Thursday, March 28, 2013

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Downton Abbey Meets The Sims 3, Part 7: Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, and 3 Hotdogs Walk Into a Bar Together...

Costume Sybil
Iris Ophelia's ongoing effort to simulate
Downton Abbey in The Sims 3

It's finally time.

I've planned. I've decorated. I've teased it for weeks. But now, it's here: The most legendary Spooky Day costume party in the history of Sim Downton Abbey.

You know now that I think about it I guess it's sort of the only Spooky Day costume party in the history of Sim Downton Abbey. And maybe it's a little weird to be doing this right before Easter, too.

Well either way, my most recent visit to Sim Downton started with an utterly chilling discovery...

Matthew's car

Matthew Crawley, heir of Downton, has purchased a practical Japanese car for himself!



I mean it's really inaccurate...

I bet it's not very fuel efficient either. It's not even a hybrid, you guys.

After last week's little army scare with Molesley I decided to be a responsible sim-god and check in on the Crawley House (home to Matthew, his mother Isobel, and their modest staff.) Thankfully everything seems to be in order, with the exception of a couple large purchases I don't recall greenlighting. In addition to Matthew's new "Yomoshoto Evasion", Isobel's picked up a "Sloppy Jalopy" (which sounds super gross) for herself. I'm less than pleased given the family's tight budget, but no one's joined the army or adopted ten cats or married a werewolf so I should count my blessings. Matthew's even been promoted to the city council at some point. Things could definitely be going worse -- I'm a little irritated at Molesley for making me panic with what I guess was just a festive seasonal costume. Oh Molesley, you'll never get it right...

Mary Matthew letters 2When I drop back into the main house, I notice that Matthew's sent a few more letters to Mary. The letters are old news since the couple has been going back and forth with them for a while now -- not to mention the love confessions from random strangers that Mary gets every so often -- but this time one of them has a gift, something completely new.

It's hard to make out what it is from the thumbnail (it sort of just looks like a bunch of garbage, to me) so I rush to place it in Mary's bedroom for a better look.

Matthew's gift

I'm no interior designer, but it doesn't exactly complement the decor. It's called "A Little Bit o'Country", and the game kindly informs me that Matthew spent $92 on that jumble of nonsense when I sell it back for that exact sum.

It's the thought that counts, but maybe if he thought about a posh little music box or something it would count for a little more.

Mary Bloodyface

Speaking of Mary, she's hanging out at the cemetary with blood all over her face. No joke. Maybe I should have lead with that, since it's definitely scarier than a mid-size sedan. She seems fine, she's not a zombie or anything, she's just... getting into the seasonal spirit too, I guess.

Mary Paul Bearer

After I tidy her up she performs a little for her fellow mourners and does her best impression of Paul Bearer (R.I.P.) as a sexy bellhop. Dearest Mary is still in the first level of the Singing career, and unsurprisingly pop performances in the middle of moonlit cemetaries don't earn much in the way of tips.

Violet cocktail

Meanwhile, it seems that Violet and Edith have both become regulars in the local bar scene since their vomit-filled tour of France's finest nectary, hopping from pub to lounge to dive until closing time.

Vera's drink

At this point I notice that there's a drink on the menu named "Vera's Glass of Sass". It coud be a coincidence, but I recently moved Bates (and his once-estranged wife Vera) into town. Vera doesn't do much of anything, but Bates is a reasonably talented Mixologist, meaning that it's very likely he named this drink after his less-than-beloved wife. Given that Vera (spoilers!) dies by poisoning in the show, the name doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the cocktail's ingredients. One "Spline Reticulator" please.

Anyway, let's get to the meat of things. Spooky Day is coming up, and because the estate is so far away from the town there haven't been any children coming by to Trick-or-Treat. The seasonal festival has also been a bit of a bust, since it's been raining almost non-stop since the end of summer. With things looking a bit bleak, I decide to bring the holiday to the Abbey by force and schedule a proper costume party.

Anna haunted house

Anna is sent to pick up some pumpkins to carve, though on her way back she takes an ill-advised detour through a haunted house. She's shaken up and the clock is ticking, but thankfully she makes it back in time for everyone to carve up a pumpkin of their own to decorate the house with.

Pumpkin carving 4
While they're carving, I'm busy trying to figure out what else needs to be done on my end. It's my first Spooky Day party too, so I'm a little unclear about what's expected. Candy? Desserts? Cocktails? Balloons?

It's balloons, right?

Party decor 1

What about super-classy metallic balloons?

Party decor 3

Just balloons. Balloons everywhere.

Party decor 4

Done and done.

