Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Building Blocks

When I first logged in to Second Life, I was concerned with two things: making sure my character didn't look like a noob, and learning how to build. After searching some freebies for my avatar, I asked someone at help island how to start building.

My first trip to the sandbox was an interesting one. Spaceships, smoke machines, modern buildings, strange objects and colorful characters filled the stretching sands of the playground. As I worked my way through the sideshow of people yelling and trying to report each other, I finally found a small spot to begin. Like many gamers in SL have figured out, land is hard to come by, even when its temporary and free. So faced with this small square and some big ideas, there was no other way to go but up!

I began with stretching a rectangular prim as far as it would go, then copying it to make a row of large panels. When the pieces would overlap slightly, you could see a sort of flickering in the seems of the panels. At this point I was wishing there was a locking grid for building in SL, something to snap objects together with ease. Of course this existed, and it was only a youtube tutorial away. This is what I like and also what I don't like about second life: there's a huge database of how-to videos and written tutorials, but there needs to be because SL isn't initially very user friendly. Having an in-game building system that isn't easy to figure out on your own makes it hard for new players to get started in SL. From my experience, I'd always rather build the IKEA desk and chair without the instruction manual, its part of the fun and definitely part of the reward (unless you forget a screw.) So for me, building was mostly getting a little done, running into a snag and then hunting for the answers on Google.

Our recent SL building workshop also cleared up some questions of mine and opened up some creative doors. It was really interesting to see a momentum build up as classmates were trying to out-do each other with their creations. Lucky for us, we've all now have a sturdy foundation to build on now.

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