Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gone Fly-About

One of the things I have always enjoyed about Torley’s blog is her coverage of various locations and builds within SL. In the wake of the recent discussions over SL architecture, I decided to try my own “flyabout.” It took me from the old country to the new, from the northwest to the southeastern corner of the world.

At first glance, the view was entirely unsurprising: an eclectic mix of houses, castles, stores, and clubs running the gamut from conservative to historical to fantasy. Quality ranged from beginner builder to expert, from imaginative to banal. You do occasionally run across some really well-constructed homes, like this one from Gene Jacobs (left). I was impressed by one build in Olive (next to a lovely horse farm) and the puzzle fell into place when I saw the maker
– Random Calliope is one hell of a prim worker (gorgeous jewelry) and the structure in Olive was no exception to his (her?) work.

While many builds out there are small personal plots, there are also some big projects out there, like a city called Interzone emerging in Kress.

Enjoyment of an exploration such as this completely depends on your attitude. If you expect to see creative excellence and architectural/environmental planning, then you would declare that SL is an eyesore. If you are willing to see it as a rich quilt of independent voices, desires, and first steps in creative expression, then you might walk away feeling satisfied, even if not enriched.

A lot of thrown-together stores and clubs exist out there, and it brought back memories of my first two days in SL. I had wandered around and my recurring impression was that the grid looked like a commercial wasteland. Then I started discovering great builds like diamonds in the rough, and I lucked upon a sub-community of nice, creative people. As a new user, it made a difference having a base where I felt comfortable, surrounded by folks who answered my questions.

I did have two pre-planned destinations: the first was Abramelin Wolfe’s (call him Abra for your own sanity) new club Fusion in Devils Moon. This was the only private island I visited today – while you often see more integrated builds on islands, I wanted to focus on the mainland. I had been hearing great things about the build. Abra’s execution on a blade runner theme for the sim is excellent, and the new club is the same quality. The second targeted destination was Lauks Nest in Alviso. I discovered this a few months back from a picture on the homepage of all places (I don’t look there very often). This is a wonderful ruins build, with scripted birds that fly around and can even be fed. You can buy a packet of seed for L$1, and when you place it on the ground, the birds come to eat.

Amusing moments were scattered throughout. One plot was titled “Stairway to Sexy Heaven”, which I thought was just oh-so Second Life. I also ran across a lovely little church complete with buggy by the front door, and the group title on the church prims was “Hedonism 1”. One nice build, an Oxford-esque quadrangle, threatened me with “Home Security Orb” – thankfully this was the exception, not the rule. I happen to think that these security systems are too impersonal – they need more flair. If I’m going to have to sprint for the borders, I’d rather do it with a barking bulldog or a flaming dragon on my tail, not some invisible “orb” talking at me.

One thing remains constant in the virtual world. Scale still sells. The great northern wall in the atoll region is just sweet.

One of the challenges with SL architecture is that lighting is so flat in most builds. I keep local lighting and shadows off for performance, so depend on builders using shadow prims and baked-in textures (see tutorial). Full bright (coming in 1.7) might change this, but I think it will take many months for full bright to replace all the “light” prims out there. I didn’t stop long enough to know what the store in accompanying picture sold (does the name tell all?), but the texture shadow work really made the place come to life. However, even simple texturing can be really great if done right. In the superstructure of a club in Whitestone, there was a black and white textured maze of passageways (you have to zoom up the center column from the base). The whole B&W build had a nice retro sci-fi feel to it.

Another new discovery for me today was the gnubie store in Indigo. How I never previously learned about this cool resource for new members, I have no idea, but I hopped on board and added a few things to the collection (more to come). If you haven’t been in SL very long and have somehow found yourself on this blog, then swing by the gnubie store for some affordable builds, vehicles, clothes and textures.

Lastly, I wanted to mention a very cool fairground that a friend discovered a week ago called the Four Seasons Theme Park. It is in Eaton (60,26) and yes, in the picture, that is Toast booting from the ride.

As a side note, I did have some technical difficulties. One sim held only a few people, and physics and script levels seemed reasonable, but it ran like molasses so I skedaddled out of there (as fast as one can skedaddle in molasses). When I started I tried boosting my draw distance to over 400, but that did not last long. I had just happened upon a cute frozen lake that Kermitt Quirk and the Krytterz team had put together, when my cache filled up and SL crashed on me. A cleared cache and a draw distance at 256 had me ready to go again.

All in all, it was a fun journey. No, I didn’t discover cutting edge architecture that would have moved the SOP judges, but then I doubt I would have known it if I’d seen it. But perhaps I did see it – perhaps it was SL itself.


  1. I'm thrilled you did this! Okeydoke, that's prolly an understatement. When some Resis say "There's not a lot to see in SL", I sometimes wonder what their "passport" looks like and how many places they've actually gone to. Exploration is a relatively effortless thing, in that—especially if you have a hot air balloon—you can just cruise along and keep talking to friends and pause for anything that catches your eye. It's very productive and lazy at the same time.

    Looking forward here to seeing a clean "FORSETI SVAROG" label being put up over your schtuff in the Gnubie store.

    A few scatternotes:

    -Something I've been finding is most newer sims don't have a cohesive theme unless all owned by the same group or individual, but as you pointed out, diamonds in the rough are to be found. Like quality produce, sometimes ya gotta dig for the good stuff. It would be worthwhile to see a determined yet friendly band of Residents self-zone a sim for themselves like Taber was done so long ago. The fact Taber exists demonstrates the possibility of such a thing happening again!

    -The piccie with "nice shadow baking" looks like it has Baron Grayson's influence on it, if not his outright creation. That's the first thing that came to mind. :)

    -I had the oddest crossover idea... what if Lauk's birds were animoids and Abra adopted some of them?

    -I don't think many Light prims will be changed because the owners aren't around much, or, well, there's always ignorance, right? But those who can, will, and I look forward to more good examples of being set and taking advantage of Full Bright. The likelihood of changing someone else's mind can be slim compared to changing your own. :D

    SLOG ON!!!

  2. I can't believe you never hit the Gnubie store. You really need to grab some of the textures Jai made. All of them actually.