Friday, January 3, 2014

Live Lightly on the Land

Hello, Faithful Readers!  And also any lurkers or people strolling by.  Today we're talking about prim addiction and prim misers, two topics that go hand in hand.

/me walks to the lectern and addresses the room.  "Hello, my name is Lindal, and I'm a prim addict."
Audience:  "Hi, Lindal!"

When I got my first Second Life home, it was on 8192 square meters, and I had a Parcel Land Capacity of 1,874 prims.  (Audience:  "Oooooh!")  I thought that was more than enough for me to have all the things I could ever want there.  But after a few months, I discovered that I could not have my yacht, my nature walk, my picnic area, my beach, my swimming pool, my pets, a hidden skybox, and my custom built home there, at least not all at the same time.

Shortly after that, I sold my land and bought half of a region, along with three other friends.  We planned to set up a village, and rent out homes there.  We made a beautiful place...but once again, I found that when you added up all of my things, and my partners' things, and our tenants' things...we started to fill up the land and we had to be careful about how many things we had out.

Then my business partners moved on to other things, and I sold the land.  I found and bought about 3/4 of the mainland region of Masocado.  At last, I thought!  Now I have enough prims to do anything!  And indeed, prims were plentiful...over 11,000 prims to play with!  But...well, I'm sure you know what I'm going to say next!

Yes, even a capacity of 11,000 prims gets used up in a hurry, when you have seventeen tenants or so, and want to have a complex and interesting place for them (and you) to live in.  And so, even though I'm a prim addict, I became a prim miser too.

There are many ways to be a prim miser.  The easiest is to be prim conscious when shopping for things for your home or land.  You don't have to worry so much about things designed to be worn -- the prims of things you are wearing don't count against the land's carrying capacity. 
This is a good thing, too.  Otherwise I'd never be able to visit a friend's 117-prim-capacity Linden Home while wearing my 200-prim hair!

Prims vs. L.I.
It used to be that the only thing we worried about was prim count.  But, since the introduction of Mesh, an object's impact on the land's carrying capacity is no longer strictly tied to its prims.  Now, objects have a "Land Impact", or L.I. value.  An object's L.I. depends on how many prims it has, what scripts are in the object, and the object's "physics", or collision envelope.  If it is a Mesh object, how complex the mesh is, the level of detail vs. distance setting, and how large the object is, are also important.  As a buyer, you don't need to worry about all these factors, all you care about is the end result, the object's L.I.  But next, I'll discuss some things you can do to minimize the L.I. of your own creations.

Prim-Conscious Building.
You should always try to figure out how to make whatever it is you are making with the fewest number of prims.  When using ordinary prims, there are several ways to do this.  Here are a few, and I'm sure the master builders who read this will be able to suggest many more.

  1. Hollow things out.  A hollowed out box can be a fence around your patio or yard, or a window or door frame, a picture frame, or a planter box.  One prim, instead of one for each side.
  2. Path Cut.  A hollowed box can be trimmed with Path Cut, turning it into a coffee table, a simple straight-backed chair, a park bench, or even the sides of a simple house.  Be careful though...I once made a skylight with a simple hollowed, path-cut semi-transparent sphere...and found it had a Land Impact of 45!  Changing the shape to a simple box solved the problem.
  3. Use Textures Instead of Prims.  You can make a doorknob for your door with two prims, but if you can settle for one painted on the door, you use zero prims.  In the same way, you can create a wall texture that has a transparent area on it for a window, saving many prims.  Walls with transparent areas can present their own problems can appear that the tree in your front yard is inside your home, if there are alpha texture conflicts in your line of sight.
  4. Physics Type.  This is the "collision envelope" that SL uses to determine when something has bumped into your object.  It's found in the Features tab of the Edit window.  The default type is "prim"...but if you change it to "convex hull", you will often cut the land impact of your object by nearly half!  Be careful though...if you do this to a hollowed prim, the system treats it as if it were NOT hollow, and you can no longer walk through the hole in it.  Also be careful about using convex hull with toruses, mesh, sculpties or scripted can INCREASE the land impact of these types of objects.  When fiddling with an object's physics type, be sure to not only check the effect on Land Impact, but how the object interacts with you.  Walk everywhere, upstairs and down, go through every door.
  5. Use Phantom creatively.  A wall that is a Phantom object looks solid, but you can walk right through it with no need for a door.  That saves prims AND scripts!  Phantom can also be used to make it possible to walk near sculpty objects whose collision sphere would otherwise keep you far away from them.
Besides being a prim miser with ordinary prims, you can create sculpty versions of your builds, even if you are not skilled with third party 3D modeling tools like Blender or Maya.  There are tools you can buy that let you rez specially scripted prims, edit them, assemble them into a completed object...and then automatically make a sculpt map of that object.  You upload this sculpt map texture to SL, and apply it to a new sculpted primitve shape.  The default apple will suddenly turn into a one prim sculpty version of your prototype object.  When you're satisfied with the result, you can delete the prototype.  I've used this type of tool to turn 20 prim staircases into two prim ones!

The ultimate way to be a prim miser, though, is to learn how to build in Mesh, using Blender or another modeling program that can export objects as a Collada (.dae) file.  Of course, you will need to learn efficiency here too...but this time, your job will be to create a realistic appearing object with the minimum number of triangles. For those who are challenged by programs like Blender, there are some tools similar to the sculpty generators that will make Mesh objects out of a prototype you build from ordinary prims.

Being a prim miser has many benefits.  It will help you live within your means, on a smaller parcel of land.  It will free up prims for the use of your tenants, if you have some.  And it will make the products you create more desirable in the eyes of your customers.

1 comment:

  1. The mesh sculpty generator is an amazing one!
    Btw, any mesh object should have as the rout prim a reg square old prim one!