I sometimes visit a world called Second Life, which is kind of a big 3-D space where you can hang out, build stuff, and fiddle with your avatar’s look. I’ve been a member since 2007, and in that time, I’ve seen the look of avatars change a lot.
When I first started, this was my avatar. I controlled its look through the use of slider bars for every part of the avatar, from body height to amount of fat to face shape. I think there were 15 sliders just for the face alone. There was plenty of room for error, and you would see these freakishly tall avatars walking around with little tiny feet and huge breasts.
As I made friends and they showed me some cool new things, it was possible to buy skins, and later, shapes. My friend Nostrum Forder gave me her shape which was a more realistic height. Skins were expensive – about 500 – 1000 Lindens each. (1000 Lindens is currently about US $4) My complaint at the time was that most of the skins you could buy had overly made up faces, garishly bright and unnatural looking. I chose one that was pretty basic, compared to those other users selected.
In the pic above, I had a fairly good purchased skin and a mix of free and purchased clothing. Note the skirt – it’s a Second Life avatar skirt with prim ruffles for bounce and movement. A nice compromise. Nostrum preferred to go as female and had an amazing feel for shapes, skins, hair and clothing. In real life, he’s a regular guy with regular fashion sense.
Skins made huge strides in 2010, 2011, and 2012. I had a DrLife skin that was worth every penny in the pic below. Outfits were still made mostly of flexi prims which ate up bandwidth and slowed down Second Life regions.
Lately, it’s possible to buy mesh feet, hands, bodies, and heads – separately if you prefer. Then after you have a mesh body, you can buy mesh clothing, which is a snap to fit. Where before I had to use resizing scripts (that ate more bandwidth) or manually adjust prims for a better fit of hair or clothing, now I just add the item and it knows how to fit. Once in a while, some skin shows through the clothing. I can make that area invisible and – voila! Perfection. The only drawback is that it’s harder to look unique. Everyone now looks like a Barbie doll.
Here’s a pic of my avatar Psyche with her new Belleza Freya body.
It took me about 5 hours and 5,000 Lindens to learn how to use mesh bodies and clothing, but it’s a fun new thing to play with. I have a huge inventory of items, most of which is clothing and hair (17,247 items after the latest purge). Most of my clothing won’t work with mesh bodies.