Monday, December 8, 2014

Santa Barbara house

Hello Friends!

Turbokitty has been telling/nagging me for a couple of weeks that I should make this version of my newest floorplan, which essentially combines textures from the Montecito and the Sedona. And wow, she was right -- this version really pops!  I love how bright and airy it is, and it is only 112 prims! 

It will be at an introductory price for a little while. You can see it here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Horror, Part I: Second Life Marketplace Reviews

Nobody is happy with the Second Life Marketplace review system. Not buyers, certainly not sellers, most likely not Linden Lab either.

Yet few want to scrap it altogether. It is the lesser of two evils -- the other being that buyers have no way to warn other buyers off of something poor quality or an out and out scam - OR to give a quality product or customer service the praise it deserves.

Buyers who leave legitimate negative reviews are discouraged because they see unscrupulous sellers who will simply relist an item to get rid of negative reviews. This is against the TOS but it is hard for anyone to keep track of relistings.

And I have heard horror stories about buyers who leave legitimate negative reviews that receive a barrage of irate IMs from the sellers and their friends.

Then there are those who leave spurious negative reviews, typically from those who don't bother to find out what the listing is actually for, before buying.

For example, I sell all kinds of dining furniture, in different sizes and configurations. I sell full dining sets, dining tables by themselves, dining chairs by themselves, and food that can be added to the dining tables.  Yet at least once a week I get a bad review because someone bought a dining table that they thought was a dining set -- despite warnings in ALL CAPS in the listing that the price is for the table only, and other items are sold separately.  I have somehow "cheated" the buyer by sometimes selling only tables, in addition to dining sets.

Another example:  Although my houses listings include clear warnings that no furniture is included, and provide a list of everything that is included, buyers will leave a one star review because they "thought furniture was included".

Then there are the bad reviews because people do not understand basic functions like how to open a box (and not just people new to SL either), or did not read the notecard with helpful info and instructions.

Furniture and clothing makers receive negative reviews because something doesn't fit the buyer's avatar -- but the buyer neglected to try the model / demo before buying.

And then there are the extortionists, who threaten a bad review if they don't get a refund.

There are a few things LL can do to improve that experience :

1. First of all, everyone would be delighted if LL made it easier to leave a review, as Xstreet did with its pop up reminders with links to the products.  Or you could go to a page that had everything you had purchased but not yet left reviews.

Why would making it easier to leave a review be better for everyone? Because as it is now, you have to be very motivated to leave a review -- and for most people that translates into "very angry/disappointed".  So the few reviews there are tend to be skewed towards the negative -- and are much more upsetting to merchants if there are only one or two reviews total. Not that merchants EVER are justified in attacking anyone for leaving a review, no matter how negative -- but I bet it would cut down on some of the acrimony.

To LL's credit, they will remove spurious reviews that do nothing to help a potential buyer evaluate the quality of the product. But that still means the merchant has to flag every review of this sort, and someone at LL has to look into it to see if it is a legitimate review. It an annoying waste of time.  And the sad thing is that since people are so much more likely to leave a review when they are angry than when they are happy, these reviews have a lot of weight.

2. Something that could help cut down on spurious negative reviews is for reviewers to get a pop up reminder of what reviews are for -- ie advising potential buyers whether the item is as advertised, for example, and what they are not for (eg complaining because you did not read the listing.)

3. Also, IMO those who repeatedly leave spurious / off topic reviews which LL has to remove, should have their ability to leave reviews suspended for a certain amount of time.

4. Merchants who harrass reviewers (even really mean reviewers) should have some kind of penalty related to the listing of that product (as they are supposed to have now for relisting to get rid of reviews).

5. High on most merchants' wish list would be the ability to ban people from buying our things on the marketplace. As a buyer I can choose who I want to do business with, but as a seller I can not. And yes, believe it or not, I have had people buy my things over and over and leave a negative review each time. I'd just as soon they shop elsewhere.

The bottom line is that Second Life is supposed to be a place to play, a place to have fun, but there is a little group of mean spirited people who take their pleasure in ruining things for others, whether it is scamming people with crappy (or stolen) merchandise -- or selling empty boxes -- or spitefully trying to ruin the sale of perfectly good products because they failed to read the listing or notecard. When things dont go their way, their first impulse is to look around for someone to blame and attack.

