Immersive 3D Environments

a central point for students enrolled in A&M624

Sculpties 101

This week for the technical session we will be having a quick look at one of the advanced modelling options for builds in Second Life; Sculpties.  To read up on exactly what a sculptie is visit this FAQ page on the Second Life Wiki.  That will give you an overview of what we are talking about in the inworld session.  Sculpties allow more organic models to be built and also facilitate the reduction of prim numbers on a sim if used correctly.  Below is an image of an in-world modelling tool developed specifically for creating sculpties but many standard 3D modelling applications such as Blender or Maya can also be used.

Sculptie Example - Click to Enlarge

Once we have looked over sculpties I will then be available to work with you on your individual projects for the rest of the session.  Don’t forget to post your interaction ideas on the blog (Particles 101 is where we are gathering them together) so that all the class can share in the thought process and the working out of the interaction scripts.

Isa

September 7, 2010 Posted by | Building and Texturing, General, Individual Projects | Leave a comment

Particle Systems 101

Particle Laboratory Transport

The Particle Laboratory Transport

For the technical sessions this week you will be working some more at designing interactions and, along side that, investigating Particle Systems which are  basically the special effects side of Second Life.  Particles are used to create everything from flames to waterfalls, fireflies to tornadoes.

You will be travelling to the Particle Laboratory in smalls groups to gain some understanding of what particles are, the scripts used to put them together, the different forms particles can take, and also to collect sample scripts for your own use.

As the smaller groups move to visit the Lab I will remain with the others, where I will work with each of you as required to take you through creating your own interaction.  What you will be required to do is come up with the design of an interaction between an object and an avatar that initiates at least two events and uses at least two functions.

I do not expect you to know the actual syntax of the events or functions you require but instead to describe in plain English, as comments to this blog, what you would like to happen.  I will then guide you to the correct events and functions to use and show you how to put them together as a script so that the interaction works as you would like it to.  You will then be required to post, as a follow up reply to your original comment, the actual script used and a brief summary of how it works and whether it met your purpose.

An example of a possible interaction would be that the object scans a designated area and when it detects an avatar it sends the avatar a message and changes its own colour.  Make sure in your design brief that you state everything required; in this case you would want to state what you are scanning for (i.e. avatar, object etc), the distance and arc to scan and how often the scan repeats itself, what will happen if no avatar is sensed in the scan area, what the message is, whether its in main chat or IM, and what colour to change the object to.

Particle Laboratory Tutorials - Click to Enlarge

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Building and Texturing, Scripting | 11 Comments

Using the Texture Boards on Kowhai

So that you all have a good range of textures available for your building projects I have placed a number of Texture Boards on the group parcel on Kowhai.  These textures have been gathered and put together into the boards by myself and a good friend of mine and made available as full permission textures for your use.  A Texture Board is a tool freely available in Second Life to help you organise and view your textures and is much more user friendly than trying to find a specific texture in your Inventory.  How to use the Texture Boards is set out below.  Note: If you click on the images on this page that show the whole Texture Board a larger version of the image will show on a new page.  Click on the Back button on your browser to return to this page.

When first rezzed a Texture board displays as shown below.

A Rezzed Texture Board

The Board contains the texture preview section to its left, a larger screen to the right to display the selected texture, and the catagories, tiling and previous and next buttons at the bottom right.  To select a specific category, in this case Metals, Glitter etc, click on the button.  It will highlight as shown below.

Button Display

The Board will then display thumbnail previews of textures in that specific category as shown below.

Category Thumbnails Displayed

The button display also contains a Previous and Next button.  Clicking on these will cycle back and forwards through the thumbnails of a particular category.

Previous and Next Buttons

To display a larger view of any particular texture click on its thumbnail image.  It will show as highlighted with the texture name overlaid, and a larger version of the texture will display on the selection board to the right.

Thumbnail Selected

Some textures are tileable, i.e. when the texture has more than one repeat on a prim face the texture repeats without obvious breaks, as all edges of the textures are designed to flow perfectly into their opposing edges.  Note that some textures will be designed to only tile vertically or horizontally depending on what their end use is.  For example a texture for a wall may only tile horizontally as the texture may have been created to have a specific top and bottom and only tile well along the wall.  To view how well a texture tiles click on the Tile button and the texture will display as shown below, with the full texture in the centre of the selection screen so that all edges will display their tiling quality.  To turn off tiling click on the Tile button again.

Viewing the Texture Tiled - This One is Considered Tileable

A Non-Tileable Texture

To obtain a displayed texture hold your cursor over the larger image.  The cursor will display as a hand as shown below.

