Monday, March 8, 2010

Building for Second Life

I found the built in Second Life tools to be a little limited and frustrating to use, so I decided to see what other programs could be used to model objects for Second Life. After a quick Google search, I found out that most 3D modeling programs could be used, although getting the finished model into SL was the hard part. There is a free program called Blender (download here), another program called AC3D (here) that offers a free 14 day trial, as well as many other options that cost anywhere from $50 to $3000 or more, such as Maya.

One way I discovered to get objects into SL uses AC3D. After your object is modeled, you can export it as a triangle and follow these directions here. Using the triangle importer, I was able to get my model into SL but it was in many pieces. This can be rectified by linking them all together which got frustrating because I always seemed to miss one or two pieces. There is also an artifact left from the triangle importer that has to be manually deleted one face at a time.

Another way I found to import objects was a script for Maya that would theoretically allow exporting for SL, but I was unable to get that to work. It may be that my version of Maya is outdated (it is 3 years old after all) or it could be that I was not executing it properly.

Problems aside, I really enjoyed creating objects. Building in a virtual world, whether Second Life, an animated movie, or a video game, is a fascinating experience. The possibilities are endless and, as Castronova suggests, this may truly be the next step in human evolution.

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