seeing the light

All Second Life photographers have a thing about light, it transforms what you capture in a more dramatic way than is generally possible in real life photography. For sim designers, too, light matters to how they conceive a build, which ground textures they use, the general atmosphere they want to create.

blizzard a

When I visit a sim the first thing I do is check the light settings the sim builder has used. It enables me to see a place through their eyes. I might then revert to my own settings to take pictures, but sometimes I stick to the intended settings because they were well thought out and work well.

Furillen 1

Two of the best and most reliable SL photographers who specialize in landscape and sim photography and whose work I closely follow – Ziki Questi and Loverdag – make a point of using the intended light settings. As Loverdag explains, it shows off the sim in its ‘correct’ light – and she is especially meticulous in explaining how her pictures have been processed.

Furillen

Some of the most interesting and original light settings at Second Life sims have been created by Bryn Oh, whose The Gathering provides the latest evidence that she is a truly innovative and original artist who – alongside Cica Ghost – has taken the business of sim design to an entirely new level.

Until recently I was using a variant of one of Bryn’s past windlight settings – Immersiva Grey Dust – at Furillen. Initially I fixed the time of day, but then I created a day cycle of 20 stops. Each cycle lasts 6 hours, and represents a 24 hour period in the real world.

The result was wonderfully moody and dynamic.

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

But there were drawbacks too. If you happened to visit the sim at one of the darker moments it could be off-putting. And the clouds were fast moving – a feature of the day cycle in Second Life which seems impossible to fix. It adds drama, but also lag. And it can be less than relaxing.

Seeking balance

Partly with these issues in mind, I switched to a different light setting this week. With January upon us and the days in the real world beginning the lengthen again, I have opted for a blue-ish light, which has an early morning sun casting a faint, white glimmer on the sea.

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As usual, I have been asking for feedback from visitors, whether positive or negative. Once I have a better sense of this, I will think about turning this setting into a day cycle.

always dawn

Until then, it’s always dawn at Furillen.

being alone together

The visitor clock ticked over the 10,000 mark yesterday. That’s the number of visits (not visitors) to Furillen since mid October. The sim is often full these days, and around 350 people come by each day. For a sim that started from nothing in October; was built ad hoc with no grand opening; by an avatar (me) with no reputation; and with no shops or – ahem – sex balls in sight, this is pretty good going.

The interesting question is why. I was chewing this over with Cica Ghost, who in my view is (alongside Bryn Oh) the most all-round talented person on the grid. Her latest sim, Roots, is incredible, a world rich in colour, fantasy and imagination that surely captivates anyone who goes there. But the traffic has been quite low. Roots has not been included in the Second Life Destination Guide despite Cica requesting this. Shame on whoever at Linden Labs has neglected to do this. (Update: Roots finally made it into the guide … and Cica had over 4oo visitors in one night!)

But Furillen was getting high traffic even before it was placed in the destination guide. My theory is that the very active Furillen Flickr group helps a lot, generating the network effects that we tend to see on crowded sims. Second Life is a social game, after all.

Furillen is a sim that, for many people, stands for solitude and isolation. And yet a community of sorts has grown up around it, giving the place a life of its own.

We like to be together, even when we want to be alone.

green chair d