Experiment of the mind

Since I had read the article about it in the New World Notes, I’ve wanted to go and have a look at it. Today it’s what I did, and flew to Sedig to go to the ‘schizophrene’ experiment by myself. The least I can say is that it was pretty troubling, not so much at first, but more so after a few minutes. I had to wear a badge – which was used to stream the ‘voices’, in fact – and even though they were all in English (of course), it was indeed pretty disturbing.

Voices keeping on telling how ‘evil’ I am, that ‘I’ am just a scumbag… whispers, highlighted words in the newspaper, underlying suggestions of death, troubled reflections in the mirror, changes of ground, and all of this in such a sudden manner usually that it really contributed to surprise me (in the “what the hell?!” meaning of the word, hum…). The clinical environment adds a lot, too, to the whole feeling of insecurity and of being ‘lost’. Of course, one has the opportunity to get out at will, yet I wanted to do it till the end, and stay a litttle longer after this, just to see how it was.

I’m not going to list everything in here, as to not spoil it for potential readers, nor post more images, but yes… it takes its full meaning only after some time. Maybe it’s just me (not being a native English speaker usually causes me to need more time to ‘understand’ spoken things, and the voices were part of this), or maybe it’s this way for everybody… I have no idea. I just know now that it’s extremely disturbing, and also, oddly enough, helped me in getting a better grasp of something I thought I knew before, yet without knowing that much about it.

Somehow, it reminded me of A Beautiful Mind a lot. A lot.

Alone today, trader tomorrow

While taking a little break from moving prims in my garden this morning, my e-mail box chimed out as I was getting an offline IM from Snakekiss, to whom I had asked about a stall in the market yesterday night. Thus I came back online to chat with her bit about all of this, and it all turned out like a very busy end-of-morning and afternoon.

Not only did she give me a stall to sell my clothes on, but she was as kind as to explain me step by step how to pack them into prims, set a price on them, apply a texture on one side of a prim only, set permissions, and various other little tidbits of good advice, including giving me nice textures to use as prints for my works, and hair sticks to work with (with these, my little bun of black hair looks so much better than before). It turns out that indeed, nobody else makes kimono and other similar Japanese clothing in Second Life, save for a few people who have either stopped now or left a long time ago, and thus this is all pretty unique. It added more excitement to the already existing fun of working on something I like, and if things go well, it may evolve in a really nice way.

Of course I couldn’t stop on such a road, and I had this urge to go back in during the afternoon to try and set up a vendor. For this one I used Hiro’s script (which is excellent, really, and I’ll highly recommend it), and will try to use the version with arrows later on or tomorrow, to display several colors of the same model without cluttering the stall with the same images. It was a nice surprise to see that, not even two minutes after I had installed my first panel, another player had already bought one. Who said that there wasn’t any market with these articles, really! I’ve put up geta and tabi as well, for people to not go walking bare-footed in their shiny new yukata.

I’m glad I had this done today. I still lack a name and a logo for my creations, but this will have to come in time, as I’m certainly not going to slap some lame name just for the sake of it, or on the contrary, wait weeks until inspiration strikes. I’m too excited by this to wait anyway!

Making things evolve

Allright, I made a few calculations, and I gave up… I took a Premium account. I really wanted to try my hand at building a house of my own, even if it meant making dozens of attempts for that, and thus I went on a little quest for a small plot of land that I could call “home”. After many journeys through many sims to examine more closely the parcels on the list (of course I can’t afford a big plot, so it had to be one of 512 m²), I finally settled down in Kafiri (88,240), just behind a very nice and big house. Actually, I met its owner, Sophos Casanova, not very long after. We talked a bit and exchanged cards; he builds houses for a living in SL, it seems, but I must admit that buying a house isn’t on my list of priorities right now – I know myself, and I want to do it with my own hands, so to say.

