Monday, February 9, 2009

3D opportunities in SecondLife

I've been spending a lot of time in SecondLife (SL) lately, and if you are interested in 3D graphics at all then it is something you should definitely look into. People are making money in SecondLife, and content providers who can create 3D objects and textures are just the people who are set to make the most money.

SecondLife residents (called avatars) need two things just like we do in the real world (or our FirstLife, or RL... Real Life).
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
Luckily, they don't *need* food, but you can definitely make some coin if you sell 3D representations of food, drinks... anything that looks good and people would want. I'll focus on clothing here, then discuss shelter in the future. Mainly because people is SecondLife always want new clothes, but they rarely need more than one place to live.

There are plenty of places where people can get clothing for free. These free clothing items are usually in the form of simple textures that appear over the avatar's body. Oh yes, and if you can create photo-realistic skin like those available for DAZ|Studio or Poser then you can definitely make some good money! To the left, you can see an image of an avatar wearing a texture shirt. Not complicated, and Robin Wood has a great template for creating free t-shirts at her site.

Of course if you're selling shirts, don't use her template... you mooch.

The clothing that comes available as textures doesn't have the flexibility that clothing made out of primitive shapes, or "prims" do. Prim clothing is where the real money exists in SecondLife.
On the right, you'll see a cute little outfit made of prims. Prim shoes, prim ears, a flexi prim dress and tail set the outfit off great.

The major problem with creating objects in SecondLife deals with the horrid user interface of creating objects "in-world"... that is, while you are connected to SecondLife through the SL viewer.

To combat this problem, LindenLabs (the creators of SecondLife) recently made changes to the viewer that allow objects / clothing to be uploaded as a texture called a "sculpty". A sculpty is a 2D "texture" (a collection of coloured dots as RGB triples) that get converted into a 3D object (a collection of x,y,z coordinates)! There are a number of packages out there that allow you to create sculpties so you can upload them to SecondLife. BTW: Uploading textures, objects and even animations (yes, so dust off those .bvh files you created) cost $10L or $10 Linden dollars... the in-world currency that you can buy yourself with real money or find ways to make it in-world. So if you are testing a lot, make sure you have some money and you're stuff is good enough that you'll be able to make it back when you sell it.

Some software:
  • Wings3D has a plug-in to create sculpties (see the tutorial on the SecondLife Wiki)
  • Blender is an interesting Open Source 3D program I'm just learning more about. There is a tutorial at SecondLifeArtist but frankly, once I figure out how to use Blender I can write a better tutorial myself
  • Even DAZ|Studio has a new setting that allows you to export poses as .bvh files into a format recognized by SL, so your new outfits will look best with your custom poses. I've tried it. It doesn't work... yet. But perhaps I'll check the manual and try again.
So there you have it. A quick overview of SecondLife, ideas on how to make money (both real and virtual) as well as software (that you might already know) to help you with getting your feet wet in SecondLife.

Oh yes, and check the background for the first image I posted. Someone had to model the building, the glasses, the dino (actually, I think someone at DAZ did that... they have an Island in SL you know) and then had to texture it all as well.

So post a comment and let me know what you do in SecondLife with your graphics skillz!

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