Hand Cursor Displayed

Click on the large texture and the following dialog box will display.  Click on Keep to take the texture into your Inventory.  The texture will now be available in your Inventory for use in your building projects.

Texture Dialog Box

August 19, 2010 Posted by | Building and Texturing | Leave a comment

Week 5 – What we’ve done so far?

Congratulations those who made it, still virtually standing, to the beginning of Week 5.  Having spent all the in-lab hours with you in Week 4 and looking back also at the previous week, I’d like to give you all some feedback.

Firstly, as some of you may have noticed, we are a week ahead of the timetable for my sessions having, to a degree, combined Building Introduction – creating in a 3D environment and Primitives – the building blocks of 3D into the first lesson and then completed Textures – bringing primitives to life in Week 4.  From my observations most of you now having a good grasp on rezzing prims, manipulating the position, size and rotation of them and the ability to link them as an object and save and retrieve them from your Inventory.  You have also learnt how to colour and apply textures to a prim and to individual faces, how to manipulate the textures in terms of repeats, offsets and rotation, and apply various effects such as transparency, shininess and bump.  Pretty good really for two teaching sessions so kudos to you all.

There are some skills still to be acquired, and one in particular that will not only help you in terms of building, but generally in terms of observing and participating in this environment; the use of your camera.  The camera is your view into Second Life and your ability to move it around, focus and zoom into objects is vitally important, making your experience much less frustrating at times and faciltating your ability to build in a major way if mastered.  On your inworld parcel this week I have positioned a video screen that has this YouTube video showing you how to manipulate your camera using the keyboard and mouse rather the camera tools provided inworld.  I strongly urge you all to watch the video and then spend time in Second Life practicing using your camera in this way.  No longer will you have to walk to the other side of a prim to see it; in fact with enough practice you can even send your camera to the other side of a sim rather than walking there.  Get that skilled at camera use and you will find that Second Life becomes quite a different experience.

As camera use comes with practice, so will your skills as a builder.  Though you can all rez and texture prims there is still a big step from wanting to build something to actually completing the task inworld.  Building is about visualising the prim shapes that you need to combine together to form your desired end result and then manipulating and texturing those prims to achieve it.  So this week we will continue looking at prim types and the different settings available for each and I will set you the task of creating something of your own, working alongside you to guide you through the process and explaining as needed different possibilities to achieve your end result.  A mass of textures will be provided so don’t concern yourself with that.  It is more the working out of the prim structure for your build that I want you to begin to master.  And please remember that only practice will get you the skills you will need for your final project build.  The land parcel we use as a class space is there for you 24/7 and I am often inworld so available to help you out if you need it.  Practice, practice, practice is the key here.

For the tour this week we will be looking at sims developed for education, not necessarily put together by just educators but those who are passionate about subjects that interest them and who wish to share that passion with others.  The group of sims we will visit have the collective name SciLands and include over 50 individual sims dedicated to things such as space travel, health and nanotechnology to name a few.

International Spaceflight Museum

International Spaceflight Museum - Click to Enlarge

August 17, 2010 Posted by | Building and Texturing, General | Leave a comment

Week 4 – Textures 101

Due to illness Clare/Arwenna will not be leading the tour this week.  Instead I will be taking you all on a tour of a few of, what I consider to be, superior builds within Second Life.  Here you will see the possibility of user-generated content taken to its ultimate in some beautifully constructed structures, terrain and outdoor environments.  The first sim we will be visiting is Omega Point, a combination of cyberpunk and fantasy with a hint of Gothic thrown in.  Rich textures adorn amazing sky structures, teleports enabling you to travel swiftly between buildings.  A myriad of bridges crisscross the build leading you to different rooms, each portraying a different aspect of the creators dream.  A place to truely see how great texturing and scale really lend authenticity to even the most fantastical of builds.

Omega Point

Omega Point - Click to Enlarge

The second build we will visit is Taure Ru, a roleplaying medieval/fantasy sim.  This is part of a group of sims that have active roleplay in the normal gaming tradition, Taure Ru being the centre of the Shadowlands.  An image of part of this build is displayed in a previous post.  Here you can experience what great terrain modelling can lend to a build, with subterranean caverns hiding all sorts of gems, underground rooms and a temple beautifully crafted to add authenticity to the roleplay.  Though from above the sim looks mainly crafted as a mysterious landscape, hidden doors and passages lead you underground to some of the real wonders of this build.  Again the attention to detail, the beautiful textures, and the interaction of the environment with the user make this a sim well worth taking note of.