I finish in the nick of time, and as guests start appearing, the family starts spontaneously changing into their costumes -- costumes I apparently don't get a say in.

Costume Edith and Mary

Mary and Edith amazingly choose cop and robber costumes that seem almost too on-the-nose, but not everyone else's choices are quite as good. Thomas picks out some military fatigues, Cora picks out a plain sweater and skirt combo (good effort, kid) and Sybil...

Costume Sybil

Sybil goes for the full hotdog suit.

Costume Robert

As does Robert.

Costume Bates

And then Bates arrives in the exact same hotdog suit as Sybil, which I suppose is meant to look like some sort of poultry-based hotdog. It's bad enough when you go to a normal dinner party or event and find someone else wearing the exact same hotdog suit as you, but a costume party? This is just about the biggest fashion disaster possible, and it only gets worse when Doctor Clarkson shows up.

Costume Dr Clarkson


Profoundly uncool, man. Someone with that much easy access to medical waste could throw together an amazing zombie costume in no time, but nooo, he just had to be a cop too.

Costume Violet

The only real winner is the Dowager Countess' ridiculous tiger ensemble, topped off with her favorite showstopping hat. It gets better when she starts jamming in the music room with a stranger in a rabbit outfit. Sorry, but I just can't bear to change her.

Everyone else, on the other hand...

Costume fix Sybil 2

Fortunately I have a few backup costume ideas prepared. Sybil gets to dress up as a dapper young gent, for example.

Costume fix Robert and Cora 2

... While Robert and Cora have some culturally-insensitive and colonial-minded costumes inspired by the ~exotic~ Orient.

Costume fix Edith

Edith might hope to turn heads in her splendid Rococo-inspired gown and wig, but in the end she just can't hold a candle to her older sister.

Costume Fix Mary 7

Mary has to steal the show, dressed as a much more fashionable and contemporary take on Cleopatra... And goddamn does she look fierce.

Costume Matthew and Mary

Unfortunately Matthew's costume isn't quite as bold. He's a chef. A good chef I guess, since he seems to have some sort of medal for chef valor, but still just a chef. A roman warrior or something might have been a bit better, but I can't be bothered to change him. I have bigger things to worry about.

Or at least I think I do...?

Costume Vera

Vera's appeared at the party as well (uninvited I might add) in a very unflattering fireman costume. This seems like it could be trouble, but she only pops by long enough to pocket a slice of pie before she excuses herself, leaving her husband unescorted.

It's the perfect chance for Anna to make her move.

Anna impressing BatesExcept he's not interested. Like, at all. Bates is a Mixologist, a job that comes with a certain degree of fame almost automatically. Of course in The Sims that means he gets to be an utter asshole to everyone who isn't a celebrity as well. It's looking quite bad for Anna's love life (and good for her rodent collection) until I remember that Anna recently mastered the cooking skill. Completely mastered it.

Anna's certificate

She even got a certificate in the mail, now mounted on the wall in her spartan little bedroom. I make her brag about her prowess in the kitchen and it works like a charm. He's impressed, and she's got her foot in the door.

Costume Anna and Bates

I can't take all the credit, though. Anna's extremely inappropriate mer-maid (DO YOU GET IT?) costume, which she chose herself, may have played some small part as well. Men, am I right ladies?

Costume Matthew and Mary 2

Zany costumes aside, the party is surprisingly calm. Guests mostly just drift around and chat with one another, or help themselves to the pile of food set out in the dining hall. It was... entirely civilized, bordering on bland.

I knew I should have bought a keg.

Costume fix Cora and Robert and aah a clown

If not for the costumes (and the crazy gentleman clown running around photobombing half of my pictures) it could almost have been mistaken for a proper Downton event.

Party resultsOnce everyone's left the house, the game itself confirms that yes, that entirely proper party was indeed totally slammin'. I sure didn't see it, but who am I to criticize? The family has dozens of new friends who all had a good time, and not a single one of them got into a fight with Thomas. Once again, I ought to be relieved.

Everyone changes back into their normal clothing and retreats to their beds to sleep off the effects of all that raw excitement.

Everyone except Sybil.

Perhaps sensing my disappointment, Sybil takes the anti-climactic evening into her own hands. Determined to end it on a high note...

Sybil the pumpkin vandal

... She pummels one of the jack-o-lanterns out front into a mound of orange pulp.

As if anyone ever had to wonder why she's my favorite.

If you've been reading and waiting dutifully for my punchline, here it is: Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, and 3 hotdogs walk into a bar together. The bartender looks over at them and says something moderately funny or maybe a little bit racist, it really depends on which uncle is telling you the joke (and how Victorian the family is.)  Until next week!

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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


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