Wednesday, March 7, 2007

New Oxford Blues

Some time ago Mindark introduced New Oxford. It was supposed to be the EU cultural center which brings in real life artists/designers and their work. I have been working freelance for many years in commercial art, so the initial concept of New Oxford was extremely exciting to me. I personally thought it would add another layer to Entropia Universe giving those of us within the EU community a splash of culture with a Science Fiction twist.

When it was finally implemented my first impression was that the area was a "Diamond in the rough". I thought overtime new elements would be added to the Gallery and like most real life art galleries it would be ever evolving with something new all the time. Vexxed Generation also setup shop selling new clothing designs in limited editions. All designers and artists have some of their real life works and clothing, or at the least high quality prints, for sale in EU also.

OK so Mindark setup a good frame work, it did, however, meet with mixed reactions from the community since many of the artists lacked that Science Fiction edge and Vexxed seemed to drop off the face of the earth when real life items were ordered( I think this problem has been fixed now). Paintings in the gallery ranged from very high to reasonable in price, but once you have seen the full gamut there is no reason to actually go back to the Gallery. The artist lectures are nice and it is interesting to see just what makes them tick, gives them inspiration, and a little insight into being successful as a working artist.

While I think Oxford could be a very popular success it sort of lacks being updated more frequently and new fresh Science Fiction, Surrealistic, and/or Futuristic type artists are lacking. While I personally like the art and the artists in the Gallery there should be a good mix of the current fair and others who could have more of a pulse on a Science Fiction themed MMO. There are countless illustrators who could capture the spirit and minds of the community in EU, just check out Spectrum 13: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art and you will get what I am saying.

Maybe I am impatient and these things will come to us in time. Recently MA has introduced an option for users to upload personal content which can be sold to other participants. I personally think this is a huge plus even though I am a bit hesitant to upload any of my current works (I am still a dinosaur when it comes to the digital painting). A participant gallery, which would showcase player designs, is seriously lacking and with so much empty space in the Academy and Art Gallery I am not sure why something like this has not been offered. As it stands now participants have to show their works in their apartments and sell them in shops.

New Oxford is close to my heart and I want to see it succeed. I like the fact MA put development time into such a place I just hope they keep up with it or start giving the players more access to the Gallery. Keep it fresh with content the users know and can appreciate and I think it will be the glowing beacon it should have been all along.


Matt Barlow said...

hmm, I never really got the point to New Oxford.

Once the novelty value wore off, it has little to offer. Agreed it needs regular updates, new exhibtions, new videos etc. But, I'd still prefer MindArk to spend time on other "story based" content.

Xerogs said...

Thanks for the comment Matt.

Yeah I agree with MA working on the story based content too. Maybe they need to free New Oxford up to the players or make the Artists in the Academy work on it more.

Maybe New Oxford has yet to shine. I think it was mainly MA's attempt at bridging ingame items with real life items and adding some known artists to the mix of EU. Its just a shame its such a ghost town even when they spawned the Boorums in the cavern.

Probably like any company with limited employees some projects get shelved while others take precidence. If New Oxford was a money making hit I think we would see more attention paid to it.

Hell they could even work it into a story line. Maybe one day when I get the concept corner up and running I will integrate places into a system wide profession spanning event. :)

Digit said...

Indeed Oxford was a great idea--just in the wrong universe. I think a project like that would work better in SL. EU seems to be focused more on skilling and killing rather than art and other non-skilling activities. Even online game has one key elements that keeps it alive--gamers socializing.
It is a bit harder to convince new players that don't care for hunting or crafting to deposit thousands of dollars so they can be in the "culture" aspect of PE.
But I'm sure MA will find the right element. They have created a great product by thinking out of the box-I'm sure they'll do it again.