This Fall we had the chance to teach a class about serious games using Okapi island as a base and we had four research apprentices working to improve the island. As a result, we had some pretty amazing progress on the place. As you can see from the image above, we have our entrance relocated to where the visitors entrance to the site is, along with the gate, the cafe, and the signage that you see as you are entering the actual site. We are still fixing up the guard house and the experimental house, but I think that giving visitors a better sense of arrival adds to the island.
One of our apprentices designed some Neolithic clothing and tattoos, based on designs from John Swogger, Kathryn Killackey, and her own imagination. They incorporate designs and materials that we have evidence for from the archaeological record and were useful when we filmed our machinima. You can pick up your own set at the entrance to the site.
We were also able to get the dig house exterior in place, though work on the interior continues. Building the dig house was interesting, as I had never really paid attention to how odd the architecture is, and how all of the walls and rooms fit together. I was able to request some last-minute photos from Jason Quinlan to add textures to the exterior, but I’m having a hard time finding good interior shots–always people in the way! Building in Second Life still shows me that we lack a lot of the documentation necessary for 3D reconstructions.
We also have been reconstructing B79 in the sandbox, and will hopefully finish in time to add it to the report on the building. It has been a collaborative building effort with Daniel Eddisford, and the discussions about architecture that we’ve had regarding the reconstruction have made us both reexamine our assumptions about mudbrick dwellings.
Our machinima should be finished in the next month, so watch out for that. Later on in the Spring we will have our research apprentices continuing to work on the island, and hopefully have a “Grand Re-Opening” in May.
Oddly enough, we got some press coverage yesterday as well: