Sunday, May 15, 2011

The importance of building in SL

So once again, I haven't had much time to write ...or much to say. But that doesn't mean Dio has only been slaving away in meatspace. No, I've been able to have a bit of fun doing some building. You'll perhaps remember Alsium, the roman sim where I had been spending time, and which underwent an ownership change. We had an"earthquake" which required a totally new build and that's been underway for some time. Ultimately, final completion of the build was taken on by members of the community, and folks like CJ Escher, Clint Saxondale, and Caius Septimus, among others, have done some wonderful work. Yours truly got in on the act as well, and here's my contribution, an Iseum, or temple to Isis.

The build is very loosely based on the Temple of Isis in Pompeii, but it does utilize textures on the interior that include examples of the actual frescoes from the ruins of the real-life temple. You will note to the right side of the illustration below, the temple itself (which has several inner chambers to which only initiates and officiants may be admitted), and a ritual bath in a smaller structure to the left of the main "house of the Goddess."

We had a dedication ceremony a week or so ago, and had a good turnout. It's a modest little build, but I certainly enjoyed working on it, and I learned a great deal in the process. Until I became involved with Isis-related projects for Alsium, I had no idea how massively popular the romanized "Cult of Isis" was (after initially being persecuted in the late Republic and early imperial eras). I also really didn't realize how colorful ancient roman buildings usually were.

After I finished the temple buildings, I also constructed a palaestra, or exercise ground, that incorporates elements of the real palaestras that exist in Pompeii, particularly the smaller, older one which had been built by the Samnites early in the city's history. I was pleased with how this build turned out as well, though due to its size and primminess, it isn't being used in Alsium (the version shown below is in fact, a second, smaller, lower-prim version, but it still came in at 100 prims). Even so, there is something so rewarding about taking an artifact that you have pictured in your mind and turning that mental conceptualization into reality (even if that reality is only a virtual one).

Both of these builds--the Iseum and the palaestra--were produced for very specific purposes, to provide the settings for specific aspects of roleplay and events. But I will freely admit, the greatest joy I am likely to feel in connection with these structures is the sense of accomplishment and sheer fun that came with the construction process. I know we have talked about this before, but if I couldn't do these kinds of projects, I would find Second Life a whole lot less engaging. Despite my abysmal building skills, I have the ability to visualize something and execute it in Second Life, and by golly, have it turn out looking not half bad.

I know the Lindens are working on various "improvements" to the platform. Christ's bootlaces, I sure hope they don't make it harder to build, or even worse, somehow decide they have to take this god-like capability away from the majority of us in the interest of simplifying the product and trying to make it more appealing to the mass audiences that other, less wondrous online destinations seem to attract.

Today was my sixth rez day. I know I would not have made it this long without being able to do cool creative shit like this.


  1. Great minds, I guess :)
    Husband and I were just discussing this very subject earlier, the joy for non-artists like us to log into SL and to be able to create amazing things. Just wishing that the creations were not so fragile and dependent upon seemingly capricious gods.
    Happy rez day! Six years is a long time, glad you are still finding your bliss on this grid.

  2. You've expressed exactly the joy of accomplishment I gain from building... whether a reproduction of something from the physical world, or pure fancy.

    And, happy rez day! I had no idea you'd amassed six years' experience on the Grid -- congratulations!

  3. Happy rez day, Dio! What splendid serendipity it is that the lapse of the original Alsium builder gave you the opportunity to bring your historical research to life through a build that all of us can enjoy. That's what SL should be about.

  4. Happy (belated) rez day!

    I occasionally regret my nearly complete inability to build. Then I lie down and the feeling passes. But I admire those who can do it, and I agree that it's one of the things that makes SL special.

  5. Happy rez day. I greatly enjoyed your presentation at Aether Salon.

    Many happy returns (and builds.)

  6. Hi Fogwoman,

    Thank you for the rez-day wishes. And yes, we probably should sacrifice some virgin prims to the flighty, feckless, gods on whom we rely. So what kind of things do you your gentleman like to create?


  7. Hey Lalo--yeah, actually it's longer than 6 years, as the Diogenes avatar started out as an alt. She ultimately replaced my main, which was created in 2004, but has long since been deleted.

    Goddamn, times flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?

    And yes, I am captivated by that sheer joy of getting a sense of accomplishment through building--and it's a sense that is based on doing something that does require some skill or at least some practice. There is a learning curve but it's not insurmountable., Learning to make decent crap in SL is kind of like getting through basic training. The people who designed it made it so that Basic is hard--and you feel like you have accomplished something when you get through it--but it's not so challenging that most people don't make it. I think the system that enables to be making junk in SL is very much like that.

    The other thing I like is getting feedback...the responses we get to our creations can be rewarding and/or instructive.

    I find the "rewarding" bits easier to swallow, but that doesn't mean I don't treasure the instructive ones as well.

  8. Thank you Sere,

    Yes, the builder who began the Alsium project made a great start to it, but then rl issues got in the way of subsequent phases. That said, the community was able to use what he and his team had started as foundation for some pretty cool collaborative work. And I think ultimately the strongest projects in Sl are the collaborative ones. Projects born of a "single vision" can be impressive and wondrous, but they often lack a certain depth and richness that usually requires a team effort to achieve.

    It's like learning in SL--we tend to do better at it in a team environment because we encourage, inspire and motivate each other. I think building works the same way.

  9. Hey Rhia,

    Thank you for the rez day wishes (belated is cool with me--hell, more often than not, I completely forget about it too, until I happen to look at my profile sometime in July and go "shit, missed it again").

    Anyhow, I understand the desire to lie down and "let the feeling pass." Sometimes "doing nothing" is the best answer to many situations. On the other hand, sometime if you feel the urge you might try finding someone to pair up with and work on a project together--sometimes pooling talents and ideas can be very productive. Like when Clay and I built a blacksmith's forge. It was mostly my ideas and his talents, but the process was fun, and the result was better than other options that were out there for sale.

    Don't give up too readily, you may surprise yourself.

  10. Hi Miz D,
    thank you for stopping by to visit! I really enjoyed doing the talk at aether salon, and hell, I might even write something about the experience particularly if Sere starts badgering me to do so).

    And thank you for the rez day wishes.