Earlier on, I also hit the sandbox in Cordova for a bit of prims fun, and got to make the obi for my yukata. It turned out better than expected, after a few battles with the rotation tool to get everything aligned as I wanted, and some texture fun to make it look like the front part itself. Someday I’ll really need to send a nice word to Lumiere Noir for his excellent tutorials, as they helped me a lot when it came to the tools and to linking prims. I doubt it’d have been as funny to make if I had had to figure it out all by myself from the start.

I’ll try to get in the Red Dragon market, if I can. It looks like my current project of Japanese clothing has gone better than I thought, at least given what Hiro said about my yukata, and so it may indeed be worth it. With the new obi, it looks even better in my opinion, and I also want to apply different colors to it, to give a bit of variety. Next on the list… I haven’t decided yet, perhaps a male version of the yukata – I think skirts can be worn by male avatars too – or a hakama. I really dig out this oriental theme, so finding ideas shouldn’t be a problem anyway.

Yukata in progress, and a bit of chatting

So that’s it, here’s the current shape and color of my “Purple yukata with flowers”. I used a slightly modified silk texture on this one – satin just wasn’t cutting it in my opinion – and all in all, things have turned pretty well for such a costume. However the worst part of it has been, and still is, the obi itself. It just doesn’t look right this way, and I fear I may have to use prims to properly render it. It’s not like I hadn’t foreseen it though.

This is going to make things a bit harder, but I’ll probably survive. In the meantime, here is what I’ve been able to craft. Not sure if it’s good or not, and I’m indeed aware that the obi lacks the essential knot in the back. I had tried to make it in prims completely, but looks like using this method for the knot only will be what works best…

Other nice moment of the day, I had a pleasant little chat with Hiro Pendragon and Fey Brightwillow tonight. Hiro was kind enough to show me his house and garden – a lovely place for whoever appreciates the beauty of Japanese architecture and culture as a whole – and introduce me to his friend Fey, who is a clothier and gave me quite a few useful advice, among other sharing of experiences and idle chatting. Not only did I spend a very good moment, but he also offered me a torii to put in my (future) garden, and tipped me into checking the Red Dragon Street Market in Tehama, where I can probably try to get a little shop once I manage to work more on my clothes.

Actually… that’s very likely what I’m going to do tomorrow. It sounds like too nice a place to not go check it.

Going back to Center Camp

As I had sworn to myself, I went back to Center Camp to check on the latest evolutions of Burning Life. More constructs, new ones as well as enhancements brought to the older ones I had already seen. Still as impressive as before, perhaps even more. Laputa is still here, floating in the sky, as well as the huge piano. There’s now a building in flames added to this, a dragon preciously holding her egg, the Two Cows constructs, that I had been unable to see previously… and many others. I couldn’t resist to the pleasure of taking a few more snapshots, of course. It would be hard to dismiss the urge anyway.

Huge hands seemingly trapped in the ground, barely having managed to free a few fingers from it. Temple-like structures, evoking images of altars and sacrifice. Mechanical creatures and giant drops falling from the sky. The Moon Thief, frightening by its crude black, red and white colors, and nothing more. One could spend a good deal of time wandering among all of these, and still always come back to find more to it than meets the eye.

There is something both wonderful and wicked to the fact that in three days, all of this will have disappeared, engulfed by the flames, as if it had never existed. Only trace left – a few screenshots, and the memories we have of it. The beauty of it, entirely contained in its ephemereal existence, is certainly what makes it so unique. It will be a sad moment to see it go. It will also, I think, be pretty intense, and leave a treasurable impression.

Clothing and cultural diversity

In the past days, I’ve been making a few more attempts at creating something worth a look when it comes to clothing. So far the result doesn’t seem that bad, which is already a good point, although I know there are people out there who can craft way better clothing than I. But we all need to start somewhere, do we.

