Thursday, May 28, 2009

No More First Life

Written 18 May, 2009

No More First Life

The more I spend time in Second Life, the more I become convinced it’s a world of its own and the more I become convinced Second Life was an unfortunate choice of name.

Why unfortunate? Because the word Second defines this world in relation to the virtual reality we call real life. It implies there’s something inferior or secondary about SL, that it’s less “real” then first life, that it’s less important.

Second Life is certainly rudimentary in many ways, but the lives many of us spend there are as important and in some cases even more important than our real lives. We’re not participating in a game; we’re living genuine lives in a new medium. Our lives in SL are separate from and in someways dependent upon our first lives, but they’re no less real, unless we want them to be.

And so, from now on I will no longer define Second Life by its relation to my first life.

And because Second Life is a fixed name that I have no power to change it, I’ll henceforth be referring to what I’ve until now called first life or real life as Earth.

So I’ll be saying and writing things like:

I have to go to Earth.

Sorry. Earth calls.

My place on Earth isn’t nearly as nice as Whimsy.

I wish I looked this good on Earth.

From now on, the term real life will refer, at least so far as I’m concerned, to both Earth and Second Life.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Moon Close Up

Click on the picture to see the Second Life moon in all its glory!

Sweetie Gets a Skin

Written 25 May, 2009

Sweetie Gets a Skin

It was a peaceful holiday evening. We were lying in a sleeping bag on top of the bed (don't ask) in our House of 1000 Pleasures, being silly in Skype.

Sweetie, being Sweetie, was also busily scouring the internet for signs of adoration-- and she found this photo.

Oh, what's that? She said to tell you she was looking for super secret clues left for her on webpages, and if she happened to find adoration along the way, who is she to spurn it?

The photo-- she found it on the front page of the Society of  North American Goldsmiths-- sent her into a rage.

"How DARE they steal my idea!" she fumed. "My design! My inspiration!"

"How is that, hon?" I asked sleepily.

They stole the design of the Whimsy Sungate!

Patented Sweetie Shape
"They did?"

"Yes! My hollowed and dimpled spherical shape with gold interior!"

"The one that's perfectly proportioned and exquisitvely textured?" I asked.

"That's the one! Can't you see what they've done?" Sweetie jumped up from the sleeping bag and began pacing around the room, dropping 8-meter stone orbs all about. I made a dash for the door lest one crush me.

"See? These are the prototypes!"

How we got from there to a new skin for Sweetie, I'm not quite sure-- what's that? Oh, she decided her virtual sense of style was becoming too famous and so she needed to change her appearance.

We spent the next two days making mad dashes from one skin store to another. Sweetie would buy all the demos, try them on, and then cast them onto the floor for the freebie camping janitorial crews to pick up, and we would be off to the next location.

Adam 'N Eve. Body Politik. Sin Skins. Redgrave. Fleur. Tete a Pied. Sensible Skins. Skin Within. Canimal.
"Too dark! Too goth! Ewwww, too oily! Too slutty! The nipples are the wrong color. OMG, did they paint this skin with a 4-inch brush? This skin seems to have been designed to look its best under nuclear face light!"

Longtime readers of this blog may remember Sweetie's former misadventures when skin shopping. There was the time she resolved to buy new makeups for her original skin; We jumped to the store and there was only a hole in the ground (it had been there just the night before). Another time we were in a store and she actually had the buy box open when the store and everything in it disappeared and we fell three floors to the ground.

This time, however, nothing went wrong. She found a skin at-- what's that?

Oh, Sweetie said I can't tell you, as then you would be able to recognize her, and if you recognized her, she would have to kill you. Let's just say we found a lovely alabaster skin that will work well with the most deadly shades of exploding lipstick in her inventory-- and she has a lot of them.

I can't show you a photo of Sweetie, of course (her being undercover and all), but I assure you she looks lovely.

Except for the prim eyelashes, which she got tired of adjusting, leaving one floating a meter or so out from her face.

Oops! I just gave you a clue to Sweetie's appearance. I'm in trouble now!

We can't actually show you Sweetie, but we CAN show you her skin!

She of course looks nothing like the avatar in the photo.