If we do manage to get through both these builds in the allotted time, and I am not sure we will get past these they have so many factors to look at, take in and explore, then there will be a couple more on the notecard of Landmarks that will be supplied at the beginning of the tour.

In the last half of the day I will be taking the Tuesday group through basic texturing, explaining some of the ins and outs of the Build window/Texture tab options, letting you experiment a lot with what you see there, and finally guiding you through the texturing of your own sparkle lamp.  I’m looking forward to the day and I hope you are too.  Be prepared to get your socks blown off by these builds *smiles.

As a small aside note in response to Vincent’s query, and after talking to Clare, it is still a little early to be considering your project groups.  A few more sessions before that needs to happen.

Isa

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Building and Texturing | Leave a comment

Building 101

First building week over, and though I know for some of you it was too big a jump off the deep end, do keep the faith *smiles.  Remember that your projects can be done in groups if you decide to.  Building will only ever come with practice, practice, practice and some will be good at it, some won’t.  Yet good modellers don’t necessarily make good texturers or scripters, or good planners and designers, or good presenters.  Each of you will have strengths and weakness.

If you do choose a collaborative project use the opportunity also to look at how that works, the dynamics of working virtually.  Try to create yourselves as a “real” virtual team and experience working this way.  Obviously don’t ignore each other in the classroom, but do attempt to immerse yourselves and have the virtual experience.

Remember to friend me when inworld so you can see me online.  Then you will know I am there if you are in, and have a question to ask.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I would like to be able to show those who are interested some of what I consider to be amazing builds, so you can really experience the creativeness of some of the people who inhabit this world.  An example is shown below.  This will not be in class time, but in your own time, which for me will mean lunch time if thats the only time you can, the late evening (say after 9pm) which would be my preference, or the weekend.  I do not mind doing a tour for a small number, say a minumum of five, if that is all who want to go.  Comment here if you are interested.  If enough want to then we can arrange them.

Medieval Roleplay Sim

Medieval Roleplay Sim

And people… lets see you blogging *smiles.  I do look at them frequently and respond to your posts.  Do remember to look yourselves for comments as many I have left you are yet to be moderated by you and made public.  Attempting to set your blog so that you are notified when comments have been made and are awaiting moderation will help you keep up to date with them.

Isa

August 5, 2010 Posted by | Building and Texturing | 2 Comments

Towards Week 3

Isa Goodman Dances

Distance education in a virtual environment is an interesting thing. In the space we are going to share during this course you will not know me by my real name. There I am Isa Goodman. And you will not know me in any physical sense as the “real” Aaron Griffiths, because we will never see each other. I will look as Isa Goodman looks.

For those of you who have already ventured into Second Life and met up with me you will have, to some degree, already formed an idea of who I am based on just those two things; a name and a look. For one, being danced in the air in front of a 20 metre wide video of Pink Floyd may have added to that idea *smiles. As you will discover Isa Goodman dances.

The point I’m making here is that it is interesting just how powerful an idea of presense can be formed, of some knowing of who Isa Goodman is, out of what essentially is a set of texture-wrapped wireframes, scriptings and animations. Welcome to Immersive 3D Environments.

During this course I will mainly be guiding you through the aspects of creation within Second Life. For those who may consider this as not quite the powerful 3D application you were expecting to be learning, don’t be fooled. Second Life for all that to some degree it works at a more basic level of 3D object creation, i.e. primitive manipulation (primitives or prims being the name for the basic building blocks in 3D applications), it is still capable of extremely complex builds which are not only rendered 3D scenes (static images) but fully immersive interactive environments.  When you consider that in the fourth quarter of 2009 total registered accounts in the virtual worlds sector reached 803,000,000 (Retrieved from http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=3943, 28 July 2010) then you have some indication of just how ubiquitous virtual environments are becoming and how important developing an understanding of their potential is for those involved in the multimedia and technology sectors.

As we head towards Week 3 and the first building tutorials I would encourage you all to actively go into Second Life and start to familiarise yourself with the environment. At least attempt to master chat, Instant Messages, teleporting, creating landmarks, working with your Inventory and becoming fluent at moving not only yourself but your camera (an important tool in the building process). For those who have the time and wish to learn some of the basics of building prior to my first session, teleport to the Ivory Tower of Primitives (Slurl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Natoma/193/172/26). Here you will find excellent self-paced, self-guided tutorials for the Second Life building system; an invaluable resource for beginning builders. This is not an essential part of participating in the building sessions but highly recommended.

Ivory Tower

The Ivory Tower of Primitives

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Building and Texturing, General | Leave a comment