How to start this..
One of the primary reasons (at least in the top two, anyway) I got a Second Life account way back in 2008 was to be able to create designs, that while virtual, could still be used, walked through and (let’s be honest) paid for(this is me, after all- I didn’t suddenly become someone else.). I wanted to be able to work out potential design problems in 3d space, create walkthroughs and identify trends. It just took a long time for me to get to the point where I could consistently do that. But this year I seem to have arrived at that place, at least the beginning of it.
There’s a strong architectural community in SL. A lot of RL/SL networking, social interaction, etc. All of that is a little hard for me. I’m not exactly the most social individual in the world (stop laughing, all of you. I have a gift of understatement. Shh.) I’m not much more comfortable at an SL networking party than I am at one in RL. In SL things can be painfully slow. The modeling tools are clunky, there’s a steep initial learning curve and most people never make a nickel out of the SL economy, so in that sense I’ve beaten the odds- but it took a long time to get there, and most people wouldn’t bother. On many days I wonder why *I* bother, so I don’t fault anyone else for not wanting to.
But back to Virtuatecture. See, what virtuatecture ISN’T, is Architecture. I want to make that really, really clear because fundamentally they’re not the same thing. When you remove the laws of physics, problems of sustainability, budget and zoning, but apply other limitations (hello, prim count, primitive manipulation limits and script lag) to how you design/build a thing, that process changes and becomes something else. It’s all still design process- that doesn’t change, but it’s not Architecture. Virtuatecture might have some similarities but it’s not the same thing at all, and I’m always mildly shocked when people who design structures in SL call themselves Architects (assuming they’re not architects in meatspace, of course.) Then again, I’m shocked when people who call themselves designers aren’t designers either, but that’s an old rant.
Virtuatecture is the process of creating structures (whatever they may be) in a virtual environment that are going to be used within that environment solely (again, laws of physics will prevent you from porting them out.) I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I’ve also been designing a *lot* of furniture lately (I really need to figure out a prototyping solution, seriously. There’s an ICFF booth calling my name, if I can get that stuff prototyped and con Bethany into manning the booth (you didn’t think it would be me, right?)
Anyway, back to virtuatecture. What’s also interesting, besides the creation/design process of it all, is watching what people want to *buy*. Witnessing the trends of what people want, what sells and what doesn’t sell is really interesting. I don’t think I have nearly enough raw data yet to draw realistic or sound conclusions, but that will come in time. It’s also interesting (maybe) to note that the house *I* live in in SL, is a warehouse loft with a watertower on top. Even with anything in all the realms of imagination to choose from, I will always go for that.
Since the beginning of this year, I and my building partner (I do the designs, he does the builds) have released one house a week. For those unfamiliar with time frames in SL, that’s a *brutal* schedule. Really, truly brutal. So much so that if we can keep it up for an entire year, we would have more different house designs than almost anyone on the grid, and most people who create houses have been doing it for much longer. This doesn’t include all the design/build work we do for specialized club venues, which happen at a rate of about 3 per month on average. It’s a blistering pace.
What we’ve stayed away from (and will continue to stay away from except for one-off custom structures) are building things like enormous castles, which are ubiquitous within the SL environment and frankly bore me to *tears*. My issue with the things other than the tedium of them is about ego and prim limits. For those who just got confused- on every (full) sim in SL you are allotted 15000 “parts” with which to create objects, called primitives. The demand for these huge (have I mentioned boring?) castles is staggering. But the issues begin when you try to FILL them. There’s no real way to fill the things up without blowing your prim count, so what they are most of the time are big empty warehouses, serving no purpose but to look imposing and impressive. They’re a facade of ego, and nothing more. I can’t be bothered- I’d rather build houses people live in. They may be much smaller, but you can actually fill them with things and they don’t feel barren. They’re just like houses (except you know, kitchens don’t translate well, and you have no need for closets.)
Yes, all the houses have interiors too, don’t be silly.
So that’s part of what I’ve been up to lately.