Guest Blog: A Tribute to Mystical Cookie-- Armando Frangilli

Guest Blog

A Tribute to Mystical Cookie

by Armando Frangilli

 There are two reasons for me writing this blog about Mystical Cookie and Avendale. The first, is my own personal need to express the sadness concerning her disappearance, the second, my desire to pay a small tribute to one of the most remarkable people I've had the privilege to meet and befriend in Second Life.

Avendale is a group of six sims. I don't even remember how I got there, actually. I do remember the night I first ventured onto these simsthough. It was in Avendale Mystery, which was a new sim Mysti had bought and designed. The first night , met Molly Montale, cantara Boxer, and a couple of others as they were standing outside a new shop. After speaking with them for just a little while I knew this was a place In wanted to own land. It wasn't just a sim filled with strangers, but a place that had a nice community of folks that enjoyed creating and doing things together.

It was that night that I first met Mysti, outside her shop in Avendale. I spoke with her about the sims and she shared with me her vision of creating a community where creative people would live in the metaverse to inspire and help each other create and just have fun together.

Just from that brief conversation, I knew I had just met a very special person. I decided to purchase land in Adeo.

I loved living in Avendale, spending nights around the campire in Nevi with Mysti and others, discussing anything and everything, going out on "family outings." The first Sunday of every month we had Show and Tell at the Tavern in Adeo, where folks would showcase projects they were working on.

Mysti has been missing for more then three months now. Every effort to contact her has failed.r. Philip Rosedale has even had people try to phone her, with no success. We here are all mourning because we've lost a very dear lady who was not just one of the best-- if not THE best -- scripters in SL. but a person, always so polite, kind, and thoughtful, willing to help with anything, certainly the BEST landlord I've ever had, and just a wonderful person and friend. She will be dearly missed.

What amazes me is how profoundly this metaverse has impacted my life. Many times we talk of SL and RL as being something totally different from each other, yet while they are indeed different, they are indeed the same.

I will never forget Mysti. She is as real to me as anyone I've met in my physical world. I mourn her loss as much as the loss of anyone I've come to know and love.

As for Avendale, we don't know what the future holds. Linden Lab has sent a letter to Mysti to try to make contact. Contractually, they have 60 days from the time the letter was sent to decide the fate of Mysti's sims. So for us now it's a waiting game.

While we hope that Mysti will return, it doesn't realistically appear that she will. Something has happened. Knowing her as we do, we know it is so totally out of character for her to just disappear like this unless something happened.

We miss Mysti and we will miss Avendale.

p.s. As with all sad stories, there is a positive side to this. The spirit Mysti instilled in Avendale lives on. We got together at a new Sim owned by Liz Gealach-- Thistle-- and had such a good time. Mysti lives on in our hearts. We all have many special memories, with some special people, in a very special Mystical  place called Avendale!

p.p.s. Thank you, Chey, for letting me share this.

Pandora's Photo of Mysti Overlooking the Sim
Mystical is Designing the New Avendale Mystery
Mystical and Avendale Residents at Nevi Campfire
Mysti Takes Us On a Flying Carpet Ride

Reworking Whimsy's Lava Beds

Written 25 May, 2009

Reworking Whimsy's Lava Beds

As part of Sweetie's housecleaning, she tore up these underwater lava beds near the center of Whimsy and dug a big hole, going all the way down to zero meters.

It took us a while to get it right. Sweetie put down some prims. I raised them to 300 meters and put some down of my own. Her feelings got hurt. My feelings got hurt. But eventually, as do all of our projects, it just came together.

It's not done yet, but we can see where it's going.

Next time you ride the Whimsy train, look down when you reach the middle of the sim.

Sunrise Beauty

Written 25 May, 2009

Sunrise Beauty

For a while now there's been this one brief moment at sunrise when there's a flash of blue (Much like author John D. McDonald's flash of green at sunset).

Here are two photos of early dawn at Whimsy.

Renting Movies

Chey saw Nausicaa. Sweetie did not.
Note: This screen shot is a clever replication of what one might see if one watched a pirated move in Second Life. Any resemblance to any move, imagined or real, is purely virtual.