I also came back to the little project I had been working on. Even though it’s not my native culture, and I’m very aware that it’ll be more for my personal satisfaction than a really accurate representation, I wanted to give a try at Japanese-inspiration clothes. Not simply using a few patterns here and there, but real clothes, such as yukata or haori. It’s currently proving hard enough to do, especially for men’s clothing and for the whole floaty aspect of clothes, but that’s another matter, and probably it’ll go a little more smoothly once I’m more used to play with templates and patterns. Sezmra is the one who got the first (and only) sighting of my “purple yukata”, before I was locked away, but I need to rework it more for it to look fine. Perhaps even use prims in certain places, for it to look right.

Pondering these clothes made me write a little post in the artists forum recently, too. It didn’t seem to me that there were many people around doing this kind of clothing (not necessarily Asian, but “traditional costumes” from various cultures in general), so I went ahead and asked. Zana Feaver confirmed what both Sezmra and I had noticed already – doesn’t seem that anyone is really into this kind of things. Zana has worked on historical clothing though, but this seems to be the closest that could be found. Looks like if I want to see more cultural costumes, I need to work on them myself then *smiles*

I’m still a little surprised in any case. Surprised that, with all the diversity around in Second Life, there isn’t really any person who has designed this type of clothes. Even if only for a certain event, or locations. I’ve been wondering why, maybe it is simply that the general people base isn’t interested in this, or that it’s hard to do, or that they prefer work on different, more modern types of clothes? I know of one person who has designed priest clothes, so I assume it’s already closer to “culture”, yet it’s still not what I was looking for. It’d have been nice to be able to talk of such themes with other people, ather than design clothes in my own little corner.

We’ll see though. Because it wasn’t posted on the forums, doesn’t mean that absolutely no one has ever thought of making such clothes. Time and more exploration will tell, I guess.

Burning Life, first view

Finally I could take a moment to go have a look at the second edition of Burning Life, in Center Camp, which everybody is talking about, and even though the snapshots I have of it so far are likely not the ones of “completely finished works” there (depending on who made them I assume), I was already amazed by what I saw. Better yet, while it should have ended on the 7th, the fact that it got prolongated until September 13th will help in coming back and see how things evolve there. I definitely need to take more pictures again in a few days, to check if some scenes have changed.

I wasn’t sure at first of what exactly Burning Life was though. As I saw it mentioned on the forums, then on the launcher, it came to me that it would, all that simply, be a place where people could let their creativity explode, and this is indeed what it looks like. I also got a look at the Burning Man project web site, given that Burning Life seemed directly related to it, and it’s very impressing as well.

I’m not sure of who has done what as of now, I was too awed at the constructs, flowers, items, represented characters and whatnot to really think of checking who their “owners” were… so I’ll try to get the names a next time. For now, here are all the nice pictures!

Trip to the Ivory Tower

This place I stumbled upon completely by chance, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve had at least two hours of non-stop fun in it, teaching myself how to build.

Located in Noyo (241,163), the Ivory Tower of Primitives is a mix between a huge library and a university, which aim is to provide newcomers efficient visual tutorials crafted by Lumiere Noir on how to create and use prims and thus, to a larger extent, on how to build. Elevators will take you to the different floors, each floor being themed with a specific aspect of prims manipulation. The land istelf allows you to build your own prims in order to test what you have learnt – provided you clean after yourself, that is, which after all is only basic curtesy.

Upon entering through the large marble stairs, the visitor is presented with a vast and pleasant hall, from which it’s easy to access the first floor and get started with basic prim manipulation. Nothing very complex here in fact, as the aim is mainly to teach how to create prims, shape them, and move and rotate them in space.

These commands are the ones that can be found in the Create part of the ‘pie’ menu, and anyone having already dealt, even if slightly, with a 3D software such as 3DsMax will easily recognize in there the manipulation of the X, Y and Z axis. There’s a lesson available for each type of prim, as well as for changing objects’ states (physic, ghostly…) and for selecting and linking prims.

