminiscent of the Crystal Palace - lots of baroque ironwork - and your first action is to proceed thru the door in front of you into a windowless vestibule, where you will trigger the first of many audio commentaries (for the deaf, there are notecards too). A slightly peeved and aggrieved robot will tell you something about the sim - his amusing ramblings giving time for the sim itself to rez behind the scenes. When all is set, you can open a door and proceed into the sim proper. They've aimed for a "Dreamworks/Pixar-like" cartoony look and feel, and they've achieved it. Not only visually amazing, the music and audio fit the theme too.

Your main objective is the Bakery itself, but you should take the time to meander up the hill on which this Wonka-some construction sits, and take in some of the sights and sounds. In the bakery, you can control a machine to make your own personalised baked item - sweet or savoury. As their press release notes, you can concoct such oddities as the Chocolate Symphony Cosmic Satisfaction Croissant or Oregano Grated Cheese Electric Burst Pita Bakes. Whatever you end up with - and there are many, many variations - you really must eat it to get the full benefit. (A slightly cumbersome arrangement - you have to "Buy" for zero L$, then "Wear" the item)

During your wanderings you will encounter, and should pick up, the Vendomaton. I think I was a little too full of sugar-rush to fully absorb how this beastie functions. But in essence, everything you've made can be added to your vendomaton, and that means you can rez it at home and share your baking bounty with your pals; and vice versa.

But why? Why build the sim? I think the answer, in part, lies in the quality. I don't see this place setting new records for concurrent visitors, or establishing itself as the Place To Be Seen in SL. It might - but that would be a side benefit. Is it there just to promote the company? Well, yes, of course... but it is more subtle than that. Simply promoting within Second Life is largely a waste of effort, as many companies have discovered. But using Second Life as a stage in which to create ads - both movies and stills - that can be pumped into the real world. Now that is something different - hence the need for high quality, essentially non-SL constructions. I look forward to seeing how this story unfolds - and to the opening of their orientation sim, which also promises something new.

There's a lot more I could say about this place - but really the only thing I would say is: add it to your 'Must See' list. No.. don't do that. Just go there. But a word of warning... I found the triggered audio really impacted performance on my machine - and SL crawled along abysmally at times. This probably improves with cacheing... I went back with a friend, and found performance was much better. But don't let that stop you!

As regular readers will attest, you can judge how impressed I am with a sim by the number of pictures I take of it. I think I might have set a new record for myself:


▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ said...

This sounds delicious. Somewhat reminiscent of Ratatouille. Thx for the heads-up, Al!

▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ said...

And let me add — your pictures really show off the FLAVOR of the place. :)