Written 25 May, 2009

Renting Movies

There's nothing nicer than renting a movie in Second Life and cuddling up in the comfort of one's home with one's Sweetie.

Unless when the damn movie won't work!

Which happens a LOT!

The people who pirate movies into Second Life lock their URLS up as securely as they can. Typically, starting a movie will give you a 30 second vacation as your screen and mouse freeze up. And typically, either you or your Sweetie won't be able to see the film that eventually plays.

Often the same movies are available on the web, but usually the same things happen. Either you or your Sweetie will have video that keeps pausing.


What's a poor video pirate to do?

Sim Crossings Are Much Improved! Teleports, Too!

Blue Zoned in a Freebie Gaxis Golf Cart
Chey in A6M-2 Rufe Seaplane
Written 25 May, 2009

Sim Crossings are Much Improved! Teleports, too!

Last night Sweetie took Pam Havercamp and me boating in her Flying Tako sailboat.

We sailed out of the Nantucket sim and cruised in a fair wind through at least twenty sims.

We had taken off most of our prims and HUDs, but even so, sim crossings went very well. We would occasionally appear to dive under the water or take to the air, but in a few seconds we would reappear at the proper altitude and heading in the proper direction.

We had only one minor mishap, when Sweetie sailed us onto dry land.

Until she took out her windsetter, that is.

Second Life has a constantly changing virtual wind, but windsetters can override a sim's wind. Sweetie wore hers rather unglamorously on her foot, and changed the direction of the wind so we weren't having to tack.

But Sweetie being Sweetie, she had to crank things up. She set 8 knots, then 12, then 20.

Before long, we were flying along at 50 knots. Sims were flashing by like picket fence posts.

Still, we were fine.

Until we hit a ban line.

Pam and I wound up in the blue zone. Sweetie summoned us via god mode. She occasionally gets god powers. Go figure.

I flew the same sims today in my WWII war surplus Japanese Rufe seaplane fighter. At 50% power the sims were moving under me too fast to rez, but I was fine until I made a minor misjudgement and landed on a rooftop in the Mystic sim.

Teleports are working more smoothly too, at least with the Release Candidate.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Empress & Heirophant

Written 24 May, 2009

Empress & Heirophant

Here's a new sim that's well worth a look. It looks rather likes the moors in Wales (not that I've ever seen them).

The people who know this sim most decidely know what they're doing. The terraforming is top-rate. Strange.

So far as I can tell, there isn't a single non-sculpty prim on the sim.

Great Wall

Written 23 May, 2009

Great Wall

While exploring today Sweetie and I saw this great wall; it winds all around the sim Mao. The terraforming was first rate, and the wall looked great. Kits to build your own are available, but at $29,500 out of reason.
The wall is nice to walk, though.

p.s. There used to be a great wall that traversed a number of mainland sims. I wish I still had the landmark.
p.p.s. I did find this place, but it's not the same wall.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Buddy System

Written 22 May, 2009

Buddy System

Last night I was talking to Ashera Enoch after she read my post about the missing Mystical Cookie. We were discussing people who go missing from the grid and how devastating it can be to those left behind—a devastation that can be immeasurably worsened when those left behind don’t really know what the reason for the absence. Did their friend or lover drop Second Life for another pastime? Is she in the hospital in a coma after running her PT Cruiser into a tree? Did he meet a woman at the local mall and enter a whirlwind romance that left him too exhausted to log on? Did she go on a three-week cruise without telling her friends in Second Life? Is he hiking in the Rockies? Was she kidnapped by MOSSAD? Did his hard drive melt down? Did she move somewhere without a fast internet connection? Is she living in a motel room because her house burned down due to heat from her overworked video card? Did he finally pass away after years of progressive illness? Or did she suddenly drop dead of a brain aneurism? Most of the time, Second Life contacts will never know—and not knowing is a continual pain in the side.

Linden Lab knows our real life contact information, of course (unless we lied about it when signing up, which many people do). All the Lab can do, however, is phone, write, or send IMs and e-mails. They know nothing of the particulars of the lives of their members—nor should they.

When one of the human behind the avatar Ginny Talamasca (there were two) died, the other stepped forward to tell Second Lifers what had happened. Some have called Ginny’s death a scam, but at least we knew SOMETHING. All too often, however, Second Life disappearances are like Mystical Cookie’s—no one, including Linden Lab, knows ANYTHING.

