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Yesterday, I got a Second Life account.

Now, the reasons I had for getting the account probably aren't typical. I got the account largely because I've heard that in Second Life, users can create their own objects and spaces, and users can use a sophisticated interactive scripting language to attach behaviors to those objects.

I've been involved in computer graphics professionally for decades, and I can easily hold my own with the best 2D image editors and retouchers out there. I've been using Photoshop professionally since version 1.0.7 and teaching it since version 2.5, and I am, if not one of the best image retouchers in the country, certainly in the top 100.

But when it comes to 3D graphics and imaging, Im completely flummoxed. I don't know the first thing about texture mapping, or designing 3D objects, or scripting in interactive spaces (save for some dabbling with the old-style text-based MUDs and MOOs, and writing old-fashioned text adventure games back in the day). I decided to get into Second Life first because it seemed like an easy, fun way to dabble a little bit in 3D creation and scripting, and second because so many people belong to Second Life that I thought it'd be easy to find resources online about it.

Now, I haven't got into trying to create any objects or anything yet. I did explore a little bit last night, though, and color me flummoxed. What's the deal with Second Life? Is there something I'm missing?

I zapped around on the map, looking for things to do, and from what I have seen so far, Second Life isn't really a full-fledged virtual environment where you can socialize, interact, and exchange goods and services. Rather, it seems upon my limited exploration to be a virtual version of some seedy Tijuana suburb, as envisioned by professional spammers-turned-casino-owner-wannabes with particularly garish senses of interior decoration. It's easy to find strip clubs and casinos where you can buy "Linden dollars" with real dollars and then wager those Linden dollars on virtual slot machines, and they do seem to use every underhanded trick in the book (up to and including paying people in Linden dollars to go to their sites and then just sit there, as this boosts their sites' ranking in terms of number of players active and thus makes their sites stand out on the map of the world), but other than that...

...what's the point?

I can create a character. I can spend money, if I want, to buy hairstyles and new clothes for my avatar. I can buy vehicles to get around in the world in my shiny new clothes. I can buy entire new bodies for my avatar. And then, once I get this avatar looking how I want, then what? I walk around and look at online casinos and listen to awful hip-hop music?

And what's with the stores selling four-foot-long cocks for my avatar?


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
four-foot-long cocks

Thi shocked me for all of two seconds before the reality of "reality gaming" kicked me in the reset button.
Jan. 19th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thank You
I was considering this same thing yesterday. I appreciate your description so I am able to avoid taking the time to build an account to find out the same thing.
Jan. 20th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
The local science mail list has made an attempt to meet up in a virtual pub in SL. Because we are spread around the country, it would be impossible to all get together very friday. I'm not sure how it went,(I was busy at a fetish club doing other interactive things).

SL has no appeal for me. The comercial aspects make it too much like work.
Jan. 20th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
I also recently got an acct, and wanted to explore the making aspect, as I'm a successful 3D mesher and make clothing for The Sims and Sims 2.


I didn't get past the intro, ran out of time. There are also 'elven' worlds that get away from the modern craziness. I have no idea what people really do in the game. In theory the 'making $$' aspect is optional (as your subscription gives an allowance for those who play)

I was interested in part because there's a potential for RL $$ coming out of the system. But in RL I'm still working on juggling work and hobby and raising a couple of teens, so I was going to put this on the back burner again, and focus on my Sims for a while still. On the other hand, on mts2, you can get hooked up with cheap tools and we can teach you the basics of 3D stuff, if you want to check that out. Sims 2 is one of the few games that does have 'paysites' but most sites, including mts2, are free. I'll gladly help you learn about 3D meshing :)

Jan. 20th, 2007 07:08 am (UTC)
Only with the mention of art stuff did it hit me who you are... Hi Tigger. Now *how* I keep finding people I know from completely other places hanging out on my east coast ex-boyfriend's lj I still haven't figured out. :)

Andrea (and Dillo)
Jan. 20th, 2007 10:50 am (UTC)
I dunno, but I don't even think I've met tacit. Although I could have being how various groups intermingle and I used to live in NJ long ago. Arrived here through someone's journal, found some of his posts quite thought provoking, and I like that sort of thing, so I did the 'lj friends' thing. :)
Jan. 21st, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
I have a few friends who play this
It's like a combination of The Sims online & WoW (or similar) for them except without any real goals
they're all people who're terribly unhappy with thier lives & using this as escapist fantasy to the exclusion of HAVING a rea life

This little incident I had with someone from there is amusing tho:
This jackhole tries to add me on MySpace with a profile that's for a Second Life character, not a real person. I explain that my profile is there for networking & I don't accept anyone who I don't know personally or who isn't involved in a business I'm interested in netwroking thru, and besides I don't add anyone under 18 & I can't tell who a vid game character is. He (I found out later) comes back & says OK. Then a few days later this conversation happens (I'm editing the post order) where he asks me to GIVE him my copyrighted work for him to use commercially in the game. I checked & found out he was using a ton of stolen images:

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: <>Jessica </a>
Date: Jan 6 2007 11:53 AM

I am trying to start a Fetish Photography business on Second Life. Currently, I am selling photos that I have reasonable belief that are publicly available. However, I would like to find new content that is not readily available. What I would like to do is use your photographs in my stores. I have included the URL and the html of me in front of my current store, located in a bondage-themed strip club. The people accessing this area would be shopping for other bondage equipment and this area is something they pass through to see the other items.

