When Yuga PR director Emily Kitts invited a grumpy, middle-aged reporter to experience the Feb. 29 trip to the Otherside, Apes Come Home, it was an intriguing proposition. After the First and Second Trips, nft now was interested to see what had changed and whether our reporter—a confirmed non-gamer with a slow computer—would vibe with the experience.
In order to catch all time zones, there were three trips to Ape Island during the day, all of which were available to all Apes and to the public. While Apes and Mutants were able to get into exclusive areas, like the clubhouse and the Mutant Cave, everyone could explore the rest of the island.
Ape avatars were fully fleshed out for the event, and the way traits manifested in the game reminded us of the surprise and delight many felt discovering Apes for the first time. From 3D glasses to fake fur coats, from DMT skin to captain’s hats, they all came alive.
The theme of the event was taking pictures: when you landed on Ape Island, the first thing that happened was a jerk of a big-horned billy goat headbutted you, breaking text and voice chat.
For this trip, the absence of a meme-laden text scroll, shouting Curtis the Ape, and racing from point to point made our reporter happy indeed. The big blue Koda that we remember from previous Otherside trips furnished each of us with a high-tech camera equipped with loads of filters and the ability to create shots from a variety of angles, zooms, and poses.
The name of the game was open-world exploration, and taking pictures unlocked all kinds of achievements—from capturing the majestic beauty of landscapes and points of interest to finding Easter eggs like a spilled jar of mayonnaise or Ape and Yuga product manager PPMan’s birthday cake.
To get around, you could walk, run and jump. For a quick journey, there were rails—single rails for pedestrians to speedily skate on, as well as an enormous, circular train track loop (complete with derailed train) that was an excellent vantage point for landscape photography. As in previous voyages, there were blue portals to boost you into the air and mushrooms that gave you a bounce, as if they were made of rubber. Much of the fun was exploring the truly vast space, which offered as much depth and height as it did breadth.
Without Curtis herding us around like an aggrieved kindergarten teacher, with no bad guys to fight, and with three distinct opportunities to explore the place, this was Otherside with a chance to breathe. The powerful camera also served as an excellent telescope to peep into intriguing places (and figure out how to get there). Speed-boosting power-ups, rockets (and the cannons to fire them), and little hidden pathways were a great help there.
Sound also played a role in making the environment immersive. There was the cheerful din of the clubhouse and the bass and drum of an enormous open-air concert venue, complete with a big screen and DJ. You could hear them well before you could see them. A Chinese New Year balloon display with dragon fireworks was lovely but made a racket.
While our reporter spent time running around, the Apes and Mutants also had the chance to party in their exclusive spaces. The verisimilitude was on point there as well—the selfies, twerk lines, bathroom parties, and busy bar scenes that Apes and Mutants have posted really evoke the feeling of a wild party.
The game ran fairly smoothly, relaunching quickly when our reporter had a series of connectivity issues—and the pile of pictures we took downloaded easily during or after the event. Focusing on showing the world in all its majesty and fun and allowing Apes to explore and party while inhabiting the PFPs that they’ve been using as a core part of their identities for two years was a smart choice.
Delivering voice and text chat in an MMORPG is tough, and with the advent of apps like Discord, their temporary absence for this trip was not such a dealbreaker.
Dispensing with goals, teams, and enemies and giving us an open-world voyage also enabled us to think not just of a game but of a metaverse.
Imagine Pussy Riot playing a show or seedphrase playing a DJ set in the swamp, with live audio echoing across the island. Or, imagine the next hyped fight between crypto influencers hosted in Otherside, with exclusive holder-only after-parties. Public art exhibitions, too, are an opportunity; art is not just for sterile galleries or clean modernist metaverses but for busy streets and the deep wilderness.
The lanterns, the fireworks, the riotous train, the flashes of light, the thrill of the sound stage, and even the ride-on alligator hinted at a sense of embodied, yet virtual, exploration and discovery that is our fondest hope of what the metaverse could be. Otherside offered us a glimmer of that on Feb. 29. More of this, please.
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