And so, I have a suggestion: A buddy system. Tell someone you trust who you are and give them your contact information—or send them an e-mail with an attachment and ask them not to open it unless and until you have disappeared from the grid without warning. The attachment should contain enough information to let them contact you—an e-mail address, a phone number, perhaps, and the name and contact info for a real-life friend with whom they can get I touch to find out what has happened to you. If they trust you, perhaps they will reciprocate. And I reiterate—tell someone you really TRUST. I’m not talking about someone who you’ve known for two weeks.

If I were to disappear from the grid tomorrow, Sweetie would be able to field questions from my friends and Whimsy landowners and renters. She has my name, address, e-mail, and phone numbers—and she will soon have the name and contact information for a friend who lives close by and the police station a block from my house.

Sweetie is of course anonymous and mysterious—but my friends all know her real identity. They would be able to contact her for information about me. And likewise, should she disappear, her friends would be able to contact me to learn what happened.
So, please consider using the buddy system, or at least make arrangements to get word to your friends if something should goddess-forbid happen to you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Federal Bailout

Written 14 May, 2009

Federal Bailout

I just learned Linden Lab is trying to get a piece of the federal economic stimulus money.

Their claim?

Well, all those failed virtual banks. Since the Lab now owns them, they figure they can cry to the Feds and get $23 billion or so and pay their fat cat executives obscene bonuses.

But as news of the bailout has leaked out, various factions in Second Life have been crying for a piece of the money.

The loudest voices come from the troubled virtual automobile industry. The high cost of prims and a shortage of virtual petroleum (well, that and the fact that nobody really needs a vehicle to get around on the grid) has left the Second Life carmakers in crisis. Fiat wants to buy them all out, of course, but they prefer Federal lindens.

The next loudest are the owners of former casinos. They claim Linden Lab owes them for taking away their right to strip newbies of the little cash they have. Since they can’t get their gambling machines back, they want some of the stim.

Then come the owners of adult content. They want help with relocation expenses when they’re exiled to the now forming adult-only continent. They’re also demanding a freenis and a fregina be placed in the Library so newbies can go straight to Pornucopia without having to stop to shop for equipment.

Landowners are crying too. They’ve seen their 512 square meter parcels plummet in value from $8000+ L to as low as $1000. Loudest of all are the former ad farm owners. Since they can no longer chop the mainland up into 64k parcels with ugly spinning signs, they claim rights to three-quarters of the $23 billion the Lindens will be getting.

Europeans have formed a common front to demand half the stimulus money be distributed to them to make up for the Value Added Tax they’ve been having to pay. They claim it’s immaterial that it’s U.S. money because their virtual lives are spent on servers in the United States.

Former owners of openspaces have queued up as well, claiming Linden Lab defrauded them by making openspaces more readily available and increasing the prim count, then jacking up the price.

And there are more:
  • Owners of sims near Burning Life are demanding money, saying the racket keeps them awake at night.
  • Furries, tinies, and child avatars are asking $3 billion be spent on anti-discrimination education.
  • Tinies are additionally demanding the size of the default prim be reduced from .5 x .5 x .5 meters to .1 x .1 x .1 meters.
  • Prim babies are asking for $7 billion for child care. “What are we supposed to do when our mommies and daddies are off the grid sleeping or at work?” said spokesbaby Blingy Primbaby, reading from a prepared statement. “Someone has to change our poopy diapers! Make that $10 billion!”
  • Goreans are demanding $2 billion be spent to force newbie males to play female kajirae for three months before being allowed on the mainland. 
  • Mall owners are demanding $6 billion in subsidies to fill their mostly-empty stalls and stores.
  • Fashionistas are asking for $2 billion to research possible new points for attachments.
  • And last of all, there’s me. I’m asking for $4 billion to reimburse me for all the video cards I’ve been forced to buy just so I can walk satisfactorily in world.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Feral Freebie Tribes

