Avatar thoughts

While I’m sitting here, between browsing some SL blogs and being unable to actively play, my mind has been wandering on thoughts of possible changes to bring to my avatar once I can log in again. I absolutely need to plan a “pony-tail” version of her hair – or anything similar, that will leave her neck bare – so that I can properly test clothing on her. Tanaquil has very long hair, and of course it doesn’t help in checking these things.

Then, it brought another thought to my mind: why had I chosen on this specific persona in Second Life? Especially in an online world such as this one, am I recreating “a persona I’d like to be”, or am I acting as in every other kind of roleplaying game?

For the little story, Tanaquil is a character I created in a story I’ve been working on for a few years now. A long, 3-books based story, so not entering into too many details. Her name is actually a historical, Etruscan one, and comes from Tarquin’s wife, who was known in latin texts as a seeress. In my story too, she’s part of a race that could be called “Dark Elves”, except that contrary to the AD&D drows or any kind of classical dark Elves, their hair is usually jet black, and their skin bearing a slight blueish hue. I don’t think that’s very classical in itself in fantasy stories elves, although I could be mistaken. Some of this race’s characteristics are also specific, in my story – pointy ears, but also slit eyes, and a definite “Far East” feeling in many parts of their culture and clothing. This kind of came by itself, as I’ve had a definite interest in (notably) Japanese and Chinese culture, and I freely admit this influence.

When I came to Second Life on my first minutes of trial, I hadn’t any specific plans regarding creating a character. First of all, I was thinking of a name. The one I tend to use the most often on the web wouldn’t have looked very nice once one of the SL family names would have been added to it, and I tried with them all, really. I didn’t want to use my real name, of course, nor the one I use in AO, and thus decided to use Tanaquil, as after all it’s a name I like. After this, as soon as was in the starting area and learnt how to customize face features, hair and body, the avatar kind of followed by itself. To my eyes, Tanaquil will always be ‘the dark Elf’, and before I even truly realized what I was doing, the result was what I’m currently using in Second Life.

It’s a somewhat weird feeling, seeing now that I’ll be playing her for way longer than I had intended. A hastily-chosen name, just for the sole purpose of using my seven days of trial, turned into a character I’m quite fond of, an avatar I like, and a few projects that I’m keeping locked in my mind until I can actually make them become true in game. I suppose that, upon deciding to stay, I could have thought “I haven’t thought about this character at all, let’s make a new account, ditch this one, and recreate something I really want”… but it’s not the case. I’m quite happy so far with what I’ve been doing. Even though the Second Life setting doesn’t really match what the original, novel character was, nor her world.

And thus, this “avatar choice” has quite taken off by itself, leaving me as her creator behind, so to say. I don’t think it’s a matter of really trying to create a “what if?…” persona in this world. I’m wondering if it’s not, all that simply, the pleasure of being able to work on a character that I wouldn’t have been able to shape this way in many other games (not to say in no other game), and without any “race constraints” to get in the way…?

What’s in my closet?

One thing that struck me after one hour or two of trying my hand at clothing is that, well, one can feel quickly limited. Not exactly by the amount of possible combinations – after all, there aren’t that many games out there allowing such an extended customization – but by the feeling that “with a few hours on my hands, I’m sure that I could do this, and this, and that!”

Of course, my first attempts at “designing” clothes have been very basic, to say the least.. Playing with the long/short toggles, getting the grasp of how the various settings make said clothes fit on my avatar, applying a few textures to see how they look like once a shirt of skirt is put into proper shape… I just couldn’t go outside in the vast world with the basic set of clothes – matter of personal pride! – so I quickly threw a few things together, and made what I could call a very basic set of clothes, quickly followed by one with skirt rather than pants (yes, I like red and satin… that’s easy to see!). I’m aware that it pretty much sucks, it’s all “beginner’s clothes”, so to say, but it was still better than the basic set, and I could at least say that *I* was the one who had made them.

In any case, I won’t stop there. I have plenty of ideas, that I’m writing down as sketches for the moment before jumping to the real making-of, and toying with these clothes helped a lot already in getting the feeling of how things look on an avatar. It probably looks different from one avatar to another though, but this is something I haven’t been able to check yet.

Now I just need my new videocard to be ordered and delivered, so that I can actually go on really working on clothes on my own, and taking a few shots of them, too…

Bigger than it seems

Currently taking these little notes as a future reminder of what my first days in Second Life were… I’ve never really done that in any game, to be honest, but here there are several things that really impressed me from the start, I must say, and made me feel like it’d be worth more than just a quick tour. I’m still running on a basic account so far, too, so for the moment I haven’t really dabbled in anything related to housing. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to do it too… we’ll see.

First of all… it’s big. So big. It may not seem so when we’re still on the training island and see these little maps in front of us in the temple, but once in the world itself, it takes all its meaning. What is nice is that, thanks to the teleporting and flying functions, I was able to do something I usually can’t do in other games: explore from the start, without any limitations of level, skill, accessing zones, etc (there may be some, but I haven’t seen them yet, at least). Thus, after some required avatar remodelling (required for me: non-edited templates have never been satisfactory for long to my eyes!), I slapped on some better clothes, and spent a few hours simply teleporting randomly from one sim to the other, looking at the land, buildings, shops, architecture, at what had been placed on said lands… Trying to spot little shops and specific names is pretty interesting in itself, and it gave me a few landmarks to keep in mind for the day I’d come back to really do some shopping or anything, if I decide to do so.

Second, designing one’s own avatar and clothes turned out to be way more fun than I had thought! I’ve never been especially talented at 3D modelling, so at first I was convinced I’d have a very hard time to craft clothes that ‘fit’… yes, I know, I wasn’t very optimistic about my skills regarding that, as I had some bad experience with 3D softwares at work. It seems to me now that it’s not that hard, or at least, that I’ll be able to do something more than just pitiful little shirts and pants in basic colors. I really like this feeling; it tickles my creativity, and gives me the urge to draw a few clothes and try to reproduce them on world.

I still need to thank Sezmra again for having pointed this game to me. What I was at first afraid to try due to thinking “I’ll never have the time, and it looks too complex”, actually turned out to be something that pretty much fits my tastes. So, if you read this: THANK YOU! *beams a smile*

The first steps

This is something pretty usual for me… starting a “new” activity on the web, and then getting the need to do something more than just idling in it. So I’ve decided to set this little blog, helped in that, I admit, by a few examples of “Second Life blogs” I’ve had the chance to see in the past two weeks.

For a quick introduction… I go in Second Life’s world under the name of Tanaquil Karuna. I’ve actually been in this world for a few days only, and am still trying to learn the ropes. Unexpectedly – or maybe not that much, given some of my activities – it won my interest pretty fast, faster than I had thought to be honest, and I found myself having a good deal of fun toying around with some basic settings such as clothes and avatar customizing.

Although I know that all of this will still change in the future, so far it really seems to me like something I’ll be doing for more than a few days only… so here I am, slowly getting into my creative gear. I have some projects in mind, mainly clothing for the moment, and I hope I’ll be able to do something nice someday with that, once I know more.