Stargates & sculpties isl

One of our residents is an active scripter and true community contributor.  He even had an exhibit in Burning Life this year.

Micheil Merlin in Burning Life

Micheil Merlin in Burning Life

Well Micheil is big into Stargates and we love them as a way to explore sl. He also does sculpties, another thing we admire, so we spoke with Micheil:

iliveisl: So tell us about stargates.

Micheil: There are many ways to explore SL, but one of the more interesting ways is to use the random dialing feature of OpenGate, the open Stargate Network. The Network is an open source project created by avatar Doran Zemlja, based on the Stargate movies and TV episodes.

Random locations may be dialed by visiting a gate and saying ‘/d random’ in chat. After the gate connects, a blue wormhole opens in the gate. Click on the wormhole and your SL map will open to the location of the dialed gate. Select teleport.

As long as the teleport location in the selected region has not been set otherwise, you should appear by the destination Stargate.

iliveisl: How many Stargates are isl?

Micheil: The number of active Stargates in this network varies, but is normally around 300. This provides many possible destinations in SL.

iliveisl: Where can we learn more?

Micheil: Information about the network, including source code and documentation, can be found at this link. A complete list of gate locations can be found at this link. Free Stargates may be obtained by teleporting to this link. A gate may also be purchased for $0 from XstreetSL.com.

Over time, the appearance of the gates has changed dramatically. Originally, the textures were fairly flat because the gate function was the primary focus of the development effort.

An important goal has always been to keep the prim count low. Currently the maximum is just 11 prims, which should allow nearly any land owner in SL to have their own Stargate without a large prim commitment.

One change that has been made to provide a more visually appealing gate while keeping the prim count low is the use of sculpty chevrons. Recently, the second iteration of sculpty chevrons have been completed and distributed with the gate.

This version of the sculpty chevron was created with the open source content creation suite, Blender 3D, a free version of which may be obtained from here.

One of Micheil's Stargates in Enerville

One of Micheil's Stargates in Enerville

iliveisl: Blender 3D is such a great program. We have seen some of your sculptie work and it’s pretty nice, but it looks scary to try. What would you advise?

Micheil: Blender is an extremely powerful program with an unfortunately steep learning curve. Thankfully, there are many tutorials available to assist you in learning how to use the various functions of Blender.

iliveisl: Yay for tutorials, so what would you recommend?

Micheil: In particular, the tutorials of Hussayn Salomon and Gaia Clary are extremely useful and refer specifically to creating sculpties for SL.

Also identified in the tutorials, Blender scripts by Domino Marama  can be used to create SL compatible objects that serve as a starting point for sculpty modeling.

Creating sculpties would be easier if they actually looked in SL the way they do while you are building them. Two things work against you. The first is that things just don’t always look in SL like they do outside of SL. That is one you just have to get used to and learn to work with.

The other difficulty is the way the SL viewer shifts the level of detail (LOD) in relation to object size and distance. You can build a fairly detailed sculpty model outside of SL and then have it pretty much fall apart on you when you stand three meters away from it in SL.

The key here is to not rely on the highest LOD. This version of the OpenGate chevron sculpty was created such that the first two LODs are about the same so the sculpty remains fairly stable as you move away from it.

iliveisl: Yikes! That is pretty techie sounding!

Micheil: Fortunately, Blender can help you with this, using its multires function. Multires (multiple resolution mesh) was developed for blender to allow easier manipulation of complex and detailed meshes by shifting to lower detail. It is useful for scuplties to let you preview what the sculpty will look like as the SL viewer shifts to lower LODs. Generally for sculpties you want to edit at the higher LOD (multires level 3) and just use multires to look at lower LODs. Editing at lower LODs can mess up your sculpty mesh. The scripts available from Domino Marama support the three standard LODs and you can shift between them as you edit your model, gaining a better understanding of how things might look once imported in to SL.

After creating the sculpty you will want to place a surface texture on it. The OpenGate chevron sculpties require a custom surface texture to allow for some styling, in particular the appearance of the chevron lights. This surface texture could be very tricky to create by hand. Again, blender can help and Hussayn’s and Gaia’s tutorials will lead you through the process.

You will likely go through lots of trial and error in creating interesting scuplties. This version of the chevron sculpty started life as a cylinder (created with Domino’s scripts) and went through three major revisions (almost start-over revisions) and several minor ones. As you work with them, you learn better how to place vertices to gain the most detail both in the shape of the sculpty and the sharpness of the surface texture that you eventually may place on top of the sculpty.

iliveisl: Sounds like lot more than just making a nice mesh in Blender.

Micheil: Yes, the shape of the sculpty is one thing. But, if you need detail in the surface texture, you have to keep enough vertices close enough together to give you that detail. Otherwise, you could end up with a nice sculpty shape, but with big blurry splotches on it where you expected a nice detailed texture.

iliveisl: Nice job talking to us about Stargates and sculpties. Any last advice for us?

Micheil: It has taken me a lot of time and effort to learn how to manipulate Blender functionality to create sculpties that work well in SL. I am grateful for the tireless and freely-given work of Doran Zemlja on the OpenGate Network, and the detailed and useful Blender tutorials by people like Hussayn Salomon and Gaia Clary along with the Blender scripts from Domino Marama. People such as these are what make SL the interesting and creative place that it is.

iliveisl: It’s a thrill having you in Enerville (slurl) on the iliveisl estate and thank you for educating us on this.  It’s pretty interesting and a great example of the creativity you have.

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1 Response to “Stargates & sculpties isl”



  1. 1 Stargates sculpties isl | Love is Life Trackback on March 30, 2009 at 12:19 am
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