Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jazabelle's Everfrost Office

The old arched windows of the Everfrost portal hub.
From the moment I understood how prestige housing portals would work--and I admit it took me a few days and a bit of research before I was positive I understood it properly--I was determined to put together a portal hub.

My first attempt at a portal hub took the arched windows I'd constructed for Dolthaic back in April of 2011, and turned them into "windows" into the different homes. I liked the idea, but there wasn't enough room for expansion.

The round portal/transport room.
And ringing a room with ten windows meant over 100 items for the "windows" alone. With the low item count of the Everfrost house, that didn't leave me much room for decorating the rest of the house.

Regretfully, I put my office on hold and worked on other projects. I just couldn't seem to figure out a setup for my portal hub that would work for me. I accumulated portals in the meantime, tossing them into the Everfrost house wherever the mood struck me.

Framed portal "painting" at H&T.
Then in early June of 2012, I revamped the guild hall. Afista had used tiles frame the portals in her portal hub. I used the same idea for the portals in my guild's hall, but tweaked the design a little bit--I included paintings to frame the tile and give it a more finished look, much as she framed tiles in her portal hub to showcase them. The result was a framed "painting" of a portal hub that received quite a few compliments from guildmates and visitors alike.

Not long after that, sometime in mid-June, Hopsalong built her portal hub. She took the idea Afista came up with that I tweaked, and also tweaked it. The result was an elegant portal hub with plenty of room for lots of portals, and a very easy method of expansion.

Hopsalong's portal hub.
I admit that Hops' portal hub made me insanely jealous. It was gorgeous! And if I were the sort of person who bought layouts from other people, I would have snapped up her hub in an instant. But I'm not. Besides, I don't own a Felwithe house, which is what her portal hub is in.

Hopsalong's hub spurred me to start working on my own again. I went through several attempts to build a suitable layout. The first was very similar to both my original hub and Hopsalongs--a hallway that terminated in a round room, then branched off into other rooms. While it was nice, I felt too much like I was copying Hopsalong rather than being inspired by her. It also didn't help that I went exclusively sumac, without the trim and color Hopsalong has in her hub to cut back on the "sumac poisoning."

A baseboard and some crown molding would do a lot to cut back on the overwhelming sumac feel.

I struggled with the hub for several days, popping back and forth between Hopsalong's hub and my own. No matter what I did, I didn't like it.

It was while I was running circles around Hopsalong's hub, trying to think of materials other than black marble building blocks (which I didn't have, and refused to spend SC on) that I really looked at the paintings lining her walls. Gold and sumac, opulent, easily sized--the paintings would make a perfect baseboard!

I immediately crafted several and popped into my portal hub. But no matter how I tried, the shape of the rooms and the paintings meant that they just wouldn't work as baseboards. I couldn't sink the paintings low enough to act as a baseboard. If I angled the painting and hid most of it in the wall, by the time the sides of the painting stopped poking through, the bottom did, too.

The first time I actually liked where the hub was going.
Eventually, I realized I was trying to stay too close to Hopsalong's work. Her work was "safe"--I'd already seen how it turned out, and really liked it. If I wanted the paintings to work with my house, I'd have to do something different.

Luckily, it turned out I didn't have to do too much different. I could keep the front hall that opened up into a large room. However, I went with a square room because of the patterns I wanted for the paintings. I kept the sumac walls, but ditched the sumac floors. And I definitely wasn't going to go with a stained glass ceiling--while I adore Hops' hub, I'm not a rainbow person. I'm also not big on stained glass. I feel that it should be used to accent. With Hops' hub, it works. All that sumac means that the stained glass isn't overwhelming, especially since it's a focal point. That wouldn't work in my house. So I went with a plain white ceiling, and jazzed it up with more gold.

The front hall opening up into the center room.
Confession time: I'm not really a gold person, either. If I were to see something like what I built for my Everfrost hub in real life, I'd look at it and think it's pretty, but much too ornate for me. But in-game, this works. Part of why I enjoy decorating in-game is it allows me to step outside my comfort zone with furnishings and architecture.

Back to my portal hub! I left the hub pretty much undone for the rest of July and August. I'd done the front hall, but was stuck on how I wanted it to transition into the large center room. Plus I was out of town in July, and by the time I came home in August, I'd lost my drive to work on the hub.

But on September 1st, I went back to working on it, and I worked hard. It was like a mental block had cleared, and I had more ideas than I could build! There were some rough patches, and plenty of ideas that I worked on for hours, then scrapped completely. I moved my teleportation objects around the hub several times a day, trying to find a good spot for them.

Eventually I had the layout set up how I wanted it. And then I moved my office from my guild hall to the Everfrost hub. I decided it wasn't fair that my office used over a hundred items, while everyone else was limited to 20. With my office in my Everfrost hub, people would be able to expand their customization of their offices in the guild hall.

Because it was an extension of the guild hall in my mind, I included some similar items, like the circular seating in the center of the large room. I went with a different color scheme, but kept the idea of seats arranged around a planter.

I actually spent the least amount of time decorating my office in the hub, although it probably looks like I spent a really long time working on it. For the most part, I just transported the layout from the guild hall to the Everfrost hub.

The office desk, transported from the guild hall.
Everything on the blue carpet is exactly as it was in the guild hall. The changes were made to the sides of the room and the fishtank--where in my old office I had a single bookshelf and a small set of shelves on the wall for trophies, I wanted more space in the Everfrost office. I also wanted to make sure that my portal objects didn't look odd displayed around the room. That meant building a set of shelving units to house any portal objects that didn't hang on the walls. I also needed space to display random other items--like the Community Cushion, and the prize for submitting a home to the NotD contest (I'm still sad I didn't win, but not too sad. I got my present and my scare "crow," and that's really the only reason I entered in the first place!).

Shelving unit and portal paintings.
While it's a little bit annoying to not have the portal objects right in the front room when I zone in, it's not bad enough that I'd move them back there. The portal objects being at the front are nice, but this way I get more use out of my office. I have to run back there each time I want to teleport to one of the DoV zones.

The biggest difference between this office and the one in my guild hall is the aquarium.

Yes, I like to do the stereotypical aquarium. There seem to be two types of people--those who like them, and those who don't. In real life, I'm not a fan. The wet, fishy smell irritates me. But I enjoy looking at fish, and I enjoy the artwork that people turn their aquariums into.

Shark tank! Don't go swimming in there...
So in-game, I build them. This one was partially inspired by my own shark tank in my Kelethin home, and partially inspired by Tock's tank in The Spider. I liked how the water in the back with a misty tile turned out for Tock. It's an idea I'd been playing with using since the first time I saw the misty tiles. However, I hadn't had a chance to build an aquarium since they came out. When I saw what Tock had done, and how well it turned out, I decided it was time to put my own attempt into play.

Jazabelle has a thing for sharks. She loves them. It has absolutely nothing to do with an easy way to dispose of evidence, I swear! So that meant another shark tank. But when I put together the tank, I realized that sharks alone are a little bland. So I tossed in a sea turtle and some slugs. Then I added in a few other items to add motion, such as the seafarer's float net, the doomed prisoner, and the new crafted Withering Lands flowers. The spores from the flowers float slowly, and really give the impression of being under water. The tank looks much better in person, with the swaying, the rippling, and the flickering blue light (Thanks for reminding me to put those in, Tock!).

If you'd like to visit, feel free to stop by Jazabelle's Everfrost Summer Home in Qeynos, on the Antonia Bayle server.

For more screenshots of the home that weren't included in the blog, as well as expanded captions on most screenshots, click here to visit the Facebook photo album.