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Wherein Weasel makes a fancy party hat

Sarah D. to the rescue. She teleported me out of the naughty scary place and into a community college for Second Life newbies. Here you can click on various kiosks and posters to download notecards explaining how to do stuff. There are live classes. Nobody is wearing exogenitals. It’s cool.

Then she took me to the closest sandbox. A sandbox is an area in which you may create and manipulate objects. She reached into her inventory, flung a ballpark frank on the ground, scaled it to the size of a sofa and sat demurely on the edge of it, typing explanations at me with hairy paws.

I should mention, communication is by ascii text (for now). When you hit the chat button and type, you hear clickity-clickity sounds and your avatar hands rise up and play air-keyboard. You look like the silly boo-boo you truly are. It’s hysterical.

Then my hour was up and I had to go.

Next afternoon, I went directly to the sandbox. Right click on the ground and choose “Create” to get the modeling menu. This resembles, not surprisingly, a cut-down version of an application like 3D Studio Max. You got your shape primitives (“prims” in SL-speak) — spheres, cubes, toruses, whatever — that you stick together and carve
away from and apply textures to in order to build stuff. There are many textures already in your library for free, or you can upload new ones of your own (for a $L fee). There are also particle systems and atmospherics (fire, water, smoke) and behaviors (scripts), but basics first!

First, I jammed a red sphere onto a marble cone and made a pretty party hat. Whee! I’m a beautiful fairy princess!

When I model something in Max, I typically see four windows simultaneously: my object from the front, the top, the side, and the camera’s point of view. Here, you have to pan your camera around continually to get the same 360º understanding. Working from the front, my hat appeared to be jammed firmly on my head, but the overhead view revealed that it was flying fifteen feet out in front of me. Mmm. Rookie mistake.

Next, I applied one of the textures I found in my inventory. It was called moss-something. It was a mostly alpha (i.e. transparent) rendering of some hanging Spanish-mossy stuff and, applied to my compound object, the red stayed red, the green stayed green and transparent transparent.

Neat. This was a jaunty, plumey effect. I look like Koo Koo the Bird Girl! Thus, delighted with myself, ended day 3.

Wednesday is, apparently, Retarded Day on Second Life. They do system overhauls on Wednesdays, after which nothing works for shit. Or so I gather from reading the angry comments on their blog. Never mind. My task today was a simple one: build a hat better suited to my dignity and station in life.

See you soon! Why? Because we like you!

March 8, 2007 — 2:14 pm
Comments: 9

On the grid, off the grid

I’m only allowing myself an hour a day on Second Life. I know my obsessiveness too well. Let’s not wake up that monster.

After I got dressed, I was whisked away to a place called Orientation Island. Unfortunate name; I wondered if I was being sent to take gay lessons. But no, it’s a series of twelve basic skill tutorials. You get a star for completing each one, after which, the instructions say, you are given a passport and allowed to wander freely around the world.

I got eleven stars, but it wouldn’t give me the twelfth. Flying. Yes, you can fly…very cool. But I flew through that stupid tutorial six times and it wouldn’t give me my goddamn star. “Stuck,” I thought. These programs do get stuck. Maybe if I asked it to teleport me home — wherever that is — and back again, it would reset itself.

Uh-oh. When I got home (where is that, anyway?), I did a search for “Orientation Island” to teleport back. It returned, like, a hundred of them. And I was refused permission to enter every one I tried. Did I have to find the particular Orientation Island I started on?

Just for shits, I tried going someplace totally different, at random, and it let me. I found myself standing in some kind of public square, empty but for me and a person with breasts and an enormous set of male genitalia worn on the outside of its pants. Golly, Toto. I don’t think we’re in the tutorial any more.

I’m free!

But I don’t have a passport.

Swell. I’m an undocumented avatar.

— 8:08 am
Comments: 1