Black Bayou Lake – the inspiration for our sim – is located in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. The lake is part of an 800 acre nature reserve – there is a factsheet about it here – which seethes with wildlife: there are many species of bird, insect, reptile and fish, along with a variety of trees such as cherrybark oak, cedar elm, ash, hickories, willow oak, shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, mockernut hickory and post oak. It’s a stunning place, which attracted us because we had not yet tried designing a sim that consists mainly of water.
With bare trees growing up out of the dark lake, this place has a somewhat creepy feel, and we tried to capture this spirit in our recreation.
In some ways this sim is a throwback to Khodovarikha, in which nature was characterized by a rawness that many visitors found inspiring. But unlike that desolate Russian weather station, Black Bayou Lake recalls our most recent sim, Isle of May, for its abundance of wildlife.
As ever, we’ve done our best to make the sim feel alive: there are plenty of birds, from eagles soaring overhead, ravens and crows, owls and woodpeckers, osprey and kingfishers, along with a variety of water-based birds such as egret, geese, cormorants, ducks, cranes, brown pelicans and herons. You’ll hear most of these birds in the sim’s soundscape. All of them, so far as we are aware, can be found in and around the real Black Bayou Lake. There are alligators, too, ominous and threatening from just beneath the water.
The dominant structure at Black Bayou Lake is a large walkway used by visitors who want to venture out onto the lake, and for fishing. The walkway has an interesting feature, a ‘bridge’ section that looks like an upside down ‘V’, and we have recreated this although we have no idea what its purpose might be, other than to offer a more elevated viewing spot.
As for human habitation, we have added shacks and a houseboat that we believe are typical of the Louisiana Bayou.
For music, a blues-based soundtrack seemed like the best choice.