Linden Lab is working on a redesigned marketplace; I hope they will be as good as their word when it comes to listening to feedback from buyers and sellers.

Friday, November 7, 2014

New House and Gifts!

Hello Friends!

After releasing the Montecito house last week, and receiving such wonderful feedback from you all, I decided to make the Sedona.  It has the same floorplan and features rich, golden textures.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

It was made clear to me by those of you who have seen both houses, that many of you couldn't decide if you like the Sedona or Montecito better. Almost everyone said they were unable to choose either, and some wanted both. If it was me I would want the white for spring and summer, the tan for Fall and Winter. So here is a deal I am offering (at least for a while): If you buy one of the Montecito or Palm Beach floorplan houses you can receive a 30% discount on the purchase of one of the other texture versions.  Just IM me with transactions.
Here are a few pics of the Montecito, just for comparison:

This week I'm offering two Fall gifts, both in the Santa Fe House.

The first is this Autumn Leaf & Branch wall decor is copy and mod so you can resize it -- only 2 LI at the current size. Mesh, exclusively @ La Galleria.  It is in the Santa Fe living room.

And the second  are some pretty Autumn throw pillows that are on the back porch of the Santa Fe.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

About Blocked Doorways

I get messages from people who find that they cannot walk through a doorway or up stairs, etc.  And it is hard to explain why this is, and why in most cases by far the easiest thing is to re-rez the house.

 So I am going to try to do that here, in a very simplified way, and only in regard to doorways (floors are another matter, though the same principles apply).

First let me explain what the three Physics Types (PT) are:

1. Prim -- this is the legacy physics type, which any cube or other shape you rez from scratch will have. All SL content originally had this physics type.  

If you make a hole in a wall made of a prim with Prim physics shape, you can walk through the hole. This is how most non-mesh doorways in SL were always made. You made a hole to walk through.

2. None -- None is the same as Phantom, except Phantom makes the whole object phantom and with None you can make only one prim phantom. With a doorway wall set to none, you can walk though not only the hole but the whole wall.

3. Convex Hull -- this is the default for mesh. Think of it as shrink-wrap.  You cannot walk through the doorway because the hole is shrink-wrapped. (The shrinkwrap can have random smaller holes in it but not usually ones you can walk through.)

Now when the new "mesh accounting" system came into being I found I could cut the prims on my houses by 40% just by making MOST of the prims Convex Hull (CH). (I did this in the Features tab of edit.)  The reason the prims dropped is because when you link two regular cubes (walls), together they are not two but ONE Land Impact.  So, yay!

But shrink wrapping the whole wall the doorway was in blocked the hole, so you could not walk through any doorways.  

So I had two choices: change the walls and doorframes to None -- so anyone could walk through them as if they were phantom -- OR to make them Prim, so people could could walk through them like regular prims.

Often, making them prim was the way to go BUT I found that sometimes, for reasons I don't think anyone fully understands, a wall that has been hollowed and cut to make a doorway will shoot way up in prims.  Recently I found every prim like this in a house was 17 Land Impact! 

So what I sometimes do is make the wall None but slip regular  prims inside the walls to block people from walking through. 

(I will also sometimes do this with mesh walls if I find that adding regular prims inside walls has lower land impact than uploading the wall with a physics shape -- this is too complicated to explain here, but has to do with the fact that adding a regular cube prim to a house can often be lower LI than uploading a large mesh with a physics shape.)

Here is what causes the problem. When you unlink a prim with None Physics Type, it stops being None and becomes Convex Hull -- so any hole you walk through is closed.

This is what causes the blockage. And if you know how, and it's just one prim, you can just link that prim back -- without changing the root prim -- and change the Physics Type back to None (or Prim).

Bottom line:  If you intend to unlink and relink something, check the Physics type and make sure you restore it after relinking.

But if you have unlinked a lot -- and sometimes people unlink (and then relink) the entire house -- and there is no easy way to fix the problem except to re-rez the house.

And re-rezzing is very simple unless someone has modified his home and failed to take copies, so if you mod anything, be sure to make regular backup copies.  