Written 21 May, 2009

Feral Freebie Tribes

Oh, feral freebie tribes
Succored by the evil socialist sugar that is freebies
Second Life social structure gone mad
Tribes of freebie hunters
Like feral wildcats yowling in overly-cute nine-year-old anime voices
Over their freebie toys

They are a tribe
The only rules:
Never write of the freebie tribe
Never talk about the freebie tribe
Never comment on everyone having the same ugly dress as you
And ALWAYS eliminate any rival
Whose first name begins with the same letter as yours
The only time a new member is admitted
Is when an old member dies

The spiritual leader of the freebie tribe
Is a dowser
Whose holy anointed scripted stick
Points to nearby lucky chairs
The holy book
Is a map of all the rotating lucky chairs in Second Life
The leader’s role:
To summon from across the aether
Those whose destiny has been called by “the chair.”

You thought panthers were tough? Ninjas?
They are pussycats compared to the feral freesters
They think they are Olympian goddesses
Run for the chair, love! I will cover you!
And watch out for the laser face lights
Go for the chair
Sit on the chair
Get your reward now
There’s no need to wait for heaven

And now, now
Wear that ugly dress
Look like the rest of us
No need to adjust that butt skirt
None of the rest of us do
Surround the lucky chair
Bow to the lucky chair
Pray to the lucky chair
Bling on!
We are the feral tribe!
We are the goddesses of the lucky chair!
And if your first name begins with Q
We may have an opening for you

Voice Stats from Linden Lab

Written 21 May, 2009

Voice Stats from Linden Lab

The Linden Blog just posted about use of voice in Second Life:
Today, over 50% of Residents use voice every day, 97% of Second Life regions are voice enabled and Residents are now consuming voice at a rate of over 1 Billion minutes per month making Second Life one of the largest VoIP providers in the world.  

When, in early 2007, Linden Lab announced that voice was forthcoming, many naysayers proclaimed it would mark the end of Second Life. Fortunately, much of the discrimination they predicted has not come to pass. And happily, I was, while aware of the potential problems, all for voice, meaning I get to say nyah, nyah, nyah, I TOLD you so!

Kitto's Trolley

Written 21 May, 2009

Kitto's Trolley

While sorting landmarks last week I came across this little trolley by Kitto Flora. It was running on the tracks of the Great Second Life Railway. You can catch it on the Purple sim.
Sweetie and I made our way to Kitto's new shop on Jaxx Island, but the only trolley for sale was an intrasim version.

I IMed Kitto to ask him if an intrasim trolley was in the works, and his words were discouraging-- he basically said that until Second Life improves its between-sim handoffs, intersim vehicle transport is impractical-- especially when multiple cars of trans are involved.

Sad. I, like many others, have dreams of continent-wide rail routes-- but that's not to be, at least for the immediate future.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where is Mystical Cookie?

Written 17 May, 2009

Where is Mystical Cookie?

Mystical Cookie, owner of a number of sims and creator of the wonderful Mystitool (which has been called the Swiss Army Knife of Second Life) has been missing from the grid for several months. Reportedly her tier has not been paid to the Lindens for some time now.

Mysti's friends and residents are gravely concerned. They've been unable to find out if Mysti is okay and fear the worst.

How sad! Mystical was by all accounts a wonderful person-- and she was certainly a brilliant scripter. I hope she is well and comes back soon.

An Adventure in Landmarks

Chey Finds Herself at a Nasty Sex Place When Sorting Landmarks
Written 15 May, 2009

An Adventure in Landmarks

For the last week or so I’ve been sorting landmarks. I started with the first that showed on my map and I'm up to the E’s now. I must have tossed several hundred out-of-date and no-longer-matters landmarks. Anything to keep the inventory count down!

Hehe. My friend Fnordian Link told me the other night he has 51,000 items in his inventory. I probably would have 51k too, had I not offloaded all my textures and photos and put most of my useless junk I can’t quite bear to throw away into prim storage on Whimsy. Fnord does a great deal of building, which accounts for his inventory size. At least three thousand items in my inventory are things I’ve built.

I’m maintaining my inventory at a svelte 20,000, thank you very much. Sweetie, who has been in world six months longer than me, has around 15,000 items, most of them poison-edged weapons and thermonuclear devices.

