February 17, 2008
Lights in Second Life: They're not as hard as you think
Okay, so I finally sat down this weekend and taught myself the basics of artificial lighting in Second Life; and it turns out, in fact, that the subject is not that difficult to understand, with there basically being some very basic controls that work very intuitively that make all artificial lights in SL work. In fact, about the only basic thing to be aware of at the start of the process is what you're seeing above; that flipping on a prim's "full bright" option is a different thing than turning on its "lights," with the first just making the object itself look like it's glowing but the second actually providing the glow. Other than that, though, it's just a basic menu in the "more" section of any prim; once there, you'll see a series of controls for such things as light color, intensity, falloff distance and more.
Just like a lot of things in Second Life, then, the truly complicated part of artificial lighting is in the finessing of the numbers and colors, to achieve the exact right look you want for that exact right space. Here above, for example, is the same light seen from the same angle in two scenarios, one with its intensity at maximum and the other at minimum.
As you can see, then, after stumbling across an appropriate texture in some back folder of my inventory, in literally thirty seconds I was able to make a pretty decent-looking simple Asian lantern; this is the exact same kind of lamp you see selling all over the Grid for usually around a quarter or so, something that's just ridiculously easy to put together yourself on a Saturday afternoon.
As you can see above, then, when I gave myself just a little more time (around 20 minutes in this case), I was able to crank out a pretty nice little floor lamp, the same kind you see sold elsewhere for 50 cents or a dollar or whatever. Dedicate an entire Saturday to something like this, then, and you can easily put together a whole house full of basic furniture, stuff that will never sell for much money on their own but that continually adds to the "long tail" of your operation, an absolute must for making money within an economy of virtual merchandise like the Grid.
In just another twenty or so minutes, then, I was also able to whip together a pretty nice little chandelier thingie for this particular home's main aerie; and this is with each lamp only using two prims, too. Granted, this is a fairly simple look, and a lot more can be done regarding the subject; considering, though, that I was able to do this in twenty minutes on my very first day of learning about lights, I think is a pretty impressive thing about the ease of the light system there.
As you can see here, then, the layout of this particular house means that such a chandelier ends up providing the majority of lighting the homeowner needs for a nighttime situation, requiring only a few floor lamps and candles to finish it all. This essentially gives a homeowner most of the lighting they need using as few prims as possible, something I'm always trying to keep in mind with Fabb's starter homes.
By the way, it's not just "lamps" that can have lighting effects added to them; any prim, in fact, can have its lighting effects turned on at any time. Check out here, for example, my Jackson Pollock print that generates its own lighting; pretty cool.
Anyway, hope this entry has been of some help to those who have been a little intimidated by the idea of artificial lights in the Grid and how to properly create them; as you can see, the basics of the subject really are a lot simpler than you'd expect. By the way, I got a lot of other stuff done this weekend as well, including finally teaching myself how to create my own waterfalls (versus using commercial ones I've purchased in the past, like I've been doing so far); it means that with a little work, I should finally have my first fully-finished house finished up sometime this week, and will be ready to start making the versions for all the other color schemes available. (For those who don't know, all Fabb buildings will eventually come in a variety of color and texture schemes, inspired by the different environments found int the Grid; Urban, Forest, Noir, Sky, Sand, and more.) See you later!