And that was the SIMPLIFIED explanation!  There is a lot more to it.  This is just a way to explain that when I say re-rezzing is the easiest solution by far, it's because it is.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Introducing the Montecito House

Hello Friends!

It's been awhile since I've blogged about a new house, but the Montecito is just too pretty not to share!  I love the light, bright, airy feel, mostly due to the walls of beautifully paned windows.  Everywhere you look, you will notice the details that make a house a home- from the skylights throughout, to the French Doors and expert texturing- this house was crafted with care!  With only 99 prims, you have plenty to spare on your choice of furniture and accessories!  The house and deck have a footprint of 45 x 45 -- perfect for a 64 x 64 (4096) parcel.  Enjoy!


~ Three bedrooms -- remove doors to a room to make it another living area.

~ Master suite has a bathroom area.

~ Kitchen area fits all La Galleria kitchens

~ L Click window contoller switch to open or close shutters (seen only from outside -- inside stays open)

~ L Click the large foyer skylight to rez hanging ivy.

Here is a list of everything that is included with the house:

Pool with float and tread water animations -- "sit" on the side of the pool with steps.

Steps for pool - tile.

Steps for deck - wood.



Entry Light

Celing fan.

Garden walls -- place wherever you like.

Juniper plants in planters

Rows of flowers.

Planter with palms for foyer.

Hanging Ivy for dining and living room trellis.

Planter with palms for outdoors

Textured wood floor block for building.

Textured roof shingles block for building.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween is getting close!

Hello Friends!

It's Halloween time, and as usual I've put out a bunch of spooky free gifts for you all!

On the front porch of the Montecito House, the bubbling remains of a melted witch and a roiling cauldron of witch's brew you can touch for a stick to stir with ("sit" on cauldron), a witch's broom you can ride, and lots of  other spooky decorations!  Plus some other decorations inside, including a ghost in the living room.

The floating ghost and skeleton hands can be hard to select, so do this: 

1. Alt Command T so you can see invisible things in red.

2. Select the invisible red ball that the hands or ghost rotate around.

By the painted console inside the Montecito House you will find the Jack o Lantern Wreath and the mesh Scarecrow.

By the first mesh kitchen in the Kitchen Dept (the Vintage) you will find the Pumpkin Punchbowl and that gives cups to drink, cups for display, caramel apples to wear and eat, popcorn balls to wear and eat, and a Halloween banner.

All copyable!

Monday, October 6, 2014

I Hate Marketing

I was pretty happy to hear recently that I had won a Rezzie award in two categories -- best kitchens and best dining rooms.  It is gratifying to be noticed.! But what made it even sweeter is that it validates my reluctance to do the kinds of  "marketing" that I consider a chore -- such as participating in events (other than a couple of charity ones) and hunts, sending things to bloggers, etc.   The Rezzie awards on top of placing last year in the top 5 winners in the Avi Choice Awards (for furniture and for houses) mean that word of mouth is still king, and I don't have to do that other stuff!

Now, I do some marketing: I have this blog, which is sporadically updated ( and also has some good help pages).  New additions to my Marketplace listings do automatically get tweeted, and I will tweet about some new thing now and then.  I do occasionally get invited to be featured in magazine articles or TV shows.

But mainly my only "marketing" is done directly to my own customers: sending my weekly notecard about new releases, updates, promos, helpful tips, gifts.  I like doing that. I appreciate my customers and I really like making gifts for them, passing along helpful tips, telling them about what I am working on.

All of which means that even in this age of instantaneous ubiquitous communication in every possible form -- a friend telling a friend is still the most effective advertising there is. And that is a really good thing for me, and anyone else who just likes to spend time creating and taking care of business.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Second Life and Minecraft

I see that Microsoft is near closing a deal to buy Minecraft's parent company for $2,000,000,000. The New York Times article about it describes Minecraft:

It is not flashy graphics or an intricate story line luring these groups to the game, however. Minecraft has become a global phenomenon by breaking with those usual conventions.

The point of the game is building things — and tens of millions of people spend hours constructing elaborate structures with digital pickaxes and other tool — and helping others make their own creations.