Teleporting around to out-of-date landmarks has been interesting. Poof. An empty field where that big high-couture store used to be. Poof. Mackleby Mackle’s Security Device: “You have 15 seconds to get the hell of my property. Have a nice day.” Poof. Destination no longer exists. Poof. “I’ll take that ho there. Cheyenne.” “Sorry, Dave. She’s not one of ours. I’m not even sure how she got here. Can I interest you in Sexxxyluv1234 Bartlett instead?” Poof. I fall 500 meters to the ground. Poof. I’m underwater. Poof. I’m trapped under the floor of a store. Poof. I bounce between red fences. Poof. I’m in a stupid build in the sky with no way out. Poof. You are not allowed into this destination. Poof. Destination no longer exists. Poof.

I’m renaming landmarks as they go so they make more sense and alphabetize properly. **!~MC’s Poseball Palace~@** loses its tildes, exclamation points, and asterisks. HOTSEX CLUB goes to lower case. And all those landmarks with just the sim name get more descriptive names, provided I can find whatever brought me there in the first place.

It sure would be handy if the pushpins of landmarks that lead to no-longer-in-existence sims turned black and red-fenced destinations were radioactive purple.

I figure I have only about a thousand more jumps to make before my landmarks are all up to date.

I am NOT compulsive.

Whimsy Tortoise

Written 17 May, 2009

Whimsy Tortoise

If you should see this fellow in the upper gardens at Whimsy, say hi and then touch him.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paper Couture

Written 15 May, 2009

Paper Couture

You understand, don’t you, that this is not a fashion blog. That doesn’t mean I can’t blog about fashion sometimes.

Or a lot.

Or that I can’t fill the December pages of this blog with pictures of me in every sort of coat.

Sweetie and I love Paper Couture. The main store is here, but we usually shop at the P.C. store on the ever-changing Tableau sim. We try to get by there about once a quarter to see the new designs.

For reasons of international security I can’t show Sweetie in her Paper Couture. gowns, so you’ll have to live with photos of me.

Photos (Top to Bottom)
Petal Puff
Silk Gypsey
Gilded Peach and Gold
Cardinal Entrance

Hair by Sirena (1-3) and Lala Moon (4)

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise: V. Avatar Attachments

Sirena Camille Hair Up
Sirena Camille Hair Down
Written 15 May, 2009

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise
V: Avatar Attachments

I once saw a display at the annual Hair Fair that depicted Second Life hair across the years. The introduction of torii and flexible prims made a huge difference—and so did sculpties. Hair is far more realistic than it was before 2006. Scripts can make hair even better. I’m particularly fond of Sirena hair, which is scripted to be worn up or down; a simple voice command or the removal of a hair ornament will initiate the change.

Sculpted prims have made big improvements in garments—especially in coats and casual garments. Sculpted shirt sleeves and tails, pant cuffs, collars, and belts are now commonplace.

Nowadays most shoes and boots are sculpted. When they’re not looking like big round blobs on your feet, they look great, for the most part.

As the scripting and building tools continue to improve, and as new features arrive (everyone is looking forward to being able to navigate the web from a prim), Second Life will continue to become more and more sophisticated. This will of course, place bigger and bigger demands on our video cards and processors and hard drives, but hey! Progress is inevitable.

(You can see some of the sculpted clothing attachments in my forthcoming non-fashion blog about Paper Couture).

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise: IV. Water Features and Off-Sim Products

Written 15 May, 2009

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise

IV: Water Features and Off-Sim Products

As content creators have become more familiar with sculpted prims, the ocean areas of Second Life have become more complex and compelling. By now everyone is familiar with the swirling eddies by Naiman Broom at Las Islase (and there are now competing products). One can now buy whirlpools, choppy seas, dozens of kinds of waves, and huge prims that sit just below the surface of the water, coloring shallow areas to look like the Caribbean.

Water Effects and Offshore Rocks on Leaf Shermer's Eccentricity Sim

Water Effects on Whimsy. Note the Coloring and Sparkles in Foreground
Lately we’ve seen the introduction of lots of products that can be placed beyond the border of a region, making the sim look larger than it actually is. They can’t actually be reached (unless a poseball is carefully placed alongside them), but they are visual treats.