The second floor deals with slightly more complex – and interesting – matters, also known as “but what *can* I really do with these prims”: refining and distorting them. This series of lessons ends up with an actual tutorial explaining how to create a chair, which puts to use all the concepts that have been explained in the previous tutorials.

The tutorials on the third floor bear the charming name of “The Gentle Art of Prim Torture”. Behind this name are actually hidden tutorials on how to twist prims, for instance to use them on avatars or in buildings. Several small ‘exhibitions’ easily allow the visitor to get a preview of what simple results can already look like. The fourth floor is but the logical follow-up to these explanations, showing ways of modifying the different types of prims useable in Second Life. I’ll pass on the floors above though, as they were in the works when I visited them.

If I want to be fully honest, I’m yet to finish all these tutorials, and experiment more with the manipulation of primitives… way more, before I manage to build something worth the name of “construct”, “vehicle” or “furniture”. As it is however, the Ivory Tower has proved to be so far a real treasure, teaching me in one hour or barely more what I’d have likely taken days to discover by myself. An invaluable resource.

Vehicles, anyone?

Tipped by a recent post on Goshua Lament’s blog, I went to Abbotts to have a look at the vehicles expo that is held from Sept. 1st to Sept. 4th. Another sim I’ve never been to until today, of course, and I so like this feeling of discovering new places everyday, or almost.

Although I’m pretty sure I must have missed some of the presented vehicles, as today is just one of these days when I’m extremely tired and am not exactly sure of what I’m doing, what I saw was pretty interesting, and invariably made me wonder if someday I’d be able to build similar vehicles too. I must admit that I was more interested in the “old” planes than in the most recent models (that’s how it goes with old engines too… I’m just a sucker for 19th/early 20th century machinery!), yet no matter what, everything was quite impressive, and I doubt that these are easy to make, so I appreciated looking at it even more.

I couldn’t resolve myself to return ‘home’ without taking at least a few snapshots, so here they are, just for viewing pleasure:

A nice place for a newcomer

Finally having received my new video card, and now that the game is up and running again, I decided to go back to a place I found myself liking quite a lot, and that is known as Luna.

The first time I discovered Luna was through the Search feature, I believe; it was hinting at shops and nice things for new people, so I thought that having a look would be nice. I wasn’t disappointed. The area may seem pretty basic to a long-time player, I suppose, but for someone who doesn’t know the game and its possibilities yet, it’s a nice way to discover what can be built, notably clothes-wise… and to get a few free little things on the road to help getting started.

Teleporting them directly brings a person in what I could call the “main town of Luna”, the one where the shops are located. The first building near this landing spot is one I’ve seen in other areas as well; clicking on the billboards on it allows one to grab some free items, once again basic, but certainly better than running around in one’s startup clothes, so to say.

Going further into Luna, one can easily notice the central area – the fountain and the square behind it really are pleasants spots to sit and chat with friends – and the two main streets, packed on two floors with various shops. It is worth a look, if only for the fact that some of these clothes are affordable enough for a beginner. Some, not all, but it’s already a start. One can also find vehicles and furniture shops and, from what I remember, at least one that sells avatars too.

A little trip worth being given in this area too is that at times, one can stumble upon little packs of “freebies”. On my first visit there, some two weeks ago, I had had the luck to find a pack containing a pair of angel wings, sunglasses, and some other items which I haven’t used yet but are always nice to have, I assume (including an Arabian dressing screen that would look good in a room). All free, that is, and any person can grab it. I couldn’t be completely sure given the amount of time that has passed since, but I believe these packs are not left there all the time by their creators; today I’ve found another pack, at a shop called Zapotheth, containing free shirts, while I’ve been unable to find back the first pack (the one with wings). I’m wondering if said first pack hadn’t been made by the same person at this same shop, though.

I suspect there are many other similiar places, that I simply haven’t discovered yet because the world of Second Life is so huge. But we all have to begin somewhere, don’t we.