Not unlike Second Life was for many -- the old Second Life, in which people took clunky prims and made clunky things that seemed beautiful enough at the time. Well, beautiful to people in Second Life -- people outside of it ridiculed it for not looking like Myst.  It looked more like it was built with Legos. Like Minecraft does.

Within weeks of joining Second Life I discovered how fascinating it was to build these clunky things.  It was a challenge to figure out how to make things look organic, but back then (2007) we accepted the limits of prim builds and filled in the rest with our imaginations.  Pretty much like millions of avid Minecraft players do now.

Those days are gone from Second Life. I think Linden Lab developers got tired of hearing the same insults about how clunky Second Life looked compared to other games, how dated it was. Some users complained about it too, but honestly, most of us thought Second Life looked just fine, if not downright glorious. I remember trying to see it through detractors' eyes, as ugly -- but could not.

Now, of course, I can. Mesh changed how we see content, and much more. My earliest model furniture looks positively ludicrous next to my mesh creations. Even much of the sculpted stuff I was once proud of now looks pretty sad.

What is sadder still, to me, is the change in my job description. In the past, when asked about my job, I had to give this too-long explanation of building virtual things I sold in a virtual store for real money, which always drew blank looks -- because it was unique, it didn't correspond to any other job description anyone had ever heard of.  Now, however, I just say I am a 3D artist selling things in a virtual world.  While I assemble things inworld, all of my building now takes place offline in the world's most complicated and inscrutable software, Blender.

But even that creation model -- making mesh offline -- is outdated. The smart thing to do now, in terms of efficiency, is to skip over the part about creating and just find things on the internet to import into Second Life, textures and all. Whole stores full of this content have sprung up overnight -- many of them full perm stores supplying retail merchants. And since it takes hardly any time to upload, it is often dirt cheap. The creator has been replaced by the uploader. No surprise there. (Though when I predicted this outcome, many objected, saying, "They said the same about sculpts!", although there were never warehouses full of sculpts available for import into SL.)

However, I started out making things for the same reason kids make Minecraft creations. They don't want to just have (or sell) things, they want to make things. And that is what I want, to make things. I never get tired of making things, but I think the same amount of time spent uploading would get very old. More lucrative but so boring.

So making things is what I do and will continue to do, although it puts me -- and everyone who makes and sells things -- at a competitive disadvantage.  I am just sorry that for most of Second Life users, creation within Second Life was once within their grasp and no longer is. People are simply not going to run out an learn offline 3D modeling. Yes, everyone can still build clunky, high LI stuff out of prims, but now that we see them through mesh-tinted glasses, those things don't look so good to us anymore. So why bother?

The powers that be have decided that it is more important that Second Life look good than for it to be a clunky creation-oriented platform like Minecraft.  I like making mesh, I am glad I was forced into dramatically updating my skills -- but it is not clear to me that what Second Life has gained outweighs what it has lost.  In fact, I suspect it has not.  Certainly there is no evidence that this massive remaking of Second Life (and its creators) has had the slightest effect on user retention.

Hopefully if Microsoft does end up buying Minecraft for $2,000,000,000 it will not make the same mistake re: goose and golden egg.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Much Does a Prim (Really) Cost?

The wholesale cost of a prim in Second Life is 5L, or about 2¢, per month.  That's the rate if tier is paid directly to LL. If you rent from someone, they must charge above that amount in order to make any profit.

Most of us are prim conscious because we don't like running out. Once you are out of prims, you can't add any cool new stuff without getting rid of other stuff that you may have grown attached to.

But another way of looking at it is that when you pay tier you are renting prims.  So, each month, if you have, say a 6 prim chair, you are going to pay 30L rent (6 prims x 5L per prim). That is about 12¢.  Not a lot.  But that comes out to $1.44 a year -- 360L.  So each item you own has an initial cost as well as a monthly rental cost.

Be aware that when you buy something, you are only paying the initial cost -- you will continue to pay "rent" on its land impact for as long as you keep it rezzed.  So something that looks like a bargain may end up costing much more in the long run, if the prim count is too high.

So when you look at the prim count of an object you are considering buying, just multiply by 5 to find the monthly cost of the tier you will need to pay to keep it rezzed.