Off-sim builds range in size from single rocks to entire mountains, and some are made to look like entire sims (the most dramatic example being on the Aggro sim..

Every Bit of This is Off-Sim

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise: III. Sits

Written 15 May, 2009

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise

III. Sits

When I first came to Second Life there were pose balls everywhere. There are still plenty, but savvy furniture-makers are using EasySit and similar programs to position avatars in relation to sofa cushions, barstools, and beds. This not only does away with unsightly poseballs; it reduces prim count.

Many content creators are now using scripts that allow the selection of multiple animations, allowing avatars to select or cycle through as many as a dozen animations in their furniture.

* IM me if you would like a free sitmaker program.

New Features Lead (Eventually) to High Quality Merchandise: II. Scripting

Written 15 May, 2009

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise

II. Scripting

When I first came to Second Life, most scripted objects used fairly simple code. There were exceptions—Mystical Cookie’s Mystitool and Ananda Sandrgrai’s free Mahjong table and Ziggy Puff’s free Zhao AO come to mind—but I spent a great deal of money for birds with locked scripts with only one line of code to make them circle endlessly..

Nowadays there are thousands of scripted objects that take advantage of the latest developments in Second Life’s scripting engine and the SL viewer. In fact, it was the recently-blogged Damani media player that made me think of writing this blog. At just two prims, it allows selection-by-click that would have formerly required 40 or more prims; this is possible because it uses a new ability of scripts to tell just where a prim is clicked.
Damani Media Player: Two Prims, Lots of Click Action
Scripters are now taking full advantage of the Linden Scripting Language’s ability to communicate with the World Wide Web. My new Damani weather system, for example, can read the real-world weather conditions at my home zip code and duplicate them on Whimsy. When it rains at my house, it rains on Whimsy.

Web-enabled vendors and rent systems like those at Hippo Technologies are far easier to set up and maintain than earlier vendors, which read data from notecards—and they provide better metrics. Other web-enabled products maintain databases that allow automated delivery of updated products and notices of sales or special events.

Movement of prims has also improved. Birds and fish no longer merely circle dumbly; they patrol semi-randomly around a home position and move their bodies while they’re doing so (we have a great flamingo from Animania that struts and frets around on the beach at Whimsy). Many builders are taking advantage of the prim automation program Puppeteer or using their own scripts to automate houses, animals, and other objects.

New Features Lead (Eventually) to High Quality Merchandise: I. Sculpties

Written 6 May, 2009

New Features Lead (Eventually) to Higher Quality Merchandise

I. Sculpties

Sculpted prims have been around for—what?—eighteen months?

The first sculpted objects for sale were crude. Even if the sculpted shape was itself elegant, the textures that wrapped around them weren’t. But over time content creators have learned to map textures onto sculpted prims with great accuracy and have become wonderfully clever at making complex shapes that can cut down dramatically on prim usage.

Witness this cluster of palm trees from Tobias Novi at Tree House Designs. Only two prims are used to make four trees.

And compare it to this cluster of palms from Lilith Heart's Heart Garden Centre, made with conventional shapes and weighing in at 30 prims for three trees and some grass..

I much prefer Lilith’s beautiful painted textures to the more photoreal textures used in the sculpted palms, but we’ll nevertheless be placing some of the latter on light-prim Whimsy Kaboom.
Now witness this sculpted walkway and cabana from Antreas Alter at Real! Waves. It uses only eight prims fore everything—the hut, the cushions, the fire, and the long walkway.

Compare to this tiki hut by Babe Daligdig of JC Solutions. I long ago removed an array of palm leaf clusters and the ladder from Babe’s build to cut down on prims, but it still uses 42 prims.

I like Babe’s tiki hut better, but it’s difficult to justify the additional prims.

I’m certainly not knocking Lilith’s work, or Babe’s. When they made their palms and tiki huts there WERE no sculpted prims. Lilith has begun to work with sculpties, and I imagine Babe is working with them too. But the immense strides made with sculpted prims and their lower prim count make their sculpted competitors attractive enough to purchase—even though I like the originals better, and even though I don’t like to use a lot of sculpties because of the problems in rezzing them..