Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Prima Facie

Look at my face. Squint hard. Squint real hard. No, peer closer! See that little blip on my nostril that's just a few pixels across? That's my new nose stud! Isn't it the coolest? Squeee!

Lou looking very stud-ly.

Right about now, any Dear Readers remaining are thinking, "Lou has lost her marbles—she's excited about a bit of schmutz on her face." Well, first, pfft! Like I had marbles! And, second, isn't it the coolest? Squeeee!

So here's the dealio. The other evening I'm doing a little bit of scripting work for a client, and at some point I look out from behind the LSL editor and notice my client's actual avatar is sitting maybe 10m away playing with prims. Gasp. It's unusual for us to cross paths in Second Life—noon for him is 8pm for me, and most of our exchanges are via delayed instant messages or email. But we're both busy so we just sort of say hello to each and continue working.

Later as I'm watching debug output from scripts and hoping I may be done for the evening, I notice my cohort is playing with megaprims and sculptie textures, and combining seemingly-useless shapes in ways that seem oddly architectural and organic at the same time. I ask what he's trying to build; he says he's just experimenting with creating some sort of environment that looks like maybe it's made from living matter. Maybe there's some Halloween tie-in, I don't know. And watching him work…it's a bit like watching those folks who can carve a swan out of a giant block of ice: there's a lot of fussing and flurrying and activity-ing that doesn't seem to make any sense, then suddenly you look and there's a swan. Or, in this case, something that maybe looks like apartments set into a oozing multi-chambered heart from a creature the size of, I dunno, Hawaii. Some of these prims must be 100m long. But you get the idea. And then poof, its gone and he's moved on to another experiment.

A little later I begin wrapping up, satisfied my scripts are working. I say goodbye, noting I've enjoyed watching my client-I-guess-boss work and saying that I'd never seen anyone building so quickly on a truly architectural scale in Second Life before. He says thanks and then follows up the oddest thing: he thinks working doing big stuff is easy "because you can use ordinary prims" where with tiny little stuff like jewelry you can't use regular prims.

Imagine Lou raising a virtual eyebrow, since she has some small experience manipulating tiny prims and trying to build ridiculous things. Then imagine Lou saying something like, "Well, I could write your name on your eyeball using just regular prims." Or words to that effect. Because if I actually said that, I would be violating Second Life's terms of service by publishing something from an instant message. But, that sounds like something I would say, so maybe we can allow I used words to that effect? "In fact," I might have gone on, "I bet I can make regular prims so small you'd have to do real work just to get your camera close enough to render them on screen."

(In my defense, my client has a relatively short name. I wasn't offering to write "JonathanFrumpletastic Snufflenbooger" in prims on an avatar eyeball.)

My fellow avatar looked at me with a combination of skepticism and the expressionless botox-inpired face we all wear, and allowed that if I could make and manipulate "regular prims" so small they were almost impossible to zoom in on in the Second Life client, he would hire me to make a virtual gift for his real-life wife—who is also in Second Life. So Lou skidoodled her tiny pixellated ass off to her favorite sandbox and began making some tiny prims. Here's a closeup of the result after about half an hour of work, a nose stud I've been meaning to build for a while. Oh, the big blob of lard-like substance in the background? That's the tip of my nose.

Just try to zoom in this close, I dare you.

Here's the nose stud with an old friend from previous posts about my little builds, a 1cm×1cm×2cm cylinder for scale. (Oh, yeah, sorry: only the very top of the cylinder fits in the shot.) Normally, the smallest you can make a prim in Second Life is 1cm on its smallest dimension, so the top of the cylinder is 1cm across.

I think the entire stud is 14 or 15 prims, and it sends my ARC up 70-odd points just to wear it. If you look, you'll notice its in two parts: the shiny top/middle part is essentially a smaller version of the already-too-tiny-to-render not-as-shiny part. My favorite bits are the diamond-shaped framing around the gems: they're too thin to render unless viewers zoom in about as far as the Second Life client will permit.

No, these aren't the smallest prims I can make, and, yes, it appears I got the job. So…uh, that means Lou has more commitments and deadlines in SL—was this really a smart move? But now I have a new nose stud. Squee!


  1. Go you with the nose stud, you nose studded studdette!

    Btw, I don't think you have to stress about quoting yourself word for word out of your own IM. This is from the section on "Disclosure: Second Life" from the TOS:

    "If it's totally unattributed, then it isn't considered disclosure. Additionally, Residents are not punished for sharing or posting a comment such as "Bob Resident said, 'You're the greatest!'" "

    I interpret this to mean that you could even quote your client if you wanted to, as long as you removed any identifying information.

    But back to your post... I know little about building, but I'm of course as impressed by your skillz as your client was.

  2. Wonderful job, Lou!
    Did you have one in RL, too?
    And I agree with AnaMaria: Squeee? I can only imagine that you're so proud you're about to burst. Goodie for you.

  3. Hey Nia: yes, in RL I have a pierced nose. When I started SL I was usually wearing a ring/hoop in RL, but more recently I've been wearing studs/screws, so I'd meant to build something similar in SL.

    And I didn't mean for Squeee! to become some sort of mini-meme! Don't you kids ever go outside?! ;)


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