The payment system in Second Life would be in Lindens, one U.S. Dollar being worth $250L. My suggested retail price for your photos would be between $45L and $75L. My volume would not allow me to easily translate any profits back to you. What I am hoping you would be interested in is that the photographs would be getting into the hands of bondage enthusiasts, which also defines the patrons and employees of the Kinky Kitten club.

I would also construct the posters in such a way that no one could make copies of the photograph without utilizing banned programs and no one else could sell or give away the photographs.

As an addendum, I am writing using my Second Life character, who would be operating the business in Second Life. However, the character is being played by a male law student named Jason Arnold. This clause is included in the interest of full and fair disclosure.

So to reiterate, I am asking for a license to use free copies of your photographs to sell at a bondage vendor for $0.10 to $0.30 per non-copiable/non-transferable photograph, with whatever promotional materials you wish.


Jason d/b/a Jessica

http://i123.photobucket.com/ (links to pics of SL store)

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: SilverLight Esoterica Photography
Date: Jan 6 2007 7:20 PM

Absolutely not. Under NO circumstances would I license my work for such use. I will note additionally that I have several friends who're second life enthusiasts and I will have them checking to be sure none of my content appears in your materials. Additionaly, I use Digimarc software & I wil be pointing their webcrawlers at SL for signs of any unathorized use or duplication of my work. Any appearance of my copyrighted materials will result in swift legal action.

James Glendinning
SilverLight Esoterica Photography

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Jessica
Date: Jan 7, 2007 8:10 AM

Thank you for your consideration. I will ABSOLUTELY NOT under any circumstances be using and promoting your work in Second Life.

Jan. 21st, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
Petri says that to learn real 3D texture mapping, designing and scripting use either 3D Studio Max or Blender (free program at blender3d.com). He says that both have really good tutorials.
Jan. 21st, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
The new guy I'm seeing is going to school for simulation design, so he might be a good person to chat up regarding 3D textures, scripting, etc.
Jan. 22nd, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
I created and clothed a character and figured out how to pick things up. I went to a pirate party. Next time I tried to log on, the whole thing crashed--turned out Macs were no longer supported. :-(

OK, nevermind.
Jan. 22nd, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
Weird. Macs are still supported now; I've been poking around on a Mac. Hmm.
Jan. 25th, 2007 10:30 pm (UTC)
Macs are absolutely supported. Of course most of our graphics cards are lamer than the ones on pcs.
Jan. 25th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
I work for a university. A bunch of my colleagues are into Second Life and think it's a great educational tool. I have an account ("Name Unknown") and log in every few months. My experiences have been about the same as yours, except that I'm prone to public stupidity and tend to wind up strolling around accidentally naked or with a giant sphere attached to my leg. So far, Second Life hasn't offered me anything that I've found exciting. Maybe I'm not hanging out in the right places.
Jan. 25th, 2007 10:41 pm (UTC)
Well, I responded to your comment about this in my own journal... but given all the naysayers, I'd like a say a bit of that same kinds of things here (though I'll try not to repeat!).

Second Life is what you make it. Unlike WOW there isn't a goal. But there are thousands of creative people there figuring out what one can do. My partner, mr_kurt is getting into the scripting and building and creating end of things. I'm really enjoying his wizardry and the cool space we're creating together on our land. I admit I'm more of a social networker, being involved in creating library exhibits and figuring out how information delivery works in a virtual world. I have dozens of colleagues - librarians and educators - who are there doing the same thing and I am finding it great professional networking. I'm also likely to have an exhibit of my art sometime soon.

I am interested in the activists and non-profits getting involved. Awhile back there was a homeless child avatar sitting in the Rockefeller Center analog and educating people about homelessness on behalf of a Seville-based NGO. The Water Institute has created a habitat on Better World Island (a sim sponsored by the Omidyar Foundation) to illustrate the water cycle and educate people about water issues. There is a podcast called "Who's on Second" that interviews non-profits and educators and more examples can be found there.

It is hard, in the beginning, to find things. Use the search key and look for events rather than reading the classifieds. You can limit by event type and find something you are interested in. Search groups for folks doing the kinds of things you are into. Take some classes (events-educational) on scripting or building or whatever and spend enough time inworld to see whether it is your cup of tea. Go visit the Gardens of Apollo or Dublin or Info Island and see what other folks are creating. Giving up right off without giving the world a chance is a shame.
Feb. 10th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
'I am, if not one of the best image retouchers in the country, certainly in the top 100.'

...Do you have a portfolio or something somewhere? I'm curious.
Feb. 11th, 2007 03:55 am (UTC)
I don't have a full-fledged online portfolio, though I do have a conventional (printed) portfolio.

Many of the images I've done have been for billboards, annual reports, and the like. Some of the billboard work I've done:

This image, which was done for the NCAA playoffs several years back when it was hosted in St. Petersburg, FL, started out as a picture of a basketball and several publicity shots of the areas around St. pete. The client wanted to make it look as tough the publicity photos had been painted directly onto the basketball. The full-sized image is several hundred megabytes and printed approximately eight feet across.

A similar billboard shot was this one, made form a photograph of the women and scans directly from several LP record covers, and was used for billboards for a local radio company. The radio company's parent chain liked it and picked up the same idea to use nationwide, but didn't want to pay my rices for doing more billboards; the billboards they ended up doing elsewhere looked...disappointing.

Feb. 11th, 2007 12:02 pm (UTC)
Awesome. Just curious. I always like seeing new stuff. And then trying to do better than it, mwa ha ha, etc ;)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )